Tag «Contemporary»

romances set in today’s time

Single Sundays: Bossy Brit by Kendall Ryan

Single Sundays: Bossy Brit by Kendall Ryan

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 Bossy Brit (from Goodreads):
Sexy billionaire Liam Bennett is cocky, dangerously handsome, and more importantly, my new boss. If only my ovaries didn’t flutter when he was near—yeah, that’d be super helpful.

When our long hours lead to a dare—and an X-rated encounter—I never expected it to be the hottest night of my life.

It’d also be super helpful if Liam didn’t know it and taunt me about it every chance he got. Unable to deny our attraction any longer, our work relationship brings a whole new meaning to the term inbox.

But being with him comes with some baggage—like an ex-wife and three kids kind of baggage. And a lawyer who wants half of his company.

Unsure that I’m cut out for this new level of complicated, my traitorous ovaries beg me to try.

Heaven help us all.

breakdown

Author: Kendall Ryan
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: November 25, 2019
Source & Format: Amazon Kindle–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I was in a bit of a reading-funk in November 2021 as the end of the year approached. So I decided to read some of the shorter novels I had sitting on my Kobo and Kindle to get me back in the mood all-the-while adding some titles to my year-end Goodreads Goal. This one popped up and sounded like a great option for my mood. I’ve enjoyed Kendall Ryan books in the past so I was looking forward to read this freebie I picked up.

The Plot:

Despite the shorter page count of this story, I felt like everything was fairly well-rounded. Could we have had a more elaborate plot and characters? Sure. But there is something to be said for a straight-forward romance. I thought this was super cute and had a tone of realism to it (Liam managing his divorce and his kids) that I appreciated.

The Characters:

I’m sure it is hard to write a character from a specific country and not make them fall into every stereotype. But honestly, I totally forgot Liam was supposed to be British. Other than the occasional drop of the words “knickers” and “arse”, I forgot he was billeted as a British hunk. He has been living in America for the better part of a decade so maybe he lost some of his British-isms.

The Romance:

It was easy to see why Noelle and Liam would fall for each other. At first, I worried their relationship was based on physical chemistry only but as I read more, I say how they connected with each other. I also liked that they were strong in their convictions and knew what they wanted. Perhaps we don’t see them get frightened of their relationship because of the shorter page count? Regardless, I liked how their relationship progressed.

My Rating: 3/5

overall

This was a well-rounded, genuinely cute romance that is a great one-shot read for those who want something that will bring a smile to your face.

Read if You Like: single dad heroes, office romances
Avoid if You: want erotica, want a longer novel

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Single Sundays: Whiskey Moon by Winter Renshaw

Single Sundays: Whiskey Moon 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 Whiskey Moon (from Goodreads):
Bogie had Bacall. Carrie had Big. I had Wyatt.

Growing up, he was the handsome cowboy next door, an unlikely confidant, my best friend, my first kiss, and my favorite person.

We were just a couple of small town kids with ambitions bigger than the stars in our eyes. The summer after graduation, we made a pact: I’d go to college in New York and he’d stay and take over his daddy’s ranch. If by twenty-eight we were both still single, we’d get married …

But as we stood in our high school gymnasium the night of our ten-year reunion, Wyatt told me he loved me too much to marry me.

He’d never broken a promise to me in his life, but in a single heartbeat he broke the only one that ever mattered.

He said it would all make sense someday, that there would come a time I might even be able to forgive him.

But then I stumbled upon the truth.

And there was no forgiving a secret this shattering—one that made me question if I ever knew him at all; one that only made me want him that much more.

Bogie had Bacall. Carrie had Big. I had Wyatt.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Author: Winter Renshaw
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: October 29, 2021
Source & Format: Booksprout–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m very picky about second chance romances but I always know that Winter Renshaw can deliver when it comes to her romances and so I just had to pick up her latest release when the opportunity presented itself.

The Concept:

Now the synopsis made me think we started this story on the night of their high school reunion. That really isn’t the case at all. This story really is about a girl who returns to her small town and her first love after she left to go to college and never returned. Of course there is more to the reason(s) why she didn’t return but I think it’s important for readers to know that this isn’t a romance about two people fulfilling a marriage pact but a second chance romance.

The Plot:

Once I got a grasp on what the plot actually was, I enjoyed it’s slow burn, slow reveal approach. You get little inklings of what actually transpired to drive these two apart so I enjoyed the suspense that brought to the story.

The Characters:

I liked that Blaire and Wyatt were complex characters. I really enjoyed that their characters developed independently of each other, despite the fact that they were only re-evaluating because they had returned to each other’s lives. I became engrossed in their stories and their struggles and I liked that they seemed like real people, even if their circumstances seemed extraordinary.

The Romance:

One of the reasons I’m picky about second chance romances is the romance itself. Usually some time has past between the break-up and the reunion and I don’t enjoy couples that just pick up where they left off despite the lapse in time. That doesn’t happen here. Those feelings are definitely still there, but they have to be coaxed out of each of them over time. I was a big fan of these two because we got to know them so well as characters but that spark between them was always obvious.

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

I like a novel that can make me feel every emotion and this one definitely tugged on my heartstrings. I went in expecting a marriage pact novel so I had to readjust my expectation, hence the slightly lower rating.

Read if You Like: second chance romances, family secrets, small town romances
Avoid if You: contemporary romance, second chance romances

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Series Review: All-Stars by Katie McCoy

Series Review: All-Stars by Katie McCoy

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Royal Player (from Goodreads):

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

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

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

Everything.

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

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

breakdown

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

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

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

The Plot:

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

The Characters:

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

The Romance:

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

My Audiobook Experience:

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

Series Rating: 3.5/5

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

overall

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

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

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Single Sundays: Cupcake by Cookie O’Gorman

Single Sundays: Cupcake by Cookie O’Gorman

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 Cupcake (from Goodreads):
I know what you’re thinking.

You’re thinking this will be just one more story of the ignored, “big-boned ” girl, who sheds her glasses and a few extra pounds and finally attracts the notice of the most popular guy in school.

Except it isn’t. Because I’m not unpopular. Not all that ignored. And I love the way I look―just as I am.

Then someone puts my name in for Homecoming Court.

The bigger surprise?

People actually vote for me!

Now, I’m a “princess”―whether I like it or not―but the guy I’m paired with isn’t exactly Prince Charming.

Rhys Castle is the strong, silent type who always wears a frown―he’s certainly never smiled at me. I’m 99.9% sure he hates being on Court and being my partner, but surprisingly…he doesn’t switch when he gets the chance.

Turns out Rhys has a secret―something that makes him run hot and cold throughout the entire three weeks of Homecoming festivities. Whether he’s stepping on my feet during dance lessons or gallantly escorting me through the Homecoming parade, I can’t get a read on this guy, and for the first time, I find my confidence wavering.

But there’s more to Rhys than meets the eye. And the more the spotlight shines on me, I realize there’s more to me, too

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Author: Cookie O’Gorman
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Coming of Age
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: November 2, 20221
Source & Format: Author–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve always enjoyed Cookie’s books; I’ve been a fan since she published her first book, Adorkable, years ago. She simply writes enjoyable, genuine and swoon-worthy YA contemporaries that never fail to make me smile. I don’t usually go out of my way to read YA contemporaries but I always pick up Cookie’s books when I get the chance.

The Concept:

I haven’t really read any Young Adult books that have a plus sized girl as the lead and I think that’s such a shame because everyone’s body is different and beautiful. The need for diverse books where people can see themselves in characters is something that is long overdue and this book is a step in that direction.

The Plot:

I smiled a lot during this book. It was the perfect blend between a coming of age story and all the feels of your favourite romantic comedy movies.

The Characters:

I loved Ariel’s personal story. Despite her confidence in herself, we see her vulnerability at times and that makes her such a relatable lead. She feels like she could be a regular person you’d meet in real life and I think all readers can find a piece of themselves in her.

This is Cupcake’s story but Rhys shines when he is in the scene. I would have loved a little more of him at the start because he too has a great backstory and vulnerability to him–something we don’t often see in our YA contemporary heroes. He’s a total sweetheart and definitely charmed his way into my heart.

The Romance:

The romance is definitely a slow burn one, taking it’s time to unfold. Which more than worked for me. There’s this great tension simmering between the two of them. Rhys is a bit of an enigma at the start too so I loved the mysterious air he had around him and how we slowly peel back the layers (and his possible feelings) the more he interacts with Ariel.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

Cookie’s books never fail to make me smile and warm my heart and this book is no exception! Fans of YA contemporary need to add her to their TBRs ASAP!

Read if You Like: YA contemporary, diverse books
Avoid if You: dislike YA contemporary

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Series Review: Off-Limits by Piper Lawson

Fresh Fridays: Crave (Off-Limits #1) by Piper Lawson

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

Off-Limits Series

book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Crave (from Amazon.ca):

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

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

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

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

He’s her new professor.

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

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author; Canadian Author
Series: Off-Limits
Author: Piper Lawson
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Forbidden Love
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: October 26, 2021 – ongoing
Source & Format: Author–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

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

What I Liked:

–Fantastic Chemistry–

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

–The Mysterious Sawyer–

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

–Rebellious Olivia–

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

What I Didn’t Like:

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

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

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

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

updates

–January 12, 2022– Book #2: Collide

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

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

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

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

My Rating: 4/5

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

overall

I love these characters and their chemistry is great! I can’t wait to see what Piper has in store for them!

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

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Spin-off Saturdays: The 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: Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

Series Review: Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

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 Royal We (from Goodreads):

“I might be Cinderella today, but I dread who they’ll think I am tomorrow. I guess it depends on what I do next.”

American Rebecca Porter was never one for fairy tales. Her twin sister, Lacey, has always been the romantic who fantasized about glamour and royalty, fame and fortune. Yet it’s Bex who seeks adventure at Oxford and finds herself living down the hall from Prince Nicholas, Great Britain’s future king. And when Bex can’t resist falling for Nick, the person behind the prince, it propels her into a world she did not expect to inhabit, under a spotlight she is not prepared to face.

Dating Nick immerses Bex in ritzy society, dazzling ski trips, and dinners at Kensington Palace with him and his charming, troublesome brother, Freddie. But the relationship also comes with unimaginable baggage: hysterical tabloids, Nick’s sparkling and far more suitable ex-girlfriends, and a royal family whose private life is much thornier and more tragic than anyone on the outside knows. The pressures are almost too much to bear, as Bex struggles to reconcile the man she loves with the monarch he’s fated to become.

Which is how she gets into trouble.

Now, on the eve of the wedding of the century, Bex is faced with whether everything she’s sacrificed for love-her career, her home, her family, maybe even herself-will have been for nothing.

breakdown

Series: Royal We
Author: Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: April 2015 – July 2020
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This book seemed to be everywhere when it was first released but I’m pretty sure it was Cristina’s review @ Girl In the Pages that had me adding this to my TBR. I love anything to do with Royalty–not just the British Monarchy–so this modern romance was right up my alley. I’m glad I put off reading it for so long though because waiting 4+years for the sequel would have sucked but I was eager to dive in when I saw my library had the audiobooks.

The Concept / The World:

I keep up with the happenings of the British Royal Family so I loved the little allusions to real life royals throughout. That also made parts of this seem unoriginal, especially with the events of the British Monarchy in the last 3 years, but I still enjoyed these characters nonetheless. I mean, to be fair, The Royal We was written and published before Prince Harry publicly started dating Meghan Markle so imagine if I read this book when it came out, the ideas would have been “fresher” to me. I did feel like things do take a more original turn as things progress and we get more into the personal lives of all the characters.

The Plot:

These books are really long and they often remind you of that. I had a bit of a love-hate relationship with the number of pages. In a positive light: I can appreciate that this story isn’t something that happens in a few weeks but takes years to develop. In a more negative light: I often felt like we rehashed the same stuff or dwelled too long on aspects.

HOWEVER, I can appreciate that this series has a realistic tone to it when it comes to the plot and how the characters react to it. I think we equate royalty with fairy tales and happily ever after and place them on a pedestal of ideal lifestyle. But it isn’t always sunshine and rainbows (look at Harry and Meghan) and this book reminds us that they are human too with their own set of challenges.

The Characters:

As I said above, these characters are human and it is nice to read such a character driven story as you watch them navigate live and the challenges presented to them. They aren’t flawless and it’s evident throughout the series. I found my frustrations as a reader volleyed between all the characters at some point or another for some of their actions. But stepping back, I can appreciate that they did the best they could and yeah, they make some mistakes.

The Romance:

I really liked the depth we explored with Bex and Nick’s relationship. This isn’t some quick romance but one with a lot of parts to it and real life thrown along the way. It’s a complex relationship to see the least. The title of the series is aptly named “Royal We” because their relationship encompasses many different people in it when all is said and done. It’s an interesting dynamic to watch unfold.

My Audiobook Experience:

I often struggle with audiobooks that are over 12 hours long (short attention span because I could read the book myself in half the time) and this series clocks in around 18 hours each. But I listened to it at 1.5-1.75x and that helped a bit. I think in a character driven story like this, that hearing the characters’ emotions as they go through the ups and downs helped bring them to life in a way that I might have missed by simply reading the book.

Series Rating: 3.5/5

The Royal We 4/5 | The Heir Affair 3/5

overall

If you want a lighter, happy go lucky romance, maybe this isn’t for you. But if you enjoy character driven stories–particularly about royalty–this is a great series for you to grab.

Read if You Like: royalty, contemporary romances, character driven stories
Avoid if You: want erotica, dislike long books

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Serial Saturdays: Elite of Eden Falls Prep by Betti Rosewood

Serial Saturdays: Elite of Eden Falls Prep by Betti Rosewood

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 A Hurt So Sweet (from Goodreads):

If you can’t beat the rich boys…
F*ck them.

Lily Anna Oakes and I share everything.

We have the same billion-dollar name, the same designer clothes, and the same messed up problems.

But Lily Anna and I will never meet. She died years ago.

This town broke her. I’ll burn it to the ground before I let that happen to me.

In Eden Falls, I’m forced to attend a school for the elite. The Firstborns own this place and they think they own me, too. It’s not long before Dexter, Caspian, Lai, and Julian become the bane of my existence.

There are only two people I’m afraid of – my strict father, and my malevolent fiancé. Unfortunately for me, my husband-to-be is one of the Firstborns ruining my life.

Dexter Booth and I will marry on my birthday to secure our families’ bond.

Every woman in this damn town wants to be Dexter’s toy. Except me.

Dex and his Eden Falls Prep cronies have forced me to give up my body. I know my betrothed wants my mind next.

I play along… But soon, I’ll leave the beautiful jerk behind without the thing he wants most from me.

His heir.

breakdown

Series: Elite of Eden Falls Prep

Set in the Same Universe as the Lords of Wildwood Series

Author: Betti Rosewood
# of Parts: 4
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Dark, Contemporary, Erotica, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: Smokin’ (Kink: Major | BDSM: High)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: September 2019 – January 2020
Source & Format: Hidden Gems Books–eARC (#1); Kindle Unlimited (#2-4)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I read the synopsis, I immediately thought about Secret Heir by M J Prince which I loved for its angst, hate to love you romance, and secrets. And while I go through withdrawal for that sequel, this seemed like a great pick.

The Concept:

I think this series struggles a bit with its need to shock and that in turn makes it hard to pinpoint the audience. Overall, this reads like an adult erotica novel but takes place with recently graduated high schoolers. So it makes for some uncomfortable sexual scenes because of their ages. It sometimes feels like it’s kids playing grown-up.

The world itself is interesting but I don’t think it was as fleshed out as it could have been. It’s was a lot of “this is how it is” but not a why. I almost felt like I was entering a series halfway through because some things felt like they should be “assumed” by the reader. And that leads into my biggest complaint that things are intentionally left out to build the intrigue but, in turn, it just makes things feel underdeveloped.

The Plot:

I wanted a little lot more to the plot. Pandora tries to rebel but her efforts weren’t all that strong and I had hoped to get more from her. The plot here is more about her entering this world and all the crappy things that happen to her because she is an outsider. The synopsis gave me the idea that she was going in with a plan for revenge but she kinda just takes everything thrown at her without pushback.

I guess I just wanted a little more cohesiveness or at least an idea of what the bigger , overall picture would be. It’s a lot of shock factor heaped into the series so it takes some time to sort through it all to understand what is really happening in this story.

The Characters:

There’s a lot of angst from the characters though I’m not entirely sure it is all warranted. I felt like certain things where kept vague to add intrigue and it did work because I kept reading hoping I could figure it out. But it was frustrating because you are intentionally left out of stuff. That works for twists later in the book, but only if the reader doesn’t notice they are missing key point. Again, it just made things seem underdeveloped and not thought out.

The characters themselves where also all over the place. Like I said, Pandora couldn’t seem to stay consistent in her character and her subsequent actions. I can understand that the torment she receives from the other characters would lead her to have some insecurities but I honestly felt like I was reading about a different character in every part.

The Romance:

It’s very twisted and I think I wanted something that was more…romantic? I wasn’t overly drawn to the connection. Dex’s past love with Lily was endearing and sweet, so I didn’t totally understand this draw to Pandora he seemed to have. Nor did I get the draw to Dex from Pandora. Add to that some scenes of dubious consent with Pandora’s other bullies and it all was just uber toxic.

Series Rating: 2/5

Volume 1 3/5 | Volume 2 2/5 | Volume 3 2.5/5 | Volume 4 3/5

overall

I think there are better high-school-bully romances out there. But if you enjoy books that simply shock and can get some plot hole logic and inconsistencies, I think you might find this series addicting in its own way.

But truthfully, if you want a dark book with twisted characters but has a strong plot, check out anything by Ella Miles instead.

Read if You Like: high school bully trope; polyamourous relationships
Avoid if You: dislike erotica, dislike toxic relationships

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Spin-off Saturdays: Retribution Games by Ella Miles

Spin-off Saturdays: Retribution Games by Ella Miles

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:

Retribution Series is a spin-off of the Truth or Lies Series

book5

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Retribution Games

This is a spinoff of the Truth or Lies Series.

Author: Ella Miles
# of Books: 6 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No
Genre: Adult, Dark, Contemporary, Action, Suspense, Romance
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: June 29, 20221 – ongoing
Source & Format: Author—eARC

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

thoughts

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

My Expectations?

The Truth or Lies Universe is one of my favourites of Ella Miles. She writes very dark contemporary romances but I found this universe of series finds the right balance between action, romance, shock and steam.

The original Truth or Lies Series is a hard one to live up to though I have enjoyed the other spin-off series: Sinful Truths & Lies. With those two series, the characters were ones who had been regularly featured from the inaugural series so I had a lot of preconceived notions and expectations. But this new series featured a hero, Beckett, that we had only encountered a few times throughout the other series. So I was curious to see how this would all go down.

How Does It Compare To The Original?

–Not Knowing Much About Our Leads–

As I said above, I didn’t know much about Beckett going into this and I think that was actually to this story’s advantage. With the other Truth or Lies spinoffs, I had expectations for each of the leads and I had to quickly re-evaluate those once we got into the story. But here, I really had no idea what type of story we were going to get and I loved that.

–Strong Heroine Fighting for Herself–

Ri reminds me a lot of Kai, our heroine from the Truth or Lies Series. She’s a kickass woman in a mainly male dominated world but she can hold her own. She doesn’t see her sex as a weakness and has no problem proving everyone wrong.

–Great Romantic Chemistry–

Beckett and Ri have this whole “will they or won’t they” vibe to them that I love to read about. There is this underlying tension between them as they fight what is so obvious to the reader: that they would be a great pair.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

–Inconsistencies With Plot–

The plot progression seemed a little messy to me at times and not in a great way. I’ve read enough Ella Miles novels to feel that sometimes she omits things for the sake of later twists or shock value, and those omissions challenge my logical brain. I’m of the belief that future twists should go undetected but should always be underlying if you were to ever go back and reread a book knowing what happens.

For example: there is a scene at the very end of Book #1, Mistaken Hero, that I think will have some people going “what?” and I agree. It wouldn’t be the way I would have tried to alleviate that particular bind; and the fallout from it in the other books is wish-washy at best.

And after reading Book #2, Forbidden Princess, I felt like this book lacked some consistency with past events of the previous book which stopped me from being fully immersed in this novel.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Things are starting to weave together now and I can’t wait to see how this ride will play out in the next few novels.

updates

–October 31, 2021– Book #4: Fatal Princess

The plot thickens! Things take an interesting turn here as we see the key players make their moves for the finale. It was thrilling to read, waiting to see what the next layer to this complicated plot would reveal itself next. The romance evolves itself as well and I can’t wait to see where this goes!

–November 20, 2021– Book #5: Tortured Hero

I found this installment to be super suspenseful. Everyone is making their final moves for the finale and it brings a great tension to the read. Betrayal, lust and deception is abounds!

–November 27, 2021– Book #6: Dangerous Princess

This book was a great way to wrap up the series but at the same time, leave the reader excited for the next spin-off series. I really thought that this was going to be the last series set in this world but I’m excited to return to it for the next one!

Series Rating: 4/5

Mistaken Hero 5/5 | Forbidden Princess 3.5/5 | Tempted Hero 4/5 | Fatal Princess 4/5 | Tortured Hero 4/5 | Dangerous Princess 4/5

overall

Out of all the other spin-offs, this one feels the closest to Truth or Lies in its execution. With strong leads, the undeniable chemistry between them and a criminal empire fighting for control, this is a wild ride of a series!

Read if You Like: dark romances, action, mafia reads
Avoid if You: dislike mafia stories, dislike soap operas

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Mistaken Hero (from Goodreads):

She’s a mafia princess.
I’m an anti-hero.
She’s running from her past.
I’ve put my dark past behind me.
Until she mistakes me for her hero.
I’m no hero.
And I’m definitely not hers.
I already found my happily ever after.
One she decided to ruin.
Now I want revenge.
Let the retribution games begin.

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Spin-Off Saturdays: The College Years by Monica Murphy

Spin-Off Saturdays: The College Years by Monica Murphy

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

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

breakdown

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

This is a spinoff of the The Callahans Series.

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

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

thoughts

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

My Expectations?

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

How Does It Compare To The Original?

–More Realistic Approach–

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

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

–Focus On Friendship–

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

–Slow Burn Romances–

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

Anything I Didn’t Like?

–Plot Pacing–

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

–Uneven Character Development–

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

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

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

updates

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Series Rating: 3.5/5

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

overall

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

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

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Freshman (from Goodreads):

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

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

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

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

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