Tag «friends to lovers»

Series Review: The First Kiss Hypothesis by Christina Mandelski

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

Synopsis for The First Kiss Hypothesis (from Goodreads):

Nora Reid believes scientific laws control everything, even love. With her grandparents’ epic first kiss story cemented in her brain, Nora develops a hypothesis she’s determined to prove:for each person in the world, there is exactly one other person, and at first kiss, they’ll experience an immediate and intense reaction.

But after four years of zero-reaction kisses, she comes up with a new theory: maybe that pesky crush on her stunningly hot best friend Eli Costas is skewing her results.

She needs to get rid of him, and fast.

Eli Costas is an injury-prone lacrosse star with a problem—the one chance he had at winning over the girl next door resulted in the most epically sucktastic first kiss ever. And now she’s…trying to get rid of him? Hell no. It’s time to disprove her theory and show her exactly what she’s missing.
Game. On.

Disclaimer: This book contains a stunningly hot lacrosse player who isn’t above playing dirty to win over the stubborn girl-next-door of his dreams.

breakdown

Series: The First Kiss Hypothesis
Author: Christina Mandelski
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes (?)
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Coming of Age, Romance, High School
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: November 6, 2017
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC | Thank you Entangled Publishing!

thoughts

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

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Thanks to the H.BSc that follows my name and the hopeless romantic in me makes it a requirement that I read any novel that uses a scientific term in its title. I’m a fan of the best friends to more trope, especially in YA, and the promise of a scientific theory to back up why that might not be the case for these two? I was excited to see how this experiment would play out.

The Plot:

This story definitely felt like it was more of a coming of age novel than straight romance–and I really liked that. Eli and Nora have a lot going on in their lives now that they are seniors in high school. They’re beginning to feel the pressures from family and friends when it comes to deciding what’s next. Throw in their long buried crushes on each other and the mutual agreed upon love of pies and you’ve got a bit of a sticky situation.

This book had me at the start. I loved Eli’s goal to make Nora see him as more than a friend and I liked how Nora was unknowingly trying to counteract that. It made from some sweet moments between them. However, it started to lose me in the middle when everything just seemed to repeat itself with nothing completely new to add to the story. It rounds itself out in the end with some solid character growth but my interest did start to wane.

The Characters:

I’m really glad that we got both Nora and Eli’s POV in this story because it does shed some light on why they act like they do. They have their moments of immaturity but I did find that they grew up as the story progressed. I wasn’t blown away by either of them but they worked well for this story.

I do have to give a shout-out to Eli’s autistic brother Ari. He was fabulous and a breath of fresh air in this story. He really grounds the story in a way that benefits everyone.

The Romance:

These two are super cute together, no denying that. I liked that they always had these feelings bubbling up at the surface–I love the type of tension that brings to a story. It’s a touch cliché but these two have enough quirks to keep it interesting.

updates

–September 17, 2018– Book #2: Love and Other Secrets

I had no idea that this book was the sequel of sorts to The First Kiss Hypothesis so it was a welcome surprise when I started reading and notice we were back at Edinburgh High.

This book started off strongly for me. I loved watching Alex moon over Bailey and fight his feelings for her while she explains her film making plan. That’s the sexual tension that keeps me hooked and wanting more. But I can’t help but feel that if I got to see these two interact a little more before the start of this book (ie the start of their friendship), I would have rooted for them a little more than I did. Yes, they are cute together and I can see why they are drawn to each other but I wanted that connection established a little more.

Unfortunately, the last half of the book is plagued by bad communication and assumptions on both characters parts and it’s a little frustrating to endure as it occurs in a slightly repetitive way. I get their fears of rejection but their defensive tactics always seemed premature to me–which in turn made the characters come across as immature.

Which brings me to the character development. I was very disappointed in Alex’s lack of growth as a character. To me, it was almost like he unravelled as the story progressed. I was a huge Alex fan at the start but his angst towards his parents (no matter how justified) never seemed to contribute positively to his coming of age story. I felt like that was a bit of a missed opportunity because the romance overshadows any character growth or resolution.

My Rating: 3/5

The First Kiss Hypothesis 3.5/5 | Love and Other Secrets 3/5

overall

If you enjoy cute coming of age stories where best friends fall in love, this perfect for you!

Read if You Like: YA contemporary, best friends to more, coming of age, teenaged angst
Avoid if You: high school romances

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Series Review: Port Lucia by Renita Pizzitola

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:

Port Lucia Series

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Addicted to You (from Goodreads):
In the sleepy fishing town of Port Lucia, everyone knows everyone, but Isla Diaz really knows Colby Callahan, with his blue-gray eyes and the tousled brown hair always tucked sexily into his cap. After all, Isla has been crazy about Colby ever since she can remember—even if he treats her like a kid sister. Now, without her best friend, Felicity, around, Isla spots a golden opportunity to take things to the next level . . . or at least wrangle a kiss out of Colby.

By random chance, a tropical storm is headed toward the coast, leaving them stranded together overnight—and there’s nothing to do but drink. As the evening wears on, Isla gets the feeling that her not-so-secret crush may finally release her from the friend zone. With her dreams finally coming true, Isla isn’t about to pump the brakes, but is this just a one-time thing? What if the next morning, she needs more than Colby’s prepared to give?

Little does she know, Colby would like nothing more than a real relationship with Isla. She’s always been the one. But there’s a very good reason he’s been keeping his distance. Someone else loves her too, someone who also means the world to Colby: his brother.

breakdown

Series: Port Lucia

This series intersects with the 3rd novel of the Crush Series.

Author: Renita Pizzitola
# of Books: 1+ (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, Book 2 is to be published
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: November 1, 2016 – ??
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC

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thoughts

**This post was originally published as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to reflect my conclusion to DNF this series. It will not be further updated.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I really enjoyed Renita’s Crush Trilogy. Cade from Just a Little Flirt is on my list of Ultimate Book Boyfriends so I think it goes without saying, I like Renita’s works.

So I was really excited to start her new series! It wasn’t until I started reading it and they mentioned characters from Just a Little Kiss that I remembered we briefly meet the stars of this new series in the old one. I remember being eager to see what was going to happen next thanks to the little tidbits we got. And when I read the synopsis, even with the promise of a love triangle, I was excited to get started!

What I Liked:

–This is a Spin-Off!–

I’m embarrassed that it took me a chapter or two to realized this was a spin-off. We got a little taste of Isla and the Callahan boys in Just a Little Kiss so I’m always up getting those new stories just waiting to be told.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Love Triangle (And for the reason you think!)–

For the first 50% of the book, I wouldn’t have known there was a love triangle if the synopsis hadn’t told me. I even contemplated excluding that portion of the synopsis from this blog post because it is a huge spoiler! (In my opinion).

You really don’t know where Colby’s stance is and his feelings for Isla (we don’t get his POV at all). His reservations aren’t really mentioned until you are past the 50% mark and to me, that’s not where something mentioned in the synopsis should be. It should be in the first 20% of the novel.

–Not a Lot Happening–

There was no drama besides Isla fretting over their hook-up (and rightfully so) and Colby going from hot-to-cold without “knowing” why (but you do as the reader because of the synopsis giving it away!). So that made for a boring read for a good majority of the book. I wanted something to focus on besides their “love-triangle” that had yet to be introduced and that wasn’t happening.

–Lack of Colby’s POV–

I think this would have been a much more enjoyable if we got Colby’s POV. Insight into his thought-process would have added a depth to this story that was seriously lacking. He really doesn’t get elaborated on besides Isla’s commentary about how amazing he is. I wanted to see for myself how amazing he was and I didn’t feel like I got that.

I also think it would have pushed the love triangle aspect of this novel to the forefront early in the story.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I feel like Addicted to You was just a missed execution on the love triangle trope. I know Renita can write solid NA reads, so I’m looking forward to seeing what she has in store for these Callahan boys.

updates

–October 8, 2019– Book #2: Untitled

As it has been a few years since the inaugural book release and there are currently no updates on when the sequel will be released, I have opted to mark this series as incomplete and pass on future sequels.

My Rating: DNF

Addicted to You 2/5 | Book 2 N/A

overall

A blah start to a series but the potential is there!

Read if You Like: slower stories, “sweet” romance
Avoid if You: want more drama, want more spice, dislike love triangles

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Single Sundays: The Finn Factor by Rachel Bailey

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 Finn Factor (from Goodreads):
Sometimes all a girl needs is a little practice…

It’s been twelve months, three days, and eleven hours since accounting student Scarlett Logan made it past a second date. A pitcher of mojitos in hand, she employs her supreme graphing skills to narrow things down to one horrifying explanation. Kissing. Clearly someone needs to teach her how to kiss properly. Like, say, her best friend and roomie, Finn Mackenzie. He’s safe, he’s convenient, and yeah, maybe just a little gorgeous.

Finn knows exactly why Scarlett’s boyfriends are disappearing quickly. Him. Not a single guy she’s brought home is nearly good enough. And he’ll be damned if he lets some loser give her “kissing lessons.” No. He’ll do the honors, thank you very much. The moment their lips touch, though, everything turns upside down. But Scarlett deserves the one thing Finn can’t give her. And if he doesn’t put an end to the sexy little shenanigans, he’ll teach Scarlett the hardest lesson of all…heartbreak.

breakdown

Author: Rachel Bailey

NOTE: For those who have read The Summer of Jake, some characters make an appearance in this novel.

Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: September 28, 2015
Source & Format: NetGalley–eBook  |  Thanks so much Entangled Embrace!

disclaimernetgalley

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When it come to friends to lovers stories, I am really picky. I don’t like stories where the BFF has an unrequited love for the heroine but I don’t mind stories where two friends have mutual feelings for each other. See, I’m big on my characters having that emotional connection together. I want them to know the other person; not simply be attracted to them. And friends to lovers stories often have that deeper connection. It just makes it easier to support romances when I can see that these two actually are a good match.

I’m also a sucker for stories where someone “teaches” someone else how to be a better boyfriend/girlfriend and they end up falling in love with each other. So the combination of that in The Finn Factor made it an immediate request for me on NetGalley.

The Plot:

I’m sure you have a pretty good idea how this book is going to progress just by reading the synopsis alone–and I would have to say that you are most likely right. But at the same time, I never got bored with this story despite all that.

This book did a great job I thought between balancing the romance and the character growth. It wasn’t just Finn and Scarlet “practising” all the time. You had their family and everyday lives to consider as well. And those other aspects to their lives really helped keep the story interesting to me. They allowed me to better understand the characters and their actions which I appreciated.

And at the same time, I think those interactions grounded the story in a sense of realism. Because overall, I thought the premise was a tad over the top. It’s a dramatic trope–the “help me to love” situation–one that I enjoy but nevertheless is one that is really only found in fictional books or movies. But bridging that gap between friends to romantic partners is something that happens all the time and can be really tricky, especially if you have been friends for years and are involved in each other’s family lives.

The Characters:

Unfortunately, the characters are what dropped my rating on this one. I really couldn’t connect with Scarlet at the start of the book and that really prevented me from liking her more as I read. Which is a shame because she does have some great growth by the end.

“He really couldn’t see it. It was tough to say where I was angrier that he’d so blatantly meddled in my relationships, or that he couldn’t even see what was wrong with that. Either way, the blood in my veins was simmering.” ~ Scarlet

When Scarlet thinks this about Finn, I wanted to facepalm myself because I found it to be so ironic. At the start of the book, I couldn’t tell if Scarlet was just being naive or extremely oblivious to the situation. Some of the things she said and did had me raising an eyebrow in confusion. For a girl who would create graphs about her love life, her logic drove me insane because it seemed to be nonexistent when it came to other things. It frustrated me at the start of the book and that frustration took a long time to go away. Perhaps it was just a simply personality clash with us (we wouldn’t be friends in real life) that made me be really critical of Scarlet.

Finn was great but nothing that really blew me away. He has some fantastic growth as well so I enjoyed that aspect of his story.

The Romance:

It was super easy for me to see why these two worked together. The romance was sweet but loaded with sexual tension–which is just what I wanted! I thought it was believable and I even if I didn’t love these two individually, I really rooted for them to be together. 

And those kissing scenes—wow!

My Rating: 3/5

overall

I think those who like New Adult romances that have more of that coming of age aspect with a solid romance (rather than lots of drama and romance) will really enjoy this one! I personally just didn’t connect with the characters which is why my rating is lower! I may pick up The Summer of Jake in the near future because I do like the way Rachel Bailey constructs her NA reads, even if I would personally like more drama/twists in mine 😉

Read if You Like: sweet romances, sexual tension, character growth
Avoid if You: want more drama, don’t enjoy coming of age NA

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Series Review: 2B by Ann Aguirre

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

Series: 2B Trilogy
Author: Ann Aguirre
# of Books:3 (I Want it That Way, As Long as You Love Me, The Shape of My Heart)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single

Thoughts:

I love the Backstreet Boys–so as soon as I saw the title “I Want it That Way”, I broke out into song and choreographed dance–just kidding! But I did start humming along to the song soon after…and do so every time I read the title…

Anyways, I decided to pick up the book because the plot synopsis was interesting enough and has a premise I don’t often read. But I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect given the reviews on Goodreads (FYI it has a rating of 3.67 from ~1500 readers which isn’t stellar) so I was a bit skeptical when I started it.

I Want it That Way was cute, but I also found it a little boring. There really wasn’t a plot other than Nadia pining away at a guy she falls in love with after sparsely talking to him for a week. And when she isn’t pining away for Daniel “Ty” Tyler, she is describing her work and school work which I don’t particularly want to read about when I pick up a romance novel. So while I appreciated that this book was more realistic than it was dramatic, I just needed something to add a little dash of excitement to it. It also didn’t help that I was expecting to get an alternate POV from Ty given the synopsis. I think it would have kept things interesting because by the midway point I was a little bored with the book and found myself skimming some sections to get to the end.

As for the characters, they were an interesting cast. Nadia was alright. I appreciated the fact that she wasn’t your typical innocent virgin heroine despite her younger age (same with the other heroines in the series). And I liked the relationship she develops with Ty despite the rushed “love at first sight” aspect to it.

So even though I didn’t love I Want it That Way, I decided to read the next two books in the series given that the characters they are about intrigued me in the inaugural book. Probably the most interesting thing to happen in I Want it That Way had to do with these secondary characters so I figured their books should be a tad more exciting.

But they really weren’t. Again, the rest of the series is one of those slow romance novels where we get to see every trivial moment of the heroine & hero’s day. I prefer a little more drama in my novels–especially when I am trying to plow through a long list of books from the library. Often times it felt like a bit of a chore to get through the slower parts of the book–which is a shame because it isn’t an awful book by any means. Shape of my Heart had a little more excitement to it because of some family drama but I still had to read parts at a time over the course of a few days (I average a book every two days but this one took me 5) to get through it all without falling asleep.

Conclusion:

I was going to try to come up with some pun about this series not being what I wanted and “I want it that way” but I couldn’t come up with anything creative. If you enjoy slower romance novels where love heals, this is a great series for you. I prefer a little more drama in my books which is why I didn’t rate it as high.

Rating: 3/5
Would I Recommend this Series to a Friend: No

Similar Reads: Keep Her by Faith Andrews (Grayson Siblings Series #1) and Foreplay by Sophie Jordan (Ivy Chronicles Trilogy #1)

Synopsis for I Want it That Way (from Goodreads):
Nadia Conrad has big dreams, and she’s determined to make them come true—for her parents’ sake as well as her own. But between maintaining her college scholarship and working at the local day care to support herself, she barely has time to think, let alone date. Then she moves into a new apartment and meets the taciturn yet irresistible guy in 1B….

Daniel Tyler has grown up too fast. Becoming a single dad at twenty turned his life upside down—and brought him heartache he can’t risk again. Now, as he raises his four-year-old son while balancing a full-time construction management job and night classes, a social life is out of the question. The last thing he wants is for four noisy students to move into the apartment upstairs. But one night, Nadia’s and Ty’s paths cross, and soon they can’t stay away from each other.

The timing is all wrong—but love happens when it happens. And you can’t know what you truly need until you stand to lose it.

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Series Review: S.E.C.R.E.T. by Marie Adeline

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

S.E.C.R.E.T. by L. Marie Adeline   |   S.E.C.R.E.T. Series


Other books in the series:
book

Series: Secret
Author: L. Marie Adeline
# of Books: 1+ (S.E.C.R.E.T., S.E.C.R.E.T. Shared, S.E.C.R.E.T. Revealed)
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Erotica, Chick-Lit
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating in sequel books

Thoughts:

**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series with the exception of the third book.**

Ever had a book that just seemed to be everywhere that you looked? That was the case with this one. It seemed like every place I search for books (Kobo, my library, Chapters) was telling me I had to read this book–so I decided to give it a try.

The plot idea intrigued me but also made me weary to read this book. I definitely thought this book was going to turn into some BDSM society plot but it doesn’t get even close to that type of sexual fantasies–so that’s a plus! Cassie’s sexual fantasies are nothing that you wouldn’t read in any other contemporary romance so that is the type of sex you can expect in this book. In other words, it’s very “vanilla” 😉 (That changes a little in the sequel book but nothing overtly kinky.)

However, I still felt uncomfortable reading these books for two reasons: my age and the society itself.

I’ll start with my age. I am 10 years too young to be reading this book. I haven’t reached my midlife so I really couldn’t relate to Cassie’s character in that sense. This book is definitely catered to the 30+ crowd or women who have been in a similar marriage events as Cassie. I think that they would enjoy and get more out of Cassie’s journey to self-discovery than someone in their early 20s like me.

The second issue was the S.E.C.R.E.T. society. It seemed extremely cultish to me so that creeped me out. Especially as the book progresses and you realize that the society is everywhere. I totally get the purpose of the group and I support women helping other women to raise their self-confidence, but I felt like a majority of Cassie’s problems could have been solved by being on TLC’s What Not to Wear since her biggest problem was seeing that she was beautiful and worth something.

When I picked up this book, I thought it was a stand-alone. It wasn’t until I reread the plot summary on Goodreads before I read the book that I learned it was a series. Seeing that, I wondered how it was going to end and as I read I thought I saw how it was going to end but the ending surprised me and I have to say that I am interested in seeing where the sequel will go now.

UPDATED (October 1/14):  To be completely honest, I wouldn’t have picked up S.E.C.R.E.T. Shared if the first book in the series hadn’t ended on the cliffhanger it did. I still felt really uncomfortable reading this book because again, I can’t relate to the characters. I’m nowhere near to where they are in life so I just can’t connect to them. The writing also really got to me in this book in the sense of the words used to describe the “sexy” times. It just made it awkward. I did like that we get introduced to a new character and get to watch her evolve because I don’t think I could have taken a whole novel of Cassie again. Nothing really happened in this book other than your typical bridge to the third and final novel of the series.

Conclusion:

If you want to take a step into erotic contemporary romance but don’t want BDSM-like storylines, this is a great book to pick up. It’s a quick read and has an actual story to it! But I would say that people 30+ would probably enjoy this book more so than 20-somethings.

Rating: 3/5

Similar Reads: Sweet Surrender by Maya Banks (Sweet Series) however, this has elements of BDSM

Synopsis for S.E.C.R.E.T. (from Goodreads):
In S.E.C.R.E.T there are…
No Judgments. No limits. No shame.

Cassie Robichaud’s life is filled with regret and loneliness after the sudden death of her husband. She waits tables at the rundown Café Rose in New Orleans, and every night she heads home to her solitary one-bedroom apartment. But when she discovers a notebook left behind by a mysterious woman at the café, Cassie’s world is forever changed. The notebook’s stunningly explicit confessions shock and fascinate Cassie, and eventually lead her to S∙E∙C∙R∙E∙T, an underground society dedicated to helping women realize their wildest, most intimate sexual fantasies. Cassie soon immerses herself in an electrifying journey through a series of ten rapturous fantasies with gorgeous men who awaken and satisfy her like never before. As she is set free from her inhibitions, she discovers a new confidence that transforms her, giving her the courage to live passionately. Equal parts enticing, liberating and emotionally powerful, S∙E∙C∙R∙E∙T is a world where fantasy becomes reality.