The Lie Cover Reveal

The Lie AMAZON

Their love led to a lie.

Their truth led to the end.

Scottish enigma Brigs McGregor is crawling out from the ashes. After losing his wife and son in a car accident – and, subsequently, his job – he’s finally moving forward with his life, securing a prestigious teaching position at the University of London and starting a new chapter in the city. Slowly, but surely, he’s pushing past the guilt and putting his tragic past behind him.

Until he sees her.

Natasha Trudeau once loved a man so much she thought she’d die without him. But their love was wrong, doomed from the start, and when their world crashed around them, Natasha was nearly buried in the rubble. It took years of moving on to forget him, and now that she’s in London, she’s ready to start over again.

Until she sees him.

Because some loves are too dangerous to ever rekindle.

And some loves are too powerful to ignore.

Can you ever have a second chance at a love that ruined you?

The Lie is a second-chance romance with a dark, forbidden twist.

 

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ABOUT KARINA HALLE

With her USA Today Bestselling The Artists Trilogy published by Grand Central Publishing, numerous foreign publication deals, and self-publishing success with her Experiment in Terror series, Vancouver-born Karina Halle is a true example of the term “Hybrid Author.” Though her books showcase her love of all things dark, sexy and edgy, she’s a closet romantic at heart and strives to give her characters a HEA…whenever possible.

Karina holds a screenwriting degree from Vancouver Film School and a Bachelor of Journalism from TRU. Her travel writing, music reviews/interviews and photography have appeared in publications such as Consequence of Sound, Mxdwn and GoNomad Travel Guides. She currently lives on an island on the coast of British Columbia where she’s preparing for the zombie apocalypse with her fiancé and rescue pup.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Karina-Halle/140649372629593

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MetalBlonde

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4785031.Karina_Halle?from_search=true

AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE: http://www.amazon.com/Karina-Halle/e/B0050KE63C/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1407546895&sr=8-2-ent

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***Note: cover was shared first on my Facebook page at 6am PST.

Best Books of 2015

Best Books of 2015

2015 best books

Hello all! These are the books I read in 2015 that were my favorites. I read so many great books this year, it was hard to decide on just 10, so I included more and bunched some series together. Many of these were published in 2015, but I did not restrict the books by year, so essentially these are books I read in the year, not specifically ones published in 2015.

-Elements of Chemistry (Attraction, Heat, and Capture)

This is technically 3 books in 1 volume, but they are short so combined they amount to about 500+ pages, making 1 large volume. Angst galore, this is the series that convinced me that Penny Reid is my spirit animal.

My reviews:

Attraction 

Heat

Capture

-Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

This YA fantasy heist novel blew my mind and left me wanting more.

My review of Six of Crows

-A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas

A YA fantasy take on Beauty and the Beast with Fae and humans. Enchanting!

My review

-Queen of Shadows by Sarah J Maas

One of my all time favorite series, this fourth installment made me feel all the feels and blew my mind! Can I have the next book please?

My review: Review to come soon….

-Breaking Him by RK Lilley

Super angsty romantic read with a slight cliffhanger, but I couldn’t put the dang book down!

My review

-Love Hacked by Penny Reid

Quirky romance between a psychologist and a computer hacker. Alex is one of my all time favorite book boyfriends!!!

My review

-Racing the Sun by Karina Halle

A beautiful romance between a young American girl and a dark brooding Italian man. Karina Halle swept me away with this book and I’ve been dying to go to Italy ever since.

My review

-Long Way Down by Krista & Becca Ritchie

The final book in the Addicted series, it details the relationship of Ryke Meadows and Daisy Calloway, and had me tearing up the entire time.

My review

-Corrupt by Penelope Douglas

A darker more intense book from this author, I couldn’t put this book down. Part mystery, part revenge novel, it’s the ultimate guilty pleasure read.

My review

-The Fall by Kate Stewart

Second chance romance with so much angst I thought my heart was going to fall out of my butt. Seriously, loved it. And you need to read it!

My review

-Fantasyland 1-3 by Kristen Ashley (Wildest Dreams, Golden Dynasty, and Fantastical)

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Prooving that Kristen Ashley is a romantic genius at whatever genre she writes in, I devoured all 3 of these lengthy books in a matter of days. I can honestly say I would reread them again and again and never get sick of them.

My reviews:

Wildest Dreams

The Golden Dynasty

Fantastical

That’s all folks! Hopefully you love these books as much as I did, and that I convinced you to read at least one of them!

The Play

The Play by Karina Halle

4.5 stars!

“Even if you lose love, it’s never really gone. It stays in you forever. The risks of love are always worth it.”

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Going into a Karina Halle book I always know one thing for sure, that she’s going to rip me apart with feels. This book lived up to that reputation and had me crying during the prologue!!

Kayla has put a ban on sex in her life, not longer satisfied with random hookups and looking for something more from a relationship. When she meets Lachlan, adopted cousin of Linden and Bram from the previous books, she’s ready to throw her new placed ban up in the air for the hot rugby star. Lachlan on the other hand doesn’t seem at all interested in Kayla. When Bram asks Kayla to do an article on his charity, it requires Kayla to interview Lachlan for the cause.

The first time Kayla interviews Lachlan, it’s a disaster. Luckily he agrees to another one. This time, Kayla and Lachlan get on better, leading to an understanding of each other never felt by them before. From there the two get to know each other, but they have a deadline as Lachlan leaves for his home in Scotland in a matter of weeks.

“Tell me what you want, love,” I tell her, my voice rough with lust. “Tell me what you want and I’ll give you what I have.”

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Kayla and Lachlan are probably one of my favorite book couples by Halle. Both characters are misunderstood by their friends and loved ones, and only seen for what they are on the surface. Both long for a deeper connection with another person, but there are several factors holding them back. Lachlan has trauma stemming from his childhood abandonment and time in foster care. Kayla is scared she will never find the love of her life, the kind of love her parents had.

“Kayla…you’re my girl. You’re my beautiful world. And I’m whatever you want me to be, just as long as you know that I have never, ever felt this way about someone in my entire life.” He lowers his face, eyes focused intently on my lips. “I’m losing myself in you. Every day. And it’s the most wonderful, terrifying feeling in the world.

While this book was indeed longer than most of the books this author writes, I couldn’t put it down. I wanted to know more and more about these characters with every page I read. I swear these two people were so perfect for each other despite their differences. Lachlan, oh Lachlan. Talk about a man to swoon over. His compassion for animals alone is enough to give me a lady boner, but on top of that I thought he was an amazing man. His everyday struggle to overcome his demons is admirable, and in return he only wanted to be accepted for who he was by those he loved.

If you are looking for a beautiful emotional read, this book is for you. I highly recommend this book!

“I can see all your cracks and your darkness and your flaws and I fall in love with it all. And I hope you can fall in love with everything that I am, all that lurks in my dark, all that shines in my light. I want you to love every little piece of me, because it all belongs to you.”

A Ruthless Proposition

A Ruthless Proposition by Natasha Anders

3.5 stars

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Natasha Anders is the master of writing asshole heroes. Sometimes she pulls it off (The Unwanted Wife), sometimes she doesn’t (His Unlikely Lover). Regardless of this, she’s a writer who sucks you into her story, asshole hero or not. The first half of this book I freaking hated Dante with a fiery passion, like I wanted his balls to catch fire. By the end I felt cuddly feelings for him.

A Ruthless Proposition is about Cleo who works for a jerk of a boss Dante. As his assistant, she accompanies him on a business trip to Japan where the two embark on an unexpected and surprising affair. The two have great chemistry in the bedroom, but he’s an unfeeling dick. By the end of the trip and their return to South Africa, Cleo and Dante aren’t on speaking terms.

This is one of those books where I almost DNF’d it based on the hero, and then ended up staying awake until 3am trying to finish it because I was totally enthralled by the story. Anders is a master at writing men who grovel, and while I wish there was a tiny bit more, I loved reading the visible change in Dante’s character and behavior throughout the book. Cleo in return got stronger throughout the book and more independent.

I recommend to all of you who love redeemable men and the women who love them, despite the rough parts.

ARC provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

The Score

The Score by Elle Kennedy

5 stars!

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You know the book is a winner when you have a smile on your face the entire time you’re reading it. Considering I have loved every Elle Kennedy book I’ve read, I knew going into this book it would be a good read. What I didn’t know is that I would freaking love this book. I need to get my hands on a paperback copy so I can hug it very tightly!

The Score begins with Allie having just broken up with her boyfriend. Knowing how easily he can worm his way back into her life, she asks her friends for sanctuary and her friend’s boyfriend Garrett offers Allie his place for the weekend while they’re gone. Allie runs over to his place to find his roommate Dean there, the campus manwhore. The two hang out for the night and something happens between them. But in the light of day Allie doesn’t want to continue and Dean wants more.

Well I don’t want to get all spoilery and tell the entire plot, so I will do my best to keep this review spoiler free like the author requested. I will say I literally laughed out loud while reading this book, many many times. Especially a certain bathtub scene that some of you have come to know and love. The banter between Dean and Allie was my favorite part about this whole book, they kept each other on their toes.

I also loved how for Dean and Allie they didn’t expect anything from the other, and in return they both ended up needing each other for different reasons. Dean may have had a playboy exterior, but beneath that façade he was so much more, and Allie was the one to see past it and accept Dean for the wonderful man he was. Dean and Allie are one of my favorite book couples, I think they are perfect together.

I gotta say, Elle Kennedy continues to impress and she is an author who I will forever read and recommend. If you haven’t read anything by her yet, get on it!!

ARC kindly provided by author in exchange for an honest review

Built

Built (Saints of Denver #1) by Jay Crownover

4.5 stars!

“After everything the past has tried to bury us under, we owe it to ourselves to be brave, to do more than float.”

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We caught a glimpse of Zeb and Sayer in the Marked Men series, and now we have their full story in a new series! Zeb Fuller has made some mistakes in his life, leading to him doing a turn in jail. Zeb has reformed himself, building up a successful construction business, but it’s hard for people to look past his rough, tattooed exterior.

Sayer Cole is Rowdy’s half-sister who moved to Colorado the second she found out she had a brother. Sayer hires Zeb to renovate her house, and the two seem to spark an attraction. But every move Zeb makes is shut down until he gives up hope of ever wooing the pretty lawyer. Now, the house is complete and Zeb has no concrete reason to stay in Sayer’s life, until he finds himself in a situation where he needs a lawyer. Now the two are working together, and soon Sayer gives into Zeb’s attention. But inside her head is a myriad of issues holding her back, and it’s up to Sayer to overcome them.

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I think my favorite part of all of Jay Crownover’s books is that they make me think. After finishing them, I often find myself reflecting back on them instead of powering on to the next book. Built was no exception, I found my head filled with thoughts of Sayer and Zeb. I was totally enraptured by these two characters, together and as individuals. Sayer is a more complicated heroine with insecurities (which I LOVE), and Zeb has his own insecurities as well. I love stories where the man has to break through the woman’s walls instead of the woman chasing the bad boy.

I loved going through Sayer’s personal journey, seeing the reasons why she was so closed off and how hard she worked to overcome them. I wouldn’t say Zeb helped her get over them but more so was the reason why she fought to overcome her insecurities and issues. Sayer in return helped Zeb realize his worth, that he was a good man deserving of love without judgement. Despite their physical differences, the two were perfect for each other. Crownover’s books contain an excellent theme on how appearance has nothing to do with who someone is on the inside, and not to make snap judgements about someone based on their appearance and to look deeper. And I love how the old series mixed with this new one, it was like visiting with old friends.

I would have liked to see more dialogue and action than inner monologue with the writing. There were times when a character would have an inner monologue and it interrupted a scene, leading me to forgot what was going on or I skimmed ahead to continue the scene and then returned back to read the inner monologue. I would have liked to see more of Sayer and Zeb outside the bedroom, but I can also understand how plot wise that wouldn’t have worked.

Overall I think this is an amazing start to the series and I am dying to read the next one. No really, Quaid and Avett gave me freaking chills in the small amount they were shown together in this book. I can only hope it’ll be explosive in the next book.

“I choose you, Sayer. Lover, lawyer, and all the shit you are in between that, I choose it. I choose us. When you’re ready to accept that, you come find me.”

ARC kindly provided by author in exchange for an honest review

Finding Cinderella

Finding Cinderella by Colleen Hoover

Screw it, this book made me smile the entire time so it gets 5 stars!

“I don’t even know if people should use the working fucking and angel in the same thought structure, but shit. She really looks like a fucking angel..”

There’s something about Colleen Hoover novellas, I tend to love them more than her full length novels. Which is so rare because most of the time novellas don’t have enough. But this book in its entirety and shortness made me fall in love with it.

Finding Cinderella is about Holder’s best friend Daniel. After a chance encounter in a closet in school, Daniel met and lost his dream girl without ever seeing her face. A year later, and a failed drama filled relationship later, Daniel is introduced to Sky’s friend Six who has returned from Italy after a year abroad. The two have an instant chemistry and begin dating, but both have secrets than can be deal breakers for the other.

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“I can’t take you tonight. I had my heart completely broken about an hour ago by a psychotic bitch and I need a little more time to recover from that relationship. How about tomorrow night?”

I’m glad I read this right after reading Losing Hope, that book is definitely meant to be read before reading this one. Yes this book is a standalone, but you gain a lot more by reading the other two books first. I loved reading Six and Daniel’s book, I had a gigantic smile on my face the entire time. I loved both characters and their unconventional romance.

Leave it to Colleen Hoover to write a funny book and one packed with all the feels at the same time. I found myself rooting for this couple from the very beginning and would love to see more of them in the future. If you need something light and something that will make you happy, this is the book for you.

“It blows my mind that I get to love you.”

Losing Hope

Losing Hope by Colleen Hoover

3.75 stars

“I’ve loved Hope since we were kids. But tonight? Tonight I fell in love with Sky.”

Losing Hope was a book I told myself at the beginning of 2015 that I would read this year. I just didn’t realize I’d wait until the year was finally over to read it. But New Year’s Resolution partially accomplished! Got a few more books to read to do so.

It’s been a while since I read Hopeless, and that went in my favor when reading this book. Because it had been almost 2 years since reading the first book, reading from Holder’s point of view was a fresh perspective and didn’t feel like a reread of a book I already read.

“All those nights you held me and just let me cry . . . you have no idea how many times you’ve already saved me.”

My favorite part was Holder’s letters he wrote, they were an easy way to show what he was thinking without it being entirely inner monologue. I also got to see Hope/Sky through new eyes and view Holder’s struggles with his decisions.

In a way I am sad and glad I waited so long to read this book. Sad because it’s really good but glad for reasons stated above, it was like reading something new. I recommend this book to all Colleen Hoover and Hopeless fans, it’s a real treat for those who love her books.

“I’ve learned over the past year what it really means to be able to miss someone. In order to miss someone, that means you were privileged enough to have them in your life to begin with.”

Leveled

Leveled  by Jay Crownover

4 stars!

“Bad stuff happens sometimes and it happens to people we care about. You can’t live life insulated because you are scared of getting too close.”

Leveled is the story of Dom and Lando. If you’ve read the Marked Men series you are familiar with these two men, Dom was Royal’s cop partner who was injured on the job, and Lando was the man dating Rule’s twin brother Remy before Remy died. Dom needs a physical therapist to get him back in shape to pass his test to go back to the force. Dom gets a recommendation on Lando from a friend, and the two have an instant connection. Lando attempts to ignore their attraction based on the fact that Dom is his client, and he works a dangerous job.

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“Most things that are easy aren’t worth much. It’s the things you have to work for that matter the most.”

I really enjoyed this short story, it was nice to see two side characters from a previous series get some closure, especially Lando. What happened to Remy was tragic and he never really seemed to get over it. Dom I liked the most as a main character, he followed his attraction to Lando but also stayed true to who he was. Being a cop was a huge part of who he was, and he wasn’t going to give that up. I can understand Lando’s struggle with Dom’s career to an extent, but after a while I thought he was being a dick about it (luckily he saw that too and cleaned up his act).

This was a great start to a new series, combining past characters and creating something new, providing closure while beginning something fresh. I am really excited for the rest of the Saints of Denver series and this was a great way to kick off the series.

Giant high five to Jay Crownover on her first M/M romance, I think she did a fantastic job. The steam factor wasn’t as high as I would like, but in terms of building a relationship between the two it was entirely believable. My one teeny tiny criticism would be that all of the character often seemed to say exactly the right thing to each other, to a point of being almost cliche with every sentence, but it didn’t happen too often. Oh, and the use of the word turgid. Twice. No me gusta.

“I can’t live my life waiting for it not to hurt before I start existing again.”

Royal Marriage Market Release Blitz

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About ROYAL MARRIAGE MARKET:

Every decade, the world’s monarchs and their heirs secretly convene to discuss global politics and social issues—and arrange marriages between kingdoms.

Elsa may be the Hereditary Princess of Vattenguldia, but she finds the entire situation archaic and unsavory. While she wants what’s best for her country, she isn’t about to jump into an unwanted relationship—let alone a marriage—with a virtual stranger. Of course, her feelings matter little to her parents, whose wheeling and dealings over trade pacts and alliances achieved at her expense begin the moment they set foot in California for the Summit. So when a blindingly handsome royal runs into her, she doesn’t hesitate to tell him there’s no way she’s marrying him.

Christian is all too happy to agree: no marriage. As the Hereditary Grand Duke of Aiboland, his main goal is to get through the summit without a bride being foisted on him. Which is why he suggests they help each other field potential intendeds. As Christian slowly gets to know Elsa, though, he realizes they have a lot more in common than just their feelings about the Royal Marriage Market. Only he can’t fall for her, because royal or not, they’re not meant for each other. 

Elsa and Christian will have to evaluate matters of the heart verses those of state and crown, and decide whether or not tradition trumps love.

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Excerpt:

A sly grin is thrown my way. “Luk got in even later than I did, looking like he’d been at the party of the century.”

“Ah. How very interesting. Who do you think he was cavorting with at such a late hour?”

“I think the better question is, who wasn’t he cavorting around with?”

“Me.” I smile brightly. “And you. Our cavorting was limited to a very exclusive party of two.”

“Is that what we were doing? Were we cavorting?”

We were falling in love, I think. Wonderfully, miserably, tragically, beautifully falling in love. Or at least, I was. But I say, “Of course. You and I are natural cavorters.”

Bittersweet amusement sparkles in his eyes. “I thought our thing was to run amuck.”

“That, too.” I gently touch the back of his hand. “We run amuck and cavort.”

The smile on his face softens. “Only with each other, though. We cavort best when it’s with the other.”

“Shall we make a deal then? Shall we swear to the other that, when it comes time to cavort, we must only do it together?” My words are light, so is my tone, but part of me crumbles within, knowing what I jokingly request will never come to be.

Gravity invades his face as he shifts on the seat toward me, knees brushing up against one another. I am trapped by his gaze, motionless with his leg pressed against mine. “That’s a promise I can easily make.”

I am still as the golden princess before us when he slowly, gently pushes stray hairs freshly escaped from my ponytail behind my ears. The feel of his fingers, light as breezes against my cheeks, leaves me hot and desperate.

“Shall we shake on it?” I whisper.

The muscle within my chest ceases its rhythm when he shakes his head. He stares at me then, as if he is unraveling all my atoms, rendering me exposed and vulnerable.

But then he leans forward, lips caressing one corner of my mouth and then the other. “All the best agreements,” he murmurs, words just as soft as mine, “are sealed with a kiss.”

I consist only of nothing but exposed nerve endings when I replicate his promise. My lips tingle, my heart hammers, and tears swarm my closed eyes. “You have my promise in return.”

He tilts his head up, mouth pressing against my temple before resting his forehead against mine. “I’m going to hold you to that, Els.”

 

Grab Your Copy of ROYAL MARRIAGE MARKET today for just $1.99 now through December 23rd!

 

iBooks ** Amazon**Amazon UK ** Barnes and Noble ** Kobo

 

“The perfect royal romance.” Nichole Chase, New York Times bestselling author

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About Heather Lyons:

Heather Lyons writes epic, heartfelt love stories and has always had a thing for words. In addition to writing, she’s also been an archaeologist and a teacher. She and her husband and children live in sunny Southern California and are currently working their way through every cupcakery she can find.

Website | Author Goodreads | ROYAL MARRIAGE MARKET Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest

Games of the Heart

Games of the Heart by Kristen Ashley

3.5 stars!

“I read your diaries. I caught your pass in that hotel room. I listened to your offer to stay. I saw you wave good-bye at the airport and got your call before I’d pulled out of the parking lot. You fell with a kiss. I know, honey, because I was right there with you.”

Mike Haines and Dusty Holliday knew each other growing up. Twenty years ago Dusty went through a hard time and moved away to Texas, and only a family tragedy brings her back. Mike and Dusty reconnect at her brother’s funeral and it turns into something more.

The two start off good, but after being burned twice Mike is cautious. So cautious in fact, he makes assumptions and messes up. Now it’s up to Mike to make amends and get back The One.

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“You gonna order me to kiss you so I can get all tingly or are you just gonna stare at me?”

The Burg series doesn’t seem to be my brand of KA. Book 2 with Violet and Joe was amazing but so far it’s been okay. I did enjoy this book, but having read 25+ Kristen Ashley books already, she’s written more special books and she’s written better ones.

My main issue with this book was too much descriptions of things and scenarios, and not enough actual scenarios happening. It was like most of the action was hypothetical. The action did come in but only near the end and after everyone had spent the entire book talking about leading up to it. I love KA but I am also getting a little bit tired of the outfit descriptions.

What I did like was the romance between Dusty’s nephew and Mike’s daughter. I honestly wish that was its own book instead of a side plot. I liked Dusty and Mike together, they were sweet but the angst was a little low. Too much sunshine and rainbows for me.

Again, I did enjoy this book, but possibly having read so many KA books already this one didn’t jump out at me. And I’m scared to read the next one based on friend reviews lol.

“I’m sayin’ that I care about you, I do it deeply and I have for a really fuckin’ long time. We’re gonna explore this and I hope to God the feelin’ I got is not wrong because I tried time and again to make it feel wrong but all it ever felt was right.”

The Fall: Review and Blog Tour

The Fall Tour Banner

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The Fall by Kate Stewart

Review:

4.75 stars!

“You are the other half of me. Tell me how to fight for you, baby. Tell me what to do. I’ll do whatever you want. Don’t take my life away from me. Forgive me.”

Dean and Dallas were best friends in high school and then lovers in college. After a whirlwind romance for one year, their breakup ended in devastation for the both of them.

Now seven years later Dean has returned to Texas from New York to get Dallas back. But Dallas doesn’t trust Dean and she’ll do anything to protect herself from being hurt again.

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“You used to look at me that way. I’d give anything to have that look back. I want you with every single breath I take. Familiar or not, I want all of you.”

To say I loved this book would be an understatement. I binge read three of Kate Stewart’s books this week and can honestly say that this one is my favorite by her. Such a gut-wrenching romance that had me feeling like my heart was going to pop out of my chest like a jack-in-the-box. Calling all angst whores out there like me! This book is for you!!!

I love both main characters and I loved the romance between these two characters, every choice and action was believable. I didn’t always agree, but the drama wasn’t over the top and logic was understandable. The dual point of view helped the reader understand both characters and I was rooting for each one of them to get what they wanted.

Kate also broke my dang heart near the end of this book with some side characters, I was actually really upset about it. Hopefully more will come from that in the next book about Rose, sister of Dallas. Many of the side characters caught my heart and led to many feels, not just the main characters. And boy did the main characters bring on all of the feels.

I highly recommend to everyone who loves angst and second chance romance stories. Both are present and extremely well done.

“I loved you then. I love you now. I’ll love you tomorrow. And if you walk away from me, not one damn woman in the world will ever take your place. No one ever has.”

**Arc provided by author in exchange for an honest review**

Blog Tour

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21857392-the-fall?from_search=true&search_version=service

Dallas
He was the beginning of my heart . . . and the end of it.
I was only fifteen years old when he claimed it and twenty when he took it with him.
They say what is meant to be will find a way. But when you have changed to the point of no return, how can anything ever be the same?
Seven years later, Dean Martin waltzed back into my life in hopes of resuming what I had fought so hard to forget, but he was in for a wake-up call.
I was no longer the naïve woman he had left . . . and I was no longer his.
I met the love of my life and my soul mate when I was fifteen. I knew that; he knew that. He wanted that girl back. I wanted to forget she ever existed.

Dean
What I thought was my pre-destined path was very much an illusion. Living seven years with regret, I realized too late that I was broken, and that I only had myself to blame.
I thought love could wait . . . but it didn’t.
We’d had it all those years ago, and then I foolishly left it behind.
She was all that mattered. She was all there ever was.
There was no life without Dallas, no reason . . . except her.
No matter how hard she tried to convince me, I knew I had to once again make her mine, to make her remember . . . the fall.

 

Excerpt

It was three long years before I heard three words that would forever change me. I was walking across campus toward the Marshall Hall building when the voice sounded. “Dean, Dean Martin?” A smile was already on my lips as I looked in the direction of the voice. Dallas’s laugh was unmistakable as she walked toward me. What I wasn’t expecting was the mere sight of her would leave me scrambling to regain basic fucking motor function. My smile quickly faded as she flew at me in a hug. All the breath left my body as I inhaled her scent. I gripped her to me tightly as she laughed and hugged me back. When she pulled away, my arms were still securely around her. I knew I had to be grinning like an idiot as she beamed back at me.

“How the hell are you?” she asked, a little Texas twang in her voice.

“Better now,” I said, still refusing to let her out of my grasp.

We spent a little longer than we should in our embrace, neither of us willing to pull away from the other. In that instant, I felt the pain of missing her ease slightly. My chest tightened at the return of a familiar stir.

It was just that damned easy.

“Let me look at you. Damn …” My voice was hoarse as I let her go to take her in. She was wearing tight jeans, knee high, rider boots and a tight fitting red sweater. I took in every curve as I whistled slowly.

“I know.” She waggled her eyebrows up then down and did a little turn for the full effect. She was a far cry from the skinnier version I left. She had a small amount of curve on her hips and her long legs remained one of her best assets. This was no longer the tempting Lolita that I had left. This was the young woman I had always pictured but even more beautiful than I could have imagined.

“Still dressing like every day is a Sunday at church,” she said, poking fun of my clothes, as usual.

“I don’t hear anyone else complaining,” I pointed out, still overwhelmed with the sight of her in front of me. “And you are still a pain in the ass,” I noted as she laughed.

“You have no idea. So did you miss me, Dean?”

“You know the saying ‘Don’t know what you got till it’s gone?’ Well, I can’t stand most of the girls at this school,” I assured her.

“Well, don’t tell me the infamous Dean Martin has changed his ways,” she teased.

“No, I still sleep with them. I just run like hell after,” I chuckled. “Anyway, what about you?”

“What about me?” she asked her eyes meeting mine. I let them stray and sweep down her body slowly bringing them back to her. “Dean, you wouldn’t be checking me out, would you?”

“Yes, I absolutely fucking am,” I said pointedly, giving her pause. She gave me a wary glance as she looked around campus. She seemed more relaxed than when I had left her, more comfortable in her own skin. Her confidence radiated off her in waves. My mind drifted back to the kiss I had left her with as I studied the slow curve of a smile forming on her lips.

We quickly made up for lost time and spent the rest of the day stuck together, holding hands and laughing as I gave her a full tour of campus. I was on my last year and would be leaving for Columbia next fall and I was again a senior to her freshmen. I refused to dwell on that. I felt completely relaxed for the first time since I had left her three years ago.

We were inseparable our first few weeks of school as we stayed busy, getting reacquainted. When we were not in class, we spent our nights either on the phone, walking on campus, going to parties, or hanging out at my frat house. My friends seemed to like her right away, a little too much for my liking. I caught their hungry eyes on her and glared at them openly as they shot a game of pool at the table in what was supposed to be our dining room. The minute her back was turned, I was bombarded with the inevitable question of who she was to me.

There was no mistaking my straight answer to Casey, the newest member of my fraternity. “Don’t even fucking look at her,” I barked.

“Okay, bud, all right,” he said, backing away to grab the pool stick from Rob—another brother who was a senior—and eyed Dallas suspiciously. It wasn’t common practice for me to bring girls back to the house other than to my bedroom. I had fallen into a bad habit my first few years at school but had slacked since then, concentrating more on my grades.

New York was a whisper away, but Dallas…Dallas was here.

I watched her work the table as she made herself comfortable, shooting off her shit talk at my frat buddies, who happily obliged her. They were impressed, especially Casey.

Casey was notorious on campus, easily one of the biggest players. He had absolutely no good intentions when it came to the opposite sex and though I wasn’t one to preach, he had a rather tasteless way of discarding the affections of his women. He was doing his best to impress her and she seemed to notice, humoring him.

Rob was the next to ask, stepping up and handing me a beer. “What’s the deal?” He asked as he eyed Dallas’s perfect ass as she took a shot and made the eight ball, winning the game. She looked up at me with her knowing smile. She was so fucking beautiful. I cursed my stupidity in bringing her to the house.

“The deal is any woman I bring into this house is off limits,” I said through clenched teeth. Rob laughed as he eyed me. “Dude, that’s not exactly fair. I don’t think any of us would get anywhere that way,” he said loudly. I ignored him and grabbed Dallas’s hand.

“Nice game,” I said, giving her a wink and pulling her toward the door. The guys frowned as if I was taking away their shiny new toy.

“Bye,” Dallas said quickly as I pulled her out of the house.

“Oh, come on, Dean. You aren’t going to pull the same old shit you did in high school.” She raised a brow. I took a step toward her.

“No, this will be different. I promise.” Before she could question me, I swept her in my arms and hauled ass down the steps of the massive front porch of the house.

“What the hell are you doing?” She laughed as I ran like a lightning streak toward the quad. “Getting you somewhere safe. Couldn’t you smell it in there?” I said, running faster as she laughed.

“Smell what?” she asked, her voice choppy as I kept my legs moving.

“Your pregnancy,” I answered, slowing to a halt. She rolled her eyes as she jumped from my arms.

“They were just curious,” she said, giving me a pointed stare. “I’m sure you don’t bring girls home often to meet the parents, am I right?”

I smirked.

“Whore,” she said without affection. I pushed her down on the grass as she yelped out in protest, flailing her arms before giving in to the inevitable.

“You ass!” she said testily as she wiped grass from her sweater but stayed seated.

“Oh Dallas, always trying to bring out the angry Spaniard in me,” I teased as I joined her on the grass.

She chuckled. “Truth hurts.”

The night was surprisingly cool for early September in Texas. I looked over at her, memorizing the perfect outline of her face, the way her silky hair cascaded down her shoulders and swirled around her as the breeze lifted it. She smiled at me and the unmistakable jolt shot through me, the effect the same. This time, I didn’t fight it.

“It’s not like that anymore,” I said in an attempt to reassure her. I grabbed a stray hair away from her face and tucked it behind her ear. She sobered up a bit, her smile slowly fading.

“Not what I heard,” she said, hugging her knees to her chest, averting her eyes. She wasn’t being confrontational, and I knew that. “They don’t call you the Spanish slut this time,” she said with no humor in their voice.

“Oh yeah, what do they call me?” I said, nudging her, hoping to lighten the mood.

“Dean,” she said looking straight into my eyes. Fuck if I didn’t want to kiss her right at the most inappropriate moment. I didn’t want to aid in what she already probably thought of me. I had wanted to kiss her so many times in the past few weeks but had held back for this very reason.

“You do them a disservice, you know,” she said thoughtfully as she played with the blades of grass, not looking at me.

“What do you mean?” I asked, plucking a piece of grass between my fingers.

“Letting them think that’s all you are good for. They never get to know you. It’s sad.”

I laughed. “They objectify me?”

She looked at me seriously. “Yes, they do.” That wiped the smile off my face.

“Dallas, I told you a long time ago, I don’t care about that shit, never will.”

“No, I guess not,” she said, perking up with a smile I knew wasn’t genuine. “I mean you are the big man on campus again. And what the hell is up with that frat chair in there, anyway?”

“It’s my throne,” I said defensively.

She rolled her eyes. It grew darker as the lamp lights came on around us, our faces covered in shadows. We enjoyed a few minutes of silence before she spoke up.

“Tell me about Columbia,” she prodded. “You are so close,” she encouraged.

“I can’t wait,” I said honestly. “My parents took me to New York when I was ten. I just remember being excited the entire time. I loved the semi-organized chaos. The noise, the culture clash, it was palpable, you know. Even then at that age, I could feel it, and it was everywhere. At least that’s the way I remembered it. I made my decision then, I wanted to be there and Columbia was a big heap of icing on the cake. My father and I spent hours going over my game plan. He always loved the idea of Columbia, especially when I told him I wanted to be a doctor. All these years later, I haven’t changed my mind. I’ve been back a few times since to check out the campus, look at housing, I still love it. Have you been?”

I hadn’t realized she was watching me closely, a small smile on her lips. “No, my parents and I vacationed a lot, but mostly to Colorado and then California to see my aunt and uncle. We never really made it out east.”

“It’s incredible and nothing like it is here. It makes our corner of the world seem so small. There is so much potential bursting out of it. I think you’d love it.”

“Maybe…probably,” she said, lost in thought.

“Then again, you are a true Texan. So damn proud to be from this fucking state with no plans of ever leaving,” I teased. “Even your name suits you.”

Before she could attack me for that, I lifted her to her feet. “Come on, I’ll walk you home.”

“Are you going to do this every night?” she asked as she leaned in close and I played with the tips of her long hair as I trailed my fingers down her back, pulling her closer to me. “Maybe, if you want me to.”

“Hmmm, kind of a boyfriend type thing to do, isn’t it?” I avoided her question, leading with mine.

“Coming to my toga party tomorrow night?”

“Maybe,” she said, glancing my way with a smile.

“You should, Dallas.”

“Why is that?”

“’Cause I will be there,” I said, slowing to a stop at her dorm.

She turned to me playfully. “Oh, well, when you put it that way, meh…and change clothes would you, you look like a bible salesmen.” She hurried up the steps as she chuckled.

“Just come, okay? We can tilt a few beers back and I want to talk to you.”

“About what?” she asked as I admired her from the bottom of the steps. She had on a sweater dress that outlined her curves perfectly and tight black leggings that I dreamt of ripping off her all day.

“There’s just something I want to talk to you about.” She heard the hint of seriousness in my voice. “It’s important.”

“Okay, I’ll be there.”

 

Buy Links

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1OEjF3d

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Kobo: http://bit.ly/TheFall_Kobo

iBooks: http://bit.ly/TheFall_iTunes

 

About the Author

Kate Stewart, a native of Dallas, now resides in Charleston, S.C. She moved to the city three weeks after her first visit, dropping her career of 8 years, declaring the city her creative muse. Since her move in 2010, she has published two novels, the third coming July 2015. She lives with her husband of 8 years, Nick who is featured on the cover of the novel, TITAN. (Set to re-release some time in 2015.)

Her other novels include Room 212,  Never Me, and Loving the White Liar which are all available now.

http://www.katestewartwrites.com/

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Room 212

Room 212 by Kate Stewart

4.5 stars

“You know Laura Lynn, our God is a jealous God, you love something more than him he is bound to take it away.”

At twenty one Laura met the love of her life. After having broken up with her boyfriend and temporarily resting in a park, she’s hit in the face with a frisbee. Seth is at first turned off by Laura’s bitchiness, but when the two randomly meet again later that night, they see another side of each other and form a connection.

After months of dating despite their differences (Laura being a wild girl and a bit of a partier, Seth being more conservative and a hard worker) the two are in love and going strong. But Seth’s past continues to haunt their present relationship and the two find themselves at odds on where their life path leads them.

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“I’m a firm believer that if you want something, you have to make it happen. The world owes you nothing, but you can take your piece of it. All you have to do is work hard and claim it.”

This book was the perfect angst hit for all of you angst whores out there like me. I loved Laura and Seth’s story, I honestly could feel their love for each other, it was a very powerful romance. Seth and Laura worked well together despite their differences and worked hard on lowering their defenses around each other. I loved the first part of this book to about 70/75%, while the last 25% or so didn’t flow as well for my tastes.

Laura was my favorite part about this book, I love imperfect heroines and she felt like a real person to me. She didn’t want to spend her life spewing out bullshit so she did what she wanted. Small warning, Laura did some recreational drug use but it honestly didn’t bother me all too much because well, that’s life and people use drugs. Reality of our world and all.

The only thing preventing me from giving this book a full 5 stars is the whole not enough groveling thing I’m always getting on about. Seth fucks up big time in my opinion and he honestly didn’t grovel as much as I’d like. I also didn’t understand a lot of his reasoning and decisions for the things he did, maybe because I didn’t have his perspective. Laura I understood a lot more, but probably because I was able to see her side of things.

I read Loving the White Liar before this book and while I enjoyed that one, this one left a mark on my heart. For those of my friends who love angsty romance reads, I highly recommend this book. I think fans of RK Lilley will enjoy Kate Stewart’s work very much.

“So there’s no hero for you?
“I am my own hero.”

Loving the White Liar

Loving the White Liar by Kate Stewart

3.5 stars!

“The perfect marriage is just two imperfect people who refuse to give up on each other.”

At age twenty seven Hilary met the love of her life by the pool in her apartment building. Hilary and Jayden fell fast and while she knew things weren’t perfect, she knew Jayden was the one for her. Jayden has ADHD and at first it didn’t seem like a problem, until it began to affect their relationship. Hilary tries to understand Jayden’s struggles but often cannot break through his walls. Soon Hilary will have to see if she can live with Jayden and his white lies, or without.

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“I feel like I’m going crazy, I can’t decide whether to love you or hate you from one minute to the next.”
“I told you loving me wasn’t easy, Hil.”
“It’s so easy to love you, Jayden. Too easy. It’s only hard when you won’t let me.”
“You are it for me. You need to know that. I won’t be the perfect man, ever. I won’t even come close, but for you I’ll fight hard to be.”

Don’t let the 3.5 star rating deceive you, I really did enjoy this book. The addition of the ADHD aspect of the story is what makes this book unique, as many people are not aware of the condition and the everyday struggles of those who have it. It was my favorite part of the book. I also really liked the character of Jayden, he fought hard to be where he was at without his medication and he loved fiercely, and without apology.

What wasn’t really for me was the instalove aspect of the story. I know it needed to be done in order to focus on the relationship struggles, but this romance happened a little too fast for me. And without the ADHD it would be a story we’ve all read before. Sometimes the writing didn’t flow.

I would definitely recommend this to my friends who love unconventional heroes and do not mind a bit of instalove. I can say I’ve read Room 212 by this author and LOVED it so I highly recommend that one.

“This is forever,” he whispered. “No matter how bad we beat the shit out of it. You and me, we are always.”

Beauty and the Mustache

Beauty and the Mustache by Penny Reid

4.25 stars

“With you there are only two distances that matter: Here. Not here. You are not here.”

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Ashley Winston is a former beauty queen who left home as a teenager for college and 8 years later never returned. Tormented by her 6 goofy brothers, she distanced herself from everyone in her family except her mother. Ashley receives news that her mother is in the hospital and will not see anyone, so she rushes home from Chicago to Tennessee to see what is wrong.

Upon returning home Ashley discovers that her brothers have changed from rambunctious irresponsible young men into hard working and loving men. Among her brothers is a stranger, Drew, who has become a friend of the family in her absence. Soon Ashley’s world comes crashing down around her, and it’s up to her brothers and Drew to keep her afloat.

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I really enjoyed this book in the Knitting series. After having so many friends who loved it I was excited to meet Ashley and Drew and the ever famous Winston brothers. I also like that this book took us out of Chicago and into rural Tennessee, a place I’ve never been to physically, but after reading this book I felt as if I had visited there.

Ashley as a heroine is someone I admired, she worked hard to be where she was at in her life, and despite her reservations her love for her brothers was strong. She wanted to be valued for who she was and not what she looked like.

“No. Since I first saw you. Since I first laid eyes on you and felt sorry for every beautiful thing that was made no longer resplendent—nullified by your being.”

Drew was a hot viking man that makes another great addition to my book boyfriend collection, and I wouldn’t mind staying with him in his secluded cabin and not leaving (for weeks, months, years). He was a little bit too stoic for my reader tastes at some points, and near the end I was a bit shocked by his actions (more so his lack of actions) and alas I was hoping for a bit more from him.

For me the best part of this book was the family dynamics between Ashley and her brothers. Being an only child I always dreamed of having brothers, and this book only made me wish for them more. While not perfect, Ashley’s brothers were a strong support system and a little bit naughty. I cannot wait to read their series!!!

“Apathy between family members makes the blood they share turn to water.”

This is a romance I would highly recommend to EVERYONE! Honestly I cannot think of a single friend who would not enjoy it at least a little bit.

“When you cried, I learned what helplessness tastes like. Because all I could do was swallow.”