Tag «sports»

Spin-off Saturdays: Rush by Shae Ross

Single Sundays: Rush by Shae Ross

Spin-off Saturdays: On Saturdays, I will review a series that is a spin-off series. It is recommended that you read the original series first in order to get the most out of the spin-off series. Here is this week’s offering:

Rush is a spin-off of the Pretty Smart Girls Series

Synopsis for Rush (from Goodreads):

Priscilla Winslow has a mouth that spits fiery sarcasm faster than I can throw a touchdown. But I’ve wanted her ever since I saw her in that Bo Peep outfit on Halloween. Yep, I’m a sheep who will follow that little hottie anywhere. There’s one problem…she hates me. Just because we ended up in jail and quite possibly ruined both our futures…

They’re changing the rules…

College Quarterback, Preston Rush is living the dream. He’s leading his team to the National Championship and days away from earning a ‘first round draft pick’ label. When he meets Little Bo Peep at a Halloween party, he thinks he’s scored big. Instead, he wakes up in a jail cell with the corseted beauty. Because of him, she’s in trouble and when he discovers her true identity, he realizes, his nightmare is just beginning.

The always shooting for perfection Priscilla Winslow can’t believe her good deed has cost her soccer career. Even though she knows it isn’t Preston’s fault, she can’t forgive him for the disaster that is her life. She just wishes her damn body would get the message. Every time she sees him, it’s all she can do not to kiss him.

When everything crashes down around him, Preston will have to decide if doing the right thing is worth losing it all.;

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Author: Shae Ross
Series: This is a spin-off of the Pretty Smart Girls Series
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: May 9, 2016
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Well, I’ll be honest and admit that the cover is what grabbed my attention. But then, when I saw the other I was really intrigued. I really enjoyed the first book in Shae Ross’ Pretty Smart Girls series so I knew that I would find this sport romance entertaining and snagged myself a copy. Little did I know that this was a spin-off of sorts–Priscilla is the sister of the lead of Book #2 in that series, Fearless.

The Concept:

Priscilla and Preston’s paths cross unexpectedly at a Halloween party off-campus in one of the more unique meet-cutes I’ve encountered.

But what I really liked about this book was that it tackled the gender inequality in sports teams at a college level. Priscilla is  soccer star in her own right but outside forces deem that as the quarterback for a number one ranked team, Preston’s resolution is more important than her own. And I liked how those external forces impacted their relationship and tested them.

The Plot:

I liked that there were quite a few layers to this plot. You’ve got the sexual tension between Preston and Priscilla that they are both fighting because they want to concentrate on their sporting careers. You’ve got the legal ramifications of their meet-cute. You’ve got the secretive reason why that event even happened in the first place. Basically: there is more to this story than two sports stars falling in love.

I will say though that the start was a little slower for me. I dunno if it was the writing style or just the way the characters interact for the first few chapters, but I was little off at the start of this book. But once I got into it a little more and saw the bigger picture, it was more enjoyable.

The Characters:

I really liked all the characters we meet, including our leads. Everyone has their own unique personality to them so that made it fun to read about.

The Romance:

Personally, I wanted  a little more “get to know you” from these two. While I saw why there were a good match on paper given their individual monologues, I didn’t see them interact that much besides unexpected kisses. I wanted to watch them get to know each other on a slightly deeper level because they are two interesting characters but I don’t know if they knew that…

concSLOW

My Rating: 4/5

overall

Perfect for fans of unique meet-cutes and sports romances!

Read if You Like: college sports, romances, original plot lines
Avoid if You: want more erotica, dislike New Adult
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Series Review: Blocked by Jennifer Lane

Series Review: Blocked by Jennifer Lane

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 Blocked (from Goodreads):

College freshman Lucia Ramirez has a secret crush on Dane Monroe. He’s a tall drink of water — blond, brash, and one hell of a volleyball player. ¡Híjole! Lucia hopes her volleyball scholarship to his school will make him notice her.

Too bad what’s noticeable is Dane’s obvious hatred for Lucia. Her family’s politics contradict everything he stands for. And politics are front and center in both their families. Dane’s mother is about to face Lucia’s father in the race for US President.

When Secret Service throws them together, Dane can’t deny his frustrating attraction to Lucia’s athletic curves and sweet faith in the world. Amid the intense pressure of college athletics and presidential politics, can opposites not just attract, but overcome overwhelming odds to be together? Or do their differences block their match from the start?

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Series: Blocked
Author: Jennifer Lane
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports, Politics
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: October 2014 – October 2016
Source & Format: Own–Kindle (Blocked); Kindle Unlimited

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ll be honest, I think I got this series mixed up for another when I was selecting my 2019 5 Year 5 Book Challenge Titles. I blame the very similar covers. (The book I’m thinking of is Love Garage by Liz Crowe). Regardless, I thought  the premise for Blocked was very interesting; especially in the politically charged environment we find ourselves in today.

The Concept:

While the political system is quite different where I live in Canada, I know enough about the American system to understand why the “hate to love you trope” is quite the obstacle for our leads to overcome. I’ve read books in the past where modern politics are a theme but never to the levels that are displayed here. By no means are the characters preachy to the reader; but various views are expressed throughout the novels and they are used well as plot devices.

Another major theme in these novels is sports and how athletes balance sports and their everyday lives. There is a big emphasis on therapy and counselling–which I loved. Mental health is often something shied away from in novels and I liked how these books broke down the stereotypes and included the sessions in the scenes.

The Plot:

For me, all of these books had a weird pacing to them. We spend so much of these novels focusing on the individual characters and their stories that the romance gets a little lost in the shuffle. It all felt a little repetitive to me at times; and more often than not, it felt like we were trapped in the mundane of everyday life. I’m not sure how else to describe it other than it could have used a little polish to fine-tune everything.

The Characters:

First, hats off for diverse characters! It was awesome to read about Latino and Black leads and get that layer to our characters.

What I didn’t like about the leads was the maturity level…or the lack of a higher one. I get that they are freshman in college but I don’t think anyone talks like that as freshmen (or maybe I’m just getting old). I wasn’t a fan of how we would go from serious conversation about therapy to wanting to “bonk” the girl. Nope. It was almost like a parent was trying to be “hip” with the kids but used all the wrong slang…

The Romance:

While I could see the draw to all the romantic pairings (they had a lot of common interests with the exception of politics), I wasn’t entirely sold on them either. They all seemed to be based on lust and some unspoken connection that never gets built upon. For the majority of the story we get their individual stories and then in one instance they are a couple and declaring everlasting love. And perhaps the romance is just a small piece of the story the author wants to tell but I went into this series thinking it was the main one…thus my disappointment.

Series Rating: 3/5

Blocked 3/5 | Aced 3/5 | Spiked 3/5

overall

I think I had the wrong set of expectations for this series. The premise is refreshing and if you want more politics in your contemporary reads, pick this up! But I think it needed a little polish to get the pacing just right.

Read if You Like: modern politics, sports
Avoid if You: like more romance
similarreads

  • Dirty English by Isla Madden Mills (English Series #1)
  • Unbreakable by Rebecca Shea (Unbreakable Series #1)
  • Pretty Smart Girls by Shea Ross (Pretty Smart Girls Series #1)

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Single Sundays: Touching Down by Nicole Williams

Single Sundays: Touching Down by Nicole Williams

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 Touching Down (from Goodreads):

The whole world might be in love with him. But all he’s ever loved is her.

Grant Turner’s name is synonymous with football. The fans and media can’t get enough of the player known as The Invincible Man, a nickname he earned while growing up in one of the toughest neighborhoods in the country and the nickname he’s kept by being one of the best players in professional football today. No one can take him down. He’s unstoppable.

But even a suit of armor has its weak point, and Grant’s has always been Ryan Hale.

They were a couple of kids when they fell in love, and just when it looked like the happy ending neither expected was within reach, Ryan disappeared. No explanations. No good-byes.

Grant coped by throwing himself into the game for seven years, and he’s finally moved on. Or so he thinks.

When she walks back into his life, all of those feelings come crashing back, despite the warnings in his head that tell him she’ll leave him again. Grant can withstand the league’s toughest defensive line, but he’s always been weak where she’s concerned.

No man can take Grant Turner down.

But one woman certainly can.

One woman will.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Author: Nicole Williams
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Second Chance, Sports
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: October 8, 2016
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Nicole Williams is the author who first introduced me to the world of New Adult romance and I’ve repaid the favour by picking up any book I can of hers…with mixed results. But I was hoping her Adult romance in Touching Down would break the funk I’d been having with her titles when I randomly picked it up to read for my Tackling the TBR 2019 Challenge.

The Concept:

The heart of this story is a second chance romance which is usually fine and dandy with me. But this one just had too many logistical pot-holes to have me fully on board. The reasons for the separation; the choices Ryan has made over the years and some other things had me going “really, that’s how this all plays out?”. Everything seemed like it was played out to an extreme and it just made it all seem unnecessary.

The Plot:

I think I was two chapters in when I figured out all the major twists that were going to happen. Nothing surprised me about the drama except the reason for the separation.

There are some extenuating circumstances that come to light and instead of enhancing the story, I actually think they dampened it. Nothing really gets elaborated on and we just gloss over those opportunities for character growth or plot developments.

The Characters:

I thought Ryan was an idiot–I didn’t understand a single choice she made in the last 7 years with the exception of one. Grant was so stereotypical and boring I forgot he was there half the time.

The Romance:

I always say this in second chance romances that I review but you have to show my why these two people should reunite after all this time. And this novel did not do that. I’m not sure why these two even loved each other besides proximity and shared tough experiences.

My Rating: 2/5

overall

I really wanted to like this but I just wasn’t overly impressed with this story.

Read if You Like: second chance romances, football stars
Avoid if You: want a strong romance novel

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Spin-Off Saturdays: Briar U by Elle Kennedy

Spin-Off Saturdays: Briar U by Elle Kennedy

Spin-off Saturdays: On Saturdays, I will review a series that is a spin-off series. It is recommended that you read the original series first in order to get the most out of the spin-off series. Here is this week’s offering:

Briar U Series is a spin-off of the Off-Campus Series

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Canadian Author, Must Read Author
Series: Briar U

This is a spinoff of the Off-Campus Series.

Author: Elle Kennedy
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, The Play (#3), will be released October 2019
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports, Hockey
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: August 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Own–eBook (Kobo)

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

thoughts

My Expectations?

I LOVED the Off-Campus Series! It’s one of the best NA series out there; especially if you love sport romances. I was craving more as soon as the series ended so I was super happy when Elle Kennedy announced she had a spin-off series in the works.

How Does It Compare To The Original?

It pretty much has all the same magical elements as the original series. You’ve got a great mixing of romantic tropes to drive the plot; genuine, unique characters (both leads and side characters); lots of hockey time; and some guest appearances by the original leads.

I think one of the main highlights though is how well the romantic pairings work. Never once did I doubt why these characters are drawn together. Elle Kennedy does a great job of developing individual characters while building up a great partnership (that’s more than just lust or some innate connection) and I think it really shows in these novels as much as it did in the original series.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

I had some pacing issues with the second book, The Risk. I thought the synopsis was slightly misleading about what the actual plot would be so I was expecting something a little different. But I still really enjoyed the story despite that fact and it’s more so a personal hang-up than anything else.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

When I read Off-Campus, all but one of the four books had been released so I always knew who the couples would be for the next book. Not the case with this series! It’s been a lot of fun to wait and see who will star in the next book. We get little clues as we await the release both in the novels and if you follow Elle Kennedy’s reader newsletters. I definitely have a few people I would love to get full books for so we will have to see!

Series Rating: 4.5/5

The Chase 5/5 | The Risk 4/5 | The Play TBA

overall

Fans of the Off-Campus Series will not be disappointed with this brand new series. And those new to the world will definitely find themselves entertained!

Read if You Like: New adult romance, hockey
Avoid if You: dislike contemporary

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Chase (from Goodreads):

Everyone says opposites attract. And they must be right, because there’s no logical reason why I’m so drawn to Colin Fitzgerald. I don’t usually go for tattoo-covered, video-gaming, hockey-playing nerd-jocks who think I’m flighty and superficial. His narrow view of me is the first strike against him. It doesn’t help that he’s buddy-buddy with my brother.

And that his best friend has a crush on me.

And that I just moved in with them.

Oh, did I not mention we’re roommates?

I suppose it doesn’t matter. Fitzy has made it clear he’s not interested in me, even though the sparks between us are liable to burn our house down. I’m not the kind of girl who chases after a man, though, and I’m not about to start. I’ve got my hands full dealing with a new school, a sleazy professor, and an uncertain future. So if my sexy brooding roomie wises up and realizes what he’s missing?

He knows where to find me.

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Blog Tour: Boyfriend Bargain by Ilsa Madden-Mills

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

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

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

If only he knew she was alive.

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

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

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

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

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

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

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

The Plot:

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

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

The Characters:

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

The Romance:

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

Why I’m SO EXCITED There is a Sequel:

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

My Rating: 3.5/5

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

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

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Ilsa Madden-Mills

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

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

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

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

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

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon

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Series Review: Outer Banks Tennis Academy by Jennifer Iacopelli

Series Review: Outer Banks Tennis Academy by Jennifer Iacopelli

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

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Game. Set. Match. (from Goodreads):

Nestled along the North Carolina coast, the Outer Banks Tennis Academy is the world’s most elite training facility. In this pressure-cooker environment, futures are forged in blood and sweat, and dreams are shattered in an instant.

Penny Harrison, a rising female star, is determined to win the French Open and beat her archrival, Zina Lutrova. But when her coach imports British bad boy Alex Russell as her new training partner, will Penny be able to keep her laser-like focus?

Tennis is all Jasmine Randazzo has ever known. The daughter of two Grand Slam champions, she’s hell-bent on extending her family’s legacy and writing her own happily-ever-after…until her chosen Prince Charming gives her the just-friends speech, right before the biggest junior tournament of the year, the Outer Banks Classic.

With a powerful serve and killer forehand, newcomer Indiana Gaffney is turning heads. She’s thrilled by all of the attention, especially from Jack Harrison, Penny’s agent and hot older brother, except he keeps backing off every time things start heating up.

With so much at stake, dreams—and hearts—are bound to break.

breakdown

Series: Outer Banks Tennis Academy
Author: Jennifer Iacopelli
# of Books: 3 (Full Series Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Sports, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: warm *spicy YA*
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: May 2013 – ongoing
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I was a tween, there was this Canadian TV drama called 15/Love that was set at a tennis academy and followed teenage tennis up-and-comers. It wasn’t the greatest show ever (in terms of acting) but I did get addicted to the drama of relationships and athletics.

I’m not entirely sure how this one crossed my radar but I liked the athletic approach. I also liked that it would be told by multiple leads because I find I enjoy contemporaries more when told that way.

The Concept / The World:

I’ll be the first to say that I’m not overly familiar with the tennis world. While I understand the game of tennis, I’m pretty clueless about how one becomes a professional tennis star. I was a little worried that I would get lost in that aspect of the story but that was never the case. Everything is kept to the basics or explained in a way that the reader will immediately understand so don’t let that deter you.

The Plot:

The synopsis gives the impression that this series is all about the romances but there is a strong focus on character development as well once you start reading. I thought there was a great balance in this respect and was pleasantly surprised that the character growth is so prevalent. More on that below.

Add to that some drama and some high stake situations and I was completely addicted to the story. It moves at a great pace and you can’t help but want to keep reading!

The Characters:

Usually I am a fan of multiple POVs because it pretty much guarantees that I will enjoy at least one character’s POV. (This does fail sometimes: City Love is a great example). HOWEVER, that wasn’t the case here at all!

That doesn’t mean I immediately loved all the leads though. This is where character development and growth truly enhanced the reading experience. As you learned more about the girls and their pasts, you are able to understand why they act the way they do. I don’t mind angsty characters so long as it is “justified” (meaning explained) to me while I read. Even better is that you get to see them change as a result and I really enjoyed that aspect. This is very much a character driven series.

The Romance:

Definitely a highlight for me! I really liked all the pairings for the girls and the resulting drama and character growth that comes from these relationships!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I really hope the third book gets published. While things are wrapped up at the end of Losing Love, it didn’t feel complete to me at all. So I’m eager to get the closing chapters on these girls’ stories.

Series Rating: 4/5

Game. Set. Match. 4/5 | Losing at Love 4/5 | Book 3 TBA

overall

This is a great contemporary sports read for those who want a somewhat lighter tone to their read but still has solid character growth and swoon worthy romance.

Read if You Like: sport stories, tennis, contemporary
Avoid if You: dislike multiple POVs
similarreads

  • For Everly by Raine Thomas
  • Catching Jordan by Miranda Kinneally (Hundred Oaks Series #1)

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Series Review: Him by Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy

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 Him (from Goodreads):

They don’t play for the same team. Or do they?

Jamie Canning has never been able to figure out how he lost his closest friend. Four years ago, his tattooed, wise-cracking, rule-breaking roommate cut him off without an explanation. So what if things got a little weird on the last night of hockey camp the summer they were eighteen? It was just a little drunken foolishness. Nobody died.

Ryan Wesley’s biggest regret is coaxing his very straight friend into a bet that pushed the boundaries of their relationship. Now, with their college teams set to face off at the national championship, he’ll finally get a chance to apologize. But all it takes is one look at his longtime crush, and the ache is stronger than ever.

Jamie has waited a long time for answers, but walks away with only more questions—can one night of sex ruin a friendship? If not, how about six more weeks of it? When Wesley turns up to coach alongside Jamie for one more hot summer at camp, Jamie has a few things to discover about his old friend… and a big one to learn about himself.

Warning: contains sexual situations, skinnydipping, shenanigans in an SUV and proof that coming out to your family on social media is a dicey proposition.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fav Author(s)
Series: Him
Author: Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy
# of Books: 2 (Him, Us)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, MM Romance, Sports, Hockey
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: July 2015 – March 2016
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When two of your favourite authors co-write a series together, you know the expectations are high. I love Bowen and Kennedy’s work respectively so the fact that they wrote a MM romance together had me eager to read it. I’ve really become a fan of MM romance over the last 2 years thanks to some great authors telling some even better stories. So I was STOKED when I managed to snag these two books on sale for my Kobo.

The Plot:

I really enjoyed the balance these novels had between the character development, romance and the drama. They just had a great flow to them that kept me hooked on their every word.

And the tension! GAH! In Him (#1), we don’t know exactly what happened between Jamie and Wes (Ryan) right away. Instead, we get little snippets of their last summer at camp together until we finally get the big reveal. I just loved the anticipation that brought to the story.

The Characters:

I really loved both our leads. Jamie is such a sweetheart and I enjoyed watching him grow into the man he becomes. I found his approach to his sexual identity was refreshing and realistic as well. And Wes is also a great guy. I loved his attitude and approach to everything. He has this maturity to him that I also found refreshing.

The Romance:

There is no denying the great chemistry these two have. Boy oh boy, their scenes together are steamy! But for me, I wanted a little more emotional connection in Him. I got the attraction between these two physically but I wasn’t entirely sold on why the boys liked each other. Sure they have a lot in common and have been close friends for years, but I needed a little more to see why they would make great partners for each other in the long run.

Which we get to see in Us (#2). I found this book really tested their relationship in a realistic way and that reaffirmed for my why they are a good match for each other and why they love each other. We still get plenty of steam but the emotional connection between the guys is the main focus.

Series Rating: 4/5

Him 4/5| Us 4/5

overall

This super sexy read is great for new and returning MM romance fans!

Read if You Like: mm romance, sports romances, hockey
Avoid if You: dislike steamy scenes

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ARC Review + Blitz: Defensive Play by Jamie Deacon

Synopsis for Defensive Play (from Goodreads):

One glance is all it takes to bring his defences crashing down…

Seventeen-year-old Davey has never made friends easily. Shy, geeky, crippled with social anxiety, he feels isolated from his peers, and only his position as defender for the school football team fills the void of loneliness. On the pitch, his deft footwork has earned him the respect and acceptance of his squad, though at a price. Desperate to hold onto this camaraderie, Davey conceals the truth from everyone, even his own family.

Then, during the annual Brookshire football tournament, his eyes meet those of a rival player across the field and a spark flares between them, one neither boy can deny. Adam is everything Davey longs to be—confident, popular, comfortable with his sexuality. Davey aches to explore their connection, to discover where it might lead, but how can he follow his heart and risk rejection by his teammates, the closest thing to friends he has ever known?

Other books in the series:

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Series: Boys on the Brink
Author: Jamie Deacon
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order:  Standalone
Complete?: Unsure
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Sports, LGBT, MM Romance, Realistic Fiction
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: November 30, 2018
Source & Format: Author–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon / KoboiBooks

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Over the course of the last year, I’ve had tremendous luck with gay romances; specifically, adult sport ones. So when Jamie asked me to read his newest YA sports novella, it just seemed like an obvious “yes” to me.

The Plot:

I always worry when I pick up a novella that things will seemed rushed or underdeveloped; but I’m happy to say that wasn’t the case here! This was a quick read but one that packs a lot of punch and love into it.

And it is also so genuine! I could easily see this story happening in real life and I think that’s part of the charm of it. The problems and insecurities these characters have could happen to anyone and are likely happening right now. It’s just a beautiful story that doesn’t rely on overdramatic plot devices to be an entertaining read.

The Characters:

I loved watching Davey become confident in himself. I think his story is one many people (boys and girls, regardless of sexual orientation) can relate to–finding the confidence in who you truly are. He transforms before your eyes and I always appreciate that in my stories.

Adam is this great counterpart to Davey’s story in so many ways. He isn’t perfect–he too has had some bumps along the way–but I think that makes this story all that more charming by showing off those all too human qualities. It would have been great to get his POV as well but I learned enough about his through Davey to be satisfied with his character.

The Romance:

Simply put: adorable! I loved the slow burning tension this one had! It starts as a friendship and slowly becomes more. It was the perfect vessel to get the point of the story across.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

This is the only story I’ve read in the series, but it has definitely impressed me so I can’t wait to further explore this series!

My Rating: 4/5

Caught Inside N/A | [Defensive Play 4/5]

overall
A sweet, realistic read that will no doubt charm your heart!

Read if You Like: realistic fiction, LGBT stories
Avoid if You: want a longer story

The rain has stopped. A soft mist hangs in the air, turning the distant streetlights a hazy orange. After the stuffiness of the clubhouse, the night is bitterly cold and I pull on my sweatshirt against the chill. I sit on the steps overlooking the car park, heedless of the damp that seeps through my jeans. Elbows on knees, I rest my chin in my hands and close my eyes, attempting to clear my mind. I don’t want to think anymore. I just want to sit with nothing but the dark and the quiet for company.

I haven’t been hunched there long when the door opens, ejecting a stream of warmth and thumping bass. I glance behind me, although I know who it will be. My body goes still. Adam lets the door swing shut and, just like that, we’re alone.

He doesn’t seem surprised to find me on the steps. Perhaps he saw me leave. Has he followed me? My insides clench. What if Adam thinks I did it deliberately, that I meant to lure him out here. Maybe I had. Maybe, deep down, a part of me hoped Adam might come, even while the rest of me prayed he wouldn’t.

This time, when our gazes connect, there’s no one to see, no football match to act as a buffer. I drink him in. Even in the faint glow filtering through the frosted pane in the door, his eyes are a vivid blue.

“Hey,” Adam says. Such a simple word that expresses so much. There’s recognition there, like we’re childhood friends meeting after years apart, but uncertainty, too. He has a nice voice, I register through my turbulent thoughts—warm and slightly husky.

“Hey.” My reply emerges somewhere between a croak and a squeak. Cringing, I stare down at my feet.

“It’s Davey, right?”

I fling him a startled look. Had this boy—this confident, gorgeous boy—actually gone to the trouble of finding out my name?

One side of Adam’s mouth lifts in a crooked smile. “Well, I had to know who the lunatic was who almost took my leg off.”

“God.” I bury my face in my hands. Of course Adam was going to ask about me after what happened on the pitch. “I’m so sorry.”

He laughs and nudges my thigh with the toe of his trainer. “I’m kidding. Seriously, you did us a favour.”

I dare a peep at him, unable to rid myself of the thought that he has pursued me out here to take the piss. That wouldn’t be anything new, after all.

“It’s true.” Adam crouches on the step beside me, his expression amused but without malice. “Rob warned me about you. He said the rest of your defence was pretty solid, but probably weren’t quick enough to catch me. You were the real threat.”

I grimace. “I’m guessing he wasn’t expecting me to take you out quite so spectacularly, though.”

“Funnily enough, that wasn’t included in the pep talk. Still, I should be thanking you. You made our job a whole lot easier.”

“Don’t remind me. You should’ve heard the guys after the match. I’ll never hear the end of it.”

Adam laughs again, and I can’t hold back a smile. Here I am, having an actual conversation with an amazing-looking boy—a boy who’d caught me checking him out, no less—and I’m not making an ass of myself.

The door behind us bursts open and several guys spill out. I tense, guard raised. Will they think it odd us sitting out here alone? I scan their faces, but none are from Farnstead. A moment later, they barrel down the steps without giving either of us a second look and head for one of the cars parked nearby.

As they pile in and the engine growls to life, I exhale, shoulders slumping. I can feel Adam studying me and keep my gaze lowered.

“You’re not out,” he says, “are you?”

“What?” My entire body goes rigid. He knows. I’d already guessed as much, but suspecting it is one thing; being confronted with the indisputable truth sends me spiralling back into panic mode. Why had he really followed me out here? I’d thought…been sure I’d read something in his eyes when they locked with mine, but what if I’m wrong? Do I truly believe someone like Adam, someone popular and self-assured, would have sought me out? Unless…

I see again the Brookminster players in their huddle, sniggering, moments after Adam caught me staring. I’d reassured myself they weren’t laughing about me, but perhaps my fears had been well founded. The cold certainty settles like a snowball in my gut. I’d given myself away, and now the other lads have sent Adam out here to chat me up, trick me into an admission I won’t be able to take back. For all I know, his mates are somewhere close by as we speak, listening in.

“Hey.” Adam extends his palms in what is probably supposed to be a calming gesture. “It’s all right. I know and it’s all right.”

“You don’t know anything,” I snap. The instinct for self-preservation, to keep my protective wall intact at any cost, propels me to my feet. “You hear me? You don’t know anything about me.”

Before he can respond, I’m down the steps and sprinting into the darkness, phone already out to call my parents. All I want is to go home, crawl into bed, and forget today ever happened.

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Jamie Deacon

Jamie lives in a tranquil spot close to the River Thames in Berkshire, England, and has always been just a little out of place—the only redhead in a family of brunettes; an introvert far more at ease with dogs than with people; a connoisseur of simple pleasures in a society intent on the quest for wealth and fame. Despite an outward cynicism, Jamie is a romantic at heart, and, when not immersed in a book, can mostly be found writing emotional stories where young men from all walks of life are forced to navigate the sometimes painful reality of growing up, coming out, and falling in love.

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

To celebrate the release of Defensive Play, Jamie Deacon is giving away a $10 Amazon Gift Card. For your chance to win, simply enter via the Rafflecopter below. The giveaway is open to entrants world wide, and closes at midnight EST on Friday December 7, 2018.

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Series Review: Irresistible by Stella Rhys

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 Sweet Spot (from Goodreads):

I’ll be the first to admit that I live at extremes. After going ten years locked in what felt like a dysfunctional marriage, I’m now decidedly boy-free. In nearly three years I’ve had no boyfriends, no flings, no dates and no sex. For the sake of my dream career, the sacrifice has been easy.

At least it was.

Until he came along.

Lukas Hendricks. He’s rude, gorgeous, arrogant – a stone-carved wall of muscle and distraction. He’s everything I know to avoid but there’s no avoiding your next-door neighbor. Oh yeah. The man now lives three steps from me and to make matters worse, he crashed into my life while I was relaxed in the tub – mortifying to say the least and it went something like this: I was exposed. He looked. He laughed.

And then I locked myself out.

In short, Lukas Hendricks was trouble from the start. And me?

I was – for the first time in years – about to be screwed.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Watch Author 2018
Series: Irresistible
Author: Stella Rhys
# of Books: 4 (Sweet Spot, Bad Boss, Dirty Deeds, Hothead)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: March 2017 – February 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook; Hidden Gems–eARC (Hothead only)

Copy provided: Hothead (Book #4)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I actually read this series a little out of order by picking up Book #4, Hothead as a review copy. Little did I know that I had already marked Books 1 & 2 on my library’s audiobook collection to read so it was a happy coincidence. I ended up loving Hothead so I couldn’t wait to see this series from the beginning!

The Plot:

After loving Hothead (Book #4) for its great blend of romantic chemistry and drama, I have to say I was a little disappointed in Sweet Spot (Book #1) when I got around to reading it. It just seemed like every contemporary romance novel I’ve read with a similar premise (in love with the neighbour). But, it did a great job introducing the rest of the cast so I was excited for the remaining sequels.

I find each book gets stronger with plots as the series grows. We start getting more original stories and better balance between character development, romance and drama. There were definitely things I could have done without in some of the books (like obvious communication assumptions, etc) but for the most part, I was able to overlook them and I found they got less and less as the series progressed.

The Characters:

With the exception of Lucas and Leah in Sweet Spot (#1), I loved all the characters in this series. It wasn’t that I had something against those two, I just felt like they are the most underdeveloped in the series. Everyone else has great backstories and has some great growth as a result in their individual stories.

But everyone as an ensemble has fantastic chemistry so it was fun to see them interwoven through everyone’s story.

The Romance:

I felt like the sexual chemistry between the characters improved in the sequels as well. Again, I think that goes hand-in-hand with strong character development and allowing the reader to get to know the characters to their core. Everyone was a great match for each other and it showed throughout the many obstacles they faced.

My Audiobook Experience (Books #1-3):

The audiobooks started a little rough for me with Sweet Spot (#1). I found the female narrator had a choppiness to her voice that irritated me but went away when I increased the speed. So I was a little nervous when I saw it was the same narrating duo for the other two novels. But I found that they changed up their presentation in the subsequent novels so it wasn’t a reoccurring issue.

Series Rating: 4/5

Sweet Spot 3/5 | Bad Boss 4/5 | Dirty Deeds 5/5 | Hothead 5/5

overall

This was a series that only improved as we spent longer with this ensemble cast of characters. If you enjoy sexy romances with great pairings and drama, you’ll definitely enjoy this! Stella Rhys has made it onto my “authors to watch” list thanks to this fun series!

Read if You Like: contemporary romance, sexual tension
Avoid if You: dislike romances
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ARC Review: Just Pretending (The Chicago Falcons #3) by Leah & Katie Rooper

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

Other books planned to be in the series:
book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Just Pretending (from Goodreads):

It’s not easy being royal. Sixteen-year-old Evangeline wears her crown proudly, but between her duties and her overprotective big brother, the idea of romance is just a dream. But a chance encounter in Chicago changes all that….

Sure, seventeen-year-old Tyler Evans loves playing hockey, but he’s more concerned about providing for his dad and little sister. Then he meets Eva–and falls head-over-heels in love—and he has two more problems. One, she’s his best friend’s little sister. Two, she wears a crown.

But then Eva accidentally mistakes Tyler for a visiting prince, and for the first time, Tyler doesn’t feel like a nobody. He knows he has to tell her the truth…but not yet.

His plan? To keep up the royal charade as long as it takes to convince Eva he’s the guy for her. Even if he’s lying to everyone…including himself.

Disclaimer: May cause disillusionment. Those girls looking to find their Prince Charming might consider scouting out hockey rinks.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Canadian Author(s)
Series: The Chicago Falcons
Author: Leah and Kate Rooper
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected but Chronological Events
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports, Hockey, Royalty
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: October 2017 – November 2018
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC

thoughts

**This is review of book #3, Just Pretending, only**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I sort-of knew this was part of a series when I requested it but it wasn’t clearly stated. But I just couldn’t resist that premise: a regular boy pretending to be a prince falls in love with the queen…adorable!

The Concept / The World:

I think the fact that I hadn’t read the previous books gave me a bit of a disadvantage. Yes, you can definitely read this as a standalone and not be completely lost. But in the same breath, I think I could have really benefited from reading the other novels in the series, especially book #2, Just One of the Royals because I think it really sets up Eva’s character background a little more. I had so many questions about how she became queen and why she wanted to be queen in the first place and I felt like this book just didn’t answer them; mainly because she is already queen and this novel showcases her struggle finding that independence as a result.

The Plot:

I thought the whole plot of this novel was fun yet heartfelt. The fun comes from Tyler impersonating the prince and how he just gets himself deeper and deeper into the scheme.

But the touching moments come from the interactions Tyler and Eva share when they let their true selves show when they’re together. These two have a great connection with plenty of shared interests to make you fall for them as a couple. I couldn’t get enough of their chemistry!

The Characters:

Tyler instantly won my heart the moment we met him. He’s just a sweet boy with a massive crush on a girl he thinks he can never be with. But he was also a layered character as well. His learning disability and the struggle he has with it was so genuine and real. I loved watching him grow as the story progressed.

Eva I had a harder time with on occasion. As I said above, I could have benefited from getting her backstory that I think is provided more in the previous novels. She seemed a little all over the place (understandable really when one is a monarch at the at of 16) but I think knowing her full story could have helped me reconcile her somewhat wish-washy convictions.

The Romance:

I thought these two were adorable together! I just loved how they meshed on so many different levels. The heart of this story is loving yourself and finding someone who can see the true you beyond titles and I think the romance helps exemplify that throughout.

Will I Pick Up the Previous Novels in the Series:

I plan on it! From what I saw of the other couples, this seems like a super cute series so I’m excited to see how it all began.

Rating: 3/5

Just One of the Boys TBA | Just One of the Royals TBA | Just Pretending 3/5

overall

If you love sweet YA contemporaries–especially ones with sports (hockey) and royals–this is right up your alley!

Read if You Like: sport romances, YA contemporaries
Avoid if You: want deeper plot-lines

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