#FinishLine by Cambria Hebert

Blurb:
34384215
Every race has a finish line.

Where you go after you cross it is what matters most. And sometimes, that’s the most intriguing.

Here at GearShark, we’ve featured lots of drivers. All of them are well acquainted with the finish line. And as race fans, we’re well acquainted with cheering as they cross it. What we aren’t privy to is riding shotgun, seeing where they drive once the race is over.

Our interviews barely scratch the surface, offering just a glimpse of the men and women behind the wheel. The discovery of vanished Motocross sensation Jayson Hamilton, who has been right under our noses for years, proves secrets abound.

It’s time to dig deep. Look beyond the racetrack at the drivers who continue to pique our interest. In addition to scoring an exclusive, all-access interview with the elusive Jayson Hamilton (his first and only since the death of his fellow racer and partner Matt Lewis), we’ve caught up with some of our most popular featured men and women in the racing world.

Where are they now?

Who are they now?

What do these hot commodities do when they escape the spotlight?

Rumors of weddings, babies, and new tattoos swirl through the media on a weekly basis. And though we’re headlining the hashtag #Finishline, we’re far from finished. In fact, we’re just getting started.

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

My Review:
3.5 stars — I think I might have enjoyed this one a bit more if I’d had dedicated time to read it, instead of it being broken up in little pieces whenever I had time in between other stuff going on in my life.

That being said, remember how I LOVED #Bae because it was so much more than *just* a huge epilogue??  Well, this one is basically just a huge epilogue.  I kept waiting for twists and turns and more character development, and I really didn’t get it.  We did get a few answers about Hopper’s past, but in general I felt underwhelmed…like I wanted more.

And honestly, while I love Hopper and Arrow together, things got a bit overdramatic in their relationship…over the top declarations and stuff like that.  And I couldn’t help but be a bit uncomfortable with the co-dependency that was their relationship.  In some ways I can see how these two damaged characters might form that kind of relationship, but it’s not my favourite, if that makes sense.

Now, it was not all over the top and crazy, don’t get me wrong.  If it was, I wouldn’t be rounding up.  I do LOVE epilogues, so it was super fun to see them together, loving each other, putting each other first, and actually getting to see the happily ever after.  I loved Hopper and Jace’s conversation near the beginning, I loved the proposal, I loved Arrow’s surprise for Hopper in Las Vegas…well surprises (honeymoon too).  I loved the wedding.

I do remember seeing people mention that this was not just an Arrow/Hopper story, so I wasn’t completely taken by surprise when their story finished at 70%…I kind of still wanted more, but I was satisfied.  And I do remember people mentioning that there is no more Trent and Drew story (though they do have cameos), so I wasn’t surprised about that either (though there was a tiny piece of my heart that held out hope for some reason).

And I actually enjoyed Josie and Jace’s extra bit of story.  I thought they had a bit more to say, and I actually almost got more out of their story than I was expecting.  Though their little bit of conflict was resolved fairly quickly in the end, but I still appreciated that we got to see them hit a stumbling block.  I loved the proposal, I loved Jace’s conversation with Josie’s Dad and the way it played out after that, I LOVED the wedding (and seeing Josie get some girlfriends in Rimmel and Ivy, Trent’s da bomb), and I thought that the hospital scene at the end was hilarious and a perfect end to their story.

So yeah.  I enjoyed it.  Just not as much as I was hoping to.  Trent and Drew remain my faves, but I’m glad that Ms. Hebert didn’t just slap something together for them just because fans were asking.  I hope she gets inspired, but I will wait for gold if it comes, and be satisfied if this is all I get if inspiration doesn’t strike.

Lenoreo_small

#Blur by Cambria Hebert

Blurb:
32856045Nothing but a #blur…
There’s a new kid in town, and he’s hell on wheels.
From what we’ve heard, it may be because
he knows exactly what hell’s like.
Lonely.
Scorching.
Unforgiving.
You may know his brother, the NRR hotshot
(and former GearShark cover model)
Lorhaven.
It’s only natural a driver with his background and family connections
has sped his racecar into the newest, hottest division.
But that’s not all.
Arrow may be following in big bro’s tread marks,
but he doesn’t plan to stay there.
He’s swerving onto the road less traveled…
and a lot more controversial.
He’s opening up about his private struggles with sexuality
to tell a story that’s gone unheard until now.
One thing’s for sure; Arrow may have a painful past,
but his foot is heavy on the accelerator.
With speed like this, he’s bound to leave everything behind in
nothing but a #blur.
Check out the full feature article inside…

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

My Review:
4.5 stars — I will start off by saying that this book should contain a HUGE trigger warning.  I don’t have triggers, but I really don’t get why more authors aren’t putting them on books.  You can be vague, you can just say trigger warning and not explain what kind, but give people who have triggers at least a mini head’s up.

This book broke me, particularly the past sections.  I was trying so hard to contain my bawling in bed because my hubby was sleeping, but even though I wasn’t making any noise, I was shaking so hard he woke up anyways.  And didn’t even comfort me, the bastard.  So yeah, be prepared for a bit of an emotional rollercoaster in parts.

I’ve been fascinated by both Arrow and Hopper from previous books.  And their book was both really fulfilling and left me wanting a bit more at the same time.  We’ll see how I feel after #FinishLine, but this book was a strange dichotomy.  It’s why I’ll end up rounding down, even though I had mega feels while reading it.

I loved both characters.  I felt like we really got to delve into what their shattered souls were like, and I loved seeing them develop strength both on their own, and derive it from each other.  I really loved them together.  There were so many lines that just got to my heart, I loved how they recognized the brokenness in each other, but weren’t put off by it…rather they were drawn to each other almost because of it.

I freaking stood up and cheered with Arrow’s confrontation with his father at the end.  That was ridiculously satisfying.

There were so many scenes that just pulled me in and grabbed hold of me.  I loved the way they loved each other, how they both resisted, were unsure, were afraid, but the connection was powerful enough to keep drawing them back.  I even enjoyed that they had stumbling blocks, but that they overcame them.  And I really felt their chemistry, I especially enjoyed their first explorations of each other.

I will admit that there were things that didn’t quite work for me.  I thought the stuff Arrow dealt with from his father at the beginning was a bit over the top.  I was disappointed that we didn’t really get any resolution on the aftermath of Arrow’s past (I really thought we’d find out more details on what happened when Lorhaven found him, and what happened to the guys).  And similarly I was disappointed that we got NO resolution from Hopper’s past.  What happened to those two guys?  What happened to Arrow’s mother?  She just kind of fell off the radar, that seemed odd.  And while I loved the connection between Arrow and Hopper, it felt a bit rushed at the beginning…  And quite frankly, I thought the development of their physical relationship moved too fast to be believable with Arrow…I wouldn’t have minded something more there.  It seemed like a missed opportunity.  I know people heal in different ways, but…

So yeah.  Those are some mega missed opportunities, but I guess that goes to show how much I loved the parts that I loved.  They overshadowed those things that on a different book would have brought my rating down much farther.  Super curious to see what we get from the final book…

Lenoreo_small

#Bae by Cambria Hebert

Blurb:
30968750Happily-ever-after.
That’s what happens when you get married.
Right?
Turns out sparkly rings, cake and a fantastic wedding do not automatically grant you that, not even when it’s all you truly want.
I’m even starting to doubt the bottomless, unconditional love I share with the man I married will be enough.
I can’t have happily ever after, know why?
Because I can’t give Romeo what he truly wants. I’ve tried. So hard. I won’t be happy unless he is and something is missing. Someone.
Paparazzi are in my face. The flashing cameras and prying eyes are everywhere. My secret is getting harder to hide, and I know the second the scoop is dished the grip I have on the fraying rope of that happily ever after will snap right in my face.
In our face.
I can’t let that happen. No matter what.
Because with or without a happy ending, Romeo comes Before Anyone Else.

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

My Review:
4.5 stars — Oh Rimmeo… I forgot how much I loved their voices, you know? Like I knew I was in love with them, but I forgot just how much. And right from the prologue I was like “OH YEAH!” Seriously, these two are epic. Like I love them both individually, but I also love them as a couple. I love the way they love each other, I love the way they tease each other, I love them from their light interactions to their heavy interactions.

What I think I loved most about this book is that it wasn’t just an extended epilogue, full of happy, happy, happy. Don’t get me wrong, I love those…though usually in novella form, not in novel form. NOPE, Ms. Hebert gave us so much more. It’s like how in real life there is no such thing as a Happily Ever After…not really. You find your person, and that part is AMAZING…but you still work EVERY SINGLE DAY to make it the best it can be. You’re still faced with challenges, both individually and as a couple. And that’s what we get to see in this book, though a bit amplified because of Romeo and Rimmel’s celebrity status, and because Ms. Hebert loves to torture her characters along the way.

This book had a lot of heavy. It starts right from the prologue, and we really get a lot of feels and raw emotions. I’ll try not to go into too many details to avoid spoilers, but as I already had an idea of the issue Rimmel and Romeo would be facing, I’m not sure if it’s a spoiler or not. But if you’re adamant about not being spoiled AT ALL, perhaps skip the rest of this review.

OK, still with me? I cannot fathom how prospective parents do it. The loss that they suffer in the prologue is experienced by so many, but not really talked about openly. And as someone who doesn’t even desire children, it’s a bit out of my realm of experience. But I have friends who have experienced miscarriages, and I thought that Romeo and Rimmel’s experience was very raw and real, and touched on a few related topics. I actually did OK emotionally in the prologue, probably b/c I knew it was coming, but Ms. Hebert certainly tried to make me bawl, b/c you see how happy and playful and excited they are. And the rest of the book we get sprinkles of their struggles, mixed in with paparazzi crap, and the usual drama that seems to surround our favourite couple. I broke down for Rimmel, particularly in the scene where she visits Valerie. It’s so hard to see our kind-hearted heroine struggling with so many expectations and guilt. But it was Romeo’s struggles that truly caught me off guard…because I think we forget about the potential papa’s sometimes. I totally bawled for him, and felt every one of his emotions.

If that all has you concerned, don’t worry…we do still get a lot of moments of levity sprinkled in. And not only that, but it feels like coming home while reading this book, where you get to hang out with all your favourite characters again. I love the whole freaking family, and seeing Braeden, Ivy, Nova, Trent and Drew again just made my heart happy.

And yes, they do experience their fair share of over the top drama, but if you’re a fan of the Hashtag series, you know what to expect. And can I just say that I laughed so hard at the fourth wall break near the end of the book that I actually woke my husband up? That was comedy gold Ms. Hebert. Dark humour at its finest.

So yeah. As a die-hard fan of the series, I wasn’t surprised that I loved the book, but I think I was surprised that even after all this time there’s still more story to tell. And honestly? It just made me desperately want to reread from the beginning again. Instead I’m on to #Blur! Soon I will be done, and they’ll have to wait until I have time for another epic reread.

Lenoreo_small

Déjà Revu August 14th, 2017

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

Original

Meme

Picture

Contemporary

Fantasy

Horror

Picture

Contemporary

Dystopian/Post Apocalyptic

Fantasy

General Fiction

Horror

Romance

Science Fiction

Picture

Dystopian/Post Apocalyptic

Romance

Picture

Contemporary

Fantasy

General Fiction

Historical

Non-Fiction

Paranormal

Romance

Science Fiction

Suspense/Thriller

Women’s Fiction

Picture

Science Fiction

#Swag by Cambria Hebert

Blurb:
30367827These drivers got #swag…

Racing is in her DNA.
Right alongside money and power.
When you’re the daughter of one of the most powerful men in the country,
you have to work harder for success.
Joey Gamble’s a girl on a male-dominated track.
With a daddy who can buy whatever she wants.
But she doesn’t want anything… except to EARN her reputation.

Racing is his passion.
Trouble follows him everywhere. Some even say he invites it.
When you’re nipping at the taillights of the best driver in the new NRR,
you have to fight and claw for each and every success.
It’s never been easy for Lorhaven.
That’s why he doesn’t play by the rules.
He’s a man with a serious chip on his shoulder against the pro racing circuit.
We at GearShark want to know what’s up with that.

We’ve also been hearing rumblings…
of a pro who wants to go indie.

We’ve invited racing royalty and the driver from the wrong side of the tracks to sit down and talk to us about a possible crossover.
We expected sparks to fly when Joey and Lorhaven crossed paths.
Will those sparks ignite into a full-on inferno?
Read the full feature article inside…

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

My Review:
4 stars — This book had an up and down vibe for me.  There were parts where I felt like it dragged a bit, but then there were parts that were just over the top amazing for me.  So perhaps it’s really a 3.5 star read, but I just loved the ending so much, and it’s amazing how much the way a book ends can affect your opinion of it, you know?  So I’m going with full 4 stars anyways.  I rate on gut feeling anyways, so I guess I should go with my gut.

I will say that I’m not convinced that the Lorhaven we met in this book matched the Lorhaven we saw in #Junkie and #Rev.  Which is I guess sort of the point, we’re supposed to look at him more closely and see him more deeply.  And I totally did!  I really actually fell in love with the Lorhaven we meet in this book…but we didn’t meet Lorhaven did we?  We met Jace.  And I will caveat that I feel like there’s a disconnect between the two, there’s something missing from really allowing me to mesh these two together.  It’s not that you don’t see the ruthless side of him.  But I felt like his reasons for the illegal betting/gambling were just kind of glossed over, and weren’t enough for me.  And I can’t figure out why the man we meet in this book would have chased after Drew in #Junkie…but I might be forgetting an explanation that occurred in Trew’s books, since it’s been a few months since I reread them.  Basically what I’m saying is that if I look at him as a character solely from this book, I have no problems.  But if I look at him as a whole, I don’t feel like his character arc is believable.

Those stipulations aside, I LOVED Jace.  I loved the way he cared for his brother, how fiercely he loved him.  I loved that he made no apologies for his asshole-like nature, and that we did get to see how much of his personality was a front to maintain control.  I loved that while we got to see his good qualities, Ms. Hebert didn’t make all his bad qualities magically disappear.  And while I wasn’t completely won over by the speed and reasons he fell for Joey (or Josie as he calls her), I LOVED the way he fell in love with her…the way he cared for her, and how he is fierce in his love for her as well.  He was just very no-nonsense, and straightforward, which kind of surprised me.

Joey tried my patience at times.  There was a lot to love about her as well, she was a passionate woman dealing with so many struggles, both internally and externally.  My heart broke for her and how she saw her relationship with her father, and how she struggled to prove her worth in the face of insurmountable odds.  I LOVED how comfortable she was in her sensuality, and yet how innocent she was in love.  She was a strange mix of strong and vulnerable, and in general I thought it was done very well.  The climax of her story had my heart aching, and I loved the way she learned to lean on Jace, and open up to him and her father.

BUT.  But.  I’m the kind of girl that doesn’t believe it’s OK for women to hit men without provocation.  And there was a part earlier in the book that just tweaked me.  She slams her pointed heel into Jace’s foot and slaps him across the face for his asshole nature (“calling her sweetheart”).  Maybe it’s just me, but that is NOT a good enough reason to resort to violence.  And that bothered me.  To a lesser degree, there is another moment where I’m not thrilled with her physical violence, but I could give more of a pass (the street race).  At least there she had slightly better reasons, but I honestly hate it when a woman can physically assault a man and no one chides her, but when the man comes after her, everyone talks about how it’s wrong to hit a woman.  Uh, it’s kind of wrong to hit anyone, regardless of gender.  I get not everyone feels this way, and it’s not an issue I’m super passionate about (not enough to ruin a book for me), but it is something that bugs me.  (and no, I had no problems with the stuff in the climax…totally different circumstances)

The chemistry between Jace and Josie was fantastic.  You could really feel their attraction, and the steamy scenes were awesome.  And I really felt the development of their feelings for each other.  I thought the progression was natural and I loved getting to really see it happen.  I loved how they understood each other intrinsically, and how in most cases they brought out the best in each other.

And I loved getting to see so many characters that we already love, and ones I can already see myself falling more in love with.  This book sets up nicely for Arrow and Hopper’s book, I can’t wait to dive into it!

I can honestly say I enjoyed this story more than I had anticipated.  And while it was not all rainbows and unicorns, the things I loved outweighed my niggles this time.

Lenoreo_small

Déjà Revu July 31st, 2017

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

Meme

Response

Picture

Contemporary

Dystopian/Post Apocalyptic

Fantasy

Romance

Science Fiction

Picture

Romance

Picture

Contemporary

Non-Fiction

Romance

Women’s Fiction

Picture

Romance

Stacking the Shelves — July 29th, 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)

Gifted to Me:

35660066

  • Win (The Atlantis Grail #3) by Vera Nazarian. Sooooo, I’m doing a buddy read with some of my friends and I had mentioned that I needed to wait till I got paid to get the third book. Well, Theresa didn’t want me to wait that long. So she bought me the book. I was actually quite surprised because when she asked for my email address I thought she was gonna loan me the book. But no! So thanks Theresa for gifting me a book in a series that I have come to really enjoy. It has its ups and downs but overall, I’m glad you guys turned me on to this series. Now we just have to bugger Lenore to read it!

Got It On Sale:

332903042924102734535520

  • Yours to Bare (Slip of the Tongue #2) by Jessica Hawkins.  My girl Lenore let me know this was on sale so I snatched it up. The first book was INCREDIBLE.
  • St-St-Stuffed (Enemies to Lovers #2) by Anyta Sunday.  I got the alert this was on sale (free!) and I devour anything this author writes so it was a no-brainer.  No longer free.
  • Get It (Enemies to Lovers #2.5) by Anyta Sunday.  What! Another sale for free! Heck yeah, score! (I just got this alert today so it’s probably still free guys)

Lenoreo’s Haul

(All Ebooks unless otherwise specified)

Preorders That Went Live:

35002568

New Releases:

35782482

  • Royally Raised (Royally #2.5) by Emma Chase — released July 21st, 2017.  I have not read this series yet, so when this short story was offered in Ms. Chase’s newsletter, I failed to snag it.  So I was happy when this one was offered through Amazon, and when the Canadian price finally got to free as well.  Ms. Chase is an author that is attending both the Big Apple Author Event in October and Apollycon 2018 in Washington, D.C. next March that I’m going to.

Got It On Sale:

3022586623540783326200181919773134535520

  • Random Acts of Trust (Random #2) by Julia Kent — Late 2016, or early 2017 I snagged the first book in this series for free.  I haven’t read it yet, so I still don’t know if Ms. Kent is my kind of author, but I saw this second book in the series on BookBub for free from its previous price of 99 cents, and I figured on the off chance it’s my kind of thing, why pass up on the deal.  Still free.
  • The Fear of Letting Go (Fairhope #3) by Sarra Cannon — I read the first two books in this series quite awhile ago, but was very interested in book 3 (though it wasn’t out at the time).  So it went on the wishlist, and apparently I forgot about it.  So when I got eReaderIQ alert that this book was on sale for 99 cents from its usual $2.99, I one-clicked!  Still on sale!
  • The Sexy One (One Love #1) by Lauren Blakely — I still haven’t read a Lauren Blakely book, but I’ve been convinced to give them a try from reading reviews of bloggers I follow.  So I put a few on my wishlist.  And this week I got eReaderIQ alert that this one went on sale for 99 cents from its usual $3.99, so I one-clicked!  Still on sale!
  • Dazzled by Jane Harvey-Berrick — This author will be attending the Big Apple Author Event in October, and she mentioned this sale in the BBAE Facebook group. And since I love a good celebrity romance, and a friends to lovers, I nabbed it.  Still on sale for 99 cents from its usual $3.99.
  • Get It (Enemies to Lovers #2.5) by Anyta Sunday — Curly Carla shared this sale on our page, and since it’s a prequel to William (book 3) which I read a LONG time ago, I definitely want to see what it’s all about.  On sale for free from its usual 99 cents.

Kissing Max Holden by Katy Upperman

Blurb:
33797128Equal parts swoonworthy romance and deeply affecting family drama, this debut novel about the boy next door turned super hot bad boy will have readers hooked from the very first kiss.

After his father’s stroke, Max Holden isn’t himself. As his long-time friend, Jillian Eldridge only wants to help, but she doesn’t know how. When Max climbs through her window one night, Jill knows she shouldn’t let him kiss her. But she can’t resist, and when they’re caught in the act by her dad, Jill swears it’ll never happen again. Because kissing Max Holden is a terrible idea.

With a new baby sibling on the way, her parents fighting all the time, and her dream of culinary school suddenly up in the air, Jill starts spending more and more time with Max. And even though her father disapproves and Max still has a girlfriend, not kissing Max is easier said than done. Will Jill follow her heart, and allow their friendship to blossom into something more, or will she listen to her head and stop kissing Max Holden once and for all?

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

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

This book started out as a solid 4 star, and just kept slowly motoring downhill from there.  I honestly was sucked in by the storyline, and I thought Jill was an interesting heroine.  And I was pulled in by the initial chemistry and connection between Jill and Max.  And there were glimmers of goodness, don’t get me wrong.  I did enjoy some aspects, but on the whole I ended the book on a heavy sigh.  This review is probably going to focus on the negative aspects way too much, but I really did enjoy the few cute moments, hence why it’s not lower than 3 stars.

In the end, I didn’t really enjoy either Jill or Max.  They both had good qualities, but they were HEAVILY overshadowed by their bad qualities.  Or rather, I don’t feel like they redeemed themselves.  Jill was definitely better than Max.  I felt like I would start to like her, and then she would disappoint me and annoy me…then I would be impressed by some decision or choice she would make, then she would disappoint me again.  I can chalk up a lot of her annoyance as being a fairly stereotypical teenager, so I guess I gave her more of a pass than Max in the end.  But I still felt like I was shortchanged on her growth.  As an example, I didn’t necessarily buy her change of heart about the money.  I certainly wouldn’t have forgiven so easily, so it didn’t feel authentic.

Max’s journey was more of a deep valley of not good stuff, with a little blip of goodness occasionally.  I get that he was screwed up and acting out badly, and that’s fine.  I mean, it doesn’t leave me too impressed with him, but I get that was his storyline.  But other than occasionally being sweet to Jill, when he dived back down, he REALLY dived back down.  Where was his redemption?  Maybe it’s because we don’t get to see inside his head, so while he says he’s trying to get better, you sort of see it, but as a reader I just didn’t buy it.  I didn’t want to give him a pass.  And he was so hypocritical!  After all the crap he did, he totally jumped down Jill’s throat without giving her much time at all to grow as well!  Not impressed.  Gee, could you tell?

Inherently my problem with this story lies in the presence of a lot of one of my major button issues: cheating.  I’m sorry folks, it’s just not for me.  Maybe if it was just that first kiss.  Maybe if he hadn’t stayed with his girlfriend time and time again, while simultaneously trying to explore a relationship with Jill as well.  I could even forgive a little bit of Jill’s bad judgement, and her having to live with her decisions.  But we’re given hints that there is more to Becky’s story, and then what we’re given just didn’t seem like enough, and as with most YA’s, we’re made to dislike her because she’s a bitch and a mean girl.  It was a shame, it would have been more interesting if there was a hint of depth there.  It definitely doesn’t show Max in a good light then.  And it was like I was told about Jill’s emotional journey over how she feels about participating in cheating, but I didn’t feel it.  AND THEN there’s her Dad.  It was too much.  Too many truly reprehensible characters with no redemption.

There were bright spots.  I LOVED the development of Jill’s relationship with Meredith (and Ally to a degree).  That truly surprised me in a good way.  I enjoyed Jill’s passion for baking, and how she tried to figure out her future.  And I loved the little bits we saw of Marcy and Bill.

Honestly, I could probably pick apart a few more tiny things (like I wish there was more from the friend side of things, Kyle or Leah), but it’s just not that important.  This was a book with a lot of potential that just fell short in the end, and was tainted for me personally by the cheating topic.  I recognize it’s hinted at in the blurb, but if I’d known the degree, I would have steered clear.  Ah well.

Lenoreo_small

One True Pairing by Cathy Yardley

Blurb:
30174469They couldn’t be more opposite, the Hollywood actor and the hometown girl, but all they need is a little convention magic to become the perfect ship in Cathy Yardley’s One True Pairing.

Jake Reese needs a decoy girlfriend. Fast. The lead actor of the popular TV show, Mystics, is tired of losing his shirt to overeager fans. Literally. Which is why a chance meeting with gothabilly bookworm-slash-barista Hailey Frost seems almost too perfect to be true. Hailey is not impressed with his TV fame and is desperate to save her family’s bookstore. It’s a match made in Hollywood, but as the two pretend to date, fan fiction becomes reality. Can this OTP become canon?

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.

Yup, that was a whole lot of perfect for Lenore.  I was sucked right in, and entertained from start to finish.  I loved the humour, I loved the characters, I loved the romance, I loved the geek stuff, I loved the celebrity aspect…  Seriously, it was just my kind of book, you know?

Hailey was all sorts of unique as a heroine.  Not just because she embraced her rockabilly style, but because she was hiding a childhood growing up with grifters, and damage from time spent in the foster system.  I liked that she was both tough and independent, but she was also using her sisters as a crutch to avoid being vulnerable.  It was surprisingly easy to love her.

Jake was just uber adorable.  I just wanted to hug him.  He was so sincere, and kind, and caring, and passionate about what he loved.  I will admit that I saw the Susie thing from like a mile away, and so just kept waiting for him to figure things out.  I actually anticipated that resolving with Hailey as a catalyst, but I was satisfied with the way it went anyways.

And I liked the two of them together…you could really feel their draw to each other, and the chemistry and sexual attraction.  Seriously, it was hot.  But, even though it was hella fast, I still really enjoyed the development of their relationship due to spending so much time together in a short span of time.  And I found it amusing how tongue in cheek Ms. Yardley was having Hailey despise insta-love in stories and then giving Hailey a fast love story herself.  I’m sure it will bother some people, but I loved it.  I’m not an insta-love hater though (not a lover, just not a hater).

And the secondary cast was pretty great too, from Hailey’s sisters to Jake’s co-stars.  It’s definitely setting up future stories, you can totally tell.

Honestly, other than totally guessing the Jake side story, the only other thing I was meh on was the stalker storyline.  It felt a little thrown in last minute, and like just a plot device.  But I loved so much else in the story, I don’t even care.

Any book that can make me tempted to fight through sleep and keep reading, even though it’s 3 am, is my kind of book.  I did manage to resist, but I was epically tired.  Can’t wait for more in this series.  Gotta go back and read Level Up now, though those characters are only loosely mentioned in this one…it stands alone pretty well.  I concur with the title: Jake and Hailey are my OTP!

Lenoreo_small

The Difference Between Us by Rachel Higginson

Blurb:
35002568I’m cursed.

At least when it comes to finding Mr. Right.

I’m tired of men that only want one night stands or blind dates that are nothing but awkward and uncomfortable. I’m tired of avoiding inappropriate text messages and the constant disappointment of always meeting Mr. Wrong.

After all these years of dates that lead nowhere, I can admit that it’s me. I’m the problem. I’m shy and picky and cursed. Definitely cursed.

So I’ve decided two things.

The first? I’m giving up dating and relationships and men in general. Maybe, possibly, forever.

The second? I’m going to have to try harder to avoid Ezra Baptiste.

If I couldn’t hack it in the kiddy pool of dating, I certainly can’t swim in his deep end. He’s too successful. Too intense. He’s all man when I’m used to nothing but boys pretending to be grownups. He’s everything I’m afraid to want and so far out of my league we might as well be different species entirely.

So he’ll need to find a different artist to paint his mural. And a different graphic designer to help him with his website. He’ll need to find someone else to glare at and flirt with and kiss.

It can’t be me.

We’re too different.

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

My Review:
4.5 stars — I did receive an earlier copy of this book as a beta, in exchange for my oh-so-amazing opinions, and stellar typo catching (yes, there is some sarcasm there).  But I’m obviously going to write out my honest opinion, b/c I have one of those too (and it’s wholeheartedly unbiased).

There’s a reason Ms. Higginson is one of my favourite authors of all time.  While there may be elements here and there that don’t always jibe with me personally, I ALWAYS get a story where I fall in love with the unique and VERY REAL characters, and where I spend an inordinate amount of time smiling unexpectedly, truly laughing out loud (usually accompanied by snorts), and swooning left, right and center.  And isn’t it weird how you forget all about that enchantment in between your favourite author’s releases?  Like, you convince yourself that they’re not as good as you remember, or you’ve blown the memory out of proportion.  And then you get a few paragraphs in and it’s like coming home to an old friend.  THAT is what this book was for me.  I totally get that I *just* read The Opposite of You a mere 4 months ago, but from that first snort of laughter, I’m right back where I want to be.  And where I want to be is in Molly’s head.

I have wholeheartedly admitted in the past that my heart generally lies in dual POV books, so it always amuses the crap out of me that one of my favourite authors writes almost exclusively in single POV.  But again (because I feel like I’m repeating myself from my review of TOOY), she manages to convey so much through the heroine’s story, that I don’t even feel that gypped.  I’m still absolutely able to fall in love with the hero too, even without being in his head (though I would never sneeze at a bonus POV scene, *hint hint*).

Molly is exactly as hilarious and sassy and snarky as I expected her to be, but she’s also so much more.  Honestly, I really connected to her because I feel like she is a soul sister.  She’s a bit shyer, outside of her inner circle she prefers to blend into the background, she loathes confrontation, and she has a hell of a case of imposter’s syndrome (which my hubby constantly tells me I have).  And you know what?  I wanted to high five her for each of those characteristics, because she really felt like me.  I know strong forceful heroines are all the rage, but there is also something to love about a girl who has moments of meekness and insecurity.  And I really loved the glimpse we got into her family, and how her upbringing influenced her in so many ways.  It made it so that at parts where I was cringing for her decisions, I also got how she got there.  You know?

Molly’s story has so many elements, and not all of them were easy to read.  Particularly the sexual harassment she endures at work.  It’s so easy as a reader to be able to see what’s going on, but it’s SOOOO much harder to deal with it in real life when you’re faced with consequences and uncertainty when it involves your livelihood.  I had a REALLY hard time with that part, I wanted to scream at Molly so many times and it all made me feel very uncomfortable.  But at the same time I felt like it was really brave of Ms. Higginson to confront this issue, and shine a light on how complicated it is…and have Molly NOT make the black and white decisions.  It made the situation more REAL you know?

And then there’s the romance, which was a slam dunk for me.  I absolutely loved that Ezra managed to bring out a completely different side to Molly.  Their courtship made me laugh, it made me swoon, and it tugged at my heartstrings.  It was seriously just so odd you guys, but I was in love practically from the first e-mail.  I wasn’t sure what I was going to think of Ezra, b/c he’s kind of hard to pin down…but I thought Molly got to the heart of him, and we got to see what made him tick, and why he appears the way he does.  And their chemistry was amazing.  My only niggle is that I’m not huge on the flip-flop, and Molly did have a bit of that.  That would be what caused the half star loss for me.

Of course the secondary characters were beyond amazing.  My heart was so happy with the reappearance of all my favourites (Vera, Killian, Wyatt, and Vann), and I totally fell in love with Ezra’s half-sister Dillon as well.  Their addition just takes a great story and levels it up.  I tried petitioning for a certain pairing, but apparently I got the matches wrong.  To say I’m excited for more from this crew is an understatement.

And there you have it.  Essentially a fangirl review.  What are you gonna do?  We all have our favourite authors for a reason, and I’m a sucker for Ms. Higginson’s characters, and she writes banter that has my highlight finger going crazy.  It’s as simple as that.

Lenoreo_small