180 Seconds by Jessica Park

Blurb:
32739485Some people live their entire lives without changing their perspective. For Allison Dennis, all it takes is 180 seconds…

After a life spent bouncing from one foster home to the next, Allison is determined to keep others at arm’s length. Adopted at sixteen, she knows better than to believe in the permanence of anything. But as she begins her third year in college, she finds it increasingly difficult to disappear into the white noise pouring from her earbuds.

One unsuspecting afternoon, Allison is roped into a social experiment just off campus. Suddenly, she finds herself in front of a crowd, forced to interact with a complete stranger for 180 seconds. Neither she, nor Esben Baylor, the dreamy social media star seated opposite her, is prepared for the outcome.

When time is called, the intensity of the experience overwhelms Allison and Esben in a way that unnerves and electrifies them both. With a push from her oldest friend, Allison embarks on a journey to find out if what she and Esben shared is the real thing—and if she can finally trust in herself, in others, and in love.

images     scr2557-proj697-a-kindle-logo-w-rgb-lg

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

WOW.  Seriously, wow.  I knew I was going to enjoy this book, but I’m not sure I entirely realized HOW MUCH I was going to enjoy this book.  I was sucked in right from the start, and my love just grew in intensity as I continued to read it…  It was one of those books where you resent your life for interfering with your reading…or at least it was for me.

I am a sucker for a damaged heroine.  I wasn’t quite sure how damaged Allison would be, and while some of my suspicions were way off base, I really appreciated that we got to see some different effects of just being in the Foster system and bouncing around from home to home without an added other huge trauma.  Not sure if that makes sense, but sometimes I think just that basic concept of feeling unwanted and unloved and too much rejection does not get enough attention.  Allison honestly brought out all the feels for me, I HURT for past and present her.  I felt how much she wanted to close off the world, and how afraid she was of letting people in.  There’s a teeny tiny part of me that wonders if her transition was too fast, but that’s partly b/c there were time jumps in the story.  But quite honestly?  I was getting so much out of the story, I didn’t even care.  I LOVED seeing Allison slowly open up and accept love.  It was beautiful.

There were two shining stars for me in this story (besides our heroine of course).  Obviously there is Esben.  I wondered if he would be too good to be true, and I debated about whether that would annoy me, but you know what?  It really didn’t.  Especially because despite being such a good and kind and generous soul, we did get to see into his own damage, and see what shaped him into the person he was.  And he was not without his own flaws and bad decisions.  But I ADORED him.  EVERY STEP OF THE WAY.  I really expected a much different hero after reading the blurb and seeing social media star, and the glimpse we get before the experiment.  My preconceived notions were blown away.  He made me feel so many emotions all on his own, and he is totally my kind of book boyfriend material.  I want an Esben.

And I loved the way they grew together.  Their chemistry was palpable, and sweet, and slow burning, and gave me so many tummy tingles.  I ADORED the way their relationship progressed, it was all so satisfying for me.

The other star for me was Simon.  I’m not sure if it’s just because he’s a Dad, and I’m missing my own, but I LOVED HIM SO MUCH.  He made me cry in so many unexpected moments, just by being himself.  He was vulnerable, and honest, and tried so hard, and I was just always so happy that Allison had him.  And OMG, did he make me laugh!!  Right from that first chapter!!  I’m not sure I’ve ever loved a secondary character in quite this way before.  He added so much to the story.

Steffi was another intriguing character.  I knew there was more to her story, but for some reason I was still caught off guard.  I enjoyed what we learned about her, and what she brought to Allison’s own growth.

I did end up losing some of my steam nearer to the end, but I was also interrupted so many times, that I think that hurt it too.  If you can read it all in one sitting, I highly recommend that.

All in all this book made me laugh, smile big grins, get tummy tingles, silently cry some tears, and bawl like a baby.  That’s a pretty great spectrum.  Definitely one of my favourite reads of the year, it just hit all the right places for me.

Lenoreo_small

Stacking the Shelves — April 22nd, 2017

stacking-the-shelves

(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:

34538917308348693485770833545962

Lenoreo’s Haul

(All Ebooks unless otherwise specified)

NetGalley ARC Requests Approved:

34733602342845613480914229561320

  • Confessions of a Former Puck Bunny (Taking Shots #4) by Cindi Madsen from Entangled: Embrace (Entangled Publishing LLC) — releases May 8th, 2017.  I’ve become behind on this series and because of things going on in my life at the time, I didn’t get a chance to read the NetGalley ARC of book 3 I received, so I went out and bought it instead.  I was trying to read the books in order, but I’m not going to fail this time and am just going to skip ahead to this one.  It sounds AMAZING.  I’ll get back to the others hopefully this summer or fall.
  • True Colors (True Love #2) by Anyta Sunday from the author — released March 14th, 2017.  Technically this one was a Read Now on NetGalley, but I thoroughly enjoy Ms. Sunday’s M/M’s, so I clicked that Read Now button.
  • The Doctor’s Redemption (Shadow Creek Montana #3) by Victoria James from Entangled: Bliss (Entangled Publishing LLC) — releases May 22nd, 2017.  I’ve read the first two books in this series, and enjoyed them with some caveats (see my reviews for Christmas with the Sheriff and The Baby Bombshell).  So I knew I’d need to find out what happened with Gwen.
  • The Nanny Arrangement (Country Blues #2) by Rachel Harris from Entangled: Bliss (Entangled Publishing LLC) — releases May 22nd, 2017.  I actually read the first book in this series, and really enjoyed it (see my review for You’re Still the One), so obviously I wanted to read more.

New Releases:

3482623634826396

  • Locked Tight (Mindjack #4) by Susan Kaye Quinn — released April 17th, 2017.  I have the first three in this series, but haven’t read them yet.  But I’m very intrigued, and have enjoyed other books by Ms. Quinn.  So when I saw that this sort of spinoff extension of the series was being released and would be 99 cents on release week, I said OK!  Unfortunately that sale is over.  Yay for me, boo for you.  😉
  • Edge of Brotherhood (Love on the Edge #5) by Molly E. Lee — released April 19th, 2017.  I’ve been collecting this series by Ms. Lee, even though I still haven’t read one yet.  So when I saw this new release on The Rock Stars of Romance daily newsletter, and then saw it was only 99 cents, I said YES PLEASE!  AND it’s still just 99 cents!

Had to Get the Next Book in the Series:

26821969

  • Wicked Restless (Harper Boys #2) by Ginger Scott — I’m reading in preparation for Romancing the Falls in May, and this is one of the main authors I’m going all the way there to meet.  I LOVE her.  I had the first book already, and read it, and of course had to buy the next one and find out what happened with Andrew.  You can read my review here.

The Bohemian and the Businessman by Katy Regnery

Blurb:
32721286Priscilla Story, the self-proclaimed “wild child” of the straight-laced Story clan, has always had a knack for getting herself trouble. Except this time, her “growing problem” is going to require a Daddy sooner than later…or she can kiss her inheritance good-bye.

Shane Olson, who previously dated Priscilla’s sister, Margaret, isn’t opposed to a marriage of convenience for the sake of furthering his business interests, but Priscilla – with her wild ways – is just about the last woman he’d choose to marry.

In order to make the marriage look convincing, they end up having to spend more time together than they’d originally planned. When rolling stone, Priscilla, who lives by the seat of her muu-muu, and seriously-ambitious Shane, who’s had his whole life planned since he was eleven, start falling for each other, it’s going to take a whole lot of compromise for this Bohemian and her Businessman to find their happily ever after.

 

images     scr2557-proj697-a-kindle-logo-w-rgb-lg

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

OMG!!!  Stratton has competition as my favourite Blueberry Lane boy!!  Shane was sooooo my type of hero.  He was unsure, and confused, and inexperienced, and sweet, and caring, and SO HOT with the way he loved Priscilla!!  GAH!  Yup, I LOVE me some beta-ish boys.  I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about him after meeting him in Crazy About Cameron.  He was so abrupt, and clueless, and I just didn’t get a very swoony vibe from him at all.  But wow, underneath all that serious exterior is someone who is just so focused on his goals, that he’s let relationships fall by the wayside.  I really enjoyed watching him struggle with his attraction to Priscilla, and his conflicting feelings about where he thought he was going, and where his path ends up taking him.  His growth was really believable, and I LOVED the choices he made, and the points where he stood up for Pris…I didn’t feel like we had to wait too long for that, I HATE when authors make you wait and then give you an abrupt change.  Shane’s transition and development was perfect.  And on a sidenote, I want to punch Vicky in the nards!!  Screw you Vicky!

And then we have Priscilla!!  I was also confused on how to feel about P in CAC.  But she was such a strange combination of sweet and wild!  In fact, the wild is probably an overstatement.  I think they just call her wild b/c they don’t know what to do with her, b/c she breaks the mold.  Sure, she may be a wanderer, but you find out there’s reasons underlying that beyond the obvious.  And OMG, I totally felt her vulnerability, and how much it hurt that being who she truly was inside was so frowned upon by most of her family.  Honestly, I’m not sure how I’m going to fall in love with Betsy at all, she and Pris really have a volatile relationship…but I have faith that Ms. Regnery will work her magic.  I get that in big families, there are often divisions between the different types of personalities.  I LOVED that Pris had Meggie though (and vice versa).

And the great thing about Priscilla and Shane is that I really FELT their chemistry, and they totally made their “opposites attract” thing work.  Like I could really feel how they each fascinated each other.  Priscilla wanted to help Shane loosen up (and I think deep down he wanted that too), but she also needed the safety and security she felt with him.  And Shane needed Priscilla’s sweetness and light, but also gave her a safe place to acknowledge that it’s OK to set down some roots.  And damn!  They sure know how to steam up the place!!

I will say that I’m a bit torn on Priscilla’s extra secret.  I don’t mind the way she dealt with it, and I liked that it gave me a bit more understanding of her, but I felt like it came up really late in the book, and so it wasn’t given as much attention as I would like.  We didn’t really get to see her have a conversation with Shane about it, it was just mentioned and moved on from.  I guess that could happen, but it made me feel sad for Pris.

All in all, a FABULOUS read for me in the Blueberry Lane series.  It was definitely my kind of book, and I LOVE that we get to see such wildly different people in this series, both boys and girls.  Often times I feel like the heroes in long series can become a bit cookie cutter, but Ms. Regnery gives us a spectrum of both heroes and heroines.  And manages to find a way for ALL characters to get into our hearts somehow.  It’s truly my absolute favourite thing about this series, that no matter the personality of the character, whether I’m like them or not, Ms. Regnery always manages to get me to *understand* them, and root for them.  That’s a sign of great character writing.

Lenoreo_small

Bluebells (Wolf Land #1) by Fiona McShane


32797353Blurb:
 In 1652, Ireland is known as Wolf Land. Oliver Cromwell’s army have arrived. Properties will be seized. Land will be cleared. Wolves will be destroyed.

In the small village of Wolf Wood, Cromwell’s men face far worse enemies than those in the rest of the country. The wolves here are bigger, stronger, more intelligent. Could these wolves be something different? Could these wolves be forming an army of their own?

Sorcha Moore has grown up hearing stories about the unusual wolves of Wolf Wood, but her fears are more immediate. She fears what will happen to her older sister, Peggy. Peggy is to become the latest mistress of Lord Tolbert, so that the Moores can keep their farm. Sorcha is frightened, too, of her own future marriage to Sean, a farmhand. If the decision were hers she would be with Rory Farrrell, a young blacksmith.

Peter Moore has never let his daughters have their freedom. If he had, they might have turned out like their mother before them – a woman many thought was a witch.

On the night of Bealtaine, Rory Farrell is bitten. Unable to tell Sorcha that he must join the ranks of the werewolves who protect Wolf Wood, he tells her he is moving to Dublin.

No matter what his new responsibilities, Rory cannot truly abandon Sorcha. As the years pass, and Sorcha grows from girl to woman, he watches over her night after night. But when Lord Tolbert’s eyes turn to Sorcha, will Rory be able to keep her safe?

scr2557-proj697-a-kindle-logo-w-rgb-lg

images

DNF

I couldn’t get through this one. I made it about 20% in before stopping. It was too dry for me. I didn’t feel anything for the characters and the storyline was too linear for me if that makes sense. Too bad, I love shifter books.

Curly Carla_small

Wicked Restless by Ginger Scott

Blurb:
26821969Andrew Harper grew up in a house marked by tragedy. His older brother Owen did his best to shelter him, but you can only be protected from life’s pain for so long. Eventually, you end up just feeling numb…and isolated.

Loneliness was the one constant in Andrew’s life. Until one girl, met by chance in a high school hallway, changed everything. Emma Burke was a mystery and all that was beautiful in this world, the only air Andrew ever wanted to breathe. She took the lonely away, and filled it with hope and color, and Andrew would do anything to keep her safe, happy and whole.

But sometimes, what feels good and right is what ends up hurting us the most. And when Andrew and Emma are faced with an impossible decision, Andrew is tested to see just how far he’s willing to go for the girl who owns his heart.

Cuts are deep.
Scars are left behind.
And revenge beckons.

When Andrew finally gets his chance, in college, five years after his first love broke him completely, he finds out old feelings don’t really disappear just because you say you hate someone. The more he tries to avenge all that he believes he lost, the more he uncovers the real story of what happened years before.

Love is wicked. But a restless heart is never satisfied beating on its own. Can Andrew and Emma make it right before it’s too late, or will the ties that bind them now destroy their only chance at a future?

images     scr2557-proj697-a-kindle-logo-w-rgb-lg

My Review:
4 stars — OK, this one is a harder book to review and rate too, but the successes were much clearer and more impactful for me, so they definitely weigh more heavily in my opinion.  So I can definitely say that Andrew’s book was a hit for me, even if I did have some reservations.

I think my problem comes in that I was SO in love with Andrew in Wild Reckless, or at least what I could see of him.  He was sweet, and felt more beta boy, and yet lonely too.  I was curious where his story would go.  AND I FELL IN LOVE with him in Part One!  OMG, that boy was everything I was hoping he would be!!  He gave me tummy tingles, and made me giggle and swoon.  I ADORED Part One of this story (and yes, all the way through the letters too).  It made me so happy and so sad all at once.  I’m not always happy with being in the dark for long periods about certain aspects, but I did at least know there was more to Emma’s story based on comments made here and there (and actually had a pretty good guess, though it turned out to not be quite right).  I really loved that love story between them.  I felt their infatuation with one another, I felt how strongly their feelings came on.  And because of the Part One “climax” of sorts, I could understand how those feelings could be made even more impactful when you go through something difficult together.  I understood why Emma was scared (even without knowing the details of her story), and I totally believed in Andrew’s sacrifice.  So if I’m not making myself clear, I LOVED both characters in Part One.

And thus, my heart HURT for who Andrew became 5 years later.  And I actually got it.  I think the reason Ms. Scott succeeds in making me believe in Andrew and how he got to where he did is that I saw inside his head (LOVE dual POV books), AND I saw who he was before, I saw some transition in the letters, and eventually we learned a lot of the things that fundamentally changed him for the worse.  I TRULY GOT IT.  But I wish I didn’t.  My ultimate problem with this book, and the reason it’s a 4 star and not a 5 star, is that I hate Andrew’s choices for 30% of the book.  He was HORRIBLE.  To Emma yes, but mostly to Lindsey.  I think it went too far for my delicate sensibilities.  I don’t want to be *that* disappointed in a boy I love.  I honestly think the only reason I can forgive him is because I knew who he was before, who he *still* could be inside, and because I got to see some remorse.  But I’m still sad.  I would have appreciated it more if he made some initial bad decisions, but then distanced himself.  Ah well, we can’t always get what we want.

And I didn’t expect all the drama that found our hero and heroine in this story, but I was hooked on the ride.  I saw a few things coming, and I had all the feels for Emma and the struggles she goes through.  I thought that side plot was particularly impactful, and I enjoyed the journey she went on.  I think everyone’s journey is different, but I believed in the paths she took.  And I was satisfied with the way Andrew handled the situation.  I think that’s where we begin to love our hero again and forgive him.  It’s too bad it takes that, and maybe it’s a bit convenient, but I’m ok with that.  I actually felt like the Emma struggle from Part One (I’m trying to be vague and not give anything away) kind of got lost in Part Two.  I thought it would get more limelight, but it didn’t really seem to impact her life or come into play between her and Andrew.  I was a bit disappointed with that.  Again, sometimes there’s too much difficult stuff, and so you can’t spread the focus to all of it.  Ah well.

My absolute FAVOURITE part was the first date in Part Two.  OMG, could Andrew be anymore adorable?  And the way Emma hugged those presents, OMG OMG OMG.  LOVED them both.

AND, I’m totally onboard with another reviewers suggestion of a story for Trent.  PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE!!!  That boy was so sweet, and it was nice to see Andrew have a good friend.

So yeah.  I had some struggles, but the good stuff wins this time.  (on a side note, I don’t get the cover…particularly the ferris wheel)

Lenoreo_small

Punk 57 by Penelope Douglas


31437918Blurb: 
“We were perfect together. Until we met.”

Misha

I can’t help but smile at the words in her letter. She misses me.

In fifth grade, my teacher set us up with pen pals from a different school. Thinking I was a girl, with a name like Misha, the other teacher paired me up with her student, Ryen. My teacher, believing Ryen was a boy like me, agreed.

It didn’t take long for us to figure out the mistake. And in no time at all, we were arguing about everything. The best take-out pizza. Android vs. iPhone. Whether or not Eminem is the greatest rapper ever…

And that was the start. For the next seven years, it was us.

Her letters are always on black paper with silver writing. Sometimes there’s one a week or three in a day, but I need them. She’s the only one who keeps me on track, talks me down, and accepts everything I am.

We only had three rules. No social media, no phone numbers, no pictures. We had a good thing going. Why ruin it?

Until I run across a photo of a girl online. Name’s Ryen, loves Gallo’s pizza, and worships her iPhone. What are the chances?

F*ck it. I need to meet her.

I just don’t expect to hate what I find.

Ryen

He hasn’t written in three months. Something’s wrong. Did he die? Get arrested? Knowing Misha, neither would be a stretch.

Without him around, I’m going crazy. I need to know someone is listening. It’s my own fault. I should’ve gotten his number or picture or something.

He could be gone forever.

Or right under my nose, and I wouldn’t even know it.

scr2557-proj697-a-kindle-logo-w-rgb-lg

images

4 stars

I purchased this book on the recommendation of an author friend that I have. Hi Caylie! I’ve read PD books before, a few times actually.  But there was always something that really kept me from turning into a full fledged superfan.

This book was great and I really liked the penpal aspect of it. It’s actually kind of funny because my daughter has three penpals herself so it was kind of cool how it parallelled my real life.  The only thing that I didn’t like I gotta say was how they went from friends to enemies to lovers. Also, there was a lot of deceit in this book.  This is a bit if a deal breaker for me so I think that’s one of the reasons I can’t five star this. Yet, I keep coming back to her books so obviously it doesn’t ruin the whole story.

If you read her other books you’ll notice a trend with regards to the chemistry between the two main characters.  A lot of their sexual tension is based in very intense, passionate emotions but the emotions are negative.  They’re rooted in fear, anger and hate and I think that if I had to pinpoint something that pulls me back from being a super fan, that would be it. Because I cannot relate to having those feelings and then turning them around into a physical, sexual, love filled relationship.

But again, I keep coming back to her stories. Maybe I’m again glutton for punishment. Her stories always have depth and originality and as long as she keeps those coming, I’ll continue to keep reading them.

Curly Carla_small

Can’t Stay Away by Lilly Avalon

cant stay awayBlurb: Piper Winchester is fresh out of college. With only three weeks until her father remarries and five weeks until her first business venture launches, she’s got her hands full. She certainly doesn’t need any distractions to get in the way of building the future her father’s always wanted for her. But when a familiar boy with bright green eyes walks back into her life, she’s thrown for a loop.

Four years ago, Chase MacKenzie left for college without looking back. He didn’t mean to disturb the peace then, and he definitely doesn’t want to do that now. Once he lays his eyes on Piper again, there’s no way he can leave without fixing what went wrong in the past. Although she’s more determined than ever to push him away, he still manages to get under her skin. Regardless of what happens between them, there’s one thing that will always be standing in their way…

He’s about to become her stepbrother.

scr2557-proj697-a-kindle-logo-w-rgb-lg

images

3 stars

I do love me some step love! This one was different in the fact that the male MC was NOT an alpha, which was lovely.  He was a bit of a beta boy.  And while this story had the ‘traditional’ sex scenes, it was tempered with deep emotion.

One of my favorite things about this story is that they were friends in the beginning, not enemies. This really stood out because anyone who reads these types of stories knows they are mostly enemies to lovers.

I also like how the parents were more present in this book. Being aware and involved in the family.  Plus they were both out of the house and living on their own.  These may seem like little nuances but added all up helped to create a vibrant background that really sucked me in.

This was a quick read that I really enjoyed.

Curly Carla_small

Silver Bastard (Silver Valley #1) by Joanna Wylde

silver bastardsBlurb:  Fourteen months. For fourteen months, Puck Redhouse sat in a cell and kept his mouth shut, protecting the Silver Bastards MC from their enemies. Then he was free and it was time for his reward—full membership in the club, along with a party to celebrate. That’s when he saw Becca Jones for the first time and set everything in motion. Before the night ended he’d violated his parole and stolen her away from everything she knew.

Five years. It was five years ago that Puck destroyed Becca and saved her all in one night. She’s been terrified of him ever since, but she’s even more terrified of the monsters he still protects her from… But Becca refuses to let fear control her. She’s living her life and moving forward, until she gets a phone call from the past she can’t ignore. She has to go back, and there’s only one man she can trust to go with her—the ex-con biker who rescued her once before.

Puck will help her again, but this time it’ll be on his terms. No more lies, no more tears, and no more holding back what he really wants…

Audible button

scr2557-proj697-a-kindle-logo-w-rgb-lg

images

4 stars

This is another audio book that I chose from my Overdrive account. (An amazing app that allows you to listen to books for free through your library card) And I  know I’m not supposed to start new series but I needed another book to listen to.  And I liked the cover. I have a kinda sketchy past with MC books.  There was only one MC book that I recall liking.  So I figured I’d try a different format.  This was my last ditch effort before I threw in the towel on this genre.  I can gladly say that it worked.

This book was f-ing amazing! The voices are what really pushed it over the edge.  This book was a dual POV and it was read by a male and female.  These fucking readers you guys…  IDK who read them but I’m gonna look them up.  They read it so well.  I felt the characters, I felt the anger and the betrayal. I felt the chemistry and sexual tension between the characters.

The woman especially did a really good job I think.  Each voice was distinct and had a unique pitch and accent.  Even the male voices sounded real and it was astonishing how many inflections she could do. I’ve never heard so many different voices come out of one person in my life.

The guy was great to. I’m not trying to knock him but there’s only so high a males voice can go.  So when he did the females voices it wasn’t as seamless a transition.

The story itself was a predictable read…except the ending.  I totally bought into the story, but there was one point at the end that really shocked me.  Kudos to that author for that. The cool thing about it is it tied up all the loose ends so I don’t have to read anymore in the series.  And I’m not going to because I’d had my fill of this story line and world and have no interest in returning.  The beginning was very graphic and intense so people who are not into that kind of stuff I would not recommend this for you.

Curly Carla_small

Wild Reckless by Ginger Scott

Blurb:
25059516Kensington Worth had a vision for her senior year. It involved her best friends, her posh private school in downtown Chicago and time alone with her piano until her audition was perfected, a guaranteed ticket into the best music programs in the world.

Instead, a nightmare took over.

It didn’t happen all at once, but her life unraveled quickly—a tiny thread that evil somehow kept pulling until everything precious was taken from her. She was suddenly living miles away from her old life, trapped in an existence she didn’t choose—one determined to destroy her from the inside, leaving only hate and anger behind. It didn’t help that her neighbor, the one whose eyes held danger, was enjoying every second of her fall.

Owen Harper was trouble, his heart wild and his past the kind that’s spoken about in whispers. And somehow, his path was always intertwined with Kensington’s, every interaction crushing her, ruining her hope for any future better than her now. Sometimes, though, what everyone warns is trouble, is exactly what the heart needs. Owen Harper was consumed with darkness, and it held onto his soul for years. When Kensington looked at him, she saw a boy who’d gotten good at taking others down when they threatened his carefully balanced life. But the more she looked, the more she saw other things too—good things…things to admire.

Things…to love. Things that made her want to be reckless.

And those things…they were the scariest of all.

images     scr2557-proj697-a-kindle-logo-w-rgb-lg

My Review:
3.5 stars — Well, this book left me really torn.  The good stuff was REALLY REALLY GOOD.  Like really good (in case the capital letters didn’t sell you).  But the stuff that didn’t sit right with me is just hovering at the back of my brain, disallowing me from loving this book.

So what let’s do good stuff first.  I really love this author, and I love the way she can just drag out my feels and rip up my heart at times.  And she decided to go for the jugular right from the prologue.  I thought that the way she addressed Owen’s grief over his father, and the issues that he dealt with with his older brother was done REALLY well.  I really felt his confusion, and loss, and could kind of understand why he was such a dick and how he cultivated the attitude that he did, especially in the town he grew up in.  And my heart broke for everything that he was trying to do to protect his family.  And I could FEEL his pain.  Even though we don’t get in his head, I could feel it through Kensi.

I LOVED the way Kensi grew a backbone and remained steadfast with Owen through the tough times.  Even when her heart was breaking over things he was doing, she was still trying to be there for him, to try to pull him back.  And Owen was there for her too, trying to push her and not let her lose herself.

And I loved some of their sweet moments.  Particularly some of the sweet moments Owen had with Kensi, he could be so adorable because he just wasn’t used to normal relationships.  And hoo boy, when I eventually got on board with their chemistry, it was freaking hot!

I will also give a shout out to Grandpa, he was da bomb.  I wish we’d seen more of him.

OK, so that was all awesome.  I really did feel sooooo much with this book, and I enjoyed the moments when the characters surprised me and didn’t do what I expected.  BUT.  But…  *sigh*  While I *get* why Owen was a dick, some of the things he did to Kensi went too far for me to come back from, and I just couldn’t put him on my book boyfriend list.  It’s funny, b/c it’s not that I didn’t expect some of those bad things…he wouldn’t be an authentic “bad boy” if he didn’t have some slip ups, and people are complex creatures, so it’s reasonable to assume that he wouldn’t get it right all the time.  But I didn’t get to see enough of his transition, where he started embracing more of the sweet side and letting it shine through.  I didn’t get to see his regret over some of those bad decisions, some of those dickish moments.  And I needed that.  I really really needed more than we were given.

And along those same lines, b/c of the horrible initial encounters between the two, I didn’t understand what drew them together.  I get that she thought he was cute, but she was also terrified of him, so I needed some moment or action from him that changes her mind.  And not being in Owen’s head, I honestly don’t know WHAT he was thinking about Kensi.  I don’t know what attracted him to her.

And there were other little things.  Like Kensi’s side story was actually really heartbreaking, but I felt like it fell to the wayside in favour of the Harper story.  Which is fine, but then why have it at all?  It felt like it was unnecessary if you weren’t going to give it time and attention.  And while I get that she’s a teenager, I didn’t always appreciate how she talked to her Mom and didn’t seem to care about her, and I guess I just needed her to apologize and grow in that relationship.  It’s not that I didn’t agree wholeheartedly with Kensi, but there should be some respect there, or it should at least develop.  And I was kind of disappointed with how focused Kensi was on Owen, to the exclusion of her new friends.  It didn’t really feel healthy.  I guess that’s it, a lot of the things that bothered me were because they didn’t feel healthy.  Which happens in real life, but then I want some resolution to them, you know?  I want my characters to realize it’s not healthy and grow.  And I kind of felt bad for Morgan.  If you don’t remember who she is, then that’s exactly my point.  Why introduce an element, and then let it flounder.

I did really love Andrew though, so I’m excited to read his story.  *fingers crossed* that the little things don’t get in the way of my enjoyment on that one too.  I actually can’t decide how to round this one.  Up because I love the author and I loved all the feels and the chemistry?  Or down because the unhealthiness was too much?  Hmmm…

Lenoreo_small

Top Ten Things That Will Make Me Instantly Want to Read a Book

Top Ten Tuesday

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 Things That Will Make Me Instantly Want To Read A Book (topic originally done back in 2013 as top ten words/topics that will make me instantly want to read a book) — so yeah basically any topic or theme or ANYTHING (ie if X person recommends it) that will make you instantly want to pick up a book. My list will likely be called Jamie-bait because there are soooo certain things you can say in a summary or a review that will just instantly draw me to it!”  I’m a bit late, but I really wanted to do this topic!

Lenoreo’s Top Eleven:

OK, these won’t necessarily immediately make me want to read a book, but will definitely put the book on my radar every single time.  I’ll still likely read some reviews and make a final decision that way.  These probably all look like contemporary tropes, but some of them can be found in non-contemps too, I’m just such a sucker for the romance parts that those are the things that stand out.

  1. Ugly Ducklings!!!  Oh yeah baby, I LOVE me an ugly duckling book.  By that I mean a heroine (or hero if it’s an M/M book) who feels ugly and overlooked.  Low self-esteem, yes please!  I know that sounds horrible, but what can I say, it’s easy to relate to.  BONUS points if the heroine doesn’t go through some stupid makeover or plastic surgery that makes her traditionally beautiful, but rather that the hero just *sees* the beauty she always had.  This one’s definitely top of the list.
  2. Sort of related is the popular/hot boy noticing/being slayed by the plain/shy/dorky girl.  I even enjoy the opposite too, swapping the girl and boy.  I don’t always love these ones, but I’ll always look into a book further if it has this story line.  It’s a bit of opposites attract I guess.
  3. BETA BOYS!!!  OMG I love me a beta boy.  Give me some shy, give me some sweet, give me quietly adorable, I’m all in.
  4. Celebrity romances!!!  Obviously I’m more attracted to the hero being the celebrity, but I’ve enjoyed the other way too.  There’s just something about a “normal” person connecting with a celebrity that makes me happy sigh.  Semi-related is Royal romances.
  5. And an offshoot of celebrity romances is secret identity romances!!  Where one of them is a celebrity or royal or something and they go undercover and falls in love while pretending to be normal.
  6. Older Brother’s Best Friend romances.  Maybe b/c when I was a kid I had a crush on my bro’s best friend.  Especially if he’s secretly in love with her too, but has stayed away.
  7. Best friends to lovers!!  Especially if one has secretly been in love with the other, but too afraid to make a move and assumes it’s unrequited.
  8. Secret baby/pregnancy!!  ROFL, this one doesn’t make sense to me.  I’m not a kid person.  Seriously.  But I think it’s just the dynamics of why it’s remained a secret, and what happens when the guy finds out, etc.
  9. Arrangements that turn to love — like forced marriages/relationships for some ulterior purpose where the couple is forced into close proximity and feelings develop.  I think this is a holdover from my Harlequin days.  Actually, a lot of these are.
  10. Hockey romances.  What can I say, I’m a sucker for most sports romances, but I will always look closer to hockey romances.
  11. (sneaky bonus) Gay for you!!  These don’t always work, but I often end up being attracted to M/M romances where they don’t know they’re gay/bi (sometimes just one, sometimes both), but then they find that one guy that they can’t deny.  *sigh*

So what about you??  What “things” are guaranteed to have you looking closer at a book?