Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Mini Reviews - Torch & Daring the Bad Boy

Title: Torch (Wildwood #3)

Author: Karen Erickson
Publisher: Avon Impulse
Release Date: August 16, 2016
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / B&N / Indigo
Tate Warren has never met a woman he couldn’t charm—until now.

Wren Gallagher won’t give him the time of day and it’s making him crazy.

But he won’t give up without a fight…because there’s one thing he knows for sure:

Enemies make the best lovers.

Most women swoon over Tate’s devilish grin and firefighter uniform. But Wren couldn’t be less impressed by his good looks and flirtatious banter—in fact, she seems to downright despise him. She thinks he’s a player, but his attraction to her is no game. Wren is unlike anyone he’s ever known and he isn’t about to let the feisty, gorgeous woman slip through his fingers.

Wooing Wren would be so much easier if she didn’t hate him…

Or does she?

I've really enjoyed reading Karen Erickson's Wildwood series over the last few months and I was definitely excited to read about Wren and Tate in Torch. Both were characters I'd been dying to find out more about while reading the previous books and I was happy to finally get my fill of them. Though if I'm being completely honest, I wouldn't have minded all that much of Torch had been twice as long if only so I could have spent more time with Tate and Wren. I just loved the dynamic between the two of them - the way they seemed to know just how to push the other's buttons and took pleasure in doing so. But at the same time, I just knew that the reason they got under each other's skin so much was because they were clearly meant to be together. And though I liked them before, I loved them when they finally gave in to what was there. Tate was exactly what Wren needed with everything going on, and Wren was great at calling Tate out on his crap which just worked out perfectly for them. All in all, Torch was a great story, one that I really enjoyed reading. My only hope is that there are more Wildwood books to come because I NEED to know who is behind all of those fires. That, and I wouldn't mind getting to see more of all these couples I've gotten to know in the series so far. And maybe more about Holden, the youngest of the Gallagher sibling since I feel like I've only just gotten glimpses of him so far. Okay, so I guess I have more than one hope where this series is concerned, but that's just because the stories are so great. 

Title: Daring the Bad Boy
Author: Monica Murphy
Publisher: Entangled CRUSH
Release Date: August 22, 2016
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / B&N / Indigo
Truth or Dare was never this much fun…

Annie McFarland is sick of being a shy nobody. A session at summer camp seems like the perfect opportunity to reinvent herself—gain some confidence, kiss a boy, be whoever she wants to be. A few days in, she’s already set her sights on ├╝ber-hottie Kyle. Too bad her fear of water keeps her away from the lake, where Kyle is always hanging out.

Jacob Fazio is at Camp Pine Ridge after one too many screw-ups. Junior counseling seems like punishment enough, but the rigid no-fraternizing-with-campers rules harsh his chill. When a night of Truth or Dare gets him roped into teaching Annie how to swim, she begs him to also teach her how to snag Kyle.

Late-night swim-sessions turn into late-night kissing sessions…but there’s more on the line than just their hearts. If they get caught, Jake’s headed straight to juvie, but Annie’s more than ready to dare him to reveal the truth.

Until Daring the Bad Boy all the Monica Murphy books I had read were either new adult or straight up contemporary romance. But her latest is YA and has me wishing that she would write all the contemporary YA books. Because Daring the Bad Boy? It was absolutely awesome. For real, I can’t remember the last time I smiled so much while reading a book. Because that’s totally what happened here. Sure, Daring the Bad Boy dealt with some more serious topics, but at its core it was a sweet summer-time romance set at a summer camp. And what’s not to love about that? Besides the setting and premise (which I am a total sucker for), Daring the Bad Boy also featured characters that charmed me right from the beginning of the story. Annie had this endearing quality about her and I couldn’t help but admire her for wanting to be brave and conquer her fears no matter how much those fears terrified her. Any time she did something brave, I wanted to cheer for her, much like Jake did. And Jake wasn’t the bad boy everyone, including himself, made him out to be. I loved seeing him gradually come to realize that he didn’t have to act the way he was acting and he could just be himself (well, after some not-so-easy conversations with some of the people in his life). Through it all, seeing Annie and Jake come together over the course of the story is what made me love Daring the Bad Boy as much as I did. Because sometimes, all you really want is for the summer romance to work out in the end. 

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Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Six Month Rule by A.J. Pine

Title: The Six Month Rule (The Kingston Ale House #2)
Author: A.J. Pine
Publisher: Entangled Select
Release Date: July 18, 2016
Source: ARC from Author
Buy the Book: Amazon / B&N / Indigo
She created the game, but the rules are about to change.

Taurus: Hold fast to your single-minded nature today--no matter how long her legs or how lush her red lips.

Gemini: You were a shining star last night, but reality can be a real--well, you get the picture. Just remember: Tall, dark, and British equals no corner office for you.

Will Evans never wanted a reason to stay.

Holly Chandler wants nothing more than for him to go.

But neither one is prepared for what can happen in six months. Because it doesn't matter what you want when what you need walks out the door.

Holly's been busting her butt to make partner at Trousseau and there's no way she's going to let some stuck-up British arsehole get in her way--no matter how drop-dead gorgeous he is. But that doesn't mean she can't have a little fun in the process. She has a six-month rule: date just long enough for the honeymoon phase to wear off, then walk away before anyone gets hurt. If they both know the rules up front, walking away will be a piece of cake. Or maybe not... 

After falling completely in love with the first book in A.J. Pine’s Kingston Ale House series earlier this year, I couldn’t wait to read more about the group of friends that hung around the bar. I absolutely got my wish with The Six Month Rule.

I read A.J. Pine’s The One That Got Away earlier this year and absolutely loved it. So I was excited to find out that it was the first in a series of contemporary romance standalones. What made me even more excited? Finding out that the second book, Six Month Rule would be about Holly. Because those she might only have had a minor role in the first book, I knew right away that I wanted Holly’s story. And Holly’s story? It ended up being pretty freaking fantastic. I loved reading this office romance about two people who don’t really think they have time or are able to be in any sort of long term relationship. In fact, there were plenty of times when it was almost fun to see them try to deny that what was going on between them wasn’t going anywhere and that it was just temporary. Because as someone reading their story and seeing it all happen, I totally knew there was nothing temporary about what was happening between them. The chemistry between Holly and Will just leapt off the page, and there wasn’t a single moment when I wasn’t rooting for them.

Have I mentioned that I loved Holly and Will? Because I really, really did. I was kind of sad when I got to the end of the book because it meant I wouldn’t be reading about them anymore and all I wanted was to keep reading about them forever. I loved how independent Holly was and how determined she was to get to the top on her own merit. Sure, there were times when I wanted to tell her that it was okay to try to have a life outside of work and to let someone else take care of her (especially if that someone was Will), but Holly was who she was and she knew it. And Will, he thought he knew who he was and what he wanted. But then Holly came into the picture and threw a wrench in his carefully laid plans. And maybe that makes me a bit of a sadist, but I loved watching Will struggle with how he felt about Holly because it was always so fun to watch. But my favourite Will moments were the ones when he was interacting with his daughter. I am a sucker for romances that feature young children because they always have a way of stealing the show and melting my heart when they interact with their parent. Adorable, heart-melting moments were exactly what I got with Will and his daughter and it only made me love him more. And just in case I hadn’t made that abundantly clear by now, I pretty much adored Holly and Will together.

In case it wasn’t obvious, I absolutely loved A.J. Pine’s The Six Month Rule. I loved the story, I loved the characters, I loved the romance, and I just loved getting to hang out with the Kingston Ale House gang. And I can’t wait to hang out more with them in future books. 

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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Steadfast by Sarina Bowen

Title: Steadfast (True North #2)
Author: Sarina Bowen
Publisher: Rennie Road Books
Release Date: July 12, 2016
Source: ARC from Publicist
Buy the Book: Amazon / B&N / Kobo
She’s the only one who ever loved him—and the only one he can never have.

Jude lost everything one spring day when he crashed his car into an apple tree on the side of the road. A man is dead, and there’s no way he can ever right that wrong. He’d steer clear of Colebury, Vermont forever if he could. But an ex-con in recovery for his drug addiction can’t find a job just anywhere.

For Sophie Haines, coming face to face with the man who broke her heart is gut-wrenching. Suddenly, he’s everywhere she turns. It’s hard not to stare at how much he’s changed. The bad boy who used to love her didn’t have big biceps and sun-kissed hair. And he’d never volunteer in the church kitchen.

She knows it’s foolish to yearn for the man who returned all the heartsick letters she wrote him in prison. But the looks he sends her now speak volumes.

No one wants to see Sophie and Jude back together, least of all Sophie’s police chief father. But it’s a small town. And forbidden love is a law unto itself.

If you haven’t yet read anything by Sarina Bowen, do yourself a favour and go pick up one of her books as soon as possible. With every one of her books that I read, I just become more and more convinced that she can do no wrong. And Steadfast, her latest release, might just be her best yet.

A few weeks ago I completely devoured Sarina Bowen’s Bittersweet and as much as I loved Griffin and Audrey, Jude is who stayed with me. So I was beyond excited to get to read his story in Steadfast, even though I knew it had the potential to be the kind of story that breaks me. And it definitely broken me, but in the best way possible. Jude and Sophie’s story was just an incredibly touching one, even if they didn’t have the easiest of times making their relationship work To say there was a lot standing in their way would be quite the understatement because at times it felt like everything and everyone was against them. But they made it through and their story often had me in tears. But it was okay though, because despite the need for tissues while reading, I finished the book with a big smile on my face. Because as much as Steadfast broke my heart, it also put it back together. And stories that do that are my absolute favourite. Not only that, but through all the heartbreak and pain, Sarina Bowen injected an element of hope in the story that left me believing that no matter how bad things are, there’s always a little bit of hope, especially if you’re willing to fight for that hope. 

I was craving Jude’s story from the moment I first met him in Bittersweet. There was just something about him that spoke to me and I wanted to hear his story no matter how heartbreaking and difficult to read it would be. And while reading that story, I felt completely in love with Jude. In fact, I don’t think it would have been possible for me to not fall in love with him. Jude had definitely made some poor decisions in the past but he was working so hard to not repeat his mistakes and move on with his life. He struggled and his struggle broke my heart. But I also wanted him to catch a break, to finally have something go his way. And that something came in the form of Sophie, even if both of them were trying to resist falling back in love (did they ever really stop loving each other, though?) with each other. And I loved Sophie just as much as I loved Jude. Though she wasn’t struggling with addiction the way Jude was, Sophie had her own set of struggles and it seemed like at times she had no one in her corner. Except for Jude, even if he didn’t think he was good enough for her. And I know I’ve already said it, but Jude and Sophie just worked together and I don’t think I’ve ever rooted for a couple more than I rooted for them.

Sarina Bowen’s Steadfast was a beautiful and heartbreaking story and I loved every single moment of it. I am completely hooked on her True North series and I can’t wait to read the next book, Keepsake. And I’m pretty much dying to know who will be joining Zach in that story. 

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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Fast Connection by Megan Erickson & Santino Hassell

Title: Fast Connection (Cyberlove #2)
Author: Megan Erickson & Santino Hassell
Publisher: Self-Published
Release Date: July 11, 2016
Source: ARC from authors
Buy the Book: Amazon / B&N / Kobo
After a decade of serving in the Army, everyone still expects me to be Dominic “Nicky” Costigan—the skirt-chasing player. They don’t know I’ve been spending my days trying to figure out my post-military life. Including how to pick up guys.

When I meet Luke on a hookup app, he makes it clear it’s for one-night only. That’s fine with me, because I’m down to see what this silver fox can do. But after I arrive at his doorstep, it doesn’t take long to realize we have serious chemistry, and we end up meeting again.

He’s got more walls around his heart than a military base, but I think he’s as addicted to me as I am to him. He can’t resist me for long. I mean, who can? Except Luke’s rules exist for a reason, and when I test his limits, things get complicated. Maybe too complicated.

It’s official, I will read everything and anything that Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell collaborate on because, if you ask me, they can do no wrong. Fast Connection was an amazing follow-up to their first collaboration, Strong Signal, and I loved every single moment of it.

Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell’s first collaboration, Strong Signal, is definitely in the running for my favourite book of 2016 (at least, so far). It was a book that took me completely by surprise and one I didn’t know I would love as much as I did. I mean, it’s been months since I’ve read it and I still think about it and find myself wanting to reread it on an almost-weekly basis. So Fast Connection, their second collaboration? I DEVOURED it. I couldn’t put the book down. I mean, I mean I put my own safety at risk and read while walking home one night because I just had to finish the book (there were a couple close calls with lampposts but I survived). It was a completely addicting story that hit all the right notes for me. And that was especially true for the romance. I can’t even begin to explain how much I loved the romance in Fast Connection. There was something about Dominic and Luke that just did it for me and I could have kept reading about them forever. I was so sad when I reached the end of the book because it meant no more reading about them. Just like they fell in love with each other, I pretty much fell in love with them.

Let me be real here for a second: I didn’t exactly have a very high opinion of Dominic Costigan after reading Strong Signal. I mean, he was a bit (okay, more than a bit) of a jerk to Garrett. But even then, I was curious to see if there was more to him. And guys, there was so much more to Dominic Costigan than I could have ever thought and I absolutely love him now. There was something so endearing about him, despite the fact that sometimes I wanted to slap him because he was being stupid. And if the way Luke felt is anything to go by, I’m not the only one who thought so. And Luke. I so did not expect to be as charmed by him as I was. Much like Garrett in Strong Signal, Luke was the strong, silent gruff type. Which apparently is something I go for. Or at least it is in books. But for real though, I totally loved Luke despite my initial reservations about him. And Luke and Dominic together? It shouldn’t have made much sense, and yet it totally did. As completely different as they were, they were also absolutely perfect for each other. And I loved reading about them. 

If you’re even the least bit curious about Fast Connection (or Strong Signal for that matter), drop whatever you’re doing and go read it. Trust me when I say that you won’t regret. And when you’re done, you’ll be counting down the days until Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell’s next book. Because that’s what I’ve been doing since finishing Fast Connection.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Mini Reviews - Just a Girl & Good Girl

Title: Just a Girl
Author: Ellie Cahill
Publisher: Loveswept
Release Date: June 7, 2016
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / B&N / Indigo
In this pitch-perfect novel from the author of When Joss Met Matt (“One of those books that make you forget everything around you.” —Sophie Jordan), a rock’n’roll diva must choose between her career and her heart.

After getting kicked out of her own band—by her own boyfriend—Presley Mason finds herself back in Wisconsin, helping her parents run their renowned music store. Instead of belting out powerhouse vocals to sold-out crowds in L.A., she’s stocking shelves an inspecting rental violins. But the shop isn’t all bad: When she’s vacuuming up late one night, she bumps into the guitar teacher with the smoldering amber eyes and the killer tattoo. And that’s when things take an interesting turn.

Presley soon finds that Paul Kellerman is as good in bed as he is on guitar. So why isn’t he stoked to share his band, Jukebox Bleu, with her? Turns out Paul has crippling stage fright, which he’s been self-medicating without much success. But when Jukebox Bleu’s lead singer gets called for military service, the other members beg Presley to front them. Even though she swore never to mix men with music again, the temptation to perform is almost as intense as her chemistry with Paul. Now Presley must decide what’s more important: a second chance at love…or rock stardom.

Though she’s only been publishing books for just over a year, Ellie Cahill has quickly become one of my go-to authors when I’m looking for some fun, light-hearted romance and she hasn’t disappointed me yet. Just a Girl was exactly the fun story I was in the mood for when I picked it up. But what I loved about Just a Girl was that it wasn’t just fun, light-hearted fluff. Sure, there was plenty of fluff, but the story also deals with anxiety in a big way. But even though anxiety plays a big role in the story, it also doesn’t overwhelm it. It balances out all the fun music stuff nicely. And it made for an interesting dynamic between Presley and Paul who otherwise would have been very similar. And I loved Presley and Paul. They were both so passionate about their music and cared so much about it and each other. And for me, they just made sense.They worked together and I loved seeing them work through everything together. But the romance is always my favourite part of an Ellie Cahill book, so that’s not really much of a surprise. I have to also say that I loved the family relationships as well in Just a Girl, whether it was Paul with his sister, or Presley with her unconventional parents. I just loved everything about this book and I can’t wait to read whatever comes next from Ellie Cahill.


Title: Good Girl
Author: Lauren Layne
Publisher: Loveswept
Release Date: May 17, 2016
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / B&N / Indigo
Lauren Layne brings all the unpredictable heat of her USA Today bestseller Blurred Lines to an all-new cast of characters! Country music’s favorite good girl is hiding away from the world—only to find herself bunking with a guy who makes her want to be a little bad.

Jenny Dawson moved to Nashville to write music, not get famous. But when her latest record goes double platinum, Jenny’s suddenly one of the town’s biggest stars—and the center of a tabloid scandal connecting her with a pop star she’s barely even met. With paparazzi tracking her every move, Jenny flees to a remote mansion in Louisiana to write her next album. The only hiccup is the unexpected presence of a brooding young caretaker named Noah, whose foul mouth and snap judgments lead to constant bickering—and serious heat.

Noah really should tell Jenny that he’s Preston Noah Maxwell Walcott, the owner of the estate where the feisty country singer has oder her spoiled self at home. But the charade gives Noah a much-needed break from his own troubles, and before long, their verbal sparring is indistinguishable from foreplay. But as sizzling nights give way to quiet pillow talk, Noah begins to realize that Jenny’s almost as complicated as he is. To fit into each other’s lives, they’ll need the courage to face their problems together—before the outside world catches up to them.

Late last year I randomly decided to pick up Lauren Layne’s Blurred Lines without having heard all that much about it, only to find myself completely surprised by how much I loved the story. So when I saw Good Girl on NetGalley, you can bet that I jumped on that. I knew that if it was anything like Blurred Lines, I would totally love it. And on top of that, it involves a country music and that’s just something I can’t say no to. And Good Girl didn’t disappoint me. I loved reading every page of it, even if there were plenty of times when I just wanted to talk some sense into the characters because they were being completely stupid. But if they had gotten everything right on the first try, it wouldn’t have been as fun story to read. Which brings me to Jenny and Noah. I loved that there was more to Jenny than met the eye. I’m not going to lie, at first I didn’t expect all that much from her, but the more I read, the more I found myself loving her. Lying about his identity aside (which was a really stupid thing to do), Noah was pretty great, too (and by pretty great, I mean that I pretty much loved him). Jenny and Noah were an unlikely pairing and I think, for me, that’s what made them that much more fun to read about. And the fact that they didn’t exactly like each other at first led to some pretty amusing moments. Good Girl was exactly the fun romance story I had hoped it would be.

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