Tag «Second Chance»

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

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  • 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: 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: Game for It by Karen Erickson

Series Review: Game for It by Karen Erickson

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 Game for Marriage (from Goodreads):

He’s going in deep to make her his…

Struggling artist Sheridan Harper never imagined she’d spend a sizzling night with Jared Quinn, the smoking-hot star quarterback of her local professional football team, the San Jose Hawks. And she’s even more shocked when Jared’s publicist offers her a proposition: a fake marriage to keep Jared out of the gossip mags. Being that close to Jared would be too tempting, so to protect her heart, she insists on secretly including a clause forbidding sex between them.

Jared just wants to keep his starting QB job and keep it in San Jose. His reputation as a ladies’ man has landed him in the headlines one too many times, but there’s something about his kind, passionate new wife that tempts him beyond reason. Any sort of intimacy between them is completely forbidden, but as their bodies fall in deep, will their hearts follow suit?

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Game for It
Author: Karen Erickson (aka Monica Murphy)
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: January 2013 – November 2014
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I think I found out about this series after I finished Erickson’s Worth It Series but I’m not sure. All I know is that in the time since I picked up Game for Marriage as a freebie, I’ve read many of Erickson’s works as Monica Murphy so I was excited to dive back into her world of adult romance.

The Plot:

If you love the fake relationship trope, this is the series for you! Honestly, all three of these books focus on some form of a “arranged relationship” so I really liked that.

But these books just skim the surface of everything. They focus on the sexy times and don’t delve too deep into the characters’ pasts anymore than they need to. And you’ve got your classic little white lies that blow up into something huge simply for the sake of drama. All of that just left me feeling like I was missing that little je-ne-sais-quoi to take these books to that next level.

The Characters:

They’re all likeable albeit somewhat bland. Again, it comes back to not really developing them all that much for the sake of sex scenes. They do their job at delivering the story.

The Romance:

While I love sexy times as much as the next reader, I also like conversations between my romantic leads. So while they had tangible sexual chemistry, that deeper connection was missing for me a little–especially when everything plotwise seems to happen within a month or less.

Series Rating: 3/5

Game for Marriage 3.5/5 | Game for Trouble 3/5 | Game for Tonight 3/5

overall

If you want quick, flirty romance reads this is a great series to pick up!

Read if You Like: quick romance reads
Avoid if You: want deeper plots and characters

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Series Review: Dirty by Laurelin Paige

Series Review: Dirty by Laurelin Paige

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Dirty Filthy Rich Men (from Goodreads):

When I met Donovan Kincaid, I knew he was rich. I didn’t know he was filthy. Truth be told, I was only trying to get his best friend to notice me.

I knew poor scholarship girls like me didn’t stand a chance against guys like Weston King and Donovan Kincaid, but I was in love with his world, their world, of parties and sex and power. I knew what I wanted—I knew who I wanted—until one night, their world tried to bite me back and Donovan saved me. He saved me, and then Weston finally noticed me, and I finally learned what it was to be in their world.

And then what it was like to lose it.

Ten years later, I’ve found my way back. Back to their world. Back to him.

This time, I’m ready. I’ve been down this road before, and I know all the dirty, filthy ways Donovan will try and wreck me.

But it’s hard to resist. Especially when I know how much I’ll like it.

breakdown

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

There are a spin-off Series: Dirty Games Duet, Dirty Sweet Duet

Author: Laurelin Paige
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here) (Dirty Universe Reading Order)

There is a free prequel novella: #0.5 Dirty Filthy Rich Boys

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Retelling, Dark
Heat Rating: Smokin’ (Kink: Major | BDSM: High)
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: March 2017 – September 2017
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I read anything by Laurelin Paige without much thought because I just love everything that she writes. But this series in particular was one of my more highly anticipated reads by her. I’ve been craving a new darker contemporary romance and this seemed like it would fit the bill.

The Concept:

I’m not at all familiar with the movie Sabrina (1954 version or the 1995) so the basis for this story was a little lost on me. (I read the synopsis of the movie on Wikipedia so I was able to draw the allusions after the fact). But if you are, I’m sure you’ll love this take on the story. And if you aren’t, there is this anticipation from not knowing that will hook you in!

The Plot:

This is a story that is driven by the relationship of the major characters and there was just something so freaking addicting about their lives that had me completely invested.

I found sometimes things seemed to be a little repetitive in the narrative. I really noticed it in Book #2 Dirty Filthy Rich Love where we seemed to watch Sabrina rehash the same sentiments again and again. But perhaps I was just being picky about it.

The Characters:

Sabrina was a great lead to follow; she has everything I like in a strong heroine for a romance novel like this. Her independence was great.

Donovan is such an enigma–and the mystery around his character was so addicting to read! In the same breath, I wanted more from him in Dirty Filthy Rich Men. I found we seemed to rehash the same stuff with him again and again when I wanted a new layer to add to his evolution. His character evolves in the sequel though.

The Romance:

I was worried that there would be a love triangle given the synopsis but you’ll find out early on that isn’t really the case (and if you read the novella you’ll already know that).

I really loved the chemistry and the tension between these two. It’s thick and twisted (and that will definitely turn people off and away from this story; especially if you are triggered by/references to sexual assault) but I couldn’t get enough of it! And they actually,y took time to communicate with each other which I always appreciate!

When to Read #0.5 Dirty Filthy Boys:

Definitely read it before you start Dirty Filthy Men! While it gives away the slight mystery about why Sabrina hasn’t seen these guys in 10 years, it provides a lot more context about the relationship (and Sabrina’s character) than I thought the first few chapters of the novel did.

The Dirty Universe:

This duet is the start of what Laurelin Paige refers to as her Dirty Universe. Basically, each duet follows one of the guys that work/own the company. You see little inklings of each of the spin-offs here and parts of the Dirty Games Duet take place during these novels. There is a full reading order on Paige’s website to guide you but you can definitely read each series on its own and in any order if one is not to your tastes.

Series Rating: 4/5

[Dirty Filthy Rich Boys 4/5]| Dirty Filthy Rich Men 4/5| Dirty Filthy Rich Love 3/5

overall

I think some people will struggle with the darker nature of the romance but for those who like darker romances, this is great!

Read if You Like: dark romances, loosely based on other stories
Avoid if You: dislike dark romances, are triggered by rape/sexual assaults

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Single Sunday: Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren

Single Sunday: Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren

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 Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating (from Goodreads):

Hazel Camille Bradford knows she’s a lot to take—and frankly, most men aren’t up to the challenge. If her army of pets and thrill for the absurd don’t send them running, her lack of filter means she’ll say exactly the wrong thing in a delicate moment. Their loss. She’s a good soul in search of honest fun.

Josh Im has known Hazel since college, where her zany playfulness proved completely incompatible with his mellow restraint. From the first night they met—when she gracelessly threw up on his shoes—to when she sent him an unintelligible email while in a post-surgical haze, Josh has always thought of Hazel more as a spectacle than a peer. But now, ten years later, after a cheating girlfriend has turned his life upside down, going out with Hazel is a breath of fresh air.

Not that Josh and Hazel date. At least, not each other. Because setting each other up on progressively terrible double blind dates means there’s nothing between them…right?

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Author: Christina Lauren
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: September 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a huge Christina Lauren fan. Since I started following their work, the novels seem to only be getting better and better. If I want a fun, steamy but still fully developed contemporary romance, they are a great go-to.

This book gets a lot of great reviews from my fellow bloggers and seems to be uber popular at my library. Which is probably why it took me the better part of the year to get my hold for the audiobook.

The Plot:

This novel was just executed flawlessly. From the slow burn romance of friends to something more to the scenes of individual character growth, I loved listening to this story unfold. We never dwelled long on the past but  we had enough moments to really cement the present events. It was just a really easy read to get lost in.

The Characters:

I ADORED these two! Both of them are so quirky and fun, with really big hearts. They had some great banter which is always a treat. I immediately fell in love with each of them.

The Romance:

The slow burn builds at the perfect pace. You get those little sparks along the way so you know something epic is going to happen but it doesn’t take forever to get there. That allowed them to get this really solid foundation together and I love that in my romances.

My Audiobook Experience:

This was so much fun to listen to! I loved having these characters brought to life through the audiobook!

My Rating: 5/5

overall

If you want a fun but sincerely contemporary romance, pick this up!

Read if You Like: slow burn romance, second chances
Avoid if You: dislike contemporary romance

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Series Review: If Love by Ana Huang

Fresh Fridays: If We Ever Meet Again (If Love Duet #1) by Ana Huang

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

If Love Duet

booksynopsis

Synopsis for If We Ever Meet Again (from Goodreads):

One year, two opposites, and a love that will blindside and, ultimately, shatter them.

She’s an aspiring interior designer who dreams of falling in love.
He’s an ex-football star who thinks love is a con.

She’s a virgin, and he doesn’t do virgins.
He’s cocky, infuriating, and not her type.

She wants the fairytale.
He wants freedom.

Blake and Farrah shouldn’t have fallen for each other the way they did: totally, completely, and irrevocably.

Because they’re studying abroad in Shanghai, and they only have one year.

Because forces at home threaten to rip them apart, even if they don’t know it yet.

And because, eventually, they must face the most heartbreaking lesson they’ll ever learn: sometimes, even the greatest love can’t conquer all.

breakdown

Series: If Love
Author: Ana Huang
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: June 30, 2020 — December 2020
Source & Format: Author–eARC | Thank you Ana Huang!

Copies Provided for Books #1-3

thoughts

**This post was originally published as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When Ana asked me to review her newest novel, I easily accepted for a few reasons. First, I loved the premise of a year abroad in Shanghai. Second, I liked that this is a duet of books about the same couple. I find we rarely get those series about the same couple anymore. We tend to get a single book and then the next book is about a different couple. But this one has somewhat doomed start so I was eager to see what she had in store for us!

What I Liked:

–The Setting of Shanghai–

A lot of novels that have the year abroad or the expat premise to it tend to take place in European countries (or at least the ones I’ve come across are). So I was excited to explore this new setting. I’ve always wanted to go to Shanghai but this has me really dying to explore it!

–The Bittersweet Tone of the Romance–

The story starts with a bang by showing the relationship’s eventual demise. Knowing that things aren’t going to end well for these two gives this story a bittersweet tone when we start to see their relationship from the start. But the “sweet” outweighs the “bitter” if you ask me and I was totally in love with these two.

–The Struggle With Intimacy–

I just loved how real their romance was. They struggle a little with their intimacy and I really appreciated how that was all handled. I thought that was a real approach for a character like Farah who really hasn’t had that stronger physical intimacy before. I find a lot of romances portray the virginal heroine as some one who is immediately great in bed in all aspects so it was refreshing to watch these two explore that deeper connection together and talk about it.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Almost Too “Hot and Cold” At the Start–

The first few chapters were a little bumpy for me. I thought their hot and cold attraction was a little too cold on Farah’s end; I didn’t really see how she would be attracted to Blake besides his physical appearance. But once those deeper feelings started to come to the surface as they spend more time together, I was really onboard with their romance. It kinda went from 0 to 100 though and I would have liked another chapter of them hanging out as friends to really cement their connection.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I will admit, I shed a tear or two near the end even knowing how it would end early on still didn’t prepare me for how much I would feel for their inevitable breakup. I can’t wait to see their second chance!

updates

–July 14, 2020– Book #2: If the Sun Never Sets (*copy provided*)

This was SO good! The chemistry these two have–even when they try not to–is so palpable. I really loved the character growth here and how they not only evolved in the 5 years since they broke up, but how they grew once they reunited. Yes, there were a few frustrating moments but I think that’s because as the reader, you see how obvious it is that these two belong together. It’s a solid sequel and conclusion to this second chance duet.

I really hope we get to see some of these characters again!

–October 26, 2020– Book #3: If Love Had a Price (*copy provided*)

This was great and unexpected in a lot of ways. Ana has managed to blend genuine characters and drama together in a way that seems like this could happen to anyone, anywhere. And this is a book packed with a lot of aspects to it in terms of the characters and their drama.

I really loved Kris when we first met her in the series, so it was nice to uncover her character a little more.

–July 9, 2021– Book #4: If Love We Were Perfect

I’ve wanted this book since the first one in the series…and I couldn’t imagine a better way to wrap up this great series.

I loved how these two talked to each other. Yes, they were reactive but they always took a breath and looked at it rationally. It helped stop some of the useless drama other contemporary romances seem to thrive on.

But it was a second chance romance where you knew how they felt and why. I fell in love with their story all over again.

My Rating: 4/5

If We Ever Meet Again 4/5 | If the Sun Never Sets 4.5/5 | If Love Had a Price 4/5 | If We Were Perfect 5/5

overall

This was a great read! As I read more and more about their story, I was super invested and addicted to finding out what happens next. I’m definitely keeping an eye out for future releases by Ana.

Read if You Like: love stories, set aboard, New Adult Romance
Avoid if You: want erotica, dislike romance

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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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Series Reviews: The Callahans by Monica Murphy

Fresh Fridays: Close to Me (The Callahans #1) by Monica Murphy

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

The Callahans Series

book book book book6

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Close to Me (from Goodreads):

Asher Davis. My first crush.

My first kiss.

The boy who ripped my heart out of my chest again and again. Over and over. I let him have it every single time.

Willingly.

We are that toxic high school couple you hear about, the one you witness in the hallway avoiding each other. You laugh at them in class when they’re forced to work together, their gazes full of hatred. We are the couple you gossip about when they win homecoming prince and princess their sophomore year…

The back and forth is what kills me the most. I’m not his princess, I’m the girl he toys with when he’s bored. And he’s definitely not my prince, no matter how badly I want him to be.

Our senior year and we’re months away from never having to see each other again when disaster strikes—and brings us closer together. All it takes is one touch, and I’m burning for Ash. Hotter than I ever have.

But will that burn turn into a devastating fire? Or can we actually make it work this time?

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: The Callahans

This is a spinoff of the One Week Girlfriend Series.

It has its own spinoff: The College Years Series

Author: Monica Murphy
# of Books: 6 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected + Direct Sequel (#3 & #4)
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: February 2020 – ongoing
Source & Format: Kindle Unlimited–eBook; Author–ARC (#3, #5 only)

Books #3 & #5 only

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

**This post was originally published as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Drew and Fable (One Week Girlfriend) hold a special place in my heart. Their novel was one of the first New Adult Romances I ever read and therefore helped set a standard for what I look for in a NA read. I love their relationship and their story.

So getting to watch their kids fall in love? YES PLEASE!

How Does It Compare To The Original?

Just like the original series, I was sucked right in by these two. The back and forth moments from their past had me hooked to see what would happen next. Monica Murphy can write great tension between her leads, making the slow burn all that sweeter.

Another thing I really loved–that we don’t often see in YA–is great supportive parents. Part of Drew and Fable’s issues in their respective stories is their shitty parents so it was great to see them break from that cycle and be great, supportive parents. It was amazing to see what an impact parental relationships can have on a YA story.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

I do think I could have done without the few chapters from Ash’s perspective. Because most of the book is told by Autumn, I had built up this idea of Ash and his feelings so sometimes his POV chapters seemed to contradict what I have perceived earlier.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Very excited to see who will fall in love next!

updates

–October 26, 2020– Book #2: Falling for Her

While I thought his novel was super cute, I struggled a lot with the pacing. In some ways, it felt longer than it needed to be but it also allowed for the romance to have a slow burn to it that I rather enjoyed when all is said an done. Developing their friendship and having Jake work on himself a bit allowed the romance to be deeper than I initially thought it would be presented as.

–October 26, 2020– Book #3: Addicted to Him

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Addicted to Him at 13% (Start of Chapter 14).

So when I discovered who Ava would fall in love with, I was very excited. We got little tidbits in the previous novel and that just stoked the flames a little higher for me so I couldn’t wait.

OH BOY, this was a mess from the start for me. It’s such a shame too! But our hero turned me off by the end of Chapter 1 with his behaviour and I had a hard time seeing how the Ava I had come to know in the other books would fall for his shit.

I did give it a few more chapters to work itself out. After all, I love a good redemption story. But alas, he did not redeem himself and I found their romance to be problematic as a result. My Goodreads review explains it better here. And knowing that their story continues in another book, I bowed out.

–October 26, 2020– Book #4: Meant to Be

Because this is a direct sequel to book #3, Addicted to Him, I did not read this installment

–July 12, 2021– Book #5: Fighting For You

I didn’t read the book where these two are introduced but I was immediately sucked into their story. Normally I don’t like being thrown into a book where it’s assumed you know something about the characters because they were in a previous book. So I didn’t need to be overly familiar with their past because I wanted to see their future.

I thought both characters really matured throughout the story and went about their circumstances in a healthy way. It was positive and heartwarming but also had a good dose of reality along the way.

My Series Rating: 4/5

Close to Me 4/5 | Falling for Her 3/5 | Addicted to Him DNF | Meant to Be N/A | Fighting for You 4/5 | Making Her Mine TBP

overall

While it was angsty and the drama does get a little over the top at times, this is an addicting romance for new and returning fans–if you read the first two books. I didn’t like the content of the 3rd book nor how it continued into a duet. But Book #5 reminded me how great Monica Murphy’s romances can be.

Read if You Like: angsty YA romance, supportive parents
Avoid if You: dislike YA contemporary romance

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Single Sundays: For Lila, Forever by Winter Renshaw

Single Sundays: For Lila, Forever 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 For Lila, Forever (from Goodreads):

The words “For Lila, forever” adorned the front of the envelope in blue ink, the handwriting all too familiar. But it didn’t matter what it said. I didn’t have the heart to open it.

We couldn’t be together.

Not after everything …

Leaving Rose Crossing, Maine was one of the most painful moments of my life—or at least it was until the day I came face-to-face with Thayer Ainsworth again.

After a decade of searching, he’s found me, and he wants to know why I quit my housemaid job and left his family’s island estate without so much as a goodbye. But I’m bound by a devastating secret much bigger than the two of us, and telling him the truth has consequences.

Looking into the eyes of the only man I’ve ever loved, I tell him the only thing I’m allowed to: never contact me again. And when he’s gone, I sit down and finally open his letter.

Only it isn’t a letter at all.

And it changes everything.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Author: Winter Renshaw
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: April 25, 2019
Source & Format: Hidden Gem Reviews–eARCs

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

At this point, I’ll read anything by Winter Renshaw but this one was especially intriguing. I love second chance romances that are plagued by family secrets and this one sounded like that exactly.

The Plot:

I had a pretty good idea of how this story would go given the synopsis, but like most of Winter Renshaw’s work, she managed to surprise me. This is a solid second chance story yet at the same time, it isn’t in some ways. I loved that we start in the past and get to see their relationship first hand. And then comes the results of the fallout as you slowly link the past with the present. I think it’s this linking of that past and present that makes this book feel different than your everyday second chance romance. These characters really have to work for it.

Which makes for an exciting story. I was thoroughly addicted to it and had a hard time putting it down. There’s just this incredible flow to it that sucks you in as a reader.

The Characters:

I really liked both of our leads. They have enough to them to carry the story and keep me satisfied with their development.

The Romance:

While I really liked these two together (they’re so sweet!), I had a hard time getting over the shortness of their romance and their very deep feelings that arise in that time frame. We do get to see them interact a lot which helped to solidify their connection when they first meet. But some thing was just missing for me; perhaps it felt a little rushed? I get that it is a summer romance but these two fall very fast and I just needed a little more from them.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

Regardless, this is the PERFECT read if you want something bingeworthy to read (especially in one sitting!)!

Read if You Like: second chance romances, summer love
Avoid if You: contemporary romances
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