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Series Review: Girl Meets Duke by Tessa Dare

Series Review: Girl Meets Duke by Tessa Dare

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Duchess Deal (from Goodreads):

When girl meets Duke, their marriage breaks all the rules…

Since his return from war, the Duke of Ashbury’s to-do list has been short and anything but sweet: brooding, glowering, menacing London ne’er-do-wells by night. Now there’s a new item on the list. He needs an heir—which means he needs a wife. When Emma Gladstone, a vicar’s daughter turned seamstress, appears in his library wearing a wedding gown, he decides on the spot that she’ll do.

His terms are simple:
– They will be husband and wife by night only.
– No lights, no kissing.
– No questions about his battle scars.
– Last, and most importantly… Once she’s pregnant with his heir, they need never share a bed again.

But Emma is no pushover. She has a few rules of her own:
– They will have dinner together every evening.
– With conversation.
– And unlimited teasing.
– Last, and most importantly… Once she’s seen the man beneath the scars, he can’t stop her from falling in love…

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: Girl Meets Duke
Author: Tessa Dare
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Book 4 to be released in February 2021
Genre: Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: August 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I was in a historical romance phase, I discovered Tessa Dare and I’ve never looked back. Even though I don’t go out of my way to read much of the genre anymore (there are a few exceptions like Anna Harrington and Kelly Bowen), I make it a point to read anything Tessa Dare writes.

The Plot:

I’d read 14 other books by Tessa Dare by the time I started this series and you know what is shocking to me? That all her series and novels feel fresh and unique. Certainly, there are aspects to her novels that are her trademark–like the unconventional-to-society heroine or a scared hero or the way she can convey humour throughout–but I never truly feel like I’m reading a regurgitation of her previous novels or that they follow a set, formula.

I had a blast meeting all these new characters and watching all the hi-jinx they get into as they fall in love and challenge societal norms.

The Characters:

I immediately fell in love with ALL our leads in The Duchess Deal. When our heroine meets the future heroines in the series, I was so excited to see who was getting their story next that I definitely peeked at the synopsis for the rest of the series.

Everyone is just delightful. And I love how their individual struggles and growth are highlighted in their novels through the plot and romance.

The Romance:

The tension is so delicious in each novel! I couldn’t get enough of our couples–it made the books so addicting to read! But I really loved how the romances had a bit of a slow burn to them where they take their time to truly fall in love with the person and not just because they have insane physical chemistry.

My Audiobook Experience:

Humour doesn’t always come across in written novels for me–though that has never been a problem with Tessa’s novels–so audiobooks are a great way for me to get the humour because you hear the tone the author wants the dialogue to be delivered in. Now that I’ve started listening to her books in audio, I think that’s the only way I can enjoy them! They are just so easy and fun to listen to!

Series Rating: 5/5

The Duchess Deal 5/5 | The Governess Game 5/5 | The Wallflower Wager 4/5 | The Bride Bet TBD

overall

Honestly, this series reminded me why Tessa Dare has become an automatic must read author for me. She never fails to disappoint when it comes to characters, romance, plot and humour!

Read if You Like: historical fiction
Avoid if You: dislike historical fiction romances

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Single Sunday: Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren

Single Sunday: Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren

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 Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating (from Goodreads):

Hazel Camille Bradford knows she’s a lot to take—and frankly, most men aren’t up to the challenge. If her army of pets and thrill for the absurd don’t send them running, her lack of filter means she’ll say exactly the wrong thing in a delicate moment. Their loss. She’s a good soul in search of honest fun.

Josh Im has known Hazel since college, where her zany playfulness proved completely incompatible with his mellow restraint. From the first night they met—when she gracelessly threw up on his shoes—to when she sent him an unintelligible email while in a post-surgical haze, Josh has always thought of Hazel more as a spectacle than a peer. But now, ten years later, after a cheating girlfriend has turned his life upside down, going out with Hazel is a breath of fresh air.

Not that Josh and Hazel date. At least, not each other. Because setting each other up on progressively terrible double blind dates means there’s nothing between them…right?

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Author: Christina Lauren
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: September 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a huge Christina Lauren fan. Since I started following their work, the novels seem to only be getting better and better. If I want a fun, steamy but still fully developed contemporary romance, they are a great go-to.

This book gets a lot of great reviews from my fellow bloggers and seems to be uber popular at my library. Which is probably why it took me the better part of the year to get my hold for the audiobook.

The Plot:

This novel was just executed flawlessly. From the slow burn romance of friends to something more to the scenes of individual character growth, I loved listening to this story unfold. We never dwelled long on the past but  we had enough moments to really cement the present events. It was just a really easy read to get lost in.

The Characters:

I ADORED these two! Both of them are so quirky and fun, with really big hearts. They had some great banter which is always a treat. I immediately fell in love with each of them.

The Romance:

The slow burn builds at the perfect pace. You get those little sparks along the way so you know something epic is going to happen but it doesn’t take forever to get there. That allowed them to get this really solid foundation together and I love that in my romances.

My Audiobook Experience:

This was so much fun to listen to! I loved having these characters brought to life through the audiobook!

My Rating: 5/5

overall

If you want a fun but sincerely contemporary romance, pick this up!

Read if You Like: slow burn romance, second chances
Avoid if You: dislike contemporary romance

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Spin-off Saturdays: Rivals by Piper Lawson

Spin-off Saturdays: A Song for Liars (Rivals #1) by Piper Lawson

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:

Rivals Series is a spin-off of the Wicked Series

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author, Canadian Author
Series: Rivals

This is a spinoff of the Wicked Series.

Author: Piper Lawson
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)

There is a prequel novella: #0.5 Love Notes

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult / New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Music
Heat Rating: warm *Spicy YA*
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: April 29, 2020 – July 9, 2020
Source & Format: Author–eARC

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

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

My Expectations?

I’m a sucker for Rockstar romances and Piper Lawson’s Wicked Series was one I have never really encountered before. It was like the perfect mashup of other series yet entirely unique in its own way. And two of the characters that stood out to me the most were Annie and Tyler…and I prayed we would get to see their story one day!

How Does It Compare To The Original?

Wicked was more of a New Adult read while this new series straddles the line between YA and NA — which gives it its own unique flare.

But all the angst from the original series is here and perhaps it is present more so. These two have a lot of things going on in their personal and romantic lives and it shows. I loved the drama it brought around.

And I think the romance is stronger here. These two have a past friendship and connection to build up. Plus they have so much in common–even if they don’t always think so. You can’t help but root for them!

Anything I Didn’t Like?

–I Didn’t Understand All the Angst–

I’m also not entirely sure why Annie was so angry at Tyler at the start of the book. I think it’s explained a little better in the prequel novella from what I remember but I wanted that fleshed out a little more. Maybe some insight into why Tyler did what he did.

–Tyler As the “Prince of the School” Is a Bit of a Stretch–

I think Annie was the only one who really thought that. Yes, people like him (and Annie has some rivals for interest) but he wasn’t really in the popular crowd.

When to Read the Novella, #0.5 Love Notes:

I read this first and I think that’s probably the best way to do it. If you read the original series, it serves as a good appetizer for what’s to come. And for those who haven’t read the series, it fills in some of the little gaps about their history.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

OH what an ending!!! I’m super duper excited to see where things go from here!

updates

–May 16, 2020– Book #2: A Love Song for Rebels

This book was a step up for me from the last one. Gone are their high school days and it shows. Annie and Tyler have grown and matured so they start to talk more about their feelings and wants instead of just holding a silent, angsty grudge against each other. And I liked the conversations and developments that happened as a result. They’re coming into themselves, figuring out what is important and what they want. And most important of all: they are fighting for those dreams and wants.

Piper has a great knack for writing dramatics that are entertaining but grounded in some realism and I find as a reader, you really get sucked into the characters’ lives and their emotions. I really appreciated the struggles and the successes all the more because I feel like I know these characters so well.

–July 6, 2020– Book #3: A Love Song for Dreamers

The evolution of this story is so refreshing to me. We don’t often get trilogies following one couple anymore in the romance world and Piper has reminded me how good they could be. Watching these two grow into the people they’ve become has been such a treat; especially for fans who met them as kids in the Wicked Series.

I love the bittersweet realism infused into this story. Life doesn’t always go to plans and not everything works out like it does in the movies. So seeing these two struggle to find their footings in life and in their relationship kept me enthralled. As I said before, their growth has been amazing to watch as a reader. I feel like I’m closing a bit of a chapter on my life as they close theirs.

This was missing that little je ne said quoi to take it to that next level though. Perhaps it needed one good twist or dramatic element? Regardless, it was a fantastic ending for a series that has had me hooked from the start!

Series Rating: 4/5

[Love Notes 4/5] | A Love Song for Liars 4/5 | A Love Song for Rebels 5/5 | A Love Song for Dreamers 4/5

overall

If you love angsty romances that straddle the line between YA and NA — this is the series you need to start now!

Read if You Like: angst, music, first loves
Avoid if You: dislike romances spread out over multiple books

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for A Love Song for Liars (from Goodreads):

I fell for Tyler Adams when he had nothing but a guitar.
He was my rebel prince, my handsome muse, my twisted friend.
We were worlds apart in every way that mattered:
He was poor, I was rich.
He was beautiful, I was plain.
He honed his talent in private, while I ached for the spotlight.
When Tyler moved in with us, Oakwood Prep fell on its knees to worship at his altar.
He traded my friendship for their crown.
I will never forgive his betrayal.
But some nights…
He makes me want to.

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Fresh Fridays: Close to Me (The Callahans #1) by Monica Murphy

Fresh Fridays: Close to Me (The Callahans #1) by Monica Murphy

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:

The Callahans Series

Other books planned to be in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Close to Me (from Goodreads):

Asher Davis. My first crush.

My first kiss.

The boy who ripped my heart out of my chest again and again. Over and over. I let him have it every single time.

Willingly.

We are that toxic high school couple you hear about, the one you witness in the hallway avoiding each other. You laugh at them in class when they’re forced to work together, their gazes full of hatred. We are the couple you gossip about when they win homecoming prince and princess their sophomore year…

The back and forth is what kills me the most. I’m not his princess, I’m the girl he toys with when he’s bored. And he’s definitely not my prince, no matter how badly I want him to be.

Our senior year and we’re months away from never having to see each other again when disaster strikes—and brings us closer together. All it takes is one touch, and I’m burning for Ash. Hotter than I ever have.

But will that burn turn into a devastating fire? Or can we actually make it work this time?

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: The Callahans

This is a spinoff of the One Week Girlfriend Series.

Author: Monica Murphy
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, Falling for Her, will be released June 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: February 2020 – ongoing
Source & Format: Kindle Unlimited–eBook

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

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Drew and Fable (One Week Girlfriend) hold a special place in my heart. Their novel was one of the first New Adult Romances I ever read and therefore helped set a standard for what I look for in a NA read. I love their relationship and their story.

So getting to watch their kids fall in love? YES PLEASE!

How Does It Compare To The Original?

Just like the original series, I was sucked right in by these two. The back and forth moments from their past had me hooked to see what would happen next. Monica Murphy can write great tension between her leads, making the slow burn all that sweeter.

Another thing I really loved–that we don’t often see in YA–is great supportive parents. Part of Drew and Fable’s issues in their respecitve stories is their shitty parents so it was great to see them break from that cycle and be great, supportive parents. It was amazing to see what an impact parental relationships can have on a YA story.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

I do think I could have done without the few chapters from Ash’s perspective. Because most of the book is told by Autumn, I had built up this idea of Ash and his feelings so sometimes his POV chapters seemed to contradict what I have perceived earlier.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Very excited to see who will fall in love next!

My Rating: 4/5

Close to Me | Book 2 TBP | Book 3 TBP

overall

While it was angsty and the drama does get a little over the top at times, this is an addicting romance for new and returning fans!

Read if You Like: angsty YA romance, supportive parents
Avoid if You: dislike YA contemporary romance

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Single Sundays: Say You’ll Remember Me by Katie McGarry

Single Sundays: Say You’ll Remember Me by Katie McGarry

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 Say You’ll Remember Me (from Goodreads):
When Drix was convicted of a crime–one he didn’t commit–he thought his life was over. But opportunity came with the new Second Chance Program, the governor’s newest pet project to get delinquents off the streets, rehabilitated and back into society. Drix knows this is his chance to get his life back on track, even if it means being paraded in front of reporters for a while.

Elle knows she lives a life of privilege. As the governor’s daughter, she can open doors with her name alone. But the expectations and pressure to be someone she isn’t may be too much to handle. She wants to follow her own path, whatever that means.

When Drix and Elle meet, their connection is immediate, but so are their problems. Drix is not the type of boy Elle’s parents have in mind for her, and Elle is not the kind of girl who can understand Drix’s messy life.

But sometimes love can breach all barriers.

Fighting against a society that can’t imagine them together, Drix and Elle must push themselves–Drix to confront the truth of the robbery, and Elle to assert her independence–and each other to finally get what they deserve.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fav Author
Author: Katie McGarry
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Coming of Age
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: January 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a huge Katie McGarry fan. I read everything she writes because she has this incredible talent for writing stories I love to read. I didn’t know I could enjoy the YA Contemporary genre until I read her Pushing the Limits Series.

The Plot:

There’s a lot going on but in a great kind of way. I never found a dull moment with this story. I got so wrapped up in both Drix and Elle’s personal stories and their time together.

I thought the end was a little melodramatic and I don’t really get the title (and I hate that it puts a Taylor Swift song in my head) but it didn’t dampen my overall love for this story.

The Characters:

This is where Katie McGarry shines. She can write some great teen angst. I think the main reason she does this so well is that she gives her teen leads real problems. These kids aren’t upset about mundane issues; they’re upset with how the world puts them in boxes and how they want to break free from them. They just come across as so genuine and I get so into their stories.

The Romance:

Super cute! I wish we got to see more of them talking as their relationship blossomed but I loved the tension between these two anytime they shared a scene together.

My Rating: 5/5

overall

This book had the right amount of everything. Just a great read to get lost in!

Read if You Like: YA contemporary, politics
Avoid if You: dislike YA contemporary
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Series Review: Arrogant by Winter Renshaw

Series Review: Arrogant by Winter Renshaw

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Arrogant Bastard (from Goodreads):

The last time my father beat me to a bloody pulp was the night he walked in on me with his woman in his bed.

To be fair, she seduced me. And to be honest, I liked it. But to CPS, I was a victim.

They shipped me to Utah where my estranged mother lived with her husband and two sister-wives. And that’s when I met her. My innocent, wholesome, perfect step-sister. Well, one of many. But Waverly stood out because just like me, we’d been fighting a losing battle our entire lives.

Falling for her was a mistake, but shit, it’s not like I ever made good decisions.

F**k being “family.” I must have Waverly Miller, and I won’t stop until she’s mine.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is a full-length, standalone, HEA romance. Contains forbidden themes as well as religious undertones not meant to offend. Please be 18+.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: Arrogant
Author: Winter Renshaw
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Companion
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Taboo, Dark
Heat Rating: Hot (BDSM: mild [Master]; Kink: mild [Master])
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: July 2015 – November 2015
Source & Format: Own–Kindle; Kindle Unlimited

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I picked up Arrogant Bastard, it was a test of sorts to see if I would enjoy Winter Renshaw’s other works. I had read (and enjoyed) her Rixton Falls Series but I wanted to see if she follows a formula when it comes to her other titles (she certainly doesn’t). I was a little skeptical given the author’s note but I’m always up for a different type of novel. And after reading Arrogant Bastard, I knew that Renshaw was a must read author for me…

The Concept:

I know that the religious note will be off-putting for some people but this isn’t a novel that preaches a certain belief to its readers. Instead, it an aspect of the story that helps drive the plot forward but it isn’t the main focus.

As for the companion aspect, all these stories overlap with each other throughout giving you little insights into what is happening with the other leads. But where Winter Renshaw really succeeds is giving you just enjoy to drive your curiosity yet still withholding enough that the twists are still shocking when you read the actual novel.

The Plot:

Each novel has its own unique plot–with some great twists along the way. They share the “forbidden love” aspect but they also have different tropes at play. Every story felt fresh and even though I had inklings about what would happen in the sequels, I never failed to be surprised. And there is also this air of suspense with these stories as well and I found that to be really addicting.

The Characters:

I was really impressed with the character development in all the novels. Both leads get ample time to grow before your eyes and I think it really helps that we get alternate POVs to help get that inner monologue.

The Romance:

I loved how the romance highlighted every aspect of the novels. It brought out the best in the characters; never once did they lose themselves as individuals because they were a couple (and they easily could have given the circumstances). Each pair is a fantastic match and we really get to see that great connection grow as the story progresses. There was just a perfect balance between the romance and the plot.

Series Rating: 4/5

Arrogant Bastard  4/5  | Arrogant Master 5/5 | Arrogant Playboy  4/5

overall

If you want a fresh take on a romance novel or you are a fan of forbidden romances, this is a series you have to check out!

Read if You Like: forbidden romance, companion series
Avoid if You: dislike novels with religious overtones

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Blog Tour: Slay: Rivalry by Laurelin Paige

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

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

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

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

Yet I can’t resist taking on Edward.

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

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

Or the one who will be slain.

Other books in the series:
book3 book4

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: Slay Quartet

This is a standalone spin-off of the Fixed Series

Author: Laurelin Paige
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Ruin (#2) will be released October 2019
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: Hot (BDSM: mild | Kink: mild)
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: June 4, 2019 – ongoing
Source & Format: Candi Kane PR–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a HUGE Laurelin Paige fan. She writes one of my all time favourite contemporary romance series, Fixed. That’s the series I recommend to everyone who wants a delicious contemporary romance read with a hint of drama.

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

The Plot:

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

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

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

The Characters:

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

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

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

The Romance:

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

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

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

My Rating: 5/5

Slay: Rivalry 5/5 | Slay: Ruin TBR | Book 3 TBR | Book 4 TBR

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

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

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Laurelin Paige

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

Author Links:Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon

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Single Sundays: Without Merit by Colleen Hoover

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 Without Merit (from Goodreads):

Not every mistake deserves a consequence. Sometimes the only thing it deserves is forgiveness.

The Voss family is anything but normal. They live in a repurposed church, newly baptized Dollar Voss. The once cancer-stricken mother lives in the basement, the father is married to the mother’s former nurse, the little half-brother isn’t allowed to do or eat anything fun, and the eldest siblings are irritatingly perfect. Then, there’s Merit.

Merit Voss collects trophies she hasn’t earned and secrets her family forces her to keep. While browsing the local antiques shop for her next trophy, she finds Sagan. His wit and unapologetic idealism disarm and spark renewed life into her—until she discovers that he’s completely unavailable. Merit retreats deeper into herself, watching her family from the sidelines when she learns a secret that no trophy in the world can fix.

Fed up with the lies, Merit decides to shatter the happy family illusion that she’s never been a part of before leaving them behind for good. When her escape plan fails, Merit is forced to deal with the staggering consequences of telling the truth and losing the one boy she loves.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Author: Colleen Hoover
Genre: Young Adult / New Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Romance
Heat Rating: cool **suggestive content**
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I adore Colleen Hoover’s works. She writes really unique and emotionally captivating novels. Novels that make me think and make me swoon. I’m definitely a die-hard fan when it comes to her works.

But I had no idea what to expect when I read the synopsis for Without Merit. What I did know was that I needed to be in an emotionally ready state to read the novel (for anyone who has read It Ends With Us you know what I am talking about) and so I mentally prepared myself and dove in.

The Concept / The Plot:

Like most Hoover novels, there is an overarching theme or message that she wants to convey. The message for this one wasn’t completely obvious to me until the last few chapters when everything started to come together.

I had a hard time deciding on my feelings after finishing this book. On one hand, I loved the message and what Hoover is trying to convey. But on the other, it all felt a little messy to me. I almost think too many things were at play and it took me a long time to figure out what was happening.

I’m going to do a little bit of a rant with spoilers below because it’s hard to articulate what I mean without referencing certain things.

My Spoiler Explanation

This book is all about perspectives and Merit assuming things to only be a certain way. There’s a lot she doesn’t know because there is so much going on with the character’s in this book. Just look at the letter she writes with her family’s many secrets. I think that there were almost too many problems to handle. Sagan’s story in particular just seemed to add to an already full glass.

Why I’m torn is due to the fact that life isn’t straight-forward and linear. It’s complicated and messy like it is for the Voss family–even if most families don’t have the same problems that they do. So in one respect, I appreciate that they are a complicated family but in the other, I think it almost overwhelms the story and its message.

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There isn’t much to the plot besides Merit living her everyday life, burdened by her secrets. It sounds a little boring but that’s where the characters come in. I know I found Merit’s narration intriguing because she has such a unique outlook on life. So I was drawn into Merit’s experience and the need to uncover what was happening in this family.

The Characters:

I enjoyed Merit as the lead. She’s intriguing and unlike any character I’ve ever encountered. She had me chuckling at some of her observations. I’m not sure if everyone would enjoy her but I know I did.

The rest of the cast is equally as interesting. Everyone has their little quirks and secrets so I found myself drawn in to know more.

The Romance:

Definitely not my favourite of Hoover’s that I’ve encountered. It doesn’t play a huge role in this story but it is a key factor of Merit’s story. I almost wonder if the story would have been stronger without it and things remained platonic…

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

While I appreciate and understand what Hoover was trying to showcase in this story, I think some readers will get lost in the eccentrics of the characters and the fact that there is a little too much happening along the way to get that message across.

Read if You Like: quirky characters, contemporary
Avoid if You: realistic fiction of a darker nature, eccentric characters

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Series Review: Him by Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy

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 Him (from Goodreads):

They don’t play for the same team. Or do they?

Jamie Canning has never been able to figure out how he lost his closest friend. Four years ago, his tattooed, wise-cracking, rule-breaking roommate cut him off without an explanation. So what if things got a little weird on the last night of hockey camp the summer they were eighteen? It was just a little drunken foolishness. Nobody died.

Ryan Wesley’s biggest regret is coaxing his very straight friend into a bet that pushed the boundaries of their relationship. Now, with their college teams set to face off at the national championship, he’ll finally get a chance to apologize. But all it takes is one look at his longtime crush, and the ache is stronger than ever.

Jamie has waited a long time for answers, but walks away with only more questions—can one night of sex ruin a friendship? If not, how about six more weeks of it? When Wesley turns up to coach alongside Jamie for one more hot summer at camp, Jamie has a few things to discover about his old friend… and a big one to learn about himself.

Warning: contains sexual situations, skinnydipping, shenanigans in an SUV and proof that coming out to your family on social media is a dicey proposition.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fav Author(s)
Series: Him
Author: Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy
# of Books: 2 (Him, Us)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, MM Romance, Sports, Hockey
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: July 2015 – March 2016
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When two of your favourite authors co-write a series together, you know the expectations are high. I love Bowen and Kennedy’s work respectively so the fact that they wrote a MM romance together had me eager to read it. I’ve really become a fan of MM romance over the last 2 years thanks to some great authors telling some even better stories. So I was STOKED when I managed to snag these two books on sale for my Kobo.

The Plot:

I really enjoyed the balance these novels had between the character development, romance and the drama. They just had a great flow to them that kept me hooked on their every word.

And the tension! GAH! In Him (#1), we don’t know exactly what happened between Jamie and Wes (Ryan) right away. Instead, we get little snippets of their last summer at camp together until we finally get the big reveal. I just loved the anticipation that brought to the story.

The Characters:

I really loved both our leads. Jamie is such a sweetheart and I enjoyed watching him grow into the man he becomes. I found his approach to his sexual identity was refreshing and realistic as well. And Wes is also a great guy. I loved his attitude and approach to everything. He has this maturity to him that I also found refreshing.

The Romance:

There is no denying the great chemistry these two have. Boy oh boy, their scenes together are steamy! But for me, I wanted a little more emotional connection in Him. I got the attraction between these two physically but I wasn’t entirely sold on why the boys liked each other. Sure they have a lot in common and have been close friends for years, but I needed a little more to see why they would make great partners for each other in the long run.

Which we get to see in Us (#2). I found this book really tested their relationship in a realistic way and that reaffirmed for my why they are a good match for each other and why they love each other. We still get plenty of steam but the emotional connection between the guys is the main focus.

Series Rating: 4/5

Him 4/5| Us 4/5

overall

This super sexy read is great for new and returning MM romance fans!

Read if You Like: mm romance, sports romances, hockey
Avoid if You: dislike steamy scenes

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Series Review: Reverie by Monica Murphy

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 His Reverie (from Goodreads):

I knew from the moment I first saw her she was the one. The only girl I could ever want.
The only girl I could ever love.
She is light.
I am darkness.
She is innocent.
I’ve done too much.
She is good.
I am bad.
She is my every dream.
I should be her every nightmare.
We come from different worlds. She’s…perfect. And I’m…
Not.
Somehow she wants me anyway. So we’ll grasp at what we can. We’re going to make this summer count. She’s my secret. And I’m hers.
The problem with secrets is they never last for long. And when others discover we’re together, they’ll do whatever it takes to keep us apart. All I know is: I won’t let them.
Because Reverie Hale? She’s mine.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: Reverie
Author: Monica Murphy
# of Books: 2 (His Reverie, Her Destiny)
Book Order: Chronolgical
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: really warm **spicy YA**
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: July 2014 – August 2014
Source & Format: Own & Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I read pretty much anything by Monica Murphy so it’s no surprise that I had the first book sitting on my Kobo shortly after its release. And like many books I own, I don’t get around to them until years later (thought it’s no fault of their own).

I was eager to start this forbidden “New Adult” love story and I made sure to pick up the sequel from my library as my card was expiring to binge read the series.

The Concept:

First and foremost, I would classify this story as Young Adult and not necessarily “New Adult”. To me, “New Adult” stories take place the summer after high school to the first year after graduating college. These characters are still in high school and to me, it reads like your more dramatic YA contemporaries.

One thing I enjoyed about His Reverie is that it is mostly told through Nick’s POV with the occasional diary entry from Reverie along the way. It’s not often that you get a romance novel told solely (or close to) from the male POV so I enjoyed that fresh take.

The Plot:

This story centers itself on a very dramatic first love. Monica Murphy has a knack for writing dramatic YA and it definitely shows in this series. It reads almost like a soap opera but the characters are pretty grounded so it isn’t as over the top as you expect.

The Characters:

I really liked these two. Nick is trying to do his best given the crappy hand life has dealt him but his heart is in the right place. You really want to root for him after all the stuff he has gone through.

I’ll be honest and say I wasn’t sure about Reverie at the start. I’m not always the biggest fan of the “innocent” heroine and their accompanying naivety but she really grew on me as the series progressed. I think she has the best character development in the series of the two.

The Romance:

If you enjoy stories about all consuming first loves, this is one for you! I thought these two were cute together but I needed to see more substance to their relationship. To me, they are in lust not love for a majority of His Reverie. It’s a very insta-love connection, one that is mostly based in attractiveness and this unspoken connection. Later on in the book it is implied that they talk and bond over other things but I felt like their feelings developed much too fast for me to be completely convinced it’s true love.

Series Rating: 3/5

His Reverie 3/5 | Her Destiny 3/5

overall

If you like lots of drama in your YA contemporaries and stories about first loves, this is a great (and shorter) series to pick up!

Read if You Like: stories about first love, lots of drama, quicker reads
Avoid if You: dislike lots of drama

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