The Vixen and the Vet by Katy Regnery

Blurb:
22888713In this modern-retelling of “Beauty and the Beast,” Savannah Carmichael, betrayed by an unreliable source, returns to her hometown of Danvers, Virginia with her once-promising journalism career in ruins. Given the opportunity to get back in the game by writing a patriotic human interest piece, Savannah turns her attention to the town hermit, Asher Lee, a wounded veteran who returned to Danvers eight years ago, and hasn’t been seen since.

After an IED explosion in Afghanistan took Asher’s hand and disfigured half of his face, he’s lived a quiet life on the outskirts of Danvers where the locals respect his privacy…that is, until Savannah Carmichael comes calling in a borrowed sundress with a plate of homemade brownies. When Asher agrees to be interviewed by Savannah, he starts feeling things for the beautiful reporter that he hasn’t felt in years.

Misfits in small-town Danvers, Savannah and Asher create a bond right away, touching each other’s hearts in ways neither thought possible. When a terrible mistake threatens to drive them apart, they’ll have to decide if the love they found in one another’s arms is strong enough to fight for their hard-won happily ever after.

** Contemporary Romance. Due to profanity, realistically depicted scenes of war and very strong sexual content, this book is not intended for readers under the age of 18.**

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My Review:
3 stars — I thought now would be the perfect time to finally read Ms. Regnery’s Beauty and the Beast retelling, what with the new movie out…and crap on a cracker, it just didn’t work for me.  It’s so weird, b/c I really enjoy her Blueberry Lane books, but this is now the second of her wildly popular Modern Fairytale stories that I just didn’t connect with.  Quite frankly, this book left me extremely underwhelmed, especially given how outrageously popular it is.

It was so odd, b/c I started this book before bed one night, and just really wasn’t sucked in right away.  I wasn’t too sure about Savannah, and I really wasn’t enamoured with her sister Scarlet, so I put it down and went to sleep.  Then the next day I was reading while exercising, and I was wholly sucked in!!  I was just super excited and thinking “OH!!!  This is what they were talking about!”  I loved the beginnings of Savannah’s relationship with Asher, and how they met, and there was just some magic in their developing friendship and more.  I even highlighted things!  And then I had to do real life things, and when I got back to it today, I was bored.  Like wth?  I can admit that there might be a small mood component to my enjoyment, because I was having a really hard time articulating (even in my own head) what exactly went wrong.  But I’ll give it a try.

On the surface, I really enjoyed the way Ms. Regnery’s chose to portray our Belle and Beast.  I could totally see a reporter from a small town not fitting in, and a veteran with terrible disfigurements feeling ostracized by that same small town.  But I’m not sure I fully bought into their roles…more Savannah than Asher.  I could actually really understand Asher’s backstory and what he went through and how he came to be who he was, and I really felt like he stayed true to his character for much of the book.  And while his actions at the climax were harsh, I could kind of get it even if it made me disappointed.  But Savannah really did NOT act like a reporter.  It was like a character trait that she was just supposed to have that kind of facilitated the plot, but I don’t really feel like I understood much of her.  She uses her past betrayal and disgrace in so many aspects of the story, but I just didn’t know much about what happened, and I just didn’t really feel anything towards her and the decisions she made.  I didn’t empathize with her character nearly as much as I needed to.  I needed something more for me to understand why she would make such a big mistake at the climax, b/c she really came off as selfish, self-serving, and really not very in touch with people’s emotions.  So to say I was disappointed in my Belle would be a bit of an understatement.

And while I enjoyed their initial chemistry and found that spark and magic quite exciting, somewhere along the way I got really bored with it, and wasn’t feeling the steamy scenes…I honestly thought “oh, here they go again.”  I enjoy steamy scenes, but apparently there wasn’t enough keeping me interested in these ones, but that honestly could have been just me.

So the other thing that really didn’t work for me had a lot to do with how this “Southern” town was portrayed.  Are they really like that?  It felt like a stereotype was taken as fact and embellished upon.  It’s not that I don’t understand elements, but I wanted a bit more nuance I guess.  This is not the first time I’ve been insulted by the portrayal of a region that I don’t even live in, so perhaps *I’m* the one who has it wrong.  I don’t know.  But it influenced how I enjoyed Miss Potts (which was sometimes I did, sometimes I really didn’t).  It influenced how little I enjoyed Savannah’s sister Scarlet.  Though honestly, there were many more problems with her.  Both she and her fiance Trent were downright mean.  And I just did NOT buy the turnaround.  I’m glad it was there, I wanted to buy it, but I needed an apology and some humility I guess.  And don’t get me started on the Lance business, and dealing with it in a Southern way.  NOT a fan of that tiny side plot at all, and how it played out.

OK, enough complaining Lenore.  Let’s end with a high note.  I really enjoyed Savannah’s Mother, and the story she told of her relationship with Asher’s Mother.  I really thought it added to the story, and gave depth.  I know she had her own elements of caricature, but I didn’t mind them…maybe because she was kind.  I needed that kindness.

And I really thought the description of Asher’s injuries, and the bits of detail that we saw on how he coped with only one hand, and the look into things that could help him were well placed and added to the story.  It was a really good read for my diversity challenge in that way.

So yeah.  I’m bummed.  I take it really hard when I don’t enjoy a book that’s so highly recommended.  But apparently I’m a special snowflake that just can’t conform.  Oh well.  I’m going to at least give her Hansel and Gretel retelling a try, and if that one doesn’t work either, I’m totally calling it a flatline and sticking with her other series.  Sometimes we’re just not a match.

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Forever Mine by Erin Nicholas

Blurb:

31684529Maya Goodwin doesn’t believe in holding back. Ever. As a cop, she never hesitated to throw herself into harm’s way to save someone. Even after an injury on the job forces her to retire, she’s not afraid to keep risking it all to get the life she wants. With a new career teaching martial arts to kids already underway, she’s looking forward to the future – and taking a chance on the unbelievably hot Dr. Alex Nolan.

Maya – daring and spontaneous – is the exact opposite of what Alex always thought he wanted. But when a nine-year-old daughter he never knew existed shows up on his doorstep, Maya is the one who helps them hold it together. With love on the line, will the guy who’s always played it safe be willing to take the biggest risk of all?

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My Review:
4.5 stars — I received a free copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review/opinion.

OK, this was a fantastic addition to this series!!  And no, you most definitely do NOT have to read the first book to enjoy this one, but it’s super adorable as well, so I definitely recommend it.

I can honestly say that I loved both characters, and thought they both had some really unique aspects to their personalities, and were really well developed.  Both Maya and Alex were extremely likable, but not without flaws.  And because of those two aspects, it was so satisfying to see their growth over the course of the story, even if there were the occasional bits I wish we’d seen more of.

Maya was seriously badass, but also so satisfyingly nerdy.  She was just ridiculously one of a kind…I can’t even figure out how to describe her.  She’s completely unlike me, but I could really see liking her.  And admiring her.  I kind of wish we’d seen a bit more of her development wrt her future goals…because they kind of changed over the story, but we didn’t see her working that out, it just kind of happened along the way…one of those things that disappointed me.

And Alex was so cautious and meticulous, and eager!  He just kept surprising me along the way.  I loved seeing the little steps he was making forward, even if he was moving a little slower than I’d like, and even if occasionally I wanted to smack him.  But I kind of liked that he was not quite alpha, but not quite beta.  He had his strengths and weaknesses, and he admired the crap out of Maya’s strengths.

And the chemistry between Maya and Alex was smoking and very enjoyable.  But I could also see the relationship that developed between them that was more than just chemistry and lust.

I loved the nerd aspect, and loved some of the introspective commentaries made about the nerd community and why we love superheroes and all that stuff.  It just really felt…I don’t know, intelligent?  Is that insulting to other books?  Or maybe it’s insightful.  Like not just the nerd aspect, but the story as a whole — looking at why people help others, what that says about them, overcoming perceived weaknesses, all that good stuff.

I also really loved the secondary characters in this one.  I loved Maya’s group of friends, and that they are important to her and an integral part of her life.  I enjoyed Rachel, and was surprised that I did.  She was a bit too good to be true at times, but I actually enjoyed that it wasn’t a big dramafest and she really added to Alex’s life.  And Charli was pretty cool.  I loved how important she was to Alex, and how he was just so enthralled with her, but he eventually learned the importance of the dad role.

I did notice that occasionally things would happen that didn’t make sense in the timeline that was in my head, but perhaps that will change in the final copy.  It’s just that sometimes some events would be only days apart when I’d been given the impression it was more like a few weeks.

On a weird side note, I was surprised that none of the girls knew what hemophilia was, since I did…but I did an internet poll, and while the majority of my friends did know, there were a few that didn’t so I can accept it.

All in all I’m really loving this series.  I sincerely can’t wait for Sophie’s story if it’s anything like the first two.

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Déjà Revu March 19th, 2017

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Déjà Revu is a weekly review round-up that is open to all book review blogs.
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Original

Meme

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Contemporary

Mystery

Paranormal

Romance

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Contemporary

Fantasy

Horror

Non-Fiction

Romance

Science Fiction

Desire (Brightest Kind of Darkness #4) by P.T. Michelle

DesireBlurb:  Now that Nara and Ethan are working together to uncover the Corvus’ secrets, they’re confident nothing can stop them.

But while they’ve learned to anticipate dark outside forces gunning for them, neither is prepared for the insidious evil that slithers its way into their lives, nor the new challenges that surface so close to home.

Despite all the chaos and turmoil around them, the one constant they can depend on is their devotion and loyalty to each other. But as their relationship moves into deeper territory, sometimes the toughest battles are the ones waged within.

While the hunt for answers unravels more layers in the Corvus world, they also uncover new truths about themselves and their intricate connection to the powerful raven spirit.

When boundaries are suddenly redrawn and control shifts, Ethan and Nara will be forced to make choices that could bring them closer together or rip them apart forever.

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5 stars

Holy crap you guys this book went way left of what I was expecting! I pride myself on being able to predict a story but this one really took me for a ride. First I want to address the physicality in this book. I mean holy crap we see a different side to their relationship and I think it was needed because up till now their relationship hasn’t really been one.Ethan’s attracted to her light and they have a paranormal connection but their physical attraction was only addressed on the surface in the previous books.  

And again another underlying aspect becomes our main focus in this book.  The plot thickens! Ethan’s corvus decides to come out and play in this book He’s a bit of an ass but I’m glad we finally get to see some progression in that part of the story.Seriously these characters have some deep dimension. The plot has gotten pretty complex, I can follow it but I know that there are some little things that will come up later that I may not remember.  Surprisingly, I’m okay with that.  

It really became about them in this book.  It was so hot.   She can write sensuality like no other.  It was just so wonderful and deep I could feel them growing as a couple, setting boundaries, dealing with trust issues and just taking time to be together and not worry about the small stuff. It was such a great glimpse into their chemistry of which they had bucketfuls. Great big 50 gallon bucketfuls! ::Fans self:: I need a drink now.

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Destiny (Brightest Kind of Darkness #3) by P.T. Michelle

DestinyBlurb: In order to save Ethan, Nara gets pulled deeper into his dark world, where everything she thought she knew about Ethan and herself turns on its head. Ethan and Nara turn up the heat with bone-melting seduction and heart-rending moments, but surprising revelations, lies, treachery, betrayal, and unimaginable evil will challenge their relationship and their future together. As the stakes rise, encompassing more than just her relationship with Ethan, will Nara make the ultimate sacrifice?

 

 

 

 

 

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5 Stars

I like this cover better so I used it instead of the one on Amazon.

This book was packed with action, mystery and romance. I love the angst portrayed from both sides. This is fast becoming my second favorite series in this genre. The memory loss gave the story some great dimension. I love to that it gave us time to really come to terms with their new aspects of their relationship. We have so many new players that at first I thought were temporary. But it turns out they were intrical to the story.  

I feel that Nara is the stronger person in this relationship. Doing lots of research on Ethan’s behalf which I feel is kind of odd because he tells her to stop but she doesn’t which in turn causes more strife within their relationship.  

Ethan holds too much close to his chest and has some serious trust issues. Totally consistent with his character but it would be nice to see a little more growth in that area. His attachment to Nara comes off borderline obsessive.  Again,consistent with his character but the intensity of it got a little repetitive to read.

I love how her family is becoming more and more of a main focus. There’s just so much that happens in this book I can’t address at all! Drystan is a wonderful character in my opinion giving Ethan that push he needs to open up more to Nara. Danielle was a snatch! Wonderful quasi bad guy, she was manipulative, aggressive, self-assured and provided lots of conflict for Nara.  The ending was just superb and I can’t wait to read the rest of this series.

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Stacking the Shelves — March 18th, 2017

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(Images link to Goodreads, Titles link to Amazon using Amazon Affiliate links)

Stacking The Shelves is feature/weekly meme created by Tynga’s Reviews in which you share the books you are adding to your shelves, both physical and virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical stores or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

Curly Carla’s Haul

(All Ebooks unless otherwise specified)

eReaderIQ Freebies:

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Amazon Freebies:

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  • The Truth About Us by Allie Martin writing as TJ Hannah. I saw this being promo’d in one of the groups I’m and guess what? IT’S NOT A SERIES! So I snatched it up. You know how many books I’ve had to back away from because they were series? This challenge is killing me!

Lenoreo’s Haul

(All Ebooks unless otherwise specified)

NetGalley ARC Requests Approved:

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  • Pipe Dreams (Brooklyn Bruisers #3) by Sarina Bowen from Berkley (Berkley Publishing Group) — releases May 2nd, 2017.  I might have squeeeeed out loud when I got the approval for this one.  They are highly coveted, so I felt very lucky to be considered.  I love this author, and enjoyed the previous two books in this series (see my reviews for Rookie Move and Hard Hitter).  She’s another author I’m hoping to meet at the Big Apple Author Event I will be attending.

Preorders That Went Live:

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  • Operation Prom Date (Tactics in Flirting #1) by Cindi Madsen — released on March 13th, 2017.  I read an ARC of this book and ADORED it (see my review here), so of course I preordered it.

New Releases:

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Newsletter Signup Freebies:

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  • What a Kiss Is by Jolene Perry — This one was formerly published under the title Spill Over, which I actually already had.  But I wanted to sign up for Ms. Perry’s newsletter, so it all worked out.  If you want your own copy, check it out on InstaFreebie.
  • Wasted Words by Staci Hart — I’ve seen some mixed reviews for this book, but was still curious about it.  So when I saw it offered as a freebie on Penny Reid’s newsletter, I decided to take advantage!
  • Complicated (a Chaos Novella, Songbird #9.5) by Melissa Pearl — I actually got this one at the end of February, but I kind of forgot about it because I beta read it earlier in the month.  This is one of two free novellas offered to subscribers of Melissa Pearl’s Mailing List — you can subscribe here.  This is another book I need to get my review written for!  I’m so behind.  I don’t know why I didn’t write this one right away…I think because my laptop got stolen the day after I finished beta-reading it.

 Got It On Sale:

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Things I Should Have Known by Claire LaZebnik

Blurb:

31375784An unforgettable story about autism, sisterhood, and first love that’s perfect for fans of Jenny Han, Sophie Kinsella, and Sarah Dessen. New York Times bestselling author of Tell Me Three Things Julie Buxbaum raved: “I couldn’t put it down.”

Meet Chloe Mitchell, a popular Los Angeles girl who’s decided that her older sister, Ivy, who’s on the autism spectrum, could use a boyfriend. Chloe already has someone in mind: Ethan Fields, a sweet, movie-obsessed boy from Ivy’s special needs class.

Chloe would like to ignore Ethan’s brother, David, but she can’t—Ivy and Ethan aren’t comfortable going out on their own so Chloe and David have to tag along.  Soon Chloe, Ivy, David, and Ethan form a quirky and wholly lovable circle. And as the group bonds over frozen yogurt dates and movie nights, Chloe is forced to confront her own romantic choices—and the realization that it’s okay to be a different kind of normal.

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My Review:
4 stars —  I received a free copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review/opinion.

OK confession time!  I got this one a few months ago, and when I decided to start reading it, I kind of forgot exactly what it was going to be about.  So in essence, I kind of went into the book a bit blind.  Like so blind that I forgot her sister was on the autism spectrum, and then I was like “oh yeah!!”  So it took me a bit to really get into the story, but once I did I was seriously sucked in.

At the beginning, Chloe isn’t necessarily that endearing, and it takes a bit to really get a feel for who she really is…and part of that is that you start off seeing the facade that she shows to her peers, and not necessarily all of who she is inside.  And she’s not the only one I was unimpressed with, I really didn’t fall in love with many characters at the beginning, from her family to her friends and boyfriend.  In fact, I felt more antagonistic towards many of them, particularly her stepfather.  But I’ll get back to that.

As the story progresses you get to see why Chloe chooses to put on the persona and maintain her status in the popular crowd, with the “hot” boyfriend.  I actually think this is one of the best depictions I’ve ever read of a teenager going along and trying to fit in.  With all that she struggles with at home, I could see how she would want to be liked and how much easier it would be for her to just keep her opinions to herself.  You could see a bit of that internal struggle for her, but ultimately she didn’t want to make waves, and she kind of just wanted to feel what she perceived to be “normal”.  It’s always disappointing, for sure, but I *got* it.  Not sure if that makes sense.  But it also makes her development as a character that much more satisfying.  Seeing her start to feel like “enough is enough” and that perhaps other qualities are more important in friends and boyfriends than what she was initially seeking just really felt natural and believable.  That it’s OK to have different priorities, and to stand up for yourself against the norm.  Seriously, I really ended up loving Chloe by the end of the book.  It’s actually kind of nice to see a main character who is popular not because she’s secretly a nerd and tired of being bullied, but because she just likes being liked.

David, Ivy and Ethan were the other stars of this show.  If you’re looking for a book with a grand romance, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this one.  The romance with David is very slow building, and while I adored it, it’s really not the primary focus of the story.  It kind of gets shuffled to the background.  In the end I appreciated their developing friendship and banter more than the romance, which kind of felt rushed and tacked on in the end.  But seriously people, the developing relationship was SOLID.  I enjoyed that David wasn’t all sunshine and roses, that he was kind of a difficult character to love, but you could understand him as well, and how he came to be the way he was.  And he didn’t lose all those antagonistic qualities at the end, he was still kind of a dick to people, but you love him anyways.

And Ivy and Ethan were depicted so well.  I mean, I haven’t really had many encounters with folks on the autism spectrum, but I really thought that this was a fantastic representation of some of the unique attributes that can make them up…particularly because they were even different from each other.  And I really enjoyed the conversations that Chloe and David had, and the representations of the encounters they had with different types of people when out with their siblings.  It was heartbreaking, but unfortunately realistic.  And I loved that the story was from the siblings perspective, and showed the different challenges that they can face.  They’re not perfect, but you could really feel their love for their siblings.

Chloe’s mother and stepfather were challenging characters.  I really hated so many things about her stepfather.  He’s not evil, he’s got many shades of gray…in that way he’s really realistic.  And I know we’re seeing him from Chloe’s perspective, but damn he made me mad sometimes.  I’m up in the air with how his role played out in the story…I guess because he really is realistic in that he’s still got these really bad qualities, but he’s not all bad, and he can have some good moments too.  Sometimes I can’t deal with so much real, you know?  It’s so much easier when people are black and white.  In fact, many of the characters in this book are that real…from James and Sarah, to David’s parents, to Chloe’s parents.  I admire it as much as it vexes me as a reader.

OK, I’m getting seriously verbose here.  And I haven’t even talked about everything.  I enjoyed the Ivy twist in the middle of the book…I kind of saw it coming, but I thought it was another piece of diversity that was handled really well.

My only real complaint with the story is that the ending was odd to me.  It just kind of ended.  I didn’t feel that normal story flow, with a solid and clear ending.  And I guess my one other niggle is that occasionally we would encounter scenes that seemed meaningless in the overall scheme of the plot (like a moment in Camp’s class would just happen, and then we’d be onto lunch, and I didn’t really understand the point of it being included).

So basically if you’re looking for a diverse read with a fantastic look at life with someone on the autism spectrum, you NEED this book.  If you just love good YA coming of age tales, I would really recommend it as well.  Despite the few things that niggled me, I really really enjoyed this book and highlighted so many of Chloe and David’s interactions.

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Stripped Bare by Heidi McLaughlin

Blurb:

31358845They don’t call it the Strip for nothing. . . .

In this sinfully sexy Las Vegas romance from bestselling author Heidi McLaughlin, a man who has it all reunites with a woman who takes it all off.

Living in Sin City, Finn McCormick is no stranger to one-night stands, but the last person he expects to find losing big on the casino floor is a former high school fling. Even though Macey Webster’s clearly down on her luck, she’s still a knockout, and she’s dressed like a stripper—because she is one. Drunk off an unfamiliar cocktail of lust, pity, and compassion, Finn offers to pay Macey’s debts if she cuddles up to him around town . . . and does whatever he wants between the sheets.

Macey came to Vegas for one reason only: money. She’s got a young daughter to support, and the tips really are bigger in Vegas. But when she blows her earnings on blackjack, her guardian angel is the rich boy who once stole her heart and never called her back. Although Macey would love to turn the tables on Finn, she can’t afford to refuse his proposition—and soon she’s enjoying herself much more than she cares to admit. Macey’s used to baring her flesh, but baring her soul will take far more courage.

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My Review:
2.5 stars —  I received a free copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review/opinion.

OK, this one was a hard one to rate for me.  Because there was a lot that just rubbed me the wrong way entirely and made me grimace when I ended the book…but at the same time, I read this all in one afternoon and couldn’t put it down.  I’m not sure if it was like a bad car accident, or if I was just sucked in enough despite the things that didn’t work for me, or if I just needed something with a familiar plotline and was curious enough to find out where it was going and if it would get better.  So I’m rounding up to 3 stars…I just can’t deny that I was enraptured regardless of the reasons.

So…what were my problems?  *sigh*  I didn’t particularly like the characters, ESPECIALLY our hero Finn.  He was, quite frankly, a self-absorbed dick.  I mean seriously, he looked into a mirror and thought about what woman wouldn’t want him.  I know some people like those alpha guys, and I can sometimes, but they have to have some likable qualities, and I just didn’t see enough of it from him…he just wasn’t redeeming in my opinion.  I don’t mind a guy who is confident in himself, but like I said he came across more as just self-absorbed and self-important.

And Macey wasn’t terrible, I just didn’t really get much of a feel for who she was.  I know her daughter is really important to her, and I was intrigued with the storyline of a woman willing to strip to get her and her daughter out of the slums and away from her alcoholic mother (that has some sort of unsafe house).  But other than that, what interested her?  I did get some sparks of sass to her on occasion, but then they would be missing at other times with weak excuses for why she was allowing Finn to treat her a certain way.  I guess I was just confused.

And then there was the romance.  Am I the only one who wants there to be more than sex in a relationship?  I mean, if this was an erotica maybe (though even then some eroticas have more to their romance than this did).  But seriously, what drew these two people together?  What in the world did they love about each other?  Every time I saw a glimmer of something more, it would come back to sex.  I mean, I guess I know that there are couples out there where their relationship is mostly based on sex, but that’s just not as interesting for me.  I want to see friendship, and just some activities together that are outside that.  Heck, even Macey said on more than one occasion, there’s more to love than sex.  But then why didn’t I see that?

And am I the only one that felt like their relationship was kind of unhealthy?  Finn was downright mean to Macey on occasion, and she would excuse it.  The whore thing came up I don’t know how many times.  And I wasn’t even taken in by what Finn was thinking about Macey in his own head.  And every time they had an argument or something, he would like command her to strip and start trying to get busy, and then that would be that.

So yeah.  I was curious how the daughter thing was going to play out, and I was fairly ok with that aspect of the story.  Morgan really didn’t feel 10, but the author did occasionally say she acted young for her age…but I guess I don’t know why.  And otherwise it kind of played out like a mediocre Harlequin, which was probably why I was entertained.  It also had really strong Pretty Woman tones, but occasionally too strong…like I might as well just put on the movie and actually get some magic and conversations between Julia Roberts and Richard Gere.

The one bright spot for me was Lamar.  That guy was awesome.  But since the series is about billionaires, I doubt he’s going to get his own book.  A shame, he was the only character I really ended up loving.  Ah well.  I have other books by this author on my Kindle, so hopefully this was just a one-off, and not indicative of her characterizations in general.  Cause if it is, then we’re just not a good fit.

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The Opposite of You by Rachel Higginson

Blurb:
33932353I’ve sworn off men.

All men.

Famous last words, right? You’re expecting some epic tale of reluctant love and my dramatic change of heart? Well, you’re not going to get it.

I’m stubborn. And headstrong. And I’ve just survived the worst three years of my life. After escaping an abusive boyfriend to live in hostels and cheap hotels while I worked my way across Europe, I’ve come to two conclusions.

The first? Now that I’m back home, I’m going to squander my expensive culinary degree on a food truck that caters to the late night drunk crowd.

The second? I’m going to prove to the bastard across the plaza that my street food is better than his fussy five course monstrosities.

Killian Quinn might be Food and Wine’s Chef to Watch Out For. He might have a Michelin Star. He might have every food critic in the city wrapped around his too-large fingers. But he’s also pretentious and unbearably arrogant and the very opposite of me.

So he can keep his unsolicited advice and his late night visits and his cocky smiles. I want none of it. Or him.

I want the opposite.

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My Review:
4.95 stars — I got to beta read this book!!!  And I was seriously just floored, I have SO MUCH LOVE for it, I can’t even tell you.  My hubby would come home from work to find me in my reading chair, with the biggest grin on my face.  Like seriously you guys, I could have highlighted all of the dialogue in this book…it was just everything I love about a Rachel Higginson book.

And the thing is, it’s not just the smart witty banter.  (but I will come back and rave about that in more detail in a second)  Ms. Higginson also writes some of the most beautiful lines I have ever read…even just a sentence that captures my imagination and really brings home whatever she’s trying to convey about how Vera is feeling and seeing the world and herself.  Because while I would say the predominant emotion I felt in this book was snortfully gleeful happiness and so much giddiness, there is a darker undertone to the story that addresses an important topic that face so many people (often women) — mental/emotional abuse in a relationship (that can bleed into domestic violence on occasion).  I think it’s something that is hard for people who don’t experience it to understand, and even harder for the victims to understand and make sense of.  And I really believe that Ms. Higginson gives it a voice in Vera.  While I don’t personally have experience with this, I felt like Vera’s journey was an authentic one.  It was hard at times to be in Vera’s head, and see how she felt about herself, but I thought it felt realistic.  As with any story dealing with hard topics, it won’t be everyone’s journey, but one possible journey.

So that was long.  ANYWAYS…what I think I was trying to say is that the story had a really nice balance between heavy topics and glorious light and sassy interactions.  They blended perfectly, giving us a story that GIVES SO MUCH.  And don’t even get me started on the romance!!  Seriously, I was gleeful.  I’m neither here nor there on “enemies to lovers” type stories, but this one just…seriously, I can’t even…it was just…LIKE SO MUCH tension and laughter and sass and adorableness and did I mention tension??  AHHHH!!!!

I wasn’t sure what to think of Killian when we first met him, b/c wow…first impressions were not strong with this boy.  But OMG, when you start to figure out as a reader what is going on with him, and where his heart is at, it’s just so swoony!  Especially b/c Vera is kind of oblivious (but it fits with her history and where her self esteem is at).  But I so wanted to hug the crap out of that boy so many times.  He’s not my typical book boyfriend, but I’m seriously in love.  What an odd, stoic, somewhat closed off, but capable of so much feeling guy….

It’s funny, b/c I am a die hard lover of dual POV stories, but Ms. Higginson somehow manages to make me love a story with just one POV.  I think a lot of that is because Vera has such a journey to go on, and so we needed to see her take that journey.  But the other major part is that she’s able to convey to me enough of what Killian is feeling that I don’t feel like I missed too much not being in his head.  Does that mean I don’t want bonus scenes from his POV?  Heck no!  I DO.  I REALLY REALLY DO.  But they weren’t necessary for me to fall in love and get where he was coming from.

And if you couldn’t guess from all of the above, the star really is Vera.  She made me laugh.  She made me ache.  She made me want to high five her all over the place.  She made me want to hit my head against a wall.  She made me love her.

The supporting cast in this story really helped in Vera’s growth too, it wasn’t just Killian.  Her family is amazeballs, you could just feel the love.  And Vera and Vann were such perfect siblings (again, so much laughing).  And then there’s Molly, the BFF.  Oh Molly, you are da bomb.  I am so intrigued where your own story will go, but I loved what you added to this story.  And then there’s Wyatt.  Oh Wyatt, you freaking killed me.  ❤ ❤ ❤

So why not full 5 stars?  Just a tiny personal preference.  I’m super greedy and impatient about wanting to know everything IMMEDIATELY.  And the details of her previous relationship were given in tiny bits as the story went along.  Which is a valid storytelling choice, just not my personal preference.

(Oh, and this book had one of the best descriptions of how hard reviews are for the creator, regardless of whether they know that reviews are subjective and affected by the consumer’s personal experiences/preferences).

And damn!  The food!  I don’t even like peppers and I wanted those tacos (though she had me at grilled cheese).  I know that makes no sense, but I totally believed the foodie stuff in this book.  And at this point I’m just talking about everything.

So yeah, I know, gushy review.  It’s my right, I am a mega fan.  But I’m an honest mega fan, and I can honestly say that this is everything I love about Rachel Higginson.  And….mic drop.

Lenoreo_small

Top Ten Books on Our Spring TBR

Top Ten Tuesday
(Images link to Goodreads, Titles link to Amazon using Amazon Affiliate links)

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish in which you make a list of ten to do with a certain topic.  This week’s topic is “Top Ten Books On My Spring TBR.”  We’re each going about this a little differently.

Curly Carla’s Top Ten:

I’m doing books I want to read this Spring!

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  1. The Princess of Mars (Barsoom #1) by Edgar Rice Burroughs. This is on my Decades of Sci-fi Challenge and I want to start it soon.
  2. Morning Star (Red Rising #3) by Pierce Brown. This is the last book in the series and they keep getting better with every one he writes. Very excited to finish this series.
  3. Silence: Part Two of Echoes & Silence (Dark Secrets #6) by A.M. Hudson. I’ve been sitting on this book for like two years. This is the year I finish it.
  4. Diary of Bink Cummings: Vol 3 (MC Chronicles #3) by Bink Cummings. Another book I’ve been sitting on for a while. You’ll notice most of these are series finale’s. Most of my books will be finales because that’s my main reading challenge this year.
  5. While We Waited (The Reed Brothers #8) by Tammy Falkner. Another one in a long line of Reed Brothers books that I am obsessed with.
  6. How I Fall (How I Fall #1) by Anne Elliot. I’ve been told I need to read this series. I have both already I just need to start it.
  7. Shroud of Lies (Brewer Brothers #3) by Nancy Straight.
  8. How to Seduce a Band Geek (How To #2) by Cassie Mae.
  9. Broken Records by Cassie Mae & Tessa Marie.
  10. Rabbit Bones (Redemption #2) by A.L. Tyler.

Lenoreo’s Top Ten:

I made it easy on myself and just grabbed the NetGalleys/ARCs that I’m going to be reading over the next two months or so.  Technically, one of these I don’t have yet, but my fingers are crossed that I do get it!

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  1. Forever Mine (Opposites Attract #2) by Erin Nicholas — releases March 28th.
  2. Things I Should Have Known by Claire LaZebnik — releases March 28th.
  3. Stripped Bare (Vegas Billionaire #1) by Heidi McLaughlin — releases March 28th.
  4. Pillowtalk by Cassie Mae — releases April 4th.  Technically I alpha read this in the fall, but I’ll be reading it again before release.
  5. Geekerella: A Fangirl Fairy Tale by Ashley Poston — releases April 4th.
  6. Royal Disaster (Royal Scandal #2) by Parker Swift — releases April 4th.
  7. Dancing in the Rain by Kelly Jamieson — releases April 11th.
  8. The Bohemian and the Businessman (The Story Sisters #1) by Katy Regnery — releases April 24th.  This is the one I’ve signed up for an ARC for, but don’t know if I got it or not.
  9. Pipe Dreams (Brooklyn Bruisers #3) by Sarina Bowen — releases May 2nd.  I seriously *just* got this one, sooooo excited.
  10. Until You (Bachelor Brotherhood #2) by Denise Grover Swank — releases May 30th.

So how about you guys?  What books are you planning on reading this Spring?  Or what new releases are you most anticipating?