Tag «Heat: Toasty»

Heat Rating – this is rating the sexual content of the book
Cold / Cool – maybe a chaste kiss; no descriptions
Warm – sexual references; a little description
Really Warm / Toastysexual references; described; no more than 3 scenes
Hot – a sexual scene is mentioned and described fully (4+)
Steamy/Smokin’ – sex scenes in all their glory and in numerous quantities
*Spicy YA* – the sexual content is more descriptive than your usual YA fare

Series Review: Fenbrook Academy by Helena Newbury

Series Review: Fenbrook Academy by Helena Newbury

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 Dance for Me (from Goodreads):

Natasha is one of the most promising ballet dancers at the prestigious Fenbrook Academy of Performing Arts and she’s just landed a life-changing audition. But no one knows the guilt she carries…or the damage it makes her inflict on herself when she’s alone.

Darrell is a multi-millionaire designer at 25. But past traumas have pushed him into isolation and the intense pressure of his work has brought him to the edge of burnout. Seeking inspiration, he sees Natasha dance and hires her as his muse.

As she dances for him, the two become entwined in a passionate but troubled relationship. He starts to see the pain inside her and helps her gradually lower her defenses…but Darrell has demons of his own. Can two broken people save each other? Or will the darkness they’re hiding consume them both?

This New Adult Romance is recommended for 17+ due to mature themes, sexual situations and language.

breakdown

Series: Fenbrook Academy
Author: Helena Newbury
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order)

There is a novella: #1.5 Losing My Balance

Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty (Kink: mild in Losing my Balance)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: June 2013 – January 2015
Source & Format: Own–eBook; Kindle Unlimited (Acting Brave)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m not entirely certain how this series crossed my radar; probably when I browsing NA reads that were a little darker. I know that I liked the idea of the series taking place at an academy for performing arts. It’s very Fame-esque (the old TV show that they rebooted in a so-so movies a few years ago).

The Concept / The World:

Each novel focuses on a girl who attends the school but for a different art. One’s a dancer, one’s a musician and the other is an actress. They also have different familiar situations and pasts so I found each story had its own unique spin and plot. There isn’t a linear overall plot but you get a taste of what is going to happen in the sequels in the previous novel; and you still see the previous leads in the sequel novels as well. However, you could read each one as a standalone if you desired.

The Plot:

Because our three heroines differ, the plots for their respective novels are also very different.

Dance for Me (#1) definitely has a darker, twisted edge to it; one I wasn’t entirely expecting so in that respect it was refreshing. But because of those vibes, everything seemed rushed to me and I wasn’t a huge fan of that.

Whereas In Harmony (#2) was lighter and more of a coming of age type of story. Unfortunately, it suffered from some logic holes with the plot near the end but I really enjoyed it! It was definitely my favorite of the series.

And the final novel, Acting Brave had its own feel to it. There was a dash of suspense but it seemed to focus more on a slow burn romance. Or maybe it only felt slow because it is such a long novel! The pacing was a little off for me on this one and while it was my most anticipated of the stories, I ended up a touch disappointed.

The Characters:

There are many layers to these characters and I liked how this book explored them. A good new adult romance novel should have a fantastic romance but it should also have strong character growth and I felt like these books had that latter aspect. Of course, not every reader can relate to all the situations the characters face but I think we can all identity with the need to find your own identity and fight the possible demons from our past.

The Romance:

With the exception of In Harmony (#2), I thought all of the romances happened really fast. What I mean by that, it that they get very intense really quickly (like “I love you” is thrown out pretty early within the couples even meeting each other). I’m ok with that but a lot of the times, I felt like the characters were more in love with the idea of their partner than the partner themselves. My opinion did change further into the stories when we learn more about the characters but it was a little off-putting how quickly these people were falling in love with each other.

When to Read the Novella, #1.5 Losing My Balance:

I read this after I had finished the novels in the series but you can safely read this following book #1. And I would actually recommend that you do read this right after Book #1 when you still remember the tension and how the scenes from it are integrated in the first novel.

Series Rating: 3/5

Dance for Me 3/5 | [Losing my Balance 3/5] | In Harmony 4/5 | Acting Brave 3/5

overall

If you are looking for a different type of New Adult Series–and don’t mind a copious amount of pages–this will be a great series for you to pick up.

Read if You Like: darker new adult stories; long novels
Avoid if You: want better pacing; dislike long novels

similarreads

  • The Mad Tatter by J M Darhower
  • Chasing River by K A Tucker (Burying Water #3)
  • She Laughs in Pink by Jessica Calla (Sheridan Hall Series #1)

 

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Single Sundays: Touching Down by Nicole Williams

Single Sundays: Touching Down by Nicole Williams

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 Touching Down (from Goodreads):

The whole world might be in love with him. But all he’s ever loved is her.

Grant Turner’s name is synonymous with football. The fans and media can’t get enough of the player known as The Invincible Man, a nickname he earned while growing up in one of the toughest neighborhoods in the country and the nickname he’s kept by being one of the best players in professional football today. No one can take him down. He’s unstoppable.

But even a suit of armor has its weak point, and Grant’s has always been Ryan Hale.

They were a couple of kids when they fell in love, and just when it looked like the happy ending neither expected was within reach, Ryan disappeared. No explanations. No good-byes.

Grant coped by throwing himself into the game for seven years, and he’s finally moved on. Or so he thinks.

When she walks back into his life, all of those feelings come crashing back, despite the warnings in his head that tell him she’ll leave him again. Grant can withstand the league’s toughest defensive line, but he’s always been weak where she’s concerned.

No man can take Grant Turner down.

But one woman certainly can.

One woman will.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Author: Nicole Williams
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Second Chance, Sports
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: October 8, 2016
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Nicole Williams is the author who first introduced me to the world of New Adult romance and I’ve repaid the favour by picking up any book I can of hers…with mixed results. But I was hoping her Adult romance in Touching Down would break the funk I’d been having with her titles when I randomly picked it up to read for my Tackling the TBR 2019 Challenge.

The Concept:

The heart of this story is a second chance romance which is usually fine and dandy with me. But this one just had too many logistical pot-holes to have me fully on board. The reasons for the separation; the choices Ryan has made over the years and some other things had me going “really, that’s how this all plays out?”. Everything seemed like it was played out to an extreme and it just made it all seem unnecessary.

The Plot:

I think I was two chapters in when I figured out all the major twists that were going to happen. Nothing surprised me about the drama except the reason for the separation.

There are some extenuating circumstances that come to light and instead of enhancing the story, I actually think they dampened it. Nothing really gets elaborated on and we just gloss over those opportunities for character growth or plot developments.

The Characters:

I thought Ryan was an idiot–I didn’t understand a single choice she made in the last 7 years with the exception of one. Grant was so stereotypical and boring I forgot he was there half the time.

The Romance:

I always say this in second chance romances that I review but you have to show my why these two people should reunite after all this time. And this novel did not do that. I’m not sure why these two even loved each other besides proximity and shared tough experiences.

My Rating: 2/5

overall

I really wanted to like this but I just wasn’t overly impressed with this story.

Read if You Like: second chance romances, football stars
Avoid if You: want a strong romance novel

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Spin-Off Saturdays: Briar U by Elle Kennedy

Spin-Off Saturdays: Briar U by Elle Kennedy

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:

Briar U Series is a spin-off of the Off-Campus Series

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Canadian Author, Must Read Author
Series: Briar U

This is a spinoff of the Off-Campus Series.

Author: Elle Kennedy
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, The Play (#3), will be released October 2019
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports, Hockey
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: August 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Own–eBook (Kobo)

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

thoughts

My Expectations?

I LOVED the Off-Campus Series! It’s one of the best NA series out there; especially if you love sport romances. I was craving more as soon as the series ended so I was super happy when Elle Kennedy announced she had a spin-off series in the works.

How Does It Compare To The Original?

It pretty much has all the same magical elements as the original series. You’ve got a great mixing of romantic tropes to drive the plot; genuine, unique characters (both leads and side characters); lots of hockey time; and some guest appearances by the original leads.

I think one of the main highlights though is how well the romantic pairings work. Never once did I doubt why these characters are drawn together. Elle Kennedy does a great job of developing individual characters while building up a great partnership (that’s more than just lust or some innate connection) and I think it really shows in these novels as much as it did in the original series.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

I had some pacing issues with the second book, The Risk. I thought the synopsis was slightly misleading about what the actual plot would be so I was expecting something a little different. But I still really enjoyed the story despite that fact and it’s more so a personal hang-up than anything else.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

When I read Off-Campus, all but one of the four books had been released so I always knew who the couples would be for the next book. Not the case with this series! It’s been a lot of fun to wait and see who will star in the next book. We get little clues as we await the release both in the novels and if you follow Elle Kennedy’s reader newsletters. I definitely have a few people I would love to get full books for so we will have to see!

Series Rating: 4.5/5

The Chase 5/5 | The Risk 4/5 | The Play TBA

overall

Fans of the Off-Campus Series will not be disappointed with this brand new series. And those new to the world will definitely find themselves entertained!

Read if You Like: New adult romance, hockey
Avoid if You: dislike contemporary

similarreads

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Chase (from Goodreads):

Everyone says opposites attract. And they must be right, because there’s no logical reason why I’m so drawn to Colin Fitzgerald. I don’t usually go for tattoo-covered, video-gaming, hockey-playing nerd-jocks who think I’m flighty and superficial. His narrow view of me is the first strike against him. It doesn’t help that he’s buddy-buddy with my brother.

And that his best friend has a crush on me.

And that I just moved in with them.

Oh, did I not mention we’re roommates?

I suppose it doesn’t matter. Fitzy has made it clear he’s not interested in me, even though the sparks between us are liable to burn our house down. I’m not the kind of girl who chases after a man, though, and I’m not about to start. I’ve got my hands full dealing with a new school, a sleazy professor, and an uncertain future. So if my sexy brooding roomie wises up and realizes what he’s missing?

He knows where to find me.

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Single Sundays: Forget Me Not by Willow Winters

Single Sundays: Forget Me Not by Willow Winters

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 Forget Me Not (from Goodreads):

I fell in love with a boy a long time ago.

I was only a small girl. Scared and frightened, I was taken from my home and held against my will. His father hurt me, but he protected me and kept me safe as best he could.

Until I left him.

I ran the first chance I got and even though I knew he wasn’t behind me, I didn’t stop. The branches lashed out at me, punishing me for leaving him in the hands of a monster.

I’ve never felt such guilt in my life.

Although I survived, the boy was never found. I prayed for him to be safe. I dreamed he’d be alright and come back to me. Even as a young girl I knew I loved him, but I betrayed him.

Twenty years later, all my wishes came true.

But the boy came back a man. With a grip strong enough to keep me close and a look in his eyes that warned me to never dare leave him again. I was his to keep after all.

Twenty years after leaving one hell, I entered another. Our tale was only just getting started.

It’s dark and twisted.

But that doesn’t make it any less of what it is.

A love story. Our love story.

breakdown

Author: Willow Winters
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Dark Romance, Psychological
Heat Rating: Toasty (Kink: mild)
Point of View: First Person, Multiple
Publication Date: September 12, 2017
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Do you subscribe to author newsletters? You really should if you don’t; you can get a ton of freebie reads by authors in the same genre every month. I wasn’t a frequent subscriber until recently and I’m so glad that I started! This book was a freebie for the month of April 2018 for Melissa Foster subscribers.

I’m an absolute sucker for dark romances; and while this one seemed extremely similar to Monica Murphy’s Never Tear Us Apart, it also promised to forge its own path.

The Concept:

Like I said above, the concept was similar to other reads given the synopsis but it quickly transformed into its own unique story. We don’t spend a lot of time in the past–which has its pros and cons in terms of development–so it has second chance romance vibe to it for the most part, with a psychological edge.

The Plot:

I think anyone who has read a psychological-rooted dark romance can figure out the one big aspect of this plot early on; I figured it out fairly early on. But I’m not sure if that was the intention either. By knowing the aspect early on it does give the story a different feel to it. It’s hard to say.

This book started well for me but my enjoyment started to wane by the halfway point. Part of the reason was that I figured out the twist so that anticipation was lost on me. The other reason is that I felt like the development (both plot and character) was lacking. I felt like we regurgitated the same scenes over and over which got to be a little tiring instead of taking this story to the next level.

The Characters:

I saw so much potential in these characters but they felt a little underdone to me. Robin started strong but I felt like she lost part of herself in the plot and her character never recovered. Jay on the otherhand does get some strengthen moments later on in the book but for the most part it was stifled until the end.

The Romance:

I wasn’t really sold on this one sadly. I think if we spent a little more time highlighting their shared past I would have had an easier time understanding their love. Otherwise, it seemed like their connection was based on proximity and a shared event.

When to Read the Prequel Novella, Something to Remember:

This was included at the start of my version of the novel so I really didn’t have a choice about when to read it. You can safely read this before–it doesn’t give much away and only one chapter is repeated word for word in the actual novel so it isn’t straight up recycling material. I think in some ways it helps you to understand why these two bonded during their shared experience before you get reintroduced to them.

My Rating: 3/5

overall

This isn’t the best dark romance I’ve ever read but it does have one of the more unique approaches I’ve encountered.

Read if You Like: dark romances, psychological
Avoid if You: want stronger development

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Spin-Off Saturdays: Preston Brothers by Jay McLean

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 Preston Brothers Series is a spin-off of the More Than Series

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Preston Brothers

This is a spinoff of the More Than Series.

Author: Jay McLean
# of Books: 2+ (Lucas, Logan)
Book Order: Connected but Chronological Events
Complete?: Unsure
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama, Coming of Age
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: November 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Read It and Review It–eARC (Lucas); Kindle Unlimited

*applies only to Lucas (Book #1)

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

thoughts

My Expectations?

I was super excited to return to the world of the More Than Series. I loved all the characters in this world, but Lucy’s brothers always stole the show whenever they made an appearance. So to see what would happen to this rambunctious group of boys when they got older was a treat I never expected but was very happy to get.

How Does It Compare To The Original?

One of the things I loved the most about the original series was its ability to transform the story into something you never expected. You read the synopsis and see what the trope will be and you expect the typical generic features. But Jay McLean has this great ability to write new and refreshing romances. Her stories are never straightforward or expected. She isn’t afraid to challenge her characters or make them experience life-altering situations in their stories.

And every aspect benefits from that. The characters become stronger. The romance becomes so much deeper. The plot elicits every emotion from you. It’s just an addicting and rewarding experience for a reader.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

I thought Logan lagged a touch in the middle but I never got bored with it. It was just as addicting as the first book.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I really hope we get more sequels–I mean there are more brothers. Yet every book we get in this spin-off series is such a treat so I can be happy with what we’ve had so far.

Series Rating: 5/5

Lucas 5/5 | Logan 4.5/5

overall

Be prepared to feel all the feels! No one writes New Adult novels like Jay McLean!

Read if You Like: drama, emotional reads
Avoid if You: dislike high school based New Adult romances

similarreads

 

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Lucas (from Goodreads):

In a sprint, every millisecond counts.
When you’re waiting for love, those milliseconds can feel like eons.

High school senior Lucas Preston has it all: star of the track team, a scholarship waiting for him, an apartment to himself and a revolving door of girlfriends. He also has an older sister, five younger brothers and a father who relies on him to make sure those brothers don’t kill each other.
His saving grace? Lois “Laney” Sanders, a girl he started to fall in like with when he was just eleven.
A girl who became his best friend, his confidant, his courage.

It took only sixteen clicks and eight seconds for Lucas to realize that his like for Laney had turned into love.
Eight life-changing seconds.
It’s also the exact length of time it took to lose her.

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Series Review: Burying Water by K A Tucker

Series Review: Burying Water by K A Tucker

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 Burying Water (from Goodreads):

The top-selling, beloved indie author of Ten Tiny Breaths returns with a new romance about a young woman who loses her memory—and the man who knows that the only way to protect her is to stay away.

Left for dead in the fields of rural Oregon, a young woman defies all odds and survives—but she awakens with no idea who she is, or what happened to her. Refusing to answer to “Jane Doe” for another day, the woman renames herself “Water” for the tiny, hidden marking on her body—the only clue to her past. Taken in by old Ginny Fitzgerald, a crotchety but kind lady living on a nearby horse farm, Water slowly begins building a new life. But as she attempts to piece together the fleeting slivers of her memory, more questions emerge: Who is the next-door neighbor, quietly toiling under the hood of his Barracuda? Why won’t Ginny let him step foot on her property? And why does Water feel she recognizes him?

Twenty-four-year-old Jesse Welles doesn’t know how long it will be before Water gets her memory back. For her sake, Jesse hopes the answer is never. He knows that she’ll stay so much safer—and happier—that way. And that’s why, as hard as it is, he needs to keep his distance. Because getting too close could flood her with realities better left buried.

The trouble is, water always seems to find its way to the surface.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Canadian Author
Series: Burying Water
Author: K A Tucker
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected but Chronological Events
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Suspense, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: October 2014 – October 2015
Source & Format: Owned & Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

So I came across this series in a really weird way. I actually won Chasing River (#3) from a Twitter giveaway from the publisher and then I bought the other novels to complete the collection on my bookshelf without ever reading that book. But I knew I would enjoy them. K A Tucker simply writes great contemporary romances that have this edge to them that is right up my alley. So needless to say, I was very excited to see what she had in store for this series!

The Plot:

I’m a fan of dual POVs in my novels and I think this series is a perfect example of when it enhances the story. You would think in a series that is rooted in suspense like this one is that having that additional POV would ruin some of the anticipation but that isn’t (always) the case. In some ways, you lose the mystery of what the other person is thinking and/or what their motives are. But because you are kept in the dark about the actual drama there is still enough drive to keep you reading.

The Characters:

I really liked all the leads and side characters we meet along the way. Because we get the dual POV I found that all the leads had great development and dimensions to them. You learn nearly everything you can about them and I enjoyed watching them grow throughout the stories.

The Romance:

Fantastic chemistry between leads can go a long way and I think it shows here. The romance is just as addicting as the drama. I thought the connections weren’t as strong in the last two novels of the series as the first two were. However, because we get such strong character development, I totally saw why these pairings would work based on what I knew about the individuals.

My Audiobook Experience:

Despite owning the actual paperback copies of these novels, I decided to listen to the audiobooks from my local library (simply for the convenience!). But I’m so glad that I did! I loved the audio productions so much. The narrators were great and I think hearing their stories aloud helped get me even more invested in their stories and dilemmas because the emotions are much rawer.

Series Rating: 4/5

Burying Water 4/5 | Becoming Rain 4/5 | Chasing River 3/5 | Surviving Ice 4/5

overall

If you want a romantic suspense story that strikes the perfect balance between the romance and the thrills, this is a fantastic series for you!

Read if You Like: romantic suspense, dual POVs
Avoid if You: erotica, dislike violence

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Fresh Fridays: Easy Love (Modern Love #1) by Piper Lawson

Fresh Fridays: Easy Love (Modern Love #1) by Piper Lawson

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:

Modern Love Series

Other books planned to be in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Easy Love (from Goodreads):

How 20-Somethings Find Love in New York:
1. Meet for tapas.
2. Pretend you care more about his day than your career circling the drain.
3. Stumble to your place. Kick him out before he trips on dirty laundry. (Literal or figurative.)

It’s easy. That’s how I like it.

Before you crown me the least romantic person in Manhattan, meet my competition.

Dr. Wesley Robinson.

Keen blue eyes and fell-out-of-bed hair. Unhealthy obsession with 80s movies. Drier than a gin martini. Drive that makes Tony Robbins look like a slacker.

Yep. The hot genius I’m helping sell his DNA dating app has a plan:

Scale the highest peak of Mount Nerd. Then ride off with his genetic Cinderella.

I shouldn’t fall for him.

Even if Wes kisses like there’s something dirty under that pressed shirt.

Even if he opens me up like no man has.

Even if guarding my heart’s getting harder each day.

Because New York isn’t Wes’s mountain. I’m not his princess…

And nothing this easy can last.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author, Canadian Author
Series: Modern Love

Set in the same universe as the Wicked Trilogy

Author: Piper Lawson
# of Books: 1+ (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, more books to be published in the series
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: April 10, 2019 – ongoing
Source & Format: Author–eARC | Thank you Piper Lawson

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Piper Lawson writes some of my favourite New Adult romances out there. She just has this great ability to write strong characters (especially her heroines) that also have vulnerability. I just find her stories are so genuine and realistic even if there is some drama along the way.

What I Liked:

–Realistic Slow Burn Romance–

I loved how this romance built and took its time. Yes, these two have instant chemistry but those deeper feelings grow as the characters spend more time with each other and get to know each other. It was easy to see why they would fall for each other…even if they didn’t think so. Their banter and interacts are a highlight of the novel. It was nice to see characters sorta date and fall in love; lots of books just dive in head first!

–Everyday Obstacles–

I think the thing I loved most about this story was the reliability of our two leads. The problems they encounter at work and in their personal lives with connect with the reader. And it really allows for some stellar character growth from start to finish.

What I Didn’t Like:

–A Little Rushed at the End–

I would have liked some of the stuff at the end to be teased out a little. It made the character development seem a little lopsided because so much happens in the last few chapters.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m not sure what or who the next novel will be about but you bet I’m sticking around to find out!

My Rating: 4/5

Easy Love 4/5 | Book 2 TBP 

overall

With a great flow, genuine characters you can’t help but like and a realistic, modern approach to romance, this is a MUST for contemporary romance fans!

Read if You Like: contemporary romances, slow burn
Avoid if You: want erotica, dislike contemporary romances

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Single Sundays: Only Between Us by Mila Ferrera

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 Only Between Us (from Goodreads):

Last semester, Romy escaped from an abusive relationship with the guy she’d thought was the man of her dreams. This semester she’s putting herself back together, determined to reclaim her passion for art and for life. When she signs up for a painting class at the local art co-op, the possibility of passion becomes very real — in the form of her teacher, Caleb. Both mysterious and seriously hot, Caleb bares his soul on his canvases, and Romy’s fascinated by what she sees.

Caleb is just trying to keep his head above water. Caring for his traumatized, unstable sister is getting harder every day, and his paintings are so dark and bleak that no one is buying. Teaching classes at the co-op is no longer enough, and now he’s going to have to sell more than just his art to the wealthy, sex-starved women in his classes. But when Romy comes along, she makes everything more complicated. She sees the truth in his paintings — a truth no one else has realized, until now.

Romy and Caleb might have a real shot together — one that could heal them both. But when ghosts from their pasts re-emerge, determined to keep them apart, will they be strong enough to hold on to each other?

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author

This novel has a spin-off: Everything Between Us

Author: Mila Ferrera
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Dark, Mental Health
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: September 3, 2013
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

So I actually read the spin-off novel, Everything Between Us before I ever heard of this one. But after loving that novel and getting a quick glimpse at Romy and Caleb, I immediately bought this book so I could get the full story.

The Concept:

This is my third Mila Ferrera novel and I can say with total confidence that she is one of the best writers out there when it comes to mental health in contemporary romances. Not only does she seamlessly interweave that aspect into the story but she also manages to do so in a genuinely realistic way that captures my full attention. Yes, sometimes that means we go to the darker side of things but I never feel like she is doing is for simply the shock factor. Rather she is humanizing her characters by sharing their struggles, ups and downs and fighting that stigma we have surrounding mental health.

The Plot:

I hadn’t been having the greatest luck with novels when I picked this one up but this one reminded me what I love about the New Adult genre. We had strong, developed and complex characters; a solid plot line and a passionate romance to top everything off.

There’s enough drama and obstacles to keep the story fresh and moving while contributing in a strong way to the character development.

The Characters:

I loved both of these leads so much! The focus shifts from Romy to Caleb when it needs to and that keeps the story moving. But both of these characters have their flaws and their strengths and it just contributes in a great way to their stories.

The Romance:

In some ways, this story is a slow burn romance because they take their time to get to know each other. But the spark is there from the start and it heats up in a way that will suck you in.

My Rating: 5/5

overall

Mila Ferrera never fails to impress. I love the way she handles mental illness in her novels. It’s so raw, genuine and powerful.

Read if You Like: mental health, romance, darker stories
Avoid if You: want erotica, dislike sensitive conversations, want a light read
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Series Review: Beta Brothers by Hazel Kelly

Series Review: Beta Brothers by Hazel Kelly

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

book4

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Friends with Benefits (from Goodreads):

Carter’s been crazy about Nina since the first time he saw her emerald eyes, but his fratastic reputation landed him in the friend zone before he even had a chance to say, “How you doin’?”

So when Nina suggests they become friends with benefits, he can’t believe his luck.

After all, once he’s gotten in her pants, winning her heart should be easy… right?

breakdown

Series: Beta Brothers
Author: Hazel Kelly
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, Book #4 to be released July 2019
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: June 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Author–eARC

thoughts

Disclaimer: I have not read the first book in the series, My Best Friend’s Ex (#1). This is only a review of Friends with Benefits (#2). I’ve also updated this review to include my thoughts on Book #3, Professor with Benefits.

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a sucker for a friends with benefits type of situation in books. The main reason is the palpable sexual tension because love is almost always inevitable. So while I hadn’t read the first book in the series, when Hazel asked me to read Friends with Benefits (which you can totally read as a standalone!) I leapt at the chance!

The Plot:

For the most part, the plot focuses on these two fighting their feelings for each other while keeping their relationship secret from their friends. We don’t delve too deep into their character stories or backgrounds, which does give this story a lighter feel to it. With the exception of one particular scene, we shy away from the petty and over the top drama that often accompanies these books so I found that to be rather refreshing.

The Characters:

It took me a few chapters to get used to our leads. They’re a little on the quirkier side of things so the humour wasn’t overly apparent to me (but I struggle with comedy in novels I read vs listen to). But once I got a feel for them, I started to enjoy their comments and styles. They do make for a fun pair to follow.

I also thought they lacked some maturity at the start of the novel but they matured as the story (and their relationship) progressed which made me happy.

As I said above, the character development could have been stronger by elaborating more on their backstories. However, I think the primary goal of this novel is to focus on the lighter side of love and looking to the future so I didn’t mind. I saw growth in their maturity and that worked for me.

The Romance:

These two have great chemistry from the start. I liked the fact that it was Nina who set all the rules for the relationship and not Carter (like it often is in books). It was nice to get that reversal on the usual approach to this trope.

updates

–June 20, 2019– Book #3: Professor with Benefits

**DNF’d at 16% (Start of Chapter 11)**

This one just wasn’t for me. I struggle with quirky characters and the comedy they produce in books and this is one of those prime examples where I am just not feeling it. These two are a little odd–which is great–but it was off-putting instead of charming for me.

In turn, that caused me to not feel the chemistry and tension between them. And that’s what I crave in a forbidden romance! I want the heat and sexiness to be overflowing…and that wasn’t happening. Things felt a little forced and perhaps a little rushed as well.

It was the line: “Your legs look wow in that skirt” that sealed the DNF deal for me. Nothing sexy or charming about that.

Series Rating: DNF

My Best Friend’s Ex N/A | Friends with Benefits 3.5/5 | Professor with Benefits DNF

overall

Once I got a feel for the story and characters, I enjoyed this lighter rom-com and it was the perfect way to de-stress after a long day at work!

Read if You Like: lighter romances, quirky characters
Avoid if You: want deeper backstories

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Series Review: Amato Brothers 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 Heartless (from Goodreads):

My obsession was born of innocence and good intentions, and it began the day I spotted a handwritten journal lying in the bushes outside a townhouse on Lexington Avenue. It was raining sideways that morning, and my intention was to return it the next day; safe and dry.

Only I kept it.

I kept it, and I read it.

A week later, overwhelmed with curiosity and feeling guilty for harboring secrets that didn’t belong to me, I tried to return it.

Only I wasn’t expecting to meet him.

Unapologetically heartless and enigmatically sexy, he claims he knows nothing about the journal I found outside his place, but the reticent glint in his blue-green gaze tells me otherwise.

There’s something different about him; something damaged yet magical, and I’m drawn to him; pulled into his orbit.

There’s just one problem.

The more I get to know him, the more I’m positive the journal belonged to him . . .

. . . and the more I find myself hoping, selfishly, that I’m wrong.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Amato Brothers

This does crossover with the Rixton Falls Series in Book #3, Priceless

Author: Winter Renshaw
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: August – November 2016
Source: Public Library (Hoopla)–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a huge Winter Renshaw fan. I try to read whatever I can by her and she’s always a good author to default to when I’m looking for a solid romance novel. Which is how I picked up this series. I always had plans to read #3, Priceless because it crosses over with the Rixton Falls Series but I wanted to start at the beginning of this series to make the crossover that much more epic.

The Plot:

I love contemporary romances that have a little more to them, like a mystery or hidden secrets. So I really enjoyed Heartless because it has both. Who does the journal belong to? What happened in Ace’s past? Are the two things connected? It just adds this air of anticipation to the story that makes you keep reading. And while I guessed the one answer correctly (though not overly early in the book), there were still truths I wasn’t able to entirely weed out so I liked that a lot!

Even though Reckless and Priceless didn’t have an obvious mystery element like Heartless, they still had more than enough twists and turns along the way to keep you hooked into the drama. Each book has its own vibe but I found each one to be addicting when it came to the plot and trying to figure out how everything would resolve.

The Characters:

Renshaw just has this amazing ability to create characters you can’t help but like. They all have so many layers to them but I never feel like I’m reading about the same character from book to book. Everyone is unique which is hard for some authors to do.

The Romance:

I’m all about a good slow burn romance and Heartless nails it. These two have a great chemistry (whether they know it at first or not) and I loved watching that grow.

For me, Reckless had the weakest romance in the sense that I wanted them to talk a little more than they did. But on the other hand, I enjoyed watching them navigate the various situations that seemed to be thrown their way.

Priceless was the complete opposite from Reckless in that regard. I loved watching these two talk and get to know each other but that was part of their main plot so it makes sense.

My Audiobook Experience:

I honestly don’t think I could have gone wrong with the audio or print versions. I really enjoyed the audio productions. I sometimes find that romances simply get read back to you and they lack that depth to the emotion but that wasn’t the case here at all. We get a different narrator set for each novel which is always a bonus but everyone did a great job bringing these characters to life.

Series Rating: 4/5

Heartless 4/5 | Reckless 4/5 | Priceless 5/5

overall

If you enjoy contemporary romances that have great plot twists, this is a great series for you to pick up!

Read if You Like: Colleen Hoover books, romances, complex characters
Avoid if You: dislike contemporary romances

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