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Series Review: Never by Winter Renshaw

Series Review: Never by Winter Renshaw

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Never Kiss a Stranger (from Goodreads):

It was an innocent mistake…

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

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

There’s just one problem…

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

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

breakdown

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

There is a spin-off novella: Bitter Rivals

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

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

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

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

The Plot:

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

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

The Characters:

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

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

The Romance:

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

When to Read Bitter Rivals:

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

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

Series Rating: 3.5/5

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

overall

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

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

similarreads

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

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Series Review: Sexy Jerk World by Kim Karr

Series Review:  Sexy Jerk World by Kim Karr

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Sexy Jerk (from Goodreads):

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

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

Of course I say yes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And I want more of him.

The question is—does he want more of me?

breakdown

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

There is a prequel novella: #0.5 Uptown Girl

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

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

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

The Plot:

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

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

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

The Characters:

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

The Romance:

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

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

When to Read the Novella, #0.5 Uptown Girl:

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

My Audiobook Experience:

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

Series Rating: 3/5

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

overall

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

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

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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 Review: Secret Life of Trystan Scott

Series Review: Secret Life of Trystan Scott

Serial Saturdays: On the occasional Saturday, I review a serialized series (a series that is released in parts that would normally make up a whole novel) to see if the series is worth keeping up with or worth buying all its parts. Here is this week’s offering:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Collide (from Goodreads):

When Mari accidentally overhears that Trystan is in love, she can’t believe it. He’s pining over some girl that doesn’t know he’s alive. The confident swagger and endless stream of girls is a facade. It conceals his loneliness and hides how messed up he’s really become trying to flee from a life that’s battered him to his core.

Trystan tries to figure out how to make it clear how much he loves Mari, but every insincere kiss and every broken promise haunts him, because she knows them all. Now, Trystan has to prove to the one girl he’s actually fallen in love with that she’s not just another conquest.

Mari has no idea who Trystan loves, but she can tell that whoever it is has captured his heart entirely. Soon Mari sees the man behind the mask, the guy that Trystan tries so hard to hide. Everything about him is appealing, and too hard to resist.

In a moment of desperation, Trystan uploads a love song he wrote for Mari, but before he can show it to her, the video goes viral. Everyone wants to know who he is, and the only thing shielding him is an anonymous account name and some thick shadows hiding his face. Tyrstan realizes that the consequences of revealing his identity will be disastrous. Everything he’s tried so hard to hide will be exposed. It’s a secret that is impossible to keep and the only girl who he wanted to hear it will never believe him.

breakdown

Series: The Secret Life of Trystan Scott

This crosses over with the Ferro Series.

Author: H M Ward
# of Parts: 6 (Full Reading Order Here)
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult / New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: August 2012 December 2015
Source & Format: Own & Kindle Unlimited–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I don’t really remember how I found out about this series. I think I grabbed the first book as a freebie and after enjoying The Arrangement Series, I wanted to give this one a shot. I loved the concept of the uber popular guy falling for the quiet girl yet she has no idea. There’s just something so charming about the whole idea.

Format:

So the first 5 installments are Young Adult “novellas”. I think anything over 150 pages and these hover around 200 pages) would be considered a novel but that’s how they’re billed. Regardless, they are quick reads. The final part is a much longer novel that shifts away from the YA vibes and skews more New Adult.

The Plot:

Having read a few other H M Ward works prior to this, I did know to expect high drama with all-consuming romance and not a whole lot of character development. These works live up to the novella serial formula where things happen quickly and often leave you on a cliffhanger so you are obligated to pick up the next installment.

Some of the “drama” was a little much for me. Lots of communication-assumptions and situations that become soap opera-ish and melodramatic. I got a little frustrated by some of the character decisions as a result.

The Characters:

I liked Trystan and Mari well enough. I think that’s because I enjoyed their romance. Both have troubled family lives (well Mari’s was a bit of a stretch) so they bond over that. Trystan is the brooding bad boy and Mari is the quiet girl waiting in the wings. They both fulfil their roles for the story.

The Romance:

There’s just something about first love that gets me! I thought these two were super cute at the start; playing coy with their feelings by not being the first to give in. I wasn’t a fan of the final book though and how things proceeded there. Kinda tarnished the whole thing for me with the dramatics.

Series Rating: 3/5

overall

If you enjoy melodramatics and stories about fame, this series might be worth your time!

Read if You Like: drama, quick stories
Avoid if You: want more substance

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Series Review: Tempest by Julie Cross

Series Review: Tempest by Julie Cross

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 Tempest (from Goodreads):

The year is 2009. Nineteen-year-old Jackson Meyer is a normal guy… he’s in college, has a girlfriend… and he can travel back through time. But it’s not like the movies — nothing changes in the present after his jumps, there’s no space-time continuum issues or broken flux capacitors — it’s just harmless fun.

That is… until the day strangers burst in on Jackson and his girlfriend, Holly, and during a struggle with Jackson, Holly is fatally shot. In his panic, Jackson jumps back two years to 2007, but this is not like his previous time jumps. Now he’s stuck in 2007 and can’t get back to the future.

Desperate to somehow return to 2009 to save Holly but unable to return to his rightful year, Jackson settles into 2007 and learns what he can about his abilities.

But it’s not long before the people who shot Holly in 2009 come looking for Jackson in the past, and these “Enemies of Time” will stop at nothing to recruit this powerful young time-traveler. Recruit… or kill him.

Piecing together the clues about his father, the Enemies of Time, and himself, Jackson must decide how far he’s willing to go to save Holly… and possibly the entire world.

breakdown

Series: Tempest
Author: Julie Cross
# of Books: 3  (Full Reading Order)

There is a free prequel novella: #0.5 Tomorrow is Today

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult / Young Adult, Science Fiction, Romance, Time Travel
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: January 2012 – January 2014
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This series seemed to be everywhere when it first came out and I quickly marked it for my TBR; even picked it up when it was on sale at Kobo one day. But like many books on my TBR, it went unnoticed for years. In that time though, I’ve I read many other books by Julie Cross–quickly becoming a fan of her work–as well as some other time travel novels. So I was looking forward to reading this when I saw that the audio version was available at my library.

The Concept / The World:

I thought the time travelling elements were easy to understand. Jackson is learning them as you do so everything is explained nicely.

Where it did get confusing is with all his jumping around. And later on, it there are a lot more characters in the mix. Even though the dates and times are stated at the start of the chapter, there are a lot of parallel storylines happening and minor changes that can make it hard to keep everything straight.

The Plot:

I felt like things took a long time to get going in Tempest (#1) but I kinda knew that would happen with my previous Julie Cross experiences. She takes time to establish characters and plot to provide a richer read, but it just made this book seem a little underwhelming despite the time travelling aspect.

And I found it was like that in all the books. There is almost too much focus on the character development and not enough on the drama. Those moments of dramatic tension are often lost in the many character dialogue scenes. It just stopped the momentum at times and I found as the series progressed, I was getting lost in what was truly happening.

The Characters:

I’ll be straight: I wasn’t a huge fan of Jackson. He’s a bit of a self-centred guy who seems to be singularly focused on his relationship with Holly. And you’d think the romantic in me would find that devotion charming—only I didn’t. More about that below. But he just never seemed to win my seal of approval even as the series wrapped up.

There are a lot of characters and there were quite a few side characters I was particularly drawn to. But it’s interesting to see how all their stories weave together as the series progresses.

The Romance:

I really struggled with this because I wanted a fast paced time travel novel but at times, it felt like a romance novel with time travel elements. I think it’s because we were thrown into an already established romance; and one that our hero is willing to do anything for. But I just didn’t see it. Perhaps reading the novella first would have helped me bond with Holly and Jackson as a couple and root for him more to save her. (It didn’t, but I’ll explain more below).

But there is a line that one character saves to Jackson about how he doesn’t like Holly and Jackson to be a couple I definitely agreed with him. In fact, I actually shipped them both with other people. I thought those relationships were stronger. Timestorm (#3) does see their relationship (as well as Holly as a character) get a little more fleshed out but by then I was over their romance.

When to Read the Novella #0.5 Today is Tomorrow?

I read it after I read Tempest (#1) but you could read it before or anytime in the series. I didn’t get much out of it and it didn’t help me become a fan of their romance but it’s always nice to get bonus scenes.

My Audiobook Experience:

The audio production is great. It’s easy to listen to.

However, I do think I would have enjoyed this series more if I had read it as a physical book. I think I would have been able to follow the timelines better and not have struggled so much remembering characters. It’s hard with audiobooks to pickup sometimes where you left off because you can’t flip back to read the subheading of the chapter, etc.

Series Rating: 3/5

Tempest 3/5 | Vortex 3/5 | Timestorm 3/5

overall

I think I’m in the minority for this one. If you enjoy more character driven non-contemporary stories this is a great read. Though I recommend not reading the audiobook if you struggle to remember things in novels.

Read if You Like: time travel, non-contemporary New Adult
Avoid if You: want a faster paced novel; action

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Series Review: The Royals by Erin Watt

Series Review: The Royals by Erin Watt

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 Paper Princess (from Goodreads):

From strip clubs and truck stops to southern coast mansions and prep schools, one girl tries to stay true to herself.

These Royals will ruin you…

Ella Harper is a survivor—a pragmatic optimist. She’s spent her whole life moving from town to town with her flighty mother, struggling to make ends meet and believing that someday she’ll climb out of the gutter. After her mother’s death, Ella is truly alone.

Until Callum Royal appears, plucking Ella out of poverty and tossing her into his posh mansion among his five sons who all hate her. Each Royal boy is more magnetic than the last, but none as captivating as Reed Royal, the boy who is determined to send her back to the slums she came from.

Reed doesn’t want her. He says she doesn’t belong with the Royals.

He might be right.

Wealth. Excess. Deception. It’s like nothing Ella has ever experienced, and if she’s going to survive her time in the Royal palace, she’ll need to learn to issue her own Royal decrees.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: The Royals
Author: Erin Watt (aka Jen Frederick and Elle Kennedy)
# of Books: 5 (Full Reading Order)

There is a novella: #3.5 Tarnished Crown

Book Order: Chronological (#1-3) and Connected Sequels (#4-5)
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult / New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: Warm **spicy YA**
Point of View: First Person, Single; First Person, Alternating (#2 onwards)
Publication Dates: April 2016 – March 2018
Source & Format: Own–eBook (Kobo)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I had Paper Princess on my radar for a long time but the potential soapy-ness of it all scared me a little. But after I read (and adored) Erin Watt’s When It’s Real, I immediately made plans to bump this up on my TBR. And once I discovered that this was an author duo whose individuals works I’ve enjoyed in the past, it seemed like a no-brainer to pick it up. That’s why it was a 2019 5 Year 5 Book Reading Challenge pick for the year 2016.

The Concept / Genre Classification:

While this does take place in high school (which I classify as YA), it definitely has more New Adult undertones to it; especially when it comes to the sexual content.

The first 3 books focus on Reed and Ella but the 4th and 5th books focus on Easton. However, they all follow a chronological order of events so it is best to read them in the order they are listed as on Goodreads.

The Plot:

These books definitely read like your favourite teenage soap opera drama. You’ve got mean girls; hook-ups; backstabbing; angst; sexual tension and secrets–and not just from the teenagers, the parents are just as bad 😉

But that makes for an addicting read in many ways. Yes, some of the moments were a little too overdramatic for my tastes (the antics that Ella finds herself in especially) but it worked within the context of the story. Or at least I thought that was the case with the first three books; not so much with the last two novels.

I think some people would classify it as a “guilty pleasure” read if they don’t read many contemporaries novels.

The Characters:

Ella is a fighter and I appreciated her blunt honesty at times; she’s not ashamed of herself or her past and that was refreshing. At times, she is perhaps a little melodramatic but I understood her actions.

As for the Royals, they are all as captivating and intriguing as you want them to be. Each brother is unique and has their own air of mystery around them. It was fun to watch their antics as well as see that deeper side to their characters.

The Romance:

In Paper Princess (#1), I wasn’t totally sold on the romance between Ella and Reed. I could definitely feel the lust but I thought the “deeper” connection they kept feeling wasn’t really elaborated on. That changed in Broken Prince (#2) though; it became more apparent to me why they were drawn together and how great they could be together.

However, that wasn’t the case with Easton’s two novels. I was really disappointed in the romance there. I just didn’t see it at all.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

There are no further books planned featuring the brothers–BUT, I wouldn’t be opposed to the twins getting their own novel(s) one day 😉

Series Rating: 4/5

Paper Princess 4/5 | Broken Prince 4/5 | Twisted Palace 3/5 | [Tarnished Crown 4/5] | Fallen Heir 3/5 | Cracked Kingdom 3/5

overall

If you love drama and teenaged angst in your reads, this is the series for you!

Read if You Like: angst, drama, older YA reads
Avoid if You: dislike contemporaries

similarreads

  • The Heir by M J Prince (Dynasty Series #1)
  • Bully by Penelope Douglas (Fall Away Series #1)
  • Last to Know by Micalea Smeltzer (Willow Creek Series #1)

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Single Sundays: xo, Zach by Kendall Ryan

Single Sundays: xo, Zach by Kendall Ryan

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 xo, Zach (from Goodreads):
The first time we met was at a party.

Your ex arrived to show off the person he’d left you for last month, and you asked me to pretend to be your date.

I was more than happy to help. You were attractive, smart and witty–and that kiss we shared? It left me wanting you for days.

The second time we met was in my office on campus where we were both surprised to discover you were the new master’s degree student in poetry that I would be working with. You promised to be professional. I did no such thing.

The late nights and intense study sessions spent alongside you majorly throw me off my game. I want you, and I fight with myself daily over this fact.

I know I’m crass, that my sexual innuendos and dirty mouth annoy you, but I live for those two bright spots of color in your cheeks. If that’s the only reaction I can get out of you, I’ll gladly take it.

You hate Mondays so every Monday I slip an anonymous poem into your bag and your smile gets me through the week.

I think I’m falling for you, and I know it’s wrong. I know that I’m only supposed to be the adviser to your program and nothing more, but here’s the thing. I think you’re falling for me too.

xo, Zach

breakdown

Author: Kendall Ryan
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: January 23, 2018
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I can’t remember how I had heard about this book. I might have read a synopsis for it while reading another Kendall Ryan title. Regardless, I loved the synopsis and it was the perfect book to pick up to counteract the denser fantasy novel I was reading.

The Plot:

This book was a great reminder of what a solid contemporary romance novel can be. It had great character chemistry; a moving plot; and character growth. It didn’t get caught up in melodrama nor sexy times. It was just well rounded.

Now, it was a little cheesy near the end but the cute moments along the way allowed me to graze over that. And while it was a little ridiculous that Poppy couldn’t put two and two together about the notes.

The Characters:

I love confidence in a romantic hero and I think sometimes authors think that means that he needs to be an alpha or an asshole to exude that confidence. But confidence doesn’t equate ego. So it was so refreshing to meet Zach. He’s such a charmer and downright nice guy. But he knows what he wants and he knows how to respectfully get it.

And I loved watching Poppy grow as a person. I get her “I can do it myself” attitude but it was great to see her learn that being independent doesn’t mean you can’t ask for help.

The Romance:

While this isn’t exactly a forbidden romance—it’s probably classified as a “off-limits” since he isn’t her teacher, just an adviser–the nature of their positions adds some great tension to their already strong chemistry. It was great to watch their journey together.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

An engaging romance novel that has strong characters, great chemistry and a solid plot!

Read if You Like: contemporary romance,
Avoid if You: want erotica, dislike lighter romance

similarreads

  • Four Years Later by Monica Murphy (One Week Girlfriend Series #4)
  • Keep Me by Faith Andrews (Grayson Siblings Series #1)

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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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Single Sundays: Mr Prescott by Carlos Dash

Single Sundays: Mr Prescott by Carlos Dash

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 Mr Prescott (from Goodreads):

I’m the Mayor of London.

I’ve come to New York purely on business. The usual boring meetings with other politicians.
I don’t expect my time here to be exciting in the slightest.

But who’s that woman I met this morning? No, girl. That would be a more accurate term for her.
She’s only twenty-one years old. A college student. Someone who shouldn’t get mixed up with a guy
like me.

But I can’t get her out of my mind. Every single time I close my eyes, I see her face.
How can someone I just met do this to me? That’s the kind of stuff that happens in movies. Not real life.

I know this will be a dangerous risk for me, but I can’t help it. I want her. I need her.
And whatever it may do to my career, I won’t stop until I have her.
***
Mr. Prescott is a standalone New Adult Romance novel told entirely from the point of view of the male lead.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Worst Read of 2019
Author: Carlos Dash
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Erotica
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, POV
Publication Date: August 2017
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I think this book crossed my radar when I saw it in a Blog Tour Company’s sign-up email. I can’t remember why I didn’t sign up (maybe it was for a blitz and not a review?) but I put it on my Amazon Wishlist and waited for it to go on sale. I kinda forgot about it after I bought it but when I needed a quick read, this one popped up and it sounded like what I needed.

The Concept / The World:

From the start, I struggled with the whole idea that as a Mayor, Prescott had so much power and influence over people in a COMPLETELY different city. If he was in London, sure, I could see how tossing his name around to the book store owner would freak him out. But doing it in NYC? Doesn’t seem probable to me. I couldn’t even name you the Mayor of London currently but maybe I’m just out of touch and am ignorant of the way people of authority in the world are.

The Plot:

There isn’t much here. Basically they meet and have sex a couple times. Everything happens over the course of a couple days which is usually how it goes in romances but this seemed too fast for me to even call it whirlwind. And the dialogue was so weak and minimal it didn’t add anything to the story.

The Characters:

While I usually like my romances to be dual POV stories, some of my all-time favourite romances are Male POV Only (Tangled by Emma Chase for example) so when I find one, it’s always a special treat. This wasn’t.
I couldn’t tell if it was a man writing the dialogue or a woman writing what she thinks a man would have for an inner monologue but it was rough. (For the record, “Carlos Dash” is a pen name for a married couple so it could be either). But it was almost overly crude with its word choices.

And because there wasn’t much to the story, there wasn’t much depth to the characters either.

The Romance:

I adore forbidden romances and I’m still searching for a great “age gap” romance. This one is slightly misleading because Nathan Prescott is 38, Nicole is 21. Yes, she is young but when I think age gap I guess I think of someone much older.

Add to it, the complete lack of chemistry between these two and it was a disappointment for sure.

My Rating: 1/5

overall

Because I needed the read for my 2019 Goodreads Challenge, I stuck with this novel because of its short page length. But there are a lot of flaws with it for romance enthusiasts.

Read if You Like: short reads
Avoid if You: want a strong romance

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