Source: Purchased

Divider

Save the Date Review

April 6, 2017 Reviews 0 ★★★½

Save the Date ReviewSave the Date by Annabeth Albert, Wendy Qualls
on March 28th 2017
Pages: 153
Source: Purchased
Buy on AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository
Goodreads
three-half-stars
Randall Young has one duty as his sister’s “man of honor”: to ensure she has the best wedding ever. That includes an epic bachelorette pub crawl, leading him to Portland’s most popular gay bar… and into Hunter Mitchell’s well-muscled arms. A one-night stand with a sexy soldier is the perfect way to ditch that pesky V-card and get himself in the mood for a weekend of flowers, cake, and nuptials.
Hunter wants to blow off some steam before he stands up as his best friend’s best man. He's already married to his military career, not looking to settle down. He certainly doesn’t intend for the one guy he met (and, okay, got off with) in Oregon to be his counterpart in the wedding party. Or a virgin. Definitely wasn’t intending that. Luckily, they have the rest of the weekend for Hunter to show Randall what he's been missing.
The more they’re thrown together by the wedding, the more Randall and Hunter grow together outside the bedroom… which is dangerous because there’s a lot more than 2500 miles standing between them and a happily-ever-after. If they want a future beyond their wedding weekend hookup, both must find the courage to take a chance on love.
Length: approx. 38,000 words

Save the Date was a short and sweet M/M romance novella. I quickly purchased it once I realized that it was free. I’ve never read either one of these authors before, but I’ll certainly be checking out more from them in the future. It was a pretty light read, and just what I needed right now in between all of my heavy reads here lately. I’m happy that I was able to get lost in the plot and characters for at least a little while. Randall and Hunter were both charming and funny characters, and I thought they were incredible as a couple. I’d recommend it if you’re looking for something steamy that you can read in just a couple of hours.

Randall was the guy who was nerdy and an introvert. He’s also a virgin, and wanted to lose it while at a gay bar for his sister’s bachelorette party. I thought that he such a sweet and adorable guy. He’s obviously extremely smart as well. I thought that he was a fun character. I’m always a sucker for a well written nerd and that’s definitely what Randall is. Sometimes I didn’t always agree with his choices, like when he got into an argument with Hunter towards the end of the story. However, he was still a decent character at the end of it all. Novellas are always tricky since you don’t have enough space for a lot of character development, and I think Randall could have really used some of it.

Hunter is a military man who is the best man at his best friend’s wedding. I thought his character was also charming, but in a different way. He couldn’t be more different from Randall. He’s a smooth talker, and not at all awkward in the way that Randall is. I liked how secure in his own skin that he was. He’s a good character as well and I really enjoyed reading about him. I also thought it was nice how great of a friend he was towards his best friend, who is marrying Randall’s sister. Like Randall, I feel like Hunter could have used some more character development than what he had. Unfortunately, I understand that there simply wasn’t enough room for all of that but I think it would have made me connect with the characters a little bit better than what I did.

As mentioned, Randall and Hunter made a strong couple. Yes, it started on a complete physical attraction. They both met in the bar strictly looking for a one night stand. I’m not always a fan of those kinds of romance since there isn’t a ton of emotion involved until much later in the story. Fortunately, it didn’t bother me all that much here. I think the connection between them felt genuine from the start. I liked seeing them (especially Hunter) struggle with the fact that it all felt like much more than just a one time hookup right from the start. So they definitely take quite awhile to actually become a couple. I wasn’t a huge fan of the fight that went down. I felt like Randall was too harsh towards Hunter about his past. The relationship was VERY steamy, which was pretty great. You have to prepare yourself for all the serious steam that goes down here.

This was a steamy and fascinating novella. It wasn’t my favorite, but I still enjoyed reading it. I think that it would have worked well as a full length novel and it would have also allowed readers to connect even more with the characters. Randall and Hunter were lovely characters that shared such a beautiful romance, and I wanted to read even more and more of them. It felt like it was missing something, but I’m not totally sure what exactly it was. I’m still glad that I was able to read this one. Besides some of the drama towards the end, this was a lighthearted and fun novella.

three-half-stars

Divider

Goodbye Paradise Review

March 31, 2017 Reviews 0 ★★★★

Goodbye Paradise ReviewGoodbye Paradise (Hello Goodbye, #1) by Sarina Bowen
Published by Rennie Road Books on March 21st 2017
Pages: 266
Source: Purchased
Also by this author: Bittersweet (True North, #1), Rookie Move (Brooklyn Bruisers, #1)
Buy on AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars
Most people called it a cult. But for twenty years, Josh and Caleb called it home.
In Paradise, there is no television. No fast food. Just long hours of farm work and prayer on a dusty Wyoming ranch, and nights in a crowded bunkhouse. The boys of the Compound are kept far from the sinners’ world.
But Joshua doesn’t need temptation to sin. His whole life, he’s wanted his best friend, Caleb. By day they work side by side. Only when Josh closes his eyes at night can they be together the way he craves.
It can never be. And his survival depends on keeping his terrible desires secret.
Caleb has always protected Josh against the worst of the bullying at the Compound. But he has secrets of his own, and a plan to get away — until it all backfires.
Josh finds himself homeless in a world that doesn’t want him. Can Caleb find him in time? And will they find a place of safety, where he can admit to Josh how he really feels?
Warning: Contains a hot male/male romance, copious instances of taking the Lord's name in vain, and love against the kitchen counter. This book was previously released under the title: In Front of God & Everyone.

I’ve been a fan of Sarina Bowen’s books for over a year now. Some of her books are kind of hit or miss for me, but I can proudly say that this one was definitely a hit for me. Though it was so heartbreaking at times, it was still such a romantic and refreshing romance between two fabulous men. If you’re looking for an m/m love story that doesn’t have ridiculous drama, has a unique setting, and has wonderful characters that you can’t help but cheer for, this book is probably for you. I recommend picking it up! Sarina hasn’t let down here with this new series. I only wish that I had read it when it was first published under a different name a few years ago.

Josh is such a sweet and caring guy. There honestly isn’t anything that I disliked about him. He had such a wonderful and pure personality. I really sympathized with all the years that he spent inside the cult. He was bullied by a particular group of people inside of it that targeted him for being gay. I can’t say this enough, I just enjoyed him as a character. He had so many awesome personality traits that made him instantly likable. For example, Josh is great at taking care of Maggie’s baby. More on her later, but through taking care of her, he learned how great he is at taking care of babies in general. I loved getting to see him figuring out his strength and true passion.

On the other hand, we have Caleb. I also loved Caleb. I loved how passionate and sure he was about Josh, even when Josh had his doubts about whether or not them being together was okay. Caleb was always very careful and understanding when Josh had these doubts, and I loved that about him. He’s a decent guy all around. He may not be good with kids like Josh is, but he discovered his passion for working with cars while still in the cult. I’ll admit that I did get frustrated with Caleb for a hot minute towards the end. I’m not going to say much about it, but it made me want to shake him. Thankfully, the drama didn’t last longer than a couple of pages so it didn’t turn out to be a huge deal.

Caleb and Josh make such a powerful and beautiful couple. I was a little surprised by how early on in the book that they get together. As soon as they leave the cult, they end up hooking up, which was surprising. However, they did already have an established friendship so that made it believable. They are such a sweet and lovely couple, you can’t help but cheer for them to have a happy ending because of all the bullshit they were put through for most of their lives. So the romance was hot and fantastic. It was one of my favorite aspects of the book for sure!

So the supporting characters were memorable as well. Once they escape, they hitch hike a ride from a kind trucker named Washington. This dude is so freaking nice and you can’t help but instantly love him. Though he’s mostly in the first part of the book, he doesn’t go away, and the boys never forget all he did for them. The boys move in with Maggie who escaped the cult years back and is now married. Her husband Daniel is just as hilarious and caring as his wife. They become Caleb and Josh’s family, and you fall in love with those two (and baby Chloe) just as much as you do with the boys. Sarina Bowen is amazing at writing well developed characters, even if they are simply supporting.

As a whole, this was a fun book to read. I won’t lie, I wasn’t able to stop reading once I first picked it up. I was just automatically swept away by the characters, both main and supporting. Caleb and Josh are two compelling and well written characters. I can’t talk about them enough without just continually rambling. So I’m going to repeat that you should read this if you’re looking for something sad, but not completely heartbreaking. It might have some sadness, but there’s a lot of funny moments in there as well. You should just read it and judge it for yourself!

four-stars

Divider

Beard Science Review

February 10, 2017 Reviews 1 ★★★★

Beard Science ReviewBeard Science (Winston Brothers, #3) by Penny Reid
Published by Cipher-Naught on October 11th 2016
Pages: 384
Source: Purchased
Also by this author: Beauty and the Mustache (Knitting in the City, #4; Winston Brothers, #0.5)
Buy on AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars
2016 Goodreads Choice Awards FinalistUSA TODAY BESTSELLER
Make a deal with the devil and you might get what you want, but will it be what you need?
Jennifer Sylvester wants one thing, and that one thing is NOT to be Tennessee’s reigning Banana Cake Queen. Ever the perpetual good girl and obedient daughter, Jennifer is buckling under the weight of her social media celebrity, her mother’s ambitions, and her father’s puritanical mandates. Jennifer is officially desperate.
And desperate times call for Cletus Winston.
Cletus Winston is a puzzle wrapped in a mystery covered in conundrum sauce, and now he’s in a pickle. Despite being convinced of his own omniscience, extortion by the exalted Banana Cake Queen of Green Valley has taken him completely by surprise. So... what’s a maniacal mastermind to do?
Likely, the last thing you expect.
'Beard Science' is the third book in the Winston Brothers series, is a full-length romantic comedy novel, and can be read as a standalone.

I read Penny Reid’s Beauty and the Mustache and thought it was incredibly clever. I was extremely excited to read the Winston Brothers spin-off series because the brothers seemed so hilarious and memorable. I couldn’t wait to see all of these unique boys receive happy endings just like their sister did. This is technically the third book in the spin-off series, but I haven’t gotten around to reading either Jethro or Duane’s stories yet. Cletus is such an intriguing character and it was so awesome to finally get inside of his head. I’m happy that I read this book and I definitely plan on reading the other stories as well at some point. I recommend it if you’re a fan of light and hilarious romantic comedies. Penny Reid doesn’t let you down, she’s pretty great!

Jennifer was a smart and beautiful protagonist. Not to mention the fact that she was totally sassy and fierce when she wanted to be. She’s really the only girl out there that is on the same level of clever (and borderline devious) as good old Cletus. She’s very aware of what exactly is going on and is just ridiculously observant in general. I sympathized with her a lot as she struggled with her parents being so hard and judgmental of everything that she does. I understand the fact that she didn’t want to disappoint her parents by standing up to them for using her for her baking and not properly paying her, but that didn’t mean I didn’t cheer when she finally took a stand. She was a strong and fabulous protagonist. I really enjoyed her perspective just as much as I enjoyed Cletus’s voice.

Like I said, I was intrigued by Cletus whenever I was introduced to him in Beauty and the Mustache. He was definitely on the unique side of things, but I was truly curious about who exactly he was and what he was all about. He’s not your average hero or love interest, he brings something entirely new to the table here. He’s smart, perspective, and everything that he does, he does with a well thought out plan supporting whatever it might be. He’s always one step ahead of everyone else, and he’s ridiculously clever. It did surprise me how swoony he was when it came to Jennifer. So he might not be your average guy, but he brings the swoon nonetheless and I absolutely adore him.

Jennifer and Cletus make one fierce couple when it all comes down to it. Neither of them are all that great at forming relationships. Jennifer has never even kissed a guy due to how strict her parents have always been. Cletus has never been in love, though he does enjoy women in general. Once it all comes down to it though, the two of them simply make sense as a couple. They bring out the best in one another, which is something that I always love to see. The romance between them was sweet and also very hot at times. In Beauty and the Mustache, there really weren’t that many sexy scenes, so this one surprised me with a bit more heat, though not a ton.

Beard Science was a lovely book and a great introduction to this spin-off series for me. I know now that I have to check out the two previous standalone novels in this series just so I can get even more Cletus and the other boys. This is such a funny, swoony, and charming book. I will admit that I did feel like something was missing from it, which did prevent me from loving it as much as everyone else seemed to. I still thought it was pretty great, just some of it wasn’t totally memorable for me personally. I did enjoy both of the main characters and felt like their love story was well done. You should read this book if you’re a fan of the author and/or romantic comedies.

four-stars

Divider

Fire in You Review

November 30, 2016 Reviews 1 ★★★

Fire in You ReviewFire in You (Wait for You, #6) by J. Lynn, Jennifer L. Armentrout
Published by Jennifer L. Armentrout on November 28th 2016
Source: Purchased
Also by this author: Forever with You (Wait for You #5), The Problem with Forever
Buy on AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository
Goodreads
three-stars
three-half-flames
From the # 1 New York Times and International bestselling author, Jennifer L. Armentrout writing as J.Lynn, comes a richly moving story about heartbreak and guilt, second chances and hope. Full of familiar, fan-favorite characters and no two people more deserving of a happy ending, Fire In You will burn bright beyond the last page…
Jillian Lima’s whole world was destroyed in a span of a few hours. The same night her childhood love, Brock ‘the Beast’ Mitchell, broke her heart, her life was irrevocably altered by the hand of a stranger with a gun. It takes six years to slowly glue together the shattered pieces of her life, but Jillian is finally ready to stop existing in a past full of pain and regret. She takes a job at her father’s martial arts Academy and she’s going out on her first date since a failed relationship that was more yuck than yum. Jillian is determined to start living.
She just never expected Brock to be a part of her life again. But he’s firmly back in her life before she knows it, and not only is he older, he’s impossibly more handsome, more teasing and more everything. And when he sees Jillian, he’s no longer capable of thinking of her as the little girl who was his shadow growing up or the daughter of the man who gave him a second chance at life. He sees the woman who’d always been there for him, the one person who believed in him no matter what.
Brock knows she’s the one he should’ve made his, and what begins as a tentative friendship quickly turns to red-hot chemistry that sparks a flame that burns brighter than lust. Falling for Brock again risks more than her heart, because when the past sorrow-filled and guilt-ridden past resurfaces, and a web of lies threatens to rip them apart, the fallout could lay waste to everything they’ve fought to build together, and destroy the dreams of those they care most about.

I’ve been a huge fan of J. Lynn’s Wait for You series for a long time now. I’ve found each book to be extremely fascinating and to contain swoony boys and complex heroines. Wait for You was the first NA book that I ever read, and it’ll always have a special place in my heart. I’m sad to say that Fire in You was my least favorite book in the series. It was still good, but it just didn’t measure up with the others in my opinion. To be honest, I actually forgot that we were introduced to Jillian back in Forever with You. I’d been anticipating Brock’s story for what feels like forever, so I’m happy he finally got one. However, I really wanted him to end up with Katie, or for her to get a story of her own in general. Though I’m somewhat disappointed, I’m still glad that I read this one.

I felt for Jillian instantly due to the unrequited love that she had for Brock for all of those years when she was a kid. As someone who has an older brother who had a few friends that I was absolutely in love with as a kid, I can totally understand what she went through. I felt like Jillian was a strong character who I had a lot of respect for. She’s been through a lot of terrible things in her life, but she’s a survivor and she keeps pushing on. To an extent, I definitely understood the insecurities that she had, but at times it became ridiculously repetitive and it started to just drag on honestly. Maybe that’s insensitive of me to say, but I felt like at a certain point, she should have been giving Brock more credit than she actually was.

As mentioned earlier, I’ve been waiting for Brock’s story since he was first introduced to us. He seemed like such a fun and swoony guy and I couldn’t wait to see him settle down with someone. Though I was hoping his story would be with Katie, Jillian was still a solid match for him because of the history that they already shared. I feel disappointed in his character because I was just expecting more. Maybe my standards are too high, but he wasn’t even close to being as swoony as the guys from the previous books. I obviously want him to be his own person and not just a carbon copy of Cam or Jax, but it was still surprising to me. View Spoiler » Yes, he had some redeeming swoony moments at the end but that’s about it. He also called Jillian beautiful a ridiculous amount of times, which was cute the first couple of times since it started to help build her confidence at times, but it became repetitive quickly.

Second chance romances have became sort of a hit or miss for me. I think that sometimes they can be cliche or just flat out not my cup of tea personally. This one did work to an extent, but it was by no means my favorite romance in the series. I found it unusual that they don’t have sex until around the 86% mark, though that’s probably about the time it happened in Wait for You, I can’t totally remember. But I felt like that worked because they were working on building up a strong foundation before starting anything completely physical. Despite this, the book was still pretty steamy. As a whole though, I honestly can’t say that Jillian and Brock stand out to me as being a power couple when put up against the others from the previous stories.

Fire in You was an entertaining novel that I really enjoyed. Though it wasn’t my favorite, it was still a pretty story nonetheless. Yes, I’m disappointed that this book didn’t stand out more to me, but it was still decent. There’s also a lot of angst in this one, which might be why I wasn’t crazy about it. I was also confused about the timeline and think that maybe a novella before Fire in You would have been more effective in filling in the gaps of the past six years instead of having random flashbacks. I also wish that there could have been an epilogue for not only Jillian and Brock, but one where we see all (or at least most) of the couples. Yes, we do get to see the couples frequently throughout the story but it would have been nice to wrap it all up if this is indeed the last book in the series. I still have my fingers crossed for a Katie book because her story is far from finished after that huge bomb that she ended up dropping on everyone!

three-stars

Divider

Built Review

November 28, 2016 Reviews 0 ★★★★

Built ReviewBuilt (Saints of Denver, #1) by Jay Crownover
on January 5th, 2016
Source: Purchased
Also by this author: Rule (Marked Men, #1), Retreat (The Getaway Series Book 1)
Buy on AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars
four-flames
From the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men books comes an electrifying new spin-off series,Saints of Denver, featuring all the characters fans have been dying to read about.
Sayer Cole and Zeb Fuller couldn’t be more different. She’s country club and fine-dining, he’s cell-block and sawdust. Sayer spends her days in litigation, while Zeb spends his working with his hands. She’s French silk, he’s all denim and flannel.
Zeb’s wanted the stunning blonde since the moment he laid eyes on her. It doesn't matter how many smooth moves he makes, the reserved lawyer seems determinedly oblivious to his interest—either that or she doesn't return it. Sayer is certain the rough, hard, hot-as-hell Zeb could never want someone as closed off and restrained as she is, which is a shame because something tells her he might be the guy to finally melt her icy exterior.
But just as things start to heat up, Zeb is blindsided by a life altering moment from his past. He needs Sayer’s professional help to right a wrong and to save more than himself. He can’t risk what’s at stake just because his attraction to Sayer feels all consuming. But as these opposites dig in for the fight of their lives, battling together to save a family, the steam created when fire and ice collide can no longer be ignored.Sayer Cole and Zeb Fuller are as different as two people can be. She’s country club and fine-dining, he’s cell-block and kill it and grill it. Sayer spends her days in litigation, while Zeb spends his working with his hands. She’s French silk while he’s denim and flannel.
The differences between the two of them don’t stop Zeb from dropping every hint he can think of that he would like to get to know her on a more personal level, but Sayer seems oblivious to his interest or is just too nice to tell him to take a hike. To Sayer, a guy like Zeb could never be interested in someone as reserved and boring as she is. She’s never been with anyone that was hot enough to melt the icy exterior she’s had wrapped around hera since her awful childhood. But what if Zeb is the one who might finally thaw her out…?

If I’m being honest, I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to read Built by Jay Crownover. I didn’t have much success with the one book that I read of hers, which was the extremely popular Rule. Anyway, I gave it a shot anyway and I’m happy that I did. Sayer and Zeb were fabulous characters, specifically Zeb. Though Sayer was frustrating at times, that’s partly what I liked about her. All in all, this was a solid romance that definitely pulled on my heart strings more than once. It was a quick read, and I recommend it if you’re looking for something a little on the light side of things.

Sayer wasn’t always a likable character, which was partly why she stood out to me. I personally believe that character likability shouldn’t make or break whether you like a book or not. Though I will admit that it does make it more difficult to cheer for the characters if you can’t relate to them at all. The point here is, I do appreciate that Crownover made the girl the one who pulls back and is afraid to jump into a relationship. I didn’t fully like Sayer’s reasoning for some of her actions, but then again, I hardly ever think the “damaged” male in (typically) NA books has good reasoning for his actions. This isn’t the first heroine in a romance book that I’ve seen be the hesitant one, but I still thought it was more mentioning. I also like how strong and independent Sayer is. She’s a pretty hardcore lawyer, and I liked it when she went into work mode at certain times in the story.

So Zeb was a pretty great character to say the least. He was very confident about what he wanted from Sayer, and not at all hesitant to share those thoughts with her. He was a swoony guy throughout the entire story. Yes, Zeb spent time in prison for beating the crap out of a guy in front of a niece. The circumstances were a lot more complicated than that: his sister’s boyfriend had been beating her in front of their child so Zeb just ended up losing his temper completely with him. Who can blame him though? The point to stating this is that he’s a somewhat complex guy, but he doesn’t play games with Sayer at the same time. This is a huge part of the story so I don’t feel like it’s a huge spoiler, but Zeb finds out that he has a son that he never knew about. I’m going to talk more about him later, but I wanted to mention that Zeb’s interactions with his son will make you laugh and cry every time.

The romance gets real steamy, real fast. Really though, one second they are painting and the next second they end up having sex up against the wall. I’m not complaining about this, that was a really hot scene. The chemistry between them is ridiculously obvious from the start, but obviously Sayer has some doubts about getting into a relationship. I liked seeing them get to know each other better when Sayer helps him get custody of his child from Social Services. Yes, they had a lot of drama going on, but they were still a solid couple in the end.

One of the main reasons why I ultimately read this book is because I saw that Zeb had a child, and I’m on a kick with romance books that have that element here lately. Hyde is seriously adorable and I loved him so much. Basically, Zeb had a one night stand with this girl the night after he got out of prison, which he more or less blocked out completely. Zeb learns about his son through a friend of the girl who tells him that the girl was killed and now his son is going to be in foster care since no one else can take care of him. Though his initial reaction is obviously shock, he soon gets it together and fights for his son. Hyde had a ton of sweet moments with both Zeb and Sayer. I loved the Zeb and Hyde scenes specifically since we get to see the relationship really develop from Zeb just being this stranger to being his father.

Built was a fun read that I’m glad that I ended up reading. It’s fast paced, an easy read, and full of developed characters. I’m definitely looking forward to reading the next book in this series and the book after that one as well. Sayer and Zeb were both fabulous characters and I’m glad that I got to step into their world for a little bit. I’ll certainly not be forgetting adorable little Hyde anytime soon. This is a must read if you can’t resist a man who’s good with a child and who’s fiercely protective of the people he loves without being overly possessive.

four-stars

Divider

As Long As You Love Me Review

November 11, 2016 Reviews 0 ★★★★

As Long As You Love Me ReviewAs Long As You Love Me (2B Trilogy, #2) by Ann Aguirre
on September 30th 2014
Pages: 352
Source: Purchased
Buy on AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars
four-flames
Most people dream about getting out of Sharon, Nebraska, but after three years away, Lauren Barrett is coming home. There are the justifications she gives to everyone else—missing her family, losing her college scholarship. And then there's the reason Lauren can't admit to anyone: Rob Conrad, her best friend's older brother. 
Football prowess and jaw-dropping good looks made Rob a star in high school. Out in the real world, his job and his relationships are going nowhere. He can't pinpoint exactly what's missing until Lauren comes back to town, bringing old feelings and new dreams with her. But he's the guy who women love and leave—not the one who makes them think of forever. 
Though she's terrified of opening up, Lauren's ready to take that chance. Because the only thing more important than figuring out where you truly belong is finding the person you were meant to be with.

I read I Want it That Way months ago, and immediately bought As Long As You Love Me after finishing it. For whatever reason, I put off reading Lauren and Rob’s story. I’m glad that I finally got around to reading it. I might have actually liked it just a little more than the first book, it’s pretty even though. Anyway, the thing that I loved so much about this was how the plot was rather unique and we also saw a different kind of hero and heroine. Rob and Lauren have both decided that college wasn’t for them, for different reasons but they still managed to reach that conclusion eventually. I’m always looking for New Adult stories that aren’t your typical college story with a pure heroine who meets a bad boy who somehow tames him or whatever. Yes, I’m aware that not all books in the genre are like this, but they still have a bad reputation for it nevertheless. Aguirre has written yet another fabulous NA story that I thoroughly enjoyed reading.

Lauren was an interesting character. She’s Nadia’s (MC from the first book) childhood best friend and roommate until she drops out of college and returns back to their hometown. Lauren was definitely smart enough to attend a college, but once she reached a certain point, it became more and more obvious to her that this just wasn’t her thing. She also had strong social anxiety that she did her best to cover up by being a big party girl, but that only lasted her so long before it all became too much. I really related to Lauren and her struggles with anxiety. I became frustrated with her for not facing her problems earlier than she does, but I still understand her reluctance and pain.

Rob was easily the highlight of this book. It honestly breaks my heart that he isn’t a real person. He was the popular football star in high school who got all the girls and had this awesome life. But he also finds that people judge him based on how gorgeous he is, and they believe that he doesn’t have much more to him than simply his looks. He’s found that girls basically use him because of his looks and isn’t the guy that any of them would actually settle down with. Rob was definitely a character who proved that their is a lot more to a character than just being book smart. Rob is ridiculously caring, loving, kind, and extremely swoony. I fell in love with him on page one and he continually proved that he isn’t your typical NA hero in all the best ways.

This book has one of my favorite trope’s: best friend’s brother. Lauren has had this huge crush on Nadia’s brother ever since she was a young girl. But she believes that he’s very much out of her league and has watched helplessly as he’s brought home girlfriend after girlfriend. Much to Lauren’s surprise, she later discovers that Rob has been attracted to her for quite a long time now, but just never acted on it. I like how the relationship between them doesn’t develop too quickly. They slowly start spending more time together when she helps him with his dream of flipping houses and also building furniture. I love that they build a real friendship before starting anything physical. Once they do get physical, the chemistry between them is very real. The sex scenes were steamy, but it wasn’t excessive either.

This was a fabulous book. The only real complaint that I have is the drama that happens at the end that keeps them apart. It absolutely drove me insane that Lauren treated him that way. I know that she was mostly coming from a caring place, but it was over the top and unacceptable to me. I also didn’t understand why Rob just believed everything that she said so easily, I feel like his actions throughout the book showed that he would have typically fought for her and not accepted what she told him. Other than that, the book didn’t have any heavy angst that really bothered me. I found this to be a fascinating story filled with wonderful characters.

four-stars

Divider

Royally Screwed Review

November 4, 2016 Reviews 0 ★★★

Royally Screwed ReviewRoyally Screwed (Royally, #1) by Emma Chase
Published by Everafter Romance on October 18th 2016
Pages: 276
Source: Purchased
Also by this author: Sustained (The Legal Briefs, #2), Sidebarred (The Legal Briefs, #3.5)
Buy on AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository
Goodreads
three-stars
Nicholas Arthur Frederick Edward Pembrook, Crowned Prince of Wessco, aka His Royal Hotness, is wickedly charming, devastatingly handsome, and unabashedly arrogant; hard not to be when people are constantly bowing down to you.
Then, one snowy night in Manhattan, the prince meets a dark haired beauty who doesn't bow down. Instead, she throws a pie in his face.
Nicholas wants to find out if she tastes as good as her pie, and this heir apparent is used to getting what he wants.
Dating a prince isn't what waitress Olivia Hammond ever imagined it would be.
There's a disapproving queen, a wildly inappropriate spare heir, relentless paparazzi, and brutal public scrutiny. While they've traded in horse drawn carriages for Rolls Royces, and haven't chopped anyone's head off lately, the royals are far from accepting of this commoner.
But to Olivia, Nicholas is worth it.
Nicholas grew up with the whole world watching, and now Marriage Watch is in full force. In the end, Nicholas has to decide who he is and, more importantly, who he wants to be: a King... or the man who gets to love Olivia forever.

So I recently read my first book from Emma Chase, Sustained, and it was absolutely amazing! I might have set my standards a little high on this one just because I loved that one so much. Anyway, this was still a wonderfully written and laugh out loud funny book. I think part of the reason why I didn’t love it more is I’m not that big of a fan of royal romances for some reason. I know, why would I even bother reading it then? Well, I already know that Emma Chase is a great author so I figured if anyone could make me enjoy these romances, it’d be her, and she definitely did to a degree. I look forward to reading the next couple of books in this series about some of the fascinating side characters. I recommend this if you’re looking for a lighthearted romance with an alpha male and a strong female who isn’t afraid to put him in his place.

For starters, Olivia is a fantastic character. She’s used to taking care of her sister and her mother’s beloved little bakery and coffee shop. Her mother was tragically killed awhile back, and her father is now an alcoholic. Now the bakery is potentially being shut down since Olivia can’t afford to make payments on it. The point is, she’s a survivor. She’s faced great tragedy in her life, but she hasn’t let that defeat her. She keeps going on, and making the best of her circumstances anyway that she can. She’s an interesting character and I enjoyed being inside her head. She’s a fabulous heroine, Chase couldn’t have written her any better.

So on the other side of things, we have Nicholas, who couldn’t be more different from Olivia. He’s a Prince, who’s been used to cameras following him wherever he goes from an extremely young age. Now, he’s being placed under a tremendous amount of pressure due to his grandmother aka the Queen, telling him that he has to get married as soon as possible. She’s giving him five months of freedom so he can pick out his wife, who has to be a royal or a natural born citizen of their country. Like Olivia, Nicholas has been through a lot in his life. He had to deal with the death of his parents when he was only a teen and then forced to pretty much become a man with tons of responsibility right after that. Nicholas is a solid guy. I also enjoyed being inside of his head. He was witty and made me laugh out loud many times. I loved Jake from Sustained more, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy Nicholas in a different way.

The romance was a bit cheesy and fast paced in my opinion. It started out with Olivia not taking Nicholas’s crap when he offers to pay her a ton of money just to have sex with him. She obviously is pissed at him for treating her like a prostitute. However, I feel like she still forgives him way too fast. Before you know it, they are going on a date and then all of a sudden they are spending all this time together. It was cheesy at times because of the language in general. Some of it just seemed too cheesy and not something you’d actually say to one another in these situations. I felt like there simply wasn’t enough buildup in their relationship. It all moved at a ridiculously fast paced for me.

All in all, I did really loved Emma Chase’s writing. I can already tell that she’ll likely be an insta-buy author for me in the future. As mentioned earlier, I can’t wait to read Henry’s story then hopefully Ellie and Logan’s story after that. In Royally Screwed, Olivia and Nicholas were both very memorable characters in their own right. I thought that Olivia was such a strong and fierce character. Nicholas wasn’t as spoiled as you might think, he’s actually a caring guy who would do absolutely anything for his little brother. I’m sorry that I didn’t totally love it, but it was still entertaining and fun as a whole.

three-stars

Divider

Bad Romeo & Broken Juliet Reviews

October 31, 2016 Reviews 0 ★★

Bad Romeo & Broken Juliet ReviewsBad Romeo (Starcrossed, #1) by Leisa Rayven
on December 23rd 2014
Pages: 417
Source: Purchased
Buy on AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository
Goodreads
two-stars
When Cassie Taylor met Ethan Holt at acting school, sparks flew. She was the good girl actress. He was the bad boy about campus. But one fated casting choice for Romeo and Juliet changed it all. Like the characters they were playing, Cassie and Ethan's romance seemed destined. Until he broke her heart and betrayed her trust. Now the A-list heartthrob is back in her life and turning her world around. One touch at a time.
Cast as romantic leads once again, they're forced to confront raw memories of the heartbreaking lows and pulse-pounding highs of their secret college affair. But they'll also discover that people who rub each other the wrong way often make the best sparks

I had heard a lot of great things about Bad Romeo and Broken Juliet, so I grabbed both of them when they were on sale months ago and finally got around to reading them. Honestly, they weren’t absolutely terrible books, but I didn’t think they were anything special either. I’ve been striking out with a lot of romance novels lately, but the other ones I can’t even finish, so at least I was able to get through these books. They were actually rather entertaining and the author truthfully has a ton of potential. I just wasn’t a fan of the characters at all and wasn’t even rooting for them to end up together until very late in the story.  I might check out what this author writes next, but these books simply didn’t totally work for me and that makes me extremely sad.

Recently, I read and really enjoyed Act Like It, which was a hilarious and charming story that also revolved around two stage actors. So that was partially why I had high hopes for this one as well. Bad Romeo was hard to connect with for me. Though the author has potential, I didn’t like the general style of how it was organized. For example, there’s a lot of flashbacks that reflects on the majority of Cassie and Ethan freshman year at acting school. I didn’t mind that, but it did bother me how these flashbacks would get interrupted by chapters taking place in the present. In my opinion, the story would have worked a lot more smoothly if the flashbacks were a separate book, like a prequel so the whole book takes place in only one tense. I also felt like there could have even been the flashbacks first, then the present. It was just weird and so random how it was written.

Cassie was a fabulous character in the beginning of the flashbacks. She was so witty and hilarious. I laughed out loud several times of just funny little things that she said. She’s extremely feisty and not afraid to tell it like it is. I loved her spirit and her determination to make something of herself. She was a great and relatable character. Later in the story though, I kind of wanted to smack her. When she first meets Ethan, she doesn’t take any crap from him, but she slowly lets him walk over her. I absolutely hated watching this happen. I think that Cassie should have definitely known better and not given him another chance. I get that she’s young and he’s her first boyfriend. I totally would have likely done the same things if I was in her shoes. However, it was just frustrating to me nonetheless.

Ethan was easily why I didn’t like this book the way that I probably should have. I do see his appeal, he’s this dark and broody guy that every girl wants. But he’s seriously messed up. There’s nothing wrong with that, but he’s actions are just beyond awful. Clearly, I really really wanted to slap some sense into this boy. He was a lot more tolerant in the present, but I still found his younger self to be the actual worst. I feel like he’s just such a typical book boyfriend in the poor Edward Cullen or Christian Grey way. He’s damaged in a “hot” way, broody, and unfairly possessive over Cassie. He was ridiculously controlling to say the least. I wasn’t a fan!

In a way, I do get why people like Bad Romeo. But for me, it just wasn’t my kind of story. It was way too typical and not unique for the most part. I felt like the present and past chapters should have been more organized and not so random. I liked Cassie at times, and she’s why I bothered giving this two stars instead of one. Ethan was just your stereotypical romance hero who brought nothing new to the table. Yes, he changed in the present, but that doesn’t make up for the fact that he was a ridiculous douche in the past.

Bad Romeo & Broken Juliet ReviewsBroken Juliet (Starcrossed, #2) by Leisa Rayven
Published by Pan on April 28th 2015
Pages: 336
Buy on AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository
Goodreads
two-half-stars
How do you fix a love that’s been broken beyond repair?
For years, Cassie Taylor tried to forget about Ethan Holt. He was the one great love of her life, and when he failed to return her love, a part of her died forever. Or so she thought. Now she and Ethan are sharing a Broadway stage, and he’s determined to win her back. Claiming to be a changed man, he’s finally able to say all the things she needed to hear years ago, but can she believe him? What makes this time different from all his other broken promises?
Ethan knows he can’t change their tumultuous past, but if he’s going to have any chance of being with the woman he loves, he’ll need to convince Cassie that her future belongs with him.
Don’t miss this stunning conclusion to the unforgettable love story that captivated over two million fans online.

So Broken Juliet is basically the same exact story as Bad Romeo. We’re still dealing with a combination of both the past and present in random ways. I don’t think that a second book was honestly needed. There could have been less flashbacks involving Cassie and Ethan’s first year, and more of a combination of all three years. This book was yet another fast read for me. I have to admit that I did enjoy the writing itself, just not the style. There’s not much new to say about this book. I liked it a little bit better just because I felt like Ethan was able to sort of redeem himself.

Cassie has changed a lot in the present. We saw in the first book how closed off and damaged she was. I did feel bad for Cassie, and I do hope that Ethan doesn’t screw up a third time. Cassie was pretty hesitant to get back involved with Ethan, as you might expect since he completely broke her not once but twice. Cassie is still feisty and awesome. I loved her roommate Tristan. I wouldn’t mind seeing him get his own book with a fabulous guy!

As mentioned, Ethan is a lot better in this book. I still don’t totally get why he suddenly decided in the past that leaving was the best thing for Cassie. It just felt like an odd time for him to suddenly wake up and realize that. Anyway, he is a better guy in the present who will do anything to get Cassie back. I think it’s good that he started seeing a therapist, because it’s clear that he had some major things that he needed to work out. He’s still not my favorite book boyfriend, but he’s more tolerable which is a start.

Though it wasn’t needed, this wasn’t a terrible book. I just didn’t really feel like the love story between Cassie and Ethan was all that epic. The love scenes in this one were pretty frequent, most of them happening in the past. I wasn’t bothered by the frequency, I just didn’t completely feel the chemistry in the first place. I hate it when I don’t like books that seem to have a lot of potential. I’m probably going to read more from this author in the future. I’m just disappointed with Bad Romeo and Broken Juliet.

two-stars

Divider

First and First Review

October 23, 2016 Reviews 0 ★★★★

First and First ReviewFirst and First (Five Boroughs, #3) by Santino Hassell
Published by Dreamspinner Press on April 18th 2016
Pages: 244
Source: Purchased
Also by this author: Strong Signal (Cyberlove, #1), Fast Connection (Cyberlove #2), Sutphin Boulevard (Five Boroughs, #1), Sunset Park (Five Boroughs, #2), Interborough (Five Boroughs, #4)
Buy on AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars
four-half-flames
Caleb Stone was raised on the Upper East Side, where wealth and lineage reigns, and “alternative lifestyles” are hidden. It took him years to come out to his family, but he’s still stuck in the stranglehold of their expectations. Caleb knows he has to build his confidence and shake things up, but he doesn’t know how… until Oliver Buckley enters the picture.
Oli is everything Caleb isn’t—risk-taking, provocative, and fiercely independent. Disowned by his family, Oli has made his own way in the world and is beholden to no one. After a chance encounter on New Year’s Eve, Caleb is smitten.
As Caleb sheds the insecurities that have held him back for years, he makes bold steps toward changing his career and escaping years of sexual repression. But for Caleb to take full control of his life, he has to be brave enough to confront his feelings and trust Oli with his heart.

At this point in my reviews of books by Santino Hassell, I’m just starting to sound super repetitive. Anyway, First and First is another steamy and entertaining M/M book from one of my favorite authors in this genre. I was honestly worried that Caleb’s story would be boring and frankly rather vanilla, but thankfully Oli’s presence made it anything but that. This was definitely a compelling and fast paced read. With some of the other books in this series, particularly the first book, it was a little on the heavier side so I personally wasn’t able to devour it in one sitting. I didn’t have this problem with First and First in the slightest, instead I read it in only hours. It was just the book that I needed at the time.

From what we learned about Caleb in Sunset Park, he seemed rather boring and predictable. However, I was glad to see that he received his own story because he turned out to be much more entertaining than I was expecting. I wouldn’t say that Caleb is my favorite character in this series, but I definitely admit that I enjoyed him and his growth throughout the book. It was great to see him develop more and more as a person as the book progressed. Yes, he’s a rich and super privileged guy, but I appreciated that his personality as a whole showcased more than just that.

Oli is basically the exact opposite of our boy Caleb. Where Caleb is closed off and seemingly cold, Oli is open and extremely friendly. Where Caleb seems vanilla and boring when it comes to his sex life, Oli is bold and up for anything. They are actually a lot like David and Raymond, they seem completely different on paper, but they somehow make sense. Now back to Oli, he’s such a fun and exciting character. I thought that he was so much fun when we were introduced to him in Sunset Park. Though he seems like this fun guy who doesn’t care about much, we learn that there’s a lot more to him than just that, and I loved that about him.

So I mentioned already that the relationship was far from being a boring one. Oli is a sexually adventurous guy to say the least. He isn’t a fan of monogamy like Caleb is, but there’s still something about Caleb that intrigues them from their first hot encounter on New Year’s Eve. I think that Caleb and Oli made a strange but incredible couple. I was a little uneasy about the fact that Oli basically had to change who he was in order to be with Caleb. I mean, it wasn’t totally who he was, but he’d never been a fan of committing to another person, and he makes this clear to Caleb. Towards the end though, he starts to suddenly change his mind and then everything is all happy. I felt like the happy ending happened too quickly. It’s not realistic that someone would change his ways that quickly, it was all too easy to me.

Despite the very minor issues that I had, this was yet another wonderful book from a fabulous author. Seriously though, there isn’t anything that Santino Hassell writes that I won’t read. Caleb and Oli were two characters that I really enjoyed and was able to relate to on some level. Out of the two, Oli is easily my favorite, he’s so full of life and energy. He was a funny and compelling character to read about. Even though my reviews of these books are starting to sound the same, I still have to say that I strongly recommend reading this one and the whole series.

four-stars

Divider

Sunset Park Review

October 22, 2016 Reviews 0 ★★★★

Sunset Park ReviewSunset Park (Five Boroughs, #2) by Santino Hassell
Published by Dreamspinner Press on December 11th 2015
Pages: 230
Source: Purchased
Also by this author: Strong Signal (Cyberlove, #1), Fast Connection (Cyberlove #2), Sutphin Boulevard (Five Boroughs, #1), First and First (Five Boroughs, #3), Interborough (Five Boroughs, #4)
Buy on AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars
five-flames
Raymond Rodriguez's days of shoving responsibility to the wayside are over. His older brother wants to live with his boyfriend so Raymond has to get his act together and find a place of his own. But when out-and-proud David Butler offers to be his roommate, Raymond agrees for reasons other than needing a place to crash.
David is Raymond’s opposite in almost every way—he’s Connecticut prim and proper while Raymond is a sarcastic longshoreman from Queens—but their friendship is solid. Their closeness surprises everyone as does their not-so-playful flirtation since Raymond has always kept his bicurious side a secret.
Once they’re under the same roof, flirting turns physical, and soon their easy camaraderie is in danger of being lost to frustrating sexual tension and the stark cultural differences that set them apart. Now Raymond not only has to commit to his new independence—he has to commit to his feelings for David or risk losing him for good.

I thought Michael’s brother Raymond was totally hilarious in the last book, so I’m happy that he received his own love story. I first read from this blurb that the romance was between Raymond and David right after I finished reading the first chapter of Sutphin Boulevard, so I thought that they made the WEIRDEST couple. I couldn’t be more wrong, somehow Raymond and David just end up making sense together. Yes, there’s roadblocks in the way here, but it’s worth it in the end. Though I enjoyed the first book, I have to say that I might have liked this one just a little bit more. Nevertheless, Hassell has delivered yet again on a gritty romance filled with memorable characters. I highly recommend it for M/M fans, or new readers of the genre!

Like I said, Raymond was hilarious and entertaining in the last book and I’m glad we get his story here. It was interesting to see Raymond exploring his sexuality, now that he realizes that he’s bisexual. Throughout the story, we watch Raymond deal with his personal problems with what exactly this means and how he wants to go from here. He’s also very insecure when it comes to what other people might think about him, so that comes up again and again in the story. I thought that he was a fabulous character and I really liked him for the most part. He was a lot less frustrating than his brother, that’s for sure!

David was a character that took me a little bit longer to really love. I’m not going to lie, I judged him hard in the first book for cheating on his boyfriend just because he was “boring.” However, we end up seeing a different side to David in this book. Yes, he can be kind of stuck up at times, but Raymond ends up bringing out the best in him. What’s different from this book is that we get both POV’s, and I thought that was a smart move from Hassell. He was able to create two very unique and distinctive voices from these guys who came from completely opposite backgrounds, and make them both extremely relatable. Anyway, I liked knowing what exactly David was thinking, it made me like him so much more. At the end of the day, he’s a smart and interesting guy who is the perfect match for my boy Raymond.

I love that Raymond and David started out as being friends in the first book and at the beginning of this one, before they become roommates. The friendship seemed weird to me at first, but it ultimately ended up working in such a surprising and awesome way. I loved the natural progression of their relationship. There was a gradual and realistic build-up that truly worked. Sutphin Boulevard was totally hot, but I have to admit that Sunset Park might even be a bit hotter! Nope, there aren’t any threesomes in this one, but the heat and passion that exists in every David and Raymond sex scene was scorching hot. There were quite a few sex scenes, and I have no complaints about that at all. Aside from the physical parts, there’s still an emotional depth to the relationship that I absolutely loved. Sorry Nunzio and Michael, David and Raymond are my favorite couple in this series so far.

Santio Hassell has wrote yet another beautiful and complicated love story. Though I thought that the first book was refreshing and incredibly well written, I have to admit that I might just like Sunset Park a bit more than the previous one. I was happy that this book was a lot less dark and depressing than Sutphin Boulevard. I also felt relieved that David and Raymond seemed to get it together much sooner than Michael and Nunzio did. As I’ve already mentioned, this is a wonderful series that I recommend if you’re a fan of the M/M genre, or if you’re new to the genre and looking for an awesome series to start, try these books.

four-stars

Divider