Tag «Contemporary»

romances set in today’s time

Series Review: Sexy Jerk World by Kim Karr

Series Review:  Sexy Jerk World by Kim Karr

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Sexy Jerk (from Goodreads):

My best friend is married.
Everyone I know is married. It doesn’t bother me. I like my life the way it is.

Since I’m single though, when my best friend and her husband finally decide to go on their dream honeymoon, she asks me to watch their three-year-old son.

Of course I say yes.

What my best friend neglects to tell me is that I won’t be babysitting alone.

Feeling Max might be too much for me to handle, her husband asks his only single friend to help.

Nick Carrington and I have met a couple of dozen times. I’ve never really given him a second thought—other than to say he’s kind of a jerk. Out loud. So he can hear. Sure, he’s tall, dark, and handsome. And yes, he has the best ass I’ve ever seen, and I mean ever seen quite literally. You see he mooned me at last year’s Fourth of July barbecue because, like I said, he’s a jerk.

He always has to be the life of the party.
He’s also arrogant.
Imposing.
Rich.
And a playboy.
I’d even go as far as to say he’s a manwhore.

Yet somehow before I know it, this manwhore and I are co-parenting. Living under the same roof. Eating meals together and yes, talking.

Don’t look at me like that—it’s not like I had a choice. Even though I knew every minute would be hell, I had to say yes.

But after two weeks what I didn’t expect is that I’d been wrong about him.
That under his smart-ass exterior, he’s quite charming.
That his arrogance is actually confidence.
And that the sight of his naked body would do really bad things to me.

So yes, I’ve misjudged him. And yes, I like him. Really like him. Although there are times I still think he’s a jerk…I now think he’s a sexy jerk.

And I want more of him.

The question is—does he want more of me?

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Sexy Jerk World
Author: Kim Karr
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order)

There is a prequel novella: #0.5 Uptown Girl

Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: Toasty (Kink: mild in Big Shot)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: May 2017 – September 2017
Source & Format: Own–eBook (Kindle); Audiobook (#2, #3)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

After I read Kim’s No Pants Required (and loved it!) she quickly became a staple on my contemporary romance TBR lists. But I haven’t been the best about actually reading her books. That’s why I added Sexy Jerk to my 2019 5 Year 5 Books Challenge as a pick for the year 2017 and the last two books to my 2020 5Y5BC.

The Plot:

Compared to Kim Karr’s Men of Laguna Series, I didn’t think this series was as rom-com-esque. There’s a dose of real life thrown along the way as you watch these characters struggle with finding themselves.

I think the drama gets a little top heavy near the end. Things reach their climax at the end and seem a little rushed as the majority of the books are dedicated to sexy times and character moments.

One thing I really loved how open all the characters were about sex and exploring sexuality in their relationships. That’s not something that you get all the time in contemporary romance.

The Characters:

Besides the first book, I kinda struggled to connect with these characters. I’m not really sure why because they did have layers to them so they had some depth. I think I just didn’t understand some of their struggles or hesitations? My other theory is that the pacing and flow of the novels just didn’t work for me and I found my mind wandering.

The Romance:

All of these romances felt fast to me because of their quick plot timelines. I could see the connections though for the most parts so I tried to overlook it.

The one I really struggled with was in Big Shot (#2). Given the nature of that relationship and the second chance mentality, I just craved more from that story and its characters.

When to Read the Novella, #0.5 Uptown Girl:

Some sites list this book as #4 in the series but I think that’s only because of its publication date (it was released after the 3 full novels). But I think you will get the most out of it by reading it first. It just fills in some of the little holes that are alluded to in Sexy Jerk. However, you can definitely skip it and not miss much either.

My Audiobook Experience:

Despite owning all the books in the series, I listened to the last two as audiobooks from my library simply because I’m running out of audio titles to read! The productions are great and do a wonderful job of bringing the characters to life.

Series Rating: 3/5

[Uptown Girl 3/5] | Sexy Jerk 4/5 | Big Shot 3/5 | Hot Stuff 3/5

overall

This wasn’t my favourite Kim Karr series ever but if you are looking for a refreshing lighter romance, these standalones are great.

Read if You Like: contemporary romance, sex positive stories
Avoid if You: dislike drama, dislike contemporary

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Series Review: Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker

Series Review: Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker

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

book

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Ten Tiny Breaths (from Goodreads):
Kacey Cleary’s whole life imploded four years ago in a drunk-driving accident. Now she’s working hard to bury the pieces left behind—all but one. Her little sister, Livie. Kacey can swallow the constant disapproval from her born-again aunt Darla over her self-destructive lifestyle; she can stop herself from going kick-boxer crazy on Uncle Raymond when he loses the girls’ college funds at a blackjack table. She just needs to keep it together until Livie is no longer a minor, and then they can get the hell out of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

But when Uncle Raymond slides into bed next to Livie one night, Kacey decides it’s time to run. Armed with two bus tickets and dreams of living near the coast, Kacey and Livie start their new lives in a Miami apartment complex, complete with a grumpy landlord, a pervert upstairs, and a neighbor with a stage name perfectly matched to her chosen “profession.” But Kacey’s not worried. She can handle all of them. What she can’t handle is Trent Emerson in apartment 1D.

Kacey doesn’t want to feel. She doesn’t. It’s safer that way. For everyone. But sexy Trent finds a way into her numb heart, reigniting her ability to love again. She starts to believe that maybe she can leave the past where it belongs and start over. Maybe she’s not beyond repair.

But Kacey isn’t the only one who’s broken. Seemingly perfect Trent has an unforgiveable past of his own; one that, when discovered, will shatter Kacey’s newly constructed life and send her back into suffocating darkness.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Canadian Author
Series: Ten Tiny Breaths
Author: K.A. Tucker
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)

There is a prequel novella, #0.5 In Her Wake

Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Tragedy, Drama
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Single (#1-2); Alternating (#3-4)
Publication Dates: December 2012 – June 2014
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook (#1-2); Scribd–Audiobook (#3-4)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I first started reading the New Adult genre, this popped up all the time on my recommended reads list. Like many books, I didn’t get around to reading it until e-copies became available at my library.

The Concept:

The whole premise of this series is that love can be messy. These aren’t your typical boy meets girl stories. These characters have tragic pasts or have made different life choices than your regular romantic leads. That means the stories here aren’t always cut and dry. I thought a lot of these relationships straddled a line between what society would expect and want versus the human condition.

The Plot:

I think the best way to describe the plots in all these stories is that our leads are running from something and suddenly, they find themselves in a place that accepts them and they start to think maybe I can call this place home. What they are running from differs from book to book but that’s the overall vibe these books give.

Some are more suspenseful than others because of the characters. But they all have this angst and some sexual tension with their romantic leads.

The Characters:

If you enjoy flawed characters learning to embrace who they are as people, even if they make a few mistakes along the way, you’ll enjoy this cast. Again, you might not love everyone you meet but I feel like K A Tucker does a good job of developing her characters so at the very least, you can understand their motives.

The Romance:

While there is plenty of steam when it comes to the romance, you aren’t just reading sex scene after sex scene. In some ways, there is a bit of a slow burn to all these romances as they take their time to grow.

However: I definitely thought the romantic connections were stronger at the start of the series. As we got to the end, I just thought the romances seemed a little tired and not as rich in their connections as they were at the start.

When to Read the Novella #0.5 In Her Wake:

DO NOT READ THIS UNTIL AFTER YOU FINISH TEN TINY BREATHS! Or else it will ruin the amazing suspense of Ten Tiny Breaths! It is a perfect companion for Ten Tiny Breaths and that is all I am going to say about that!

My Audiobook Experience:

I enjoyed the audiobooks. I only made the format switch because I read the first two books YEARS ago and they were available when I needed new audio reads.

Series Rating: 4/5

Ten Tiny Breaths 4/5 | One Tiny Lie 4/5 | Four Seconds to Lose 3/5 | Five Ways to Fall 3/5

overall

I think if you enjoy angsty, realistic reads about people finding their “home” in life a heavy dash of romance and suspense, this is a great series to explore!

Read if You Like: angsty reads, darker stories
Avoid if You: dislike romance

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Series Review: Love Unexpectedly by Lauren Layne

Series Review: Love Unexpectedly by Lauren Layne

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 Blurred Lines (from Goodreads):

In a novel that’s perfect for fans of Alice Clayton and Emma Chase, Lauren Layne delivers a sexy take on the timeless question: Can a guy and a girl really be “just friends”?

When Parker Blanton meets Ben Olsen during her freshman year of college, the connection is immediate—and platonic. Six years later, they’re still best friends, sharing an apartment in Portland’s trendy Northwest District as they happily settle into adult life. But when Parker’s boyfriend dumps her out of the blue, she starts to wonder about Ben’s no-strings-attached approach to dating. The trouble is, even with Ben as her wingman, Parker can’t seem to get the hang of casual sex—until she tries it with him.

The arrangement works perfectly . . . at first. The sex is mind-blowing, and their friendship remains as solid as ever, without any of the usual messy romantic entanglements. But when Parker’s ex decides he wants her back, Ben is shocked by a fierce stab of possessiveness. And when Ben starts seeing a girl from work, Parker finds herself plagued by unfamiliar jealousy. With their friendship on the rocks for the first time, Parker and Ben face an alarming truth: Maybe they can’t go back. And maybe, deep down, they never want to.

breakdown

Series: Love Unexpectedly
Author: Lauren Layne
# of Books: 5 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Standalones
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: August 2015 – November 2017
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook (#1-#3); eBook (#4)

thoughts

**Please Note: This review excludes Book #5, An Ex for Christmas, simply because my library doesn’t have the book!**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Lauren Layne quickly became a must-read author for me after I read her Redemption Series a few years ago. She just writes great stories with great characters and so I keep an eye out for any books of hers. Which is why they were on my 2019 5 Year 5 Book Reading Challenge as a pick for 2015. I actually own the first 3 books of this series for my Kobo but opted to read the audiobook versions instead because I needed more audiobooks to listen to in my life.

The Concept:

There is really no connection between all the stories in terms of characters. Instead, it’s more about the idea that love can happen in the most unlikely of places. Therefore, you can truly read this series in any order or skip novels that aren’t of interest to you.

I didn’t read Book #5 simply because my library didn’t have it. But if it ever becomes available there, or can find it somewhere else, I would definitely read it.

The Plot:

When I compare this series to Layne’s other ones, this is a bit more on the lighter side of things. I didn’t think we reached the same depths of character growth or plot but everything is there to keep the story moving and evolving. In some ways, they read more like a realistic love story of the friends you already know in your friend circle but with some more dramatic moments along the way.

The Characters:

All the characters are likeable–but Lauren Layne always manages to make her characters likeable even when you don’t expect it. I would have liked to have scratched the surface more with them but what we got worked for the story.

The Romance:

Simply put: they’re all sweet romances. She knows how to write great chemistry.

My Audiobook Experience:

I really enjoyed the audiobooks. It was great to have both a male and female narrator bring the characters to life.

Series Rating: 3.5/5

Blurred Lines 3/5 | Good Girl 4/5 | Love Story 3/5 | Walk of Shame 4/5 | An Ex for Christmas N/A

overall

If you want a quick, lighter romance read with some of your favourite romance tropes: pick this series up or even just grab one of its titles!

Read if You Like: lighter romances, true standalones in a series
Avoid if You: want darker romances

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Fresh Fridays: In the Penalty Box by Lynn Rush and Kelly Anne Blout

Fresh Fridays: On Friday, I review a brand new series (ie. only has one book released so far) to see if the series is worth keeping up with. Here is this week’s offering:

Other books planned to be in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for In the Penalty Box (from Goodreads):

The Cutting Edge meets Friday Night Lights in a sizzling new hockey romance from bestselling authors Kelly Anne Blount and Lynn Rush.

Willow
Figure skating was supposed to be my whole world. But one unlucky injury and now I’m down…but I’m definitely not out. I just need to rehab—a boatload of rehab—and who’d have thought I could do it on the boys’ hockey team?

Of course, the infuriatingly hot captain of the team seems to think I’m nothing but sequins and twirls. What’s a girl to do but put him in his place? Game on.

Brodie
Hockey is my whole world. I’ve worked my tail off getting my team in a position to win the championships—hopefully in front of major college scouts, too—so what’s a guy to do when a figure skater ends up as our new goalie?

Of course, the distractingly sexy skater thinks I’m nothing but a testosterone-laced competitive streak. And surely she’s only biding her time to heal, then she’s gone. Game over.

breakdown

Series: TBA
Author: Lynn Rush and Kelly Anne Blount
# of Books: 1+ (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: TBA
Complete?: Unknown
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Sports
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: January 5, 2021 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a sucker for YA sports reads and have had tremendous luck with them in the past. So when I read the synopsis about a figure skater trying to make it in the world of hockey AND a forbidden romance, I was so on board.

What I Liked:

–Gender Roles in Sports–

I grew up in small towns where there weren’t always enough players to have separate boys and girls teams and so girls would be on the “boys” hockey time all the time. I also know a lot of the Canadian Women’s Hockey players play in men’s leagues. But it is naïve to think that there aren’t barriers in place or assumed gender roles from those who play in the sports, even today.

So I really liked the added dimension of people pushing back against Willow playing with the boys. I thought it provided great material for her character development and highlighted the fact that preconceived notions can literally stop you from winning or being the best team you can be.

–Self-Discovery and Growth–

I think Willow had the most obvious character growth in the pair thanks to the challenges her injury presented her and her family life. But Brodie had a very heavy storyline as well. I think some of it could have been hashed out a littler earlier but I appreciated his struggles and how his reactions to everything were grounded in realism.

–Slow Burn Forbidden Romance–

While I would have loved a few more flirty interactions (and not just inner monologues about how good the other looked in workout gear); I really did love how these two bonded as friends and teammates before they gave into the chemistry.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Pacing–

It took me a while to get into this book. It is really slow at the start as Willow orients herself in her new town and with her new limitations. That’s why I think more flirting or tension filled moments between her and Brodie at the start would have kept the pacing up. It just made the latter half of the book feel rushed and top-heavy with drama and developments.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

There haven’t been any officially announcements about a sequel but I could see some tensions brewing between the best friends of our leads here.

My Rating: 3/5

In the Penalty Box 3/5 | Book 2 TBP

overall

If you are looking for a sweet, clean teen read about navigating the challenges life throws at you in a sports world setting, this is the one for you!

Read if You Like: slower stories, sports romances
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, dislike sweet romance
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Single Sundays: Arrogant Fiancé by T L Smith and Melissa Jane

Single Sundays: Arrogant Fiancé by T L Smith and Melissa Jane

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 Arrogant Fiancé (from Goodreads):

He wasn’t meant to be on my radar, he was definitely the off-limits guy.
My brother’s best friend, my friend’s ex, but most of all he was my boss.
Hawk Carnage resembled one thing, and one thing only. Sex.
He used it, he knew it, he lived it. Hawk owned the largest lingerie company in the world, and I was his leading lady.
In business.
But now business and friendship were about to be crossed. The lines blurred, and I was ready to dip my toes in the forbidden water. Because no matter how much I said I could refrain from Hawk Carnage, now was not the time.
He was to be my fake fiancé.
And I was about to sink into that forbidden water, with Hawk’s hands clutching my sides.
Lord help me because I was about to enjoy every moment of it.
Even if it was just for fun.
Even if it would ruin everything.
I was going to dive in head first.

breakdown

Author: T L Smith and Melissa Jane
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: December 2017
Source & Format: Own–eBook (Kobo)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m not entirely sure why I bought this book. It might have been a recommendation from Kobo? Regardless, it has some of my favourite tropes at play like fake fiances and forbidden romance so I’m sure that’s why I picked it up.

Of course, it’s been sitting on my Kobo for nearly 3 years. I picked it up when I was working a boring shift at work and wanted something quick to read (and something I owned for my Tackling the TBR challenge) that I could pickup when I actually had to stop reading and do my job.

Previously Published as “Cocky Fiancé”:

So at first I really struggled to find this title on my Kobo! I had it marked on Goodreads as “Cocky Fiancé” and typing that in lead me to nothing. So searching for the authors helped me find it and that’s when I realized it had been rereleased as “Arrogant Fiancé”.

That’s when I remembered #CockyGate and all these books that had to be renamed because someone trademarked the work “cocky”. You can read more info about it here. So in short, Arrogant Fiancé = Cocky Fiancé.

The Plot:

One thought I had when reading this book was: did the author’s have a challenge to see how many romance tropes they could throw into one book? You’ve got the forbidden romance of a boss and his employee, who happens to be her brothers’ BFF; who she decides is the perfect person to play her fake fiancé. It was a lot thrown at you plus whatever drama was in store.

I think you have to take this book with a grain of salt. It’s melodramatic to say the least. I mean the reason Hawk becomes her fake fiancé is because Britta seems to be a glutton for punishment and agrees to go to a wedding she should never have gone to in the first place.

Add to that the other drama that is packed in at the end and I feel like just pushed the romance to take a backseat which is a shame because I really liked their chemistry together.

The Characters:

Like I said above, Britta is a glutton for punishment. It’s weird because she is so assertive in some scenes but then a complete wimp in others. I understand she is broken from a past relationship but all the more reason to say “no” to certain situations she finds herself in.

Hawk lives up to the “cocky”/”arrogant” name. He says “cock” more than I’ve ever encountered in book before that’s for sure. But I found him to be charming in a way because he clearly wants to do the right thing by Britta.

The Romance:

I really loved the chemistry between these two. You could tell that spark has always been there (especially for Hawk) but these two have had all those tropes in their way. All the drama seems to be the push they finally need but it also got in the way of really grounding the romance.

My Rating: 3/5

overall

If you are looking for a quick, steamy read with a charming bad boy lead this is a great choice!

Read if You Like: lots of romance tropes, drama
Avoid if You: want more layered characters

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DNF Series Review: More Than Words by Shayla Black

DNF Series Review: More Than Words by Shayla Black

DNF December Review Blitz — Day 3: I’m sharing my thoughts on some book series that I have marked as incomplete as I have never finished the first novel in the series. Find out why these weren’t for me:

More Than Crave You

booksynopsis

Synopsis for More Than Words (from Goodreads):

I’m Maxon Reed—real estate mogul, shark, asshole. If a deal isn’t high profile and big money, I pass. Now that I’ve found the property of a lifetime, I’m jumping. But one tenacious bastard stands between me and success—my brother. I’ll need one hell of a devious ploy to distract cynical Griff. Then fate drops a luscious redhead in my lap who’s just his type.

Sassy College senior Keeley Kent accepts my challenge to learn how to become Griff’s perfect girlfriend. But somewhere between the makeover and the witty conversation, I’m having trouble resisting her. The quirky dreamer is everything I usually don’t tolerate. But she’s beyond charming. I more than want her; I’m desperate to own her. I’m not even sure how drastic I’m willing to get to make her mine—but I’m about to find out.

breakdown

Series: More Than Words
Author: Shayla Black
# of Books: 6 (Full Reading Order Here)

There are some novellas – Full Reading Order Here

Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: April 2017 – July 2020
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I only read the first two books of the series, More Than Want You and More Than Need You, and have opted not to pick up the other sequels. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I actually got the first book as a newsletter freebie from an author I love but this series was also recommended to me by Kobo. It’s been on my radar for a long time as a result so I was so excited when I discovered my library had the audiobooks! I’m always on the lookout for a long contemporary series that follows a group of characters so the timing was perfect!

What I Liked:

–Attempt at Hero Redemption–

I enjoy a good asshole male lead. It’s always great to watch them get knocked down a peg or two by some intelligent girl who keeps them on their toes.

The redemption story for More Than Want You (#1) was good. However, it didn’t really work for me in More Than Need You (#2) but I think the build up from book one is the reason for that one…

–Side Characters–

I really liked how More than Want You set up the world and the other characters the future books are about. Getting those little tidbits always makes me excited to see what they are going to do next when they get their own books.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Communication Assumptions–

The premise of the first two books is really one royal f*ked up communication assumption. How screwed up is it? Try 3 years of multiple opportunities to set the record straight. The logical part of me couldn’t fathom how things got so bad for so long given the close proximity of the characters involved AND the fact that everyone knew except for one person. It’s a facepalm emoji if I ever used one.

–Single POV–

While I understand why the single POV was done in the first book, I really struggled with its absence in the second. Just getting that female heroine’s perspective would have helped immensely understand her attraction to our subpar hero.

–Lack of Chemistry/Connection–

I don’t like to be told that someone loves someone, I want it shown to me. With both couple’s I struggled to see the attraction other than some manipulation on the part of the male leads. I wasn’t sold on these that’s for sure.

My Audiobook Experience:

I definitely don’t think it was the audiobooks that jaded me about this series. I really enjoyed the narration–I only sped it up so I could finish the books faster.

Will I Finish It?

I have no desire to see what happens next for this cast. I feel like most of my questions were answered in Book 2 so I’m satisfied.

My Rating: DNF

More Than Want You 3.5/5 | More Than Need You 2/5 | More Than Love You N/A | More Than Crave You N/A | More Than Tempt You N/A | More Than Dare You N/A

overall

If you can look past the communication assumptions, you might enjoy this.

Read if You Like: family drama, contemporary romance, male only POV
Avoid if You: dislike communication assumptions
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Series Review: Secret Life of Trystan Scott

Series Review: Secret Life of Trystan Scott

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 Collide (from Goodreads):

When Mari accidentally overhears that Trystan is in love, she can’t believe it. He’s pining over some girl that doesn’t know he’s alive. The confident swagger and endless stream of girls is a facade. It conceals his loneliness and hides how messed up he’s really become trying to flee from a life that’s battered him to his core.

Trystan tries to figure out how to make it clear how much he loves Mari, but every insincere kiss and every broken promise haunts him, because she knows them all. Now, Trystan has to prove to the one girl he’s actually fallen in love with that she’s not just another conquest.

Mari has no idea who Trystan loves, but she can tell that whoever it is has captured his heart entirely. Soon Mari sees the man behind the mask, the guy that Trystan tries so hard to hide. Everything about him is appealing, and too hard to resist.

In a moment of desperation, Trystan uploads a love song he wrote for Mari, but before he can show it to her, the video goes viral. Everyone wants to know who he is, and the only thing shielding him is an anonymous account name and some thick shadows hiding his face. Tyrstan realizes that the consequences of revealing his identity will be disastrous. Everything he’s tried so hard to hide will be exposed. It’s a secret that is impossible to keep and the only girl who he wanted to hear it will never believe him.

breakdown

Series: The Secret Life of Trystan Scott

This crosses over with the Ferro Series.

Author: H M Ward
# of Parts: 6 (Full Reading Order Here)
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult / New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: August 2012 December 2015
Source & Format: Own & Kindle Unlimited–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I don’t really remember how I found out about this series. I think I grabbed the first book as a freebie and after enjoying The Arrangement Series, I wanted to give this one a shot. I loved the concept of the uber popular guy falling for the quiet girl yet she has no idea. There’s just something so charming about the whole idea.

Format:

So the first 5 installments are Young Adult “novellas”. I think anything over 150 pages and these hover around 200 pages) would be considered a novel but that’s how they’re billed. Regardless, they are quick reads. The final part is a much longer novel that shifts away from the YA vibes and skews more New Adult.

The Plot:

Having read a few other H M Ward works prior to this, I did know to expect high drama with all-consuming romance and not a whole lot of character development. These works live up to the novella serial formula where things happen quickly and often leave you on a cliffhanger so you are obligated to pick up the next installment.

Some of the “drama” was a little much for me. Lots of communication-assumptions and situations that become soap opera-ish and melodramatic. I got a little frustrated by some of the character decisions as a result.

The Characters:

I liked Trystan and Mari well enough. I think that’s because I enjoyed their romance. Both have troubled family lives (well Mari’s was a bit of a stretch) so they bond over that. Trystan is the brooding bad boy and Mari is the quiet girl waiting in the wings. They both fulfil their roles for the story.

The Romance:

There’s just something about first love that gets me! I thought these two were super cute at the start; playing coy with their feelings by not being the first to give in. I wasn’t a fan of the final book though and how things proceeded there. Kinda tarnished the whole thing for me with the dramatics.

Series Rating: 3/5

overall

If you enjoy melodramatics and stories about fame, this series might be worth your time!

Read if You Like: drama, quick stories
Avoid if You: want more substance

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DNF Series Review: Briarwood Academy by Ilsa Madden-Mills

DNF Series Review: Briarwood Academy by Ilsa Madden-Mills

DNF December Review Blitz — Day 2: I’m sharing my thoughts on some book series that I have marked as incomplete as I have never finished the first novel in the series. Find out why these weren’t for me:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Very Bad Things (from Goodreads):

Born into a life of privilege and secrets, Nora Blakely has everything any nineteen-year-old girl could desire. She’s an accomplished pianist, a Texas beauty queen, and on her way to Princeton after high school. She’s perfect…

Leaving behind her million-dollar mansion and Jimmy Choos, she becomes a girl hell-bent on pushing the limits with alcohol, drugs, and meaningless sex.

Then she meets her soulmate. But he doesn’t want her.

When it comes to girls, twenty-five-year-old Leo Tate has one rule: never fall in love. His gym and his brother are all he cares about… until he meets Nora. He resists the pull of their attraction, hung up on their six year age difference.

As they struggle to stay away from each other, secrets will be revealed, tempers will flare, and hearts will be broken.

Welcome to Briarcrest Academy… where sometimes, the best things in life are Very Bad Things.

breakdown

Series: Briarwood Academy
Author: Ilsa Madden-Mills
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult/New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Dark
Heat Rating: warm **suggestive content**
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: September 2013 – July 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Very Bad things at 18% (start of Chapter 4). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Ilsa Madden-Mills is one of my must read authors and this series had been on my radar for a very long time. Because I was looking for audiobooks to listen too, I opted to listen to this series even though I have a few of the books for my Kindle. I was looking forward to the angsty romance so I was very excited to read this.

What I Liked:

–Umm…–

I really struggled to get into this book and there wasn’t much I enjoyed…

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Age Gap–

While the rest of the novel falls into some pretty predictable stereotypes (I think you read the synopsis and you already know where this book is going to go), it was the age gap between the two leads that just creeped me right out.
I think if Nora was a little older (like her first year in university) it would have made things less icky. Her need to rebel just made her “connection” to Leo something more devious than it was. Now, normally I’d be on board for this exploration of this somewhat twisted relationship dynamic. But I felt like Nora was trying to hard to be something she wasn’t as she rebelled and she seemed so fragile that it felt like Leo was manipulating her situation and I didn’t like that imbalance.

My Audiobook Experience:

I’m not sure if reading the book would have been better than listening to it.

Will I Finish It?

I don’t think so. While some of the other characters seemed interesting (and they became the leads in the next books), I just didn’t like the direction this series was going in.

My Rating: DNF

Very Bad Things DNF | Very Wicked Things N/A | Very Twisted Things N/A

overall

If you love angsty reads or books that straddle the YA/NA line, you’ll enjoy this series.

Read if You Like: angsty leads, tragic pasts, high school bully
Avoid if You: dislike angst; don’t like age gap romances

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

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Series Review: The Legal Briefs by Emma Chase

Series Review: The Legal Briefs by Emma Chase

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 Overruled (from Goodreads):

As a DC defense attorney, Stanton Shaw keeps his head cool, his questions sharp, and his arguments irrefutable. They don’t call him the Jury Charmer for nothing – with his southern drawl, disarming smile and captivating green eyes – he’s a hard man to say no to. Men want to be him and women want to be thoroughly cross examined by him.

Stanton’s a man with a plan. And for a while, life was going according to that plan.

Until the day he receives an invitation to the wedding of his high school sweetheart and mother of his beloved ten-year old daughter. Jenny is getting married — to someone who isn’t him.

That’s definitely not part of the plan.
***

Sofia Santos is a city raised, no-nonsense litigator who plans to become the most revered criminal defense attorney in the country. She doesn’t have time for relationships or distractions.

But when Stanton, her “friend with mind-blowing benefits” begs for help, she finds herself out of her element, out of her depth, and obviously out of her mind. Because she agrees to go with him – to The-Middle-Of-Nowhere, Mississippi – to do all she can to help Stanton win back the woman he loves.

Her head tells her she’s crazy…and her heart says something else entirely.
***

What happens when you mix a one stop-light town, two professional arguers, a homecoming queen, four big brothers, some Jimmy Dean sausage and a gun-toting Nana?

The Bourbon flows, passions rise and even the best laid plans get overruled by the desires of the heart.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Authors
Series: The Legal Briefs
Author: Emma Chase
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order)

There is a novella: #3.5 Sidebarred

Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating (#1); Single (#2-#3.5)
Publication Dates: April 2015 – January 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

After I read and loved Tangled by Emma, I wanted to read her next series. But when I read the synopsis for Overruled, I wasn’t interested in reading it at all. The allusions to the love triangle just turned me off and so I marked it as a pass. Fast forward a few years later and the book hangover that was the Royally Series and I needed more Emma Chase in my life so I decided to give this series a chance.

The Plot:

These books were surprisingly heavy albeit light. It’s really hard to describe. I’ve never really read a series that had a tone like this one did. Maybe I just needed to manage my expectations?

I finished Overruled (#1) with a lot of mixed emotions. The premise is a hard one to get behind in some ways because it just seems to have this gravity to it. I thought the true romance failed to shine through and that was a disappointment because I really loved our heroine.

The rest of the series didn’t seem to have the same heaviness to it though they stories were complex and had some serious consequences. There is a dash of humour and sexy times that keeps things lighter when needed.

The Characters:

I think it shows Emma Chase’s talent that she can write such real characters that can pull on your heartstrings and feel every range of emotions. With all our males leads, they were likeable albeit frustrating at the same time.

It was interesting to only get the Male hero’s POV in these books. All the guys are assholes to some degree so it was nice to get them put into place. I prefer alternating POVs in my romances but it worked here to only have the one POV because these stories just felt like the boys’ and they had a lot of growing to do.

The Romance:

I thought all the couples had great chemistry but in some ways I was disappointed with them. I just thought some of the stories struggled to highlight the interactions between the couples (especially in Overruled). But I understood the connections and draws.

My Audiobook Experience:

I really enjoyed the audiobooks! They were such an easy listen. Honestly, I probably would have DNF’d Overruled if I was reading the book instead of listening to it because the emotions helped me to understand the dilemma Stanton was in.

When to Read the Novella #3.5 Sidebarred:

While the novella follows the lead from Book #2 Sustained, you really should read it after you finish Appealed (#3) because it helps you link the extended epilogue of that book together. And that way you don’t spoil the ending of Appealed either.

Series Rating: 4/5

Overruled 3/5 | Sustained 4/5 | Appealed 4/5 | [Sidebarred 5/5]

overall

If you want a different type of contemporary romance series (one that isn’t so light but isn’t that dark either), this is a great one for you to pick up!

Read if You Like: contemporary romances, lawyers
Avoid if You: want light and fluffy romance

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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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