Finding Your Feet by Cass Lennox

Blurb:
31567740A Toronto Connections Novel

While on holiday in Toronto, Evie Whitmore planned to sightsee and meet other asexuals, not audition for a dance competition. Now she’s representing Toronto’s newest queer dance studio, despite never having danced before. Not only does she have to spend hours learning her routine, she has to do it with one of the grumpiest men she’s ever met. Tyler turns out to be more than a dedicated dancer, though — he might be the kind of man who can sweep her off her feet, literally and figuratively.

Tyler Davis has spent the last year recovering from an emotionally abusive relationship. So he doesn’t need to be pushed into a rushed routine for a dumb competition. Ticking major representation boxes for being trans and biracial isn’t why he went into dance. But Evie turns out to be a dream student. In fact, she helps him remember just how good partnering can be, in all senses of the word. Teaching her the routine, however, raises ghosts for him, ones he’s not sure he can handle.

Plans change, and people change with them. Learning a few steps is one thing; learning to trust again is another entirely.

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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.

As is hinted at in the blurb, trigger warnings for descriptions of emotional/transphobic abuse and the aftermath.  Not being trans, nor having experienced emotional abuse, I cannot speak to how that is handled.  From an outsider perspective, I thought it was fine, but I’ve seen reviews from abuse survivors that suggest otherwise, so perhaps read those and decide for yourself.

I was attracted to this book for several reasons.  First, it’s a cornucopia of diversity…and not only that, but it has LGBT+ characters of the lesser explored variety, so I was intrigued.  Especially with Evie, as I identify on the gray spectrum.  I even chose to read it this month because one of my diversity challenge themes is intersectionality, and since Tyler is trans and biracial it totally fits.  Second, and this cannot be understated enough, I LOVE dance books.  I’m not a dancer myself, I’m just constantly in awe of the dance community, which I feel is the perfect marriage between athletics and art…both of which I do not excel in.  😛  And third, it’s set in Canada!!  I love reading books set in my country, so that definitely played a factor.  And honestly, on the whole I was fulfilled!  I wasn’t blown away or anything, but it satisfied my desire for diversity, dance, and Canadianism!

Like I said, I cannot speak to the realistic representation of Tyler as a trans character, but I felt like the author explored some of the challenges of being a transgendered man, and the horrible experience of transphobic/emotional abuse.  I will admit that while I appreciated some of the observations Tyler had in his journey, this was not a great example of someone healing from an abusive relationship.  It was kind of glossed over and shallow, so if that’s what you’re looking for, you’re in the wrong place.  This book was more about the relationship between Tyler and Evie, with Tyler’s fears used mostly as a roadblock to that relationship.  So more heavy on the romance, less on depth of an emotional journey.  That was fine for me, but may not work for everyone.  In general I liked Tyler, but I felt like his character could be a bit inconsistent.  And since we didn’t really get to see in depth healing, the constant roadblock from the aftermath of his ex became a bit overused without satisfying growth and change.

I really loved Evie’s character, and her representation for the gray spectrum.  I realize not everyone will appreciate it if they’re looking for the quintessential asexual character, which she is not.  But as someone elsewhere on the spectrum, I was super excited to see a character very much like me represented, as the gray spectrum really is vast.  We got to see her fall in love with different things about Tyler that had nothing to do with sexual attraction.  Ace stuff aside, I thought she was really funny, forthright, and a good mix of sweet and sass.

I loved that we got a good amount of dancing as well…it satisfied my wannabe dancer’s heart.  And watching Tyler and Evie crush and flirt with each other while dancing was the highlight of this book for me.

On the not so good side of things, there were a lot of little threads left hanging and not dealt with…I don’t understand why an author would introduce something and leave it unresolved.  The biggest was Evie’s relationship with her mother.  It was constantly in the background through emails, and quite frankly it was kind of toxic.  But we never see the resolution in that relationship.  Perhaps if we were told she had a bad relationship, that she couldn’t come out to her family, but left it at that, I would have been OK having it glossed over at the end.  But to see the quietly toxic relationship consistently in the background, complete with fat-shaming remarks, and to then see no resolution was unsatisfying.

I was also really unimpressed with Gigi in this story…he made fat-shaming remarks of his own that made me uncomfortable, and he was really allowed to be fairly mean throughout the story without consequences.  And I wasn’t impressed with his side story, especially if he’s going to get a book of his own.  I would have liked more Tyler/Evie time.

And quite frankly, none of the friendships were super awesome.  They could have good qualities, but there was a level of care missing at times…just a lot of meddling without thinking of consequences.

There were a lot of terms used in this book that went unexplained…from the tumblr things Evie and Sarah connected with, to dance terms, to whatever fujoshi is (still need to Google that).  And it took me a bit to figure out that Bailey is nonbinary, and that when the author used they/them they were just talking about Bailey, and not Bailey and Sarah or something.  I liked having another lesser explored LGBT+ character represented, but it was too bad that it took me so long to understand that.

So yeah.  Like I said, not blown away, but still enjoyed myself (rounding up for the dance aspect alone).  It wasn’t a book I gobbled up, but it did have some great aspects that I personally really enjoyed!  As an aside, am I the only Canadian that doesn’t actually consume a lot of maple syrup?

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Totally His by Erin Nicholas

Blurb:
51bxFtoLSuLActress Sophie Birch is used to having to look out for herself. So when her theater catches fire and a big guy scoops her up into his arms to save her, she’s going to fight every step of the way. Even if he’s a cop. And really sexy. And his arms feel oh-so-good.

Finn Kelly can’t help but appreciate how good the woman in his arms looks in her sexy pink lingerie. Even if she’s currently resisting arrest.

But as the two get to know each other, they’re both surprised by the things Finn is willing to do to get closer to her. And when Sophie’s estranged father arrives in town and starts causing trouble, the stage is set for disaster…unless Finn can convince her that, for once in her life, she has someone to lean on.

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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.

This was a fabulous conclusion to what was a really witty, engaging, and fun series.  And no, you most certainly do not need to read the other books in the series to enjoy this story, but if you find yourself enjoying this one, trust me, the rest are just as engaging.  And what’s great is that each hero and heroine are SO DIFFERENT, but equally lovable.

My heart broke for Sophie, and how she grew up, and what she saw for her future because of her conman father.  And while sometimes it felt like her growth took a bit longer than I’d like, I did like watching her find her happiness, find her big family, and truly find love.  It was very rewarding.  And I loved seeing how she interacted with big groups, whether it was watching her direct in the theatre, or direct the Kelly family during trivia.  She entertained me.

And Finn was pretty adorable.  I really loved having a hero who was a cop who was quite honestly very different from the usual cop heroes you read so often.  He was protective, he had a very strong sense of right and wrong, but he loved so strongly.  He wasn’t seriously damaged or anything.  I’m not saying he didn’t have flaws, but you got to see him try to work through those himself.  And I just absolutely adored seeing him pursue Sophie when he decided she was the one for him, and she was worth risking broken hearts for (not just his, but his family’s).

And Sophie and Finn had fabulous chemistry…you really felt their draw to each other.  I loved the way they bantered and interacted.  They complimented each other well.

Finn’s family was hilarious and adorable.  I loved what they brought to the story, and how Finn’s Mom was an integral part of Sophie’s growth.  I wasn’t sure how I would feel about Frank, but I was satisfied how that played out.  And obviously the glimpses of Keira, Zach, Maya, and Alex were fantastic.  Actually, I wouldn’t have minded more…

So yeah.  Fun and flirty, with some feels and a super satisfying ending.

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Scored by Sloane Howell

32766533Blurb: He’s a player. But she’s about to score.

Opposites really do attract* as a sassy salesgirl turns a pro athlete’s life upside down in this supercharged standalone novel of seduction from the author of Bossed.

Kelsey: My mom would tell you I’m quite the catch, but since my last boyfriend, I haven’t been dating much. Maybe it’s my rocker style or my lack of filter that intimidates the boys. So I’m pleasantly surprised when Matt Stallworth waltzes into the indie record store where I work and gives as good he gets. Turns out Matt is a professional baseball player, which should mean he’s out of my league. But if he wants to hook up with me, he’s going to have to follow my rules.

Matt: After winning my MVP award, I learned that a guy can get used to having beautiful women practically throw themselves at you everywhere you turn. But everything changes the first time I see Kelsey Martin, and something just clicks. She’s hot, snarky, and whip-smart. I’ve got to see her again. Only problem is, she sees right through all my best moves. And I’m going to have to step up my game to convince Kelsey that I’m playing for keeps.

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Netgalley

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5 stars

I really enjoyed this story.  It was everything I hoped it would be. A cute opposites attract read with some serious chemistry.  At first I was a little thrown off because there wasn’t much background on either MC but as there relationship progressed it didn’t bother me that much.

Classic case of opposites attract. I think I finished it a day.  The ending was so cute but I didn’t feel it was that much of a climax. And I didn’t understand why they waited so long to get to that point.  I felt that their communication could have a a bit better but ‘m almost positive it was a plot point so I understand why it wasn’t.  This is my first Sloane Howell book but it won’t be my last.

Kelsey didn’t really stand out to me that much as far as MC’s go.  She was a bit of a rebel and almost everything Matt wasn’t.  I didn’t think she was really that different than most girls and therefore I didn’t really become too attached to her.

Now Matt, oh he was one smooth character.  I really enjoyed his struggle with his baseball career and his relationship with Kelsey.  He was able to balance it all pretty well.  I also enjoyed their make out sessions!  Wooo!  There was some serious panty melting words going on in this book!

I received this book in exchange for an honest/unbiased review.

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Nailed It by Cindi Madsen

Blurb:
36320335I’m Ivy Clarke. Bartender, best friend, and disbeliever in love.
And now I’m in over my head, trying to flip a house all by myself.
Thanks, HGTV.
I’m not too proud to admit I need some help. Too bad the only one who can help me is the same man I want to throw out this house’s second-story window.
Jackson Gamble and I can’t be in the same room together for more than a minute without devolving into a sparring match.
Except for that one time…
But enough about that. Jackson’s looking for forever, and I don’t believe in love, remember?
Get in. Renovate. Get out. Keep my heart firmly in tact.
Because it’s much easier to fix up a house than a broken heart.

Full of humor and dripping with delicious tension, Nailed It proves that every heart can be ready for a little rehabilitation, if only you’re willing to open it up.

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

Well bummer.  This one just didn’t grab me.  I didn’t dislike it, but it was solidly meh for me.  Since this book was entirely from Ivy’s POV, I found I didn’t have as much to go on for Jackson.  What I saw of him I definitely liked, but I have a feeling that I would have loved him even more if I’d had more time with him, or could have seen inside his head.

So really, all I had to go on was Ivy.  And Ivy was NOT my kind of girl.  I think I was supposed to empathize with her past and how that shaped her into the commitment-phobe she’d become.  And it worked to a point, my heart did actually break for the childhood she had, and the way her mother treated her, and how those experiences shaped her.  And if I’d seen some growth and change along the way, I might have tolerated it more.  But I just didn’t buy hers.  I don’t know why.  Honestly, it’s one of those things you just feel from reading, but can’t explain why you didn’t connect.  It’s like…I just couldn’t connect with Ivy along the story.  And when we got to the end, it felt a bit more about-face-like instead of a slow journey.  I think it’s because she clung so hard to her beliefs.  And I just got tired of it.

Along those same lines, this book became a bit repetitive at times…or at least it felt that way to me.  I felt like she would bring up the same incidences from her childhood to explain her relationship aversion.  Honestly, I wanted to start skimming just to see when she would finally figure things out.  I think I’m just not a patient reader.  Especially when I find myself unable to fully empathize with a character.

The other little thing that tweaked me that I wasn’t expecting was the level of steaminess…or something.  I don’t know how to categorize this.  See, I’ll read sweet/clean completely fade to black stories.  And I’ll read erotica.  But I don’t think I’ve read this Entangled imprint before, and this story was somewhere in between.  Like I’d get the early sexy times part, but then when we got to the act it would just be glossed over.  And not to sound like a sex-starved idiot, but it felt like a tease, because I honestly felt like it was going the more detailed way, and then just when we’d get to that part, blah blah blah, generic glossover, done.  Seriously, this is the stupidest thing to complain about, but it just caught me off guard.  There’s nothing wrong with it whatsoever, it’s just not my personal favourite.  Or else I was just in a mood.  Who knows with me.

OK, I feel like all I’ve done is complain.  In general I really enjoyed the bantering and snarkiness between Ivy and Jackson…  Sometimes it felt a bit more hostile than I was comfortable with, but other times it hit that tone just right where I was laughing my butt off, and I could really feel the chemistry between them.  I also really enjoyed the relationship that Ivy had with Savannah, and how their friendship played a role.  And again, what I saw of Jackson I really adored.  I LOVED how he stuck by her, and waited out her stubbornness, and how he saw her…both her flaws and her strengths.

So yeah.  Like I said, it wasn’t a terrible book.  I just didn’t connect with it like I’d been hoping to.  Ah well, not every book is going to be a match.

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Take the Lead by Alexis Daria

Blurb:
35832861The first book in a sizzling duology about dancers who find love from #OwnVoice’s Alexis Daria.

Gina Morales wants to win. It’s her fifth season on The Dance Off, a top-rated network TV celebrity dance competition, and she’s never even made it to the finals. When she meets her latest partner, she sees her chance. He’s handsome, rippling with muscles, and he stars on the popular Alaskan wilderness reality show Living Wild. With his sexy physique and name recognition, she thinks he’s her ticket to the finals—until she realizes they’re being set up.

Stone Nielson hates Los Angeles, he hates reality TV, and he hates that fact that he had to join the cast of the The Dance Off because of family obligations. He can’t wait to get back to Alaska, but he also can’t deny his growing attraction to his bubbly Puerto Rican dance partner. Neither of them are looking for romantic entanglements, and Stone can’t risk revealing his secrets, but as they heat up the dance floor, it’s only a matter of time until he feels an overwhelming urge to take the lead.

When the tabloids catch on to their developing romance, the spotlight threatens to ruin not just their relationship, but their careers and their shot at the trophy. Gina and Stone will have to decide if their priorities lie with fame, fortune, or the chance at a future together.

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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.

There were a few things that stood out and made this a must request book for me, and it was those things that I enjoyed the most in this story.

First, I’m a sucker for a book about dancing.  I’m really not a very good dancer myself (though I still try, I have, like, ZERO grace), so I ALWAYS admire dancers of all types, from ballet to ballroom and beyond.  And it boggles my mind how anyone can not understand the athleticism involved.  So I loved seeing the bits of dancing thrown into this story.  Strangely, having just read another book based on a dancing with the stars type show, I will say that while the dancing bits were good, they didn’t live up to that other books inclusions somehow…  Maybe because Stone was so large and strong, you didn’t get to see his struggle enough.  The author made it look easier than I think it is…and I just didn’t *feel* the dancing quite as much…  BUT if I didn’t have the other book to compare to, I probably would have loved it more.  And there was the practice with the Argentine Tango…that was pretty awesome.  Maybe it’s that the dancing was more glossed over in the second half, and I just wanted to bring back more of my own memories learning ballroom dance.  Huh.  This was a part I thought I loved, and I *did*…just maybe not as much as I thought.

OK, SECOND: Ms. Daria NAILED the diversity component.  I think this is what you get from #ownvoices…because the author is latina, you get a very realistic latina heroine.  I loved that aspect of Gina’s character, and seeing her fight to not be viewed as a stereotypical oversexualized latina was just so well done.  And you know what else I loved?  It wasn’t just one heroine that was hispanic!  There was actually a lot of diversity in the whole cast of characters (and not just hispanic)!  From other dancers to production staff to judges to hosts…it was just so real, you know?  I don’t understand why more authors don’t diversify the whole cast more.

And the great thing about this book is that the author doesn’t just tackle the issues surrounding Gina being latina…she also tackles how women in the entertainment industry are treated differently than men, particularly in regards to romantic relationships with other people in the industry.  AND we also get to see some of the effects of sexualizing men through Stone, and how he’s portrayed and what producers want from him (just take his shirt off).  I really loved that those things were all silently woven into the plot, but weren’t too preachy.

This review is already getting long, and I haven’t even gotten to characters, which is what I tend to focus on.  I enjoyed Gina for the most part, and while I understood her reasons for how she approached her relationship with Stone (wanting to keep it secret), I did start to lose my patience with her…  It started feeling really selfish the longer it went on, and like she didn’t even try to understand it from Stone’s perspective.  So in the end, I had a hard time believing her love for him.

Stone, on the other hand, was pretty adorable.  Don’t get me wrong, he had his own selfish moments…but he was kind of a beta boy, and you know how I love my beta boys.  He may have the appearance of an alpha, but his personality was anything but.  He was sweet, considerate, respectful…he made me swoon with how much he cared for Gina, and how, once he changed his tune, he was willing to do so much to make her dreams come true.

In the end, the reason I’m knocking it half a star (but still rounding up) is that I just felt like I was missing some magic…  There was just something missing in the writing…something I can’t put into words…that just kept me from getting sucked in and getting my emotions fully involved.

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Blood Guard by Megan Erickson

Blurb:
34444705Enter a world of immortal danger and desire—and discover an incredible fate borne of blood.

Tendra: One minute, I’m a bartender in gritty Mission City; the next, I’m whisked away by a vampire named Athan who tells me that I’m the lifeblood of his clan. It sounds unbelievable, but he’s got evidence I can’t deny. Turns out, Athan belongs to an underground society of vampires who feed only on humans with their consent. Their enemies have no such qualms, and they want me dead. The only thing standing in their way is strong, sexy Athan. And the closer we get, the more tempted I am to let Athan feed. . . .

Athan: How could I have known when I snatched this snarky, beautiful human off the streets that she would change mydestiny? As a loyal soldier, I must deliver Tendra to our future king—my brother. Empowered with the blood of ten generations of the Gregorie breed, she is fated to rule as our queen. But there’s something between us that’s so intoxicating, so carnal, I can’t help wanting Tendra for myself . . . even if it’s treason.

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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 book had a LOT going for it, but honestly the thing the one word that stands out for me is SEXY.  Like holy bleeping sexy.  Athan and Tendra had loads of chemistry, and the steamy scenes were super delicious (at least in my opinion).  And dude, some parts were way more risque than I was expecting (club scene anyone?).

I really enjoyed Ms. Erickson’s version of vampires.  The thing about paranormal books, and well known creatures, is that they all take on their own qualities.  For the most part the vampires in this book were pretty standard (drink blood, can be turned, no sunlight, immortal-ish), but then there are all the little details that set them apart.  In this case there was clan stuff, a prophecy, the specifics of how you’re turned into a vampire, the whole Somnus thing (I liked that), and running with the whole feeding and lust thing (holy sexytimes).

I remember reading an excerpt on this author’s newsletter, which is what drew me to requesting the book in the first place, because Tendra came across as hella snarky.  I’d expected a bit more on that front, but I thought she was still a nice little spitfire who definitely threw Athan for a loop.  And Athan was unexpected himself!  I loved his soul/humanity, and he was actually really sweet and endearing in parts (you know, mixed with the badassery).  You could really feel how important his duty was to him, even in the face of it not feeling quite right.  He was extremely loyal, but that did lead to some blindness at times.

I really appreciated that there were many opportunities for the author to fall into tropes, and the characters even sort of acknowledged the “typical” responses.  But then the characters just wouldn’t follow that path…like Athan could have held onto his standoffishness at times or continued to be a dick.  It’s kind of hard to describe, but I just really appreciated that the author didn’t choose the easy/typical path/responses.

And can I just say that I ADORED Zeb, and even Idris eventually…makes me excited about next book.  Neither character had a large role, but they still managed to endear me to them.  I also loved the kitty, Brex…though I was really hoping to learn something more concrete about him.

I will admit that sometimes all the walking got a bit boring.  And I can’t confirm in the final copy, but in the ARC copy my beta brain would occasionally notice some continuity errors or things that could be clearer.  Like why didn’t Athan carry her and run?  I know there’s a reason, but I wouldn’t have minded knowing it.

All in all it was nice being in a paranormal world again, and I’m totes looking forward to Idris’s book (which I’m assuming is next).  Definitely recommend diving in, especially if you like your paranormals a bit racier.

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Her Book Boyfriend (The Awkward Duckling #1) by K.R. Grace

Her book boyfriendBlurb: She believes the secret to love is in the tropes of her favorite romance novels. He’s the best friend prepared to prove her wrong.

Then comes the bet.

If she can’t land a boyfriend for prom by recreating the ten popular tropes in her favorite romance author’s books, she has to go to the prom with her.

The glitch?

They’ve been close their entire lives. He’s the rock god and school legend, while she’s the brainy sidekick who does all his dirty breakups. Thus, finding a guy who doesn’t think they’re already an item is going to be a lot harder than she thinks.

Will she land the book boyfriend of her dreams? Or will she be forced to go to prom with her best friend?

The truth is in the pages.

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Netgalley

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5 stars

I loved this book!  Very entertaining.  It was a refreshing spin on the geek and jock romance.  Macey wasn’t meek and she wasn’t bullied.  She stood up for herself and didn’t take crap from her jock guy friend, Cam.  It seemed like a role reversal in the best way.

Cam was super sleazy when it came to girls.  A fact that was made pretty clear early on.  It didn’t bother me as much as I expected it would.  I don’t know why, maybe it was because he was such a good guy to Macey.  At any rate, I enjoyed their chemistry and easy dialogue.  Actually, I floved their dialogue.  It was fantastic.

Macey’s headstrong, smart and funny.  Cam is smart, horny and holds some things close to his chest which I realized early on.  It made him vulnerable and mysterious, two things I find attractive in a male MC.  You should really just go read the book.  I will be looking forward to more by this author.

I got this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest/unbiased opinion.

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Rebel by Rebecca Yarros

Blurb:
34032529She’s Penna Carstairs.
The Renegade they call Rebel.
FMX-treme Magazine’s sexiest female athlete of the year.
There’s no rule in extreme sports she hasn’t broken,
No gender barrier she hasn’t demolished.

She’s the woman I met in a bar in Vegas.
The woman I illegally BASE jumped for.
The woman I spent one insane, incredible night with.
But now I’m screwed.
Or rather…not screwed.

Because the woman I can’t get out of my head is the one woman I can never touch again.
I’m Dr. Cruz Delgado—the youngest professor on this campus,
And Penelope Carstairs just walked into my class.

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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.  Though in all fairness I didn’t get to this one before release, so I actually read my preordered copy instead.

Welp, this was definitely my favourite of the series!!  It’s like they just kept getting better and better!  I LOVE it when that happens.  I’m not the type of reader who’s particularly drawn to forbidden romances (such as student/teacher in this case), but I don’t shy away from them either.  Basically if enough else draws me in, then I’m totally in.  And that was most definitely the case in this story.

This one started off beautifully.  I was already mega intrigued by Penna, not only as this badass extreme athlete who was every bit as enthralling as the boys she calls friends, but also as the damaged woman we got to see glimpses of in Nova.  And Ms. Yarros totally fulfilled all my wishes in her story.  We really got a glimpse of how her sister’s actions had broken her, and got to delve into the mental aspect of recovering from an accident.  I thought Penelope was exactly as strong inside as she appears on the outside.  She has an inner core of strength that just shined through, even as she struggled with figuring out who she was.  She was sassy, she stood toe to toe with everyone, and she was wicked smart.  She was a heroine it was so easy to fall in love with.

And I ADORED that Cruz didn’t want to squash her fire/strength/attitude, but recognized what a privilege it was just to keep up with her.  And at the same time, we still got to see a bit more of what it’s like to love someone who is addicted to adrenaline and always pushing the envelope.  It was beautiful.  He was awesome.  I LOVED that he matched her in strength and stubbornness, and that he really pushed her when she needed to be pushed, and was there for her with no strings attached at other times.  He was also really easy to fall in love with.  Dedicated, sassy in his own right, and also wickedly smart.  So hot.  Honestly, I know lots of people love the whole muscles and shiznit, but every time Penna described his muscular arms, I just wanted her to talk about his dimples, his accent, and hear more of the things that came out of his mouth and the thoughts in his head…but I am a bit weird that way.

And if you couldn’t tell from all that, they were perfect complements to each other.  They pushed and pulled and fought but inevitably brought out the best in each other.  And it was so awesome to watch.  And while I probably should have been more bothered by the student/teacher relationship aspect, apparently this reader was fully able to buy into the inevitability of it, and the measures they took for Cruz not to be biased, and all that jazz.  *shrugs*  Honestly, there was so much else going on, it really didn’t remain in the forefront except when they brought it up.  It was more them keeping it a secret at times.

As with all the other Renegade books in this series, I desperately wanted to visit all the places they were seeing, and go on my own world cruise.  I loved learning little tidbits here and there about the places they were seeing.  And I also fell in love with the sports aspect…I think one of the things that I loved about this series is that it is true sports romance, in that we actually get to delve into the sports, not just have them be some background aspect.

And I was so on the edge of my seat throughout much of this book!  GAH!  So much action and suspense!

Honestly, I think my only real problem with this book is that I noticed quite a few instances of repetition.  Like I had so many moments of deja vu, where I felt like Penna had described something in the EXACT same way a few chapters earlier.  Or Cruz and Lindsay would have the EXACT same conversations in two different places.  And that led to some little bits where I’d be wondering why the result of the previous conversation didn’t follow through in the future.  Or why Penna got away with not talking to Rachel OVER AND OVER even though she constantly said they’d talk later, or that night, etc.  These aren’t huge things, just a bit of a bummer because it took me out of the story.

All in all, this was a SMASHING finale to the series.  The grand gesture at the end was everything I was hoping it would be and more, and the epilogue was perfect!  You have no idea how happy I was with it; not just its contents, but the fact that it existed…I needed that final wrap up/glimpse into the future.  Now I’m off to dream about dimples…does it for me every time.

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The Art of Hiding by Amanda Prowse

Blurb:

The Art of HidingWhat would you do if you learned that the life you lived was a lie?

Nina McCarrick lives the perfect life, until her husband, Finn, is killed in a car accident and everything Nina thought she could rely on unravels.

Alone, bereft and faced with a mountain of debt, Nina quickly loses her life of luxury and she begins to question whether she ever really knew the man she married. Forced to move out of her family home, Nina returns to the rundown Southampton council estate—and the sister—she thought she had left far behind.

But Nina can’t let herself be overwhelmed—her boys need her. To save them, and herself, she will have to do what her husband discouraged for so long: pursue a career of her own. Torn between the life she thought she knew and the reality she now faces, Nina finally must learn what it means to take control of her life.

Netgalley

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DNF

This book was a bit disappointing.  I wanted to like it, but I had to start skimming.  And I RARELY skim. I had to stop at 30%. It was frankly too depressing and I just didn’t care what happened to the characters anymore.

I felt the hopelessness, guilt and despair were overdone and focused on too much.  We get it, she was blindsided.  It was the focus of the story for more of the book than it should have been. by the time she put on your big girl pants and dealt with things I had already lost interest.  I found her to be a weak female lead and therefore could not find myself to have any sympathy for her.  Her children were not people I found myself caring about either.  They didn’t have much in the way of layers.  It was mediocre IMO. Sorry if that sounds harsh, but I just didn’t like it.

I was given this book in exchange for an honest/unbiased opinion.

Curly Carla_small

One True Pairing (Fandom Hearts #2) by Cathy Yardley

30174469Blurb: They 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?

 

 

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4 stars

First off, I LOVE the covers of her books!  Level Up had a great cover too!

I really enjoyed this cute romcom with a nerdy twist.  I mean, how could you not?  We already met these characters in Level Up and the setting for the story takes place in a book store.  That sold me right there!

Hailey is a spitfire with a fierce loyal streak.  I loved her character immediately.  Her gothabilly style was appealing and described perfectly.  You could really tell her family was important to her and she was not too proud to ask for help.

Jake was super adorable.  His genuine love of the show was written beautifully and he was very down to earth despite his fortunate circumstances.  The pocket ripping incident shone a light on the fact that sexual harassment isn’t just aimed at females.  The chemistry was scorching hot and I loved how they both tried to ignore it but just couldn’t keep their hands to themselves.  Which made for some pretty heavy fanning as I read it!

And the setting was totally up my alley.   You know you are gonna meet some great characters in a bookstore.  Even better, a fandom bookstore! I’m totally jealous of Hailey for being able to live above it.  But I’m not bitter. 😉

Highly recommend reading all her books.

I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest/unbiased review.

Curly Carla_small