Stacking the Shelves — September 30th, 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!

Lenoreo’s Haul

(All Ebooks unless otherwise specified)

NetGalley ARC Requests Approved:

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  • Show Me by Abigail Strom from Montlake Romance — releases January 2nd, 2018.  An astronaut, a sheltered heroine, and do I smell an unexpected pregnancy?  YES!  Plus that cover alone had me requesting!
  • The Corner of Forever and Always (Everland, Georgia #2) by Lia Riley from Forever (Grand Central Publishing) — released September 26th, 2017.  This is all Lillian @Mom With a Reading Problem‘s fault.  I read her review, and she sold me.  Then I saw that this author will be attending Apollycon 2018 in Washington, D.C. next March, and I figured it was worth a shot trying to request.  SCORE!
  • Man Candy (Real Love #3) by Jessica Lemmon from Loveswept (Random House Publishing Group – Loveswept) — releases January 9th, 2018.  I’ve read the first book in this series (read the review for Eye Candy) and I have an ARC of the 2nd book that I’m overdue on, so now I can finish off the trilogy.

NetGalley ARC Widgets Offered (and Taken):

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  • Christmas in Kilts by Terri Brisbin, Lecia Cornwall, Bronwen Evans, Lavinia Kent, and May McGoldrick from Swerve (St. Martin’s Press) — releases October 31st, 2017.  I will admit, I don’t usually go for historical books…but who can resist men in kilts, am I right?  Plus, I need more books for my 12 Books of Christmas Challenge (yeah right).

ARCs from Authors/PR Companies:

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  • Unloved by Katy Regnery — releases October 8th, 2017.  No preorder on Amazon (though it is on preorder on the other vendors, I’m just too lazy to post links).

Newsletter Freebies:

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  • Filthy Beautiful Lies (Filthy Beautiful Lies #1) by Kendall Ryan — I seem to be a newsletter subscriber of Staci Hart (I’m assuming because of some giveaway, I don’t question), and this was a book that was being offered for free for her newsletter subscribers (which will likely sign me up for Ms. Ryan’s newsletter now).  I noticed that this author will be attending both Apollycon 2018 and Book Bonanza, so I figured why not give her a shot with a free book?  Although in preparing this post, I just noticed that this book is also free on Amazon, so I could have just got it there.  In fact, maybe I will do that…then when I review it, it will actually be a verified purchase.  Excuse me while I talk to myself.  😛

Gifted/Won It:

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  • Butterfly Tattoo: Ultimate Edition by Deidre Knight — Birthday Present from my partner in crime, Curly Carla!!  For the life of me, I can’t remember how I came across this one, but I know it was recommended!
  • Rather Be (Songbird #10) by Melissa Pearl — I won this book during Ms. Pearl’s Songbird Read-a-thon this summer!!  Which is fantastic, b/c I had the privilege of beta reading this one, so I’m so happy I can now put it on my shelf and pet it!

Signed Paperbacks:

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  • A Girl Like Me (Like Us #2) by Ginger Scott — I was able to meet Ms. Scott at Romancing the Falls in May this year, and I collected a large stack of her books signed (and no, they’re not on any Stacking the Shelves, b/c I kept putting it off, and now it seems silly).  Unfortunately this second book in the duo wasn’t out yet, so when Ms. Scott put up signed copies for sale on her website, you can bet I took advantage.  I can’t have the first and not the second!

Book Outlet:

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  • First & Then by Emma Mills — I think Deanna @A Novel Glimpse keeps pimping this author, so I snagged it.
  • The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns #1), The Bitter Kingdom (Fire and Thorns #3) and Walk on Earth a Stranger (The Gold Seer Trilogy #1) by Rae Carson — I’ve read The Girl of Fire and Thorns and really enjoyed it, but have yet to finish the series.  So I grabbed these two on the cheap, and thought I’d snag the first in another of Ms. Carson’s series for cheap too.
  • Forget Me Always (Lovely Vicious #2) by Sara Wolf — I LOVE this series, and already snagged the first book from Book Outlet, so I was stoked to find this one there as well.
  • Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen — I’ve read 2 YA’s by Ms. Dessen and loved them both, so figured why not grab another on the cheap?
  • The Fill-In Boyfriend and On the Fence by Kasie West — I haven’t read any of Ms. West’s books, but they come highly recommended.
  • Epic Fail by Claire LaZebnik — I read my first book by Ms. LaZebnik this year and really enjoyed it, so figured I’d grab another.
  • Appealed (The Legal Briefs #3) by Emma Chase — I’ve only read the second book in this series, but I LOVED it.  So I snagged this one too, to either get signed at the Big Apple Author Event in October, or Apollycon in March.
  • Harry Potter Box Set: The Complete Collection (Harry Potter #1-7) by J.K. Rowling — This is all the fault of an Instagram Challenge I was participating in.  The theme one day was your HP collections, and I realized I only have one set…and I’ve always wanted this rainbow set.  And then I saw it on Book Outlet, and it was all over from there.

Got the Paperback:

(I got all of these in anticipation of the Big Apple Author Event October 2017, Apollycon March 2018, or Book Bonanza July 2018)

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  • Him (Him #1), Us (Him #2), Good Boy (WAGs #1), and Stay (WAGs #2) by Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy — I love all of these books, and while yes, I could have preordered them from Ms. Bowen for BAAE, they would have come with signed book plates from Ms. Kennedy.  But since I’m hoping to meet Ms. Kennedy at Apollycon, I kind of wanted to get her autograph then.
  • Them (Him & Her #3) by Carey Heywood — Something went wrong in my pre-order for BAAE, and this book got missed…so guess I’m bringing it with me!
  • Royally Matched (Royally #2) and Royally Endowed (Royally #3) by Emma Chase — I still haven’t read this series, but I took a leap of faith.  Now to decide whether I drag these to BAAE, or wait to read them first and bring them to Apollycon.
  • It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover — When the paperback is temporarily cheaper than the Kindle version, I go for it…and maybe if I love it, I’ll bring it to Book Bonanza with me.

Got It On Sale:

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  • Cinderella Screwed Me Over by Cindi Madsen — I love this author, and so when I got an eReaderIQ alert that this book was on sale for 99 cents from its usual $5.99, I one-clicked!  Still on sale!  And bonus, I get to meet her again at Apollycon!
  • Paper Fools (Hearts and Arrows #1) by Staci Hart — This author will be attending the Big Apple Author Event in October, and so when I saw her mention in the BAAE Facebook Group that this book was on sale for free (and the next two books were 99 cents to celebrate her upcoming release of the 3rd book), I figured I’d take a chance.  I just finished it and unfortunately it wasn’t quite my cup of tea (see my review here).  Still free (usually $2.99 I think).
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Paper Fools by Staci Hart

Blurb:
34854820Bestselling author Staci Hart brings you an addictive romantic mythology series where love is the ultimate game, and Aphrodite always wins.

She’s everything I want, and she can never be mine.

I thought my heart was too mangled to love.

I thought my soul was too sullied to touch something so pure.

I thought I knew myself. But the truth is that it’s all a lie, and she’s the only one who can save me from myself.

But I don’t deserve her.

And she can never be mine, no matter how much I need her.

*This rockstar romance novel, formerly titled Deer in Headlights, has been rewritten and reedited for your enjoyment.*

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My Review:
3 stars — I snagged this one for free as this author will be going to a signing I’m attending, and the 3rd book in the series was coming out.  And I’m intrigued by mythology stories.  But there were so many things that just didn’t quite work for me personally…things that might not bug other people, but just made this not a Lenore read.

First: There was too much going on.  There are two separate stories in this book, and neither one got enough attention to truly capture me and suck me in.  This might be ok for others, but it left me disappointed and inevitably bored.  I think I would have enjoyed it more if it was mainly one story, with just a tiny bit of the other story thrown in, but it was pretty equal.  There’s the overarching story of the Greek gods and goddesses, and the competitions they are holding, and the challenge between Aphrodite and Apollo that is the basis for the story in the human realm.  And if it had just been a little bit of that, it actually could have been fun.  But within that realm we also get a lot of backstory about Aphrodite, Adonis, Apollo, and Ares (all the A’s!!).  And if that had been the whole story, I actually would have enjoyed it more…I found the backstories kind of intriguing and I was sucked in and even cried a bit.  But then there is the story about Lex and Dean, the humans that are part of the challenge.  And if they had been the main story, I might have liked it better.  Do you see where I’m going with this?  If any one element had been more prominent, I would have enjoyed myself more, because they all had potential.  But because we kept getting shuttled back and forth, I never really got a chance to fall in love and empathize with any of the characters.  I would start to, and then I would have to switch gears and go to the other story.

Second: There were too many POVs!!!  If it had just been the 4 main players (Lex, Dean, Apollo and Aphrodite), I would have been OK.  But we also got to hear from Kara (Lex’s BFF), Roe (Dean’s BFF), Travis (the boyfriend), and I feel like maybe another god or goddess…I can’t even remember you guys.  Now, there are two sides to this coin, because I actually enjoyed some things I learned in the other POVs, but it kind of left me whirling occasionally.

Third: I’m not a cheating girl.  It’s one of my button topics, it’s totally a personal preference thing, but it just puts a barrier towards liking a cheating character.  And while there wasn’t really a huge instance of cheating, there was an element in the human story (Lex has a boyfriend when she falls in love with Dean), and Aphrodite (Dita) herself is not a monogamous goddess.  At least Dita didn’t really promise monogamy to anyone, but I’m just a stupid romantic reader who likes to root for one couple, so watching her go from guy to guy never let me root for any one pairing, you know?  I’m serious when I say it’s just my own personality quirk, I’m trying not to judge, but…*sigh*  OK, I guess I’m a bit judgey.  If she supposedly LOVES Adonis, then the Ares stuff ends up feeling like cheating.  I don’t know.

I never really liked Lex or Dean, though I really did feel for Dean and his past.  I couldn’t help but wonder if he was on the spectrum, because that’s what his emotional coldness felt like to me.  I’m also not huge on love at first sight stories (lust yes, love no), and their love moved very quickly (but at least we could blame the gods/goddesses for some of that).  So I really had no investment in their love story at all.  That love story just ended up leaving me bored because of my lack of investment.  The bright spot were Roe and Kara, which is where having their POVs was a mixed blessing.  I rooted more for their romance than Lex and Dean’s.  And both Kevin and Travis were also very likable secondary characters!  It’s bad when you like the secondary characters more than the main ones.

And that brings us to the gods/goddesses story.  I actually really loved Apollo, and really felt for him (especially with all we learn about him).  His story made my heart ache.  His was done very well and added things.  Dita was harder to love.  She was as you would expect a goddess to be, so it was at least realistic…she was spiteful, vengeful, had a temper, all those less desirable qualities.  She did have good ones too, and I enjoyed how she developed over the story, and I did have sympathy for her.  I also really enjoyed her friendship with Perry, they made me laugh.  And Heff was so sweet, I just felt sorry for him.  And I actually really enjoyed the whole backstory of what happened to create this feud, and I liked how it resolved.

So as you can see, I’m seriously torn.  Like, I enjoyed quite a few elements of the story, but when you put them altogether it got to be too much, and not enough all at the same time.  Oh well.  Not for me.  I’m also not sure if Ms. Hart’s writing style is for me, because it was a bit flowery at times (which is not the right word, but I never know how to describe it).  I would catch myself stumbling over sentences, and growing impatient to get to the good stuff.  That’s all me too, just might not be the right match.

Get It (Enemies to Lovers #2.5) by Anyta Sunday

34535520Blurb: Unrequited love is a bitch. It sucks you into a narrowly focused world and leaves you blind as a bat to other things…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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4 stars

This was a cute short story.  I loved how we got to see them come together.  It was nice to see Benny finally see what he had right in front of him.

James was quite the forgiving character. I’ve been where he is and I had to walk away.  I’m a huge fan of this author so I expected to love it as much as I did.

Curly Carla_small

Never Let You Go (A Modern Fairytale) by Katy Regnery

25653505Blurb:  Regret, betrayal, kidnapping, loss, madness, abuse, passion, love.

In this modern retelling of Hansel and Gretel, thirteen-year-old foster children Griselda and Holden escape from their abductor after three years of brutal captivity, and try to cross the Shenandoah River on foot. Tragically, one of them makes it to safety, but the other is left behind.
Ten years later, Griselda’s boyfriend drags her to a fight club grudge match, and her world is turned upside down when she watches Holden step into the ring.

Though the connection between them is fierce, bitter regret, simmering rage, and a tangle of physical and emotional scars lie between them, just as dangerous as the white water of the Shenandoah.

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4 stars

This book was pretty intense, highly emotional and not for the faint of heart.  It involved overcoming some pretty graphic physical abuse.  Not something I usually read, it was done well IMO.  Sometimes when a read a graphic story, I will start to feel sick to my stomach if it’s too much physical abuse, but this one was just shy of that so I was able to finish it without cringing too hard.

With Holden, I identified a lot with how his feelings were portrayed. Not because I was abducted, but I have some experience with violence in my past.  One of the reasons I generally avoid too much of it.  He almost seemed to have this self sabotage ideal about him.  Like he punished himself because he didn’t believe he deserved to be happy.  And when Griselda came back into the picture he went into shock and became hyperfocused on her.  It was pretty fast paced and intense.  I know I said that already but IT’S TRUE!

Griselda was a bit of a hard sell for me.  I get her guilt ridden soul.  We all carry some form of guilt on our shoulders at some point in our lives.  I think I have a hard time with how much abuse she put herself through because of it. And yes, I do get that it doesn’t make sense since Holden chased the violence as well…. but as a woman it’s real hard for me to see how that would be penance for a perceived wrong.  The best way to get revenge on an abuser is to live the best life you can, despite their attempts to scare you otherwise.  At least that’s how I have coped.

I don’t know if I’m making sense at this point cause it’s late and I’m tired.  Really the only way you may understand what I mean is to read it, so go forth bibliophiles, and let me know what you think.

Curly Carla_small

Fake Fiancée by Ilsa Madden-Mills

Blurb:
34129618Fake engaged to the hottest quarterback in the country? SCORE.

They say nothing compares to your first kiss,
But our first kiss was orchestrated for an audience.
Our second kiss . . . that one was REAL.
He cradled my face like he was terrified he’d f*ck it up.
He stared into my eyes until the air buzzed.
Soft and slow, full of sighs and little laughs,
He inhaled me like I was the finest Belgian chocolate,
And he’d never get another piece.
A nip of his teeth, his hand at my waist . . .
And I was lost.
I forgot he was paying me to be his fake fiancée.
I forgot we weren’t REAL.
Our kiss was pure magic, and before you laugh and say those kinds of kisses don’t exist,
Then you’ve never touched lips with Max Kent, the hottest quarterback in college history.

Three months. Two hearts. One fake engagement.

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My Review:
3.5 stars — This one started off with a LOT of promise, but inevitably it just left me wanting more.  Bummer.  I’m thinking perhaps Ms. Madden-Mills just isn’t for me, this is the second book that had good bones, but just didn’t fulfill me in the end.

I loved the set up in the past and that first meet.  I was sucked in by their first encounter at University, and could see the initial chemistry they had together.  I was intrigued by Max, and loved the complexity of his character at first…a bit alpha with some vulnerability.  And I thought Sunny was nicely sassy, and independent and strong.

I adore fake relationship stories…I don’t know why, they just always suck me in.  And this one started off really well, and had good bones for that part of the story.  And I enjoyed the way their relationship continued to develop.

But then things just started to fizzle.  Sunny kept avoiding Max, and so I had a hard time understanding how they fell in love.  Max was a bit more boneheaded in some of his decisions than I normally like.  I still liked them both, but I wasn’t in love with either of them.

The major problem for me though, and what has me rounding down instead of up, is that I felt like a bunch of plot points just kind of fizzled or were dropped.  I stopped being intrigued.  I expected to learn more about Sunny’s father, and to see more resolution there (though we did get some).  I kept waiting for the first chapter to come back into play, and when it finally did it was kind of a let down (not bad, I just wanted more).  There didn’t even seem to be much of a climax, the book was more a hill than a mountain, you know?  And then the Felix/Bianca stuff.  That just left me confused.  I expected some big thing, with clarity, and we never got that.  Just a throwaway explanation in the epilogue.  None of these things are necessarily horrible, it’s just not my personal preference for a story arc, you know?

So yeah.  Bummer, I do have reviewers I follow who love her, but apparently Ms. Madden-Mills is just not for me.  Ah well!

Lenoreo_small

Déjà Revu September 25th, 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

Boho Book Club:

Reading Challenge:

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Contemporary

Fantasy

Paranormal

Romance

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Dystopian/Post Apocalyptic

Fantasy

Romance

Science Fiction

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Contemporary

Dystopian/Post Apocalyptic

Historical

Mystery

Non-Fiction

Paranormal

Romance

Science Fiction

Suspense/Thriller

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Romance

 

Stacking the Shelves — September 23rd, 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)

Got It On Sale:

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Lenoreo’s Haul

(All Ebooks unless otherwise specified)

NetGalley ARC Requests Approved:

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  • Cover Up (Skin Deep Inc. #3) by L.A. Witt from Swerve (St. Martin’s Press) — releases October 3rd, 2017.  I’ve read the first two books in this series and enjoyed them (read the reviews for Back Piece and Pounding Skin), and I really wanted to find out what happened with Nate and Lucas.
  • The Jingle Bell Bride (Christmas Brides #2) by Scarlet Wilson from Tule Publishing — releases October 3rd, 2017.
  • Deck the Halls (Darling, VT) by Donna Alward from Swerve (St. Martin’s Press) — releases October 3rd, 2017.
  • Take the Lead (Dance Off #1) by Alexis Daria from Swerve (St. Martin’s Press) — releases October 3rd, 2017.   Dancing and diversity?  SCORE!
  • Always You (Bachelor Brotherhood #3) by Denise Grover Swank from Forever (Grand Central Publishing) — releases November 28th, 2017.  I’ve read the first book in this series (read the review for Only You) and I have an ARC of the 2nd book that I’m overdue on, so now I can finish off the trilogy.

ARCs from Authors/PR Companies:

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  • The Princess and the Pizza Man (Destined For Love: Mansions) by Cassie Mae — releases October 3rd, 2017.  I’ve already preordered this one as well, but read it early?  Yes please!  Course if you look up, I now have like 5 books releasing on October 3rd…woops.

New Releases:

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  • Fix Me Not (The Fix #2) by Carey Heywood — released September 21st, 2017.  I read and LOVED book one in this series (read my review for Fix Her Up), and I NEEDED to read Asher’s story!!  Very excited.
  • Curveball (Barlow Sisters #1) by Jordan Ford — released September 22nd, 2017.  I’ve beta read this beauty!!  I actually just finished beta reading the final book in the trilogy, and the series is fantastic!  If you like a bit of suspense/mystery/action with your YA books, this series is great for that!  I’ll get a review written at some point, I’m just so behind on everything…

Newsletter Freebies:

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  • Bite the Hand That Bleeds (Mission #0.5) by Megan Erickson — I recently read the first book in this series (read the review for Blood Guard), and so when I saw this short story offered in Ms. Erickson’s newsletter, I said SCORE!  Title goes to the Instafreebie link.

Purchased:

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  • Cocky Bastard by Penelope Ward & Vi Keeland — So both of these authors are going to be attending the Big Apple Author Event in October, and I’d heard great things about their co-written books, so I decided to try a sample of this book.  And I was sucked right in, so I bought the book.  LOVED it, read my review here.
  • Bossman by Vi Keeland — Samesies for this one, got the sample, sucked in, bought it, finished it, loved it, read my review here.

Got It On Sale:

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  • Adapted for Film (Reel Romance #1) by Stacey Rourke — Curly Carla LOVED this book (read her review here), so I put it on my wishlist.  And earlier in September I got an eReaderIQ alert that this book was on sale for free from its usual $2.99, so I snatched it up!  No longer on sale.
  • The Trouble with Mistletoe (Heartbreaker Bay #2) by Jill Shalvis — It’s time for Christmas books!!  Especially since I joined The 12 Books of Christmas Challenge.  A lot of reviewers I follow enjoyed this little novella from last Christmas, so when I got an eReaderIQ alert that this book was on sale for $1.99 from its usual $4.99, I one-clicked!  No longer on sale.
  • The Negotiator (Harbor City #1) by Avery Flynn — I feel like I saw this one on The Rock Stars of Romance newsletter at one point and was intrigued, so it went on a wishlist (especially since this author is going to be attending Apollycon 2018 in Washington, D.C. next March).  So when I got an eReaderIQ alert that this book was on sale for 99 cents from its usual $3.99, I one-clicked!  No longer on sale.
  • His Christmas Miracle (Love in Montana #5) by Dani Collins — MOAR CHRISTMAS BOOKS!  Saw this one on BookBub for free from its usual $3.99, still on sale!
  • The next few books are part of a sale that Swerve (St. Martin’s Press) is holding on a lot of their novels (most on sale for 99 cents).  I initially got eReaderIQ alerts for a few of these books, and then I noticed it advertised on a few of my author event groups.  You can find the list of individual books here.  But there are some box sets on sale too (99 cents multiplied by the number of books in the set), so you can also just go to this list of books on Amazon with Swerve as the publisher, ordered by price.  Sale ends on the 25th.
    • One True Pairing (Fandom Hearts #2) by Cathy Yardley — I read a NetGalley ARC and loved it (see my review here), so wanted the final copy.
    • Elliott Redeemed (Preload #2) by Scarlett Cole — I got a NetGalley ARC of this one, but haven’t gotten to it yet.  But since I loved the first book in this series (see my review for Jordan Reclaimed), I took a wild stab that I will love this one too.
    • Shacking Up by Helena Hunting — Curly Carla loved this one too (see her review here), and she made it sound like something I would love too.  This author is also attending all the author events I’m attending over the next year, so if I love it, I’ll have plenty of opportunities to get a signed copy.
    • Second Circle Tattoos, The Complete Series (Second Circle Tattoos #1-4) by Scarlett Cole — I’ve read the first and the last book of this series through NetGalley (see my review for The Strongest Steel and The Darkest Link) and really enjoyed them, and I’m a series completer.  I also love collecting box sets and clearing up clutter on my Kindle.
    • All the Ways You Saved Me (Love Unplugged #1) and The Feeling of Forever (Love Unplugged #2) by Jamie Howard — Both of these books have been recommended by fellow bloggers I follow, and the second one at least has some diversity, so always a good thing to add to my TBR!
    • Off Beat: Body Rocks, Steady Stroke, Hot Licks (Off Beat #1-3) by A.M. Arthur — I’ve read the last two books in this series through NetGalley (see my review for Steady Stroke and Hot Licks) and really enjoyed them, so yet again: yay for box sets and series completions!

St-st-stuffed (Enemies to Lovers #2) by Anyta Sunday

29241027Blurb: Other than his most prized Lamborghini, Karl Andrews has nothing to his name. He’s down on his luck and his dollar, and his dream of becoming a professional chef is looking more and more like a pipe-dream. Even less than a pipe-dream when restaurants won’t even take him on as a waiter.
And he won’t ever, no not ever, consider selling his one possession. No matter how much he could make from it. Just wasn’t going to happen.
He’d rather . . . rather . . .
Hell, he’d rather apply for that position to be a Girl Friday.

Other than the title, the job sounds all right. Bit of cooking, cleaning—nothing he can’t handle.
Really.
Until he goes to the interview and discovers the man looking for the help is the same man he’d bullied, mocked, terrified as a boy. But Paul Hyte is obviously a better man, gracious and forgiving. And trusting—as the biggest part of the job requires looking after his son.

Despite the initial forgiveness, things are tentative between Karl and Paul, and they’ve both got to reconcile their pasts if they want any type of proper closure. As the two men learn more about each other an undeniable attraction grows between them—but can the two manage to forge a future together on such a rocky past and complicated present?
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4 stars

I really enjoyed this book. I don’t know that I could be the better person in a situation like this one, allowing an old school enemy to help take care of my son, it’s incredibly forgiving.  I thought Paul was pretty awesome for that.  It was what drew me into this story.  At first I thought that Paul was straight and this was gonna be a repeat of the first book but I’m glad that is not the case because I remember not liking that one as much. Paul has a hard time with his feelings (this happened in the last book as well so its a recurring) but the addition of a child added more to this book. Paul’s struggle with his sexuality is wonderfully written and helps Karl come to terms with his past relationship as well.  I though that was a nice parallel in the story.

The child was not a prop either.  He was an integral part of the story.  Children have a way of changing our entire view on the world and what we want from it.  I loved how Charley was the catalyst that brought such happiness into their lives.  Especially after they each had so much heartbreak.

Karl for the most part was exactly how I expected him to be.  I enjoyed his growth as a character.  He starts out a bit jaded IMO.  And I think the fact that his old enemy was willing to start over with a clean slate really helped his pettiness and/or bitterness towards other people.  And it knocked him down a peg.  The Lambo holding sentimental value was a nice touch and I could relate to that so hard.  My husband’s last parting gift from his father was to pay off his truck so he could continue working.  He will NEVER get rid of that truck.  The sentimental value is priceless.  I think I could have benefited from knowing more of Karl’s family background, we just really get a peek-a-boo into it.

All in all a great follow-up and I plan on finishing this series this year. Heck, I’ve already read the next one.

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Bossman by Vi Keeland

Blurb:
31140847The first time I met Chase Parker, I didn’t exactly make a good impression.

I was hiding in the bathroom hallway of a restaurant, leaving a message for my best friend to save me from my awful date.

He overheard and told me I was a bitch, then proceeded to offer me some dating advice.

So I told him to mind his own damn business―his own tall, gorgeous, full-of-himself damn business―and went back to my miserable date.

When he walked by my table, he smirked, and I watched his arrogant, sexy ass walk back to his date.

I couldn’t help but sneak hidden glances at the condescending jerk on the other side of the room. Of course, he caught me on more than one occasion, and winked.

When the gorgeous stranger and his equally hot date suddenly appeared at our table, I thought he was going to rat me out.

But instead, he pretended we knew each other and joined us―telling elaborate, embarrassing stories about our fake childhood.

My date suddenly went from boring to bizarrely exciting.

When it was over and we parted ways, I thought about him more than I would ever admit, even though I knew I’d never see him again.

I mean, what were the chances I’d run into him again in a city with eight million people?Then again…

What were the chances a month later he’d wind up being my new sexy boss?

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My Review:
4.5 stars — Since I’d had less success with Ms. Keeland’s solo works, but GREAT success with her first co-written work, I was curious to see how I’d enjoy this one…it came highly recommended by some bloggers I follow.  And I’m here to tell you, I floved it!!!  Can I get a woohoo??!!  Basically it was everything I loved about Cocky Bastard, so I do believe I just needed to find the right fit with Ms. Keeland’s work.

There’s just something about the chemistry of the characters, both steamy chemistry and friend chemistry, that just draws me in.  I LOVED the way they interacted with one another, the way they were drawn to one another.

Chase had me laughing almost right from the start with his elaborate made up stories.  And I found myself intrigued by him and the way you could tell he was immediately affected by Reese.  And he just burrowed further into my heart with the way he pursued his feelings for Reese, despite the roadblocks in the way.  I could feel his…almost…bewilderment at what he was feeling.  And when we finally started to get glimpses into his past, well my heart just broke for him.  I fully understood his hangups.  So many times the reasons for certain actions in these romances just doesn’t feel like enough, but I got it with him, even if I didn’t agree with him.  And while we didn’t get a lot from his POV, I still felt like I got to see inside him enough.

And Reese surprised the heck out of me too.  She was a heroine that I could get behind.  She had her own tragedies, her own hangups, but she just didn’t come across like most romantic heroines.  I felt a quiet strength in her.  And she was funny, and sassy, and I really appreciated her passion for her work, and her desire to make it on her own.  I understood her hangups, even if she broke my heart from time to time.  And she was a good balance of being caring and empathic, without being a pushover.  I really loved that.  I loved the way she often handled advances from guys with almost sweetness and humour.  I don’t know, she’s really hard to describe, and I’m probably doing a crap job of it.  But I LIKED her.  REALLY liked her.  So many times it’s easy to fall in love with the heroes, but I fell in love with her too.

And this book had a fabulous secondary cast too!  I enjoyed Reese’s BFF Jules, Ugly Kitty, and I especially loved both Sam and Anna.  They all added something.

And the best part?  Ms. Keeland knows how to give good epilogue.  Damn, I love good epilogue.  I can honestly say that I will definitely be searching out more books by this author in the future, especially those in this vein…vain?  Nope definitely vein.

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Cocky Bastard by Penelope Ward & Vi Keeland

Blurb:
26111248He was someone who belonged in my wildest fantasies instead of a rest stop in the middle of Nebraska.

A sexy, cocky, Australian named Chance was the last person I expected to run into on my cross-country drive.

When my car broke down, we made a deal. Next thing I knew, we were traveling together, spending sexually-tense nights in hotels and taking unplanned detours.

My ordinary road trip turned into the adventure of a lifetime. It was all fun and games until things got intense.

I wanted him, but Chance wouldn’t make a move. I thought he wanted me too, but something was holding him back.

I wasn’t supposed to fall for the cocky bastard, especially when I knew we’d be going our separate ways.

All good things must come to an end, right?

Except our ending was one I didn’t see coming.

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My Review:
4 stars — YAYYYYY!!!  After reading my first Vi Keeland novel and being underwhelmed, I was a bit concerned about trying more.  But I’d heard so many good things about her more recent novels, and also about these books that she and Penelope Ward have co-written.  So I tried a sample, and was absolutely hooked!!  This book was everything I was anticipating from these authors, and I was so happy that they worked for me!

This book was happiness and giggle fit inducing!  I fell in love with Chance pretty much right from the start, which honestly surprised the heck out of me!  He was nothing like I was expecting, especially with a book title of Cocky Bastard.  He was this weird mix of a bit of a dick, arrogant, a total smart-ass, cheeky, intuitive, thoughtful, vulnerable, and even sweet.  He just…there was a lot to him.  And I really loved him.  He made me laugh.  He intrigued me.  He kept me guessing.  And in the end he had me rooting for me.

And Aubrey surprised me too!!  I was expecting one thing, with her rigidity and uptightness, but there was a lot to her as well.  I LOVED the way Chance was able to bring her out of her shell.  She was funny, and sassy, and smart, and had such a big heart.

And the two of them together were just gold.  The chemistry was amazing, but what I loved is that the whole part one is them getting to know each other and developing a friendship while wanting more.  I could read part one over and over again and not get tired of it.  I honestly expected one outcome from Las Vegas, but was surprised that it didn’t end up that way.  Yay for not falling into common tropes!!

Part two shocked the crap out of me from the first page.  I DID NOT see that coming.  Like at all.  I LOVED Chance’s persistence, and you really felt how much he cared and how in love he was with Aubrey.  Unfortunately I felt like Aubrey let me down here and there in the second part, mostly just with how long it took.  I both needed it to take long, b/c it validates her feelings, and I desperately wanted things to get moving forward.  I would have appreciated it being tightened up a bit more.  I did appreciate that there were moments where we could have had long drawn out miscommunications, and the authors didn’t go that way either.  THANK YOU.  I get so tired of that.

Pixy/Esmeralda Snowflake/Mutton totally stole the show.  I loved the bonds that both Aubrey and Chance developed with her.

So yeah, I’m all aboard the fan train now.  Definitely will be checking out more of the books co-written by this duo.  It was a great mix of fun/crazy with depth/seriousness.  And a very satisfying ending.  Excuse me while I happy dance.

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