Tag «Rating: 3.5/5»

Series Review: Girl in Luv by Jay Crownover & Rebecca Yarros

Series Review: Girl in Luv by Jay Crownover & Rebecca Yarros

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 Girl in Luv (from Goodreads):

Langley Vaughn is in desperate need of a date.

But not just any date.

She’s looking for a date to the wedding from hell. It isn’t every day you’re forced to be in the bridal party while your first love marries your arch nemesis… otherwise known as the world’s worst stepsister. The entire situation is a nightmare, and Langley is sick and tired of taking orders and forcing a fake smile. She’s done being the bad guy when she was the one who was wronged.

She needs to find a date who’s not afraid of her family’s money and someone who is willing to shake things up. She needs someone outside of her normal social circle, someone ready to go to war with the well-to-do. She needs someone who won’t back down. Someone willing to play the complicated game of tug of war she’s been engaged in with her family for years.

Never in a million years did she think she was going to stumble across her very own heroic heartthrob when she set her crazy plan in motion.

Not only does Iker show up for her time and time again, he also forced her to finally fight for herself.

He says he’s only there for the money… but his actions speak so much louder than his words.

Iker Alvarez would do anything and everything to get his hands on some quick cash.

Not just any cash, but enough to make sure his younger brother gets into the college of his dreams.

Thank goodness for a desperate, pretty little rich girl with too much money and her heart set on an outrageous scheme. Being in the right place at the right time might just be the answer to both of their prayers — and this smart soldier has never let a golden opportunity slide by.

Iker doesn’t mind coming to Langley’s rescue and being her plus-one… as long as the price is right.

Only, he didn’t plan on liking the blonde socialite as much as he does. He is totally unprepared for the pull he feels toward her, coupled with his growing desire to protect her from the vultures and villains living under the same roof.

He wants to be the guy who keeps her safe and gives her the courage to fight back that she obviously needs… But someone else, someone far more powerful and influential than Langley’s wealthy family, has dibs on Iker’s time and on his future. He knows he isn’t the guy Langley can count on in the long run, but damn if he doesn’t want to do everything in his power to be that man.

breakdown

Series: Girl in Luv Duet
Author: Jay Crownover and Rebecca Yarros
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: October 2019
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I really enjoy both of these authors’ individual books so I was excited to see what they could to together. They write such solid characters with tragic pasts and the right amount of angst, so I knew what to expect going in.

The Plot:

At times, I felt like not a lot was happening in this book. I honestly think you could have condensed both books into one novel and cut out some of the drier parts. There are some great scenes along the way but other parts just felt like filler to me.

The Characters:

This story could have been a super angsty read but there was just enough to drive this story. It brought these characters down to earth in some ways and I appreciated that. Both of our leads are sweet people with chips on their shoulders so watching them find that middle ground with the other was great.

The Romance:

I really loved the chemistry between these two. I understood the draw to each other and how they could fall in love. And that tension and burn between them really helped to drive the story.

My Audiobook Experience:

I probably could have read these books much faster than I did by listening to the audiobook but I still enjoyed the production and how it provided some depth to the characters by hearing their conversations and inner monologues.

Series Rating: 3.5/5

Girl in Luv 3.5/5 | Boy in Luv 3.5/5

overall

If you want a quick, tension filled read this is a great duet to pick.

Read if You Like: New adult, fake romance trope
Avoid if You: dislike couple stories spread out over multiple books

similarreads

  • Eyes Turned Skyward by Rebecca Yarros (Fight and Glory Series #2)
  • Rule by Jay Crownover (Marked Men Series #1)

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Single Sundays: The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller

Single Sundays: The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller

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 Shadows Between Us (from Goodreads):
Alessandra is tired of being overlooked, but she has a plan to gain power:

1) Woo the Shadow King.
2) Marry him.
3) Kill him and take his kingdom for herself.

No one knows the extent of the freshly crowned Shadow King’s power. Some say he can command the shadows that swirl around him to do his bidding. Others say they speak to him, whispering the thoughts of his enemies. Regardless, Alessandra knows what she deserves, and she’s going to do everything within her power to get it.

But Alessandra’s not the only one trying to kill the king. As attempts on his life are made, she finds herself trying to keep him alive long enough for him to make her his queen—all while struggling not to lose her heart. After all, who better for a Shadow King than a cunning, villainous queen?

breakdown

Author: Tricia Levenseller
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magic, Romance
Heat Rating: warm **suggestive content**
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: February 25, 2020
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I noticed that my library had this book, it didn’t immediately click for me that Tricia Levenseller wrote The Daughter of the Pirate King. A novel I really enjoyed for its wit and kickass heroine. So when I read the description of this novel and realized she was the author, I was pretty excited to dive in.

The Concept / The World:

Alessandra hooks you in from the start with her devious plans. Her drive for power and to obtain it at any costs is usually something we only see in male characters so I appreciated it here immensely. Watching her execute her plan is delicious fun.

I worried that the magic elements here would be too much but I found it was balanced well. It isn’t an overly complicated world or system by any means. So much so that you almost forget it’s a factor until it pops up again.

The Plot:

I was hooked into this book from the start as I watched the schemes begin. But then things got a little dry for me as we approached the first half. The latter half of the novel picks up as all the plot lines start to converge.

I did want a little more from the plot though. I thought that all the big “WOW” moments felt subdued, particularly around the long running mysteries. They didn’t pack as much punch as they should have in my opinion.

The Characters:

Like I said earlier, I really liked Alessandra’s character. Her rebellion isn’t unique per say but I found her character to be unique how she carries herself and thinks 5 steps ahead. I always appreciate cunning heroines and she certainly is.

The Romance:

I thought Alessandra had great chemistry with the King…when they actually shared a scene together. I think their relationship could have been more in focus for the first half. It falls to the wayside a bit and that’s a real shame. I didn’t see this big life changing bond forming between them, though I could see how it would one day. I just craved more scenes of them together.

My Audiobook Experience:

A very entertaining listen. I usually listen to audiobooks while in the car or while doing something else but this one made me want to stop and just listen.

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

Whilst entertaining, it didn’t WOW me like I wanted it to.

Read if You Like: kickass heroines, magic
Avoid if You: dislike morally questionable leads

similarreads

  • Keturah & Lord Death by Martine Leavitt
  • Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller (Daughter of the Pirate King Series #1)
  • Graceling by Kristin Cashore (Graceling Realm #1)

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Series Review: Love Unexpectedly by Lauren Layne

Series Review: Love Unexpectedly by Lauren Layne

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Blurred Lines (from Goodreads):

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

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

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

breakdown

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

thoughts

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

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

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

The Concept:

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

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

The Plot:

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

The Characters:

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

The Romance:

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

My Audiobook Experience:

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

Series Rating: 3.5/5

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

overall

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

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

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Series Reviews: Rainbows by J J McAvoy

Series Reviews: Rainbows by J J McAvoy

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 Black Rainbows (from Goodreads):

After an erotic one-week fling with a musician she meets in a bar, Thea Cunning never expects to see Levi Black again. Then Monday morning comes around, and she discovers that her former lover is not only her professor, but he’s also one of the top criminal lawyers in the state of Massachusetts.

With everyone in class vying to be one of the twelve disciples—a group of twelve students that Professor Black takes under his wing—tensions run high. Thea considers dropping his class, given their passionate week together and their undeniable chemistry. After all, there are other (less infuriatingly sexy) law professors on campus.

But to accomplish her goal and get her father out of prison, Thea knows she needs to learn under the best of the best—and that’s Levi Black.

But can she learn under the best, without being under the best?

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Canadian Author
Series: Rainbows
Author: J J Mcavoy
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: May 2015 – February 2017
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This book was on a list of my “Recommended for You” reads by Kobo. I love New Adult romances and at the time I was buying a ton of them from Kobo because my library just didn’t have them. But I never did bring myself to buy the book. Eventually, my library did get a copy of it so I finally got around to reading it!

The Plot:

This series was refreshing in a lot of ways for me. The first few chapters alternate between the past (their one week together) and the present and that amplified their chemistry together. It just brought this tension to the chapters in the present because you could see how into each other they were.

I thought at times we got a little too sidetracked by the legal cases. I didn’t need as much detail as we got. To some degree I understand the idea that it helps develop the characters but I’m not one for legal procedures or lawyers so my interest waned sometimes.

Just a note that Rainbows Ever After is a novella epilogue. It’s a full novella (~90 pages) so it is quite extensive. Again, the legal focus was something I wasn’t into but it does highlight some of the insecurities Thea has.

The Characters:

I loved the diversity of the cast! Thea is black, Levi is white but that doesn’t stop them (as it shouldn’t) from falling in love. In some ways, I was glad that their difference in races wasn’t a focal point because it really shouldn’t matter or be an obstacle to their love. But in the same breath, there are prejudices that they may have to face so I would have liked it to be a little more prominent here. To be fair, it is highlighted a more in Rainbows Ever After so that rounded it out for me in the end.

The Romance:

This doesn’t follow the usual routine of your forbidden professor/student relationship and the consequence that could occur; rather, it focused on them trying to see if they could be in any relationship. That approach has positives and negatives for me because I love the tension the forbidden brings and I missed that a bit but you couldn’t deny their connection either.

Series Rating: 3.5/5

Black Rainbow 4/5 | [Rainbows Ever After 3/5]

overall

If you are looking for a refreshing take on the “forbidden romance” this is a great one for you to grab!

Read if You Like: lawyers/legal procedures, forbidden romance
Avoid if You: want the “forbidden” aspect to be more angsty

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Single Sundays: Trillion by Winter Renshaw

Single Sundays: Trillion 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 Trillion (from Goodreads):
Trey Westcott—devastatingly gorgeous. Intimidatingly brilliant. Powerful beyond belief.

A man with all the money in the world—literally.

As the first trillionaire in existence, my boss lives a life most people can only dream of. Anything he wants—anything at all—is a snap-of-the-fingers away.

But when the coldhearted magnate snaps his fingers and requests me for a six month stint on his arm playing the role of his devoted fiancée, he makes an offer I can’t refuse.

And so I don’t.

But I make it clear that for the next 180 days, he’ll have my time, my body, my attention, my discreet professionalism—everything except my heart.

It’s not for sale.

Because all the money in the world can’t change the secret I’ve kept the last ten years. A secret that complicates the very business deal I’m to help him secure. A secret that makes the undeniable tension between us all the more forbidden.

Trey Westcott can have anything he wants … but he can never have me.

Even if he’s all I’ve ever wanted.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Author: Winter Renshaw
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: August 6, 2020
Source & Format: Author–eARC | Thank you Winter Renshaw!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

If you are in the market for a different type of romance, Winter Renshaw is the author for you. She always manages to write these bittersweet romances with a flare of dramatics that are unlike anything you’ve read before. And I love a good fake relationship story so this was a no brainer for me.

The Plot:

I really like the idea and the last 30% was great; but the pacing was just a little off for me. I think because you get the flashbacks to Sophie’s history and her story early on, you lose some of the suspense of her secretive past. So I felt like we were just going through the motions during the first half and it reached a bit of a stale point.

The Characters:

The second half is much stronger. It’s a different type of contemporary romance (which is what I expect with Winter’s novels) so it really has a harder edge to it that fascinates me as a reader because it challenges the characters. Once they were pushed, I felt like their reactions helped to evolve them as characters.

The Romance:

I think I’m in the minority about this one but I also wasn’t entirely sold on the attraction between the leads. Their banter hadn’t won me over mostly because I felt like they didn’t have that much. It was a lot of longing but not a ton of substance to back it up besides a few brief encounters.

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

I love a good fake fiance story and this one was definitely unlike one I’ve ever read before.

Read if You Like: fake relationships, billionaire romances
Avoid if You: want erotica
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Single Sundays: Sincerely Carter by Whitney G

Single Sundays: Sincerely Carter by Whitney G

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

Synopsis for Sincerely, Carter (from Goodreads):

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

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

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

Never thought about it.
Never wanted to.

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

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

breakdown

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

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

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

The Plot:

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

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

The Characters:

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

The Romance:

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

The Extended Epilogue–Sincerely, Arizona:

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

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

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

Read if You Like: friends to lovers, standalones
Avoid if You: are seeking a little more polished plot
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Single Sundays: The Body Electric by Beth Revis

Single Sundays: The Body Electric by Beth Revis

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 Body Electric (from Goodreads):

The future world is at peace.

Ella Shepherd has dedicated her life to using her unique gift—the ability to enter people’s dreams and memories using technology developed by her mother—to help others relive their happy memories.

But not all is at it seems.

Ella starts seeing impossible things—images of her dead father, warnings of who she cannot trust. Her government recruits her to spy on a rebel group, using her ability to experience—and influence—the memories of traitors. But the leader of the rebels claims they used to be in love—even though Ella’s never met him before in her life. Which can only mean one thing…

Someone’s altered her memory.

Ella’s gift is enough to overthrow a corrupt government or crush a growing rebel group. She is the key to stopping a war she didn’t even know was happening. But if someone else has been inside Ella’s head, she cannot trust her own memories, thoughts, or feelings.

So who can she trust?

breakdown

Author: Beth Revis
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Suspense
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: October 6, 2014
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I adored Revis’ Across the Universe Trilogy. It’s pretty much a gold standard for YA Science Fiction Suspense novels for me. So I was eager to see what she would do next and I immediately bought The Body Electric when I saw it on sale one day. Like most novels I buy, I read it years later but my anticipation was still high for this one and that’s why it was on my 5 Year 5 Book Challenge in 2019.

The Concept / The World:

The world is very dystopian in its delivery and I loved that. It’s a very rich world (especially when you read the author’s note at the end and see all the layers she added to it with her research). At times though, the many descriptions of the world throughout the novel get in the way of delivering the plot.

The Plot:

I hate to say it: but you could easily cut out the first third of this novel and still get the point across. It took this novel so long to get anywhere and I felt like we were regurgitating the same things over and over at the start. Yes, some things that we learn at the start are important to the end but a lot seemed like filler.

The last half of this book is great. Twist after twist and the seamless weaving of various elements made for a fast paced, thrilling last few chapters to this novel.

The Characters:

Everyone is pretty well developed and if they aren’t, we learn more about them as the story progresses and what their role is.

I really liked the unreliable narrator aspect of Ella’s character. It added to the suspense of the story and kept the gears going in my head trying to figure out what happened to her memories.

The Romance:

Not a huge factor here but one that plays nicely off the other plot devices. It’s used extremely well here.

concSLOW

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

A solid, true SciFi novel that despite its slower start will have you hooked by the end.

Read if You Like: science fiction, unreliable narrators
Avoid if You: dislike slow starts
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Series Review: Boys of Oak Park Prep by Callie Rose

Series Review: Boys of Oak Park Prep by Callie Rose

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 Savage Royals (from Goodreads):

A long time ago, I was one of them. Now I’m back, and they hate me for it.

Plucked out of the harsh life I was living and thrust into a world of unimaginable wealth, power, and privilege, all I want to do is keep my head down and survive until graduation.

But they have other plans—Mason, Finn, Elias, and Cole.

Everyone at my new school calls them the Princes, and that’s exactly what they act like. They always get what they want… and who they want.

And they want me.

I’m not sure why, since they all seem to hate me.

The Princes are gorgeous, flawless, and cruel. They own this town, and they’re determined to own me too.

To break me.

What they don’t know is that I’ve already been broken once.

I won’t let it happen again.

breakdown

Series: Boys of Oak Park Prep
Author: Callie Rose
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult / New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Bully, Dark
Heat Rating: Warm *spicy YA*
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: May 2019 – July 2019
Source & Format: Kindle Unlimited–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

So I actually found out about this series from one of my favourite authors: Piper Lawson. She recommended this series as a binge-worthy KU read in her January 2020 Newsletter and I was intrigued.

High School Bully Romances seem to be all the rage again (remember Bully by Penelope Douglas years ago?) and I’ve tried out a few because I love enemies-to-lovers romances–but have had mixed results. But I love Piper’s writing style and we have similar reading tastes so I took her recommendation to heart and put them on my KU reading list.

The Concept:

If you don’t enjoy darker contemporary reads, I wouldn’t recommend you read this. I’ve definitely read more disturbing YA bully romances (like A Hurt so Sweet for example) than this is but it lives up to the title of “savage” to say the least.

The Plot:

This is definitely one of the better “high school bully” romances I’ve read. It wasn’t filled to the brim with overt shock factor moments but the events were dramatic enough to keep the stakes raised. I would have liked more of an overarching plot (maybe more hints about Talia’s mom’s past or even Talia’s childhood) but we get enough to drive the plot forward.

The third book lagged a bit for me, but the ending earned some bonus points from me.

The Characters:

Are layered! I really liked Taila as a lead. She’s a fighter and it takes a lot to bring her down. Unlike other heroines in the genre I’ve encountered, she actively seeks out her bullies and has a plan to stand her ground. She doesn’t cave in at the first sign of affection.

As for the “Princes”, they were quite the group. They kinda reminded me of The Raven Boys in how they interact with each other sometimes. I liked them and it was interesting to watch them evolve as the series progressed.

The Romance:

I always get a little scared when I see the words “reverse harem”. I immediately think about Zoey from The House of Night Series and how irritating her harem romances were. So I was pretty cautious about this when I started.

And I’m still a little on the fence about it. One positive is that it added an intriguing layer to the plotline that I haven’t encountered in this genre before. (Most of the time there is only one love interest, maybe one other rival). It put an interesting spin on it and I liked that it wasn’t the sole focus of the books either. But in the same breath, I wasn’t entirely convinced that she had romantic feelings for all of them either.

Series Rating: 3.5/5

Savage Royals 4/5 | Defiant Princess 4/5 | Broken Empire
3/5

overall

I think a few aspects will turn off some readers like the sexual content around high schoolers and the reverse harem. But if you enjoy darker readers or are an avid fan of the high-school-bully-romance trope, then this is a quick series to binge.

Read if You Like: high-school-bully-romance trope
Avoid if You: dislike sex scenes in YA

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Series Review: Retrieval by Aly Martinez

Series Review: Retrieval by Aly Martinez

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 Retrieval (from Goodreads):

One story. Two couples.

I proposed on our first date.
She laughed and told me I was insane. Less than a day later, she said yes.
It was a whirlwind, but we were happy…
Until we got greedy and wanted a family.

It was a life I couldn’t give her, not for lack of trying. Fertility just wasn’t on our side. We sought out doctors and treatments. Spent money we didn’t have. Lied to our families. Smiled for our friends. Put on a brave face for a world that didn’t understand.
Finally, we were successful…
Until we were forced to bury our son.

We were left broken, battered, and destroyed.
They say love is in the details, but it was the details that ruined us.

This is the story of how I took back what had always been mine.
The retrieval of my wife and our family.

breakdown

Series: Retrieval Duet
Author: Aly Martinez
# of Books: 2 (Series Reading Order)
Book Order: Chronological Events
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Romance, Second Chance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: September 2016
Source & Format: Own–eBook (#1); Kindle Unlimited (#2)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I found Retrieval as a freebie from one of the book deal emails I subscribe to. What drew me into it was the fact that this couple struggled with fertility–a topic that isn’t always covered in romances (or at least the ones I read). It didn’t sound like your everyday second chance romance and I was excited to read it.

The Concept:

The following line from the synopsis is key:

One story. Two couples.

You’re not just getting Elisabeth and Roman’s story and it’s important to remember that. Everything gets clearer the further into the story you are.

The Plot:

The plot completely surprised me. It went in a direction I didn’t expect–and I loved the suspense that brought out! I’ll admit, it is a little confusing as the start, trying to figure out how it all connects; but like I said above, the further you read, the more it makes sense.

However, the dramatic moments are broken up by the romance and sometimes I felt like it stifled the movement of the plot. This was particularly the case in book #2 Transfer. The pacing was off a bit for me there and I got a little bored of the repetitive scenes.

The Characters:

All the characters are well developed and likeable. I was immediately drawn into their stories and histories. Because we hop around between the characters I was impressed by how fleshed out they were.

But, I do have a little rant for something Roman did in Retrieval:

Spoiler for Retrieval about Roman

When Roman goes to convince Clare that he is there to help her (knowing full well that she is likely abused by her husband), he forcefully grabs her. Why would you do that to a woman you know is abused? Do you think frightening her will bend her to your will? Why should she trust someone who does exactly what her husband does? This irked me to no end when it happened. He is a little too brash for my tastes.

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The Romance:

Surprisingly, this isn’t as important as I expected it to be. The romances are great don’t get me wrong and they do their job to enhance the story when needed.

Series Rating: 3.5/5

Retrieval 4/5 | Transfer 3/5

overall

This isn’t your everyday second chance romance. It has a suspense edge to it with some great twists that will suck you in!

Read if You Like: second chance romances, romantic suspense
Avoid if You: dislike suspense

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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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