The Truth About Us (Mills Lake #1) by T.J. Hannah

The truth about usBlurb: Twenty-one-year-old Sophia Ross has lived under the pressure of her parents expectations since the tragic accident that shattered their once perfect family. Determined to start over where no one knows her, she answers a housing ad on Craigslist and takes a job at a little bar in a town she has never heard of. All Sophia’s looking for is a place to escape, somewhere she can hide behind her lies and keep herself distracted.

She just didn’t expect to be distracted by Corbin Kasey.

Twenty-five-year-old Corbin Kasey is stuck in his hometown, his job, and his life, spending more time covering for his Dad’s problems than trying to fix his own. To take his mind off everything he has the wild Kayla, his stable roommates, and the calmness of swimming in Mills Lake. He always thought it was enough to keep him from drowning in himself, until he meets Sophia.

Neither of them are prepared for their lies to be stripped away by a single kiss. But for Corbin and Sophia, the truth has consequences.

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

Favorite Quotes

His thumb traces my cheekbone, and I lean into his palm. I don’t remember a single time in my life I’ve ever felt the way I do now. Like the world has stopped and I no longer need air. Like gravity doesn’t exist and if I let him go I’ll float away.

images

3 stars

This book was sweet if a little odd.  I didn’t get why they thought they were doomed from the beginning.  There was no weird connection or trauma that prevented them from just having a relationship.  I think it was all in their heads and that didn’t really make for a very good climax IMO.

The progression of the romance in this book seemed a bit off as well. It didn’t follow a traditional route. And while I enjoy those non-conformist story lines, this one didn’t flow well enough for me to jump on the love bandwagon.

Sophia’s escapist attitude was entirely relatable because of her very traumatic past. I get the whole out of sight out of mind aspect. But Corbin’s self proclaimed martyr outlook was unrealistic in my mind. Maybe because I’m the child of a violent alcoholic as he is and as such I KNOW that what he did was enabling.  And I got so mad at him for thinking he was doing the RIGHT thing.  There is no right thing in that situation!  It was so frustrating to watch it all unravel in the exact way I knew it would.  Woo, it was a bit close to home for me.

I’d read another one book from this author.  It wasn’t bad, just not as well done as I felt it could be.

Curly Carla_small

Advertisements

The Jingle Bell Bride by Scarlet Wilson

Blurb:
36183707New York wedding planner Jessica Christie always goes above and beyond for her clients. So, stopping in Alaska to pick up the famed Jingle Bell flower for her famous client’s bouquet doesn’t seem too outrageous–until she ends up stranded there.

Matt Holden has spent the last five years since his fiancée died, living in a virtual bubble in Alaska. His research work as a botanist and assistant at the local reindeer farm keep him busy during the holidays.

But when Jessica Christie bursts into his life, all bets are off. Her stay is definitely temporary, but the feelings she ignites aren’t. Could Ms. Oh-So-Wrong actually be Mrs. Right?

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

HoHo2017Button1

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

Hmmm…well, this one started off pretty good.  I was intrigued, I thought the premise seemed interesting.  But at some point my interest waned.  And I never really got it back.  It wasn’t a bad book, but it was very very meh.  If I wasn’t reading towards a challenge and this wasn’t a NetGalley ARC, I probably would have just abandoned it in favour of something that would better keep my attention.

In the end I think I just wasn’t that enamoured with our characters.  Maybe I just didn’t quite understand what made them tick.  I just wasn’t able to fall in love with either of them.  Jessica was SOOOOO high strung, and I couldn’t understand the disconnect between her celebrity wedding planner life and her supposed dream of a bookstore.  Like they were pretty far apart, so she kind of felt like 2 different people.  I did like when she was sweet, and how understanding she could be with Matt.  And she felt very child-like at times.  I just don’t get how that child-likeness remained in the life she led.  *shrugs*

And Matt had his own good moments, but he was also kind of dismissive of certain things about Jessica, poo-pooing her job and certain aspects of her personality.  I get that that wasn’t necessarily the “real” her, but then again, it has to be somewhat her.  Just seemed kind of dick-ish.

And their chemistry was only OK for me.  It was slow slow slow, and then all of a sudden it kind of turned really fast.  And while they acknowledged that the love was fast, that just felt like lampshading…saying it was fast doesn’t discount that it was honestly unbelievably fast.

I liked the magic of Alaska though, and that atmosphere.  I enjoyed the reindeer, though I can always stand for more reindeer…as my husband said, could use more ungulates.

So yeah.  Not a terrible book by any means, just didn’t capture my attention.

Lenoreo_small

The Horse and His Boy (The Chronicles of Narnia #3) by C.S. Lewis

the horse and his boyBlurb: Narnia . . . where horses talk . . . where treachery is brewing . . . where destiny awaits.

On a desperate journey, two runaways meet and join forces. Though they are only looking to escape their harsh and narrow lives, they soon find themselves at the center of a terrible battle. It is a battle that will decide their fate and the fate of Narnia itself.

 

 

 

 

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

images

3 stars

My daughter really wanted us to keep reading this series so I pushed through this book but I was never really a fan of this story. I think this might be my least favorite CS Lewis book in the Narnia series.  My daughter loved it though.  She was very excited to read it and I think we may have finished it faster than TLTWATW.

I found Aravis to be a bit spoiled and overbearing.  We see the potential for her character to grow but it happens at such a slow pace for me that I kinda just gave up on her.  Shasta seemed to be a bit of a pushover, never really coming to any conclusions on his own.  Just kinda letting events happen to him as opposed to facilitating them himself. And the horses seemed to be more of just extras to tie in the Narnia theme.  Their personalities reflect Shasta and Aravis, making them less likable to me due to lack of originality.

I did enjoy the hermit quite a bit along with the king and the young prince as well. I could have spent more time getting to know him more.  Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy are the ones I wanted to learn more about really, but they were only in it sparingly.  The good news is, my favorite book in the series is next so yea, more Pevensies!

Curly Carla_small

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.

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

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

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.

Lenoreo_small

 

Made for You by Lauren Layne

Blurb:
21965116Some mistakes are worth making…

When the Wrong Guy is Oh-So-Right

Will Thatcher is exactly the type of sexy playboy good girls like Brynn have always avoided. And yet there was still something about him she just couldn’t resist. When Will moved across the country three years ago, Brynn vowed it was time to put him behind her. She never thought Will might have other plans . . .

Back in town, Will intends to get what he’s always wanted-gorgeous, unforgettable Brynn. For years, he tormented the untouchable ice princess in a desperate bid for her attention. Now he has a new plan, and he’ll do anything to rewrite their stormy past. This time, he’s out to show Brynn that the imperfect man might be the best mistake of her life . . .

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

My Review:
3 stars — Oh dudes…  I know I’ve been conflicted about books before, but I can honestly say this one is probably my most conflicted ever.  Because the things I loved, I LOVED.  But there were things that I essentially hated too…or at least strongly disliked, b/c I really try not to hate things.

So what did I love first: the essential quality of Lauren Layne-ness to the book.  There is a reason I love most Lauren Layne books, and it’s often in the witty repartee of the characters.  There’s just something that always makes me laugh and has me delighted by either the dialogue or the internal thoughts of the characters.  And while this seems like a really small thing, it was enough to level this book off at 3 stars for me, b/c I would give that aspect 5 stars if I could.  She also writes pretty great kissing/steamy scenes, and this book was no exception.

What did I decidedly NOT like: when it comes right down to it, I really didn’t *like* either character.  They both had good moments, so it’s not an all-out hate or anything…there were even things I loved about both of them.  But in the end I mostly just wanted to smack them, for different reasons.

Brynn was a witch with a b.  There’s no other way to put it.  I get (and love) the depth of history that went into explaining how she became this person of lists and regimented everything.  And I actually really felt for how her childhood bullying stayed with her right into her 30s.  I think people underestimate the scars of systematic bullying and how it can affect you.  I actually liked that.  But the problem is, even if you excuse her walls to protect herself, she was still kind of mean.  And judgmental (of everyone, including other girls…bordering on slut shaming occasionally, but not quite).  And stupidly oblivious (stupidly because I really honestly couldn’t buy someone being that oblivious to Will’s affections).  AND SELFISH!!  She didn’t seem to care to learn about anyone else (most notably her sister and Will).  And I didn’t buy into her growth.  All of a sudden being an orthodontist is boring?  So who is she??  What does she want out of life?  What defines her?  I have zero answers.

And while I wanted to love Will, b/c on one side of the coin, the way he held onto his love for Brynn through 15 freaking years was kind of adorable (and even the epilogue almost had me swooning).  And he was freaking hilarious sometimes.  But he was also REALLY REALLY mean.  Like, I’m only so-so on enemies to lovers tropes as it is, but to hear the things these two said back and forth to each other just made me cringe and made my heart hurt.  He was basically a bully.  And he wasn’t nearly as understanding as I would have liked when he found out about her childhood bullying.  And OMG, the games!!  WHY WOULD YOU NOT JUST TALK TO HER AND FESS UP???  Why would you constantly test her, and then get mad when she thinks you hate her and isn’t getting it?  Why’d you have to break my heart by having these horrible qualities so I can’t love you for your good qualities??  It just wasn’t enough.

The whole book is basically just terrible communication, and you know I hate lack of communication tropes.  And when he finally just tells her THE TRUTH, he gives her 5 seconds to absorb it, and then bails.  UGH.

So you see what I mean?  If it hadn’t been for the witty dialogue and moments of great connection scattered here and there, it would have been a 2 star.  That’s how much I love the things I loved.  Because these characters just didn’t redeem themselves.  I’m just not a forgiving reader I guess.  I can’t tell you how bummed I am, b/c honestly there were moments of awesomeness that obviously had me hoping for a good ending.  *sigh*  OK, I’m just going to stop.  😦

Lenoreo_small

Cocky Bastard by Penelope Ward, Vi Keeland

26111248

Blurb: He was someone who belonged in my wildest fantasies instead of a rest stop in the middle of Nebraska.
A sexy, cocky, Australian named Chance was the last person I expected to run into on my cross-country drive.

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

My ordinary road trip turned into the adventure of a lifetime. It was all fun and games until things got intense.
I wanted him, but Chance wouldn’t make a move. I thought he wanted me too, but something was holding him back. 

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

All good things must come to an end, right? 

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

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

Favorite Quotes: 

“What am I supposed to do?” She eventually whispered. I blew out a heavy stream of air. “Do what’s in your heart, Aubrey. If that’s not being with me—it will suck—I’m not going to lie. But I want you to be happy. That’s how I’m sure I’m in love with you. If the choice is you being happy or me…there is no choice. You come first.”

images

3 stars

Eh, I was a bit underwhelmed with this story.  It tested my believability in some scenes.  I actually put this book down after a couple chapters because she mentioned how much of an Adonis he was.  If there is one thing that will make me put a book down fast it is when the FIRST thing that is mentioned is how hot he is.  I mean, I get it, physical attraction is important, but when its the first thing mentioned it just makes my interest level plummet.   

The relationship was pretty fast paced.   I mean, she allowed him to ride with her halfway across the country after knowing him a whopping 20 minutes!  I just couldn’t get past that. That raised a flag for me because in this day and age EVERYONE knows not to pick up strangers. Maybe I just can’t suspend my belief but the situation seemed way to easily manufactured to get them in close quarters for long periods of time.  And I know it’s order for them to form a bond quickly but it was just too convenient for me. It didn’t really impress me.  And it kinda went down hill from there.  

I will say this; The chemistry was pretty hot though.  Like Rose and Jack in the Titanic steamy!  

I didn’t click with Chance’s character.  I found his stalker mannerisms a bit over the top.  I didn’t see how their relationship was that deep to begin with.  He seems more invested in the relationship than she was, especially for all the things he did for her. Frankly I didn’t think she was worth the effort on his part. I would have walked after a week.

Aubrey was a forgettable character.  I honest to god had to look up her name while writing this! That’s how much she didn’t stand out.  Man, reading this back makes me think I should lower my rating even more.  Anyway, I’m glad this isn’t a series so I don’t have to worry about more books.  But hey, not everyone will have the same experience as me. In fact, my co-pilot Lenore happened to love this book.  

Curly Carla_small

 

Paper Fools by Staci Hart

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

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

I thought my heart was too mangled to love.

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

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

But I don’t deserve her.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alphas on the Prowl Shifter Paranormal Boxed Set by Catherine Vale, Lashell Collins, Gina Kincade, Bethany Shaw , Phoenix Johnson, Annie Nicholas, Jami Brumfield, Sarah Mäkelä , Amy Lee Burgess, Anna Lowe

Alphas on the prowl

Blurb: All new stories!

Alpha shifters are on the prowl, and they’re used to getting what they want. But there’s more to claiming a destined mate than raw power, and they’ll have to prove themselves worthy – in more ways than one.

Alphas on the Prowl offers page after page of passion and pleasure in this box set featuring eleven NEW tantalizing shapeshifter tales from NY Times and USA Today best selling authors.

images

NOT AVAILABLE ON AMAZON

3.5 stars

Well, I finally finished another anthology. This one took me about nine months to finish and I gotta say I wasn’t really impressed with them that much.  Obviously if I took my sweet ass time with them.

One thing that is standing out to me is the fact that there is NO FRICKING TABLE OF CONTENTS!! So if I wanted to…IDK, REVIEW EACH BOOK INDIVIDUALLY, I would have to go through the anthology page by page to find the title and author of each book.

No fucking way am I doing that.  Call me lazy,  IDC, that’s a whole lot of effort for some books I barely remember.

So I can only go based on my most recent memory of these stories, which is sad to say, mediocre.  This will be the shortest review of an anthology ever because of my laziness.

That’s…that’s about it really.  They had alphas and they were on the prowl, but none really stuck to me as super awesome.

Curly Carla_small

 

 

First Grave on the Right (Charley Davidson #1) by Darynda Jones

FGOTRBlurb: A smashing, award-winning debut novel that introduces Charley Davidson: part-time private investigator and full-time Grim Reaper Charley sees dead people. That’s right, she sees dead people. And it’s her job to convince them to “go into the light”. But when these very dead people have died under less than ideal circumstances (i.e. murder), sometimes they want Charley to bring the bad guys to justice.
Complicating matters are the intensely hot dreams she’s been having about an Entity who has been following her all her life… and it turns out he might not be dead after all. In fact, he might be something else entirely.

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

overdrive

images

3 stars

I listened to this audio book free through my Overdrive app.  This book was funny to me at first.  The MC was witty, sarcastic and clairvoyant.  I laughed quite a bit.  But, then her growth started to stagnate and her sarcasm started to get annoying.

The plot started out pretty easy to understand, which was good considering the story itself was meant to be a quick read.  About halfway through the book though, the author seemed to change her mind and added a bunch of stuff that I felt was unnecessary to the story.  I got a bit confused as to the whys of some of it, thereby losing interest even more.

I hated the ending because I didn’t get any kind of closure that I felt was needed.  The minor plot was tied up but the major one was left hanging.  When I went to see how long the series was, I realized I didn’t have the stamina or the patience to get any deeper into this series so I could find out what happens.  Which is a shame.

If you want a long series to savor, this is for you. If you are like me and crave near instant gratification, I’d pass.

Curly Carla_small

Kissing Max Holden by Katy Upperman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lenoreo_small