This is Falling (Falling #1) by Ginger Scott

22927275Blurb: First, I had to remember how to breathe. Then, I had to learn how to survive. Two years, three months and sixteen days had passed since I was the Rowe Stanton from before, since tragedy stole my youth and my heart went along with it.

When I left for college, I put a thousand miles between my future and my past. I’d made a choice—I was going to cross back to the other side, to live with the living. I just didn’t know how.

And then I met Nate Preeter.

An All-American baseball player, Nate wasn’t supposed to notice a ghost-of-a-girl like me. But he did. He shouldn’t want to know my name. But he did. And when he learned my secret and saw the scars it left behind, he was supposed to run. But he didn’t.

My heart was dead, and I was never supposed to belong to anyone. But Nate Preeter had me feeling, and he made me want to be his. He showed me everything I was missing.

And then he showed me how to fall.

*This is a standalone in a three-part series that will focus on different characters. Each book can be read on its own.

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Favorite Quote: It’s like I’m caught in an internal tug-of-war with myself—my heart begging to beat from thrill, but caged by fear.

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4 Stars

This book was excellent. The story of how she came out of her shell was deeply moving and perfectly paced.  The love story was intense and sensual, albeit a bit slow.

Her trauma was not to be too big for her to overcome it.  It had a very real and deep presence in her life.  Yet, she was actively trying to move on from it.  She was smart enough to know if she didn’t start trying that her trauma would always control every aspect of her life.  And I could totally identify with that.  We all have some kind of trauma that has/had left us emotionally despondent.  Its how we adapt and overcome that really shows how strong we are.  And she was one of the strongest characters I’ve read in along time.  She wasn’t irrational, and she could have been and it would have been believable. She was forgiving, even though she carried so much pain and guilt.  She was afraid, yet so brave as well.  Balanced but damaged is the best way I could explain it.  Aren’t we all?

Nate was quick to recognize his affection.  He knew what he felt the moment he saw her. And just as fast seemed to intuitively know she needed time to explore these new feelings.  He was patient but not a saint.  He did use some underhanded tactics but came clean about them almost right away making me tend to think he realized this was not the right way to get her to like him.  This made his character even more believable in my eyes.  Except for the one instance, which I will refrain form explaining because… spoilers, he seemed to be pretty stable.  He could lighten up a heavy encounter easily and I really liked how the author made their emotions clear but multi-dimensional.

This book showed that even though shit may have hit the fan, you CAN still have fun. The story had great ebb and flow.  Emotive characters are my favorite to read about. Especially when they have a lot of internal conflict they are struggling to control.  This is a great book and I highly recommend it.

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Shut Out by Kelly Jamieson

Blurb:
28473716From the bestselling author of the Heller Brothers Hockey series comes the first novel of a new hockey romance series featuring a college team whose players are heating things up both on and off the ice.
 
The Bayard College hockey team isn’t where Jacob Flass thought he’d be a season ago. He was a rising star in the Canadian major junior league, cruising toward a spot on an NHL roster—until a single disastrous night on the town brought it all crashing down. Now he’s out of options, except for playing well, studying hard, and staying away from girls. He’s not supposed to be flirting with the hottest, sweetest chick he’s ever met. But how could he possibly stay away?
 
Skylar Lynwood knows that Jacob is out of her league. She’s just trying to go with the flow, which isn’t easy when six feet and four inches of total hockey hunkiness is making a play for her one moment, then giving her the cold shoulder the next. Skylar’s head tells her that this rugged athlete isn’t worth her time, but her body says something altogether different. Risking her heart for Jacob may be the craziest thing she’s ever done . . . but she won’t let him shut her out.

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My Review:
3.5 stars — Do you ever finish a book and just have no idea how to rate it?  I’m a gut feeling rater, and this one left me a bit jumbled.  There were a lot of things about this book that I absolutely LOVED!!!  But at the same time, it took me like HOURS to just finish the last like 10%.  I lost my verve for it somewhere along the way.

Let’s talk about about the things I loved first for a change (b/c I usually lead with the bad).  I adored all the little conversations this book ended up having with the reader about very important topics, and I loved the way they were brought up in the book and addressed.  From rape culture to intimate relationship abuse to actual sexual violence for both females AND males to sexual consent to even slut shaming.  I just loved that the conversations were happening in the book, were very important to the story of the characters, but felt natural at the same time.  And we got to see some very different perspectives surrounding this really broad topic, and how confusing it can be, but how important having the conversations and moving our society forward is.  Especially in the context of a college campus.  We even got to see some of the skewed mentality surrounding athletes and how they are treated by the opposite sex, as well as how that can lead to a feeling of entitlement.  The book didn’t provide a bunch of easy answers, but just took a frank look.  And it wasn’t too cheesy, and not too in your face either.  In the end, this was my favourite part of the book.

I also LOVED the bantering between our hero and heroine.  You could feel their chemistry right from the beginning, and I loved that you could see their friendship grow even when they were both consumed with feelings of lust.  But seriously, they were really pretty cute together, and they definitely made me laugh at times.  They did get a bit cheesy at the end, I struggled through some of the dialogue at times when they were professing feelings, but that could have been just me.

And I enjoyed both characters in general.  I wasn’t necessarily in love with either of them, but neither did they annoy the crap out of me.  Not a ringing endorsement, I know, but it’s just the way I felt.  Basically for all the things I loved about each of them, there was something else that bugged me.

For example, I really enjoyed that Skylar was struggling to follow in her sisters footsteps, and had a bit of a crisis over what she wanted to do with her life (balancing parental expectations with her own passions).  BUT it kind of annoyed me that she didn’t talk to them.  I guess that’s kind of realistic, young adults can make some pretty silly assumptions sometimes.  But still.  At the same time I was really impressed with her work with SAPAP and I loved how passionate she was about it.  She really broke it down and made it less awkward, and she was pretty frank about how she was feeling.  I also loved that while we didn’t see her journey with her therapist, you could see some of the positive influences it made on her.  BUT!  I couldn’t help but feel disappointed with the way she handled the aftermath of Brendan’s suicide…and all that shiznit with Ella.  AGAIN, it was probably pretty realistic, but I guess I was wanting something there.  That’s probably more on me than her though.

As for Jacob, well, I had mixed feelings about how he responded after the “incident” that the book opens with.  BUT part of that was because the author chose not to go into details about what happened until MUCH later in the book, and so as a reader you’re left to try to guess at what happened, and so it made it hard to understand his reactions.  At the same time, I LOVED the way he developed as a character wrt all that, and how he responded to the training he underwent, and how he really took that on and allowed it to impact his life in a positive way.  And I loved how dedicated he was to his hockey career, and I really appreciated the conversation he and Skylar had about while he may have talent, he still works really hard to be that good.  I think people forget that about naturally talented athletes.

Things I disliked: how Skylar reacted to Jacob’s secret (not listening to his side is just a big NOPE); the sudden introduction to more of Skylar’s story than I was expecting (kind of came out of the blue, wish there had been hints); some of the talking during sex really ruined it for me (I just can’t read a character saying “Yeah. Oh yeah.” and not want to giggle, it doesn’t feel natural).  Which is not to say the steamy parts weren’t deliciously steamy, I just wish the talking had felt more natural.  Also, they occasionally felt older than 19/20.

I LOVED the guys Jared lives with, and I enjoyed seeing him develop friendships with them.  They were so funny and cute, and I hope to see their stories.  At the same time, maybe due to the nature of Skylar’s story, I was disappointed in the lack of female secondary characters to love.  There were a lot of tiny female parts, but the only major one was Ella, and it was kind of hard to love her.

As an aside, I LOVE reading books by Canadian authors, or about characters that are Canadian…I love seeing things I recognize.  My hubby laughed at me and said now I know how minority groups must feel when they read diverse characters that represent them.  BUT, as a good ole Saskatchewan girl, born and raised, I must say that Saskatoon’s team is the BLADES, Moose Jaw is the WARRIORS.  Tsk tsk.  😛

So yeah.  See?  Conflicted.  Do I round up or down?  I DON’T KNOW!!!  I’m going to round up and say that the awesome amount of *actual* hockey in this sports romance put it over the top for me.  😉

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The Perfectly Imperfect Match by Kendra C. Highley

Blurb:
35496084Pitcher Dylan Dennings has his future all mapped out: make the minors straight out of high school, work his way up the farm system, and get called up to the majors by the time he’s twenty-three. The Plan has been his sole focus for years, and if making his dreams come true means instituting a strict ” no girls” policy, so be it.

Lucy Foster, needlepoint ninja, big sister to an aspiring pitcher, and chicken advocate, likes a little mayhem. So what if she gets lost taking her brother to baseball camp…at her own high school? The pitching coach, some hotshot high school player, obviously thinks she’s a hot mess. Too bad he’s cute, because he’s so not her type.

Problem is, they keep running into each other, and every interaction sparks hotter than the last. But with Dylan’s future on the line, he has to decide whether some rules are made to be broken…

Disclaimer: This book contains a crazy night of moonlit skinny-dipping, a combustible crush, and kisses swoony enough to unwind even the most Type A athlete.

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

Before I get into the meat, as an aside: Covers don’t make or break a book for me, but can I just say that this cover is absolutely perfect for this book?  I love it when a scene from the book is represented, it always makes me auto-smile and squeal when I get to it!!

Ahem.  Anyways.  I am falling in love with Ms. Highley.  She writes just my kind of cute YA books.  I’ve said it in previous reviews of the other books in this series, I’m NOT a baseball fan.  But Ms. Highley makes me want to be a baseball fan (until I watch it on TV and remember that I don’t have the attention span).  And she did it again in this book.  It’s not that there’s an overwhelming amount of baseball in the book, but it’s prominent enough that it makes me feel like I understand the passion Dylan has.  I actually prefer when my sports romance books ACTUALLY have some of the sport in it (and not just have it be a small aspect of the character).

Dylan was such an intriguing hero!!  I can’t help but wonder how he came to be so rigid and structured and goal-focused.  But while sometimes a lack of “past incident explanation” can kill a book for me, the way it was done in this book I really felt like I could see how someone could just have that be an aspect of their personality.  Like being shy, or extroverted, or a daydreamer…sometimes you’re just born a certain way.  And I kind of loved how he’d allowed this one aspect of his personality to take over his WHOLE LIFE, and that was the cause of his stress.  It was so gratifying to see Lucy open him up, make him relax, show him there’s more to life.  I also loved the conflict with his parents.  Again, Ms. Highley writes great families too — not evil ones, or uninvolved, but ones that have their own set of problems even though you can feel the love.  I loved how that all resolved too, how blinded Dylan had become in his focus.

And he was SO CUTE!!  I love the heroes in these books.  They have a healthy set of hormones, but none of them are dogs (though far from perfect either).  They are all very 3 dimensional, and I love how shy and awkward Dylan could be in relationships!  SWOON!! (a unicorn just got his wings!)

And I LOVED how different Lucy was from the other heroines in this series!  She was kind of a rebel rouser, and just marched to the beat of her own drum, but with lots of confidence.  I loved how seriously she followed her passion, and how some might see her as flighty, but if you paid attention she was really focused as well.  She just knew better how to have some fun.  And I loved her family dynamics as well, and how the pressures of stepping up and being responsible in her family were really wearing on her.  Her relationship with both her Mom and her brother felt very real, full of love but also struggles.  And I loved the military Dad aspect as well.  How it didn’t overtake the story, but was an underlying heartache.

And these two together were YA gold.  So many tummy butterflies, they really had great chemistry.  And I really could see how they sort of brought the best of each other.

So yeah, another YA success!!  And a PERFECT read for the summer, I just got all those summertime vibes!!

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Hello Forever by Sarina Bowen

Blurb:
34223444A basketball game changed both their lives.

When they were only teenagers, Axel and Caxton were caught making out in the woods at church camp. And afterward, Cax had disappeared from all the youth group activities.

Six years later, Axel is astonished to spot his first love’s face in the crowd of a college basketball game he’s watching on TV—at a school which has just offered him a job. It’s a thousand miles away, in a tiny rural town. But suddenly, he can’t wait to get there.

Cax can’t believe his eyes when Axel appears in the same Massachusetts town where he now lives. And he’s still just as drawn to Axel as ever. But he can’t let himself go there again, because loving Axel will mean giving up everything else he holds dear.

Both men have so much to lose. But as far as their love is concerned, it’s Hello Forever.

Hello Forever was previously published as It’s Never Over. This is a stand-alone novel with no cliffhangers. Readers of Goodbye Paradise will get to check in on Caleb and Josh and their clan.

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

Another solid M/M romance from Ms. Bowen!!  While I didn’t enjoy this one quite as much as Goodbye Paradise (which is a really hard book to live up to since it was a 5 star read for me and contained so many little things that made it a perfect Lenore book), I was still sucked into this story and stayed up until 2:30 in the morning finishing it.

The POVs in this story weren’t structured in the same way as the previous book, this one was more close to alternating chapters (with some exceptions, as it made sense for the story).  I didn’t mind the change.  It made more sense for Cax and Axel’s story, and I felt like I got what I needed as a reader as the plot progressed.

There’s something about the different struggles that LGBT folks face when deciding when to come out that just rips open your heart, you know?  And Cax in particular had a tough road to walk.  I can’t imagine having to survive an abusive father no matter who you are, but especially as a gay kid when he is ridiculously homophobic and bigoted.  And I really got how his upbringing and experiences and the state of his family influenced his choice to remain mostly in the closet, especially if he wanted to maintain a relationship with his brothers.  Do I believe that he couldn’t have found another way?  I’m not sure.  But for who Cax was, it made sense…he was flawed, but doing the best he could with what he knew.  I enjoyed seeing him grow stronger over the course of the book, with setbacks here and there, but eventually standing up and accepting himself with no apologies.

While Cax’s journey was perhaps more heartwrenching in some ways, I felt closer to Axel in this story.  It wasn’t that he didn’t have his own struggles to go through, even as someone who was able to come out of the closet with support from his Mom.  He really showed that you can be “out and proud”, but still fear the backlash that may come from people he meets.  And how that fear can make for a lonely existence sometimes.  AND how loving someone in a closet can really have adverse affects on you as well.

I loved Cax and Axel together, and loved hearing about their past as children.  If I had one complaint, I wish we’d gotten a bit more from the romance.  It’s not that it wasn’t deliciously steamy, or that they didn’t have chemistry, but it just felt like something was missing to really push it over the top for me.  Honestly, it could just be that it’s hard to follow up the love of Caleb and Josh from the previous book.

The plot took a few twists and turns I wasn’t expecting.  Like, something would happen and I would assume that I knew how it was going to play out, but then it would go in a slightly different direction.  I like that, it felt authentic to the characters.  That’s not to say that there weren’t some things that were definitely foreshadowed and didn’t shock me, but it was nice to be surprised on some things.  Wow, that was really vague and confusing, sorry.  😛

Again, this story is strong in secondary characters, with so many playing important roles.  And I loved so many of them, from the reappearance of Caleb and Josh (squee!), to Boz who was so funloving, to Amy (though I wish we could have seen her a bit more), to Jason (perhaps we’ll see his story in the future?), to even Cax’s brothers.  I love when a book has a great supporting cast.

So yeah.  I always hate writing these last paragraphs, I never know how to end a review.  Obviously I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and what more can you ask for?  OH!  And can I just say that Caxtastrophe and Axeldental were the most hilarious email names??  Loved it!

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The Diary of Bink Cummings: Vol 2 (MC Chronicles #2) by Bink Cummings

diary of BC 2Blurb: When changing life’s course, you never consider what twisted curve-ball fate might dump in your lap. Growing up in the MC, then gaining my own personal Independence was not only a curse, it was a blessing. So when I decided to say fu*k my past and embraced my future, away from the only place I called home, I tried to re-invent myself, by becoming the woman I am today.
Until, one day, fate reared its ugly head, forcing me to return to the place I ran from. The place where I had no choice but to face HIM. And hide the biggest secret of my life, as I wallowed in silent fear, of the insurmountable repercussions it would evoke when anyone found out the truth.

 

 

 

 

Favorite Quote:

“I want you on the back of my bike, livin’ in my house, havin’ my daughter. I wanna own all your smiles and only see you cry when you’re happy. I wanna die in your arms because it’s the only fuckin’ place I’ve ever truly lived,” he says decisively, as if he doesn’t even have to think about it.

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4 stars

*Original review*

Holy crap on a cracker, I thought it couldn’t get better. I was wrong.

Bink realizes that Big is too possesive and refuses to cave to his domineering nature. Good for her! She steals away into the night and makes it to Chicago, about three hours away. I can’t even sum up this story anymore and frankly I don’t want to. Read the damn book!

It’s so worth it. Second book blows the first one out of the water. Really.

*re-read*

Wow, I have become more wordy as I get older. Also, I’ve noticed that I don’t like Big as much as I used to.  Maybe I’ve become enlightened, whatever the reason, he’s a pretty big douche-nozzle.  Unfortunately, I still find him attractive in a ‘I’d rip his balls off if a man ever did to me what he did to her’ type of way.  So yeah, still working on those issues. 😉

The weird attraction they have to each other is impossible to not love though.  Their chemistry is the main basis for their relationship.  The sex thing got a little old but is a big part of their characters as bikers.  At first I didn’t see the big picture.  They were just people who like to have sex, anywhere they could.  But as I started to read the third one, I realized this is an intregal part of their characters.  They are very sexual beings.  Or maybe I just became numb to it.  ::shrugs::

Don’t get me wrong, they have tender moments, quite a few actually.  Which just help provide the depth a reader needs to not chalk this up to some shallow story.  No, this book is pretty well rounded, except in sex and violence.  But hey, its a MC book, you gitta expect that.

I quite like it.  Another score for an MC book.  Maybe I’m just a more than normal picky reader when it comes to this genre.

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Imperfectly Criminal (Imperfect #2) by Mary Frame

22888717Blurb: Freya Morgan thought it was a great idea to hire the bad boy on campus to beat up her douchebag ex-boyfriend after he cheated and treated her like crap. Fast forward a few months, and nothing she’s done has helped her get over the scars left behind by her ex. Not the paid beating, not the string of sucky dates, nothing.
Dean Collins is in trouble, and it’s all Freya’s fault. After all, she started the trend of all the ladies on campus paying him to do their dirty work. But now, two of the boys he was hired to beat up are dead, and he’s the only connection.

When Freya agrees to help him find the real killer, she discovers that this bad boy isn’t so bad, after all. And getting involved with him means more than finding a killer, it means potentially losing her life…and her heart.

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Favorite Quotes: 

“Don’t you know how these things work? When there’s a mystery to be solved, it’s always the person you least suspect, not the person you hope it is.” He laughs. “This isn’t an Agatha Christie novel.” “You’re right,” I sigh and sit down on the swing next to him. “If this was an Agatha Christie novel, the writing would be way better.”

“There are plenty of reasons to go around,” I answer. “Considering his status as the Duke of Douche.” I know you shouldn’t speak ill of the dead and all that, but I’ve never understood that philosophy. An asshole who dies is still a dead asshole.

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4 stars

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Everything by Melissa Pearl

Blurb:
25384042Jody Pritchett had a dream…but life had other plans. Instead of singing and dancing on Broadway, Jody’s a twenty-year-old single mom, living at home with her disapproving father and overbearing sister. The choice to keep her little Angelia came with a high price and although she adores her baby girl, it doesn’t take away the sting of kissing goodbye her chance at a career on the stage.

Leo Sinclair had his own dream…but got lost along the way. After a failed marriage that left him hollow and downtrodden, the Australian songwriter wonders what joy his future could possibly hold. Encouraged by the one family member who doesn’t think he’s a failure, Leo decides to stop living the life everyone expects him to and start chasing his dreams again.
When the perfect opportunity comes knocking, Leo leaves Australia behind and hops a flight to LA. With his sights set on selling a musical to a Broadway producer, Leo is determined to finally realize his life-long dream. But life gets in the way again, when he spots a young mother outside his apartment in tears. He never realized how one person, one voice, and one Angel could have him contemplating abandoning his dreams once again.

As these two burned hearts wrestle to overcome their past struggles, Leo and Jody must decide what dreams are worth clinging to…because, sometimes, everything you want is not everything you need.

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My Review:
4 stars — Ah, another sweet sweet love story!!  I loved how this one turned out, and the hea we got!!

I wasn’t sure how I was going to like Jody’s story, b/c Jody herself gave me some reservations, particularly in Bulletproof.  And while she was still a bit of a drama queen for me, we did get to see her grow up a bit over the course of the book.  I wouldn’t have minded a bit more growth with her, but I think she just might not be my favourite heroine, and that’s OK you know?  While it was hard to see her act so naively even at the beginning of the book, it really made her growth as a mother so much more impactful.  I found myself rooting for her and the strides she was making in her independence.  I think the nature of her personality will always have her feeling a bit young, but it worked for her, especially as a match to Leo.

Leo was extra adorable, he was so my kind of hero!  I loved how sweet and kind he was, and he really reminded me of my Dad.  We always used to joke that my Dad always had a song for everything, and he would break out into songs all the time…it was one of my favourite qualities about him, so of course I loved that aspect of Leo as well.  I will admit that I didn’t really feel like his background made much of an impact on who he was, and I kind of wanted some of that to come into play, or to learn more about it.  I feel like he had a really unique past in Australia, but it was kind of just glossed over, so I wondered what the point was.  Not that it was a big deal, but I guess I kept waiting for his parents to have an impact, or to just dive in a wee bit more to why he got married so young.

Leo and Jody brought out the best in each other.  I loved the way Leo brought the sunshine back to Jody…how they connected so perfectly over music.  They brought happy smiles to each other, and thus brought happy smiles to me.  There were so many cute scenes that I fell in love with, especially the Dance With Me Tonight scene.  That was just gold.  And I loved how he called her foxy pants!  I didn’t feel their sexual chemistry quite as much as say Morgan and Sean, or even Cole and Ella, but their romantic chemistry and friendship chemistry was fantastic.

And I ADORED the way Leo was with Angel.  While I’m not huge on kids, I really felt like Jody’s struggles raising Angel, and how that impacted her romantic relationships was well portrayed.  And you could really tell that Leo was falling in love with *both* his girls.

I will say, the highlight for me in this book was the musical.  I really loved that we got to learn what it was about, and see bits of the lyrics of some of the songs.  I kind of want to see this musical!!  Ms. Pearl needs to write it!  😛  You know, in her spare time.  *rolls eyes*

The climax and resolution of this book was spot on…I was crying and crying and then smiling so big!  And the epilogue was gold.  Time to continue my read-a-thon!!  I can’t wait to reread Rather Be now that I’ve truly met Leo and Angel!

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The Diary of Bink Cummings: Vol 1 (MC Chronicles #1) by Bink Cummings

bink cummings 1Blurb: I’m a biker, and I’m a woman, who was raised by my biker family the Sacred Sinners.

Growing up an MC brat, I’ve known nothing but leather, booze, club whores, comradery, and bikes, my entire life.

My name is Eva “Bink” Cummings, and this is my story.

How at the ripe old age of thirty, with no husband, no kids, and being a part of a motorcycle club. Things aren’t always what they appear to be. I’ve found out the hard way, that your life, in an instant, can be flipped upside down. And the people you know and love aren’t always what they seem.

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4 stars

So I read this book a while back and never finished the series.  I really like this authors writing though and wanted to tackle a series to finish so I dug this one up and started to re-read it.  I have found that I still feel the same as I did when I first read it….

This book was so interesing! I loved how it was written in diary fashion. It was very straightforward and real. Lots of sex, drinking and fighting. Just so you know, definitely not for kids.

Bink is a badass biker chic! She was raised by her ‘family’ in the Motorcycle club and resided there for most of her life. This gives her special prviledges because women are never allowed to live in the clubhouse. Her daddy is the VP and the men all love her. She is a smartass of the highest caliber and can give as good as she gets. She can cook like no ones business and enjoys spending time with her ‘family’. Her mom is a snatch and left her to fend for herself when she was very young.

This is a love story, albeit a pretty twisted one. I normally don’t like these kinds of books because they are too unbelievable. *says the fan of sci-fi and fantasy adventure* But seriously, they are too vulgar and the characters are usually pretty shallow.

I like to be proven wrong. And I was with this book. The storyline had a good background and while it was quite sexual in nature it wasn’t overkill. At least not to me. Bink cusses and fights like a dude but can be very motherly to her family.

Big is the quintessential alpha male. Prez of the club, controlling to the point of irrationality. Too much at times. He was too demanding for me. But Bink puts him in his place and doesn’t cave to his demands. Which leads to all kinds of fighting, but its all foreplay right?

Can’t wait for the third one as I have already read the second one.

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The Director and Don Juan by Katy Regnery

Blurb:
32721297The Director and Don Juan is the second of four books about the Philadelphia-based Story sisters who are all on the look-out for love.

Heiress Alice Story left her father’s company three years ago in a blaze of glory, inviting all of his employees to jump ship and join her, but only one accepted her offer: mail room clerk, Carlos Vega.

While Alice spent the next three years getting her own company off the ground, Carlos became her indispensable right-hand man — executive assistant and office manager, loyal counsel and trusted co-worker.

And all the while, they were quietly falling in love with each other.

When Alice is offered a lucrative business deal in Puerto Rico, island-born Carlos is the perfect person to accompany her on her trip as translator, but as they travel together from Philadelphia to Santo Domingo to Ponce, two unlikely co-workers will discover that during their three years working together, their feelings for each other have grown far deeper than they ever could have guessed.

And though business-minded, proper Alice will try her very best to ignore the longings of her heart, scorching hot, insanely sexy Boricua, Carlos, has no intention of letting her go.

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

I love it when you dive into a favourite author’s new book and she reminds you that YES you do love reading, and YES that last book just wasn’t right for you!  Because I can wholeheartedly say that I was sucked into Alice and Carlos’s story from the first page.  It’s funny how it’s hard to articulate what style of writing you love, but you just know it when you do…and Ms. Regnery’s writing is always just smooth like butter, I can just consume it and devour it and I’m captivated instantly.

One of the things she does so well is chemistry between characters.  And Alice and Carlos definitely had that going for them in spades.  It’s funny, b/c this one is a bit more of a slow burn romance, we don’t get to the steam until like 70% I believe.  But all that anticipation is pretty delicious in itself, and then once the romance delivers, it’s beautiful and tummy tingling!  I loved the way the romance between Alice and Carlos developed, from a deep abiding trust and respect, with a side of friendship, to acknowledging that more had developed, sometimes without them knowing.  And then just facing that moment where you couldn’t ignore it any longer, and it was time to go for what you wanted.  While there was a bit of angst and drama, it wasn’t drawn out for the sake of being drawn out, and it resolved as I would expect it would in real life.

I LOVED Carlos’s patience with Alice.  I loved that he knew not to push it too fast, but that he wouldn’t give up.  I loved his optimism in the face of potential obstacles.  I loved how clearly he cared about Alice and was thoughtful over her needs.  I loved that he was charming as can be, but not too much of a dog (though perhaps I would have liked a better resolution with Leticia and Lena).  I loved that he had a multi-faceted personality — alpha when he needed to be, but happily beta in other aspects of his life.  And I really felt like that juxtaposition was well placed, b/c Ms. Regnery was not afraid to address the gender roles and pressures that men face as well (and in this case, particularly in the latin community).  As a romance reader, we often see the struggles that women face in their professional lives (and I love that), but how often do we see a man deal with criticism for somewhat less ambition, or being happy serving a strong woman.  I don’t know if I’m making sense, but I just really loved that.

And on the other side of the coin, I loved Alice’s ambition, and her unwavering desire for both a career and a family.  She was such a strong heroine, and someone to be admired.  But I also loved that she needed someone like Carlos to take the reins in their intimate settings, so she could just feel and experience.  They were such a great match.  I kind of appreciated that she was a bit awkward socially, b/c she had spent so much time trying to live up to her father’s impossible expectations, and focused on her professional pursuits, that she had let some of her personal relationships slide (like with her sister’s).

And that is the crux of why I love Ms. Regnery’s Blueberry Lane series.  EVERY SINGLE ONE has a completely different set of characters.  We get to see and fall in love with all types of people, and we get to learn of each of their struggles.  From the shy to the bold, from the family oriented to the career oriented.

Honestly my only problem with this novel is that it *felt* short.  I don’t know why.  Maybe it was because I was interrupted in the middle of my reading, and couldn’t get back to it for a whole day, and so I fell out of the pacing?  Or maybe b/c I wanted to see more at the end after they were together.  I LOVED the epilogue we got, but a part of me was curious to read the scenes with her sisters when she told them about her new relationship, or at the office once they were back, or again, what happened with Lena (is their relationship strained now?).  It just ended with me wanting a tiny bit more.  Hence my 4 stars instead of more.

So yeah.  It’s so nice to read a book and get what you’ve been missing.  It feeds my reading soul or something.  Can’t wait to see what happens with Elizabeth and Jane.

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Diamond Girl (G-Man #1) by Andrea Smith

Diamond girlBlurb: Thirty-five year old Samantha Dennison sends her only child off to college and finds herself generally feeling F-R-U-M-P-Y and lost. Her loveless marriage to ‘the mannequin’ has become intolerable; her daughter and best friend have both advised ‘Sammie’ to get a life of her own. Her husband has his own agenda which does not include her.

Sammie finally heeds their advice and takes pole-dancing lessons to get into shape and develop self-esteem, but it serves to do much more than that! The thrill of the dance and sexuality she discovers within herself is a potent mixture. She gets a part-time job as a dancer in an Indianapolis Gentleman’s Club called Jewels. She becomes the dancer known as ‘Diamond’ and very quickly catches the attention of a ‘bad-boy’ biker named ‘Slate.’

Slate is the ultimate ‘alpha’ male; however there’s a problem: he simply wants it to be about exclusive sex; Sammie wants and needs more from Slate. Sammie’s certain she’s embarked on a dangerous relationship with the hot biker and ‘prospect’ member of the notorious Outlaw Motorcycle Club. She soon finds out she’s totally out of her league with Slate and the dangerous people he associates with in Indianapolis. Something big is brewing in Indy; and it’s not about race cars!

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4 stars

I liked it.  One of the things I really loved was that the female was so close in age to me. I don’t see a lot of those as I tend to gravitate towards NA and YA books.  But I could identify with a lot of what she as feeling. Her life was predictable, no change, no surprises and she wanted to shake it up a bit.

I was NOT prepared for the amount of violence in this book.  Nor was I prepared for all the twists and turns.  I can’t really go into them but suffice to say that it was not predictable, at least for me.  I figured this book to be a biker club romance, complete with cliches and tropes that go along with this type of story.  But it had more depth than that. And the plot was solid.  Most biker books I read have simple, easy to understand plots.  This one was developed and strong.  And I think I could have really enjoyed the book if there was no sex in it.  Which says something since I’m a huge romance fan.

Her husband (thats right kiddies, shes is married), I think his name was Jack, is the ultimate bad guy, I mean, I really had some physical hate brewing inside me for him.  His actions and lack of remorse were beyond shameful and I’m clearly still upset about the things his character did.  And while I don’t condone cheating, in this case, I’m glad she moved on to greener pastures.

Sammie was awesome. She transformed in this book, from frumpy housewife to sex magnet.  Her confidence soared and I loved how she took control of her life when things seemed to be so out of it for her.  I really dug Slate’s character. He seemed to be an alpha type but he was respectable like.  He walked the line, if that makes sense.  It’s all kinda hard for me to explain. I’ve seen some really bad reviews for this book and while I can see the flaws they point out, those seem to be the very reasons I liked it.  Ah, well, to each their own. Sometimes a book is enjoyable without having to dissect it.  And that’s how I felt about this one.

I’ve had this book for over two years and I’m just now getting to it.  I’m glad I finally did.

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