Forever Mine by Erin Nicholas

Blurb:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Things I Should Have Known by Claire LaZebnik

Blurb:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Stripped Bare by Heidi McLaughlin

Blurb:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Opposite of You by Rachel Higginson

Blurb:
33932353I’ve sworn off men.

All men.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I want the opposite.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Swinging at Love by Kendra C. Highley

Blurb:
34387362Outfielder Tristan Murrell has a problem. As the number two slugger for the Suttonville Sentinels, his team is counting on him to make their very first run at the state championship. But he has a secret—his swing has totally deserted him. As in, he can’t hit anything. He needs to fix the issue, and fast, but how?

Ballerina Alyssa Kaplan has a problem, too. The shiny new sports complex in town has left her family’s batting cage business on the verge of going under. Nailing her audition for a prestigious dance company is everything, but there’s no way she’s letting her some shiny big-box company destroy her family’s livelihood.

Tristan needs a miracle. So does Alyssa. And maybe, just maybe, Tristan’s secret weapon might be the girl of his dreams…

Disclaimer: This book contains hot, shirtless baseball players, kisses that bring a ballerina to her knees, and a lot of baseball smack-talk.

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

OK, this was a solid next book in the series that I didn’t know was going to be a series!!  And while I’m a little disappointed Faith and Kyle’s BFFs weren’t the focus of this story, Tristan and Alyssa were a pretty freaking spectacular consolation prize.  😉  And no, you don’t have to read book 1, but honestly, why wouldn’t you?  Shoot, I’m not even a baseball fan, or really a big muscular arms on a guy girl, but DAMN.  Ms. Highley knows how to make me swoon.  This is exactly what I love from a young adult romance…a fun quick read, lots of lightness and sweetness and swooning, but with just enough depth to give me more.

I think the thing I love most about both this book and the previous one is the sweetness of the heroes.  Tristan was just adorable!  He didn’t have the same background that Kyle did, but he was just really down to earth, and he knew what attracted him.  He had his own struggles coming from a family with completely different interests to him, and I could really appreciate that aspect to his story.  I liked that while he did feel like the odd man out in his family, his family was still good peeps…just lost in the world of baseball.  It’s an interesting facet that I don’t necessarily read a lot, where you have that dichotomy, but still have the love you know?  Not that that makes it any easier.  It was nice that he had Keller too.

And Alyssa was just awesomesauce.  I loved her sass, her insecurities, her straight talking, her confidence in certain things.  If I swung that way, I would totally be intrigued by her.  And I loved her own family dynamic.  I loved how close she was, how much her family influenced her, and it was nice to see a story where it wasn’t rich guy with poor girl (or vice versa), but there was a money/lifestyle disparity. But it wasn’t really the focus.  It was about how her family was struggling with their local business in an economy that’s hurting everyone.  I loved how important Swing Away was to her, and what she was willing to sacrifice for it.

And oh wow, Tristan and Alyssa’s chemistry was fantastic.  Right from their first interaction, you could just feel it.  I enjoyed that.  I was SERIOUSLY concerned with the way things would play out with Dylan and Lauren, and I was kind of disappointed in how it went initially, but it didn’t drag on like I thought it would, and it resolved better than I expected.  So phew.

And now, this girl who has no interest in baseball whatsoever, is seriously hoping for more from this series.  I love book baseball.  It’s way more exciting.  And I want more swoony guys from Ms. Highley, she seriously excels.

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Operation Prom Date by Cindi Madsen

Blurb:

33224662Kate ships tons of fictional couples, but IRL her OTP is her and Mick, the hot quarterback she’s crushed on since, like, forever. With only one semester left of senior year, it’s now or never if she wants to land him in time for prom. Since she’s flirtationally challenged, she enlists Cooper Callihan, the guy who turned popular seemingly overnight but who used to be a good friend.

Cooper lives and breathes rowing, but his partner just broke his wrist. When he remembers Kate’s good with a set of oars, he strikes a deal: help him train, and he’ll make sure her crush notices her. Only he didn’t know how addicting spending time with her would be. Or how the more successful the Operation is, the more jealousy he experiences.
The mission has been set. The troops have their marching orders. But what if the target is the wrong guy all along?

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains stargazing, accidental swimming, and poker swindling. This kissing practice will melt your ereader…and give you a new couple to ship.

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

I am shipping Kaper so freaking hard, I can’t even tell you.  Like seriously, this book was just everything my little YA-loving heart was looking for.  It was fairly light, with just enough depth to give it interest.  And while I don’t think you have to be a fandom lover to enjoy this book, if you are, I think you will definitely fall in love with Kate.  I’m not even a major fandom lover, but I totally get shipping couples, and wanting them to be together, and being angry at the writers for drawing it out.  And in some ways Ms. Madsen kind of fulfilled that longing and irritation and GAHness with Kate and Cooper.  You could just tell that they were perfect for each other, but of course she had to put them through the wringer on the way to HEA.  I’m not always a fan of misunderstandings and all that jazz, but it really fit in this storyline and worked for the story that was being told (if that makes any sense at all)…or at least it did for me.

And you know how my favourite part of any story is the characters?  Well Kate and Cooper were amazeballs.  Not without flaws for sure, and not without feeling like authentic teenagers, but I just really loved them both.  My heart broke for Kate and how she came to be the person she was.  Not just with her father, but also the circumstances with her friends.  I’ve been that girl with no friends b/c I wasn’t willing to change myself to fit in.  It’s all well and good to be solid with who you are and to put that above other things, but it can be very lonely.  And she was just so freaking quirky and adorable!!  She made me laugh so much.  Seriously though, she really reminded me a lot of myself (right down to the lost father).  And I enjoyed that what really drew her to Mick was her perception that he was more sweet than he seemed, based on his moments of kindness.  It was a bit of a bummer that she didn’t catch on as quickly to how changing herself wasn’t the way to go, and that maybe he wasn’t worth it, but sometimes we see what we want to see and we want things so badly that we don’t make the connections until later.

And then there was Cooper.  OMG, book boyfriend city man.  He was just so sweet and thoughtful, and dealing with his own set of struggles, and just trying to survive in a way.  I loved being in his head and reading about his thoughts.  He was an interesting guy b/c he had this popularity in some ways, but didn’t seem to realize it.  And I adored his little bit of nerdiness, talk about swoon!!  My only real complaint with his story was the resolution with his father.  It didn’t feel authentic, b/c his father really felt borderline mentally abusive to me…or just too toxic anyways.

Honestly though, the star of this book was Kate and Cooper together.  Seeing them experience the tummy tingles for each other, and those breathless moments, and the friendship that developed…GAH!  It was just perfect.  My romance loving heart was so freaking satisfied, I had tingles just reading about them.  And the climax was perfection.  It just read exactly as I wanted it to.  And then we even got some delicious epilogueness!!  I love epilogueness.  It was so satisfying.

So basically this story was just tailor made for me.  Love.  Adore.  So much shipping.

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One Wild Night by Melissa Cutler

Blurb:

33025544Get ready for the ride of your life…

A cowgirl at heart, Skye Martinez has a rebellious streak she’s determined to shake. Especially since she’s poised to take the reins of her family’s business at Briscoe Ranch Resort. It’s time for her to settle down and get serious about her future…right after one last night of fun with a handsome stranger she meets in the resort’s stable. But when a midnight horseback ride turns into a red-hot weekend with one of country music’s biggest stars, Skye’s world is rocked beyond her wildest dreams…

Gentry Wells rode his bad boy image all the way to the top of the country music charts. But churning out hits has dried up his creativity, and he can’t remember the last time his life was his own. Skye is a sexy distraction he can’t resist, especially since she breathes new life into his music. They bring out the wild side in each other, which is great for Gentry’s career–but a major threat to Skye’s. Too bad he’s fallen in love with her. With their hearts and futures on the line, can Gentry convince Skye to turn their joyride into a real chance to ride off into the sunset together?

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

This is going to be another review that’s kind of choppy b/c it’s based on bulletpoint notes.  But basically the jist is that this was just not a book for me.  I have read one other novella set in this world, and I enjoyed that one, but this one did not have that same magic (and no, it is not required to read other books in the series, this one can stand alone).  I did not like the characters, I did not like the plot, and really, this book felt like a mediocre Harlequin.

The characters did not feel consistent AT ALL.  I mean, I didn’t like them that much either, but I really just didn’t believe their growth.  They both felt superficial and shallow, lacking the depth that really sucks me in.

I really did not appreciate the Catholic guilt in this book.  I get that they really feel that guilt and families are like that, but Skye’s mother was not even remotely redeeming.  It made it hard to understand why family was so important to Skye when you didn’t see that… Well, a little.  One good moment with Gloria, but for it to be so important to Skye, I expected to see it more.  Her father was awesome too, but I just felt sorry for him.  I REALLY needed the Mom to have more dimension so that I could understand why Skye felt so strongly about her family and the values she was raised with.

And the conflict Skye was under…I just didn’t quite get it.  I knew where the author was going in broad strokes, but I don’t think it was effectively achieved.  I guess I just didn’t feel her inner struggle, or understand how it all played out inside her head.

I didn’t get Gentry at all.  Maybe if we got to know his past a bit more, I would have known what drove him to be who he was.  It was like the author had these broad strokes ideas of who these characters were, but didn’t take the time to flesh them out and make them believable.

And I did NOT feel the spark between them past the first night in the stables (that night was hot).  In fact, the sex scene really didn’t have much emotion, it felt like an erotica scene (which is fine, but not how this book is marketed).  I want a connection between my lovers.  *shrugs*

And finally, I know this was an ARC and not the final copy, but it was riddled with mistakes.  Typos, wrong names, timeline inconsistencies…I sincerely hope that it had a major clean up before release.  Usually ARCs only have a few typos left to clean up, this one felt like an earlier copy.

So yeah.  It sounds really bad, but it was mostly just disappointing and meh for me.  Like I didn’t hate anything, I just wanted MORE from like EVERYTHING.

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Waking in Time by Angie Stanton

Blurb:
41qzzukgasl-_sx335_bo1204203200_Still mourning the loss of her beloved grandmother and shaken by her mysterious, dying request to “find the baby,” Abbi has just arrived at UW Madison for her freshman year. But on her second day, she wakes up to a different world: 1983. That is just the first stop on Abbi’s journey backward through time. Will is a charming college freshman from 1927 who travels forward through time. When Abbi and Will meet in the middle, love adds another complication to their lives. Communicating across time through a buried time capsule, they try to decode the mystery of their travel, find the lost baby, and plead with their champion, a kindly physics professor, to help them find each other again … even though the professor gets younger each time Abbi meets him. This page-turning story full of romance, twists, and delightful details about campus life then and now will stay with readers long after the book’s satisfying end.

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

Well damn.  This book was sooooooo weird for me.  I was extremely compelled to read it, and couldn’t put it down (staying up until the wee hours of the night to finish it).  But I was also kind of unsatisfied with many aspects of the story, and I’m not exactly sure what was compelling me.  Honestly, I think I just wanted to know the answers.  I wanted to know the different mysteries, and I wanted to know how the time travel was going to work and be explained.

I can honestly say that the mysteries were my favourite parts of the story, from how the time travel was working to the lost baby plotline, even though the lost baby mystery wasn’t really remembered and reintroduced until fairly late in the story.  I think it’s so odd when something is part of the blurb, or mentioned at the very beginning, but ends up only being a small part of the plot as a whole.  I wasn’t expecting that, and it was kind of frustrating how it kept getting lost in the shuffle.  But at the same time I was really interested in finding out, and while I had some theories pretty early on that ended up coming to fruition, I was still really satisfied with the way that worked out.  I think I just would have liked for it to play a more central role in the book, instead it felt a bit tacked on…even though there was groundwork laid earlier, we as the reader didn’t know that.  I don’t know…

And then there’s the time travel.  I found it really compelling, but I have to say the explanation was very underwhelming.  But I think it still ended up being enjoyable for me, just because of the way the time travel was working and the theories I would come up with in my head, and that anticipation, that even though I was unsatisfied with the explanation, it still made for a fun read.  I think time travel is extremely hard to get right, and in the end this book just left me with a lot of confusing questions and plot holes, which is a shame.  Also, if you’re looking for a time travel book that’s science based, this book isn’t for you.  This was more just hand-wavy in the end…which would have been ok if a major part of the book wasn’t about the Physics Professor making it his life’s work to figure it out.  *shrugs*  See?  Mixed bag.

Honestly, I could write a lot more negative things about this book than positive things.  Abbi was not a very well-developed character, and I really couldn’t tell you what she was like, what interested her, any of that.  She was extremely shallow.  She was really just a vehicle for the plot I guess.  Which is kind of disappointing when she’s your MC and voice.  The Professor, Sharon, Ruby, and even Walter a bit, were more interesting and 3 dimensional.

The love interest, Will, was very sweet, but we really don’t learn much about his journey either.  And I was even less satisfied with his reasons for time travel than I was for Abbi’s (I was satisfied with Abbi’s).  And while the romance was sweet, it was a bit insta-lovey just because of the nature of the way their stories intertwine, and because we don’t really get to see them connect, it’s sort of glossed over in that they share time talking over weeks or whatever.  I want to see that chemistry and connection, not just have it exist out of nowhere.  And it really wasn’t a very prominent part of the book either, just a small section.

So see?  Not a lot of positive to say, but at the same time I really was entertained.  It was a quick read.  I’m not sure how well Ms. Stanton did getting the historical stuff right, but I’ve never been a historical book reader so that wasn’t what drew me to the book.  In the end it was pretty light on history, mostly just shallow details there as well.  So I guess I would mostly recommend this to those who enjoy a good mystery.  Because in the end that’s what drew me in and had me turning the pages to find the answers.  I’m just not going to guarantee that you will be satisfied with the time travel resolution.

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A Boy Like You by Ginger Scott

Blurb:

33543707They say everyone’s a superhero to someone. I’m not sure who I’m supposed to save, but I know who saved me.

We were kids. His name was Christopher. And up until the day he pulled me from death’s grip, he was nothing more than a boy I felt sorry for. In a blink of an eye, he became the only person who made me feel safe.

And then he disappeared.

Now I’m seventeen. I’m not a kid anymore. I haven’t been for years. While death didn’t take me that day, the things that happened left me with scars—the kind that robbed me of everything I once loved and drove me into darkness. But more than anything else, that day—and every day since—has taken away my desire to dream.

I wasn’t going to have hope. I wouldn’t let myself wish. Those things—they weren’t for girls like me. That’s what I believed…until the new boy.

He’s nothing like the old boy. He’s taller and older. His hair is longer, and his body is lean—strong and ready for anything. I don’t feel sorry for him. And sometimes, I hate him. He challenges me. From the moment I first saw him standing there on the baseball field, he pushed me—his eyes constantly questioning, doubting…daring. Still, something about him—it feels…familiar.

He says his name is Wes. But I can’t help but feel like he’s someone else. Someone from my past. Someone who’s come back to save me.

This time, though, he’s too late. Josselyn Winters, the girl he once knew, is gone. I am the threat; I am my worst enemy. And he can’t save me from myself.

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

OMG, GINGER SCOTT IS A CRUEL AUTHOR!!!  I knew that it was going to be hard to wait for the next book in this series, but I didn’t know it was going to be like this!!  WHY?  WHY??!!!!

OK, so I was freaking HOOKED from the prologue.  And not just by the action and plot, but I always forget the way Ms. Scott write’s characters, and just the way she writes in general.  I don’t know what it is about it but it just gets me every time, and I’m sucked right into the story.  And seriously, like from the first page, I had a feel for who 8 year old Joss was, and I could picture their childish games, and the dynamics of their group, and just everything.  It was the absolute perfect way to start the story.

And then we dive into present day, and my heart just aches for the 16 year old (or however old Junior year is) Joss, and how unbelievably damaged she is, and how I could totally understand why she is the way she is, and why she acts the way she does.  She was so hard on the outside, and destructive, and just…I just got it, you know?  And I could feel all her emotions, and how she saw her life and how she saw herself.  She was an amazingly well described heroine, who I couldn’t help but love despite not being anything like her.  I felt everything with her, and that’s always the best journey an author can take you on.

And the cast of secondary characters was full and varied as well.  From her friends, Taryn and Kyle, and how the each interacted with Joss and helped or hindered her.  To the new boys, TK and Levi, who added to the Wes storyline, and gave such a great look at family (their father as well).  To her softball girls, who weren’t present a lot, but added to the depth of her story.

And then there’s her father.  Gah.  I don’t even know what to say.  I hated him.  I hated him, but I understood him, and I was disappointed in him, and I went through all the same emotions Joss went in as the story progressed.

And last but not least there’s beautiful Wes.  Who confuses the shit out of me, but whom I adore and has become one of my favourite book boys in no time at all.  He is just everything that Joss needed.  He is caring, and sweet, and forceful, and he has expectations for Joss.  But he’s left me so confused.  I don’t even know what is going on there.  Is there something more?  Is this more than just a contemporary?  And if it’s not, then what in the world is going on?

I wish I’d had more dedicated me time to read the end of this book, b/c it came out of nowhere and broke my heart and I didn’t get to bawl as I wanted to because I was reading in a public place, and when I bawl I go full on red eyes, look like death warmed over, snot everywhere…

And now I wait.  Damnit Ms. Scott, you are a cruel mistress, but I will keep coming back for more every time.  I highly recommend this book, but if you’re impatient like me, perhaps watch for a release date for book 2, and then devour it just before.

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Catch and Release by Laura Drewry

Blurb:

31572324The irresistible O’Donnell brothers return in a charming novel from the bestselling author of Off the Hook (“The perfect balance of sweet, sexy, and wonderfully romantic.”—Lauren Layne).

Hope Seaver is an up-and-coming TV producer tackling the hardest gig of her career: a reality show set at the Buoys, a scenic fishing destination owned by three handsome, stubborn brothers. Liam and Finn O’Donnell are willing to tolerate her crew for the sake of the business, but Ronan would rather chew off a limb than open up on camera. Somehow Hope has to convince him of her good intentions—and stop herself from swooning every time Ronan walks into the frame.

Ronan knows that he’s the reason his brothers gave up their old lives to run the Buoys, and he needs to make it worth their while. So if this out-of-towner with the kind eyes and dazzling smile wants to give them the free publicity they desperately need, Ronan can’t say no. He just won’t let himself get burned again by a double-dealing woman. But what if Hope’s good-girl routine isn’t an act? When Ronan lets his guard down long enough to catch a glimpse of the real Hope, he likes what he sees—enough to give love another shot.

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

I did not expect Ronan’s story to be my favourite.  And I’m still not entirely sure he does beat out Finn, but holy cow did he at least tie Finn.  I really couldn’t get a feel for Ronan at all, in the previous books, and so I guess I didn’t quite know what to expect.  Not only that, but you don’t meet the heroine until this book, so I was just coming in blind to this story.  And I ended up with the sweetest romance that just had me grinning all over the place.  And then, because that’s the way Ms. Drewry rolls, she had to get me crying at the end too.

Hope sold me on this story from the first line.  And it wasn’t just that it was because she was referencing a town in my home province of Saskatchewan, it was all her nervous fact-spouting.  She was just quirky and adorable, and I could really vibe with her.  I liked how she was an intriguing mix of shy and unsure at times, but bold and take charge/go after what she wants at others.  I know that sounds too contradictory, but it really worked for her.  It was like she wasn’t afraid to acknowledge what she wanted, and then pull on her big girl panties and give it a go.  And it made sense given her backstory.  And she maintained that inner conflict right to the end.  I wanted to stand up and cheer with how she dealt with Ronan at the end…Hope is my hero.

And Ronan.  Yes, Ronan was gruff and grumbly and a bit short-tempered, and inarticulate…but OMG, he was just so freaking adorable inside.  He made you want to hug him.  You could almost feel his confusion, and the inner conflict going on inside of him.  Each O’Donnell boy just surprises me with how much hurt they held inside, and I guess I just never really anticipated how hard it was for him as the eldest.  And I LOVED that he was the cook!!  I could just picture him in that apron, baking pies, and *drool*  And then there’s the addition of JD.  Could you get any cuter??

But it was how he felt about Hope that really sold him for me.  He was just as enthralled with her as she was with him, and watching them dance around each other, and blush and get flustered, and just GAH!  It’s everything I love about a sweet romance you know?  And it’s not that we don’t get some steamy stuff, but it actually takes them quite a while to get there, and you really feel the love that develops between them.  I think that moment on the boat fishing is what sold it for me.  Well, the whole fishing scene.  It really showcased who they each were, and how they would work together.

And it’s funny, I wasn’t getting too choked up with the backstories and was wondering if this would be less angsty (I do kind of wish that Hope’s backstory had gotten more time or something…it was heartbreaking, but it was told so quickly that it wasn’t as impactful).  So I’m going along, and then BAM!  Ms. Drewry hits you right between the eyes and I’m crying away (much to my husband’s dismay and worry).  So wait for it readers, it’s a doozy.  And I loved the way that twist hit.  I didn’t see it coming, and yet it was so necessary for the whole series.  And I loved the explanation.  It confirmed my suspicions, and was so real and accurate and heartbreaking.

So yeah, while this series may not have grabbed me from the first book, it really ended with a bang.  My only complaint is that the cover does not look like the Ronan in my head at all…too young or something.  😉

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