Proposing to Preston by Katy Regnery

Blurb:
25361685Proposing to Preston is the second of four books about the Philadelphia-based, wildly-handsome Winslow brothers who are all on the look-out for love.

(Except Brooks… he’s probably sailing around the world with Skye by now. And Christopher, who’s only on the look-out for a congressional seat and absolutely. nothing. else.)

Preston Winslow has a heart as open as the sky and room in his life for someone special. When he falls in love with Broadway actress, Elise Klassan, he holds nothing back.

Elise, who has made tremendous sacrifices to forward her career, is swept off her feet by handsome, charming Preston…but the stage has been her first love for so many years, she doesn’t know if there’s room for Preston in her life. When the day comes that she must choose between her ambition and her heart, she profoundly hurts the one man who could have made her happy.

Two years later, Elise has become a world-famous actress and Preston is a very successful lawyer. But fame has not equaled happiness for Elise, and Preston is much too bitter and cynical to ever consider falling in love again.

Is it possible that the only person who can mend Preston’s heart is the one who originally broke it? Only if Elise can figure out a way to make him believe in love all over again.

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My Review:
4.5 stars — THIS!!!  After being a bit bummed about not enjoying the Modern Fairytale books I’ve attempted by Ms. Regnery, I decided to go back to the series where I fell in love with her and read my box set of the Winslow Brothers from her Blueberry Lane series.  I’d already read the first book a while ago, but I reread it first (and was reminded of my love), and then I started on this one and was just utterly captivated…much like Preston was with Elise.  There’s just some magic there, you know?  I felt all these feelings of attraction at first sight, and just how bewildered Preston was when presented with those immediate feelings.

And OMG, these two were so adorable together!!  There was just so much chemistry!!  And it was sweet, and I appreciated the backstory that came with Elise and how her upbringing shaped her.  So her reactions often felt very authentic, and I could just imagine how overwhelmed she was when faced with so many of her dreams coming true, but also with the exhaustion of all the work that went into making her Broadway dream come alive…and how conflicted she was with how she felt about this new love of hers.

And Preston was just so unbelievably sweet, and he tried so hard.  He was so patient, it was just…GAH!  I really loved him.  But I’d seen glimpses of him in Bidding on Brooks, and I knew that something happened to take him from this sweet endearing boy, to a jaded cynical man (even though it was only 2 years), and so I was just waiting for the other shoe to drop, you know?  Like I couldn’t fully relax, wondering what was going to happen.  And I just kept thinking, OK I’ll read until the end of Part One and then go to sleep, and read the second half in the morning.  And then HOO BOY, we got there, and I just had to read a bit more, until my eyes wouldn’t cooperate.

I LOVED the way that all played out.  Even though it was heartbreaking, it honestly fit with who they each were, and I could just see them both making those horrible mistakes and reacting badly, b/c in so many ways they were just so young.  Not in age, but in experience.  I really appreciated that.  I really appreciated that while I wanted to smack them both, I could accept the way it played out.

And Part Two really compelled me right away too.  My heart was sooooo broken for Preston, I could just feel how broken he was.  And Elise too.  To realize what you’ve done, and not understand how to fix it.  And I was a bit concerned when Elise seemed to be the only one who had thought of the mistakes she’d made, but thankfully Preston didn’t let me down…though I wish he’d expressed to Elise what mistakes he made as well, so she wouldn’t feel the burden of all the blame.  But at the same time, their reconciliation was very satisfying and I enjoyed the way they worked things out every step of the way.  And I liked the development with her family as well, even if that all made me cry.

All in all this book was super satisfying for me.  Both characters were very sweet and earnest, but also very flawed, and so it was so rewarding to see them grow and eventually grow together.  I will say, the epilogue was NOT satisfying for me.  It’s just not my style, and it didn’t give me enough of them, which is what I loved.

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One Wild Night by Melissa Cutler

Blurb:

33025544Get ready for the ride of your life…

A cowgirl at heart, Skye Martinez has a rebellious streak she’s determined to shake. Especially since she’s poised to take the reins of her family’s business at Briscoe Ranch Resort. It’s time for her to settle down and get serious about her future…right after one last night of fun with a handsome stranger she meets in the resort’s stable. But when a midnight horseback ride turns into a red-hot weekend with one of country music’s biggest stars, Skye’s world is rocked beyond her wildest dreams…

Gentry Wells rode his bad boy image all the way to the top of the country music charts. But churning out hits has dried up his creativity, and he can’t remember the last time his life was his own. Skye is a sexy distraction he can’t resist, especially since she breathes new life into his music. They bring out the wild side in each other, which is great for Gentry’s career–but a major threat to Skye’s. Too bad he’s fallen in love with her. With their hearts and futures on the line, can Gentry convince Skye to turn their joyride into a real chance to ride off into the sunset together?

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

This is going to be another review that’s kind of choppy b/c it’s based on bulletpoint notes.  But basically the jist is that this was just not a book for me.  I have read one other novella set in this world, and I enjoyed that one, but this one did not have that same magic (and no, it is not required to read other books in the series, this one can stand alone).  I did not like the characters, I did not like the plot, and really, this book felt like a mediocre Harlequin.

The characters did not feel consistent AT ALL.  I mean, I didn’t like them that much either, but I really just didn’t believe their growth.  They both felt superficial and shallow, lacking the depth that really sucks me in.

I really did not appreciate the Catholic guilt in this book.  I get that they really feel that guilt and families are like that, but Skye’s mother was not even remotely redeeming.  It made it hard to understand why family was so important to Skye when you didn’t see that… Well, a little.  One good moment with Gloria, but for it to be so important to Skye, I expected to see it more.  Her father was awesome too, but I just felt sorry for him.  I REALLY needed the Mom to have more dimension so that I could understand why Skye felt so strongly about her family and the values she was raised with.

And the conflict Skye was under…I just didn’t quite get it.  I knew where the author was going in broad strokes, but I don’t think it was effectively achieved.  I guess I just didn’t feel her inner struggle, or understand how it all played out inside her head.

I didn’t get Gentry at all.  Maybe if we got to know his past a bit more, I would have known what drove him to be who he was.  It was like the author had these broad strokes ideas of who these characters were, but didn’t take the time to flesh them out and make them believable.

And I did NOT feel the spark between them past the first night in the stables (that night was hot).  In fact, the sex scene really didn’t have much emotion, it felt like an erotica scene (which is fine, but not how this book is marketed).  I want a connection between my lovers.  *shrugs*

And finally, I know this was an ARC and not the final copy, but it was riddled with mistakes.  Typos, wrong names, timeline inconsistencies…I sincerely hope that it had a major clean up before release.  Usually ARCs only have a few typos left to clean up, this one felt like an earlier copy.

So yeah.  It sounds really bad, but it was mostly just disappointing and meh for me.  Like I didn’t hate anything, I just wanted MORE from like EVERYTHING.

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Jordan Reclaimed by Scarlett Cole

Blurb:

31688253Jordan Steele’s life began when he was ten. When he was taken from his parents and a house that was never a home. When he met his brothers, the other lost and abandoned boys in his group home. When he learned what friendship and family and love looked like.

Now he’s made good, touring the world with the band he and his brothers formed in that crowded group home. No one but his found family really knows the man under the fame and fortune, the scars he hides behind the rockstar lifestyle. Until he sees her through the windows of the National Ballet, dancing, and suddenly the world doesn’t seem so dark.

Aleksandra Artemov ticks all the ballet boxes. Father a legendary Kirov dancer. Check. Prepping since birth for classical ballet. Check. Compulsive control over the food she eats. Check. Principal dancer at The National Ballet of Canada. Check. But what she craves is freedom.

She craves Jordan.

Everything about him should terrify her. His size, his tattoos, his edge. But he doesn’t. He stirs her very soul. Jordan has nothing but himself to offer her, and he’s never been good enough for anyone. Can he figure out how to face his own demons before he loses his light for good?

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

While you can totally read this without reading the Second Circle Tattoos series that this series spins off from, I will say that I regret not reading Dred’s book before starting on this one (I’ve read 1 and 4, but not 3).  Not that I won’t likely still go back and enjoy that book, but you do get little mini spoilers in this book.

This was so much more…heartbreaking and involved and sweet and uplifting than I was expecting.  I mean, yes and no.  It’s not that I don’t know that Ms. Cole can write stories with harrowing backstory.  But both Jordan and Lexie really got to me.

Since I hadn’t read Dred’s book, I didn’t quite know what to expect from Jordan, but his backstory is just gut wrenching.  And the ways he copes now, and how it has affected him…it just felt so real, and sucked me in and gave me all the feels.  He was an extremely interesting character.  Because he could be both sweet and innocent as well as dirty and even volatile.  He was kind of a conundrum.  Sometimes I wondered at the many aspects of him, but I can’t decide if it his growth was too much too soon, or just right.  Sometimes life gives you a trigger that your brain has been waiting for, that allows you to see more into yourself and finally get over your stumbling blocks.  And occasionally I wanted a deeper look into how it is affecting him now, but maybe the bits we got at different times were just right.  But anyways, regardless, I definitely wanted to hug the shit out of him.

And while Jordan’s story is perhaps a bit more heartbreaking, Lexie has her own horrible issues to deal with.  You feel it right from the start, and you just feel sick for her, and what she’s living with, and how it has affected her.  I was worried, at one point in the story, that her own struggles would be minimized, or not dealt with in the appropriate way and with sensitivity…but I should have trusted Ms. Cole.  And in the end, the way that all went really made sense for her and Jordan.  I kind of wished I’d been able to read more of how she was going to cope, but that’s probably just me being greedy.

I did absolutely adore the look into the ballet world, even if hers was a bit skewed by her father.  I’ve always admired the crap out of dancers, and my hubby and I have season tickets for our provincial ballet.  I have the grace of a bulldog, so it’s something I always envy…but I definitely don’t envy the toll it takes and the hours of hard work they put into their craft.

And their chemistry together was pretty fantastic.  It was a lot more blunt and straight talking than I was expecting at times, but it worked for them.  I loved seeing Jordan struggle with how to have a relationship, and how he second guessed everything he did.  Again, so sweet.  And then he’d say something dirty, and it just balanced.

AND I LOVED THE BITS OF CANADIANNESS!!  I mean, YES!!  I’ve never lived in Toronto, but I did recognize street names, and stupid little things like the No Frills grocery store, the Canadian Tire bag, and shopping at The Bay, and Karen Kain, and the National Arts Centre in Ottawa (been there)!  It’s the little things that make this girl happy.  *high fives Preload for being Canadian*

And finally, there was the secondary cast.  While they weren’t there all the time, the scenes where they were just showed me the connection between the guys, and how they lean on each other in small ways.  And OMG, they brought such levity!  “She’s the phone!”  Just so much love.  Cannot WAIT to read more books of these boys.  Though I am scared, b/c if Lennon is more f’d up than Jordan, I just don’t know if I can handle his story.

Honestly, the only reason I’m rounding down instead of up is just a me thing…I’m still in that strange bubble where I’m not quite getting sucked into the books fully.  Were I in a different mood, I can totally see myself rounding up.  OHHH!!  And there were some areas where the POV changed without a break.  I’m not a fan.  Especially since it was pretty consistent throughout the rest of the book, so it was what I had come to expect.

If you’re a medium angst fan like me, who likes some heart wrenching, but not too much to be overwhelmed, then you need this series in your life.

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Hot Licks by A.M. Arthur

Blurb:

33238136Benji Moore is living his dream traveling as the lead singer of his band. His life would be perfect if he could get his boyfriend, Josh, to commit to an exclusive relationship.

Even though Josh loves Benji, he has good reasons not to trust in long-term relationships. So Josh decides to take some time to himself and sublets a room at a friend’s beach house. But when he walks into the nearby Off Beat bar, he finds a bartender who may be a good distraction from his relationship problems.

Van Holt doesn’t do anything deeper than sweaty one-night stands. But when Josh sets his sights on him, Van is surprised by their connection. Except Van also doesn’t do complicated, and the situation between Josh and Benji defines complicated. But the more time Van spends with them, the more he’s realizing how hard it would be to let Josh and Benji go.

Can the three of them find a way together, or will they all end up going solo?

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

Well damn, that was even better than I was anticipating.  Again, with this series I dove in to the 2nd book without reading the first, and I had some conflicting feelings about that story and the amount of angst it contained.  So when I was offered a widget for this book, I took it with some trepidation.  Because I don’t mind angst, but I don’t seek it out as some do.  But I was really intrigued finding out that this was Van’s story, and while I didn’t really know much about Benji and Joshua b/c they were probably more heavily featured in the first book that I missed, I still really wanted to find out what their story would be like.

And can I just say before I get to the meat of my review that the blurb really doesn’t give a good feel for the story and what all in contains?  Because it’s really just a taste of the very beginning of the story, but there is so much more to it.  And as another side niggle, they usually called him Joshua, rarely Josh.  And also, can I just say I’m not a fan of the guy on the cover?  I’m assuming that’s supposed to be Benji, but I really didn’t get the impression that he was that cut.  Van’s really the only one that would fit that physical description for me.  OK, enough with the superficial.

So while this book still had the problem of having angst up the hoo-ha, it didn’t have a lot of the side story angst that the previous book was bogged down in.  I still feel like it seemed a bit much for each main character to have their own tragic childhood story, but I could deal with it a bit more for some reason.  Maybe because I expected it?  Or maybe it just was because at least there wasn’t outside tragedies happening as well that we had to encounter.  And even though Van’s tragic story was left til the end, it fit with his character and I wasn’t surprised by this.  I thought each of their childhood traumas were given the proper respect and resolution within their relationship.

I had no idea that this story was going to deal with the gray asexual spectrum, and I actually found that it was dealt with quite well, b/c it is really complicated and all over the place, and Benji’s story gave us a flavour of someone within the spectrum.  I ADORED that part.  And I was satisfied in the way it played out in the story.  I was a bit disappointed that Van’s pansexuality was never explored, but I guess it didn’t really need to be.

I also really loved the way the story addressed poly relationships, and how much time and thought all 3 men took when considering it for themselves.  I was especially intrigued since this story contained an established couple, but I never felt like I missed out on anything.  It all flowed really nicely, and I loved the way it all expanded when Van was added to the mix.  I felt the chemistry between all 3, and the steamy scenes were fantastic.

Honestly, I have no idea why it doesn’t get full 5 stars.  Just a gut feeling.  Probably because of my personal preference away from angst.  But yeah, it was nice to see all the things that bothered me about book 2 not becoming a problem in this book as well.  And it was nice to see glimpses of the characters we knew from the other stories, I always love that.  One tiny note: if you read this book first, you will get a bit of a spoiler for book 2.  But I don’t think it would spoil it enough that you couldn’t go back and read it and enjoy it.

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Grin and Beard It by Penny Reid

Blurb:
23337863USA TODAY Bestselling Romantic Comedy Series

Sienna Diaz is everyone’s favorite “fat” funny lady. The movie studio executives can’t explain it, but her films are out-grossing all the fit and trim headliners and Hollywood’s most beautiful elite. The simple truth is, everyone loves plus-sized Sienna.

But she has a problem, she can’t read maps and her sense of direction is almost as bad as her comedic timing is stellar. Therefore, when Sienna’s latest starring role takes her to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park she finds herself continually lost while trying to navigate the back roads of Green Valley, Tennessee. Much to her consternation, Sienna’s most frequent savior is a ridiculously handsome, charming, and cheeky Park Ranger by the name of Jethro Winston.

Sienna is accustomed to high levels of man-handsome, so it’s not Jethro’s chiseled features or his perfect physique that make Sienna stutter. It’s his southern charm. And gentlemanly manners. And habit of looking at her too long and too often.

Sienna has successfully navigated the labyrinth of Hollywood heart-throbs. But can she traverse the tenuous trails of Tennessee without losing her head? Or worse, her heart?

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My Review:
5 stars — My wonderful co-conspirator, Curly Carla, loaned this book to me through Kindle (which we both didn’t think was going to work since I’m in Canada and we Canadians can’t loan books, BUT IT DID!)!!  And I adored it so much I immediately upon finishing went out and bought it so I didn’t lose my multitude of highlights…

YOU GUYS!!!  I’ve been so worried that something was wrong with me, since my previous Penny Reid reads (*snort*) have not been stellar successes.  But it appears I just hadn’t found my match as yet.  Apparently I’m picky or something.  I don’t know, it just seemed that there was so much good in her writing, but I would inevitably be rubbed the wrong way by something or other.  BUT NOT IN THIS BOOK!!  This book was a delight from fricking beginning to end.  It was full of happy sighs and goofy grins and tummy tingles and great guffaws.

I actually own book one but have not read it yet, but I really needed a book for my Platypire Diversity Challenge since the theme for the month of January was “Body Positivity”, and I *knew* Sienna was a plus sized girl, so I thought SCORE!  Plus, extra bonus points since she is also a person of colour!  So it was kind of a lame reason, but I can’t believe how well it worked out for me.  I was honestly sucked in from the very first page.  Or rather, I had previously been sucked in by the first page because I’d read an excerpt (and promptly wishlisted this book), but it just continued to suck me further and further as the book went along.

Sienna was a delight.  She was silly and sassy and confident but with a hint of vulnerability.  Her internal monologue about being a plus sized actress had me immediately highlighting and wanting to high five her.  She also had an interesting family dynamic, that while it didn’t come into play a LOT, it made an impression on me.  And her first encounter with Jethro is just so….well, quite frankly, I swooned right along with her.

Jethro was just EVERYTHING I was needing in a hero.  He was this bizarre mix of confident, sweet, flirty, charming, damaged, vulnerable, complicated and deep.  But I’m right there with Sienna, the thing that drew me to him was just how genuinely and effortlessly good he was.  This is not to say that he doesn’t have his flaws, but I understood them.  And I just can’t gush enough about him.

And quite frankly, while they were both amazingly unique and intriguing individuals, it was their dynamic with each other that had me just glued to the pages.  They were exactly as Sienna described them — so EASY with each other.  They fit like puzzle pieces.  And even the conflict that arose between them made sense and ran its course and didn’t overly frustrate me, but allowed me to see their relationship grow and change.

I ADORED Ms. Reid’s note at the end about how Sienna Foster became Sienna Diaz.  I really appreciate that she took the time to try to make Sienna as authentic as possible, and it really shows.

I’m definitely excited to read more in this world.  I don’t know if I’ll have quite the same luck as with this book, because these two were just tailor made for me, but I’m so intrigued with all of the brothers (and Ashley) and their love stories, either already told or still to come.

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Cinder & Ella by Kelly Oram

Blurb:
14495341_10154103515169353_1987216987004450545_nWhat would you do if your anonymous Internet best friend turned out to be Hollywood’s hottest celebrity?

It’s been almost a year since eighteen-year-old Ella Rodriguez was in a car accident that left her crippled, scarred, and without a mother. After a very difficult recovery, she’s been uprooted across the country and forced into the custody of a father that abandoned her when she was a young child. If Ella wants to escape her father’s home and her awful new stepfamily, she must convince her doctors that she’s capable, both physically and emotionally, of living on her own. The problem is, she’s not ready yet. The only way she can think of to start healing is by reconnecting with the one person left in the world who’s ever meant anything to her—her anonymous Internet best friend, Cinder.

Hollywood sensation Brian Oliver has a reputation for being trouble. There’s major buzz around his performance in his upcoming film The Druid Prince, but his management team says he won’t make the transition from teen heartthrob to serious A-list actor unless he can prove he’s left his wild days behind and become a mature adult. In order to douse the flames on Brian’s bad-boy reputation, his management stages a fake engagement for him to his co-star Kaylee. Brian isn’t thrilled with the arrangement—or his fake fiancée—but decides he’ll suffer through it if it means he’ll get an Oscar nomination. Then a surprise email from an old Internet friend changes everything.

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My Review:
ORIGINAL REVIEW: 5 stars — UNPUTDOWNABLE. Seriously. I started reading this b/c I was at the release party for it and there was a part where the author posted a video of her reading the prologue and first chapter of the book. Well, when I started bawling at the end of the prologue, I had to put aside the book I was currently reading and start reading it for myself even though it was after 10pm….ended up being up til 5am glued to my kindle. So does that tell you something? It tells me it was awesome. And then I proceeded to not write my review right away and thus this will not be up to my normal babbling standards….well, maybe.

LOVED the characters. Loved the whole very loose retelling of Cinderella. There was actually more to that than I was expecting. Loved how broken and yet strong Ella was. Loved watching her struggle in her new life, and struggle to survive. LOVED the heartbreaking themes that the story touched on (bullying, grief, survival, depression…I have more but I can’t think of them). Gosh, even Brian was so much more complicated than I was expecting. Ms. Oram’s characters are always so well-developed and three dimensional. Even the side characters were amazing and believable (yes, even Anastasia….I actually had a harder time justifying some of Jennifer’s (the stepmom) behavior from the beginning).

And I kind of wanted The Druid Prince to be real.

ASE is still probably my favourite of Ms. Oram’s, but let me tell you — this put in some amazing competition for top spot.

ON REREAD: 5 OMG OMG OMG stars!  We reread this book as part of a read-a-long in the Kelly Oram Reader Squad in September in preparation for the new cover and 2 year publish-a-versary.  And it was MAGICAL!  Everything I remember this book being.  I then didn’t write up my review YET AGAIN, so it will be lacking.  But I will say that I was reminded of one of my FAVOURITE scenes from a book of ALL TIME (for those who’ve read it, it’s the FantasyCon moment where realizations occur).  I could read that scene OVER AND OVER AND OVER again, kind of like how I could watch the end of Never Been Kissed OVER AND OVER AND OVER again.  It’s *that* good.  Seriously, “say car for me”…it shouldn’t produce chills, but it does.

And the pièce de résistance of the read-a-long?  Having conversations *with* the characters ABOUT the book they are in.  Seriously…made my whole day.

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Anywhere You Are by Elisabeth Barrett

Blurb:
28473715As the daughter of a music legend, Grace Davingham knows all too well what it’s like to be burned by the media’s glare. Now all she wants is to be left to do her painting and conservation work in peace, with no intention of returning to the spotlight. But after she sprains her ankle hiking and a handsome real-estate mogul comes to her rescue, Grace once again finds herself in the public eye.

Sexy, successful, and averse to any attachments, Marcus Colby thrives on rigid discipline in order to manage both his real-estate investment company and his personal life. Marc has no time for fun, and no patience for crazy. Which is why meeting Grace—and inheriting an enormous Great Dane who won’t listen to a word he says—has turned Marc’s carefully constructed world upside down.

Only when Grace and Marc square off over a local controversy do they realize how different they really are. But if opposites attract, their love is destined to bind them together—forever.

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

This is a book I probably would have enjoyed a lot more a few years ago, but I think I’m just not as in the mood for these days.  I knew it was probably a stretch when I requested it, but it felt like a good solid romance so I went for it.  I might also just not be in the right frame of mind for it right now, but I read it because it’s release was this week and I wanted to be timely.

Anyways, so basically it was an OK read for me.  It was kind of slow and I was slow to like both characters.  When they say Marc is stuffy, they really mean it.  He just did not endear himself at the beginning when he first meets Grace.  And Grace just didn’t feel like she had much substance either.  Now as we got further into the novel, we definitely got to see a lot more to both characters.  I was sucked into it eventually, and began to enjoy the story a bit more.  Big Blue, the Great Dane, definitely helped with that for both characters…I’m an animal lover, and he was a great animal character that brought the best out of both characters.  I became more intrigued by who Grace was and the unique struggles she dealt with because of her famous family.  I really felt for her at times.  And there was a bit more depth to Marc, and I felt sorry for the man he had become and loved seeing his joy hanging out with Grace.  The problem, inherently, is that the growth didn’t always stick for these characters.  I wasn’t happy with the choices Grace made in the end, but I was mostly unhappy with Marc for flip flopping all the time.  I didn’t end up buying his resolution AT ALL.  It was sudden, and felt forced.

Their chemistry was a strange thing for me as well.  It felt really forced at the beginning.  Then they would have some amazing scenes where I really felt it between them.  And then strangely it ended feeling kind of forced again.

I don’t know if it was me and the breaks I took while reading the book just disrupted the flow *that* much, but it was a strange read.  It started off slow and I was tempted to DNF (not that it was that bad, but I know I have so many books on my plate that I wasn’t sure it was worth my time)…then I got sucked in and even cried at one point…then I ended it feeling super meh.  So yeah.  I probably wouldn’t read more from this author, b/c I just don’t think this is my style anymore.  It’s weird when we change as readers, isn’t it?

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My Song for You by Stina Lindenblatt

Blurb:
29875695In a poignant romance from the author of This One Moment (“Hot, intense, and filled with emotion.”—Rachel Harris), the rock stars of Pushing Limits have hit the big time. But fame gets tough when love presents a fork in the road.

At twenty-one, Jared Leigh had been prepared to give up the life of a touring musician to be a father after getting his girlfriend pregnant. When she told him that she’d gotten an abortion, Jared was devastated. Now at least he has the groupies to keep him company—until a blast from the past rocks his world.

Callie Talbert hasn’t seen her sister’s ex since high school. But after Callie bumps into Jared while she’s grocery shopping with four-year-old Logan, there’s a spark that wasn’t there before. Jared quickly realizes that her deaf “son” is the same age his own child would have been. When Jared demands to know more about Logan, Callie panics. There are things she just can’t tell him. Besides, Jared’s a bad-boy rocker, not a dependable father figure. He’ll move on to his next gig soon enough . . . right?

Trouble is, Jared refuses to be pushed away, and the more quality time he spends with Logan, the more he’s captivated by the woman Callie has become. When the truth is revealed, Jared only hopes that the three of them have what it takes to become a real family.

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

OK, this one sucked me in right at the beginning and I ended up staying up til after 2am wanting to read just one more chapter, just one more chapter.  I’m not entirely sure what was the big selling point for me, but I really liked both Callie and Jared, and I was intrigued about where it was going, and loving how the dynamics with Logan were playing out in the beginning.  I thought there was some cute flirty chemistry between the two, and even though I sometimes had a hard time figuring out their past relationship (at first I thought she was purely the little sister b/c there was a 4 year age gap, but then later she’s listening to him play the guitar in his room when she was younger, and they were playing together?) I was still invested and enjoying it.

But as seems to happen way too frequently to me, I woke up the next day and was just NOT as invested in the book anymore.  Did the book actually lose its steam?  Or was it me?  I DON’T FRICKIN KNOW!!!  Drives me insane, can you tell?  I still really enjoyed the development of the relationship between Jared and Logan, but I felt slightly less invested in Callie and Jared’s relationship, and I was not as impressed with Callie in general as the book went on.  I’m not sure I can pinpoint specifics, but I actually wasn’t all that into their first steamy scene.  I think it was Callie’s odd nervous interruptions…it didn’t fit my initial perception of her, and it took me out of the moment.  After awhile I wasn’t even as sure about how well they fit together at all, and what was drawing them together besides Logan and supposed conversations they had after he went to bed.

So for a girl who’s not a huge kid person, I was actually most impressed with that part of the storyline.  So odd.

OK, but back to Callie.  I really didn’t like the choices she made both in the past and as the present played out.  Am I the only one that thought she gave up and backed down super fast, and was all of a sudden assuming how things would play off and making alternative plans for her future?  It seriously caught me off guard.

So yeah.  Once again I don’t know how to round.  First 50% was SOLID 4 stars, maybe even 4.5.  But it totally fizzled for me.  So it’s a 3.5 for sure, but rounded up or down?  I don’t know.  Guess we’ll see how my finger moves over the stars when I get to Amazon or Goodreads.  I know I’m making it sound worse than it was, but I was just disappointed after such a compelling start.  Oh well, can’t win them all.

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Beyond the Stars by Stacy Wise

Blurb:
25272714Falling for him wasn’t in the plans…

Most girls would kill for the opportunity to work for Jack McAlister, Hollywood’s hottest actor, but twenty-one-year-old Jessica Beckett is ready to kick him out of her red Ford Fiesta and never look back. She should be spending her junior year in France, eating pastries and sharpening her foreign language skills. Instead she’s reluctantly working as Jack’s personal assistant, thanks to her powerhouse talent agent aunt.

Jack is private, prickly, and downright condescending. Jessica pushes his buttons—she’s not the type of girl to swoon over celebrity heartthrobs, precisely why her aunt thought she’d be perfect for the job—and Jack pushes right back.

But as she begins to peel away his layers, Jessica is shocked to find she craves her boss’s easy smile and sexy blue eyes. The problem is, so does the entire female population. And what started out as the job from hell soon has Jess wondering if a guy like Jack could ever find love with a regular girl like her.

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My Review:
3 stars — OK, I will admit…I was a bit disappointed.  I’m a sucker for hollywood star falls for normal girl books, I know many of us are.  Strangely enough while I’m a sucker for this trope, I find I’m rarely satisfied with the books who attempt them.  Ah well.  At least I scored this book on sale.

So what went wrong?  I had a hard time liking Jess.  I’m not sure what it was.  She felt a bit immature for the age she supposedly was, but then again, so am I…  Normally I don’t have a problem with that, but maybe I did moreso in this case b/c I had a hard time getting a feel for Jack’s age and he didn’t feel as young, you know?  So I didn’t see a fit between them.  Honestly I felt like she fit Shawn (the trainer) more.

Anyways, back to Jess.  I guess I just didn’t like her attitude.  We didn’t really get a super great feel for what happened in her past to make her to anti-actor, so she just seemed kind of…well, dickish about it all.  She had all these assumptions about Jack that weren’t based on anything but one bad experience, that again…happened in the past, so we didn’t get to feel it with her and it didn’t make me sympathize with her.  And her friendship with Meg really reflected badly on her.  Meg was awful.  And the fact that she needed another friend to point it out to her was kind of crazy.  I guess I can sort of see how you grow up with a person and so you make excuses for them, but Meg was really overboard awful and we never did find out why…  I think b/c she *was* a friend of Jess’s, I would have liked to know why she changed.  Otherwise I didn’t see her purpose in the story, other than the further the housing situation plot and add some drama.

I enjoyed Jack.  I wish I saw more from him.  He was extremely hard to get a read on because we didn’t get his POV, which is fine…but without more conversations between Jess and Jack, I really don’t know much about what he’s like.  It was mostly a Jess book.  And quite honestly this just made for a very shallow and unfulfilling romance for me.  And it wasn’t because it was a PG romance (I don’t mind those), it was that it took the whole book, and I really didn’t get enough out of the development as I would have liked.  I felt a few butterflies and tingles, but again…it wasn’t until 80-90% before anything really happened there.  And since I wasn’t really enjoying Jess’s individual development, I just didn’t get enough out of this book.

So yeah.  3 stars isn’t a horrible book.  I was entertained.  I was just ultimately unfulfilled.

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Broken Promises by H.M. Ward

Blurb:
26833766When Celebrity Magazine declares rock star Trystan Scott the sexiest man alive, I’m not surprised. How can anyone claim otherwise about those blazing blue eyes, rock-hard abs, dark hair, and a totally lickable dimple?

Before the billionaire playboy rose to stardom, we were friends for a while and lovers for a night. Though that was nearly a decade ago, our connection burns brightly in my memory. We weren’t a one night stand, not to me.

I can admit it–I got played. To him, I was just another conquest. My beautiful best friend is long gone, and I’ve moved on. But when fate forces us to meet face to face, everything I felt for him comes rushing back.

Trystan is crashing and burning fast. The press flock like vultures, waiting for him to kill himself or worse. Either way, his mistakes earn them millions.

One night, one time, one word is all it takes to wash away a decade of reason and regret. One secret threatens to push him six feet under, and, when those beautiful eyes turn to me for help, how can I say no?

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My Review:
2.5 stars — I’m a fast reader normally.  But rereading this series (which I probably gave higher stars than they deserved, but maybe b/c I thought something good would happen at the end) and reading this book has proved to me that I’m only a fast reader when the story is compelling.  I read it because I needed to know how Trystan and Mari’s story ended up, but I was disappointed.  Majorly disappointed.  There wasn’t much of a Trystan and Mari love story at all.  Mari is with someone else.  For like 80% of the book.  So if you were hoping for all the grown up romance, you’re probably going to be disappointed in that aspect.

I’ve discovered that I don’t think Ms. Ward’s writing style is for me.  I don’t have the patience.  This is basically like a soap opera in book form.  And that’s just not for me.  No disrespect to people who like that, there are lots of readers who do!  I just don’t happen to be one of them, so I don’t think I’m going to invest in anymore books by this author.  We’re just not a match.

Things that didn’t work for me (spoiler free): The lack of romance.  Supposedly there is a connection between them, but I felt it more in the previous series.  So on that note, if you do want to read this book, I HIGHLY recommend you read the accompanying Secret Life of Trystan Scott novella serial series to get the most out of it, otherwise you’ll be feeling lacking.

Things that didn’t work for me that are SPOILERS, so don’t read this paragraph unless you’ve read the book or don’t plan on reading the book: 1) The paranormal aspect.  I mean, seriously?  They can feel each other’s feelings through touch?  No.  Either write a paranormal or write a contemporary…I like both, but don’t add a touch just because you can’t write the appropriate chemistry between them.  2) Seth.  I was mad when he died.  And for god’s sake, if you’re going to have that be a mistake, then put some effort into it and make it believable, don’t just throw it in at the end so it’s all one big happy ending.  3) I wasn’t super keen on all the Derrick being Trystan’s brother thing, but I mostly wasn’t happy with the half-brother turning out not to be an abusive jerk too when all signs pointed in that direction.  Very inconsistent with what we learn of his character earlier on.  4) Derrick throws her engagement ring at her, and she still says yes?  Um, what?  5) She watches Derrick abuse his mother, and doesn’t tell him off?  And she’s still going to marry him.  Great backbone.  You need him to hit his mother before it’s too far?  *sigh*  6) Where’s the resolution with her father?  He was an abusive asshole who seems to still be an abusive asshole, but then it’s all “I love you Daddy” at the end?  Great character and relationship development.  7) Trystan’s father kidnaps him, after almost killing him, and the mother really wouldn’t have called the cops?  And since he apparently never changed his name, she really couldn’t find him all that time?  What about when he became famous?

Basically the problem is lack of believability.  It was a lot of sensationalism and shock value thrown in a pot without background and rationalization.  Heck, even the blurb is a bit misleading.  Strangely I didn’t have as much problem with Trystan’s issue that had him get in the accident.  I saw a lot of other reviewers were bothered by it, but it would have been ok without everything else heaped on top of it.

I just don’t have the patience for this kind of story if you’re not going to give me a good dose of romance to keep me happy.  OK, I’m tired, and this is sounding ranty, so that’s it for me.  Just not my bag, baby….

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