Pretending With the Greek Billionaire by Kira Archer

Blurb:
30741416.jpgAlways the life of the party, Luca Vasilakis needs to prove he’s capable of taking over his father’s billion-dollar corporation. The perfect opportunity falls in his arms in the form of the reserved but sexy social worker Constance McMurty. What better way to improve his reputation than to get engaged to a do-gooder who is raising six orphans?

Constance wants nothing to do with Luca. But a poorly timed paparazzi photo lands her in the middle of a media nightmare, and Luca is her only way out. He proposes an idea that will help them both—be his fiancée to gain him some respectability and he’ll make a huge donation to her organization…and save her reputation.

But when their lie starts feeling like the truth, and the chemistry just won’t stop, they have a hard time separating what’s real and what’s fantasy…

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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.

I am a self-confessed Harlequin book lover.  Before the days of my Kindle and my discovery of Indie authors (b/c I’ve always been an underdog kind of girl, so Indie books are right up my alley), I used to consume Harlequin books at an ALARMING rate.  Cheap books individually, but with the number of books I read it was an expensive habit.  And one of my favourite lines was the Harlequin Presents line…so this is a LONG introduction paragraph to say that this book reminded me so much of the books I used to read in that line — European Billionaire Playboy?  Check.  And so I totally requested this book with that kind of nostalgia in mind.  And it definitely fulfilled what I was looking for from that.

I loved the chemistry between Luca and Constance.  It was a very sexy book, and they definitely had a palpable connection.  And the progression of the romance was exactly what I was expecting, and I’m ok with that.  It definitely followed a pattern that I’m used to, so there weren’t any surprises, but again, sometimes I want a book that gives me exactly what I’m expecting…  A bit tropey, definitely, but I wanted that push and pull between a hero and heroine that don’t really fit together, but somehow bring out the best in one another.

It would have been a full 4 stars if it weren’t for the completely useless children characters.  I honestly don’t know why Ms. Archer even bothered with 6 foster children in this story, they really only focused on the one girl throughout the story, and it was like they barely interacted with the other girls…they had the other people taking care of them.  It just felt like a plot device, but it didn’t really add anything of substance to the story.  The author really could have done a bit more with that storyline, or else just had the one orphan girl or something.  I was disappointed.

So all in all, a great light romance read.  Definitely what I was needing in this moment.

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Addicted to You by Krista & Becca Ritchie

Synopsis:
22746816She’s addicted to sex. He’s addicted to booze…the only way out is rock bottom.

No one would suspect shy Lily Calloway’s biggest secret. While everyone is dancing at college bars, Lily stays in the bathroom. To get laid. Her compulsion leads her to one-night stands, steamy hookups and events she shamefully regrets. The only person who knows her secret happens to have one of his own.

Loren Hale’s best friend is his bottle of bourbon. Lily comes at a close second. For three years, they’ve pretended to be in a real relationship, hiding their addictions from their families. They’ve mastered the art of concealing flasks and random guys that filter in and out of their apartment.

But as they sink beneath the weight of their addictions, they cling harder to their destructive relationship and wonder if a life together, for real, is better than a lie. Strangers and family begin to infiltrate their guarded lives, and with new challenges, they realize they may not just be addicted to alcohol and sex.

Their real vice may be each other.

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My Review:
3.5 stars — Wow.  I’m still trying to process what I just read.  While reading this, I think I realized that I don’t tend to read a lot of super angsty books.  And this is not angsty in like a bad way…huh, so this just spurred me on to look up angsty in the dictionary, and I’m not sure I mean that word.  It’s just that this book deals with a lot of real and sometimes very negative emotions, and our two main characters are ridiculously self-destructive.  So it makes it hard to read for me.  I’m a fairly sensitive reader, and so my heart just cringed for these characters over and over again.

And there just wasn’t a balance of lightheartedness to compensate for the heaviness…which don’t get me wrong, I definitely wasn’t expecting any lighthearted moments in this book (I wasn’t confused about what I was getting into).  I mean, objectively there were some (Connor providing a lot of it), but I think I was stuck in horrified mode and it wasn’t enough to get me out of that place.  It’s more that I realized something about myself as a reader, and that I tend to gravitate more towards books that have a balance of the two (heavy and light), does that make sense?  And so there’s a part of me that really enjoyed this book and all the issues it tackled…and there’s another part of me that’s just emotionally exhausted.  So I find myself desperately wanting to read book 2 and find out what happens with Lily and Lo, and there’s another part of me that’s more cautious of the emotional strain I’d be subjecting myself to.

And so I guess that brings me to what this book does well (much to my dismay): the authors do an amazing job of portraying characters struggling with addiction.  Or at least to me it felt very authentic.  And it broke my heart.  B/C you could see glimmers of who Lily and Lo were beneath it all, but for the most part they were just smothered by their addictions.  I can’t even honestly decide how I feel about their romance, b/c it was so hard to see their love beyond how they were enabling each other.  It really wasn’t much of a love story…at least not yet.  It’s not that you didn’t see that they cared for each other, but they both genuinely loved their addictions more and always put those above each other.

I actually wasn’t sure how I would feel about following a character with a sex addiction, b/c it’s not something that we as a society focus on as something real.  I wondered if the authors would just use that as an excuse to have a really racy book, but it wasn’t that AT ALL.  And so I really applaud them for that.  I could believe it.  And I hated it.  I hated how it controlled Lily.  😦

I feel like I honestly didn’t get a great feel for Lo.  Maybe it’s because the story was told from Lily’s POV, so we were able to get inside her head?  Maybe it’s because addiction twists characters, and so we end up seeing so many different sides of him (including some mean sides)?  I don’t know.  I wonder if the rest of the series is all from Lily’s POV, b/c I would love to see into Lo’s head so badly.

I thoroughly enjoyed the side characters in this book.  I have a feeling the more I learn, the more I’m going to want to read all nine books, including the sister spin-offs…  Maybe they’ll be a bit more reprieving in the emotional distraught-ness area.

Other than that this book is a bit outside my wheelhouse and left me a bit scarred, I also felt like it dragged on a bit at times, and so that was where that extra half star loss falls.  Also, I’m not sure how I feel about how things went with Lo’s father and Lily’s thoughts about him at the end (how’s that for vague and not spoilery).  But I’ve decided I’m definitely going to give the next book (Ricochet) a try and decide how much my heart can take from there, and see how I’m feeling at that point.

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Crazy, Stupid, Fauxmance by Shellee Roberts

Synopsis:
29067842Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains a kickass heroine, a boy so hot he’ll make you shiver, and a falling-in-love story fit for the big screen. You’ll want to settle in and have the popcorn ready.

After Mariely Hinojosa and Cabot Wheeler both break up with their significant others at the same party, Mariely sees a way to get even with both of their exes. Everyone knows that the best way to get over a breakup is a hookup—a fake hookup, that is. Three weeks, all fun, no strings, and definitely no heartbreak at the end.

But somewhere between the sweet hand-holding and melt-your-mind kisses, their fake relationship starts to feel less like an act and more like the real thing…but Mariely’s a free-spirited girl from the other side of the tracks, and Cabot’s the hot trust-fund guy from the Hills.

They’d never work for real…

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My Review:
3.5 stars — I received a copy of this book through NetGalley!!

I loved Mariely’s style — even if it was born out of necessity (shopping in thrift stores), I still loved the whole vintage vibe she had going on, and how she was even interested in classic movies and stuff too.  And you could really see her vulnerability and how insecure she was about her financial status and the reality of her home life.  She came across as very authentic, and my heart hurt for her and all she was dealing with, partly thanks to Jacen (who I really wanted to smack for being so insensitive).

I wish we’d gotten to be inside Cabot’s head a little bit more.  I enjoyed the peeks we got from him, but I feel like there’s more we could have learned.  I kind of hated how Mariely just trivialized the problems Cabot was dealing with (his parents divorce) just because she thought his life was easy being rich.  He had a few dickish moments (like the Thursday supper, that surprised me as much as it did Mariely), but in general he was actually really sweet and considerate.

And these two definitely had some great chemistry going!!  I felt those kisses right down to my tummy.

I haven’t read the previous two books in this series, and I found that I was occasionally distracted by Willa, wondering what was going on with her since it seems like her story might have been concurrent with this one…but that’s a me problem, not a book problem.

While I found this book to have a whole lot of goodness, I ended it feeling like I was missing something.  But I honestly have no idea what, so I’m really not that helpful.  It just felt like it went kind of fast.  But maybe it’s that I know this is only book 1 for Mariely and Cabot, and so the author was trying to give us a temporary HEA while hoping we will want more in the next book.  I’m definitely interested, so I guess mission accomplished?

Side note: no matter how many times I corrected myself, I still defaulted to saying “Mary-Ellie” instead of “MAR-ee-ely”.  But I seriously loved having a hispanic heroine, yay for diversity!

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The Deal by Elle Kennedy

Synopsis:
24920901She’s about to make a deal with the college bad boy…

Hannah Wells has finally found someone who turns her on. But while she might be confident in every other area of her life, she’s carting around a full set of baggage when it comes to sex and seduction. If she wants to get her crush’s attention, she’ll have to step out of her comfort zone and make him take notice…even if it means tutoring the annoying, childish, cocky captain of the hockey team in exchange for a pretend date.

…and it’s going to be oh so good.

All Garrett Graham has ever wanted is to play professional hockey after graduation, but his plummeting GPA is threatening everything he’s worked so hard for. If helping a sarcastic brunette make another guy jealous will help him secure his position on the team, he’s all for it. But when one unexpected kiss leads to the wildest sex of both their lives, it doesn’t take long for Garrett to realize that pretend isn’t going to cut it. Now he just has to convince Hannah that the man she wants looks a lot like him.

Find it on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24920901-the-deal
Order it on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1RGyTGu

My Review:
4 stars — This book had so many Lenore things going for it, I think it only didn’t reach 5 stars b/c it suffered from a little bit of pre-reading hype….so I kept thinking things while I was reading it, and it took away from my experience.  (like I was told it was a hilarious book, and while I definitely thought it was funny, I guess I was expecting something else)

It took me a little bit to get into the book and to get hooked on Garrett and Hannah.  But once I did, I definitely fell in love.  There was so much more to the story than what I had initially expected, including some rough past experiences for both of our main characters.  And I thought that both situations were dealt with with respect by the author.  I know not every person reacts the same way after certain traumas, so it was interesting to read about how Hannah was shaped by her experiences.

And once I got to know Garrett and Hannah more, they both wormed their way into my heart.  I loved the way they interacted with each other, their banter in all situations was just so unique to them and had me giggling in my head.  That was probably my favourite part, their chemistry with each other.  Not just steam chemistry (though they definitely had that), but their friend chemistry.  I loved seeing them both caught off guard by the other and the relationship that was developing.

I appreciated that the obstacles that were thrown in the way weren’t dragged out and used to force them apart unnecessarily…that gets really old for me.  They were relatively upfront with each other, navigating their new relationship together as best they could.

So while my expectations got in the way of the beginning of this book, the book itself overrode my misgivings and took me on a sweet ride.  Will definitely be wishlisting more books by Ms. Kennedy.

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