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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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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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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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Spin-Off Saturdays: Lies by Ella Miles

Spin-Off Saturdays: Lies 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:

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

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Lies

This is a part of the Truth or Lies Series Universe.

Author: Ella Miles
# of Books: 6 (Full Reading Order Here)

There is a prequel novella: #0.5 Lies We Share

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Dark, Contemporary, Action
Heat Rating: Smokin’ **mature subject matter*
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: September 2020 – February 2021
Source & Format: Author–eARC

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

thoughts

My Expectations?

I loved the original Truth or Lies Series. It was unlike anything I had ever read before with a great blend of romance, danger and suspense. I was immediately sucked in and really grew attached to the characters. So I was really excited that a few of the characters were going to get their own series.

Langston and Liesel’s story was probably the one I wanted to read the most. After a collective 12 books of watching these two dance back and forth, I couldn’t wait to uncover their mysterious past and see what their future held.

How Does It Compare To The Original?

–Similar Plot Progression As Truth or Lies–

More so than the Sinful Truths Series, this series had more of an overarching plotline as Liesel tries to find her family’s treasure. The secrets and danger lurking in the shades just gave this series an edge to it that kept me hooked. And I really liked how each book built upon the last. I always worry with book series that have more than 3 titles in them that the storylines will get stretched out but this had a good pacing to it.

–Forbidden Love–

Liesel and Langston’s story is complicated–even more complicated than I had originally thought. It took a lot for me to let go of my previous assumptions and just embrace the reveal of their characters. That’s quite the task for someone who has invested as much time in this universe as I have.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

–The Use of Rape in the First Book–

I like dark romances but all the mentioning of rape and being forced-on was just too much for me. I get the importance of it for understanding Liesel’s past but for a few chapters there, the threats of it were constant and that just stopped me from fully embracing the story.

Series Rating: 4/5

[Fated Lies 5/5] | Vicious Lies 3/5 | Desperate Lies 3/5 | Fated Lies 4/5 | Cruel Lies 4/5 | Dangerous Lies 4/5 | Endless Lies 3/5

overall

Overall, I have mixed feelings for this series. I really loved these two as characters but I didn’t always enjoy their story. But it was great to return to this world and these books never failed to surprise me.

Read if You Like: dark romances, adventures
Avoid if You: dislike reading about forced sexual situations

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Vicious Lies (from Goodreads):

This isn’t a love story. This is a story of all the reasons we can’t be together. Reason number one: we lie.

Liesel Dunn has a secret. One I literally ripped from her hands when we were kids. Her secret was in a letter that I tore in half. I have half the secret. She has the other half. We’ve always refused to share our part of the truth, so we’ve lived separate lives. Until fate brings us back together. She needs a hitman. I answer her call. I’ll do her this favor. But she’ll owe me a debt. And I plan on collecting…

Vicious Lies is book 1 in a dark romance series. It ends on a cliffhanger.

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Single Sundays: The Match by Winter Renshaw

Single Sundays: The Match by Winter Renshaw

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

Synopsis for The Match (from Goodreads):
All I wanted was a baby. No daddy? No problem.

That’s what anonymous donors are for …

But when the fertility clinic accidentally sends me a letter addressed to a man whose ID matches my paperwork, I discover my child’s father is none other than world-renowned tennis champion Fabian Catalano—famous for his gorgeous face, chiseled abs, and broody, wildcard reputation.

Only everything changes when the clinic calls us in for damage control—and Fabian drops the bombshell of the century. Turns out the intense Adonis wants to get to know his daughter.

So I invite him to stay with us—temporarily.

Ground rules and all.

And our arrangement is simple … until it isn’t.

Between 2 AM feedings and stolen kisses, my sweet little simple life has taken a very complicated left turn.

But oh, baby. What happens next—is a game changer.

breakdown

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

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Winter Renshaw writes my kind of contemporary romances: angsty, lots of twists and great chemistry. So the synopsis for this book intrigued me. I’ve never read a “baby daddy donor” romance before–didn’t even know that was a thing! But if anyone could get me interested in one, it would be Winter Renshaw.

The Concept:

I’ve never read a “baby daddy donor” romance before. I’ve read one night stands that have accidental pregnancies but nothing about an anonymous donor. So this was definitely a different take on your typical meet-cute romance. And I think you need to go in with an open mind because it definitely teeters towards a fantastical approach. You gotta remember that fiction is fiction and sometimes things don’t need to mimic life exactly to be successful in a contemporary romance.

The Plot:

The weakest aspect to this story for me was the pacing of the plot. I liked the characters, their development and the eventual romance. My problem was more with the way the drama unfolded. Things move really fast–which is why I said a reader should go in with an open mind–but at the expense of some logic. Considering how resistant the two leads were to having each other in their lives, I just thought the progression of that element happened wayyy to fast. And that affected the pacing of the other plot elements as well. I think just adding 2 more months to the timeline would have helped smooth those inconsistencies over a bit.

The Characters:

Because things move fast, and I would have loved to have dived deeper into some of the character developments. I felt like we just scratched a surface. But for the purposes of this story (ie this isn’t some realistic fiction novel about falling for your baby’s anonymous donor), I felt like I knew enough about each of them to get a good feel for them.

The Romance:

One thing I really loved is that the chemistry between Rossi and Fabian is there from the moment they meet. I liked that I could see a great connection anytime they talked and that translated over to the physical side of the relationship.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

But I enjoyed reading about this couple and watching their story unfold. It was refreshing for me because I’ve never read anything quite like it. And I think if you go in knowing it’s a quick and steamy read that focuses on the happier side of things, you’ll enjoy it for what it is.

Read if You Like: contemporary romance, reuniting parents
Avoid if You: want more of a “sports” novel

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Fresh Fridays: Comeback (NEON #1) by Lyn Ashwood & Rachel Rose

Fresh Fridays: Comeback (NEON #1) by Lyn Ashwood & Rachel Rose

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:

NEON Series

Other books planned to be in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Comeback (from Goodreads):

Emery Jung is living his dream. Known by his stage name M, he is loved by millions of fans around the world as a member of the rising K-pop group NEON, but all fame comes with a cost, especially when one slip up can have viral consequences.

Alana Kim is trying to forget. After a tragic loss sends her spiraling, she escapes to her family in Korea, abandoning her love of music along the way. However, her plans are derailed when she literally runs into M, the famous K-pop idol.

When their paths collide, Emery and Alana must work together to prevent a scandal from ruining NEON’s success, sparking a journey of friendship, love, and healing. Unfortunately, fame and love aren’t easily compatible, especially in the world of K-pop.

breakdown

Series: NEON
Author: Lyn Ashwood and Rachel Rose
# of Books: 1 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Unknown
Complete?: Unknown
Genre: New Adult, Coming of Age, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: June 2019 – ongoing
Source & Format: Authors–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I will be the first to admit that I don’t know much about K-Pop other than what I read in Shine and learned through a Netflix documentary. I’ll hum along to BTS songs on the radio and my one coworker follows K-Pop enough that I know the very basics. But the world intrigues me and when I read the synopsis for Comeback, I was excited to see how this story would play out in the demanding K-Pop world.

What I Liked:

–You Really Don’t Need to Know Much About K-Pop–

Rachel and Lyn do a fantastic job at teaching the reader about Korean culture and the world of K-Pop as you read. There is a glossary of Korean terms at the back of the book in case you forget but I thought they did a wonderful job bringing this world to life without getting overly technical or by having endless descriptions of things. Everything just flowed really nicely, making it an easy read and world to get sucked into as a reader.

–Coming of Age–

The best way to describe this book is as a New Adult coming-of-age novel. Emery and Alana are both a little lost in their lives when we meet them for various reasons. But both are trying their best to navigate family expectations and work pressures. We get to see them at their most vulnerable and I loved the character growth that came from them finding themselves and becoming confident in the decisions they have made, even when others cast their judgements on them.

–Sweet Romance–

The romance is super sweet. I liked how these two had a special moment years before the novel starts and that the finer details in that moment aren’t known to the reader right away. It builds up this anticipation and reignites that spark between them any time they share a scene together.

What I really appreciated is that the romance, while still a big part of this book, doesn’t take away from that great character development. This book is really about the leads as individuals and their independent challenges.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Not Enough Romance–

While I may not know much about the K-Pop world, I do know that public romances are a big no-no. So when I read the synopsis, I really wanted that forbidden romance to play out a little more. Emery and Alana have the basic chemistry together but I really wanted to see more of them together to really sell me that their relationship would be worth the risks if it ever got out to the public.

HOWEVER, as I said above, the romance really wasn’t the focus of this book. It’s about Alana and Emery as individuals. I think as a reader if you manage your expectations to know that this isn’t about a forbidden K-Pop romance but the story of 2 people who find themselves in that K-Pop world then I think you won’t miss the romance factor as much as I did.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I really hope we see more of this world. I really loved watching the dynamic of the band NEON and how the boys supported each other. Even if a sequel focuses on Emery and Alana again, I wouldn’t mind! I just think there is a lot more to explore in this world and I can’t wait to do that!

My Rating: 4/5

Comeback 4/5 | Book 2 TBP

overall

While the world of K-Pop can seem next level and untouchable, Comeback reminds you that there are real humans involved and grounds the world an characters by showing the not-so-glamourous side of being an Idol.

Read if You Like: coming of age, sweet romance, K-Pop
Avoid if You: dislike coming of age stories, want lots of drama
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Series Review: The Enemies by Piper Lawson

Series Review: The Enemies by Piper Lawson

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Beautiful Enemy (from Goodreads):

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

I had a plan:

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

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

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

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

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

He destroyed my reputation.

Now, he’s come for the rest of me.

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

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

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

Harrison King knows my secrets…

But kings keep secrets too.

breakdown

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

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

Author: Piper Lawson
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological Order
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: May to August 2021
Source & Format: Author–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

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

The Concept / The World:

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

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

The Plot:

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

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

The Characters:

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

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

The Romance:

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

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

Series Rating: 5/5

Beautiful Enemy 5/5 | Beautiful Sins 5/5 | Beautiful Ruin 5/5

overall

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

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

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