Tag «friends to lovers»

Spin-Off Saturdays: The College Years by Monica Murphy

Spin-Off Saturdays: The College Years by Monica Murphy

Spin-off Saturdays: On Saturdays, I will review a series that is a spin-off series. It is recommended that you read the original series first in order to get the most out of the spin-off series. Here is this week’s offering:

The College Years Series is a spin-off of the The Callahans Series

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: The College Years

This is a spinoff of the The Callahans Series.

Author: Monica Murphy
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: April 2021 – ongoing
Source & Format: Author—eARC

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

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

My Expectations?

I was super excited when Monica Murphy announced a spin-off series of her The Callahans Series. While I loved all the Callahan children (because their parents are my fall time favourite), I really got invested in some of their friends throughout the series. I felt like there were a lot of unfinished stories to tell. And the fact that they were going to be New Adult–my favourite of the genres Monica Murphy writes–I was eagerly awaiting their release.

How Does It Compare To The Original?

–More Realistic Approach–

I found The Callahans Series could be melodramatic at times. It’s also very angsty with the leads all being in high school. But there was an air of maturity to this new series that I liked. These stories are as grounded as they can be while still being dramatic. They explore a lot of everyday scenarios like “girl dating younger guy”, “high school romances in college” and “falling for your friend”.

I think part of my “disappointment” with The Freshman (#1) was that I kept waiting for the melodrama to come but it didn’t (there were some pacing issues with the plot as a whole I thought) and looking back, I can appreciate that approach more than I did when I was reading it.

–Focus On Friendship–

One thing I’ve always enjoyed about these characters is their loyalty to their friendships. Your high school relationships change when you go to college/university for a variety of reasons. These novels explore that a bit. But they also highlight what a support group your friends can be throughout your life. Again, it comes with the newfound maturity these characters have but we seem to have left the toxic soap opera friendships in high school and I am all for it.

–Slow Burn Romances–

For the most part, these romances have been a slow burn. Unlike the original series where things seemed to happen quickly (young love and all of that), these relationships take their time to develop and grow. And as a result, the characters evolve as well.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

–Plot Pacing–

As I mentioned above, I struggled with the plot pacing of The Freshman (#1). Part of that is a slightly misleading synopsis but also the fact that they story never really climaxed dramatically. The anticipation was more like an unexpected speed bump that makes you go “oh well” and you carry on. Not really the “forbidden” romance I was craving.

–Uneven Character Development–

I craved more insight into our hero in The Sophomore (#2). I felt he wasn’t as developed as he could have been and I found his character came across as wish-washy in his convictions and actions.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m very excited for the third book, The Junior. While I know who the hero is, I’m not sure how his story will go!

updates

–September 13, 2021– Book #3: The Junior

I’ll admit, this took a while for me to get into. I thought it would be a passionate affair right from the start but instead, like the other books in this series so far, we get a slow burn romance that brews.

And I really liked that because it made this story a little more grounded and made the romance believable. They say a leopard can’t change its spots; and the same can be said about the “player” bad boy who chases after girls constantly. You have to sell the transformation to the reader. These two really work at being friends first, resisting that simmering attraction and getting to know each other a little better. It helps that they are both super similar so it was easy to see why they would work together so well.

Series Rating: 3.5/5

The Freshman 3/5 | The Sophomore 4/5 | The Junior 3/5 | The Senior TBP

overall

With a more mature, grounded approach, fans of The Callahans Series will enjoy watching their favourite characters grow up into adults.

Read if You Like: new adult romances, books that focus on a group of friends
Avoid if You: dislike contemporary romance

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Freshman (from Goodreads):

I started flirting with a guy while waiting for my car to be serviced. Now granted, he wasn’t just any guy. Tall. Dark. Hot. Mysterious. Can you blame me for wanting to talk to him? He’s in town visiting his parents. So am I. He goes to the same college as I do. Such a coincidence. Almost as if our meeting is destined…

But I shouldn’t believe in that sort of thing. I am single as a Pringle and always ready to mingle. Until I keep running into Mr. Tall, Dark and Mysterious everywhere I go. Tony Sorrento. Turns out he’s on the football team. I mean, I’m not one to chase after a sexy jock but, okay. I’m down. And did I mention he’s only a freshman?

Our fathers are business rivals, and they forbid us from dating. We need to keep this on the low. Can we remain friendly? Sure. Maybe turn our friendship into friends with benefits? Most definitely. Here’s the thing though. I didn’t plan on catching feelings for him so quickly. Seems like he’s falling pretty hard for me too.

Defying our fathers’ wishes is only asking for trouble, but is being with Tony worth the risk?

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Series Review: Bad Motherpuckers by Lili Valente

Series Review: Bad Motherpuckers by Lili Valente

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 Hot as Puck (from Goodreads):

The NHL’s biggest bad boy is about to fall for the virgin next door…

I am the world’s biggest dating failure. We’re talking my last date went home with our waitress kind of failure.

But I have an ace in the back pocket of my mom jeans–my sexy-as-sin best friend, NHL superstar forward, Justin Cruise.

Justin owes me favors dating back to seventh grade, long before he became a hotshot with a world famous…stick. So in return for my undying platonic loyalty, all I want is an easy-peasy crash course on how to be a sex goddess.

How hard can it be?

***

I have never been so hard in my life.

The things I want to do to my sweet, kindergarten-teaching, mitten-crocheting best friend Libby Collins are ten different kinds of wrong. Maybe twenty.

But I’m a firm believer in teaching by example, and by the end of our first lesson, we’ve graduated to a hands on approach to her education: my hands all over her, her hands all over me, and her hot mouth melting beneath mine as I prove to her there isn’t a damned thing wrong with the way she kisses.

Give me a month, and I’ll transform Libby from wall flower to wall banger, and ensure she’s confident enough to seduce any guy she wants.

Problem is… the only guy I want her seducing is me.

breakdown

Series: Bad Motherpuckers
Author: Lili Valente
# of Books: 6 (Full Reading Order)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?
: No, more books are reportedly planned
Genre:
Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports, Hockey
Heat Rating:
Hot
Point of View:
First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates:
April 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format:
Public Library–Audiobook

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I love a good play on words and the titles of these books drew me in! I’m always on the hunt for new audiobook series as my library and when I saw that all the books were available for this series, I was in. I enjoy sports romances–they’re my go-to contemporary pick when I need a solid romance–and I wouldn’t be Canadian if I didn’t enjoy hockey ones at that.

The Plot:

These books are like rom-coms in book format. You’ve got these great meet-cutes to get the ball rolling and then hijinks ensues! I definitely did laugh along the way–which is an accomplishment because I can struggle with humour in novels. Things do feel rushed because everything happens within a quick time span but I was entertained so I can’t complain.

The Characters:

I really liked the cast. It helps that you kinda get an inkling for who the next book will be about in the current read so it builds up that anticipation. I did find that near the end of the series, the leads were starting to blend into each other though. Everyone seemed to have the same quirks and traits as other leads and that stopped the books from feeling as fresh as they once did.

The Romance:

If you can name a romance trope, chances are it is an aspect of one of the novels in the series. Every book had a different circumstance or trope for the leads so that was fun. I really liked how BDSM was tackled in Pucked Up Love (#5); it was just so refreshing to not have a completely dominate alpha calling the shots and where the BDSM stayed in the bedroom.

My Audiobook Experience:

I’m so glad I picked the audio versions! They were a lot of fun to listen to! Lili Valente actually narrates a few herself so that was cool to listen to the author bring her characters to life.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I have a good idea who the next book could be about so I will be keeping an eye out to see if I am right!

Series Rating: 4/5

Hot as Puck  4/5 | Sexy Motherpucker 4/5 | Puck Aholic 4/5 | Puck Me Baby 3/5 | Pucked Up Love 3/5 | Puck Buddies 3/5

overall

If you want quick and somewhat quirky contemporary romance reads, this is the series for you!

Read if You Like: sports romances, contemporary romance
Avoid if You: dislike sports romances, want full out erotica

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Series Review: Love Unexpectedly by Lauren Layne

Series Review: Love Unexpectedly by Lauren Layne

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Blurred Lines (from Goodreads):

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

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

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

breakdown

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

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

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

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

The Concept:

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

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

The Plot:

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

The Characters:

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

The Romance:

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

My Audiobook Experience:

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

Series Rating: 3.5/5

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

overall

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

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

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Single Sundays: Sincerely Carter by Whitney G

Single Sundays: Sincerely Carter by Whitney G

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 Sincerely, Carter (from Goodreads):

Just friends.
We’re just friends.
No, really. She’s just my best friend…

Arizona Turner has been my best friend since fourth grade, even when we “hated” each other. We’ve been there for one another through first kisses, first “times,” and we’ve been each other’s constant when good relationships turned bad. (We even went to colleges that were minutes away from each other…)

Throughout the years, and despite what anyone says, we’ve never crossed the line.

Never thought about it.
Never wanted to.

Until one night changed everything.
At least, it should’ve …

Just friends.
We’re just friends.
I’m only saying this until I figure out if she’s still “just” my best friend…

breakdown

Author: Whitney G
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: April 2015
Source & Format: Own–eBook

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve read Whitney G’s Reasonable Doubt series and really enjoyed it. But her Sincerely, Carter novel is always on New Adult lists and its popularity always scared me away from picking it up. Which is why I put it on my 2019 5 Year 5 Book Challenge so that I could finally get this title under my belt.

The Plot:

At the core, I really enjoyed the plot of this novel. It establishes the great friendship and really highlighted the issues friends who become more struggle with in a fairly realistic way.

But in the same breath, there was just something about the pacing that threw me off. It was like a snap of the fingers and BAM! Lovers who have been in a serious relationship for years. And, of course there is a comfort there since they are good friends but I just struggled with the quick progression and how quickly they fell into that routine.

The Characters:

I loved the little flashbacks to the past. It helped to solidify this great friendship between these two. But it also helped to shape them as characters. They both are likeable even if they did some silly things along the way.

The Romance:

In the last year, I’ve read a lot of duds when it comes to friends to more romances and this on reminded me how great they can be. These two are such great friends that they miss the obvious that they’d be the perfect romantic partners. But in the same breath, I still wish that they maybe stayed friends because I love books that highlight platonic relationships between opposite sexes.

The Extended Epilogue–Sincerely, Arizona:

Goodreads lists this as a series but Sincerely, Arizona is really just an extended epilogue. Meaning you should read it after you finish Sincerely, Carter because it wraps things up a little nicer. It’s a freebie on most eBook retailers.

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

If you want a quick read with plenty of sweet and steamy moments, this is a great NA read for you!

Read if You Like: friends to lovers, standalones
Avoid if You: are seeking a little more polished plot
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DNF Review: Book Boyfriend by DC Renee

DNF Review: Book Boyfriend by DC Renee

DNF December Review Blitz — Day 7: I’m sharing my thoughts on some book series that I have marked as incomplete as I have never finished the first novel in the series. Find out why these weren’t for me:

Synopsis for Book Boyfriend (from Goodreads):

What would you do if you ran into a real life book boyfriend?
You might scream or maybe giggle.
You might play coy or maybe stare.
You might ask for a picture or maybe an autograph.
You might call your girlfriends or maybe post about it.
What did I do? I ran. Literally.

Kim was a typical college student with a splash of dorky, a dash of funny, and a pinch of clumsy…well, maybe more than a pinch. After making a fool of herself in front of her classmate Brent, and his friend, Travis, a dead-ringer for one her book boyfriends, she tried to stay away. But after a few hilarious chance encounters, they became fast friends.

And then came the bet. It was Travis versus Brent, but somehow Kim got roped in to help team Travis. He was supposed to find and woo his real life book girlfriend. What could go wrong with a couple of college kids and an innocent bet? Let the shenanigans and laughter ensue! And maybe add in a bit of friendship, fun and most definitely, love.

breakdown

Author: DC Renee
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: Unsure
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: November 19, 2015
Source & Format: Own–eBook

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Disclaimer: I stopped reading Book Boyfriend at 12% (Start of Chapter 5). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Without a doubt, we’ve all had our share of book boyfriends (or girlfriends) over the years. I even keep a tag of them all so I can remember them when the time comes. So of course, I couldn’t wait to read a book about a girl who seems to have her book boyfriend come to life. That’s why I added it to my 5 Year 5 Book Challenge 2018 for the year 2015.

What I Liked:

Ummmmmmm…..

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Immaturity–

Have you ever read the first paragraph of a first person POV and immediately know that this isn’t going to work for you? That the idea of spending 3+ hours in this person’s head is going to be slightly torturous? That was my situation here with Kim.

In the attempt to make Kim “relateable” and “funny” with her “dorky” and “clumsy” personality she comes across as a bit of a naive oddball. Her inner monologue was next level quirky and just didn’t work for me. In fact, it annoyed me pretty quickly. She just rambles on and on and I found myself not caring in the slightest or understanding why the guys liked her so much.

And don’t even get me started on the stupid bet. That whole chapter should have been titled “Immaturity”.

Will I Finish It?

Nope. I thought about just pressing through since it is a shorter read but I could only see myself getting more frustrated with the whole thing…

My Rating: DNF

overall

After seeing all the positive reviews on Goodreads, I wonder if I even read the same book as everyone else? This one just wasn’t for me and I wouldn’t go out of my way to recommend it to anyone else either.

Read if You Like: shorter stories, overly quirky heroines, love triangles
Avoid if You: want more polish to your books

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  • Unintentional Virgin by A J Bennett

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

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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!

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**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

disclaimernetgalley

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.

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–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.

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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!

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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:
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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.