Just One of the Boys by Leah and Kate Rooper

Blurb:
36224817Alice Bell has one goal: to play for the elite junior hockey team the Chicago Falcons.But when she’s passed over at tryouts for being a girl, she’ll do anything to make her dream a reality…even disguising herself as her twin brother. With her amazing skills on the ice, Alice is sure she’ll fit in easily. That is, until she starts falling for one of her teammates…

Hayden Tremblay, star of the Falcons, can’t keep himself out of the penalty box. Constantly living in the shadow of his older brother, Hayden’s losing his passion for hockey. But when he gets shown up on the ice by the Falcons’ new rookie, Hayden’s determined to teach the kid a thing or two. Little does he guess that “Al’s” surprises on the ice are just the beginning…

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush title proves that wonderful things can happen when you’re brave enough to go after your dream. Dream hockey player, that is! Warning–a few locker room scenes are included.

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My Review:
4.5 stars — Well, I decided to start this one at midnight because I wasn’t quite tired yet…next thing I know it’s 5:30 am and I’m finished.  If that doesn’t tell you something, I don’t know what will.  I was sucked right in, it was very compelling for me.  If you’re a fan of Twelfth Night type retellings (and I just now realized I didn’t know how to spell Twelfth), and particularly if you loved She’s The Man, you’re probably going to love this one.  I saw some reviewers complain that it was exactly the same, but I felt that while it may have started pretty similarly, there was enough development with the characters to stand out from it.

What I find the most interesting about this read is that I wasn’t impressed with either character initially.  Alice seemed like a selfish brat, and, honestly, I could say the same for Hayden…not to mention his almost bully-like behavior.  And while a small part of me wishes they’d seen a bit more consequences for those early behaviors, I really appreciated their growth otherwise and the development of their relationship.  It kind of surprised me.  That growth even took a bit longer than I normally would have liked, but at that point I was enthralled with the hockey, their backstories, and the friendship that was developing between Hayden and Al.  And I guess it was kind of refreshing to have characters that were truly flawed, but whose growth I totally bought into.

I felt Alice’s frustration at being past over because she was a girl.  I was bummed that she was so wrapped up in what she wanted, that she didn’t even acknowledge internally that she wasn’t *really* using the deception for her brother, but for herself…and I kind of wish she’d owned up to that a bit more bluntly in the end.  But she was such an intriguing character in her own right, a true tomboy…more comfortable pretending to be her brother and feeling like she could be herself then.  I loved the struggle she had with her own identity…it really added depth.  And my heart broke for the way she’d closed herself off to emotions because of her father leaving, and how she really didn’t know how to deal with them when they came.

I felt for Hayden too!  I can’t even imagine what he was going through after the loss of his parents, but you could really feel his rage and disillusionment.  I was worried he would be a bully, but I loved how Al just got through his defenses, and then he ended up finding that true friend who he could let in.

Strangely, the romance was only OK for me.  It’s not that I didn’t feel chemistry between them, but I was much more sucked in by their friendship, and we got to see a lot more of that than romance in the end.  That, along with needing a bit more from Xander to explain his extreme attitude (like, I sort of get his motivations, but I could have used a bit more of a resolution since it was such a big looming thing in the background), are the reasons I rounded down instead of up.  That and I will admit, there were a lot of little tiny believability flaws in this story.  But I loved everything else so much it just didn’t affect my enjoyment that much.

For me this book excels in showcasing their friendship.  I REALLY felt that chemistry.  I LOVED the way they could rely on each other and how Al was there for Hayden.

It also excels in the hockey aspect…it really showcased the sport (minus the part where they mentioned an end zone).  And as a fan of hockey, I really appreciated feeling like I was on the team.

Some other little delights: the little hints of Canada, and jokes about it; Madison was awesome; Hayden’s up and down relationship with his brother; the imperfection of Al’s family, but you could still feel the love.

So yeah.  It was a hit for me.  But I really should have known better than to start this one at midnight, especially given how much I was looking forward to it.

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Juked (Texas Mutiny #1) by M.E. Carter

jukedBlurb: Juked: verb.

/jook-t/
A slang soccer term meaning: faked out, deceived, confused your opponent
See examples Daniel Zavaro and Quincy Watson:

As the rising star in Houston, Daniel has found fame as Captain of his Pro soccer team and the city’s most eligible bachelor. Daniel has everything – except someone special – and that suits him just fine. He doesn’t want, or need, complications.

Quincy has baggage, and lots of it. After a tragic accident spins her world on its axis, she finds herself as a single mother, raising a newborn nephew she never knew she had. Between parenthood, her full-time job, and dealing with the suffocating grief of losing her sister, every day is a struggle.

When they begin to cross paths unexpectedly and often, an unlikely friendship starts to evolve. Feelings change. Lines get crossed. What happens next surprises them both…

Before they know it– they’ve been Juked.

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4 stars

This was a cute, easy going romance.  I didn’t really feel a whole lot of chemistry throughout in it. What I did feel was Daniel’s admirable work ethic and friendliness.  He was sweet and kind.  Not really my kind of guy TBH. I like them a bit more assertive.  He didn’t seem to really care enough about Quincy.  Or else I didn’t see enough for me to really think he cared.  That’s the only thing that really affected the likability of this book.

Quincy was pretty relatable.  She was logical and responsible; both qualities I’m a huge fan of.  She does show the baby a bunch of love and you get to really see the struggle from inept mother evolve to expert which was one of the best things of this book IMO. Again, not a whole lot with regards to chemistry on her part either so the romance bit was a bit bland for my tastes.

The sports bit was nice. We see his team dynamic and how he interacts with his manager which was a nice added layer to his character.

I’d read another by this author.

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The First Kiss Hypothesis by Christina Mandelski

Blurb:
36453287Nora Reid believes scientific laws control everything, even love. With her grandparents’epic first kiss story cemented in her brain, Nora develops a hypothesis she’s determined to prove:for each person in the world, there is exactly one other person, and at first kiss, they’ll experience an immediate and intense reaction.

But after four years of zero-reaction kisses, she comes up with a new theory: maybe that pesky crush on her stunningly hot best friend Eli Costas is skewing her results.

She needs to get rid of him, and fast.

Eli Costas is an injury-prone lacrosse star with a problem—the one chance he had at winning over the girl next door resulted in the most epically sucktastic first kiss ever. And now she’s…trying to get rid of him? Hell no. It’s time to disprove her theory and show her exactly what she’s missing.

Game. On.

Disclaimer: This book contains a stunningly hot lacrosse player who isn’t above playing dirty to win over the stubborn girl-next-door of his dreams.

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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.

Well that was an up and down ride!!  It started off really strong, I absolutely adored the author’s voice in this one.  There was a bit of sassiness and snark that was delightful.  I spent time both loving and hating BOTH characters, but in this case (unlike my previous read), I’m happy to say they redeemed themselves and showed those two words I love in characters: GROWTH AND CHANGE!

Nora was an intriguing, if frustrating, heroine!  It’s funny, b/c at first I thought she was going to be really snarky, but that didn’t really last.  I felt for the damage she sustained from her divorced parents, and their rather toxic relationship.  I also liked that it wasn’t something we saw that much (as we never met the father), but you could see the damage in so many subtle little ways…not the least of which was her ridiculous hypothesis.  As a reader, I found it really hard to watch her hang onto her theory with such a tightfisted grip.  But I guess she really wanted to believe she could avoid her mother’s mistake.  I sometimes think the smartest people can just not see the most obvious things sometimes.  Hence the frustrating part of Nora.  She also had a bit of high school damage.  By holding on to this theory, and testing it out on all the boys, she’d kind of alienated herself from many of her fellow students…and my heart broke for her trying to navigate that.

Eli was just as intriguing, and honest to god, just as frustrating…but in a completely different way.  I had completely different expectations for this story, and particularly for Eli.  I honestly thought he was always in love with her, and figured this was his chance.  But it’s not quite that.  Quite frankly, that confused and frustrated me.  If he just knew he loved her and was finally making his move, I’d have been immediately on board (I love those stories).  But he was so confusing!!  And confused!  He wanted to get another chance with Nora and he wanted to prove her hypothesis wrong using himself as an example, but he kept initially framing it as though that was all he wanted…like for her own good, so she wouldn’t be lonely.  But dude, that’s kind of dickish.  And so I was confused how that was going to go.  And worried.  But I’ll get back to that in a moment.  I was also startled by his personality and attitude sometimes.  I expected a more laidback sweet guy, and he wasn’t quite that.  Honestly, he actually felt like a really realistic depiction of a teenage guy.  He had all this anger bottled up sometimes…which from what I understand from my husband is a common teenage boy problem, testosterone and all.  He didn’t always appreciate his parents.  He wasn’t the most tactful with Nora.  It was odd.  And yet I still liked him.  He still had these great moments.  And I guess I kind of liked that he was a bit oblivious to his own feelings, at least it was different.

I was honestly REALLY concerned when I got to what I thought was the climax.  Eli behaved VERY BADLY.  Like, a total jerky douchebag.  Like, yelling and sneering.  I was ready to wash my hands of the story, I didn’t think it could turn around.  But there was more story left than I had anticipated.  And you know what?  To my GREAT surprise, I actually appreciated how the story played out afterwards.  I’m still not super impressed with how Eli handled that particular moment, but I actually felt like I saw him go through all the emotions after that.  I saw him grow up a bit.  I saw him make realizations.  And Nora too!  I was freaking ecstatic with the final scene!  Like it was actually everything I was wanting!  I was shocked!  I’m not saying everyone will be happy with it…just like I’m not saying everyone will have as big a problem with the climax.  But it worked for ME.

As an aside, can I say that I really liked a lot of the secondary characters??  The parents were actually pretty great.  Flawed, but great.  Eli’s friend, Koviak, was cooler than I was expecting…  And even Tex was an OK character.  Abby was meh though.  BUT the secondary character star for me was Eli’s little brother (who is on the autism spectrum).  Both Eli and Nora showed their best selves with Ari.  And he was just kind of delightful.

So yeah.  I thought this was going to be a 3 star.  But I’m even rounding up!  Just shows how important a great ending is.

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Offsetting Penalties by Ally Mathews

Blurb:
36430566Isabelle Oster has dreamed of being a prima ballerina her entire life, so when the only male dancer backs out of the fall production, she’s devastated. Without a partner, she has no hope of earning a spot with the prestigious Ballet Americana company. Until hot jock Garret practicing stretches in one of the studios gives Izzy an idea, and she whips out her phone. But does she really want this badly enough to resort to blackmail?

All-state tight end Garret Mitchell will do anything to get a college football scholarship. Even taking ballet, which surprisingly isn’t so bad, because it means he gets to be up close and personal with the gorgeous Goth girl Izzy while learning moves to increase his flexibility. But Izzy needs him to perform with her for the Ballet Americana spot, and he draws the line at getting on stage. Especially wearing tights.

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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, you know exactly why I requested this book if you know anything about me.  The premise was tailor made for me!  I love dance books, and love them even more when the hero dances!!  And the dance stuff was fantastic!  And there was a lot of it!!  You can’t even imagine how happy that made me.  I’m not a dancer, whatsoever, but I appreciate it and envy those with that much dedication, athleticism and grace.  And honestly, the dancing was my favourite part of this book.  Seeing Garret learn about stretching, positions, pirouettes, and then seeing Garret and Izzy tackle lifts just filled my heart with happiness!

As for the rest of the story, and particularly the characters, I thought this book started off really strong!  I was drawn into the challenges of both characters, and I thought they both seemed like good kids struggling to work through what life had handed them.  I felt Izzy’s loneliness and isolation, and her struggle to do things on her own and prove her worth without her father’s influence.  And Garret had a lot to work through with an unsupportive (and possibly alcoholic) dad, and the struggles that come from a low-income family.

And I really enjoyed their initial interplay with each other…like they had their own impressions of the other, but they could see that there was more to the other.  I liked the way they started becoming friends, but you could see them wanting more.  And I liked the way they became more!

But somewhere along the way, the characters seemed to stop growing.  I know they’re teenagers, but I honestly expected them to start showing some empathy towards the other’s situation.  But the selfishness, in general, persisted.  Moreso in Garret than Izzy.  I actually grew annoyed when Izzy would immediately apologize for her assumptions about what Garret would struggle with and downplay her own struggles, and there would be crickets from Garret’s side.  Apparently money really is more valuable than close family, at least according to this book.  As a reader, I thought they both struggled equally, but I don’t think Garret ever really understood the negatives about Izzy’s life.  All he saw was the wealth and material things.  And thus, I became less enamoured with our characters, particularly the hero.

And then we get to the ending…which felt kind of rushed, and left me a bit unsatisfied.

So yeah.  Full marks for the dance component, and a fantastic first half!!  But alas, I need a good closer to make me round up instead of down, which is a bummer.  This one had so much potential.  Perhaps the ending won’t bug others as much as it did me.

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Scored by Sloane Howell

32766533Blurb: He’s a player. But she’s about to score.

Opposites really do attract* as a sassy salesgirl turns a pro athlete’s life upside down in this supercharged standalone novel of seduction from the author of Bossed.

Kelsey: My mom would tell you I’m quite the catch, but since my last boyfriend, I haven’t been dating much. Maybe it’s my rocker style or my lack of filter that intimidates the boys. So I’m pleasantly surprised when Matt Stallworth waltzes into the indie record store where I work and gives as good he gets. Turns out Matt is a professional baseball player, which should mean he’s out of my league. But if he wants to hook up with me, he’s going to have to follow my rules.

Matt: After winning my MVP award, I learned that a guy can get used to having beautiful women practically throw themselves at you everywhere you turn. But everything changes the first time I see Kelsey Martin, and something just clicks. She’s hot, snarky, and whip-smart. I’ve got to see her again. Only problem is, she sees right through all my best moves. And I’m going to have to step up my game to convince Kelsey that I’m playing for keeps.

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5 stars

I really enjoyed this story.  It was everything I hoped it would be. A cute opposites attract read with some serious chemistry.  At first I was a little thrown off because there wasn’t much background on either MC but as there relationship progressed it didn’t bother me that much.

Classic case of opposites attract. I think I finished it a day.  The ending was so cute but I didn’t feel it was that much of a climax. And I didn’t understand why they waited so long to get to that point.  I felt that their communication could have a a bit better but ‘m almost positive it was a plot point so I understand why it wasn’t.  This is my first Sloane Howell book but it won’t be my last.

Kelsey didn’t really stand out to me that much as far as MC’s go.  She was a bit of a rebel and almost everything Matt wasn’t.  I didn’t think she was really that different than most girls and therefore I didn’t really become too attached to her.

Now Matt, oh he was one smooth character.  I really enjoyed his struggle with his baseball career and his relationship with Kelsey.  He was able to balance it all pretty well.  I also enjoyed their make out sessions!  Wooo!  There was some serious panty melting words going on in this book!

I received this book in exchange for an honest/unbiased review.

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Bountiful by Sarina Bowen

Blurb:
34099086No last names. No life stories. Those were the rules.

Once upon a time a cocky, copper-haired tourist sauntered into Zara’s bar. And even though she knew better, Zara indulged in a cure for the small-town blues. It was supposed to be an uncomplicated fling—a few sizzling weeks before he went back to his life, and she moved on.

Until an accidental pregnancy changed her life.

Two years later, she’s made peace with the notion that Dave No-Last-Name will never be found. Until one summer day when he walks into her coffee shop, leveling her with the same hot smile that always renders her defenseless.

Dave Beringer has never forgotten the intense month he spent with prickly Zara. Their nights together were the first true intimacy he’d ever experienced. But the discovery of his child is the shock of a lifetime, and his ugly past puts relationships and family out of reach.

Or does it? Vermont’s countryside has a way of nurturing even tortured souls. The fields and the orchards—and hard won love—are Bountiful.

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

OMG!!  I am in love with Dave Beringer!!  I mean, like, “go to Brooklyn and look for Gingers in the hopes that one is the fictional Dave Beringer” kind of love.  Because I did that.  Today.  I have no shame.

I have not read the previous 3 books in the True North series (though it will be happening soon, I just ran out of time), but I have read the Brooklyn Bruisers books, and so I had an in on that side of things.  And this book just made me want to read the rest of the True North series even more!  Though I honestly don’t know how Ms. Bowen can top this story.  Like, it was f-ing sexy, and funny, and heartwarming, and none of the characters pissed me off (because there was potential, but it didn’t go that way), and even though I read this over a week (which is unheard of) because I am on vacation, so I had to sneak in reading time whenever I could, I still fell in love with it.  Honestly, it just makes me excited for when I reread it and truly devour it from cover to cover.  Probably when I read the rest of the series, b/c I’ll no doubt have a different perspective on Zara.

Zara was her own special brand of stubborn, and feisty, and damaged.  I really enjoyed having a heroine who is really in touch with her own sexuality, but isn’t necessarily comfortable with it…it was a weird dichotomy.  Like, she was interested in sex from a young age, but she was also branded as a slut because of it, so she wasn’t self-accepting, you know?  She just kind of believed the things that people judged her for.  It was kind of heartbreaking.  But I kind of loved it.  Because you know in so many romance novels there’s a girl that gets slut-shamed…  Zara might have been that girl, you know?  So it shows that side of the coin.  But her story was so much more.  She was a product of how she was raised, and she really didn’t have a lot of direction in life.  It was interesting to see the changes that becoming a mother wrought in her, but at the same time she still had a lot of healing to do.

And Dave.  *swoon*  Like, I don’t even know why he does it for me so much.  Maybe because he’s just so unapologetic.  Like he said at one point, he’s a bit slow to learn and grow, but he’s not a dick.  He had his own damage to get past, and I enjoyed that his bachelor ways had a…reason, I guess.  I loved (in a tore my heart out way) learning bits and pieces of his tragic childhood, and how that shaped him.  I loved his relationship with his sister.  Honestly, I wouldn’t have minded a more clear resolution with his past…but I might have missed something because I had to intersperse my reading.  Did he ever tell Zara about his past?  I can’t remember.  ANYWAYS.  I have a soft spot for Gingers (sssshhhh, don’t tell my hubby), and holy *bleep* was his bossy take charge attitude in the bedroom sexy as *bleep*.  Like *fans face*.  AND then there were all the times he grinned during sex.  I can’t even, you guys…like can’t even.

There was just something about the way Dave and Zara fit together that had me on board right from the start.  I LOVED the “past” section.  I fell in love really soon.  And I LOVED the way the present played out, from the start right to the very end.  I loved the secondary characters (and I’ll probably like some of them even more when I get to read their stories).  Basically it was just all sorts of goodness (with a few minor things I was confused on, but again…could be just me — like the car thing).

Anyways.  I want a Dave.  Someone get on that stat.  Thanks in advance.

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Finding Me (Xtreme Bachelor) by Caylie Marcoe

finding meBlurb: People remember Nicki Montgomery as the girl who tried to win over BMX rider and Xtreme Bachelor, Travis Grayson. She was all smiles and snark, which made her the most hated girl on reality TV and the perfect choice for the first bachelorette to have her own show.

Twenty extreme athletes vying for your attention should be every girl’s dream, but all Nicki can see is that she’s being shipped off to the middle of nowhere Oklahoma and every single date includes some type of physical activity. Neither of which fit with her elite Chicago lifestyle.

The biggest problem with going on the show is Nicki doesn’t want to play the part. She doesn’t want to be hated. Everything from her smile to her perfect family life is fake and she’s sick of living the lie. All Nicki wants is for someone to see the person she really is.

When the final choice is made, Nicki has to be ready to break a few hearts to find what she needs, maybe even her own.

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5 stars

I don’t even know how to begin this review.  I may be a bit bias, I mean, did you see the dedication?   I may have cried when I read it. This book was such a breath of fresh air in a closed off room. I’m a sucker for a great love story and this one fit the bill and then some.  I LOVED it.  It’s highly original, full of witty dialogue along with some pretty steamy scenes.  And the chemistry!  ::swoon::  Dear god, she writes them so effing good.

I had a love/ hate relationship with Nicki throughout the book.  I felt how sincere she was in her want to change, not only how people saw her, but how she saw herself as well.  And we get to know Nicki on a very personal level in this book.   And it was glorious, she was such a well rounded character.  At times I found her to be a bit immature and petty making me a bit irritated and then, BAM! She would show this inner strength that just astounded me.  The author made me FEEL so many emotions with regards to her that I realized how much I had actually come to care about this character. And while I do tend to become invested in the characters of the books I read, this one will always hold a unique place in my giant book heart.

And Nicki isn’t the only one who shined in this story.  Bridget was what I would expect my BFF to say to me.  She supported Nicki throughout and gave her the tough love she needed when Nicki started to back slide into her old ways.  Cooper was….well I don’t want to ruin it for you.  😉 But suffice it to say that all the guys were distinct and memorable.  Especially…… LOL, no I could NEVER do that to you guys.  I will say the one she ends up with was NOT who I had thought it would be.

Go go forth and read it!  I promise you will not regret it.

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Play With Me (Grover Beach Team #1) by Piper Shelly

play with meBlurb: What if you had to do the one thing you hated most to get the guy you loved to notice you?

Ryan Hunter’s parties are legend. And tonight she’s going to be there.

Lisa Matthews anticipates the return of her best friend and only love since kindergarten from soccer camp. But when Tony finally shows up, his mind is more focused on another girl. And worse, she’s a soccer player. Fighting for the attention Lisa craves, she’s just a hairbreadth away from making a very stupid decision. But when extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures, she’s prepared to play ball to get her man.

The tryouts are hell, the first match ends bloody, and the morning after the selection party she wakes up in the worst place possible—in the arms of the captain of the soccer team. The hottest guy in school… Ryan Hunter.

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5 stars

This was a great YA story.  I loved how quickly we got to the reasons.  And how there was no long drawn out misunderstandings with regards to their feelings.  I mean, it was a little bit built up but for the most part the unrequited love wasn’t the main focus like I thought it was gonna be.  Don’t get me wrong, I do love a good unrequited love story but this one went a totally different direction and it was a nice change of pace for this genre.  

Ryan Hunter is seriously a smooth guy.  He didn’t try to pretend he didn’t care while at the same time he wasn’t like over the top about his feelings either.  When I usually read about popular guy’s in school trying to get with the girl they is usually very aggressive.  And Ryan wasn’t like that at all.  It was all just so natural, the way he treated her.  And the way he was there for her, helping her trying to get the guy without putting the moves on her.  It was nice, their chemistry felt real. 

She wasn’t in denial about her feelings either. We get to see her struggle with who she thinks she loves and her growing feelings for Ryan which made it more believable for me.   And the ending!  I did NOT see that coming.  Seriously a great novella. I’ll have to check out the others in this series as well. 

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Fake Fiancée by Ilsa Madden-Mills

Blurb:
34129618Fake engaged to the hottest quarterback in the country? SCORE.

They say nothing compares to your first kiss,
But our first kiss was orchestrated for an audience.
Our second kiss . . . that one was REAL.
He cradled my face like he was terrified he’d f*ck it up.
He stared into my eyes until the air buzzed.
Soft and slow, full of sighs and little laughs,
He inhaled me like I was the finest Belgian chocolate,
And he’d never get another piece.
A nip of his teeth, his hand at my waist . . .
And I was lost.
I forgot he was paying me to be his fake fiancée.
I forgot we weren’t REAL.
Our kiss was pure magic, and before you laugh and say those kinds of kisses don’t exist,
Then you’ve never touched lips with Max Kent, the hottest quarterback in college history.

Three months. Two hearts. One fake engagement.

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My Review:
3.5 stars — This one started off with a LOT of promise, but inevitably it just left me wanting more.  Bummer.  I’m thinking perhaps Ms. Madden-Mills just isn’t for me, this is the second book that had good bones, but just didn’t fulfill me in the end.

I loved the set up in the past and that first meet.  I was sucked in by their first encounter at University, and could see the initial chemistry they had together.  I was intrigued by Max, and loved the complexity of his character at first…a bit alpha with some vulnerability.  And I thought Sunny was nicely sassy, and independent and strong.

I adore fake relationship stories…I don’t know why, they just always suck me in.  And this one started off really well, and had good bones for that part of the story.  And I enjoyed the way their relationship continued to develop.

But then things just started to fizzle.  Sunny kept avoiding Max, and so I had a hard time understanding how they fell in love.  Max was a bit more boneheaded in some of his decisions than I normally like.  I still liked them both, but I wasn’t in love with either of them.

The major problem for me though, and what has me rounding down instead of up, is that I felt like a bunch of plot points just kind of fizzled or were dropped.  I stopped being intrigued.  I expected to learn more about Sunny’s father, and to see more resolution there (though we did get some).  I kept waiting for the first chapter to come back into play, and when it finally did it was kind of a let down (not bad, I just wanted more).  There didn’t even seem to be much of a climax, the book was more a hill than a mountain, you know?  And then the Felix/Bianca stuff.  That just left me confused.  I expected some big thing, with clarity, and we never got that.  Just a throwaway explanation in the epilogue.  None of these things are necessarily horrible, it’s just not my personal preference for a story arc, you know?

So yeah.  Bummer, I do have reviewers I follow who love her, but apparently Ms. Madden-Mills is just not for me.  Ah well!

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Juked by M.E. Carter

Blurb:
30625212Juked: verb.
/jook-t/
A slang soccer term meaning: faked out, deceived, confused your opponent
See examples Daniel Zavaro and Quincy Watson:

As the rising star in Houston, Daniel has found fame as Captain of his Pro soccer team and the city’s most eligible bachelor. Daniel has everything – except someone special – and that suits him just fine. He doesn’t want, or need, complications.

Quincy has baggage, and lots of it. After a tragic accident spins her world on its axis, she finds herself as a single mother, raising a newborn nephew she never knew she had. Between parenthood, her full-time job, and dealing with the suffocating grief of losing her sister, every day is a struggle.

When they begin to cross paths unexpectedly and often, an unlikely friendship starts to evolve. Feelings change. Lines get crossed. What happens next surprises them both…

Before they know it– they’ve been Juked.

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My Review:
4 stars — Loved it!  I read this one in a day you guys.  It was just an easy, fun read, but with its share of drama and heartbreak as well.

What’s funny is that usually it’s characters that put me over the top on a book, and while I enjoyed both characters, individually they weren’t what stood out to me in this book.  It was a bunch of other things that mixed together made for a very enjoyable read.

As a lover of sports romance, I thought this one did a pretty good job actually including some sport in the story.  I loved that while Daniel was a sports celebrity, he wasn’t some rich guy necessarily.  I know next to nothing about soccer, and honestly find it kind of boring, but I thought it was funny that they didn’t shy away from the dramatic acting that happens on the field and is apparently part of the play (with injuries to get penalties).

This book actually made me really happy with its diversity!!  I actually felt like it wasn’t just token, you know?  Like I couldn’t just imagine Daniel as white and basically nothing would change.  I LOVED his big Mexican family, and I really enjoyed that we got to see their dynamics, and the struggles they all faced after his father’s betrayal.  It’s really interesting to see how that doesn’t just affect young children, but adult/young adult children as well.  I appreciated that they weren’t perfect.

I also really appreciated a lot of the frank internal and external observations/conversations Daniel had about sex.  It felt more realistic than so many other playboy heroes.  And not only that, but he acknowledged that there was a difference in being able to separate your emotions from the act, and…I don’t know…  It just worked for me.  And I appreciated the conversations that Daniel had with his nephew Nicky, and how he navigated being a role model and giving good advice to a teenage boy.

On Quincy’s side of things, I really loved the whole story with baby Chance, and navigating becoming an emergency caregiver.  I really felt for what she was dealing with, and it felt so real…  I hurt for her, I felt her fears and feelings of inadequacy.  I loved the way the custody storyline played out, it took some interesting turns I wasn’t expecting.

And I LOVED Quincy and Daniel together, they made me laugh!  They had fantastic chemistry, and I felt their draw to each other.  I also enjoyed their friendship and how it developed (though sometimes it was a tiny bit showy instead of telly).  And I appreciated that the conflict of the story and the climax wasn’t a LONG drawn out misunderstanding.  It felt real, again.

I ADORED the way Daniel was with Chance.  I’m not a kid person you guys, and a lot of times I don’t think kids/babies are depicted realistically in books (the struggles are glossed over).  I thought the author nailed a lot of this, and I really could imagine so many of those situations.

So those are all the pros.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t all sunshine and roses.  I wasn’t as excited about them both not wanting to define their relationship.  I understood where Daniel was coming from, but not as much with Quincy.  And my biggest pet peeve was the slut shaming that occurred.  Now, luckily, it was mostly from Quincy’s best friend Geni, and less so from Quincy herself, but it still kind of annoyed me.  Now, I realize it’s sort of setting up for Tiffany’s book and showing how she’s viewed by so many, but I just really wanted Quincy to get more mad at Geni (though I suppose the author kind of made Geni look bad for doing it…).  Strangely, there was even a degree of guy-type slut shaming.  I’m not saying I don’t find some sexual things people engage in to be…well, not to my taste.  But I felt a bit of judgement from Daniel towards his teammates.  This wasn’t a major part of the book, but if slut-shaming is a 100% no-go for you, well, there is a bit…

So there you have it.  I seem to be getting more and more verbose as time goes on.  I always feel like people are going to think books are bad based on my reviews, but I just really like hearing myself talk…and I’m picky.  I note things.  So always look at the star rating…the star rating tells you how much my cons actually play a part in the whole shebang.  And obviously they played very little part here, there was just too much else to love…

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