Off Limits by Clare Connelly

Off limitsBlurb: “I want to taste you tonight.”

With chemistry this hot, it’s worth getting burned…

Billionaire Jack Grant is totally off-limits to Gemma Picton. He’s wild, deliciously dangerous…and her boss. When working late turns X-rated, it’s better than her wildest imaginings—and Gemma’s imagined a lot! But Jack has major emotional baggage, so when Gemma starts wanting to heal his heart as well as enjoy his body, she knows she’s in big trouble…

 

 

 

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Netgalley

3 stars

Whoa! This book was full of some serious graphic sexy times.  And it was nearly on the first page.  Now I love graphic sex scenes, however, and I may have said this before; there is a balance that needs to be displayed for me to like the book as a whole.  I need depth of character as well as hot lovin’.  I need intimacy as well as carnal actions.  And this book had all of that, but it was nearly too late in the story for me to start caring about the characters.  I barely finished it TBO.

The chemistry was on point.  It was a bit overused though, to the point where I was wondering what else they really had in common that would make this a lasting relationship.  GEmma knew him but he didn;t really make any effort to know her outside of work or sex. Total turn off form me as an alpha lover.

In fact, Jack Grant was a grade A dick when it came to behaving towards women.  His back story explains this a little in flashbacks but I don’t think it was enough for me to forgive him for treating them that way.  So I was already a bit salty toward him from gate.

And Gemma was a bit of a pushover when it came to pleasing her boss (pun intended) so that didn’t endear me to her character either.  She had some serious ambition though, which I can relate to in a work atmosphere. And she wore her black sheep status like a damn face tattoo, something that also moved her into the likability category for me.  So I wanted to push through and see if my mind could be swayed. Which, if an author can make me feel for the characters after I’ve already made a decision on them is a big deal for me.

And she did change my mind towards them in the end, but because it took so long for us to get THERE, it impacted my attitude towards this story in a much more negative way.  And I think I’m pretty lenient when it comes to rating so for this to happen is kind of a bummer for me.

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

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All of Me (The Bridesmaids Club #1) by Leeanna Morgan

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Blurb: Four friends. Twenty-two bridesmaids’ dresses.
One random act of kindness that will change their lives forever.

Tess has given up looking for Mr. Right, but that doesn’t mean she’s given up on love. When she reads a newspaper article about a young couple who’ve had everything stolen from their home, including four bridesmaids dresses, she knows she has to help.

But by helping the bride, Tess risks exposing a past she doesn’t want anyone to know about. She does everything she can to minimize the danger she’s in, but she does the one

thing guaranteed to destroy everything – she falls in love with the wrong man.

Logan Allen has spent most of his career reporting on the news from around the world. When a letter arrives from Afghanistan, the trauma he’s been living with is about to explode back into his life. He betrayed a small Afghan village and Tess thinks he’s betrayed her.

From their first random act of kindness comes an experience Logan and Tess will never forget. And maybe, if they work together, they can create a future that’s better than anything they’ve left behind.

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DNF

I tried. Like really hard to get into this book.  The chemistry was there, the adventure was there.  It was just going soooooo slow.  And I apparently have an issue with patience since I just quit on it after about 33%.  The cover, title and blurb attracted me. Unfortunately, the pacing of the story killed my enjoyment of this book.

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Bad Princess by Julianna Keyes

Blurb:
36397594Notorious for leaping off roofs, maiming foreign royals, and that twerking incident, Brinley Cantrella of Estau is nobody’s definition of a good princess. She’s fearless and bold, not good and gracious. And after a lifetime of being told she’s unfit to be queen, wearing the crown and helping to usher Estau into a new era is the one dream she’s never dared chase.

But when her older sister abdicates the throne, all Brinley has to do to inherit the role is not twerk, not maim anybody, and definitely not get caught fooling around topless with Prince Finn, her childhood crush, the only man she’s ever loved…and her sister’s former future husband.

Finn embodies the definition of good. Tall and handsome, serious and honorable, he always does the right thing—including agreeing to marry his ex’s sister to cover up this latest scandal. Brinley has fallen down stairs, broken teeth and broken bones, but this is the first time her heart has ever been broken. She now has the crown and the prince, and on the surface, life is good—but is being married to a man everyone swears could never love her back good enough?

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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.

You guys…YOU GUYS.  I am in fucking love.  And I’m going to have to bleep that for Amazon.  But seriously, this was a LENORE book through and through.  And it was all Brinley!  OK, not all Brinley, Finian’s kind of da bomb as well…I’ll get to him.  But Brinley…oh Brinley.  She has made my girl crush list!!!!  And if you know me, that happens fairly infrequently.  But I was enamoured with her from practically the first page.  She made me laugh, she made my heart hurt, she was just everything I love in a heroine.  I was trying to tell my hubby about this book, and loving Brinley, and he was like “well yeah, she’s exactly your type of girl.  She sounds like Rapunzel from Tangled.”  Huh.  You know, he’s kind of right.  The stories of her misadventures when she was a child were just adorable…she sounded mischievous and incorrigible.  And it carried into who she was when we met her.  She was so true to herself, despite how often others tried to beat her down.  She was sassy, and bold, and hilarious, and curious, and just…AHHH!!  LOVE HER!

And Finn!!  I felt like I understood exactly who he was and how he felt right at the beginning, even if it wasn’t overt…  But he still surprised me along the way.  And for a book entirely from the heroine’s POV, I still felt like I got to know him.  Maybe it’s that we see the contrast between them, and how this royal life had very different effects on each of them.  But there was still a spark in him.  And he had shades of beta boy in him!  He was quiet to her bold.  But he was still strong, and he knew how to support a strong woman like Brinley.  And holy fuck was he hot.  Those kisses (and more) got me all fluttery.  He wasn’t perfect, by any means…there were times I wanted to smack him.  But the way its written, I got to understand why he made certain mistakes and bad choices, and I believed in his growth.  I love him too.

For a novella, this book sucked me in hardcore and really made me feel for its characters.  I LOVE when I feel like I can get to know them so quickly, and I become invested in the story.  I saw other reviewers say they couldn’t, so I don’t know why it was different for me…but it definitely was.  I rooted for Brinley, I was invested in what would happen to her, I was completely all in on the romance, it was just perfect for me.

Honestly, the only reason it’s not a full 5 star is because I loved it so much, I wanted more.  I could have continued reading about these two characters until they grew old and died.  I’m fully serious.  This is my first book from Ms. Keyes, but it certainly won’t be my last if this is anything to go by.  Also?  As a side shoutout, there was a romantic/erotic trope gender swap (“Finn, come”) that had me laughing my ass off.  I’m not sure if it was supposed to be funny, but I don’t even care…props Ms. Keyes.

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Falling From The Sky by Nikki Godwin

Blurb:
23463189All stability in sixteen-year-old Ridge McCoy’s life crashed and burned in the plane crash that killed his dad. This summer-long basketball camp is his chance to improve his skills and escape his problems back home. But his summer plans take a turn in an unexpected direction when he meets Micah Youngblood, the guy who runs the carousel at the local mall and has a reputation for devouring straight boys’ heterosexuality for breakfast, alongside his chocolate chip pancakes.

Ridge needs a way to avoid the guys at camp, whose only quest for the summer is to drown in beer and hook up with girls. So when Micah offers to explain how the ten unique horses on the carousel are significant to his tribe, Ridge takes him up on it. Still, Ridge can’t decide if this is a bad thing or not. All he knows is that he hasn’t felt this alive since his dad fell from the sky, and as the horse adventures come to an end, Ridge finds himself falling as well – for Micah.

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My Review:
3 stars — I will admit I’m a bit torn on this book.  I actually liked quite a bit of it, but I still felt like there was just something lacking…like it could have been so much better, you know??  And I keep going back and forth on some of the other things that bugged me.  Like they seriously bugged me, but there’s a part of me that can see how characters (especially 17 year old characters) would behave in such a way.

I’ll start off by saying that I chose to move this book up in my queue to fulfill a diversity challenge theme for this month, focusing on Native American History Month.  And this is one of the first parts that both bugged me, but I could maybe see it.  Ridge (our main hero, the only POV we read) is kind of a dick and maybe a bit of a bigot about Native Americans.  Some of the comments he makes/thoughts he has early in the book made me uncomfortable.  But then I kind of thought he’s not praised or shown in a good light for that…so it kind of just shows the kind of prejudices that are pervasive in our society, especially about Native Americans…though while he’s not shown in a good light, he’s not smacked down for it either because it’s in his head.  But how many people out there think the same things?  And we do get to see those things fall away, though it’s never overt.  And overall, I thought that Micah, and his family, and the bit we saw of his (made up) tribe weren’t negative.  Not being Native, I honestly can’t tell you if they’re positive, but they didn’t feel negative to me.  And most of the Native characters were kind of awesome; I really liked Micah, his sister, his nieces, his stories of his Nonna, his Poppa, even his cousins.  So yeah, torn on the representation of this particular diversity, since we never see inside Micah’s head.

And on a similar note with Ridge, this is a bit of a “gay for you” story, and he’s a bit of a bigot about homosexuals too…he has some thoughts that made me uncomfortable here as well (like his comparison to prison inmates being “gay for the stay” — ick).  Part of me gets this, it’s very realistic I think for many young adult males to be terrified of being gay, even if that makes me RIDICULOUSLY SAD.  So I’m torn here…he made me want to smack him, but was he a realistic depiction?  I think I would have been happier here if SOMEONE would have freaking brought up bisexuality ANYWHERE in the freaking book.  Um, hello.  Like seriously.  That’s why this lands more in the irks me category, it doesn’t get as much of a pass as the race stuff.

And since I’m getting things that bug me out of the way, there’s the cheating crap (might be minorly spoilery).  I hate cheating stuff.  I sort of get how confused Ridge was, both about his new feelings for Micah, and how he was just wanting to get away from all the things at home that had become status quo.  But grow some balls.  It shouldn’t take the whole freaking summer to break up…and she didn’t need to be a mean girl in the end, like I’m supposed to accept his behavior cheating with Micah because of that?  Nope.

Well shit, I have more complaints…so I just had to downgrade this from a 3.5 star to a 3 star.  Bummer.  Really, so many of them just revolve around Ridge’s characterization.  So much of him just wasn’t a very sympathetic character…he fell a bit flat a lot of times.  He made decisions that made me not like him, I didn’t really understand what he was really like.  And OK, one last one: I wanted resolution with his family.  I felt like that was so weird that we didn’t ever see them, and it was all very in the background.  So much of this book had a coming of age feel, but for it to truly be, I feel like we’d need to see him with his family.

OK, so things I liked!!  And crap, even the things I liked are with caveats.  This was a bit of a slow burn romance, and I appreciated that it wasn’t fast (especially with all they were dealing with).  Sometimes it would jump around a bit fast, like Ridge would be horrified about a kiss, and then still sleeping over.  I think I think too much.  But I did really think they were cute together.  In general I really liked Micah…he was kind of an oddball, and I really did feel for him and what all he was dealing with.  He felt like a pretty authentic 17 year old gay guy in a smaller town.  I wasn’t always happy with the way he pushed Ridge, but that could be just me.

I did GENUINELY love that we got to see Ridge showing emotions, and feeling things, and crying.  So many times guys aren’t allowed to cry, and that just sucks.  I really loved Zoey and her twins…I thought they added something to the story, and Abby and Jade amused me (I could so picture their very different approaches to Ridge, right to the end).  I thought the little bit we saw of Tuck was cool, I really liked the painting thing…  While I was initially confused about the carousel horses thing, I was so happy with the fact that that was explained in the end…and I appreciated the little things those adventures taught us about our heroes.  And I LOVED Terrance.  We needed more Terrance.  He was pretty much the one character who was 100% awesome in this book, and I think he was underutilized.

So yeah.  Reading all that, I really did have a lot to complain about eh?  Well crap.  I did enjoy myself.  Like I say, I just had reservations.  I’m probably not properly expounding on the good parts of this story.  I’m just conflicted, and it’s always so much easier to talk about the things that didn’t work than the things that did, you know?  So there you go.  My beautiful review.  You’re welcome.

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The Black Chapel (Chapel #1) by Marilyn Cruise

20452700Blurb: What would you do if a sexy billionaire asked you to marry him just for his money?

Scarlett hates her new job as a stripper, but she can’t afford to quit or she’ll lose her house and won’t be able to afford to pay for her dad’s chemo. One night, the handsome billionaire Michael Manning visits the club and shows interest in Samantha—Scarlett’s stage name. Scarlett is immediately attracted to Michael, but she refuses to date anyone she meets at the club.

The next day, Scarlett’s friend drags her to church, and to her surprise, Scarlett meets Michael again. He doesn’t realize she’s Samantha from last night (she wears a mask while performing) and asks her out. But Scarlett would never have guessed what kind of a scandalous, yet utterly irresistible deal he’s about to propose…

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3 stars

So the romance was wanting but I did enjoy the way Scarlett was able to juggle being two people at once without getting the lies mixed up.  That was entertaining as all get out.  And her dedication to helping her dad even though it was a degrading experience gave her a bit of dimension. But I must confess, it was crystal clear it was a ploy to make you care more about her character because if she didn’t have that going for her, she would have fizzled out for me. That was really the only thing I liked about her.

I kinda think Michael should have know it was Scarlett once he kissed ‘them’. I mean, he doesn’t even mention it, which I just found weird.  And frankly it made me think he was missing a few sandwiches short of a picnic.  Now, the sex scenes were on point and I’m glad I read this book, but the characters were just too flat for me to really care about them or what happens to them.  The plot is shallow to begin with so I guess I should have expected it.

So, I will not be reading anymore of this series because the ending had too many loose ends that I felt should have been tied up in this book in stead of leaving them hanging to entice you to read the next one. This may sound weird but it didn’t feel like an authentic ending. It felt unoriginal.  Maybe I read to many of these types of books because it felt trope-y and while I love a good trope, this one just was okay.

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Existence (Existence Trilogy #1) by Abbi Glines

existenceBlurb: Pagan Moore doesn’t cheat Death, but instead, falls in love with him.

Seventeen year old Pagan Moore has seen souls her entire life. Once she realized the strangers she often saw walking through walls were not visible to anyone else, she started ignoring them. If she didn’t let them know she could see them, then they left her alone. Until she stepped out of her car the first day of school and saw an incredibly sexy guy lounging on a picnic table, watching her with an amused smirk on his face. Problem is, she knows he’s dead.

Not only does he not go away when she ignores him, but he does something none of the others have ever done. He speaks. Pagan is fascinated by the soul. What she doesn’t realize is that her appointed time to die is drawing near and the wickedly beautiful soul she is falling in love with, is not a soul at all.

He is Death and he’s about to break all the rules.

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5 stars

This author will be at Book Bonanza 2018 so I thought I’d try her stuff out.  And I kinda loved it. It was pretty classic paranormal love story.

Pagan is hard headed and stubborn.  I really like how she copes with her unique ability. She doesn’t necessarily shy away from it, but attempts to help them, at least some of them. I admired that about her character, she didn’t shy away from the unknown. And she didn’t try to know all there was to know about her ability either, she just….allowed it to be a part of her as much as it was without forcing anything.  It was organic and worked well in this story.

I really loved how her and Deaths’ relationship evolved.  It was a slow simmer that came close to boiling over a few times.  He was a smart ass know it all with a gooey center.  The lovingly way he watched over her as she slept when she was scared and when he sang to her was enough for me to wish for my own reaper to come sweep me off my feet.

They had a more mature relationship than most teenagers, of course because of their other worldly knowledge. One of the best things about this book though is their ability to be intimate with each other without it getting physical!  Just lovely. I’ll definitely be reading more of this author in the future.

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Never Kiss a Stranger (Never #1) by Winter Renshaw

never kiss a strangerBlurb: It was an innocent mistake…

All workaholic real estate broker Addison Andrews wanted was one night of pleasure, and picking the right guy was no different than shopping from a catalog thanks to the dating app on her phone. His name was Wilder, and his profile was blank – just a sexy picture of a man who promised every wicked intention of a one-night stand.

The agreement was simple. One night. No last names. But the second their bodies melded together in the sheets of their posh Manhattan hotel room, there was no denying they fit together like two pieces of a broken puzzle.

There’s just one problem…

Addison unknowingly swiped right on the one man she wasn’t supposed to be with – her new stepbrother. All it takes is one bite of forbidden fruit to become addicted, but being with him has major consequences for their entire family. And if anyone found out about them, the career she worked so hard to build would crumble to the ground.

But Wilder Van Cleef doesn’t care about the possibility of a scandal. He wants her, and he’s willing to do whatever it takes.

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3 stars

This one was okay. The chemistry and sex carried this book as the characters themselves didn’t really have much in the way of depth. You can tell from the blurb what kind of book this is, and it was exactly what I expected. For some reason though, I wasn’t digging this story arc like I usually do.

Addison was selfish and while that was a turn off, I admired her dedication to telling Wilder no.  She just wanted to get hers and didn’t really care about anyone else.  But Wilder just kept pushing and it wasn’t even like a cute pursuit, it was borderline stalkerish.  Like dude, how many times does she have to say no before you get it?

And yeah, I know in this specific instance, Addison really didn’t want to say no, another thing that kinda turned me off actually.  I can’t stand when people just don’t say what they mean.  Maybe I’m reading too much into it and not letting the fiction take me away but these kinds of situation really rub me the wrong way.

But….I was able to ignore all that because holy rusted metal batman, the sex scenes were on FIRE!  And that’s what kept my interest throughout the book and ultimately what kept this book above 2 stars.  So there you have it.

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Enchant by Micalea Smeltzer

Blurb:
35412486Mara Pryce never imagined that her life was anything but normal and then a strange gray-eyed young man appears at her graduation. When he vanishes without a trace, she’s convinced he’s a figment of her imagination. Then he appears again and shatters her whole world.

Mara is an enchanter, part of an ancient line of Wiccan power, and a war is raging—one of good and evil—between the Enchanted and the Iniquitous.

The Iniquitous want her dead and it’s Theodore’s job as her protector to keep her safe.

When Mara and Theodore arrive at a safe house, where Mara will remain hidden while learning about her powers, they find that the real threat might be a little closer to home than they want to believe.

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

I hate when this happens.  I actually won an ARC of this book, but it just did not work out for me.  And that always bums me out.  I’ve never read anything by this author before, but I’ve heard great things about her contemporary books…so I’m uncertain if it’s just that her voice doesn’t shine through as well in non-contemp books?  I’ll maybe give those a try before I decide if we’re just not a match.

So what didn’t work for me?  Well, for one thing, I didn’t like ANY of the characters.  ANY of them.  I didn’t really hate any of them, but I couldn’t care less about them and what was happening to them.  They felt very shallow, both in attitude and in how they were represented…I needed more dimensions.  I honestly couldn’t really tell you very much about them.  And what I can tell you, I didn’t really like.

Mara was very flat.  She barely reacted to anything that happened to her, and her emotional reactions to the bad things were short-lived (except the dream/vision…that one was better, I actually felt for her).  She didn’t seem to form connections with anyone, or when she did it was immediate and we weren’t shown what drew them to one another.

And Theo…well he was a dick.  And I get he was supposed to be a dick, but the moments that were supposed to swing me to his favour just didn’t work for me.  They did not supersede his bad attitude.  And holy volatile!!  I can’t tell you the number of times he just started screaming at people (usually his sister) out of nowhere!  They were over the top reactions in my opinion.

As for secondary characters, nothing from them either.  We barely met her BFF Dani before she was out of the picture, or her father (though he might have been cool).  Adelaide was OK, but mostly she came across very self-absorbed and whiny…she felt younger than her age.  And she and Mara together were mean girls, the way they thought/talked about Naomi…I was NOT impressed.  Winston was whiny and oblivious, I didn’t even feel for him like I should.  And I couldn’t figure out Finn or Ethan, we got no time with either of them.  Though I guess I did like Nigel, the cat.

As for the paranormal aspect, well quite frankly I didn’t really learn enough about it to form an opinion.  Most of the book was about the push and pull between Mara and Theo.  Honestly, I was pretty bored.  It wasn’t until 95% into the book before something really action-y happened.  Uh, that’s WAY too late to get my interest.

*sigh*  I could probably elaborate, but that will bring me into meaner territory, and I try to avoid that.  Honestly, this book had quite a lot of potential.  It has a lot of the same basic setups of many of these paranormal books (girl doesn’t know anything about the paranormal world, but is apparently a chosen one, falls for a bad boy), but I don’t mind that.  In fact I’m often attracted to that.  I feel like the author just needed someone to tell her when she was being repetitive, both in phrases (how many times did I need to read “why does something so wrong feel so right?”) and in plot points…when she had inconsistencies…when she needed to tell the reader how Mara felt about learning her whole life had been a lie, when she needed to give the reader MORE.  *sigh*

Basically, good bones, poor execution.  Needless to say, despite that killer ending, I won’t be reading further.  But I will try out this author’s contemporaries, perhaps I’m just pickier when it comes to my non-contemps.

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The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler

Blurb:
23309653SOMETIMES, THERE ARE NO WORDS…

The youngest of six talented sisters, Elyse d’Abreau was destined for stardom – until a boating accident took everything from her. Now, the most beautiful singer in Tobago can’t sing. She can’t even speak.

Seeking quiet solitude, Elyse accepts a friend’s invitation to Atargatis Cove. Named for the mythical first mermaid, the Oregon seaside town is everything Elyse’s home in the Caribbean isn’t: an ocean too cold for swimming, parties too tame for singing, and people too polite to pry – except for one.

Christian Kane is a notorious playboy – insolent, arrogant, and completely charming. He’s also the only person in Atargatis Cove who doesn’t treat Elyse like a glass statue. He challenges her to express herself, and he admires the way she treats his younger brother, Sebastian, who believes Elyse is the legendary mermaid come to life.

When Christian needs a first mate for the Cove’s high-stakes Pirate Regatta, Elyse reluctantly stows her fear of the sea and climbs aboard. The ocean isn’t the only thing making waves, though – swept up in Christian’s seductive tide and entranced by the Cove’s charms, Elyse begins to wonder if a life of solitude isn’t what she needs. But changing course again means facing her past. It means finding her inner voice. And scariest of all, it means opening her heart to a boy who’s best known for breaking them…

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My Review:
4.5 stars — Well I must say, I am spoiled for reading ebooks people.  Reading this hardback was HELLA HARD.  For the usual reasons — can’t eat and read, can’t read in the dark, hard to hold open.  BUT I was surprised with how much I’ve gotten used to highlighting my Kindle books.  Like, I refuse to mark up a physical copy, but there were so many beautiful quotes in this book that I was just itching to highlight.  It ended up being my number one drawback, b/c Ms. Ockler just says things in a way that really got to me sometimes, you know??

There were occasional moments in this story where I got a bit confused in the language and style, but it was extremely rare.  When I read the prologue, I was uncertain if it would be a match for me.  But once I got past it to the first chapter, I was basically sucked in for the rest of the book.  I did find that the book slowed a bit at the end and I found myself wanting to skip ahead…the pacing just didn’t work for me.  These are all reasons I’ll be rounding down, but honestly they were about the only detriment of this book for me.  Otherwise it just hit so many of my buttons.

Even though our characters are right on the upper limit of YA (I’d call it mature YA, particularly for some content), I really felt like this was a coming of age story of sorts.  And not just for our narrator, Elyse, but for Christian in the background as well.  But Elyse does go through a transformation in our story…a journey to finding her new self.  It was slower than I expected, but in some ways that made it more realistic and I was fully invested.

I truly did love both Elyse and Christian.  I felt like they had many layers, and I loved the way their romance developed.  But in a lot of ways that was a very secondary plot line.  The main focus is on Elyse finding her voice, and in the goings on of Artigatis Cove (the bet, the town development, the regatta, the mermaid parade, etc).  And what made this story TRULY shine for me was the diverse cast of secondary characters…they were just all so different.  While the whole story is from Elyse’s POV, I really felt like this was a bit of an ensemble book.  It wasn’t just about her developing relationship with Christian, but about her relationships with everyone she meets that summer.  From her observations of the adults, to her “aunt” Lemon (who was just perfection in a kooky way), to Kirby and Vanessa and the friendships she forms there.

BUT, the absolute standout relationships were with Christian and his little brother Sebastian.  Those moments stole the whole book for me.  And I’d like to say it was Sebastian that stole it, but it was the trio together: Sebastian, Christian AND Elyse.  I LOVED the way they interacted.  I loved the way Christian loved his brother.  I LOVED how adorable and incorrigible and perfectly six years old Sebastian was.  I loved what he taught Elyse.  I just loved EVERYTHING about every moment that involved these 3 together.

I loved all the little storylines that helped to further the story about losing one’s “voice” and the different ways that can happen.  It was really effective, without being obvious or preachy.

I LOVED the little nods to both the original fairytale as well as the Disney version (mostly in character names or boat names).

And I LOVED feeling like I got a glimpse of Trinbagonian life.  I loved the little bits of slang I learned.  I desperately want to visit the twin islands now.  And maybe learn how to wine.  I loved the diversity that Elyse represented, and I felt like it was done authentically.  It was a perfect fit for my diverse retelling challenge this month.

So yeah…I’m glad I made the exception from my strictly ebook reading diet to throw this one in the mix…it was so worth it, and I will definitely be watching out for more books by Ms. Ockler in the future.

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Jacob’s Ladder: Gabe by Katie Ashley

Blurb:
36287261As the lead songwriter for Jacob’s Ladder, the last thing Gabe Renard needs is a debilitating case of writer’s block. After years of meaningless one night stands, he’s finding it hard to pen the love-filled ballads the label is requesting. In an effort to clear his mind, Gabe takes his jeep off-roading in the North Georgia Mountains. When a wrong-turn leads to him getting stuck more than just creatively, he’s forced to call for help. To his surprise, the “Ray” who has been sent by Hart Wreckers to his aid is actually “Rae”—a sexy-as-hell spitfire in a pair of tight-as-hell jeans. The combination of Rae’s sassy mouth and rocking body might be the inspiration Gabe needs. But for the first time since becoming a rock star, his advances have been shot down.

Reagan Hart has never been a fan of musicians. In fact, just the mention of one might cause her to throw a tire tool. Her disgust for them started when she was just eight and her mother ran off with a traveling country singer, and it only worsened when at seventeen, her rocker boyfriend knocked her up before blowing out of town. As a single mother taking care of her family’s collision business, Rae doesn’t have time for hook ups, much less a relationship. And if she did make time, a musician would be last on her list, even one as good-looking as Gabe Renard.

Can Gabe find the words to prove not only to Rae, but himself, that she’s the only one for him?

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

I’ve never read a book by Ms. Ashley, and I have a feeling we are just not a match.  It happens.  I do believe she’s a very popular author, so take my review with a grain of salt.  From what I could tell, this appears to be a spin-off book of another series of hers, so for fans I’m sure this is much anticipated!  I just can’t help but be sucked into celebrity stories, so that was my draw and the reason I requested.  Especially celebrities that fall in love with “normal” people.

In the end I didn’t really like either character that much.  Don’t get me wrong, they both had great moments, but in general I just couldn’t empathize with either.  And oddly, the sweet moments felt inconsistent with the other moments where Gabe seemed like a huge egotistical self-absorbed entitled dick, and Rae seemed like an overreacting irrational witch with a b.  I think I’m just not meant to read books about characters with volatile emotions.  I also tend to prefer more subtle characteristics, occasionally they felt like caricatures if that makes sense.  Just a bit too over the top and didn’t strike me as completely realistic.  Or maybe it’s just that these are not the type of people I would want to hang around with.  Again, this is really just a personality conflict between me and the story.  Won’t necessarily be a problem for others.

There were a few moments where I really felt the chemistry between Gabe and Rae and it worked for me.  I LOVED the scene where they were baking brownies, and everything that happened afterwards (other than the overreaction).  But that was about it for me.  The book felt very sex focused.  I didn’t really feel the falling in love part as much.  I didn’t swoon over the comments that Gabe made, quite the opposite…which is probably why the steamy stuff didn’t really work as well for me.  Again, just not a good fit.

One thing that actually really surprised me is that I LOVED Rae’s son Linc.  I’m not a kid person usually, but he came across sweet, but still a realistic 9 year old.  I loved how he colluded with Gabe, and I really loved some of the scenes at the end (especially the first epilogue).  Rae’s sisters also seemed pretty cool, as did her Aunt Sadie.  And while I’m not interested in reading any more in this series, Eli intrigued me.  I’m sure fans of this author will look forward to his story.

I will note that my advanced copy was LITTERED with mistakes, it did not read like a final copy.  And while ARCs aren’t always the final copy, this felt *quite* rough.  There is the possibility that after sending out the ARCs, the author sent this to a proofreader and the final copy will be more polished.  But I feel like that’s unlikely.  So if this kind of thing really bothers you, proceed with caution (maybe try the sample).

So yeah.  I know this seems like a really bummer review.  I was kind of bummed.  But it wasn’t a horrible book, it just wasn’t a me book.  It wasn’t a book I devoured.  And it wasn’t a book where I fell in love with my main characters, which I kind of need to truly enjoy a book.  But it was also not awful by any stretch, hence the rounding up.  It really was mostly just a case of the reader not matching up with the author’s writing.  I hope others have more luck.

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