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Single Sundays: The Marriage Pact by Winter Renshaw

Single Sundays: The Marriage Pact by Winter Renshaw

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

Synopsis for The Marriage Pact (from Goodreads):

I was sixteen when I vowed I would never marry him.

We shook on it. Pinky swore. Even put it in writing and all but signed our names in blood.

It was the one and only thing we ever agreed on.

To the world, he’s Prince Julian, Duke of Montcroix, second in line to the Chamont throne. Panty-melting accent. Royal charm. Hypnotic presence. Blindingly gorgeous. Laundry list of women all over the world who would give their first born for the chance to marry him. Most eligible bachelor in the free world …

But to me, he’s nothing more than the son of my father’s best friend—the pesky blue-eyed boy who made it his mission to annoy the ever-loving hell out of me summer after summer as our families vacationed together, our parents oblivious to our mutual disdain as they joked about our “betrothal.”

He was also my first kiss.

And my first taste of heartbreak so cataclysmic it almost broke me.

I meant it with every fiber of my soul when I swore I’d never marry him.

But on the eve of my 24th birthday, His Royal Highness has the audacity to show up at my door after years of silence and make a demand will forever change the trajectory of our lives: “We have to break our pact.”

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Author: Winter Renshaw
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Second Chance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: June 23, 2019
Source & Format: Hidden Gems–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I was in a bit of a reading slump (3 2-star reads in a row) when I picked up this book. I can always count on Winter Renshaw to write a story that I will devour in one sitting; one that will get me into the excitement of reading again.

Despite a “no-ARC” sign up policy, I had to sign up for this one. I’m obsessed with anything Royal (and I’ve had great success with other modern royal contemporary romances lately) so that immediately had my attention. Then add to the fact that there might be an arranged marriage or something along those lines? So there!

The Concept:

While Julian is from a fictitious kingdom, there are enough allusions to current monarchies that you understand his motivations and such. Some people may not like current popular culture references in their novels but I thought it was really fitting here. 

The Plot:

If you are looking for a lighter, quick read that isn’t plagued by copious sex scenes this is a great book for you to pick up. If you get a little hung up on logistics or want something deeper character-wise? Maybe don’t pick this up (or go in with different expectations).

One of the things that really hooked me in was the allusion to their shared past and some “event” that transpired to stop their budding romance. I liked the suspense of the mystery–I was eager to figure out what caused these two to not speak for years. And while the actual reason was something I didn’t expect at all, I’m not really sure if it is feasible. That’s why I say you should go in and leave some logic behind because it’s one of those things that the more you think about it, the less likely it seems. 

The Characters:

I liked both of our leads a lot. The depth with go to with them works for the story and keeps things light. I always appreciate dual POV in romances and that’s what we get here. I liked Julian’s POV were a little shorter and more abrupt (in some ways). It added some mystery to his character and motivations but still gave you a taste of what he was thinking/feelings.

The Romance:

I thought these two were super cute together. I loved their “hate to love you” past but I wish we got to see more of it. Some flashbacks to show those moments when things changed when they were teenagers would have gone a long way in making their relationship stronger. Things move very quickly in their second chance romance and I think seeing that past would help satisfy the somewhat skeptic in me.

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

If you want a lighter book that you can devour in one sitting that is entertaining and charming, this is a great read.

Read if You Like: royals, lighter romances
Avoid if You: get caught up in logistics/realistic plots
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Series Review: Roommates by Mara Jacobs

Series Review: Roommates by Mara Jacobs

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 In Too Deep (from Goodreads):

I didn’t believe in love at first sight, until I first saw Lucas Kade.

I was giving swimming lessons to children when I first saw him. Turns out one of the kids was Lucas’s little brother. So, I’d be seeing a lot more of Lucas. And that was just fine with me.

I had a lot going on—a freshman at an elite college, first time away from home, and, oh yeah, roommates with a girl I’d been sent to spy on. I wasn’t exactly looking for anything exclusive. Something casual, though, would be great.

But there was nothing casual about my feelings for Lucas.

He was a townie, hiding a secret, and I knew better than to get involved. I was always the sensible one, the peacekeeper.

Before I knew it…I was In Too Deep.

breakdown

Series: Roommates Trilogy
Author: Mara Jacobs
# of Books: 3 (In Too Deep, In Too Fast, In Too Hard)
Book Order: Connected (almost take place concurrently)
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: Warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: July 2014 – March 2015
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m not sure how this series crossed my radar. I think In Too Deep shows up as a freebie from time to time and that’s how I learned about it (though I bought it so who knows?). It might have also been a recommended read when I first started my New Adult Romance addiction in 2014. Anyways, I bought copies of the first two books years ago and finally read them as a part of my #ShelfLove 2017 Challenge and followed up with the final book for my 52 Sequel Challenge for 2018.

Anyways, I’m all for secrets and drama and this series looked like it would deliver.

The Plot:

While In Too Deep focuses on a love at first sight relationship, I actually didn’t mind it. For once, this trope was used as an actual plot device in a positive way. Meaning, it worked for the type of story the author wanted to tell. But this book was also surprisingly self-aware. These two knew their feelings were too much, too fast and they actually acknowledged it. Unfortunately, it is a little cliche at times but it was still super enjoyable.

I adored In Too Fast though. I almost wonder if the titles for the first two books should be switched because it seems more accurate for this awesome story. I love the enemies to lovers trope and I knew this was going to be a good one as soon as I met these two in the first book. But this one also had a unique plot and two fabulous leads to carry it–I enjoyed it immensely!

And after such an awesome sequel, perhaps I set my expectations a little too high for the final novel. While I enjoyed the leads and saw how well they worked together, I found the plot was a little repetitive at times and that certain plot devices weren’t used to the best of their abilities.

The Characters:

I liked that these characters seemed to be their own. They each had unique personalities and histories so it made me eager to see all their stories unfold in the other novels.

I do have to say though that I wasn’t a fan of the hero’s POV in In Too Hard; mainly the writing style. They just didn’t sound like him–almost like I was reading the heroine again so it didn’t have a very distinct voice.

The Romance:

It’s passionate and lusty but they also have great connections. You can see why each pair would be drawn to each other, even if things move faster than I like. And if you don’t like copious amounts of sexy times in your books, this series is pretty mild about those steamier moments.

Series Rating: 3.5/5

In Too Deep 3/5 | In Too Fast 5/5 | In Too Hard 3/5

overall

These aren’t mind blowing romances by any means but they are a fresh set of stories that have unique elements,  solid characters and charming romances.

Read if You Like: New Adult, romances, more sweet than sexy
Avoid if You: want more steam, want deeper stories/characters

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Single Sundays: Ask Me Anything by Molly E Lee

Single Sundays: Ask Me Anything by Molly E Lee

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 Ask Me Anything (from Goodreads):

I should’ve kept my mouth shut.

But Wilmont Academy’s been living in the Dark Ages when it comes to sex ed, and someone had to take matters into her own hands. Well, I’m a kick-ass coder, so I created a totally anonymous, totally untraceable blog where teens can come to get real, honest, nothing-is-off-limits sex advice.

And holy hell, the site went viral—and we’re talking way beyond Wilmont—overnight. Who knew this town was so hard up?

Except now the school administration is trying to shut me down, and they’ve forced Dean—my coding crush, aka the hottest guy in school—to try to uncover who I am. If he discovers my secret, I’ll lose him forever. And thousands of teens who need real advice won’t have anyone to turn to.

Ask me anything…except how to make things right.

breakdown

Author: Molly E Lee
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Coming of Age, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: May 7, 2019
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC | Thanks Entangled Teen!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m not usually one for YA contemporaries but Molly E Lee is a notable exception. And the premise of the novel? FANTASTIC!

The Concept / The World:

It would have been great if the novel focused more on what the blog was about but I don’t think that was this story’s intended purpose. It’s more a coming of age story in modern times (ie the internet and social media) emphasizing the disconnect between generations when it comes to sexuality and sexual education.

Sexual education in the school curriculum is a hot topic where I live right now and I liked the real world conflict the blog highlighted.

The Plot:

After reading the synopsis, I definitely thought the flow of the plot would be different. I thought we’d have more of a cat and mouse game with Amber and Dean but that isn’t the case. It’s more like her keeping something from him while they evolve their own personal relationship. So once I got over that, I could appreciate the plot here.

I do think the first half was slower. The last quarter was great, lots of development. And we got more into the blog (and what it is trying to accomplish) than the coming of age aspect. (Which is great, don’t get me wrong!).

The Characters:

I liked our leads a lot. Amber is a great heroine. I loved her vulnerability as that allowed for some fabulous character growth. Dean’s a sweetie who says some charming things. His growth wasn’t as strong but he is a solid character. At times, I thought his storyline was a little melodramatic but it grounds itself near the end.

The Romance:

I went in thinking their romance was going to be perhaps more antagonistic than it was but I really did love the sweeter romance that we got. Molly E Lee writes the cutest book boyfriends and Dean is no exception.

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

If you’re looking for a YA novel that has drama, a dose of reality, a charming romance and intriguing characters, look no further!

Read if You Like: coming of age, contemporaries
Avoid if You: dislike YA contemporary
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Blog Tour: Boyfriend Bargain by Ilsa Madden-Mills

Synopsis for Boyfriend Bargain (from Goodreads):
Wall Street Journal bestselling author Ilsa Madden-Mills returns with an all-new swoon-fest of a novel about what happens when you take a chance on love.

Wanted: one hot guy with rock-hard abs and a big stick.

Broke and desperate, Sugar Ryan has no use for arrogant, bad boy athletes . . . until she’s forced to bargain with the cockiest of them all.

If only he knew she was alive.

Her mission? Get on this hockey player’s radar any way possible.

Zack Morgan is the king of the ice and the bedroom—but nothing prepares him for the mystery girl who shows up everywhere he does—frat parties, his favorite bar, and finally his front door with an offer he can’t refuse. The only rule in her boyfriend bargain: no falling in love.

But after one (um, two) smoking-hot hookups, he’s done with pretending and vows to make their fake relationship real. Too bad she can’t trust a player with a reputation for breaking hearts.

Will this hockey star score his forever girl or will their Boyfriend Bargain end in heartbreak?

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Author: Ilsa Madden-Mills
Series: TBD
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports, Hockey
# of Books: 2
Book Order: Connected
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: May 5, 2019 – ongoing
Source & Format: Social Butterfly PR–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m always eager for a new Ilsa Madden-Mills New Adult read but when I saw that her newest book featured two of my favourite tropes–hockey player and a fake relationship premise–I knew that this was going to be a read-ASAP type of book.

The Plot:

I thought that this book would be a little lighter than it was but I liked the tone it had. Both of our leads have their own struggles and I enjoyed watching them deal with them as they navigated their budding feelings.

In particular, I really appreciated and admired Zack’s mental health storyline. Anxiety in sports (not simply the pressure of doing the sport but how one’s personal mental health affects their playing) isn’t something I’ve really come across in the genre before. I loved how it was dealt with here and how it was one of the main focuses and not something mentioned in passing.

The Characters:

Like I said before, Zack and Sugar have their own issues which make them layered characters. I thought Zack had the strongest character story but Sugar definitely evolves as well throughout the story. It was great to see her come outside her comfort zone.

The Romance:

For me, I didn’t see the chemistry between these two right away. Zack borders on some insta-love I thought in the first bit and I wasn’t entirely convinced why. But by the mid-way point we watch them talk and share a little more so it helped me to see why they were a good pair. This is one of those times where the various dramatic stressors they undergo helped to cement why they work as partners.

Why I’m SO EXCITED There is a Sequel:

I LOVED some of the various side characters we met and there was an inkling of something between two particular characters that I can’t wait to get the full story on!

My Rating: 3.5/5

Boyfriend Bargain 3.5/5 | Book 2 TBR
overall
This is a solid contemporary romance and one that has a refreshing take on the genre!

Read if You Like: sports romances, new adult
Avoid if You: dislike contemporary romance

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Ilsa Madden-Mills

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Ilsa Madden-Mills writes about strong heroines and sexy alpha males that sometimes you just want to slap.

She’s addicted to dystopian books and all things fantasy, including unicorns and sword-wielding females. Other fascinations include frothy coffee beverages, dark chocolate, Instagram, Ian Somerhalder (seriously hot), astronomy (she’s a Gemini), and tattoos.

She has a degree in English and a Master’s in Education.

When she’s not pecking away on her computer, she shops for cool magnets and paints old furniture.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon

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Fresh Fridays: Rule by Ellen Goodlett

Fresh Fridays: Rule by Ellen Goodlett

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:

Rule Series

Other books planned to be in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Rule (from Goodreads):

Three Dark Crowns meets Pretty Little Liars in this sensational and striking new fantasy from debut author Ellen Goodlett.

Three girls. Three deadly secrets. Only one can wear the crown.

The king is dying, his heir has just been murdered, and rebellion brews in the east. But the kingdom of Kolonya and the outer Reaches has one last option before it descends into leaderless chaos.

Or rather, three unexpected options.

Zofi has spent her entire life trekking through the outer Reaches with her band of Travelers. She would do anything to protect the band, her family. But no one can ever find out how far she’s already gone.

Akeylah was raised in the Eastern Reach, surrounded by whispers of rebellion and abused by her father. Desperate to escape, she makes a decision that threatens the whole kingdom.

Ren grew up in Kolonya, serving as a lady’s maid and scheming her way out of the servants’ chambers. But one such plot could get her hung for treason if anyone ever discovers what she’s done.

When the king summons the girls, they arrive expecting arrest or even execution. Instead they learn the truth: they are his illegitimate daughters, and one must become his new heir. But someone in Kolonya knows their secrets, and that someone will stop at nothing to keep the sisters from their destiny… to rule.

Magic, mystery, and blackmail abound in the first book of this sensational and striking fantasy duology.

breakdown

Series: Rule
Author: Ellen Goodlet
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Rise, to be released June 2019
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Magic, Politics
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: September 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I won’t lie, it was the cover that drew me into this read. I was browsing my library’s new additions when I scrolled across this one. I actually checked out the hardcover from my library but never got around to it. But the premise was promising. I love the drama and secrets of Pretty Little Liars (well, the TV show at least; I never read the books) and Three Dark Crowns won me over with its sequel so I was optomistic I would enjoy this one.

What I Liked:

–Multiple POVs–

I love books that follow multiple characters. I find it gives the novel a 360-degree view of everything that is happening and keeps the story moving. Even if you don’t enjoy one POV, at least you have some others to look forward to.

–Diverse Cast–

When books mimic real life (especially by highlighting prejudices and the like) I’m always invested. This book has quite the group of characters. All the girls come from different family styles, races and castes (travelers, maids, etc). You’ve also got characters that are LGBTQ (in a very normalised, not token kind of way). So in that respect, I truly found this book to deliever on diversity without it feeling like it was simply checking all the marks off.

–The Magic–

I liked how straight-forward the tithe system seemed to be. Not only is everything magic-wise easily explained but it also has limitations. One of my biggest peeves about magic is the almost unlimited power it can have but the magic here makes sense.

–The Blackmail–

I think this is where the Pretty Little Liars comparisons come in because there is someone taunting these girls with their secrets. And the secrets are pretty juicy–and contribute to the plot in a rather strong way. These aren’t petty “I know about your secret relationship” type of secrets; they run much deeper (and more complex) than that.

What I Didn’t Like:

–It Seems Needlessly Drawn Out–

Perhaps starting this book the week I was working nights wasn’t the best idea–my concentration is pretty crappy. However, I found the chapters used a lot of words to deliver very little in the grand scheme of things. I would get lost in text at times. But I will say that each chapter ended in a way that had me eager for the next one so I was a fan of that.

–Blending of the Characters–

While I praised this book for its diversity earlier on, sometimes I couldn’t tell Zofi apart from Ren from Akeylah. The “problem” is the third person narration. It isn’t very personal as it lacks the depths a first person POV can provide (ie the inner character monologue). As a result, I often had to reread the synopsis just to remember that Zofi was from “A” and her secret was “B” so I wouldn’t get the girls mixed up.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I really started to enjoy how the various plots were starting to weave together so I am very curious to see how everything with wrap up (or unravel) in the finale.

My Rating: 3.5/5

Rule 3.5/5 | Rise TBP

overall

While nothing immediately stands out about this fantasy novel, fans of the genre will enjoy this solid and diverse story.

Read if You Like: multiple POV, wordy stories
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, want more romance

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Series Review: Beta Brothers by Hazel Kelly

Series Review: Beta Brothers by Hazel Kelly

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

book4

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Friends with Benefits (from Goodreads):

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

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

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

breakdown

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

thoughts

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

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

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

The Plot:

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

The Characters:

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

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

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

The Romance:

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

updates

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

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

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

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

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

Series Rating: DNF

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

overall

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

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

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Series Review: The Cage by Megan Shepherd

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 Cage (from Goodreads):

When Cora Mason wakes in a desert, she doesn’t know where she is or who put her there. As she explores, she finds an impossible mix of environments—tundra next to desert, farm next to jungle, and a strangely empty town cobbled together from different cultures, all watched over by eerie black windows. And she isn’t alone.

Four other teenagers have also been taken: a beautiful model, a tattooed smuggler, a secretive genius, and an army brat who seems to know too much about Cora’s past. None of them have a clue as to what happened, and all of them have secrets. As the unlikely group struggles for leadership, they slowly start to trust each other. But when their mysterious jailer appears—a handsome young guard called Cassian—they realize that their captivity is more terrifying than they could ever imagine: their captors aren’t from Earth. And they have taken the five teenagers for an otherworldly zoo—where the exhibits are humans.

breakdown

Series: The Cage
Author: Megan Shepherd
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)

There is a prequel novella (#0.5) called The Caretaker

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: May 2015 – May 2017
Source & Format: ARC Paperback (The Cage); Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I actually got a paperback copy of the ARC of The Cage from Lola @ Hit Or Miss Books as a part of her giveaway three years ago. I loved the concept so I was very interested in reading it but never managed to actually get to it. Which is why I picked it as a 5 Year 5 Book Challenge 2018 pick for the year 2015; especially since the series was now complete!

The Concept / The World:

I love stories where an unlikely group of people find themselves together in a dire situation. Will they band together or will they tear each other apart? Will their secrets be exposed? It just adds to the suspense of the novel and keeps you wondering what will happen next.

When it comes to The Cage (#1), this was one of those books where I loved the concept more than the actual execution. The overall idea of why these characters find themselves in this weirdly crafted world kept my attention but the stuff in between (like romance) caused it to wane. This definitely changed in the sequel novels where I found the attention stayed on the overall plot (ie why they have been captured by the alien species and what they are going to do about it).

As for the world itself, it’s easy to grasp and definitely intriguing in its own way.

The Plot:

The plot of The Cage was very slow for me. I found the mystery of why these 6 were being kept in a cage pushed me to keep reading. But at the same time, I thought some of the other elements were repetitive. Cora in particular seems to cycle through the same plot line (attempt escape, talk to the Caretaker, repeat) and she is the character we follow for a majority of the novel. The other characters get their own POVs which was a refreshing change; however, we know all the other characters secrets early on so their POVs weren’t overly enthralling. There are some good twists near the end though.

And I thought the sequels did a good job of building on that momentum at the end of the first book. The narrative of the novels shifts away from the romances and the petty stuff and instead hones in on the bigger plot of the story: saving humanity. I really enjoyed the pacing of The Hunt and the various twists we got along the way. The Gauntlet has the same great pacing; my only reason for a slightly lower rating is my dislike of some of the plot resolutions (or at least how they are resolved).

The Characters:

I really struggled to like the characters in The Cage (#1). They all seemed a little bland to me. I wasn’t a Cora fan in the slightest though I understood her desire to escape. But I never really got the logic behind the other characters’ motivations (except Rolf) and actions. We also don’t spend a lot of time getting to know them because Cora’s chapters outweigh them, so I never really grew attached.

So in the sequel novels I found them to be the right pieces to move the story forward but I never really “connected” to any of them.

The Romance:

I did NOT see the attraction between Cassian and Cora whatsoever. Well, I guess I get Cassian’s fascination in a way but not Cora’s. The love triangle that ensues is painful to watch. Thankfully it gets toned down in the sequel novels so it isn’t a huge part of the plot moving forward.

The rest of the romances served their purposes. There was one couple in particular I was rooting to see happen so I liked that.

My Audiobook Experience (The Hunt [#2] & The Gauntlet [#3]):

I LOVED the audio version–it almost makes me wish I read the first book as an audio. The narrator does a great job giving everyone a unique voice with unique tones and accents. It was just a blast to listen to!

When to Read the Novella, The Caretaker?

I read it after I completed the series mostly because I forgot it existed 😛 You can read it for free here and I would definitely read it AFTER you’ve read The Cage because it definitely gives away some of the plot twists (plus, it’ll will give you more context if you already know the scenes).

concSLOW

Series Rating: 3.5/5

The Cage 3/5| The Hunt 4/5 | The Gauntlet 3.5/5

overall

Despite a really rough start with The Cage, I truly to end up enjoying this series. Once we move away from the petty character moments, we do get an intriguing and unique fast-paced story about humanity’s survival in the later two sequels.

Read if You Like: dystopian science fiction, romance
Avoid if You: need fast paced plot ASAP

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Series Review: Unforgivable by Ella Miles

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 Heart of a Thief (from Goodreads):

I’m the villain in most romances.
I’m a thief that steals happily ever afters.
Except unlike most romances love doesn’t conquer me, I conquer it.
I’ve stolen countless women from unsuspecting men.
Gotten my one night with them.
And then watched the heartbreak that occurs in my wake.
Love doesn’t survive once I enter the picture, if it ever existed at all.
Although, stealing Sloane might be my greatest challenge of all.

Asher is a villain trying to a put a horrible life behind him by doing the only two things he knows to do: surf and steal. Sloane is an angel that runs a charity helping children needing a fresh start. Asher will do anything to have her. There is just one problem…she’s about to marry another man.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Unforgivable
Author: Ella Miles
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Suspense
Heat Rating: Hot (BDSM: mild in Prick)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: June 2017 – March 2018
Source & Format: Own–eBook (Thief); Author–eARC (Liar & Prick)

Only copies of Heart of a Liar & Heart of a Prick were provided.

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Ella Miles is my go-to for dark romances but I really do enjoy her contemporary works as well. So I was curious to see what she would do with a series that seemed to have its darker moments but was more light than complete darkness. I guess you’d call it gray….

The Concept:

I’ll admit I was hesitant about the premise of Heart of a Thief. I’m not one for cheating in my books but I can overlook it when it is used more so as a plot device than just straight up drama. However, I didn’t find it was just used for a shock factor and there is more to this book than unfaithfulness once you see the larger plot unfold.

The nice thing about these novels is that you can read them in any order or simply read the one that strikes your fancy. So if you want to avoid Heart of a Thief because any inkling of cheating is a hard no, then skip it and carry on. And I would suggest skipping Heart of a Prick if you don’t enjoy books with some BDSM elements to them.

The Plot:

Each of these books when in a direction I never expected–but that’s usually the case with Ella Miles’ stuff. I never know what story I’m actually going to get; only that it’ll be something deeper than what the synopsis tells me. If you like drama, you’ll like these novels.

These stories strike that balance between flirty and dirty very well so I was always thoroughly entertained. They definitely have their darker moments but they are pretty tame compared to some of the other stuff out there.

The only plot that didn’t really work for me was Heart of a Prick. I just thought there were too many plot holes to keep me on board with where the story went.

The Characters:

Given the circumstances of Heart of a Thief, I’ll be the first to say it took me a long time to like Asher as a character. But with the first half of the novel told solely from his POV, I found I had enough time and development from him to appreciate his character by the end of the novel.

The rest of the characters in the other books are much more likeable from the start. However, I will say that their development gets a little stifled when the drama becomes centre stage; so I did feel like they were slightly underdeveloped by the end.

The Romance:

All these couples definitely have palpable chemistry and you can see why they are drawn to each other. I would have liked to have seen more conversations and the like between the characters to establish that emotional connection–especially in Heart of a Prick which felt very underdeveloped. But, there is plenty of steamy scenes if you are a fan of those!

Series Rating: 3.5/5

Heart of a Thief 4/5| Heart of a Liar 4/5 | Heart of a Prick 2/5

overall

If you are looking for some unique contemporary romances that have an edge of suspense and darkness to them (but not overwhelmingly so), you should check out some of the novels in this series!

Read if You Like: twists, drama, don’t mind cheating as a plot device
Avoid if You: dislike dramatic twists

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Blog Tour: Between the Sea and Stars (Lena #1) by Chantal Gadoury

Synopsis for Between the Sea and Stars (from Goodreads):

A Legend,
A Magical Shell
A Girl Who Dreamed Of Something More…

Lena, a Merrow girl, lives in the Skagerrak sea with her father, Carrick and her brother, Javelin who tells her of the legend of the Merrow Queen murdered by her human lover when greed takes over. But what’s worth spilling the queen’s blood? Gifted from Poseidon, himself, a magic shell gives any human the ability to control both land and sea.

When Javelin is called to join a clan of Merrow soldiers bent on protecting their waters from human invasion, Lena resists Merrow law and ventures to the shore with no choice but to swim to land.

With newfound legs, Lena is whisked away on a new adventure with new friends and new trouble. Everyone seems to want something from her as intrigue lurks around every corner.

Trying her best to hide who she is and remain safe from the dangers of the human world, will Lena finally find where she belongs, or will she be swept into a strong and stormy current by lust, greed, and jealousy?

Other books in the series:

breakdown

Series: Lena
Author: Chantal Gadoury
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 2 to be released
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure, Coming of Age, Romance
Heat Rating: Cool
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Date: June 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Audiobookworm–Audiobook via Audible (6hrs & 53mins)

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon / Audible

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I read Chantal’s novel The Songs in Our Hearts a few years ago and really enjoyed it (it was super cute!). So when I saw that there was an opportunity to read a non-contemporary (MERMAIDS!!!!) novel by her, I couldn’t wait to see what she could do in a different genre.

What I Liked:

–The Romance–

This surprised me in a really good way. I thought I had a good idea of where the romance would be going early on but I was so dead wrong. I love when that happens!

It isn’t a huge focus but it’s there enough to keep the story going when it needs too.

–Lena’s Character Growth–

Lena’s character story is literally one of “fish out of the water” but it provides an interesting backdrop to her character growth and development. This is very much a coming of age story for her except she has the added complications of being a mermaid now on land. I enjoyed her evolution from naive mermaid to independent young lady.

What I Didn’t Like:

–More Drama–

Like most coming of age stories, I find you kinda go through the everyday motions of life so it can become a little monotonous. But let me be clear that I never got bored with this story! It has a great flow to it and you get these little inklings of the bigger story to come along the way so it builds as you read. What I’m trying to say is that I wish the “whoa!” moment came a touch earlier so we could get into it a little more…but I guess that’s what sequels are for 😉

My Audiobook Experience:

This was such a fabulous audio listen! Right when it started to play I was fully immersed into the story and the characters. The narrator here is Dollcie Webb and she does a great job of giving all the characters their own voices so it is super easy to follow along. She has the perfect cadence for an audiobook narrator–seriously, it was such a nice read to listen to that I was finished the novel before I knew it!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

This book had a few surprises at that end that has me eager to see what will happen next!

My Rating: 3.5/5

Between the Sea and Stars 3.5/5 | Book 2 TBP

overall
If you love mermaids or want a different twist to your usual coming of age stories, pick this up!

Read if You Like: mermaids, coming of age
Avoid if You: want action

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Chantal Gadoury

Amazon Bestselling Author, Chantal Gadoury, is a 2011 graduate from Susquehanna University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing. Since graduation, she has published The Songs in Our Hearts, and The Songs We Remember, with 48Fourteen Publishing. Allerleirauh, Between the Sea and Stars, Blinding Night and WinterDream with the Parliament House Press. Chantal first started writing stories at the age of seven and continues with that love of writing today. For Chantal, writing novels has become a lifelong dream come true! When she’s not typing away at her next project, she enjoys painting, drinking lots of Iced Coffee, and watching Disney Classics. Chantal lives in Muncy, Pennsylvania with her Mom, sister and furry-‘brother’ Taran.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon | Instagram | Pintrest

 

Dollcie Webb (Narrator)

“Daydreams and whimsy with with a touch of pixie charm.”

A long-time daydreamer, Dollcie Webb has always carried a special fondness for Young Adult Fantasy literature. The poetic imagery and enticing otherworldliness call to her sense of curiosity, satisfying a deep desire to explore the world around her. A graduate of Michigan Technological University with a Bachelor’s in Theatre and Electronic Media Performance, she’s taken her experience in audio and theatrical performance and has melded the two into a career as an audiobook producer and narrator.

Narrator Links: Website | Facebook | Instagram

 

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Series Review: Cruel by K A Linde

Synopsis for Cruel Money (from Goodreads):

She was supposed to be a one night stand.

A way to sate my sexual appetite.

I let her glimpse the man I am. The face that I hide behind my carefully cultivated life. But she ripped open that divide—and there’s no going back.

Now, she’s here. In my city.

I don’t care that I’m Manhattan royalty and she’s the help.

Only that she’s living in my summer home. With me.

And I want more.

book3

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Cruel
Author: K A Linde
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)

There is a FREE prequel novella: #0.5 One Cruel Night

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes, Spin-off novel in works titled The Lying Season
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: January 22, 2019 – July 16, 2019
Source & Format: Inkslinger PR–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon

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:

When I want a romance with a wicked twist along the way, K A Linde is my go to author. She never fails to surprise me when it comes to the drama of her romances. The romance is steamy and the drama is high–just what I like!

I was excited for this new series because it seemed like something I would love. Forbidden romance. NYC. Paris. I couldn’t wait to dive in!

What I Liked:

–Natalie–

I’ll be the first to say that I had to slowly warm up to Natalie a bit. I think her anger at the start made her seem abrupt and perhaps a little rude? But as the story progressed I really loved how she grew a backbone and become confident in herself. She doesn’t become this dependent heroine, rather she really does achieve independence so I was definitely on board with that!

–The Side Characters–

As I often am with these types of stories, I immediately got sucked into the lives of the side characters. I really hope we can elaborate more on their romances and shared histories in future novels.

Cruel Intentions meets Gossip Girl

Without a doubt, Cruel Intentions has one of my all time favourite romance tropes at the heart of it (playboy falls hard for his target) but I also adore (weird I know) the manipulation of the characters. Which is where the Gossip Girl comparisons come in. I associate the Upper East Side with high drama and backstabbing frenemies and a whole lot of angst. That’s all definitely here.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Wish-Washy Penn–

Don’t get me wrong, I had a major crush on Penn. He’s charming and everything I like in my playboy heroes so I was a fan. But I had the hardest time getting a read on him. Just when I think I had him figured out, he’d do something that just seemed out of character for me. I suppose part of that is the point of the story (you don’t really know his true intentions) but it just made his character lack some stability as a character (if you get what I’m saying).

–It Seemed a Little Tame?–

I came in expecting a lot of drama and I don’t think I got as much as I wanted. Sure, the story is super angsty and there is lots of Upper East Side Drama like you expect. But everything just seemed a little more toned down than I’m used to. But I could definitely sense that things were building by the end of the novel so I’m thinking bigger things are to come!

When to Read #0.5 One Cruel Night:

I would highly recommend that you read the novella before you read #1 Cruel Money. I found that novella really highlighted Natalie and Penn’s relationship and gave me a foundation that was lacking at the start of the novel for me when it comes to the romance. It gives you their history but doesn’t give any of the big secrets away either. Plus, the novella is super great; I wish it was longer!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Things are ramping up and I can’t wait to see how all this will unfold!

How it Crosses Over with the Wright Brothers Series:

My understanding since that is one of the few K A Linde series I haven’t read (yet), that Penn and Katherine are featured as the friends of the leads in that series. You can definitely read one series without the other.

updates

–May 1, 2019– Book #2: Cruel Fortune

You can read my full review of book 2 here!

–June 14, 2019– Book #3: Cruel Legacy

You can read my full review of book 3 here!

My Rating: 3.5/5

[One Cruel Night 4/5] | Cruel Money 3.5/5 | Cruel Fortune 3.5/5 | Cruel Legacy 3/5

overall
This is perfect for fans of Cruel Intentions and angsty romance reads!

Read if You Like: Cruel Intentions, the Upper East Side
Avoid if You: dislike angsty, billionaire romances

similarreads

  • Little Black Book by Tabatha Vargo (Little Black Book Series #1)
  • I Bet You by Isla Madden-Mills (The Hook-Up Series #2)
  • Fair Game by Monica Murphy (The Rules Series #1)

 


K A Linde

K.A. Linde is the USA Today bestselling author of the Avoiding Series, Wrights, and more than thirty other novels. She has a Masters degree in political science from the University of Georgia, was the head campaign worker for the 2012 presidential campaign at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and served as the head coach of the Duke University dance team. She loves reading fantasy novels, binge-watching Supernatural, traveling, and dancing in her spare time.

She currently lives in Lubbock, Texas, with her husband and two super-adorable puppies.

Author Links: Goodreads | Website | Twitter

 

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