Rebel by Rebecca Yarros

Blurb:
34032529She’s Penna Carstairs.
The Renegade they call Rebel.
FMX-treme Magazine’s sexiest female athlete of the year.
There’s no rule in extreme sports she hasn’t broken,
No gender barrier she hasn’t demolished.

She’s the woman I met in a bar in Vegas.
The woman I illegally BASE jumped for.
The woman I spent one insane, incredible night with.
But now I’m screwed.
Or rather…not screwed.

Because the woman I can’t get out of my head is the one woman I can never touch again.
I’m Dr. Cruz Delgado—the youngest professor on this campus,
And Penelope Carstairs just walked into my class.

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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.  Though in all fairness I didn’t get to this one before release, so I actually read my preordered copy instead.

Welp, this was definitely my favourite of the series!!  It’s like they just kept getting better and better!  I LOVE it when that happens.  I’m not the type of reader who’s particularly drawn to forbidden romances (such as student/teacher in this case), but I don’t shy away from them either.  Basically if enough else draws me in, then I’m totally in.  And that was most definitely the case in this story.

This one started off beautifully.  I was already mega intrigued by Penna, not only as this badass extreme athlete who was every bit as enthralling as the boys she calls friends, but also as the damaged woman we got to see glimpses of in Nova.  And Ms. Yarros totally fulfilled all my wishes in her story.  We really got a glimpse of how her sister’s actions had broken her, and got to delve into the mental aspect of recovering from an accident.  I thought Penelope was exactly as strong inside as she appears on the outside.  She has an inner core of strength that just shined through, even as she struggled with figuring out who she was.  She was sassy, she stood toe to toe with everyone, and she was wicked smart.  She was a heroine it was so easy to fall in love with.

And I ADORED that Cruz didn’t want to squash her fire/strength/attitude, but recognized what a privilege it was just to keep up with her.  And at the same time, we still got to see a bit more of what it’s like to love someone who is addicted to adrenaline and always pushing the envelope.  It was beautiful.  He was awesome.  I LOVED that he matched her in strength and stubbornness, and that he really pushed her when she needed to be pushed, and was there for her with no strings attached at other times.  He was also really easy to fall in love with.  Dedicated, sassy in his own right, and also wickedly smart.  So hot.  Honestly, I know lots of people love the whole muscles and shiznit, but every time Penna described his muscular arms, I just wanted her to talk about his dimples, his accent, and hear more of the things that came out of his mouth and the thoughts in his head…but I am a bit weird that way.

And if you couldn’t tell from all that, they were perfect complements to each other.  They pushed and pulled and fought but inevitably brought out the best in each other.  And it was so awesome to watch.  And while I probably should have been more bothered by the student/teacher relationship aspect, apparently this reader was fully able to buy into the inevitability of it, and the measures they took for Cruz not to be biased, and all that jazz.  *shrugs*  Honestly, there was so much else going on, it really didn’t remain in the forefront except when they brought it up.  It was more them keeping it a secret at times.

As with all the other Renegade books in this series, I desperately wanted to visit all the places they were seeing, and go on my own world cruise.  I loved learning little tidbits here and there about the places they were seeing.  And I also fell in love with the sports aspect…I think one of the things that I loved about this series is that it is true sports romance, in that we actually get to delve into the sports, not just have them be some background aspect.

And I was so on the edge of my seat throughout much of this book!  GAH!  So much action and suspense!

Honestly, I think my only real problem with this book is that I noticed quite a few instances of repetition.  Like I had so many moments of deja vu, where I felt like Penna had described something in the EXACT same way a few chapters earlier.  Or Cruz and Lindsay would have the EXACT same conversations in two different places.  And that led to some little bits where I’d be wondering why the result of the previous conversation didn’t follow through in the future.  Or why Penna got away with not talking to Rachel OVER AND OVER even though she constantly said they’d talk later, or that night, etc.  These aren’t huge things, just a bit of a bummer because it took me out of the story.

All in all, this was a SMASHING finale to the series.  The grand gesture at the end was everything I was hoping it would be and more, and the epilogue was perfect!  You have no idea how happy I was with it; not just its contents, but the fact that it existed…I needed that final wrap up/glimpse into the future.  Now I’m off to dream about dimples…does it for me every time.

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Eighteen by J.A. Huss

Synopsis:
27838211Eighteen is hard.
And so is Mateo Alesci.
He’s hard to read, hard to predict, hard in every way that counts. He wants things from me.
Dirty things, nasty things, forbidden things.
And I have to give in.
His attention is completely inappropriate, but I can’t say no. The way he looks at me… the way he watches me through my bedroom window… the way he drags me deeper and deeper into his completely forbidden fantasy world just… turns me on.
He knows it turns me on.
He holds all the power. He holds all the cards.
He holds my entire future in his hands.
And I have to give in.
Because Mr. Alesci is my teacher.
And I need everything he’s offering.

Find it on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27838211-eighteen
Order it on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1MsrTZr

My Review:
2.5 stars — Hmmmm….  Well, I’m not opposed to student/teacher taboo stories…but there was just something about this one that didn’t work for me.  And that something would be Mateo.  He creeped me out.  I guess I wasn’t expecting that level of dysfunction in the relationship, which is probably my own fault…I mean, it is a student/teacher relationship.  But I guess I’m a hearts and flowers kind of girl, and I just can’t get behind a relationship that is so….well, dysfunctional.  How do you fall in love with a guy who (to me) was basically a stalker?  Their entire first sexual encounter left me feeling wrong…so how do you come back from that?  I guess I just couldn’t empathize, b/c no amount of hot sex is worth the way Mateo initially treated her…it just felt like choice was taken away.  And yeah, I know there’s a lot of internal thoughts from Shannon about all of this, but I guess I just couldn’t vibe with her, so I only saw it from my perspective, not hers.  Again, probably more a me problem than a book problem.

Truthfully, the story kept me on my toes.  I knew a lot was going to go on, and not everything was at it seems, but in the end I had some designs on where I wanted the story to go, and that’s not where it went.  Which is not the authors fault, the story just did not meet my expectations.  I ended up falling more so for Sunday/Danny, and was hoping that she would realize the dysfunction in her relationship with Mateo and seek out something healthier.  I almost DNF’d the book, and maybe I should have since it just wasn’t a good match.  But there were a lot of the other things that were happening in Shannon’s life that were compelling to me (mainly her home life), and I wanted to see how that all worked out.  So there were good moments…enough of them to round up instead of down, but just not enough to save it for me.  *shrugs*

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On the Island and Uncharted by Tracey Garvis-Graves

Today we have a twofer!!  I just finished rereading Tracey Garvis-Graves debut novel, On the Island, and took the opportunity to finally get to her followup novella, Uncharted.  So I leave you with a throwback review (from almost 4 years ago), and a new review!

Synopsis:

Anna Emerson is a thirty-year-old English teacher desperately in need of adventure. Worn down by the cold Chicago winters and a relationship that’s going nowhere, she jumps at the chance to spend the summer on a tropical island tutoring sixteen-year-old T.J.

T.J. Callahan has no desire to go anywhere. His cancer is in remission and he wants to get back to his normal life. But his parents are insisting he spend the summer in the Maldives catching up on all the school he missed last year.

Anna and T.J. board a private plane headed to the Callahan’s summer home, and as they fly over the Maldives’ twelve hundred islands, the unthinkable happens. Their plane crashes in shark-infested waters. They make it to shore, but soon discover that they’re stranded on an uninhabited island.

At first, their only thought is survival. But as the days turn to weeks, and then months, the castaways encounter plenty of other obstacles, including violent tropical storms, the many dangers lurking in the sea, and the possibility that T.J.’s cancer could return. As T.J. celebrates yet another birthday on the island, Anna begins to wonder if the biggest challenge of all might be living with a boy who is gradually becoming a man.

Find it on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20195859-on-the-island
Order it on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1Nux9yh

My Review:

5 stars — It was beautifully honest. Real. I mean, real for the set of circumstances. When I bought it, I wasn’t sure how I would like it…wasn’t sure how the author would tackle the different issues. But it was perfect for me. Even when things happened that were almost too real for me (been used to reading fairy tale stories maybe) — she did it in such a way that I still loved the characters and understood. I could read of Anna and TJ all day long, and while I always wanted more, she really paced it well, leaving me satisfied, but not dragging things on unnecessarily. And when the end came, she continued on to give me enough epilogue to make sure I didn’t feel cheated. Basically, for me, this book was perfect. So many ranges of emotions, I felt them all for Anna and TJ. Wow, this is the first time my review actually almost makes sense….yay me!

Synopsis:

Tracey Garvis Graves – and Anna and T.J. – return in this companion novella to the New York Times bestseller On the Island.

When twenty-three-year-old dot-com millionaire Owen Sparks walked away from his charmed life, he had one goal in mind: get as far away as possible from the people who resented his success, or had their hand out for a piece of it. A remote uncharted island halfway around the world seemed like a perfectly logical place to get away from it all.

Calia Reed wasn’t part of Owen’s plans. The beautiful British girl – on holiday in the Maldives with her brother, James – made Owen wonder if getting away from it all might be a lot more enjoyable with a carefree girl who didn’t know anything about the life he left behind.

But Owen had no idea how much his carefully detailed plans would go awry. Nor did he realize that a decision he made would have such a catastrophic effect on two passengers who boarded a plane in Chicago.

And when Owen shows up at Anna and T.J.’s door with an incredible story to tell, everyone involved will learn just how much their lives are intertwined.

Find it on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17268741-uncharted

Order it on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1KgtzoX

My Review:

4.5 stars — I remember reading about this sequel and immediately buying it without having any idea what it was about, but knowing I wanted more to that initial story b/c I loved it. And then I promptly forgot all about it, getting distracted with other books as I’m wont to do…. I recently read Ms. Garvis-Graves latest novel (Heart-Shaped Hack) and decided I needed to revisit On the Island. So that’s a long introduction to say that I was wholly unprepared for what this story was about, b/c OF COURSE I didn’t read the synopsis!! But I was pleasantly surprised returning to that island for a completely different story… (I would still recommend reading the initial story though, it provides some necessary background IMO, and is just a fantastic novel).

I think we all knew that Owen’s story was going to involve heartbreak, and I kept waiting for that shoe to drop. Especially as I became more and more invested in his character, and Calia and James. Ms. Garvis-Graves is an amazing storyteller, and I was so invested that my heart broke finding out the identity of ‘Bones’. I went through the gamut of emotions while reading, but was so glad to shed happy tears as well as sad ones.

All in all a fabulous followup with its own unique story (not just a rehash of the previous one). (but still, it didn’t hurt that we got to see a bit more of Anna and TJ, b/c I just love those two)

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