Tag «First Person POV: Alternating»

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

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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

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.

Series Rating: 4/5

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

overall

Out of all the other spin-offs, this one feels the closed to Truth or Lies in its execution. With strong leads, 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: 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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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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Series Review: Twisted by Ana Huang

Series Review: Twisted by Ana Huang

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

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Twisted Love (from Goodreads):

He has a heart of ice…but for her, he’d burn the world.

Alex Volkov is a devil blessed with the face of an angel and cursed with a past he can’t escape.

Driven by a tragedy that has haunted him for most of his life, his ruthless pursuits for success and vengeance leave little room for matters of the heart.

But when he’s forced to look after his best friend’s sister, he starts to feel something in his chest:

A crack.
A melt.
A fire that could end his world as he knew it.

***

Ava Chen is a free spirit trapped by nightmares of a childhood she can’t remember.

But despite her broken past, she’s never stopped seeing the beauty in the world…including the heart beneath the icy exterior of a man she shouldn’t want.

Her brother’s best friend.
Her neighbor.
Her savior and her downfall.

Theirs is a love that was never supposed to happen—but when it does, it unleashes secrets that could destroy them both…and everything they hold dear.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Twisted
Author: Ana Huang
# 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 Dates: April 2021 – ongoing
Source & Format: Author–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Last year, I discovered Ana Huang when I read her If Love Series and quickly became a fan. She writes the type of romances I love to read with great chemistry between her leads and addicting plots. I was never bored reading that series and I made sure to keep an eye out for any of her future works.

The Twisted Series was pitched to me as something a little darker than her previous series, but I love dark contemporary romances so I was totally on bored. I loved the premise and couldn’t wait to dive in!

The Plot:

Each book focuses on a different set of leads and their respective stories. I found that Twisted Love (#1) was much darker than Twisted Games (#2) thanks to the characters’ pasts. But both had an air of suspense to them when it came to the plotlines that made them addicting to read. And while I was able to see some plot twists coming, others I did not so I liked that I was kept on my toes.

There is a good balance between the drama of the characters and the romance; though sometimes the pacing felt choppy. However, I was so invested in these characters that I really didn’t mind that when it’s all said and done. The pacing definitely improves as the series progresses.

The Characters:

I love complex characters in my books because that usually means there will be great character development–and that’s the case here. The romance and the drama help contribute to the growth we see in our leads (and their friends as well!) and I couldn’t ask for more.

I thought that all these characters were fresh and unique. They aren’t perfect snowflakes but they also aren’t overly jaded and angsty either. Overall, everyone is just very well rounded and you can’t help but like them.

The Romance:

Both books so far have had a slow burn type of romance which I LOVE! Watching our leads slowly fall into love made the romance that much sweeter. Nothing better than watching two people who aren’t so fond of each other succumb to those deeper feelings!

All the pairs have great chemistry from the start. The underlying attraction is always bubbling up to the surface which makes this story addicting to read in itself. But I also liked how they challenged each other and how their characters grew as a result.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Gah! We always get a little taste of what is to come at the end of the previous book and I cannot wait for the next book!

Series Rating: 4.5/5

Twisted Love 4/5 | Twisted Games 5/5 | Twisted Hate TBP | Twisted Lies TBP

overall

If you enjoy a darker tone to your romances (without the BSDM or other kinkiness that is often associated with “darker” romances), this is the series you have been waiting for! A great blend of slow-burn romance and suspenseful drama to keep you addicted for more!

Read if You Like: dark romances, hate to love you romances
Avoid if You: dislike contemporary romances, want a lighter read

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Single Sundays: Things I Wanted to Say (But Never Did) by Monica Murphy

Single Sundays: Things I Wanted to Say (But Never Did) by Monica Murphy

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 Things I Wanted to Say (But Never Did) (from Goodreads):
Whit Lancaster burst into my life like a storm. Dark and thunderous, furious and fierce. Cold, heartless and devastatingly beautiful, like the statues in our prep school gardens. The school with his family name on the sign. He can do no wrong here. This is his domain.

He’s a menace on campus. Adored and feared. Hated and respected. His taunting words carve into my skin, shredding me to ribbons. Yet his intense gaze scorches my blood, fills me with a longing I don’t understand.

When I stumble upon him one night alone, I find him broken. Bleeding. My instincts scream to leave and let him suffer, but I can’t. I sneak him into my room. Clean him up. Fall for his lies. Let him possess every single part of me until I’m the one left a gasping, broken mess.

When he leaves me alone in the dead of night, he takes my journal with him.

Now he knows all my secrets. My hate. My truth. And he promises to use my words against me. I’ll be ruined if my darkest secret gets out.

That’s when I strike a bargain with the devil.

I’ll let Whit Lancaster ruin me behind closed doors instead.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Author: Monica Murphy
Genre: Young Adult / New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Erotica, Dark
Heat Rating: Smokin’ (extremely *spicy YA*) | (Kink: mild)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: July 29, 2021
Source & Format: Author–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This is the first standalone I’ve read from Monica Murphy in awhile. I’ve mostly been reading her series The Callahans and The College Years. But I knew that this was a particular passion project of hers and I love a good hate-to-love you romance so I was excited to start this.

The Concept:

I felt a little odd putting the genre type as “Erotica” in the same line as “Young Adult” but I feel like I need to include it so people know that they are expecting. This book is just plain steamy—and it would still be steamy even if the characters were older. There is a lot of sex and it is a long book so expect it to be pretty frequent. If reading about young adults having sex bothers you, don’t pick this up. I felt like this book was more reminiscent of Monica’s adult series The Fowler Sisters works than her YA/NA books in terms of sexual content.

The Plot:

I’ve attempted a few High School Bully Romances but this was the first one I really, really enjoyed. The angst, the passion, the chemistry — it’s all there and it is delicious. This is like a good teen soap opera if you ask me where you want the two leads to just get together already!

While some plot points were predictable, there are a few twists along the way to keep you interested. This book is super long page-count-wise but I never really got bored with it. Some of the plot points get a little lost I think at times (like the whole journal thing) but I think that’s because the story focuses more on the romance and passion. But I never really minded honestly, I was there for the romance.

The Characters:

Summer has to be the first heroine in this high-school-bully-romance trend that I’ve read who actually fights back and holds her ground. But she knows when to surrender and accepts that. I found she never waivered in her convictions and I really appreciated that. I struggled with some of her character background and how it was dealt with but I really did enjoy her character’s journey.

Whit: I think you love to hate him. We don’t get as many chapters from him which I think works to the story’s advantage. He’s a mysterious asshole but those brief glimpses we get inside his brain propel the story forward. He really does have the best character development of the two.

The Romance:

Like I said above, this is pretty steamy and not always in a vanilla way either. But I liked how we explored the submissive/dominate side of their relationship and seeing how that can evolve over time. A lot of the time in romances, those character traits are long established in one of our leads so it was an interesting dynamic seeing it blossom in both our leads and how they try to understand it.

I was really addicted to watching these two fall in love. They are the definition of forbidden romance, which makes it all the sweeter when they give in.

My Rating: 5/5

overall

If you are a fan of the high-school-bully romance and/or can accept the steamy sexual content, I think you’ll enjoy this. But if you struggle with sexual content in your YA/New Adult novels, look elsewhere. I’m hoping that there will be a spin-off at some point because I loved this world so much!

Read if You Like: steamy reads, forbidden romance
Avoid if You: dislike erotica

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Series Review: Nordic Royals by Karina Halle

Series Review: Nordic Royals by Karina Halle

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Swedish Prince (from Goodreads):

A swoon-worthy, sexy & utterly charming STANDALONE romance inspired by the classic film Roman Holiday, from the New York Times bestselling author of Bad at Love and The Pact

I never believed in fairy-tales.

Never held out for Prince Charming.

Growing up poor in small-town California as the oldest of six siblings, I knew I would never ride off into the sunset with anyone. That was even more apparent when a senseless tragedy took the lives of my parents, forcing me to become the sole guardian of our dysfunctional household at the mere age of twenty-three.

Then a fateful encounter literally brought Prince Charming to my doorstep.

At first I thought Viktor was just your average businessman passing through, albeit obscenely handsome, six-foot-five, blue-eyed, and mysteriously rich.

But soon I discovered the truth behind Viktor’s façade.

Beneath his quiet, enigmatic gaze and cocky charm, is a man who is running away from who he really is. A role he’d rather not fulfill.

He is Viktor of House Nordin, His Royal Highness, The Crown Prince of Sweden.

Yet uncovering Viktor’s secret was only the first step.

I didn’t expect to fall in love with him.

I didn’t expect to have my whole life turned upside down.

When you’re from two different worlds, can your hearts meet somewhere in the middle?

Or do happily-ever-afters only exist in fairy-tales?

WARNING: The Swedish Prince is oh-so sweet, enchanting and funny, but it does contain foul language (lots of the F word) and graphic sexual scenes (lots of dirty talk). Reader discretion is advised for those who are sensitive.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Canadian Author
Series: The Nordic Royals
Author: Karina Halle
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Royalty
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: March 2018 – October 2019
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve read a few of Karina Halle’s books in the past and I’ve enjoyed her approach to the contemporary romance novel. She finds a good balance between humour, heat and angst in her novels.

I love anything to do with royalty so I’ve been dying to start this modern royalty story. And when my library got the audiobooks, I immediately got ready to read this series.

The Plot:

I found each book to be a little predictable and often cliché. But there are some more profound moments when subjects like grief, forgiveness and family are touched upon. It isn’t always happy-go-lucky and I can appreciate that. But I did find the balance was a little off sometimes with the drama and the pacing (like the dramatic twists were introduced too late into the story) so that dampened my overall enjoyment of some of the books.

The Characters:

We get a little taste of the future leads throughout the series (and people make some reappearances) which is always fun. I did like all the characters we met. They were fun and had some layers to them as you get to explore their backstories a little more.

The Romance:

I had a few hits and misses with these. Sometimes, the romances felt rushed other times the pacing was just right. I really did think all the couples had good chemistry together. And there are some really sweet moments along the way.

My Audiobook Experience:

I enjoyed all the audiobooks. It was good way to listen to the stories I think.

Series Rating: 3.5/5

The Swedish Prince 3.5/5 | The Wild Heir 4/5 | A Nordic King 4/5 | The Royal Rogue 3/5

overall

If you love mixing modern royalty with your favourite romance tropes, this is probably the series you should be reading next!

Read if You Like: royalty, contemporary romances
Avoid if You: want a darker series
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Series Review: Never by Winter Renshaw

Series Review: Never 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 Never Kiss a Stranger (from Goodreads):

It was an innocent mistake…

All workaholic real estate broker Addison Andrews wanted was one night of pleasure, and picking the right guy was no different than shopping from a catalog thanks to the dating app on her phone. His name was Wilder, and his profile was blank – just a sexy picture of a man who promised every wicked intention of a one-night stand.

The agreement was simple. One night. No last names. But the second their bodies melded together in the sheets of their posh Manhattan hotel room, there was no denying they fit together like two pieces of a broken puzzle.

There’s just one problem…

Addison unknowingly swiped right on the one man she wasn’t supposed to be with – her new stepbrother. All it takes is one bite of forbidden fruit to become addicted, but being with him has major consequences for their entire family. And if anyone found out about them, the career she worked so hard to build would crumble to the ground.

But Wilder Van Cleef doesn’t care about the possibility of a scandal. He wants her, and he’s willing to do whatever it takes.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Never
Author: Winter Renshaw
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order)

There is a spin-off novella: Bitter Rivals

Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty (Kink: mild)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: March – June 2015
Source & Format: Own–eBook; Kindle Unlimited

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Winter Renshaw is an author I read no matter what. Her books are usually packed with great chemistry, some of my favourite romance tropes and some unexpected twists or spins that keep me on my toes.

I think I picked up a freebie copy of Never Kiss a Stranger before I even read a Winter Renshaw novel–or maybe I picked it up after I read my first? Regardless, I was excited to dive into a new romance series with some of my favourite tropes from an author I had enjoyed in the past.

The Plot:

While these books had a lot of my favourite tropes at play, I felt like they were underutilized or portrayed falsely by the synopsis. For example, in Never Kiss a Stranger (#1), there is the forbidden “new stepbrother” angle listed in the synopsis but it isn’t something that is revealed until after the 50% mark. And I honestly think if it had been omitted from the synopsis, it would have amped the book up a bit. By having it a known secret, its eventual “reveal” halfway through the book was a bit of a let down.

I just felt like things were underdeveloped when it came to the plot for all the books. I craved more. The pacing was a little off or things felt forced or logic was glossed over for the sake of drama and I just felt like we got the bare minimum out of these stories when there was potential for more.

The Characters:

Again, I think development was glossed over at times when it comes to the characters.

I found all the characters were a little anti-hero in a way, highlighting their flaws more so than anything else. But that can be a double-edged sword because you risk the reader not liking them either. I think I really struggled with that in Never is a Promise (#2) because these two just really had some strong anti-logic going on and I couldn’t get behind their resistance to be together.

The Romance:

I felt like all the leads had great physical chemistry but, once again, we glossed over the deeper stuff. Every connection seems to be this innate, inexplicable draw that just left me wanting a little more.

When to Read Bitter Rivals:

If you use Goodreads, you’ll notice that Bitter Rivals isn’t always listed as a part of the Never Series. I had no clue it was either when I grabbed the novella for free off of Amazon one day. I had started to read it and there was just something about the way some of the side characters were dropped that got me thinking it was a spin-off of something else.

I totally forgot about that fact until I picked it up again a couple of months later because I needed a quicker read. This time, I just went with it. Moral of the story: you can read it as a standalone but I think you will get more out of it if you read it after you read the other books in the series even though the leads of the novella aren’t mentioned at all in the previous books.

Series Rating: 3.5/5

Never Kiss a Stranger 3.5/5 | Never Say Never 3/5 | Never is a Promise 3.5/5 | [Bitter Rivals 3/5]

overall

This is not my favourite Winter Renshaw series. They are quicker reads that you can easily get through in a sitting when you need a good distraction but there are better ones out there if you want more twists.

Read if You Like: quick romances, second chances
Avoid if You: want deeper character stories

similarreads

  • Forbidden by Lauren Smith (Her British Stepbrother Series #1)
  • Bedwrecker by Kim Karr (Men of Laguna Series #2)
  • Rumor Has It by Magan Vernon (Friendship, Texas Series #2)

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Series Review: Rush by Vi Keeland & Penelope Ward

Series Review: Rush by Vi Keeland & Penelope Ward

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 Rebel Heir (from Goodreads):

How to kick off a great summer in the Hamptons:

Snag a gorgeous rental on the beach. Check.

Get a job at a trendy summer haunt. Check.

How to screw up a great summer in the Hamptons:

Fall for the one guy with a dark leather jacket, scruff on his face, and intense eyes that doesn’t fit in with the rest of the tony looking crowd. A guy you can’t have when you’ll be leaving at the end of the season.

Check. Check. Check.

I should add—especially when the guy is your sexy, tattooed God of a boss.

Especially when he not only owns your place of employment but inherited half of the town.

Especially when he’s mean to you.

Or so I thought.

Until one night when he demanded I get in his car so he could drive me home because he didn’t want me walking in the dark.

That was sort of how it all started with Rush.

And then little by little, some of the walls of this hardass man started to come down.

I never expected that the two of us, seemingly opposites from the outside, would grow so close.

I wasn’t supposed to fall for the rebel heir, especially when he made it clear he didn’t want to cross the line with me.

As the temperature turned cooler, the nights became hotter. My summer became a lot more interesting—and complicated.

All good things must come to an end, right?

Except our ending was one I didn’t see coming.

breakdown

Series: Rush Duet
Author: Vi Keeland and Penelope Douglas
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: April 2018 – May 2018
Source & Format: Scribd–Audiobook (#1); Kindle Unlimited–eBook (#2)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve had Rebel Heir on my various wishlists for a long time. And I was super excited to listen to it as an audiobook when I saw it was on Scribd. However, I only got to the first book before my trial ended and had to read the finale as an eBook.

I just knew that there was going to be more to this story than broke girl falls in love with her badass boss…and boy was I right!

The Plot:

I’m so glad that this series is a duet because the drama just peaks so well and isn’t dragged out as much as it could have been.

Rebel Heir has a great meet-cute, some great banter scenes and then shit hits the fan. I can usually predict things a mile away but this one got even me!

I found Rebel Heart–because of said “shit”–isn’t as light-hearted and that’s fine. I just found that we rehashed the same sentiments and went in circles a bit (particularly for Rush), which drew everything out.

The Characters:

I liked Gia and Rush as characters. Gia can stand on her own and doesn’t need a man to complete her which is great. And Rush is a big softie beneath that hard exterior.

The Romance:

I loved the banter these two had. Their romance had a slow burn to it where they tow the line, building up the anticipation. But I liked that their relationship wasn’t perfect and that they had to work out their wants and needs instead of falling deliriously in love with it each and everything is right in the world.

My Audiobook Experience:

I really wished I could have read the second book in audio. It was such a fun read!

Series Rating: 4/5

Rebel Heir 4.5/5 | Rebel Heart 3/5

overall

If you are looking for a read with great chemistry between the leads: look no further

Read if You Like: slow burn romance, alpha/rich hero, drama
Avoid if You: dislike drama, dislike new adult

similarreads

  • The Wright Secret by K A Linde (The Wright Series #4)
  • Dirty Headlines by L J Shen
  • Filthy by Winter Renshaw (Rixton Falls Series #3)

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Series Review: Girl in Luv by Jay Crownover & Rebecca Yarros

Series Review: Girl in Luv by Jay Crownover & Rebecca Yarros

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 Girl in Luv (from Goodreads):

Langley Vaughn is in desperate need of a date.

But not just any date.

She’s looking for a date to the wedding from hell. It isn’t every day you’re forced to be in the bridal party while your first love marries your arch nemesis… otherwise known as the world’s worst stepsister. The entire situation is a nightmare, and Langley is sick and tired of taking orders and forcing a fake smile. She’s done being the bad guy when she was the one who was wronged.

She needs to find a date who’s not afraid of her family’s money and someone who is willing to shake things up. She needs someone outside of her normal social circle, someone ready to go to war with the well-to-do. She needs someone who won’t back down. Someone willing to play the complicated game of tug of war she’s been engaged in with her family for years.

Never in a million years did she think she was going to stumble across her very own heroic heartthrob when she set her crazy plan in motion.

Not only does Iker show up for her time and time again, he also forced her to finally fight for herself.

He says he’s only there for the money… but his actions speak so much louder than his words.

Iker Alvarez would do anything and everything to get his hands on some quick cash.

Not just any cash, but enough to make sure his younger brother gets into the college of his dreams.

Thank goodness for a desperate, pretty little rich girl with too much money and her heart set on an outrageous scheme. Being in the right place at the right time might just be the answer to both of their prayers — and this smart soldier has never let a golden opportunity slide by.

Iker doesn’t mind coming to Langley’s rescue and being her plus-one… as long as the price is right.

Only, he didn’t plan on liking the blonde socialite as much as he does. He is totally unprepared for the pull he feels toward her, coupled with his growing desire to protect her from the vultures and villains living under the same roof.

He wants to be the guy who keeps her safe and gives her the courage to fight back that she obviously needs… But someone else, someone far more powerful and influential than Langley’s wealthy family, has dibs on Iker’s time and on his future. He knows he isn’t the guy Langley can count on in the long run, but damn if he doesn’t want to do everything in his power to be that man.

breakdown

Series: Girl in Luv Duet
Author: Jay Crownover and Rebecca Yarros
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: October 2019
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I really enjoy both of these authors’ individual books so I was excited to see what they could to together. They write such solid characters with tragic pasts and the right amount of angst, so I knew what to expect going in.

The Plot:

At times, I felt like not a lot was happening in this book. I honestly think you could have condensed both books into one novel and cut out some of the drier parts. There are some great scenes along the way but other parts just felt like filler to me.

The Characters:

This story could have been a super angsty read but there was just enough to drive this story. It brought these characters down to earth in some ways and I appreciated that. Both of our leads are sweet people with chips on their shoulders so watching them find that middle ground with the other was great.

The Romance:

I really loved the chemistry between these two. I understood the draw to each other and how they could fall in love. And that tension and burn between them really helped to drive the story.

My Audiobook Experience:

I probably could have read these books much faster than I did by listening to the audiobook but I still enjoyed the production and how it provided some depth to the characters by hearing their conversations and inner monologues.

Series Rating: 3.5/5

Girl in Luv 3.5/5 | Boy in Luv 3.5/5

overall

If you want a quick, tension filled read this is a great duet to pick.

Read if You Like: New adult, fake romance trope
Avoid if You: dislike couple stories spread out over multiple books

similarreads

  • Eyes Turned Skyward by Rebecca Yarros (Fight and Glory Series #2)
  • Rule by Jay Crownover (Marked Men Series #1)

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Series Review: An Uncertain Choice by Jody Hedlund

Series Review: An Uncertain Choice by Jody Hedlund

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 An Uncertain Choice (from Goodreads):

Due to her parents’ promise at her birth, Lady Rosemarie has been prepared to become a nun on the day she turns eighteen. Then, a month before her birthday, a friend of her father’s enters the kingdom and proclaims her parents’ will left a second choice. If Rosemarie can marry before the eve of her eighteenth year, she will be exempt from the ancient vow.

Before long, Rosemarie is presented with the three most handsome and brave knights in the land. But when the competition for her heart seemingly results in a knight playing foul, she begins to wonder if the cloister is the best place after all. If only one of the knights the one who appears the most guilty had not already captured her heart.

breakdown

Series: An Uncertain Choice
Author: Jody Hedlund
# of Books: 5 (Full Reading Order)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Teen, Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction, Romance, Adventure
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: March 2015 – September 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I only read the first 3 book of the series and have opted not to pick up the sequels (#4, #5).

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I had had An Uncertain Choice on my library’s wishlist for a long time. I think it was a “judged by the cover” situation because I don’t recall hearing about it anyway. Fast forward a few years when I’m super into audiobooks and I decide that this would make a great series to read!

The Concept / The World:

All the stories are connected initially (Books #1 to #3) through a group of three boys who are training to be knights and the ladies they meet along the way who steal their hearts. The final two books focus on some side characters we meet throughout the series.

Some people bill this as a Christian Fiction; it isn’t the first label would slap on this series. Perhaps my unfamiliarity with the genre doesn’t have me fully convinced. There is nothing overtly religious about anything here (Book #3 is as close as it gets but I think you could argue historical events also explain its tone) so don’t let that turn you away. But the ideals of treating people with respect, helping others and chivalry are themes throughout. I also think the sweet and chaste romances perpetuate that idea as well.

The Plot:

Some of the books had a stronger plot than others. For example, Daring Sacrifice had a loose Robin Hood retelling to it that was fun. I found every book to be predictable but the stories flow well enough (despite some repetitive scenes) that I didn’t mind too much.

The Characters:

Most of the characters have a naivety and innocence to them that is somewhat charming. Their hearts are in the right place so I let some of their mistakes go by with a grain of salt.

And the boys are chivalrous but without being condescending! I thought these books were pretty “pro-girl-power” and it was nice to see these girls take charge when they had to.

The Romance:

The romances are sweet and very chaste to my normal reading choices. They happen a little quickly but it worked for the story.

My Audiobook Experience:

While I think the sole female narrator did a good job overall with two POVs, I really wish we had two narrators. I had the hardest time catching the change in POV throughout this series! There wasn’t much of a tone change between our female lead and our male lead–or at least not one that was noticeable immediately if you picked up where you left off. It was very frustrating.

Why I Stopped Reading After Book #3:

It’s simply because my library lacks the books and that I didn’t enjoy the series enough to purchase them for myself.

Series Rating: 3/5

An Uncertain Choice 3/5 | A Daring Sacrifice 3/5 | For Love and Honour 3/5 | A Loyal Heart N/A | A Worthy Rebel N/A

overall

If you like quick, sweet historical romances, this is great series for you to try.

Read if You Like: sweet romance, more teen oriented reads
Avoid if You: want more romance, want more action

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