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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: 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

thoughts

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 | 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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Fresh Fridays: In the Penalty Box by Lynn Rush and Kelly Anne Blout

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:

Other books planned to be in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for In the Penalty Box (from Goodreads):

The Cutting Edge meets Friday Night Lights in a sizzling new hockey romance from bestselling authors Kelly Anne Blount and Lynn Rush.

Willow
Figure skating was supposed to be my whole world. But one unlucky injury and now I’m down…but I’m definitely not out. I just need to rehab—a boatload of rehab—and who’d have thought I could do it on the boys’ hockey team?

Of course, the infuriatingly hot captain of the team seems to think I’m nothing but sequins and twirls. What’s a girl to do but put him in his place? Game on.

Brodie
Hockey is my whole world. I’ve worked my tail off getting my team in a position to win the championships—hopefully in front of major college scouts, too—so what’s a guy to do when a figure skater ends up as our new goalie?

Of course, the distractingly sexy skater thinks I’m nothing but a testosterone-laced competitive streak. And surely she’s only biding her time to heal, then she’s gone. Game over.

breakdown

Series: TBA
Author: Lynn Rush and Kelly Anne Blount
# of Books: 1+ (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: TBA
Complete?: Unknown
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Sports
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: January 5, 2021 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a sucker for YA sports reads and have had tremendous luck with them in the past. So when I read the synopsis about a figure skater trying to make it in the world of hockey AND a forbidden romance, I was so on board.

What I Liked:

–Gender Roles in Sports–

I grew up in small towns where there weren’t always enough players to have separate boys and girls teams and so girls would be on the “boys” hockey time all the time. I also know a lot of the Canadian Women’s Hockey players play in men’s leagues. But it is naïve to think that there aren’t barriers in place or assumed gender roles from those who play in the sports, even today.

So I really liked the added dimension of people pushing back against Willow playing with the boys. I thought it provided great material for her character development and highlighted the fact that preconceived notions can literally stop you from winning or being the best team you can be.

–Self-Discovery and Growth–

I think Willow had the most obvious character growth in the pair thanks to the challenges her injury presented her and her family life. But Brodie had a very heavy storyline as well. I think some of it could have been hashed out a littler earlier but I appreciated his struggles and how his reactions to everything were grounded in realism.

–Slow Burn Forbidden Romance–

While I would have loved a few more flirty interactions (and not just inner monologues about how good the other looked in workout gear); I really did love how these two bonded as friends and teammates before they gave into the chemistry.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Pacing–

It took me a while to get into this book. It is really slow at the start as Willow orients herself in her new town and with her new limitations. That’s why I think more flirting or tension filled moments between her and Brodie at the start would have kept the pacing up. It just made the latter half of the book feel rushed and top-heavy with drama and developments.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

There haven’t been any officially announcements about a sequel but I could see some tensions brewing between the best friends of our leads here.

My Rating: 3/5

In the Penalty Box 3/5 | Book 2 TBP

overall

If you are looking for a sweet, clean teen read about navigating the challenges life throws at you in a sports world setting, this is the one for you!

Read if You Like: slower stories, sports romances
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, dislike sweet romance
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Series Review: Cyclone by Courtney Milan

Series Review: Cyclone by Courtney Milan

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 Trade Me (from Goodreads):

Tina Chen just wants a degree and a job, so her parents never have to worry about making rent again. She has no time for Blake Reynolds, the sexy billionaire who stands to inherit Cyclone Technology. But when he makes an off-hand comment about what it means to be poor, she loses her cool and tells him he couldn’t last a month living her life.

To her shock, Blake offers her a trade: She’ll get his income, his house, his car. In exchange, he’ll work her hours and send money home to her family. No expectations; no future obligations.

But before long, they’re trading not just lives, but secrets, kisses, and heated nights together. No expectations might break Tina’s heart…but Blake’s secrets could ruin her life.

breakdown

Series: Cyclone
Author: Courtney Milan
# of Books: 2+ (Full Reading Order Here)

There are multiple novellas — see Reading Order.

Book Order: Direct Sequels & Connected
Complete?: No, Find Me is to be released
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: January 2015 – ongoing
Source & Format: Owned & Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I found Trade Me from a NA Recommendation Post by Sil at Dani Reviews Things. I was drawn to it for its premise of a fake romance but also because our heroine was Chinese and the emphasis on family.

I didn’t get around to it for years–which turned out to be an ok thing since Courtney Milan is notoriously known as a slow writer so the rest of the series has yet to be published–but I made it an addition to my Tackling the TBR Challenge for 2020.

The Reading Order:

Everything follows a chronological order of events so it is important to follow the publication order of the series even if some books focus on different people. Books #1, #2.5 and #3 focus on Tina and Blake with the other novels focusing on other characters we meet along the way.

What I Like:

–Character Diversity–

In December of 2019, there was a big uproar with the Romance Writers of America (RWA) and Courtney Milan was at the centre of it. There is a great article about the controversy here by the New York Times for those who missed it. The gist is, Milan called out another author on Twitter for her “racist mess” of a novel and how it personally offended her as a woman of Chinese descent.

One of the things I loved the most about this series is its inclusivity. You’ve got a lead of Chinese decent in Trade Me and a trans woman lead in Hold Me. And the best part is, she makes it all seem so natural—BECAUSE IT IS! I never once felt like she was putting these character traits in for shock and awe. Everything about these stories felt so organic.

–Very Character Focused Stories–

Yes, there is a romance in these novels but I think the larger focus is on the characters and navigating their lives. All the characters we meet go through some drastic growing pains in these novels and who we start the novel with isn’t who we end up with. So if you love character-focused stories, this is a great series for you!

What I Didn’t Like:

Hold Me (Book #2)–

I was really excited to read Maria’s story in Hold Me but I ended up DNFing it at 30%. There was just too much “hate” in the hate-to-love you aspect that I didn’t see how these two would ever rectify their differences. And even as someone with a BSc, their science banter was way too hard to follow for me.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m actually super invested in Blake’s dad’s story (you’ll understand once you read the books–I promise!) and that’s the one I’m going to be keeping my eyes out for!

Series Rating: 3/5

Trade Me 3.5/5 | Hold Me DNF | [Year of the Crocodile 3/5] | Find Me TBR |[What Lies Between You and Me TBR] | Keep Me TBR | Show Me TBR

overall

If you like stories that take their time to evolve and you enjoy books featuring a diverse cast of characters, this is a great NA romance series for you to try!

Read if You Like: diverse characters
Avoid if You: more erotica based romance

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Series Review: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

Series Review: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

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

book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Belles (from Goodreads):

Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orleans, Belles are revered, for they control beauty, and beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orleans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful.

But it’s not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle. She wants to be the favorite-the Belle chosen by the queen of Orleans to live in the royal palace, to tend to the royal family and their court, to be recognized as the most talented Belle in the land.

But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favorite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that the very essence of her existence is a lie-that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined. And when the queen asks Camellia to risk her own life and help the ailing princess by using Belle powers in unintended ways, Camellia now faces an impossible decision.

With the future of Orléans and its people at stake, Camellia must decide—save herself and her sisters and the way of the Belles—or resuscitate the princess, risk her own life, and change the ways of her world forever.

breakdown

Series: The Belles
Author: Dhonielle Clayton
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 3 to be published
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Fantasy, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: February 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I don’ t think you could really escape The Belles when it first came out. It seemed to be everywhere in the blogosphere and I could understand why. The concept was really neat and the cover is gorgeous.

My library had the audiobook version and so I marked it on my “wishlist” but it wasn’t until I read Clayton’s other cowritten novel, Tiny Pretty Things (and absolutely LOVED it!) that my interest in picking up this series spiked.

The Concept / The World:

Have you ever wondered what life was like for the people living in The Capitol of The Hunger Games? I feel like this book attempts to answer that question by highlighting the vanity of humanity and what we would do if we could alter our appearance with a single touch. The concept is fascinating and, like you often do in dystopian novels, taken to an extreme to highlight the flaws within.

There was a lot to like about the world itself. I like how layered the Belle system is. From the history of their role to how they are trained, you know that some serious thought was put into the process. The world has a cool modern vibe (like paparazzi, etc) but felt old at the same time with the way the kingdom is set up.

The Plot:

When I was reading The Belles, I felt like much didn’t happen in the first half. It was a lot of setting up for the future and going through the motions. We do get little clues here and there but nothing overly exciting happens. The latter half, when everything falls into place is much stronger and I’m really curious to see what happens next.

The Everlasting Rose builds on that momentum though and introduces a few more twists. However, I thought the ways things came together in the end was a little messy and rushed. The ending seemed a little lacklustre to me.

The Characters:

Honestly, I could take or leave Camellia as a lead. She doesn’t really standout to me as a lead and I thought she made some terrible decisions. To give her some credit, she does evolve in The Everlasting Rose somewhat. It was nice to see her assert some independence.

The other belles are very hard to read. Perhaps that is the by-product of them being raised to act and do certain things in society. Amber is a good example of that where she can’t seem to rebel against the ideals instilled within her from birth—and I totally get why that would be the case. But it also makes her seem sporadic in her actions and in turn, you can’t get a good read on her as a character.

But I liked how the villain was a true villain.

The Romance:

The romance in the first book gave me some unease right from the start so I was immediately thrown off. As things progress in the series, I think the reasons why become clear and the romance itself evolves for the better (and I really hope it stays that way but I doubt it).

My Audiobook Experience:

So for a story that takes place in “Orleans” I just assumed everything would be french-influenced, including the narration. It was a slightly off-putting to have a British accent for the narrator for Camellia. Otherwise, the narration was really well done!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Honestly, I don’t really know what to expect for the third book. I have ideas of what I want it to be given the way things wrap up at the end of Book #2 but I’m not sure.

Series Rating: 3/5

The Belles 3/5 | Everlasting Rose 3.5/5 | Book 3 TBA

overall

Great for fans of the classic YA dystopian novels though it does leave a little to be desired at times.

Read if You Like: dystopian fiction, unique concepts
Avoid if You: dislike dystopian fiction

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Series Review: Girl Meets Duke by Tessa Dare

Series Review: Girl Meets Duke by Tessa Dare

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Duchess Deal (from Goodreads):

When girl meets Duke, their marriage breaks all the rules…

Since his return from war, the Duke of Ashbury’s to-do list has been short and anything but sweet: brooding, glowering, menacing London ne’er-do-wells by night. Now there’s a new item on the list. He needs an heir—which means he needs a wife. When Emma Gladstone, a vicar’s daughter turned seamstress, appears in his library wearing a wedding gown, he decides on the spot that she’ll do.

His terms are simple:
– They will be husband and wife by night only.
– No lights, no kissing.
– No questions about his battle scars.
– Last, and most importantly… Once she’s pregnant with his heir, they need never share a bed again.

But Emma is no pushover. She has a few rules of her own:
– They will have dinner together every evening.
– With conversation.
– And unlimited teasing.
– Last, and most importantly… Once she’s seen the man beneath the scars, he can’t stop her from falling in love…

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: Girl Meets Duke
Author: Tessa Dare
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Book 4 to be released in February 2021
Genre: Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: August 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I was in a historical romance phase, I discovered Tessa Dare and I’ve never looked back. Even though I don’t go out of my way to read much of the genre anymore (there are a few exceptions like Anna Harrington and Kelly Bowen), I make it a point to read anything Tessa Dare writes.

The Plot:

I’d read 14 other books by Tessa Dare by the time I started this series and you know what is shocking to me? That all her series and novels feel fresh and unique. Certainly, there are aspects to her novels that are her trademark–like the unconventional-to-society heroine or a scared hero or the way she can convey humour throughout–but I never truly feel like I’m reading a regurgitation of her previous novels or that they follow a set, formula.

I had a blast meeting all these new characters and watching all the hi-jinx they get into as they fall in love and challenge societal norms.

The Characters:

I immediately fell in love with ALL our leads in The Duchess Deal. When our heroine meets the future heroines in the series, I was so excited to see who was getting their story next that I definitely peeked at the synopsis for the rest of the series.

Everyone is just delightful. And I love how their individual struggles and growth are highlighted in their novels through the plot and romance.

The Romance:

The tension is so delicious in each novel! I couldn’t get enough of our couples–it made the books so addicting to read! But I really loved how the romances had a bit of a slow burn to them where they take their time to truly fall in love with the person and not just because they have insane physical chemistry.

My Audiobook Experience:

Humour doesn’t always come across in written novels for me–though that has never been a problem with Tessa’s novels–so audiobooks are a great way for me to get the humour because you hear the tone the author wants the dialogue to be delivered in. Now that I’ve started listening to her books in audio, I think that’s the only way I can enjoy them! They are just so easy and fun to listen to!

Series Rating: 5/5

The Duchess Deal 5/5 | The Governess Game 5/5 | The Wallflower Wager 4/5 | The Bride Bet TBD

overall

Honestly, this series reminded me why Tessa Dare has become an automatic must read author for me. She never fails to disappoint when it comes to characters, romance, plot and humour!

Read if You Like: historical fiction
Avoid if You: dislike historical fiction romances

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Fresh Fridays: You Had Me At Hola by Alexis Daria

Fresh Fridays: You Had Me At Hola by Alexis Daria

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:

TBA Series

Other books planned to be in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for You Had Me At Hola (from Goodreads):

RITA® Award Winning author Alexis Daria brings readers an unforgettable, hilarious rom-com set in the drama-filled world of telenovelas—perfect for fans of Jane the Virgin and The Kiss Quotient.

Leading Ladies do not end up on tabloid covers.

After a messy public breakup, soap opera darling Jasmine Lin Rodriguez finds her face splashed across the tabloids. When she returns to her hometown of New York City to film the starring role in a bilingual romantic comedy for the number one streaming service in the country, Jasmine figures her new “Leading Lady Plan” should be easy enough to follow—until a casting shake-up pairs her with telenovela hunk Ashton Suárez.

Leading Ladies don’t need a man to be happy.

After his last telenovela character was killed off, Ashton is worried his career is dead as well. Joining this new cast as a last-minute addition will give him the chance to show off his acting chops to American audiences and ping the radar of Hollywood casting agents. To make it work, he’ll need to generate smoking-hot on-screen chemistry with Jasmine. Easier said than done, especially when a disastrous first impression smothers the embers of whatever sexual heat they might have had.

Leading Ladies do not rebound with their new costars.

With their careers on the line, Jasmine and Ashton agree to rehearse in private. But rehearsal leads to kissing, and kissing leads to a behind-the-scenes romance worthy of a soap opera. While their on-screen performance improves, the media spotlight on Jasmine soon threatens to destroy her new image and expose Ashton’s most closely guarded secret.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: TBA
Author: Alexis Daria
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, more book(s) are planned
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: August 4, 2020 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC | Thank you Harper Collins!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Ever since I read (and loved) Alexis’ Dance Off Series, I’ve been keeping an eye out for her other releases. When she announced this title on her eNewsletter I was SO EXCITED! I LOVE the TV shows Jane the Virgin and Ugly Betty so anything that is recommended to fans of them, that’s me!

What I Liked:

–It Reads Like a TV Show–

It felt like I was binge-watching a TV show–which is exactly what I wanted out of this.

It is easy to see how this series is inspired by telenovelas and shows like Jane the Virgin. You’ve got the focus on family roots; highlighting the prejudices Latin Americans face; and those highly entertaining moments of comedy laced throughout a story about love and all the drama it brings about.

–Slow Burn Romance–

The steady slow burn romance between Ashton and Jasmine that sucked me in. They take their time to get comfortable with each other. And I really thought their love scenes together were refreshing in the sense that they communicate about what they need intimately from a partner by talking and seeking consent. It isn’t just hot and heavy immediately; rather it is sensual and romantic.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Slightly Off-Pace for the Romance–

I think Ashton was maybe a little too aloof at the start? I wish that they had a few more interactions to really cement that deeper bond at the start by simply talking to each other.  While the attraction is slow burn, those deeper feelings just seemed to happen pretty quickly once these two give into the attraction and I wasn’t entirely sure the intensity was warranted.

–The Episode Scenes As Chapters–

I wouldn’t say that I disliked this approach–I thought it was neat and did add to the story overall. I just think some formatting needed to be done to distinguish the characters’ feelings from the actors’. It was a little hard to separate the inner monologue. I’m hoping that is just a formatting issue in the ARCs.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m really excited to explore this cast of characters a little more. I know from Alexis’ newsletter who the next book will be about so I’m curious to see what will happen next!

My Rating: 4.5/5

You Had Me At Hola 4.5/5 | Book 2 TBP

overall

This reads like a great rom-com movie and it’s perfect for fans of contemporary romance looking for diverse, well written reads.

Read if You Like: telenovelas, diverse reads, rom-coms
Avoid if You: want erotica, dislike rom-coms

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Fresh Fridays: Pretending Not to Love You (Hazel Pathway #1) by M S Larson

Fresh Fridays: Pretending Not to Love You (Hazel Pathway #1) by M S Larson

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:

Hazel Pathway Series

Other books planned to be in the series:
book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Pretending Not to Love You (from Goodreads):

Raine
It’s my first day at a new high school and I inadvertently become one of the most popular girls at Glass Hill High. The girls want to be my best friend, and the guys want to date me. The only guy I have eyes for is Alex Williams, but he’s determined to set me up with his best friend and star wide receiver, Chase.

Alex
I’ve been spurned by my ex-girlfriend. She dated me to get to my best friend, Chase, who most of the girls are in love with at Glass Hill High. Now I’m gun shy about dating any girl because I’m afraid they’d just want me to get to Chase. Raine is no exception. When she claps eyes on him on the first day of school, she’s going to fall madly in love, so it’s better that I protect my heart. I’m going to hook Raine up with Chase and pretend that I’m happy for the both of them. Only the more time I spend with her, I can’t help but fall deeply in love with her. And the situation is affecting my relationship with everyone around me, including Raine and Chase.

Will Alex let go of his past and pursue Raine?

breakdown

Series: Hazel Pathway
Author: M S Larson
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, more books are planned
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: April 2020 – ongoing
Source & Format: Author–eARC | Thank you M S Larson!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I was asked if I wanted to read and review Pretending Not to Love You I thought the premise was super charming. I’m a sucker for “forbidden” love in whatever form it comes in so the idea of falling for your BFF’s (maybe) girlfriend had me intrigued.

What I Liked:

–Instant Chemistry–

I enjoyed the tension between Raine and Alex because it was so obvious they had instant chemistry from the moment they met but neither was sure what to do about it. I could really see why these two would fall for each other.

–Positive Parental Relationships–

I find we don’t see a lot of positive parental influences in YA so it always notable for me when I came across that.

Both Alex and Raine talked to their parents about their problems and feelings. And their parents were in positive, healthy relationships as well.

–Girls Supporting Girls–

While Raine does have a rival of sorts in Mary I liked that they were never overly petty about it. And Raine was great about helping out other girls to find their inner confidence in themselves.

What I Didn’t Like:

–A Little Too Much Dialogue–

The flow seemed to be dampened for me because there seemed to be an excess amount of dialogue. Don’t get me wrong: it was great to see these two talk things out, but most of the chapters were dialogue. More inner monologues or summary paragraphs would help keep things moving smoothly I think.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I am really excited for the next book! I liked the little hints we got here about what could happen next.

My Rating: 3.5/5

Pretending Not to Love You 3.5/5 | Want You to Love Me TBP | Book 3 TBP | Book 4 TBP

overall

I think with a little more polish (which will come with writing more books) this would be a fantastic read. I’m excited to see what will happen next in this series!

Read if You Like: sweet romances, first loves
Avoid if You: want a darker story, want more angst

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Fresh Fridays: American Royals by Katharine McGee

Fresh Fridays: American Royals by Katharine McGee

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

American Royals Series

booksynopsis

Synopsis for American Royals (from Goodreads):

What if America had a royal family?

When America won the Revolutionary War, its people offered General George Washington a crown. Two and a half centuries later, the House of Washington still sits on the throne.

As Princess Beatrice gets closer to becoming America’s first queen regnant, the duty she has embraced her entire life suddenly feels stifling.

Nobody cares about the spare except when she’s breaking the rules, so Princess Samantha doesn’t care much about anything, either . . . except the one boy who is distinctly off-limits to her.

And then there’s Samantha’s twin, Prince Jefferson. If he’d been born a generation earlier, he would have stood first in line for the throne, but the new laws of succession make him third. Most of America adores their devastatingly handsome prince . . . but two very different girls are vying to capture his heart.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fav 2020
Series: American Royals
Author: Katharine McGee
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book #3 to be released
Genre: Young Adult / New Adult, Contemporary, Alternate History, Romance, Coming of Age
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: September 2019 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

**This post was originally published 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.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Ever since the TV show The Royals abruptly ended, I’ve been going through modern royalty withdrawal. So when I saw that Katharine McGee’s next YA series was about royalty, I was stoked! I loved her debut series for so many reasons and I just knew she’d do the monarchy justice!

What I Liked:

–The Concept–

As a Canadian, I always find it so interesting that Americans seem to be somewhat obsessed with the British Monarchy despite their tension filled past. So this idea that there is still a monarchy in modern day USA is cool to watch unfold.

–Interwoven Relationships–

I think the plotline is pretty basic. I mean there isn’t a ton of stuff going on (and I think that perfectly reflects the saying “less is more”) but what is going on is amplified by the many ways things are linked together.

We follow 5 POVs throughout the story and while each person has their own struggles going on, they are somehow relate to someone else’s. And that adds this great tension to the story as you want to see what happens when the truth and the past comes up to catch everyone.

–The Romances–

I ADORED all the romances that happen or are alluded to throughout. It was so addicting to watch the various couples fall in love–even when they shouldn’t. So many great tropes at play!

What I Didn’t Like:

–Somewhat Predictable–

I think I had a good idea of how this was going to end after Chapter 2–it wasn’t hard to figure out but I’m not sure if it was supposed to be. And some other things seemed a little cliché but that really didn’t stop me from watching these characters react and navigate the various scenarios.

My Audiobook Experience:

Even though we only have one narrator for 5 people, the third person narration was easy to follow. Everyone had a distinct voice and the added emotion just amplified the story for me.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I might have predicted the end but I have no idea what will happen next!

updates

–July 9, 2021– Book #2: Majesty

I thought this was just as addicting as the first one. Things are getting messy and weaving together in intricate ways. I wish there were a few more twists but I can appreciate the time dedicated to growing all the characters.

My Rating: 5/5

American Royals 5/5 | Majesty 4/5 | Book #3 TBP

overall

If you love royalty and romances, this is a great one!

Read if You Like: royalty, contemporary romances, coming of age
Avoid if You: want lots of drama, want less romance
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Series Review: Southern U O’Brien Brothers by Cookie O’Gorman

Fresh Fridays: The Best Mistake (The O’Briens #1) by Cookie O’Gorman

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Best Mistake (from Goodreads):

Honor Tierney just wants one night with the playboy.

One hot, steamy, meaningless hookup, and then she’ll happily go back to reading her favorite books, studying to be an accountant and writing for the campus-paper-nobody-reads. Too bad she ends up in the wrong bed, with the wrong brother…who gives her the hottest night of her life.

Archer O’Brien just wants to play ball.

Well that, and for his brothers to stop acting out, so he won’t have to worry 24/7. As the oldest O’Brien and team captain, it’s his duty to make sure they don’t drink too much, party too much, or get in too much trouble. But when she walks into his bedroom—mistaking him for his brother—life throws him a curveball.

She’s determined to guard her heart. He’s not giving up.

And when Honor gets assigned to cover the Wolves baseball team, it’s game on.

This new adult sports romance features one hot (and hilarious) case of mistaken identity and a sexy set of brothers guaranteed to make you swoon.

Sometimes, the best mistakes are worth making.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Southern U O’Brien Brothers
Author: Cookie O’Gorman
# of Books: 2 (Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Sports, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: April 23, 2020 — ongoing
Source & Format: Author–eARC

thoughts

**This post was originally published 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.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve been a big fan of Cookie’s work since I read her YA debut Adorkable a few years ago. She just writes really sweet, infectious romances with great characters all around. So when she made the leap to New Adult Sports Romances, I was SO on board!

What I Liked:

–Slow Burn Romance–

I loved the slow burn romance! From the start I was a fan of these two together. They just have great chemistry. I enjoyed watching them dance around each other for most of the book. Everyone but them seems to see their connection so it brought about some great character moments.

–Hot but Clean Romance–

I’m a sucker for a good steamy scene but sometimes it’s nice just to focus on the deeper connection between our two leads. I felt like these two got to know each other on a more personal level and not just because they have a great physical chemistry. You could see the other attributes that drew them to each other. But there are still plenty of steamy moments along the way to satisfy the reader!

–The O’Brien Siblings & Honor’s Roommates–

I’m all about seeing positive friendships and relationships between siblings in books. It’s great to see characters that love and support their friends and family. But it isn’t always sunshine either and I thought all the situations we encountered here were realistic and genuine.

What I Didn’t Like:

–One Dramatic Twist–

There is something that happens near the end of the story that was a little much for me. Sometimes novels omit certain pieces of logic in order to create drama and I think that is what happened here. Because part of the fallout from the scenario could have been avoided if some common sense had been applied. But it really was a minor thing so I’m letting it go.

Why I Really Want This to be a Series:

I can’t wait to spend more time with the O’Briens! Archer’s relationships with his siblings is great. And all the little seeds planted for future stories has me craving more!

updates

–July 6, 2021– Book #2: The Perfect Play

I like a steamy book as much as the next girl but Cookie O’Gorman’s novels always remind me that there is something irresistible about sweet romances as well. You get to focus more on the characters and their emotional connection. And just because its sweet, doesn’t mean there isn’t great sexual tension–because there is!

I thought our two leads had great chemistry throughout the novel. Our lead is basically a book boyfriend come to life so he knows how to pack on the charm. I always love it in a romance when the guy falls a little harder for the girl first. I did think out heroine’s resistance game was a little too strong; I think it affected the pacing of the overall novel (really made it a slow, slow burn romance). But I still loved every scene they shared together.

Series Rating: 4/5

The Best Mistake 4/5 | The Perfect Play 4/5

overall

If you love sports romances or want a New Adult romance that focuses on great characters falling in love more so than the time spent between the sheets: this is a great read for you!

Read if You Like: slower stories, world-building, alternate dimensions, sweet romances
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, want more romance

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