Tag «arranged marriage»

Series Review: Jessica by Beth Fantaskey

Series Review: Jessica by Beth Fantaskey

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 Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side (from Goodreads):

The undead can really screw up your senior year …

Marrying a vampire definitely doesn’t fit into Jessica Packwood’s senior year “get-a-life” plan. But then a bizarre (and incredibly hot) new exchange student named Lucius Vladescu shows up, claiming that Jessica is a Romanian vampire princess by birth—and he’s her long-lost fiancé. Armed with newfound confidence and a copy of Growing Up Undead: A Teen Vampire’s Guide to Dating, Health, and Emotions, Jessica makes a dramatic transition from average American teenager to glam European vampire princess. But when a devious cheerleader sets her sights on Lucius, Jess finds herself fighting to win back her wayward prince, stop a global vampire war—and save Lucius’s soul from eternal destruction.

breakdown

Series: Jessica
Author: Beth Fantaskey
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, Vampires, Romance, Paranormal
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Alternating (#1); Multiple (#2)
Publication Dates: February 2009 – October 2011
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Before I went to university many years ago, the only way I could get “new” books was by borrowing them from friends; getting them as gifts or buying them myself. My public library wasn’t that great (they had limited funding back then) so I often bought books that I saw on Indigo (the Barnes and Noble of Canada) that interested me. Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side was one of them.

I always think fondly of this book when I think back to it years later. I thought it was such an interesting take on the world of vampires and YA romance. I remember reading the extended epilogue online shortly afterwards and hoping there would be a sequel. I hadn’t discovered Goodreads yet and so it took me a few years to discover that there actually was a published sequel but I never got around to reading it.

The Jessica Series has sat at the top of my “Series Tracking” worksheet for a very long time; but when I saw that my library now had the audiobooks, I knew I found my next series to binge. I reread Book #1 and then immediately started Book #2.

The Concept / The World:

There are no sparkly vampires here! Lucius lives up to the stereotypical Romanian vampire which is part of his charm as he is thrust into midwestern America. It’s fun to get his take on American customs and culture when he writes back to his uncle. I liked that this book didn’t shy away from the traditional, darker side of vampires but it still had its own unique take.

The Plot:

In Book #1, I struggled a bit with the pacing of the plot. While I enjoyed watching Jessica and Lucius dance around each other and their feelings for a length of time, it makes things seem a bit rushed at the end. It’s almost like the “on” switch is suddenly flicked on given how things progress. Which is weird to say when we do take our time to get there; but the shift in the plot isn’t really that gradual. Especially when I look back at what the synopsis says is to happen in the book. There was just a slight disconnect.

One thing that really surprised me with this series is that it isn’t overly fluffy or melodramatic. Despite the fact that it includes vampires, it’s rather grounded in its approach. Becoming a new vampire and embracing your heritage perfectly mirrors the teenage coming of age experience. And that is reflected in the snippets of the “Growing Up Undead” guide Jessica receives in book #1.

I struggled a bit with the vibes of Book #2, Jessica Rules the Dark Side. I don’t want to give much away but I felt like some of that spark of what made the first book so great was missing. It almost feels like the opposite of the first book: the suspense overtakes the romance. It’s a nice way to wrap things up but there were parts (like the new POV) that either should have been the main focus of the book or just completely omitted I think to balance out the story better.

The Characters:

As I said above, part of Lucius’ charm is listening to his takes on American culture. I loved his dry humour and wit. He just makes me laugh.

I really liked Jessica’s growth throughout the series. I was never annoyed with her which is always a bonus. She’s relatable yet not in the cliché way that some heroines are (you know, where the author tries to make the heroine “relatable” all the while they are some “special snowflake”). She’s not always confident in herself and she makes some mistakes along the way, but she has this inner strength and loyalty that really starts to shine and come through as the stories progress. It was great to watch her character evolve.

The Romance:

I love a good slow burn romance and sometimes we don’t always get that in YA (where things can be hot and heavy rather quickly). I liked how these two really got to know each other and learned to compromise in order to be true partners. They have great chemistry, even if I think that chemistry got a little lost in the last quarter of Book #1 when the plotline thickens.

My Audiobook Experience:

I own the paperback of the first novel but when I reread the first book again, I went with the audiobook (and did again for the sequel). SO MUCH FUN! It was great to have these characters brought to life with the accents and I honestly think I got more of the humour and wit by listening to the audiobooks.

Series Rating: 3/5

Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side 3/5 | Jessica Rules the Dark Side 3/5

overall

A great blend of humour and heartwarming moments, this series is a fresh take on teenaged vampire romances!

Read if You Like: vampires, YA, romance, character driven stories
Avoid if You: YA, paranormal stories

similarreads

  • Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz (Blue Bloods Series #1)
  • Evernight by Claudia Gray (Evernight Series #1)
  • The Dark Divine by Bree Despain (The Dark Divine Series #1)
  • Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Tantalize Series #1)
  • Nevermore by Kelly Creagh (Nevermore Series #1)

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Spin-off Saturdays: The Renaldis by Karen Erickson

Spin-off Saturdays: The Renaldis by Karen Erickson

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 Renaldis Series is a spin-off of the Worth It Series

breakdown

Series: The Renaldis

This is a spinoff of the Worth It Series.

Author: Karen Erickson (aka Monica Murphy)
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)

There is a prequel novella: #0.5 Temporary Arrangement

Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: July 2013 – July 2014
Source & Format: Own—eBook

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

thoughts

My Expectations?

When Anastasia’s true paternity is revealed in the Worth It Series, we get introduced to a different side of The Renaldis Family. I was really excited to learn more about this family when I finished the inaugural series — I even pre-ordered the first book! But life got in the way and unfortunately, I never managed to read the series until years later when the finer details of the Worth It Series were forgotten.

How Does It Compare To The Original?

–Has the Family Drama–

Just like its predecessor, The Renaldis Series packs in lots of family drama along the way. While I found that the siblings weren’t as involved in each story as the Worth brothers were in their series, you still have family members meddling (or helping) along the way to fuel the drama. I did miss the more overarching plot that the previous series had (drama with the family business); the drama in this series is more about the emotional obstacles stopping these couples from being together. But the drama we do get is definitely melodramatic.

–Passionate, Forbidden Romances–

Things move quickly in all these books (maybe a little too quickly sometimes) but there is definitely chemistry with all the romantic pairs–even if they are quick to deny it themselves. I would have liked to have seen things worked out a little more, but melodramatics is the goal here and that is certainly achieved with the romances.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

–Kidnapping His Bride–

I had really mixed feelings about Book #2, Kidnapping His Bride. I love reading about arranged matches in modern romances; it’s an interesting dynamic to explore. But I really struggled with Rafe’s approach to his “promised to Cat since they were children” dilemma.

He claims Cat has been the only one for him yet he slept around with other girls despite knowing their arrangement. Then he gets upset when she wants to break it off because she didn’t think it was a serious arrangement…just like he did. It’s hypocritical and I don’t like that trait in an alpha male. His approach is something that would work more in a historical romance when society was different, but it just felt icky in a modern romance. I almost stopped reading it when that was brought up early on in the book.

Series Rating: 3/5

[Temporary Arrangement 4/5 ] | Tempted by Her Boss 4/5 | Kidnapping His Bride 2/5 | Falling for Her Husband 3/5

overall

If you want some quick, passionate romances these fit the bill. But if you want deeper romantic connections, look elsewhere. I think my reading tastes have evolved since I read the inaugural series and I think I would have enjoyed these more if I read them closer together.

Read if You Like: quick reads, soap operas
Avoid if You: dislike melodramatics

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Tempted by Her Boss (from Goodreads):

Paige Stewart has committed the ultimate nanny sin—she’s fallen in love with her boss. She adores Matteo Renaldi’s sweet, precocious son. Who wouldn’t? But it’s torture going about her day-to-day tasks, catching fleeting glimpses of the boy’s enigmatic father. Chastising herself for fantasizing she’s in the Renaldi master bed…

It’s ridiculous, pointless. After all, soon little Matty won’t need her anymore and she’ll move on.

Matteo has no interest in dating. He’s consumed by work, his son…and his son’s nanny. She’s everything he’s not: young, carefree, trusting, maybe a little naïve. She deserves better than an embittered widower. Yet when she accidentally falls into his arms, he can’t resist drawing her in for a kiss that quickly spirals out of control.

As they travel to his family’s home in Italy and slowly fall in love, the whispers start. And when one particularly ugly story blows up in their faces, their reputations might escape unscathed, but their hearts may not…

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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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Series Review: Game for It by Karen Erickson

Series Review: Game for It by Karen Erickson

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 Game for Marriage (from Goodreads):

He’s going in deep to make her his…

Struggling artist Sheridan Harper never imagined she’d spend a sizzling night with Jared Quinn, the smoking-hot star quarterback of her local professional football team, the San Jose Hawks. And she’s even more shocked when Jared’s publicist offers her a proposition: a fake marriage to keep Jared out of the gossip mags. Being that close to Jared would be too tempting, so to protect her heart, she insists on secretly including a clause forbidding sex between them.

Jared just wants to keep his starting QB job and keep it in San Jose. His reputation as a ladies’ man has landed him in the headlines one too many times, but there’s something about his kind, passionate new wife that tempts him beyond reason. Any sort of intimacy between them is completely forbidden, but as their bodies fall in deep, will their hearts follow suit?

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Game for It
Author: Karen Erickson (aka Monica Murphy)
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: January 2013 – November 2014
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I think I found out about this series after I finished Erickson’s Worth It Series but I’m not sure. All I know is that in the time since I picked up Game for Marriage as a freebie, I’ve read many of Erickson’s works as Monica Murphy so I was excited to dive back into her world of adult romance.

The Plot:

If you love the fake relationship trope, this is the series for you! Honestly, all three of these books focus on some form of a “arranged relationship” so I really liked that.

But these books just skim the surface of everything. They focus on the sexy times and don’t delve too deep into the characters’ pasts anymore than they need to. And you’ve got your classic little white lies that blow up into something huge simply for the sake of drama. All of that just left me feeling like I was missing that little je-ne-sais-quoi to take these books to that next level.

The Characters:

They’re all likeable albeit somewhat bland. Again, it comes back to not really developing them all that much for the sake of sex scenes. They do their job at delivering the story.

The Romance:

While I love sexy times as much as the next reader, I also like conversations between my romantic leads. So while they had tangible sexual chemistry, that deeper connection was missing for me a little–especially when everything plotwise seems to happen within a month or less.

Series Rating: 3/5

Game for Marriage 3.5/5 | Game for Trouble 3/5 | Game for Tonight 3/5

overall

If you want quick, flirty romance reads this is a great series to pick up!

Read if You Like: quick romance reads
Avoid if You: want deeper plots and characters

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Series Review: Slay by Laurelin Paige

Series Review: Slay by Laurelin Paige

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

Synopsis for Slay: Rivalry (from Goodreads):
Edward Fasbender is a devil.

He’s my father’s business rival, a powerful, vicious man who takes what he wants and bows to no one. I only took the meeting because I was curious. I thought he was going to offer me a job.

But that’s not what he’s after at all. His proposal is much more intriguing, and I see an opportunity. An opportunity to turn the tables and bring down the devil.

I’ve gotten in trouble playing these games before. I know when the risk is too great, when the stakes are too high. I know how to be cold and strong-willed and destructive. I know how to withstand dominant men with arrogant charm and rugged features.

Yet I can’t resist taking on Edward.

And I can’t resist the pull he has on me.

Soon I’m not so sure which side of the battle I’m standing on–if I’m the warrior meant to slay,

Or the one who will be slain.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: Slay Quartet

This is a standalone spin-off of the Fixed Series  (Suggested Reading Order here)

Author: Laurelin Paige
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: Hot (BDSM: high | Kink: mild)
Point of View: First Person, Single (#1); Alternating (#2-#4)
Publication Date: June 4, 2019 – May 12, 2020
Source & Format: Candi Kane PR–eARC (#1); Own–Kobo (#2-#4)

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon

Copy provided only for book #1, Rivalry

thoughts

**This post was originally published as a Blog Tour Stop 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’m a HUGE Laurelin Paige fan. She writes one of my all time favourite contemporary romance series, Fixed. That’s the series I recommend to everyone who wants a delicious contemporary romance read with a hint of drama.

I’ve been dying for more insight into Celia as a character since the moment we met her in the Fixed Series. She’s fascinating as a character and her storyline later in the series is definitely intriguing. So I was eager to dive in to this.

The Plot:

The beautiful thing about all the spin-offs that Paige writes is that you don’t need to read the previous series to get what is happening. Yes, it helps to know what the allusions mean but you can definitely get by without knowing the full details. But each characters’ story is isolated to their own novels.

As some who has read all the previous novels, it was neat to see how this story fits in with the timelines and put some of the pieces together. And even though I somewhat know what happens with their story, Laurelin Paige is still able to deliver this air of the anticipation. After all, I may know some of the outcome of their relationship, but the journey itself is completely unknown!

And what a journey it is! This book had me hooked from the start! I loved this game of cat and mouse between Edward and Celia. Add to that their explosive chemistry and you’re in for a ride.

The Characters:

As I said before, Celia is one of those characters that I’ve been dying to know more about ever since she was introduced. I was so excited when it was announced she was getting her own series.

There’s just something about getting into a character’s head after only seeing them through the filter of other characters. To get her inner monologue now helps me understand her motivations and actions in a completely new way.

As for Edward—it’s funny but I always pictured him as this really old man from the first series. Probably because he is rivals with Celia’s dad. But oh boy! I’ve seen him in a completely new light and me-likey! He’s everything I want in a darker alpha lead. He’s got this air of mystery and authority but he has these moments of vulnerability that charm me every time.

The Romance:

The tension is palpable between these two! I love enemies to lovers stories because the rivalry just amps every thing up, including the romance.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Is the sequel here yet? I’m feeling a little book-hangover here…

updates

–July 15, 2021– Books #2-4: Ruin | Revenge | Rising

I binged the rest of this series in one week! I LOVED this so much!

This series goes down a road I didn’t expect; one that had its tougher moments to read but I’m so glad I stuck with it. All these books were A-Grade good. Just a masterclass on how to weave together drama and romance.

We get Edward’s POV in the other three books and I really enjoyed that. He is such a great character. An alpha male but still has that vulnerability to him that sucks you right in.

I love a good redemption story and it isn’t everyday we see a “bad girl” get one. Celia has always been an intriguing character so getting to know her better with her own series has been fabulous. I’m so glad that Laurelin Paige stuck to her gut and gave us this incredible series!

My Rating: 5/5

Rivalry 5/5 | Ruin 5/5 | Revenge 5/5 | Rising 5/5

overall
New and returning fans will love this new, darker romance from Laurelin Paige. It has the right amount of angst, romance and drama to keep you hooked!

Read if You Like: Darker Contemporary Romances, arranged romances
Avoid if You: dislike anti-heroes

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Laurelin Paige

With over 1 million books sold, Laurelin Paige is the NY Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling Author of the Fixed Trilogy. She’s a sucker for a good romance and gets giddy anytime there’s kissing, much to the embarrassment of her three daughters. Her husband doesn’t seem to complain, however. When she isn’t reading or writing sexy stories, she’s probably singing, watching Game of Thrones and the Walking Dead, or dreaming of Michael Fassbender. She’s also a proud member of Mensa International though she doesn’t do anything with the organization except use it as material for her bio.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon

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Series Review: Dimple and Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Single Sundays: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

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

Synopsis for When Dimple Met Rishi (from Goodreads):

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

breakdown

Series: Dimple and Rishi
Author: Sandhya Menon
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
There are 2 novellas as well.
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Coming of Age
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: May 30, 2017 – July 21, 2020
Source & Format: Own–Audiobook

thoughts

**This post was originally published as a standalone 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 don’t think you could escape this book in 2017. It was praised all over the Twitterverse and so I was more than curious. When the opportunity arose for me to get the audiobook copy, I immediately grabbed it!

The Concept:

On the surface, the synopsis gives the idea that this story is almost all about a possible arranged marriage between Dimple and Rishi. And while it does play a huge role in the plot and development, at the core, this is very much a coming of age story.

This is about 2 teenagers trying to find their mark in the world. Like most recent high school grads, they are feeling the pressure of growing up and deciding what they want for the rest of their lives. They are focused on their future careers and trying to reconcile them with cultural and familial expectations.

For some readers, you might not think you can relate to Rishi and Dimple because of their culture. I know I thought that a bit myself. But trying to please your parents and feeling the pressure to find that partner in life are universal tensions (I think) and you will definitely find part of yourself in these two.

The Plot:

This story reads like your typical coming of age story in terms of plot. You have a pretty basic background plot happening and it’s all about the characters and how they are coping. But there is a lot happening with Dimple and Rishi in terms of character growth and you get rather involved in the secondary character lives.

So it has its moments of fun and its moments of reflection. For me though, the pacing was slightly off. I think it might have been because I was listening to the audiobook (it clocks in at 10 hours which is really long for a contemporary novel of this nature I think) and it just seemed excessively long at times. Not that I didn’t enjoy every moment with these two–I did–I guess it just felt dragged out a touch?

The Characters:

I adored these characters and they truly make the novel for me!

Dimple is such a compelling heroine. She’s strong yet fragile at the same time and I definitely saw part of myself in her when it comes to her views on romantic relationships vs career. She’s also hilarious.

And Rishi is just so charming and I immediately fell in love with him. But what was really appealing about his character was that he was the hopeless romantic, instead of Dimple. He was the one who really wanted the relationship and felt it necessary and I usually find that it is the female characters who are cast in that role. It was a refreshing take on a standard gender role I thought.

The Romance:

Simply adorable! These two were a fantastic match and it was fabulous watching them realize that.

I also liked that it viewed (consensual) arranged marriage as a positive thing. The arranged marriage aspect really only plays a role at the start of the novel but it is a factor at play. As the relationship develops they start to undergo some realistic challenges that many young people face in their relationships so again, I think readers will identify with that.

My Audiobook Experience:

I love humour in audiobooks and this one had it in spades! The sarcastic nature was much more apparent in the audio version.

Again, I do think that the length of the audiobook affected my rating a touch (instead of a 5/5) but I still highly recommend the audiobook version!

updates

–November 17, 2020– Book #2: There’s Something About Sweetie

Ever since I read When Dimple Met Rishi, I keep an eye out for Sandhya’s novels at my library. But I never clued in that this book was a part of the series…I didn’t even know this had become a series!

I’m not complaining, this was just as charming and sweet as the first book. Sweetie is a refreshing character thanks to her self confidence and her strong sense of self worth. She’s human and it shows at times but that made her story all that refreshing.

The only thing I struggled with was Ashish’s reasoning for even agreeing to date Sweetie in the first place. His logic seemed flawed to me. Like if you are struggling with the idea of a relationship, maybe don’t get set up by your parents. His need to put a time limit on their relationship baffled me. I just couldn’t get a firm understanding of whether he actually wanted a relationship or not. Which is a shame because that confusing dampened the great scenes they had together.

Series Rating: 4/5

When Dimple Met Rishi 4/5 | There’s Something About Sweetie 4/5 | Ten Things I Hate About Pinky TBA

overall

This is a coming of age novel that any reader can relate to in some way. It’s funny, charming and will leave you with a smile on your face.

Read if You Like: coming of age, diverse reads
Avoid if You: dislike YA contemporary
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Series Review: Crazy Love by Stacey Lynn

Synopsis for Fake Wife (from Goodreads):

This marriage is strictly business… until the temptation gets way too real.

Corbin: I loved my grandma, but I don’t need her money. All I care about is keeping the house—the only place that’s ever felt like home. That, and screwing over my dad, who wants to turn the property into a mall. There’s only one catch: To receive my inheritance, I have to get married within six months. Me, the guy who’s never dated a girl for more than six minutes. Now I need to find a woman I can trust. So when I’m rear-ended by a Prius, I figure it’s a sign that I’m supposed to meet gorgeous, down-to-earth Teagan Monroe.

Teagan: First I lose my job. Then I come home and find out—in the most graphic way possible . . . yeah, that way—that my boyfriend is a cheating jerk. And then I speed off and nearly kill Portland’s sexiest bachelor. Corbin Lane should be pissed. Instead, he offers me more money than I’ve ever seen in my life to marry him and live together in a mansion for two years. No sex. No feelings. Just cash—enough to make all my dreams come true. Then we go and break all our rules . . . and I realize I’m falling in love with my fake fiancé.

Other books in the series:

breakdown

Series: Crazy Love
Author: Stacey Lynn
# of Books: 2 (Fake Wife, Knocked Up)
Book Order: Standalones
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: January 9, 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Social Butterfly PR via Netgalley–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon / iBooks / Kobo / Nook / Google Play

thoughts

**This post was originally published as a Blog Tour Stop 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 had made note of this book in the summer of 2017 when the promotional post for the cover reveal was announced. I ADORE fake relationship romances and this one had everything I love about them in its synopsis. From their unorthodox meeting (a fender bender) to the unexpected feelings that arise, I just knew I had to read this book!

The Plot:

One of the standout things about this book is its approach to the dramatic plotline. Compared to others in the genre, the plot wasn’t overly dramatic or too over the top. It has it’s dramatic moments for sure but it all just worked for this story.

You don’t have these unnecessary scenarios thrown at them simply for the sake of stirring up drama. These two had real problems to work out (albeit during extreme circumstances) and I loved watching them do that with each other. It was nice to read a story that focused on the romance and keeping the drama simple but effective for their journey.

The Characters:

These two are just genuine characters that I instantly liked.

Teagan is such a caring girl who has really defined (and subsequently lost) herself by her previous relationship. It was nice to see her come to terms and realize that her wants and needs are just as important as her partner’s and that she doesn’t need to be the only one to sacrifice who they are for the couple’s success.

Corbin is just a sweetheart! Unlike Teagan who has only ever seen herself as a duo, he doesn’t see the need for a partner. Watching him see the benefits of having a partner you can trust and care for was such a treat. He has is own baggage to workout which is fantastic in terms of watching the romance grow.

The Romance:

I’ll admit, it took me a few chapters to fully get on board with these two. While I liked them as individuals, I was worried their connection was only skin-deep initially (albeit great sexual tension!). But as they spent more time together, I was rewarded with what I love the most about fake relationship stories: a fantastic connection between two unlikely people.

Despite the quick nature of the story, I really could feel the strength of feelings they shared. They had this comfort with each other that just amplified the longer they spent time together. And seeing as they are just great individual characters, it was awesome to see them come closer the more they learned about each other. They complement each other so well so I adored their story together.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

The two leads in the next book are unfamiliar to me but the premise looks like a lot of fun! I’m excited to see what Stacey Lynn will come up with next!

updates

–September 25, 2018– Book #2: Knocked Up

Read my full review here!

 

My Rating: 4/5

Fake Wife 4/5 | Knocked Up 5/5

overall
This is a great contemporary romance that fans will no doubt devour!

Read if You Like: fake relationship trope, quick but sweet reads
Avoid if You: want lots of drama, want erotica

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Stacey Lynn

Stacey Lynn currently lives in Minnesota with her husband and four children. When she’s not conquering mountains of laundry and fighting a war against dust bunnies and cracker crumbs, you can find her playing with her children, curled up on the couch with a good book, or on the boat with her family enjoying Minnesota’s beautiful, yet too short, summer.

She lives off her daily pot of coffee, can only write with a bowlful of Skittles nearby, and has been in love with romance novels since before she could drive herself to the library.

Author Links: Facebook | Website | Twitter | Newsletter

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon / iBooks / Kobo / Nook / Google Play

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Single Sundays: Rook by Sharon Cameron

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 Rook (from Goodreads):
History has a way of repeating itself. In the Sunken City that was once Paris, all who oppose the new revolution are being put to the blade. Except for those who disappear from their prison cells, a red-tipped rook feather left in their place. Is the mysterious Red Rook a savior of the innocent or a criminal?

Meanwhile, across the sea in the Commonwealth, Sophia Bellamy’s arranged marriage to the wealthy René Hasard is the last chance to save her family from ruin. But when the search for the Red Rook comes straight to her doorstep, Sophia discovers that her fiancé is not all he seems. Which is only fair, because neither is she.

As the Red Rook grows bolder and the stakes grow higher, Sophia and René find themselves locked in a tantalizing game of cat and mouse.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: 2015 YA Fav, New Author to Watch
Author: Sharon Cameron
Genre: Young Adult, Suspense, Post Apocalyptic, Romance, Adventure, Politics
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: April 28, 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I can’t remember where I first stumbled upon this book. It was either on NetGalley or through someones blog; but what got me to add this to my TBR and get really excited was the synopsis. I mean the cover is gorgeous but a “game of cat and mouse”…that it right up my alley and I couldn’t wait to dive in.

The Concept / The World:

I am a HUGE steampunk fan, so to read a book where machines are taboo was really quite the change for me. Especially when everything about this world is so steampunk-esque in terms of politics and society. But I loved how this world came to be–and the scary thing is I could see it happening with today’s society! Our dependency on technology definitely has its strengths and weakness and I liked that this book explored that concept.

The Writing:

I added this subheading because I feel like this is people’s biggest complaint about the book–and I totally get why!

Third person narratives are always hard to get into; especially if you primarily read first person POVs like I do. I find the more familiar you are with an author and their style, the easier it is to read subsequent novels by them. But this is my first Sharon Cameron book, though it won’t be my last!

The narration in this book is not as forthcoming or honest as one would expect; but it has to be. It is a suspense novel so scenes are going to be left vague or a character will be referred to in generic terms until it is beneficial for the reader to know their exact identity. You also get multiple POVs to keep the plot moving and evolving. It makes for a frustrating read from the readers perspective but I always felt like the big reveal was worth it.

Now, that doesn’t mean I didn’t have to reread lines to make sure I was fully understanding what was happening…because I did. But eventually I got used to the flow of the book and I really enjoyed the narration by the end of it.

The Plot:

As I said, there is a lot going on at times. Which is great for a reader like me who loves layers to their novels. You have the game between Rene and Sophia; Sophia and the debt collectors; the Red Rook and LeBlanc; LeBlanc and Rene; the Upper and Lower parts of the city…I think you get the point. There are a lot of players in this game and they definitely keep things interestingAnd the great thing is that I never felt overwhelmed by it all!

I was sucked into the plot pretty quickly. I feel like it builds really well and has a great balance between all the different elements. Things were always changing and it kept me on my toes, trying to figure out what was going to happen next. This book felt really long when I first started but I pretty much read it in a day as the pages just flew by.

The Characters:

This book probably has some of the most intelligent characters I have ever had the pleasure of reading. I expected LeBlanc (the “villain”) to be a bumbling fool easily outwitted by the Red Rook but he was so on point it was almost scary! A worth adversary who definitely kept me on my toes whenever he figured something out. Of course these characters all have their flaws but their wit and tenacity really captured my attention.

Also, I just have to add this quote because I absolutely adore it:

The idea that women are not fit for certain tasks is based on cultural expectations, not the science of fact. It is an old-fashioned belief coming from the less civilized centuries after the Great Death, and has nothing to do with medicine. Any man of science knows that.

I just loved the strength of the female characters in this novel! Sophia was amazing as a heroine! She is everything I adore in my leading ladies and exactly what I had hoped for. René was a perfect opponent for Sophia and I loved their interactions together. He was a solid character in his own right and kept my attention throughout. The rest were just fun and balanced the leads and the story extremely well.

The Romance:

I really, really liked that the romance didn’t overshadow this book. It shone when it needed to but stayed dormant when it didn’t. There is a love triangle but it actually contributes to the plot in an obvious and beneficial way.

My Rating: 5/5

overall

This book just hit all the right points for me! It was fun, twisty and full of action and mind games! I was really hooked into this only a few chapters in! I think the writing will turn some people off, but once you get used to it, it moves at a great pace!

Read if You Like: strong heroines, suspense, post apocolyptic worlds
Avoid if You: want more romance, don’t like third person POVs

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Series Review: The Book of Ivy by Amy Engel

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

The Book of Ivy by Amy Engel | The Book of Ivy Series

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Book of Ivy (from Goodreads):
After a brutal nuclear war, the United States was left decimated. A small group of survivors eventually banded together, but only after more conflict over which family would govern the new nation. The Westfalls lost. Fifty years later, peace and control are maintained by marrying the daughters of the losing side to the sons of the winning group in a yearly ritual.

This year, it is my turn.

My name is Ivy Westfall, and my mission is simple: to kill the president’s son—my soon-to-be husband—and restore the Westfall family to power.

But Bishop Lattimer is either a very skilled actor or he’s not the cruel, heartless boy my family warned me to expect. He might even be the one person in this world who truly understands me. But there is no escape from my fate. I am the only one who can restore the Westfall legacy.

Because Bishop must die. And I must be the one to kill him…

breakdown

Series: The Book of Ivy
Author: Amy Engel
# of Books: 2 (The Book of Ivy, The Revolution of Ivy)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

My Expectations for the Book/Why I Picked it Up:

I was very excited to read The Book of Ivy. I loved the concept of the story–it was very Cruel Beauty-esque but with a more dystopian focus than fantasy and I really, really enjoyed Cruel Beauty so I couldn’t wait! But then, I started to see mediocre reviews for The Book of Ivy on some of the blogs that I follow and got a little less excited. Yet at the same time, it just really made me want to read this more. So I lowered my expectations slightly and went into with an open mind.

I’m glad that I did commit to picking up this book because I really did enjoy it! I was reading The Book of Ivy just on the cusp of my exams so I wanted a book where I didn’t have to think so hard and could get lost in the story. And with this book I could. I was immediately drawn into the world and couldn’t wait to see what would happen next. Was I able to put it down and function with my life–absolutely. But when I was reading, it managed to capture my attention and keep it.

The Concept/The World:

Why I think a lot of people give it a low rating is because its execution isn’t completely original; or at least to me it wasn’t. I’ve read a LOT of dystopian books and The Book of Ivy is a super mashup of ones I’ve read before. If anyone has ever read Pandemonium (Lauren Oliver’s Delirium Trilogy‘s 2nd book) they have very similar story lines and concepts. I also got vibes from the Matched Trilogy, The Breathe Series and The Selection as well. The only key difference is, while I found Ivy to be a little on the boring side, I liked her character a lot more than the heroines of these other series. The same can be said about Bishop who completely won me over from the start.

The Plot:

I think the key going into this book is to not expect some high-tension scenarios. I found The Book of Ivy coasts along at a moderate rate because the romance isn’t very passionate; the action is non-existent (ie Ivy isn’t some kick-ass heroine) and it really isn’t politically focused. It’s a very subdued dystopian novel which isn’t necessarily a bad thing–it just makes it look like the younger, not as interesting sibling of bigger dystopian titles like The Hunger Games.

However, that isn’t to say the dystopian world we get isn’t interesting! I really enjoyed the look at gender roles in society, especially how a female “contributes positively” to her community; and what happens if the concept “for the common good” is taken to an extreme. While these themes aren’t highly elaborated, they are definitely present and it add to the story in a positive way.

The Characters & The Romance:

As I said before, Ivy didn’t particularly “wow” me but I did like her character. She showed a considerable amount of growth as the story progressed and I liked her rebellious nature. And while I thought Bishop’s character was a little more on the stereotypical side of things, I liked him a lot. Together I thought they made a great pair.

Which is why I wish the romance was a little more elaborated on. I didn’t mind the slow build and I actually think it was executed in the best way for this story; but the romance fan in me did wish for some more passion 😉

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m looking forward to The Revolution of Ivy and am very glad that this book will be the finale. Not everything needs to be a trilogy and I feel that 2 books is the perfect length for this series!

updates

–July 4, 2016– Book #2: The Revolution of Ivy

While I forgot some of the littler details of the inaugural novel, I really enjoyed this finale.

I found the start to be slow but I kind-of expected that given the ending of The Book of Ivy. However, it quickly built up speed and become very interesting.

I liked the character development of Ivy we get here. This novel is really about her coming to terms with who she is as a person and what she wants to be happy in life. She makes some tough choices and I applaud her for that.

I wanted a little more excitement at the end but given the nature of the series, I’m very satisfied with how this finale played out. And, the romance was adorable <3

My Rating: 3.5/5

The Book of Ivy 3.5/5 | The Revolution of Ivy 3.5/5

overall

Is The Book of Ivy the greatest dystopian novel ever? No. But if you go in expecting a slower, more subdued dystopian story, I think you will enjoy it! It’s execution is very similar to that of the Delirium Trilogy in the sense that it isn’t a high action, high tension story (like Divergent or The Hunger Games). However, I did feel like The Book of Ivy had a better execution than the Matched Trilogy by Ally Condie which explores similar themes.

Read if You Like: low action dystopian, mild romance
Avoid if You: like kick-ass heroines (literally), dislike slow stories, want more romance

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Single Sundays: Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed

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 Written in the Stars (from Goodreads):
This heart-wrenching novel explores what it is like to be thrust into an unwanted marriage. Has Naila’s fate been written in the stars? Or can she still make her own destiny?

Naila’s conservative immigrant parents have always said the same thing: She may choose what to study, how to wear her hair, and what to be when she grows up—but they will choose her husband. Following their cultural tradition, they will plan an arranged marriage for her. And until then, dating—even friendship with a boy—is forbidden. When Naila breaks their rule by falling in love with Saif, her parents are livid. Convinced she has forgotten who she truly is, they travel to Pakistan to visit relatives and explore their roots. But Naila’s vacation turns into a nightmare when she learns that plans have changed—her parents have found her a husband and they want her to marry him, now! Despite her greatest efforts, Naila is aghast to find herself cut off from everything and everyone she once knew. Her only hope of escape is Saif . . . if he can find her before it’s too late.

breakdown

Author: Aisha Saeed
Genre: Young Adult, Coming of Age, Romance, Culture, Realistic Fiction
Heat Rating
: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This book was floating around the blogosphere when it first came out and as soon as I read the synopsis I really wanted to read it. It’s also written by one of the founding members of the #weneeddiversebooks movement–Aisha Saeed–and I have yet to read a “diverse” book.

When it comes to culture/ethnicity I fit the typical Canadian mold. I don’t identify with a particular ethnicity/hertitage/culture as I consider myself Canadian which means I’ve grown up in a house with completely Western beliefs. The idea of arranged marriage is something I have no exposure to, and what exposure I do have is coloured in western stereotype and prejudice. So what I was expecting this book to be was a young adult version of Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns but with less oppression.

The Concept:

This book was hard for me to read–not because of the writing because it is very well done–but because of the topics it deals with. As a young woman who has never been put in a position of cultural expectations by my parents, it was hard for me to relate to Naila. It’s easy for me as someone who has never had to deal with these expectations to go “do your own thing girl!”and get frustrated with her because she doesn’t.

At the same time, I think we can all relate to the desire to appease our parents’ expectations for us when it comes to academics and life (to some degree). I know that I still do despite the fact that I am approaching my mid-20s and don’t live with my parents anymore. However, at the same time, I’m at the point in my life where I mostly consult my parents about what I am doing and feel confident enough to make my own decisions. That totally wasn’t the case when I was Naila’s age and I had to make sure I reminded myself of that as I was reading.

It’s easy to judge something you don’t completely understand and I really didn’t want to do that with this book. I really tried to keep an open mind reading this book and because I did, I think I enjoyed the book a lot more.

The Plot:

Perhaps this is my ignorance showing through, but by the midpoint I thought the book became a little “over-dramatic”. Some events happen that I thought were over the top and my initial reaction was that it ruined what was a fairly realistic story up until this point.

But the more I thought about it and the more I continued reading I realized that this is probably the case for some young girls in the world. That these events are reality for some women and not simply plot elements for dramatic purposes. And that is terrifying and disheartening all at the same time.

I loved Aisha Saeed’s message at the end of the novel and the impact it had on my reading experience. She has definitely accomplished her goal with this story.

The Characters:

As I said previously, I had a hard time connecting with Naila’s character because I’ve never had cultural expectations placed on me to the level that she has. At the same time though, I thought she was well written and realistic. Her narration was easy to follow and I really felt for her by the end of the story.

The Romance:

Don’t go into this book thinking there is going to be some great romance! Naila’s romance was Saif happens prior to the novel starting and her relationship with her husband isn’t a huge portion of the story. The story is mostly about Naila dealing with her parent’s expectations while trying to remain true to her own wants and desires for life.

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

While I didn’t love this book as much as I had hoped, it definitely left a lasting impression on me. It has made me more aware of what some young woman (and men) face everyday that I have remained ignorant on. It was a very touching and eye-opening read for me.

Read if You Like: books about cultural expectations, growing up, parent relationships
Avoid if You: want an epic romance
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  • A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

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