The Bohemian and the Businessman by Katy Regnery

Blurb:
32721286Priscilla Story, the self-proclaimed “wild child” of the straight-laced Story clan, has always had a knack for getting herself trouble. Except this time, her “growing problem” is going to require a Daddy sooner than later…or she can kiss her inheritance good-bye.

Shane Olson, who previously dated Priscilla’s sister, Margaret, isn’t opposed to a marriage of convenience for the sake of furthering his business interests, but Priscilla – with her wild ways – is just about the last woman he’d choose to marry.

In order to make the marriage look convincing, they end up having to spend more time together than they’d originally planned. When rolling stone, Priscilla, who lives by the seat of her muu-muu, and seriously-ambitious Shane, who’s had his whole life planned since he was eleven, start falling for each other, it’s going to take a whole lot of compromise for this Bohemian and her Businessman to find their happily ever after.

 

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

OMG!!!  Stratton has competition as my favourite Blueberry Lane boy!!  Shane was sooooo my type of hero.  He was unsure, and confused, and inexperienced, and sweet, and caring, and SO HOT with the way he loved Priscilla!!  GAH!  Yup, I LOVE me some beta-ish boys.  I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about him after meeting him in Crazy About Cameron.  He was so abrupt, and clueless, and I just didn’t get a very swoony vibe from him at all.  But wow, underneath all that serious exterior is someone who is just so focused on his goals, that he’s let relationships fall by the wayside.  I really enjoyed watching him struggle with his attraction to Priscilla, and his conflicting feelings about where he thought he was going, and where his path ends up taking him.  His growth was really believable, and I LOVED the choices he made, and the points where he stood up for Pris…I didn’t feel like we had to wait too long for that, I HATE when authors make you wait and then give you an abrupt change.  Shane’s transition and development was perfect.  And on a sidenote, I want to punch Vicky in the nards!!  Screw you Vicky!

And then we have Priscilla!!  I was also confused on how to feel about P in CAC.  But she was such a strange combination of sweet and wild!  In fact, the wild is probably an overstatement.  I think they just call her wild b/c they don’t know what to do with her, b/c she breaks the mold.  Sure, she may be a wanderer, but you find out there’s reasons underlying that beyond the obvious.  And OMG, I totally felt her vulnerability, and how much it hurt that being who she truly was inside was so frowned upon by most of her family.  Honestly, I’m not sure how I’m going to fall in love with Betsy at all, she and Pris really have a volatile relationship…but I have faith that Ms. Regnery will work her magic.  I get that in big families, there are often divisions between the different types of personalities.  I LOVED that Pris had Meggie though (and vice versa).

And the great thing about Priscilla and Shane is that I really FELT their chemistry, and they totally made their “opposites attract” thing work.  Like I could really feel how they each fascinated each other.  Priscilla wanted to help Shane loosen up (and I think deep down he wanted that too), but she also needed the safety and security she felt with him.  And Shane needed Priscilla’s sweetness and light, but also gave her a safe place to acknowledge that it’s OK to set down some roots.  And damn!  They sure know how to steam up the place!!

I will say that I’m a bit torn on Priscilla’s extra secret.  I don’t mind the way she dealt with it, and I liked that it gave me a bit more understanding of her, but I felt like it came up really late in the book, and so it wasn’t given as much attention as I would like.  We didn’t really get to see her have a conversation with Shane about it, it was just mentioned and moved on from.  I guess that could happen, but it made me feel sad for Pris.

All in all, a FABULOUS read for me in the Blueberry Lane series.  It was definitely my kind of book, and I LOVE that we get to see such wildly different people in this series, both boys and girls.  Often times I feel like the heroes in long series can become a bit cookie cutter, but Ms. Regnery gives us a spectrum of both heroes and heroines.  And manages to find a way for ALL characters to get into our hearts somehow.  It’s truly my absolute favourite thing about this series, that no matter the personality of the character, whether I’m like them or not, Ms. Regnery always manages to get me to *understand* them, and root for them.  That’s a sign of great character writing.

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Who She Was by Stormy Smith

Blurb:
34515672Trevor Adler loathes the music he used to love, but it’s the key to his full-ride scholarship and the ticket away from his dysfunctional parents. To kick off their freshman year, Trevor’s roommate drags him to a frat party, where he ends up face-to-face with his childhood best friend and finds himself entrenched in memories he’d rather forget.

Unable to let Charlie go again without understanding the truth of why she disappeared from his life and chose to become the type of person they always hated, Trevor is relentless in his pursuit of the girl he once knew.

Charlotte (Charlie) Logan is broken. Under her perfectly-crafted exterior are the shards of a shattered heart. A handful of angry words changed her life completely and Charlie’s never been able to forgive herself for the truth she’s hidden from everyone.

While Trevor pushes Charlie to remember the music that lit her soul and the laughter they shared, they find themselves reverting to a banter-filled rhythm that feels all too familiar, yet different now. When Trevor’s own secrets come to light, it becomes clear he and Charlie both must face their tragic pasts if they have any hope at a future together.

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

There is SO much to love about this story, but the highlight for me is most certainly the characters.  They were so full of depth, quirky, EXTREMELY lovable, but also with epic flaws that made them feel real (and made you occasionally not like the things they were doing, even as you still loved them).  And since characters are a highlight for me, this played a huge part in why I enjoyed this book.

Trevor was seriously swoony.  He pursued his friendship with Charlie with a single-minded determination that had you cheering for him…most of the time.  It was interesting to see a character that put so much thought and care into another human being, but at the expense of himself and sometimes without realizing that a true friendship has the give and take, and to expect someone to let you in, you also have to let them in.  So occasionally I would want to smack him into learning that lesson faster…but again, that’s where that depth of character and flaws part comes in.  He had his own growing and learning to do (and not just because of what was happening in his own life, and the struggles he was dealing with).  But he was honestly so sweet and understanding with Charlie, and I loved the way he knew when to push her and when to back off.  And he seriously had some of the swooniest lines I’ve ever heard, I was melting right along with Charlie (and Darcy).

Charlie was strangely easy to love as well.  Strange because we don’t get to hear her thoughts much in the first half, and the way she behaved could be very offputting.  But maybe its because you get such a strong hint that something awful has happened to hurt her and force her to put on that mask.  And I will admit that I had a strong hint (and I’m not sure why, maybe it was from the first chapter, or I saw something that spoiled it?), of what might have happened.  So I was waiting to see inside her mind.  I loved the growth her character went through, and the conclusions that she comes to about what she needs.

And the chemistry between Charlie and Trev was pretty fantastic…especially friendship wise.  They had this amazing flow between them, a banter and a way of interacting that just made me want to know them in real life.  And some of the swoony moments between them gave me such freaking butterflies.  I will admit to being a little bummed we didn’t get more romance.  I’m a romance lover, and after some of that build up, I really wanted the payoff to be bigger.

Speaking of characters, Sam and Darcy were the sh*t.  Seriously.  Some of the best secondary characters I’ve seen in a while, I loved the way they were there in the background, offering support, and going through their own struggles.  They were SO fun and offered some of the best advice.  I adored them.

In the end this book delved into some pretty hard topics, but I felt like it did so with realism and heart.  My heart broke for both characters and the struggles both in their past and present.  I really thought that their personal developments moved at a real pace.  It wasn’t something that could be changed overnight, but that took time and a lot of steps.  Sometimes I feel like other books rush this, and so it was really refreshing.

So why not 5?  Some little reasons, and a bigger one that has me a bit baffled.  I can’t put my finger on why, but I kept avoiding reading this book, even while reading it.  I would find other things to do.  I even got snagged by another book in the middle.  Was it that I was avoiding the tough topics?  Maybe.  But I think I might have been a bit bored on occasion, I needed just…something more.  Or maybe that there was just SO much that Ms. Smith tried to pack into this one novel, and I felt like one or two things then got shortchanged.  In particular I felt like I needed more of a connection with the music.  It was supposed to play this large role, but often times I would find it got forgotten and then just brought up here and there.  It’s hard to explain.  I really enjoyed the lyrics that they wrote to one another nearer to the beginning, I thought those were beautiful.  I was a little confused on some of the later ones, but I’m kind of dense when it comes to lyrics, so that was probably just me.

I felt a bit let down with the ending too.  The developments with Charlie’s family COMPLETELY threw me, and I couldn’t really reconcile the changes.  It’s not that I didn’t expect some development and change, but what we got felt too neat and tidy and unrealistic (at least for me).  It sort of felt that way for a few things, like we had this real and gritty book, and then the ending fell flat (the grand gesture left me confused) and a bit rushed.  I might have just been tired though.

So there’s my novella of a review.  There were just so many things that I loved about this book, but I just can’t shake that other feeling.  I hate when I can’t articulate (even in my own head) what I’m feeling.  I sincerely hope its just a me thing, b/c this book has so much power and love to share.

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A Boy Like You by Ginger Scott

Blurb:

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

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

And then he disappeared.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Don’t Speak by Katy Regnery

Blurb:

33222262From New York Times bestseller Katy Regnery comes a new twist on a beloved fairytale.

A fisherman’s daughter.

The governor’s son.

Two very different worlds.

In this modern retelling of The Little Mermaid, a fisherman’s daughter from an Outer Banks island untouched by time, meets the son of North Carolina’s governor at a fancy party where she’s working.

Laire, who wants so much more from life than her little island can offer, is swept away by wealthy, sophisticated Erik, who is, in turn, entranced by her naiveté and charm. The two spend a whirlwind summer together that ends on the knife-point of heartbreak and forces them to go their separate ways.

Years later, when fate leads them back to one another, they will discover the terrifying depth of the secrets they kept from each other, and learn that shattered hearts can only be healed by a love that willfully refuses to die.

All novels Katy Regnery’s ~a modern fairytale~ collection are written as fundraisers. 10% of the e-book sales for in March and April 2017 will be donated to P.E.O. International, a non-profit organization that celebrates the advancement of women, awards scholarships and grants, and provides motivation for women to make their dreams come true.

**Contemporary Romance. Due to profanity, adult themes and very strong sexual content, this book is not intended for readers under the age of 18.**

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

Well darn.  I just didn’t connect to this book like I was expecting to.  I love Ms. Regnery’s Blueberry Lane novels, but this is the first of her Modern Fairytale stories that I’ve read.  I’ll still give the others a try, but I think I had some expectations for it from seeing people gush about those stories, and so I kind of set up roadblocks against myself if that makes any sense.  I’m not sure how to explain it.  It’s like, I wasn’t sure how the retellings would play out since they are contemporary stories, but I guess I just kept expecting one major plot point in this particular story, and didn’t quite get it.  I can’t really say more without giving minor spoilers.  While I have never read the original Little Mermaid fairytale, I do adore the Disney movie and I do know the basic gist of the original story…and I guess I felt that the absence of that major plot point was disappointing.

And those anticipations and expectations hindered my enjoyment in other ways too.  I kept trying to guess when certain things would happen or how certain parts would play out, and so I was never fully absorbed in the story.  Again, that was my fault.  Perhaps I wasn’t in the right mood for a retelling.  Perhaps the pace of the first half just didn’t work for me, it was a lot longer than I was anticipating, and I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop.

One of the little things that threw me off were the many subtle references to the Disney film.  It’s funny, b/c while I adored the movie, it felt odd to me that there should be such obvious references (from character names, to subtle song nods).  This is TOTALLY a personal preference thing, but I often found those references, and even some of the ways in which Laire thought of Erik as the “Prince of Utopia Manor”, or Erik thought of Laire as a “little mermaid”, to be kind of forced, or contrived.  That doesn’t mean they were, that’s just how they felt to me.

I spent a lot of my reading time thinking that all the building blocks for a great story were there, but I just couldn’t connect with the characters.  And there weren’t any obvious reasons why, I’m not entirely sure if they were flat or if it was just me.  But while they did most things really right, I didn’t swoon as much as I expected, or get as many tingles, or even bawl in the places where I should have been crying…I didn’t shed a single tear.

I think part of my problem is that I felt a personal disconnect with Laire’s extremely sheltered upbringing, and those conservative views that often result in women being shamed just rub me the wrong way entirely.  It really fit well and made SO MUCH SENSE for how naive the little mermaid is supposed to be.  That was soooo well done (seriously, the set up of a sheltered island girl and a Governor’s son was a perfect way to make the story work in a contemporary setting).  But I didn’t end up feeling ANY good feelings towards her family, and perhaps I needed a little something to love about her father to understand her reactions later on.  But maybe that’s because they made me so angry that I didn’t care for her family at all.

OK, so I know…this review is ridiculously long.  I just…I like to understand what went wrong for me, especially when so many felt differently.  I DID love the romance.  I think I held myself back from Laire because of how naive she was, and so it made it harder to connect to both of them as fully as I might otherwise.  I LOVED that while Erik looked like he would be a party boy or something, he was not what I expected at all.  It was definitely a lot of strong feelings in a short amount of time, but young love can be like that sometimes so it didn’t bother me.  And can I just say that I love that he called her Freckles?  SO CUTE.

And I actually really enjoyed the part after the Interlude.  I felt like that was paced really well, and I adored a certain major character in that part.  I felt a lot more feelings in the second half, and started to connect more.  It definitely started hitting me in the feels more, but of course that part was shorter.

So yeah.  There you have it.  My thoughts.  *sigh*  *shrugs*

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It’s You, Book Two by K.P. Kelley

Blurb:

33387588The second book in New York Times bestselling author Katy Regnery’s first duo of paranormal romances!

HAPPILY EVER AFTER…
To some, they’re just words signifying a fairytale ending.
For me, Jack Beauloup, they represent an unyielding desire:
Forever with Darcy Turner, the unexpected love of my life.
A love that has placed her human life in danger.

According to Pack Law, my binding is an abomination that must be severed.
It’s ignited a fiery hatred that I must confront and control.
But what is bound cannot be broken.
I will keep Darcy safe.
Even if it means giving up on my dreams.
Even if it means giving up my life.

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

Well hmmm…this is a tough one.  As I’m writing this up, I still don’t know whether I will round up or down.  I enjoyed a lot of this book, was hooked into the romance and action and mythology of the paranormal aspect.  But I also had a few qualms, a few niggles.  It wasn’t quite as satisfying as I’d hoped, and some parts went in directions that I wasn’t entirely happy with (from a personal taste perspective).

So what was I happy with?  I still really loved how unique this take on a shifter story was.  I enjoyed the concept of the Roux-ga-roux and the way Ms. Kelley really made it her own, and blended in the Métis culture and superstitions.  It extended from what was in the first book and remained fairly consistent.

I also really enjoyed that the immediate conflict which ended book one on a bit of a climax was actually dealt with pretty quickly in book two, and was not dragged out.  I loved that we got more good, loving, romantic time with Darcy and Jack, and not just conflict.

What was I less than happy with?  A bunch of little things that kind of added up.  1) There were a few spots (particularly in some steamy scenes) where the POV jumped from Darcy to Jack from one paragraph to the next.  When I’m reading dual POVs, I’m happiest when it’s very clear whose POV I’m reading, and there are clear delineations between them (like chapters or at least breaks).  2) I wasn’t happy with the eventual explanation of the time loss.  I felt it was kind of cheap and didn’t make sense, and if the author wasn’t going to delve into it and make it more clear, then it should have been left out altogether.  There were enough interesting and unique paranormal aspects that it wasn’t needed.  I almost felt similarly about the rash/burns, but I can live with that one.  It just kind of felt lost in the shuffle of book two.  3) I wasn’t happy with the resolution with Willow and Amory…did they tell Amory?  Is he in the dark?  How did they explain everything????  4) I wasn’t happy with the glossing over of Willow’s Enchanteresse stuff.  If you’re going to make it part of the plot, give it some lip service, otherwise it feels very plot device-ish.

SPOILERY PARAGRAPH!!!!  I will hide this on Goodreads, and remove from my Amazon review, but please just don’t read unless you’ve read the book!!!!  YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!!  5) I was a little disappointed the biology/moss stuff didn’t go anywhere.  It was so foreshadowed, and I really thought she was going to have some breakthrough.  That could have been cool.  6) I really wanted Jack to take out Saint Germain, or show them there was another way, and more clearly break from the pack, though I suppose that would be too dangerous.  7) I wasn’t happy with the amount of sexual propositioning that seemed to happen between unbound Rougs (Julien with Willow, even though he had feelings for Lela, and Tombeur reacting to Darcy, even though he loved Tallis).  I guess this goes along with 6 a bit, in that I kind of thought they were just broken, and Jack and Darcy were the new way (what with all the cheating even in bound couples). 8) I WANTED LOUVETEAUS DAMNIT!!!  ie that epilogue was not nearly satisfying enough.

SPOILERY PARAGRAPH FINISHED!!!

I still wasn’t a big fan of Darcy.  I loved Jack way more, so I was constantly mad at Darcy’s actions.  Although at least Jack kind of screwed up going too far with the keep his distance stuff, so he wasn’t perfect.  But I was never quite happy with how she saw the Roug stuff, and how disgusted she was even by the animals.  I never fully believed that she accepted him (and I guess he didn’t really either).  And I am not a fan of couples that are so bad at communication.  Seriously, I get that neither of you have had much for relationships, but COME ON!!  *sigh*  It’s just a personal taste thing, not my favourite.

So yeah, it looks like a lot of bad, but they’re honestly not big things in the grand scheme of things, just annoyances, you know?  But there were just so many…round up, round down, round up, round down.  But OMG people the emotions in this book were actually pretty amazing!!  My heart broke for Jack on so many occasions, he just grabbed your heart and twisted it!!  *sigh*  My life is so hard.  This one really is a solid 3.5 stars.  I’ll decide on a whim I guess.

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Why Not? by Carey Heywood

Blurb:

33139808He doesn’t love me.
Our relationship wasn’t supposed to have strings.
Now he’s almost all I think about.
He changed everything.
I’m not ready to tell him.
There’s a chance he’ll blame me when I do.
I don’t know if I can trust him but I’m afraid to face the future alone.
Will he ever love me, or will he always love me not?

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

Oh dear.  This book did not have a good start for me.  Not the prologue, that was cute.  But chapter 1 dives right in to the steamy scenes, and it was just too abrupt for me.  I felt like I was missing something, and since I haven’t yet read the previous two books in the series, I initially wondered if I should have read them first to get the full value.  After finishing the book, I don’t think that’s the case, I think it just wasn’t a beginning that worked for me personally.  Diving into sex so quickly, I had absolutely NO connection with the characters, and thus I personally did not feel any chemistry in that scene whatsoever.  I guess I’m just the kind of girl who likes to see the MCs interact a bit, maybe talk a bit, before getting into things.  *shrugs*  I like hot sex, but when it happens before we’ve even seen them have much of a conversation, I just can’t get into it.  It’s just sex then, nothing more, which is OK for eroticas, but not a romance.  So yeah, it just did NOT work for me.  I was seriously dismayed and it was hovering at a 2 star or less at this point.

But I kept reading, and it slowly got better.  I think I see why Ms. Heywood went with a beginning like that.  It was quite intentional that their relationship start as a hookup turned friends-with-benefits turned more kind of thing.  In the end it was kind of an intriguing developing relationship to watch, it just might not be for *me*, you know?  While I did start to feel their connection more and more as the book went on, there is still a part of me that felt like I wanted more of what drew them together.  Because it was insta-lust, and so much of what had them together at the beginning was the amazing sex, I felt like I was later told about what they liked about each other more than seeing it.  Part of that had to do with the skips in time.  We’d be going along, seeing some development, and then bam it would be a few weeks or months later.  This happened a few times, and I felt like we ended up losing out on seeing their relationship develop a bit.

So how did I get to a 3.5 star (rounded down) when it started off so badly for me?  Well like I said, the book got better.  I found that the bits we did get to see of Trip and Reilly together were quite cute, and I really loved the way Trip eventually was with Reilly.  He became very swoonworthy as the book went on.  And the secondary characters and the MCs relationship with those secondary characters were absolutely top notch.  I’m actually very curious to catch up on the first 2 books now, b/c I loved seeing Jake and Kacey and Sydney and Heath together.  And Gavin was just the most swoonworthy boy, his blushes have ruined me for life.  And quite frankly I adored Trip’s Mom and Sadie and the whole compound they have.

And hoo boy did I cry in this one.  I was not expecting the tragedy, and it seriously fucking killed me.  I’m so glad no one came to the door while I was reading that part b/c I was exercising at the same time and I probably looked like a read-eyed, snot-nosed, messy haired freak.  And I adored the aftermath of the tragedy, and Reilly’s healing.  Seriously well done.  AND DUDES!  We got a fantastic huge long pre-epiloguetastic ending.  I love seeing HEAs, so I really loved that we got all that.

So the second half of the book was basically 4 star goodness for me, with a couple of little quirks that make it want to dip down, and a few amazing bits that want to make it tip up.  So I settled with 3.5 rounded down.  This really seems to be a case of it’s me, so I can’t honestly say how everyone else will feel about it.  All I can say is that if you’re struggling with the beginning, please do as I did and hold on.  I definitely think it was worth it.  ❤

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It’s You, Book One by K.P. Kelley

Blurb:

30037207From New York Times bestselling author Katy Regnery comes her first duo of paranormal romances!

ONCE UPON A TIME…
the most beautiful boy in the world kissed me.
I’ve never been able to forget.
Perhaps it was his jet-black hair,
or the changing copper-color of his eyes,
the intense way he looked at me…
or the fact that he awakened my passion for the first time,
at once otherworldly yet heartbreakingly real.
After that kiss, I never saw him again.

His name was Jack Beauloup.
Jack, my “Beautiful Wolf.”

Twenty years passed. He has returned. For me.

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

I think I picked the wrong time to start reading this book, but with the release date coming up I didn’t have much choice.  But reading it over Christmas with a bunch of company over so I couldn’t remain engrossed just wasn’t ideal.  When I started the book I was totally sucked in.  I LOVE books that while being for the adult audience, give you the teenage perspective too…when there’s a past, I don’t just want to know it happened, I want to be there and experience it.  And Ms. Kelley totally gave that to us, and I am in love with the past parts.  I could feel the chemistry drawing Darcy and Jack together, and Darcy’s anguish over the loss of that love when found was just perfect.  And I totally felt her confusion over why it should have such a profound effect on her for so long.  Seriously, the emotions in those sections were just spot on perfect.

But back in the present, I had an up and down relationship with Darcy and Jack…but mostly Darcy.  I had moments where I really enjoyed her…she was smart, she was sassy, she was fairly down to earth.  I liked her relationship with her bff Willow, and I am totally intrigued by that little side story with Amory btw….hope we get more in book two.  But while I enjoyed the continuing chemistry between Darcy and Jack, I wasn’t quite as enthralled as I was in the past parts.  Basically the steamy parts were good, but I wasn’t necessarily blown away.  And I was a bit dismayed with how long the discovery process took…ie, how long it took Darcy to accept that something was up with Jack, and put the pieces together.  I don’t know how it could have been done faster, but it was hard to see all the clues going together, and remember that normal people wouldn’t assume that shifters really exist.

I did THOROUGHLY enjoy the mythology in this one, and how Ms. Kelley chose to present the paranormal aspect.  As a Canadian, I was a bit confused with the way she initially described Métis, but that could have been me reading into things that weren’t there, because in the end it sounded correct.  I just never thought of them as a tribe per say.  But I’m not an expert, so I assume she did the appropriate research and it’s me that has it wrong.

I was a bit saddened by the way Part One ended (trying not to give spoilers).  I can’t help but have wanted Darcy to react differently.  She hurt my heart.  It’s funny, b/c it’s not that I don’t get it…but at the same time, it wasn’t what my heart wanted.

Jack was completely swoon.  I really enjoyed how sweet he was, and the choices he made throughout his past wrt Darcy.  I really enjoyed Part Two from his perspective, I was totally missing his POV and was so happy when we got it in the end.  It filled in so many blanks that I had, and yeah…just supremely satisfied.  I wasn’t quite as sucked in, but that could have been because of life stuff, and not necessarily the book, you know?  Or maybe I was still just mad at Darcy.  😛  Who knows.  I’m also not a Lela fan, I’m not sure how she’s going to be redeemed at this point.

All in all, really interesting paranormal take on the shifter story…love the backstory and mythology, love Jack, and had some amazing set up for the love story.  I enjoyed that there was a lot else going on besides the Jack and Darcy love story, and I’m super curious how it’s all going to end.  Hopefully when I get book two, I’ll have more dedicated time to devote just to reading and devouring it.

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J.C. and the Bijoux Jolis by Katy Regnery

Blurb:
26853609Jean-Christian “J.C.” Rousseau’s reputation as a charming flirt has been well-established in Philadelphia, and he’s never had trouble winning a woman’s heart. So, when Libitz Feingold, the best friend of J.C.’s sister-in-law, Kate, comes to Philly over the holidays to help out during Kate’s final weeks of pregnancy, J.C. is shocked to discover that the prickly New York-based gallery owner and jewelry designer is completely immune to his charm. Recruited to help her set-up a local gallery during her visit, it’s not long before he starts to fall for her, but he’s going to have to rely on more than mere flirtation if he wants a shot at winning her heart.

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

That was a delightful ending to the Rousseau phase of the Blueberry Lane series!!  I didn’t really have any leanings one way or another about how I would feel about J.C. or Libitz, though I really enjoyed the brief glimpse we got of Lib in Kate and Ten’s book…and she lived up to those few expectations I had of her.  She was feisty and blunt and really took no prisoners, but with a soft heart beneath it.  Honestly, I really loved her, but I didn’t feel like I got to know her as well…I didn’t really get glimpses into her past as much as I might have wanted to.  Not that they weren’t there, but they didn’t have as big an impact on me.  It was almost like she held herself apart from even the reader a bit.  And I was less than impressed with her handling of the Nice Neil situation…but that’s because it’s a bit of a button topic for me.  It was definitely not as bad as I was expecting when I saw it being set up, and obviously I still enjoyed myself immensely reading this romance, but it’s the kind of thing that I’m just never going to be super satisfied with so it probably affected my enjoyment a bit.

I had no expectations of J.C.  I know that he was alluded to as being a bit of a playboy wastrel in previous books, but I hadn’t really formed any solid opinions on him (not like I had his brother).  So my impression of him was all clear and ready to be made based on this book alone.  I mean, I did enjoy his bantering with his siblings in the previous 2 Rousseau books, but that was about it.  And he kind of starts off the book with a bit of a typical playboy vibe, a wee bit smarmy…but almost immediately we get glimpses into why he is the way he is, and how his childhood shaped him and the way he views love and relationships.  And quite frankly my heart just broke.  I do not have similar experiences, but I just really felt for him.  I could see how he would make those choices, and how confusing it would be to be surrounded by people who believe in HEAs and then faced with someone who makes him want his own.  He was a delightful character from start to finish, and I really felt like his growth and struggle was realistic and well paced.

I thought J.C. and Lib had amazing chemistry together, and although it took time for them to get to the steamy bits, it was worth the wait.  One of the things I loved most about them as a couple is that they had similar playing the field type histories…it was nice to have a girl who was comfortable in her sexuality, and was kind of an equal to all the playboys we read about so often.  It made it so that I really believed how they could understand one another, and they sort of went on this journey into love together.  I really really loved that.

I will say that while I adored the prologue and epilogue, I was a bit disappointed not to get a bit of closure with Kate and Ten before that epilogue…that’s what I had been anticipating would be in the epilogue, so while I loved it, I did want just that little bit more in the HEA of J.C. and Lib.  Maybe it’s because it felt like the ending was a bit unbelievable given both of the characters, like it was a bit rushed…I couldn’t help but wonder how they would resolve some of their issues (including religion, culture, etc), but I guess I will have to be satisfied with perhaps an occasional glimpse of them in the upcoming Story and Ambler phases.

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Imperfect Chemistry (Imperfect #1) by Mary Frame

imperfect-chemistryBlurb: Lucy London puts the word genius to shame. Having obtained her PhD in microbiology by the age of twenty, she’s amassed a wealth of knowledge, but one subject still eludes her—people. The pendulum of passions experienced by those around her both confuses and intrigues her, so when she’s offered a grant to study emotion as a pathogen, she jumps on the opportunity.

When her attempts to come up with an actual experiment quickly drop from lackluster to nonexistent, she’s given a choice: figure out how to conduct a groundbreaking study on passion, or lose both the grant and her position at the university. Put on leave until she can crack the perfect proposal, she finds there’s only one way she can study emotions—by experiencing them herself.

Enter Jensen Walker, Lucy’s neighbor and the one person on the planet she finds strangely and maddeningly appealing. Jensen’s life is the stuff of campus legend, messy, emotional, complicated—in short, the perfect starting point for Lucy’s study. When her tenaciousness wears him down and he consents to help her, sparks fly. To her surprise, Lucy finds herself battling with her own emotions, as foreign as they are intense. With the clock ticking on her deadline, Lucy must decide what’s more important: analyzing her passions…or giving in to them?

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Favorite Quotes:  

Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all.

“You’re totally grabbing her ass,” Freya whispers loudly. “Is that weird? Groping your ex’s ex?”

“I dropped out of school,” he says. “I’m going to go back, when I can afford it or when I can figure out how the whole student loan thing works. Until then, I’m going to live off of my art, and if that doesn’t work, I’m going to get a job. But I’m never going to give up doing what I love.” “That’s good. I’m glad.” I really am. He deserves every bit of happiness, whether I’m part of that happiness or not. He looks down at the couch, and his fingers fiddle with a bit of fabric that’s come loose on the old piece of furniture. “The thing is,” he says quietly and then clears his throat. “The thing is,” he repeats it louder. “I don’t want to do any of that.” His eyes meet mine again. “Without you.”

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5 stars

This ebook is free on Amazon!

I really liked this story.  Lucy was so fricking funny.  It almost seemed like she was deliberate in her responses but she just had no idea how to deal with people.  Her demeanor was crisp yet edgy.  She was completely obtuse when it came to her emotions, which made this book that much more awesome.  To see her thrive in academia but struggle with social settings.

I mean, emotions as a pathogen?  Think about it. A Pathogen.  Come on!  That’s funny, I don’t care who you are.

I think what really helped me to love this book was the fact that the side characters were just as deep and rich in their attitudes as the MC was.  Freya especially, was a favorite of mine.  She seemed the typical college student but she didn’t show disdain to Lucy (at least, not for long) for her lack of warmth and affection but instead realized that what she really needed was a friend.  And she was there for Lucy in a way that most people couldn’t or refused to be.  That says a lot about a persons character to commit to friendship when you really have no idea what they are saying half the time.  Haha.

Jensen was a very unexpected male lead for me. He’s creative and shy, attempting to squirm out from under his father’s thumb and expectations.  But my first impression of him came off as sexy and alpha, which he wasn’t at all!  I mean, he WAS sexy but not in that arrogant way.  It was more understated.  I loved that about him.  He had drive but lacked support and a bit of courage.  And I think that’s where Lucy helped him. They really helped each other. It was a true give and take relationship.

And the narration!  Rhiannon Engell nailed it.  Each character was easily discernible and had their own ‘voice’.  I found myself laughing at least once a chapter, her timing with the punchlines was perfect.  With the ebook being free and the audio only 1.99 to add, this book is a steal!  You should really go read it.  You’re welcome in advance!

I received a free audible code from the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased opinion.

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Marry Me Mad by Katy Regnery

Blurb:

31225770For as long as Madeleine “Mad” Rousseau can remember, she’s been the “sweet” twin to her sister Jax’s “sassy.” But after an especially painful break-up, Mad decides she’s had enough of being sweet. Children’s librarian during the day, she begins visiting Philly’s seedier nightspots on a quest for adventure. When Cortlandt “Cort” Ambler, the ex-boyfriend of Mad’s sister, Jax, saves her from disaster on one such evening, an unlikely friendship is born between the rebellious librarian and the moonlighting pianist…and two broken hearts begin a journey toward being whole again.

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

Oh dude, this book was so close to being a 4.5 stars or higher!  I can 100% honestly say that I am fully in love with Cort.  He is just…*swoon*  I mean, obviously not without his own flaws…  He’s very passionate, and occasionally that means he has a temper and says things he doesn’t mean when he’s frustrated and angry, but on the whole he was just so sweet and caring and attentive, and just so freaking in love with Mad!  My heart truly ached for him on so many occasions.

My problem with this book actually came from Mad.  Which is weird, b/c I thought I was going to love her.  And don’t get me wrong, there were SOOOOO many things that I truly did love about her and at times I would really feel for her and she got me right in the feels.  But she was also kind of mean at times, and a LOT dense at other times.  And so she left me very frustrated and disappointed on many occasions.  She could be very kind and gentle and caring, but the back and forth that she did with Cort at the beginning *really* began to grate on me.  I know we were supposed to see her being torn between what she instinctually wanted and how she felt, and what she thought to be the right and true answer.  But she really put Cort through the wringer as a result, and that was just so unfair.  But I suppose she was passionate and said things in the heat of the moment too, so why can I forgive Cort but not Mad?  Hmmm…maybe because hers felt meaner, whereas I didn’t necessarily always blame Cort?  I don’t know.  But she really tried my patience.  I really wanted her to have more faith in Jax too.

So that was the bad.  Well, not bad, b/c obviously I still gave this one 4 full stars…and I still want to give it more, but just basically what prevented me from going higher.  There were a few little things, like is my memory just really shitty, or did Jax not go away to New York with Gard?  I seriously don’t remember that and I just read the book.  I was confused.  And why introduce Chevy?  That seemed very throwaway.  And as an animal lover, I am dismayed to wonder who’s taking care of this dog now?

Now here’s where the book surprised me.  I *wasn’t* bothered one iota that she moved on from Thatcher right away.  I thought that would be unrealistic, but when you realize that their relationship was basically over long before and this was just the straw that broke the camel’s back, it makes sense.  Oh, and, you know, he was a horrifically emotionally abusive prick, so there’s that.  And quite frankly, Cort and Mad’s chemistry is so freaking OFF THE CHARTS that I had NO PROBLEMS WHATSOEVER accepting their strong feelings for each other.  And seeing glimpses into their history, and how they were drawn to each other even young, it was just….*sigh*  Deliciously romantic.

So yeah.  So close to a favourite for me, and it was pretty much all Cort.  It’s so weird when you suspect you’ll like one twin more, because you understand them more, but it turns out to be opposite.  In a way, that’s good writing…when you can fall in love with characters that aren’t your normal bread and butter.

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