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

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

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

breakdown

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

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

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

The Concept:

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

The Plot:

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

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

The Characters:

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

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

The Romance:

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

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

My Rating: 5/5

overall

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

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

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Series Review: Never by Winter Renshaw

Series Review: Never by Winter Renshaw

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Never Kiss a Stranger (from Goodreads):

It was an innocent mistake…

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

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

There’s just one problem…

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

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

breakdown

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

There is a spin-off novella: Bitter Rivals

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

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

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

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

The Plot:

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

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

The Characters:

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

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

The Romance:

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

When to Read Bitter Rivals:

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

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

Series Rating: 3.5/5

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

overall

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

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

similarreads

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

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Series Review: Neverland by Gina L Maxwell

Series Review: Neverland by Gina L Maxwell

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 Pan (from Goodreads):

Once upon a time, in Neverland, North Carolina–I fell in love.

I was twelve when Peter first climbed up to my balcony.
Thirteen when I sneaked out to see him at the School for Lost Boys.
Seventeen when his touch made me fly,
And eighteen when his words made me cry.

We were magnetic, drawn to each other from that very first night, and what I thought would be forever. But when it came time for me to leave, he wouldn’t come with, so I left town with a map for my future and a shattered heart.

Ten years later, I’ve returned to Neverland, hoping to find a man in place of the boy.

Peter was partially right, growing up is no fun. After quitting my fancy career that sucked the magic out of life, I’m now organizing the fundraiser of the year. In a move that could make or break the event and my new company, I’ve hired Peter, master mechanic and owner of LB Automotive, to help me pull this off–trusting him to rebuild a classic car for the auction that could help hundreds of foster kids in need.

I thought I was prepared, but the boy who refused to leave is now a man hell-bent on getting me to stay, and as sparks fly between us, that undeniable fire flares back to life, deeper and hotter than ever.

But that ripped body doesn’t mean Peter’s matured enough to make us or this event work, and not everyone in Neverland is happy about my return.

Not every wound heals.
Not every heart can be fixed.
Not every boy grows up.

And after all this time, the love we found might be lost to us again…this time, forever.

breakdown

Series: Neverland
Author: Gina L Maxwell
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, Tink, is to be published
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Retelling, Dark
Heat Rating: Smokin’ (Kink: Mild | BDSM: Mild)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: January 2019 – ongoing
Source & Format: Kindle Unlimited–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I really liked Maxwell’s Playboys in Love Series for its unique spin on a contemporary romance and when she announced this series, was so on board!

The Concept / The World:

I loved the idea of a modern Peter Pan and one that was grounded in realism, not fantasy. You can clearly see all the allusions to the classic story but with a contemporary spin. It’s angsty in a grown-up way that will appeal to readers.

The Plot:

While the world is Peter Pan, I liked that the plot wasn’t. Each novel focuses on a different standalone plotline, but it’s all woven together throughout the novels to keep you invested in these characters.

The Characters:

Wendy Darling in the original story is basically the gold standard for annoying Mary Sue characters. But not here! All the characters are layered with interesting pasts (which is highlighted with flashbacks) and I loved how they evolved from that past by the end of their respective novels.

That being said, these characters have the prototypes of Peter Pan and company but it isn’t as light as the source material. There is a lot of tragedy and I think some people will find their stories hard to read.

The Romance:

Passionate! I loved all the chemistry between the leads. And we get just enough of a taste of their prospective partners in the other books that you are super invested in their stories by the time their novels come around.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Very excited to see this love story unfold!

Series Rating: 4/5

Pan 4/5 | Hook 4/5 | Tink N/A

overall

If you are looking for a light and fluffy, modern Peter Pan retelling, you will have to look elsewhere. These characters have major baggage but that makes the romance worth a read because everyone wants a HEA!

Read if You Like: modern retellings, dark reads
Avoid if You: dislike tragic pasts
similarreads

  • Shameless by Gina L Maxwell (Playboys in Love Series #1)
  • Beauty of the Beast by Rachel L. Demeter (Fairy Tale Retellings Series #1)

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Series Review: Sexy Jerk World by Kim Karr

Series Review:  Sexy Jerk World by Kim Karr

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 Sexy Jerk (from Goodreads):

My best friend is married.
Everyone I know is married. It doesn’t bother me. I like my life the way it is.

Since I’m single though, when my best friend and her husband finally decide to go on their dream honeymoon, she asks me to watch their three-year-old son.

Of course I say yes.

What my best friend neglects to tell me is that I won’t be babysitting alone.

Feeling Max might be too much for me to handle, her husband asks his only single friend to help.

Nick Carrington and I have met a couple of dozen times. I’ve never really given him a second thought—other than to say he’s kind of a jerk. Out loud. So he can hear. Sure, he’s tall, dark, and handsome. And yes, he has the best ass I’ve ever seen, and I mean ever seen quite literally. You see he mooned me at last year’s Fourth of July barbecue because, like I said, he’s a jerk.

He always has to be the life of the party.
He’s also arrogant.
Imposing.
Rich.
And a playboy.
I’d even go as far as to say he’s a manwhore.

Yet somehow before I know it, this manwhore and I are co-parenting. Living under the same roof. Eating meals together and yes, talking.

Don’t look at me like that—it’s not like I had a choice. Even though I knew every minute would be hell, I had to say yes.

But after two weeks what I didn’t expect is that I’d been wrong about him.
That under his smart-ass exterior, he’s quite charming.
That his arrogance is actually confidence.
And that the sight of his naked body would do really bad things to me.

So yes, I’ve misjudged him. And yes, I like him. Really like him. Although there are times I still think he’s a jerk…I now think he’s a sexy jerk.

And I want more of him.

The question is—does he want more of me?

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Sexy Jerk World
Author: Kim Karr
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order)

There is a prequel novella: #0.5 Uptown Girl

Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: Toasty (Kink: mild in Big Shot)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: May 2017 – September 2017
Source & Format: Own–eBook (Kindle); Audiobook (#2, #3)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

After I read Kim’s No Pants Required (and loved it!) she quickly became a staple on my contemporary romance TBR lists. But I haven’t been the best about actually reading her books. That’s why I added Sexy Jerk to my 2019 5 Year 5 Books Challenge as a pick for the year 2017 and the last two books to my 2020 5Y5BC.

The Plot:

Compared to Kim Karr’s Men of Laguna Series, I didn’t think this series was as rom-com-esque. There’s a dose of real life thrown along the way as you watch these characters struggle with finding themselves.

I think the drama gets a little top heavy near the end. Things reach their climax at the end and seem a little rushed as the majority of the books are dedicated to sexy times and character moments.

One thing I really loved how open all the characters were about sex and exploring sexuality in their relationships. That’s not something that you get all the time in contemporary romance.

The Characters:

Besides the first book, I kinda struggled to connect with these characters. I’m not really sure why because they did have layers to them so they had some depth. I think I just didn’t understand some of their struggles or hesitations? My other theory is that the pacing and flow of the novels just didn’t work for me and I found my mind wandering.

The Romance:

All of these romances felt fast to me because of their quick plot timelines. I could see the connections though for the most parts so I tried to overlook it.

The one I really struggled with was in Big Shot (#2). Given the nature of that relationship and the second chance mentality, I just craved more from that story and its characters.

When to Read the Novella, #0.5 Uptown Girl:

Some sites list this book as #4 in the series but I think that’s only because of its publication date (it was released after the 3 full novels). But I think you will get the most out of it by reading it first. It just fills in some of the little holes that are alluded to in Sexy Jerk. However, you can definitely skip it and not miss much either.

My Audiobook Experience:

Despite owning all the books in the series, I listened to the last two as audiobooks from my library simply because I’m running out of audio titles to read! The productions are great and do a wonderful job of bringing the characters to life.

Series Rating: 3/5

[Uptown Girl 3/5] | Sexy Jerk 4/5 | Big Shot 3/5 | Hot Stuff 3/5

overall

This wasn’t my favourite Kim Karr series ever but if you are looking for a refreshing lighter romance, these standalones are great.

Read if You Like: contemporary romance, sex positive stories
Avoid if You: dislike drama, dislike contemporary

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Spin-Off Saturdays: Dirty Sweet Duet by Laurelin Paige

Spin-Off Saturdays: Dirty Sweet Duet by Laurelin Paige

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:

TheDirty Sweet Duet is a spin-off of the Dirty Duet

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: Dirty Games, Dirty Universe

This is a spinoff of the Dirty Duet Series.

Author: Laurelin Paige
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Hot (Kink: mild)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating (#1) & Single (#2)
Publication Date: February 2019 – March 2019
Source & Format: Own–eBook

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

thoughts

My Expectations?

We get the tiniest taste of what could be between these two in Dirty Filthy Rich Love but it was enough to have me craving more. I love a good forbidden romance and Laurelin Paige is a master at the trope (see First Touch or Rivalry for examples) so I was excited to see what would happen next with these two!

How Does It Compare To The Original?

This is perhaps the lightest duet of the Dirty Universe. What I mean by that is the kink (which is so tame that I feel bad almost calling it a ‘kink’) is so minuscule and really doesn’t impact the story all that much. I look back at Dirty Filthy Rich Men and everything is so dark and twisted compared to the romance here.

This story is about Dylan learning to love again and willing to take a risk on something he thinks society won’t accept. And for Audrey, it’s about finding herself and asserting her wants and desires for life. They share an incredible passion together but is there anything more to the relationship? It was fun trying to watch them figure it out.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

Their time together in Sweet Liar felt extremely rushed–probably because it literally takes place within a week or two. And because of that, I didn’t see these deeper connection besides incredible sex together. There were little inklings of it for sure but not enough to convince me that Dylan would be pining for her in the months to come.

That connection is fostered more in the sequel but some of it happens behind the scenes or is summed up with “she was at my place for the next two weeks, talking and watching tv, etc”. I just needed a little more.

Reading Order for the Dirty Universe:

There is a full reading order on Paige’s website to guide you but you can definitely read each series on its own and in any order if one is not to your tastes.

If you want to read the books though in chronological order of events though, I would almost suggest:

  1. Dirty Filthy Rich Boys
  2. Dirty Sexy Bastard
  3. Dirty Filthy Rich Men & Dirty Sexy Player nearly simultaneously
  4. Dirty Filthy Rich Love
  5. Sweet Liar (once Audrey is introduced in Rich Love, you could start this one)
  6. Dirty Sexy Games
  7. Sweet Fate

Series Rating: 4/5

Sweet Liar 4/5 | Sweet Fate 4/5

overall

Both a super quick reads if you enjoy solid writing and a romance that oozes sexual chemistry from the start!

Read if You Like: forbidden love, older guys/younger girls
Avoid if You: dislike lots of  sexy times

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Sweet Liar (from Goodreads):

British ad exec Dylan Locke isn’t looking for love. He isn’t looking for fate. He’s definitely not looking for Audrey Lind. She’s pretty, far too young, and overly romantic–in short, exhausting.

But when the girl, young enough to be his daughter, literally lands in his lap and asks for his expertise, he’d be lying if he said he wasn’t interested. In her body, in her innocence, in her philosophy.

In the kind of kismet that starts with kisses.

But Audrey isn’t looking for love either–she’s looking for lessons, and she’s certain Dylan knows everything she needs to learn.

If he agrees to play the teacher can he keep his heart?

Of course he can.

Then again, he might be lying.

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Single Sundays: Top Secret by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy

Single Sundays: Top Secret by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy

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 Top Secret (from Goodreads):

LobsterShorts, 21. Jock. Secretly a science geek. Hot AF.

LobsterShorts: So. Here goes. For her birthday, my girlfriend wants…a threesome.

SinnerThree: Then you’ve come to the right hookup app.

LobsterShorts: Have you done this sort of thing before? With another guy?

SinnerThree: All the time. I’m an equal opportunity player. You?

LobsterShorts: [crickets!]

SinnerThree, 21. Finance major. Secretly a male dancer. Hot AF.

SinnerThree: Well, I’m down if you are. My life is kind of a mess right now. School, work, family stress. Oh, and I live next door to the most annoying dude in the world. I need the distraction. Are you sure you want this?

LobsterShorts: I might want it a little more than I’m willing to admit.

SinnerThree: Hey, nothing wrong with pushing your boundaries…

LobsterShorts: Tell that to my control-freak father. Anyway. What if this threesome is awkward?

SinnerThree: Then it’s awkward. It’s not like we’ll ever have to see each other again. Right? Just promise you won’t fall in love with me.

LobsterShorts: Now wouldn’t that be life-changing…

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Author: Elle Kennedy and Sarina Bowen
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, MM Romance
Heat Rating: Hot (Kink: mild)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: May 7, 2019
Source & Format: Kindle Unlimited–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a huge fan of any works these authors write individually or co-write together. But if you haven’t read Him and you want to dive into the male-male romance genre DO IT! So needless to say, I was super stoked to see these two had finally written another MM romance nearly 3 years later!

The Concept:

I think the Q&A included in the Goodreads synopsis gives you a good idea of the main focus of this book.

Q: Is this story MM? Or is it a MMF / MFM / menage?
A: This book is MM.

Q: Is this a love triangle story?
A: Not really. You’ll see.

I know I was a little apprehensive because I tend to not enjoy menage romances and that’s what the synopsis had me thinking this was; but the Q&A put me a little at ease

The Plot:

From the start, I was immediately hooked into the story. Part of it was the suspense of knowing that once these two figure things out: it’s going to be explosive. But it was also the building up of the tension as these two explore their budding relationship. Plenty of steam mixed in between some dramatic moments.

However, I did think that this book started a little too slowly. It almost felt redundant because there reaches a point where you as the reader know what’s going on and you’ve got good enough feel for the situation but the writing keeps building it up. It does make the latter half of the novel though pretty explosive.

The Characters:

I really loved all the characters we got throughout the novel. Everyone comes across as genuine which gave this story a realistic feel to it–which in turn made the romance even sweeter.

The Romance:

While there was plenty of steam, there was also plenty of substance. Like I said before, the buildup was great as it kept you interested in a reader. But it also provided this great foundation for when the “real-world” comes swooping in.

concSLOW

My Rating: 4/5

overall

If you love romances with plenty of swoon and steam and a dash of drama, this is a great book for you to read!

Read if You Like: MM romance, new adult
Avoid if You: dislike contemporary romance
similarreads

  • Him by Elle Kennedy and Sarina Bowen (Him Series #1)
  • Leveled by Jay Crownover (Saints of Denver Series #1)

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Series Review: Little Black Book by Tabatha Vargo & Melissa Andrea

Series Review: Little Black Book by Tabatha Vargo & Melissa Andrea

DNF December Review Blitz — Day 1: I’m sharing my thoughts on some book series that I have marked as incomplete since I have never finished the first novel in the series or have decided not to read the sequels. Find out why these weren’t for me:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Little Black Book (from Goodreads):

My name’s Sebastian Black, and I want to buy you. I could have any woman I want, but I choose you.
NO RELATIONSHIP, JUST SEX.

Here’s my offer…
I’ll put your name in my LITTLE BLACK BOOK, and when I want you, I’ll call you. When I call, you’re going to come, in more ways than one. It will be mutually pleasurable for both of us.

There are only two rules:
DON’T EVER DENY ME.
DON’T FALL IN LOVE.

If you do either, I’ll remove you from my book and payment stops.

Do we have an understanding?

breakdown

Series: Little Black Book
Author: Tabatha Vargo & Melissa Andrea
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)

There is a prequel novella: #0.5 Little Black Beginning

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Hot (Kink: mild)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: June 2014 – March 2016
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I only read the first book of the series, Little Black Book, and have opted not to pick up the sequels. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I can’t recall how this series crossed my radar. I think I was in my adult contemporary phase of reading back in 2014 and this was a bestseller that I saw on Amazon. I love when asshole heroes expectantly meet their perfect match and Sebastian seemed like he need to be taken down a peg or two.

Like many TBR items, I never got to this book immediately after I purchased it but I my high anticipation for the title kept it on my TBR list and that’s why I made it a 5 Year 5 Book Challenge 2018 pick for the year 2014.

What I Liked:

–The Idea of a Little Black Book–

This is one of those concepts you always hear about but never see done in practice…at least in novels. Sure, you’ve got the booty-call and the endless contact list in the bad-boy hero’s phone but there is just something about Sebastian’s little book that made him refreshing.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Love At First Sight–

I was enjoying the first few chapters of this novel until this little diddy came into play. Ugh. I hate when there is the “unspoken” or “innate” connection between the two leads. Besides her appearance, what else called to him?

–What was Sebastian’s Ideal Jessica?–

So I could have looked past the love at first sight thing if I had any clue why Roz was Sebastian’s “Jessica” aka his dream girl. Nowhere does he describe what would make a girl be “the one”. And besides Roz’s hair colour (red like Jessica Rabbit’s), I had no idea why she caused such a stir in him.

–Everything was a Cliche–

The heroine who is a bombshell and doesn’t know it? Check. Who is also a virgin but is a sexual goddess her first time in bed? Check. Needs a rich man to solve all her problems? Check. The hero who is incapable of love but falls nonetheless? Check. A good plot twist at the end? Check.

Now, I will give props to that twist. It was good and the only thing I didn’t predict while reading.

Will I Finish It?

Nope. Considering I skimmed that last 50% of the first book, I have no desire to pick up the sequel.

My Rating: DNF

[Little Black Beginning N/A] | Little Black Book 2/5 | Little Black Break N/A

overall

If you’ve read any contemporary romance with a similar theme, you’ve probably already read this. I would pass.

Read if You Like: shorter romances, cliches
Avoid if You: want a deeper, darker romance

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

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Series Review: Arrogant by Winter Renshaw

Series Review: Arrogant by Winter Renshaw

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Arrogant Bastard (from Goodreads):

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

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

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

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

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

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

breakdown

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

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

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

The Concept:

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

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

The Plot:

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

The Characters:

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

The Romance:

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

Series Rating: 4/5

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

overall

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

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

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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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Series Review: Slay by Laurelin Paige

Series Review: Slay by Laurelin Paige

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

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

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

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

Yet I can’t resist taking on Edward.

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

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

Or the one who will be slain.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: Slay Quartet

This is a standalone spin-off of the Fixed Series  (Suggested Reading Order here)

Author: Laurelin Paige
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: Hot (BDSM: high | Kink: mild)
Point of View: First Person, Single (#1); Alternating (#2-#4)
Publication Date: June 4, 2019 – May 12, 2020
Source & Format: Candi Kane PR–eARC (#1); Own–Kobo (#2-#4)

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon

Copy provided only for book #1, Rivalry

thoughts

**This post was originally published as a Blog Tour Stop 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:

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

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

The Plot:

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

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

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

The Characters:

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

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

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

The Romance:

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

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

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

updates

–July 15, 2021– Books #2-4: Ruin | Revenge | Rising

I binged the rest of this series in one week! I LOVED this so much!

This series goes down a road I didn’t expect; one that had its tougher moments to read but I’m so glad I stuck with it. All these books were A-Grade good. Just a masterclass on how to weave together drama and romance.

We get Edward’s POV in the other three books and I really enjoyed that. He is such a great character. An alpha male but still has that vulnerability to him that sucks you right in.

I love a good redemption story and it isn’t everyday we see a “bad girl” get one. Celia has always been an intriguing character so getting to know her better with her own series has been fabulous. I’m so glad that Laurelin Paige stuck to her gut and gave us this incredible series!

My Rating: 5/5

Rivalry 5/5 | Ruin 5/5 | Revenge 5/5 | Rising 5/5

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

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

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Laurelin Paige

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

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon

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