Mister Romance

Mister Romance by Leisa Ravyen

4.5 stars!

Eden is on her last leg at her job at Pulse magazine when she gets wind of a man named Mister Romance, a high paid escort who gives women the most romantic night of their dreams, without sex. Intrigued, Eden makes it her mission to find out who this mystery man is. When she does find him, he wants to make her a deal: if he can make her fall in love with him in three dates, Eden drops the story. If not, she gets full exclusive.

Eden:

Ever since I picked up Bad Romeo three years, I knew Leisa Rayven was one of those authors, the one where I love every single one of her books. Mister Romance is a book I fell in love with right from the beginning, with original strong characters readers can relate to, and a romance that had me holding my breath at times and swooning a bit. And I don’t friggin swoon.

The book is a little bit slow to start but really picks up at that 20% mark. I loved Eden as the main character, she was tenacious and driven, but at the same time had empathy and integrity. Max was a bit harder to pin down, but ultimately I loved him by the end of the book and was rooting so hard for him and Eden. This book is a bit sweeter and less angsty than I prefer, my reading tastes lean toward angsty and emotional, but I loved it.

I truly believe that so many readers will love this story. In a time when it’s hard to find a book with an original idea, Ravyen delivers a unique and fascinating romance that I know I will be rereading in the future!

ARC kindly provided by author in exchange for an honest review

Windfall

Windfall by Jennifer E Smith

3 stars

We’ve all had that thought. You know, what you would do if you won the lottery? The choices and actions you would make. This book answers that question, but more like if you won the lottery at a young age.

When Alice buys a lotto ticket for her best friend Teddy on his 18th birthday, the very last thing she expects is for him to win. But he does, making him the youngest lottery winner ever. Since both Alice and Teddy had a less than privileged upbringing, Teddy is overjoyed with his good fortune. They promise things will never change, but money has the ability to change everything….

I enjoyed this what if scenario in a teen book. I think most adult readers going into it can predict what will happen, but for younger readers it’s a good lesson on greed, responsibility and friendship. I had a hard time putting this one down, it’s a very interesting concept and reads very quickly. What I didn’t really care for was Teddy himself, I found him to be selfish and undeserving of most things in his life. And Alice seemed to be a bit of a doormat heroine.

This book will make you want to go out and buy a lotto ticket! A fun, fast read for any age.

Olive Juice

Olive Juice by TJ Klune

Well, I just spent the last hour like this:

I loved this book. DON’T READ SPOILERS, GO IN BLIND!

What a beautiful and heartbreaking story! This reminded me a bit of a play; I know Klune had a blog post referencing a one shot scene but honestly this felt like something you would see on a stage. Extremely well written, Klune is obviously very talented and there’s a reason why I will read anything he writes.

Pipe Dreams

Pipe Dreams by Sarina Bowen

5 stars!

OH MY GAWD. I loved this book so hard! Sarina Bowen, you have outdone yourself!!!

Pipe Dreams is the third book in the Brooklyn Bruisers series but can easily be read as a standalone novel. This book follows Mike Beacon, goalie for the Bruisers and Lauren, the office manager to the man who owns the team. Four years ago they had been in a relationship, happy and in love, until two years ago when Mike broke up with Lauren and basically disappeared from her life very rapidly. What Lauren didn’t know was Mike needed to take care of his young daughter, as his wife who he was in the middle of divorcing became terminally ill.

Currently, Lauren has been brought in by the team owner to cover the Bruiser’s while they are in the playoffs. Mike and Lauren find themselves together more often and old feelings resurface. Mike wants to pursue Lauren again, but after he left her Lauren has issues with trust and doesn’t want to risk getting hurt again.

This is a book that every single time I put it down, I found myself craving to pick it back up. I gobbled this one up and wanted to hug it to my chest after reading it! Sarina Bowen is one of my favorite authors, and this book just reaffirmed why I always come back to her books every single time. I was even hesitant to pick this one up, because I just kind of liked the first book, and dnf’d the second. But I wanted to see what else was happening in the Bruiser’s world and I am so glad I did!

Second chance romance is my favorite subgenre of romance, I love seeing two people who belong to each other, make their way back to one another. Mike made a mistake two years before, but in my opinion he made it for all the right reasons. Does that mean he still didn’t mess up big time? No. But my heart bled for the man and the tough choices he had to make, and the one he chose ultimately for the better for his daughter.

Surprisingly for a second chance romance, there was zero to no drama. I kept waiting for it to happen at the 70% point on and when it didn’t, I was impressed! There was a little bit of angst, mostly because Lauren had to learn to trust again, but I completely understand that and so did Mike. And for having a 13 year old daughter in the book, delivering no drama is quite the achievement! What we did get as readers is emotional moments, ones that squeezed your heart but not too hard that it hurt. I found myself rooting for this couple for all that they had been through and was pulling for them so hard!

Anyways, this is a single parent, second chance, hockey sports romance that I think many readers will love and enjoy. After what felt like a rough start to the series (for me) it’s good to know that it just keeps getting better.

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Before I Ever Met You

Before I Ever Met You by Karina Halle

4 stars!

“Where there’s a will there’s a way.”

Before I Ever Met You is an office romance between twenty five year old single mother Jackie and recently divorced forty one year old Will. Will had returned to Vancouver after his divorce, in which his wife slept with and got pregnant with another man. Jackie came back home to her parents with her son Ty after her ex was put in jail. Ted, Jackie’s father, works with Will and gets Jackie a job as Will’s assistant.

Right away Jackie and Will feel a pull toward each other. But with a 16 year age difference and a boss and employee relationship between them, both are hesitant to take the plunge. The more they work together, it becomes clear the attraction is strong, one of them just needs to act on it….

“I’ll call you Dream Girl, cause that’s what you are to me.”

Who knew Karina Halle could put out a sweet romance! Normally Karina does the angsty and emotional reads, but this was a wonderful Cinderella story. It was unlike anything we have seen from her before! I loved Jackie and will equally, both pulled at my heart in their own way. I now desperately want to watch Bridesmaids because Jon Hamm was the inspiration (and I don’t like Mad Men, don’t kill meh!). This book basically made me feel better crushing on older hot men, because I am only 2 years older than Jackie is in this book. So thank you Karina for making my older men crushes seem a little bit more attainable!

Honestly, this is easily one of Karina’s best contemporary reads, the characters were relatable and I wanted them both to find their happily ever after, with Cinderella and Prince Charming. This hits two boxes for tropes people love, single parent and office romance. What are you waiting for??? Go and get it!!!

“The heart is nothing if not resilient.”

ARC provided by author in exchange for an honest review

Midnight Target

Midnight Target by Elle Kennedy

4.25 stars!

What a thrilling, action packed ride!!

Midnight Target is about Cate, the daughter of a famous mercenary. When she was seventeen she met her father, and while he would do anything to protect her, he doesn’t want her in the same life as his. Cate has since dropped out of a college and become a freelance photographer. She’s working for a reporter on a story in South America when she captures something dangerous on film, and then finds her life in danger.

Cate’s father comes to save her, along with one of his coworkers Ash. Cate can’t stand Ash after he rejected her advances on his years ago, leaving her humiliated and alone. Cate isn’t happy to see Ash, but he’s hopeful they can at least be friends. With tensions high and a criminal psycho after them all, things get rough and heated.

I’ve really only read Elle Kennedy’s Off Campus series, along with her MM books and Erin Watt; I hadn’t picked up any of her Killer Instincts books before. But I love her writing style and trusted she would deliver a good story and a fulfilling read. This book was such a fun and fast paced read. It reaches almost 450 pages and didn’t feel long at all, it just flew by! Technically this is the eighth book in the series, but it can be read as a standalone. I personally can vouch for this because this was my first time reading this series and I was able to navigate the novel easily, even with all the background players.

Despite this being about a couple that cannot be together (due to age difference in the beginning and daughter of the boss issues) there was only mild angst. I prefer a bit more, but it fit the tone and theme of the book. I really liked spitfire Cate and southern boy Ash, the two just made sense, even when they were friends only. I wish things had progressed a bit faster for the two of them, but enjoyed it very much once they did.

The best part about the book though? The surprise MM plot mixed in between Liam and Sully. That was my favorite aspect of the book, I found myself waiting impatiently for their POVs because I just wanted MORE. Elle Kennedy is amazing in general, but when she writes MM I want to use the worship hands emoji all the time.

Once my reading schedule opens up a bit more, I know for sure I will be going back and reading other books in the Killer Instincts series ASAP! And if you haven’t you should too!

Copy for review provided by the publisher

Next to Never

Next to Never by Penelope Douglas

3.75 stars!

“That’s the hardest thing about being a parent. Living through heartache, bearing your struggles, learning the hard lessons the hard way, and enduring years of climbing a wall only to fall back down and have to start all over again . . .”

Next to Never opens with Quinn, the younger sister of Jared and Madoc, two characters from the Fall Away series. Quinn is seventeen and doesn’t know her path in life, she does what her parents want, but she wants to find something she’s passionate about. Randomly, Quinn receives a romance book from Canada, no return sender listed. As she reads, she begins to realize this story might not be fiction at all, and connected to her life….

“We could say we were young and stupid, but that excuse only lasts so long before you realize that you were selfish and just really big assholes.”

I spent the first part of the book extremely confused:

I had a lot of trouble figuring out who was married to whom, who was blood related or not, and just keeping track of names in general. I think this book really could have used a family tree diagram to follow in the beginning of the book. Once I got the hang of things it became easier to read but I honestly still don’t know a lot of which kids belong to whom…..

I went into this book blind, I didn’t really read the blurb beyond knowing Quinn was Jared’s younger sister. I didn’t know a huge part of the plot would be Quinn reading about the story of her parents, how Kat and Jase fell in love and how it affected their lives. I thought it was a beautiful love story, one of two people who just didn’t know how to get the timing right.

I do feel this book despite being from Quinn’s perspective, she was just an observer, it wasn’t her own story. Even in the present time she’s just observing what her other younger family members were doing, except for one racing instance and the end. I wish we had seen more of her in the story, but after the end I suspect there is more to come. If Quinn and Lucas get their own book I will be DESPERATE for it!

“When I come back for you, it will be forever. Tell me it’s not over.”
“I guess we’ll see.”

The Dead List

The Dead List by Jennifer Armentrout

4.5 stars!

“Cardinals were Penn’s favorite…”

Just before the start of her senior year in high school, Ella is attacked after a party on her way home. She escapes because a childhood friend Jensen rescued her, but other girls have gone missing. Afraid, Ella decides to take self-defense classes, as her attacker doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon.

But as more and more people begin to disappear Ella begins to think these random acts aren’t so random, that they’re connected to something that happened in the past. Except the person related to all of this died, four years ago….

“Sometimes I needed to get my head out of real life, and reading was the best and quickest way to do it.”

I really enjoyed this book, thrillers normally aren’t my thing buy Armentrout writes them in such a way that I cannot figure out the villain and the plot isn’t predictable. It’s so refreshing because when I normally read a mystery/thriller I can pretty much figure out what’s happening about halfway in. A very compelling and engaging story, I was captivated by everything that was happening, from the attack on Ella at the beginning, her issues at school and the romance with her and Jensen.

I was freaked out that the killer wore a clown mask, that was just too creepy for me. Plus the descriptions of the sounds he made gave me the chills and I had to stop reading this book at night so I could get some sleep without nightmares. The romance between Jensen and Ella was so sweet, JLA writes the best heroes in her books. All of them are very swoonworthy and a tiny bit alpha.

This is a bit mature for YA so I would recommend to older teens and not younger ones, just with the murder and adult content I think this is better for older readers. Just depends on the reader. A fantastic and thrilling read, many people will love this novel of suspense and be guessing until the very end.

“I want to be that guy-the one that when your phone rings, you hope it’s me. The one who holds your hand in the hallway at lunch. The guy who gets to hold you. I want to be the one who gets to touch you. I want to be yours.”

ARC provided by author in exchange for an honest review

How to Bang A Billionaire

How to Bang A Billionaire by Alexis Hall

4 stars!

This book is the gay 50 Shades. Except I actually liked it. And I actually liked the characters. And there were no inner goddesses.

This was a book I requested on a whim, I love MM and am always curious to read more. I’m not one for billionaire romances, or BDSM but for some reason this book called to me.

How to Bang A Billionaire is about Arden, an Oxford student soon to graduate with a literature degree. He volunteers for an alumni fundraiser and ends up talking on the phone to billionaire and former student, Caspian Hart. On the phone they strike up a banter, and then Caspian comes to the fundraising dinner. There’s something there, but while Arden wants to pursue it, Caspian wants to resist.

Arden gives up hope of being with the attractive billionaire, when Caspian offers up a deal…..

“Everything was worth it for the power to give Caspian Hart just a little bit of joy.”

I really liked this book, like I said above I’m not huge on billionaires, not huge on BDSM, but this one worked! I thought Arden was such an interesting character, his outlook on life and his motivations. He’s playful and fun and up for anything. Caspian was more of a mystery, one we didn’t get to the middle of yet. I expect there will be more about him in the next book. But what we did get to know of him I liked, he just doesn’t know how to express very well.

This book wasn’t super steamy like I was expecting, and honestly I really liked that about it. It meant we could actually get some character development and get to know our players without constant sex. But there is sex! I promise. And you’ll like it. Hall just found a really great balance. And the BDSM element wasn’t as present as I thought, but I expect we will see more.

There’s no cliffhanger! I promise. I cannot wait for the next book though despite no cliffy, I want to know more about these two men. They were wonderful!

“I want to make you feel safe. And I’d make sure you never forget the extraordinary man that you are.”

ARC provided by publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Art & Soul

Art & Soul by Brittainy C Cherry

4.5 stars!

“Love openly,” my heart whispered. “Love unconditionally,” my heart begged. “Love the struggles,” my heart taught. “Love in the moment.”

Art & Soul is a young adult novel about two teens who don’t quite fit in. Aria made one mistake, and now the school is labeling her a slut and a whore. Levi is the attractive guy who just moved from Alabama, but his looks don’t match his personality, he’s a kind soul and a little bit weird. The two are neighbors and assigned an art/music project together. Levi and Aria seem to like each other, but many outside forces seem to want to keep them apart.

“Sometimes it was so easy to forget that adults were just kids in bigger bodies, and their hearts broke just like ours.”

I tried one B Cherry book years ago and it wasn’t really for me. But two friends recommended this to me so I had to try it and I am so glad I did!!! This is the first young adult novel that is written by a new adult/romance author that actually frickin reads like a YA novel!!! I’m so impressed! I found myself giggling and smiling throughout so much of this book. I’m not normally one for sweet romances without angst, but this one wormed its way into my heart.

This reminds me a little bit of a sweeter Juno, you know without all the hipsters and weird slang. I loved the main characters, I loved the side characters, I hated the mean characters. Basically Cherry did my favorite thing: SHE DEVELOPED HER CHARACTERS. AND IT WAS AMAZING!

Anyways, I really enjoyed this book. It was a little bit too sweet for me (because I don’t like sweet) but oddly, it really worked and I never rolled my eyes at it. I highly recommend if you haven’t read Cherry’s books, start with this one. I know I’ll be reading more of her soon.

“That’s the thing about the future, and the past even. They don’t exist in this moment. We only have the here and now. If we focus too much on the past or too heavily on the future, we miss out on our present desires, the things we want right now.”

The Upside of Unrequited

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertelli

4.5 stars!

“I’m on the toilet at the 9:30 Club and I’m wondering how mermaids pee.”

And with that opening line comes one of the cutest most relatable YA books I’ve read in a LONG time.

Molly has had several crushes over the years, but no kisses and no boyfriend. Molly is afraid of rejection and doesn’t want to put herself out there to be hurt, especially with the fact that she’s heavier than other girls. Her twin sister Cassie finds new love with a new girlfriend and leaves Molly feeling out of sorts. When Molly gets a new job at a cutesy store, she makes fast friends with a boy there named Reid. But Reid is kind of nerdy, and not at all the type to cause butterflies in the stomach. There’s no way Molly could have a crush on him too, right?

“I can’t seem to shake this perpetual awareness of being Molly.”

I friggin loved this book. Like, Molly is me when I was in high school!! Minus the Zoloft. I remember I thought I was so fat then, I always wore sweatshirts to hide my body. What I didn’t understand at the time was I had BOOBS and wasn’t fat at all, but I felt that way (if only I could go back to my HS body). Anyways, the point of sharing this is I feel Molly is easy for readers to relate to. Haven’t we all been afraid of rejection in some form or another? Molly just had trouble putting herself out there and needed to find strength within herself. And we don’t often get “chubby” female protagonists, and if we do the story is all about her losing weight, which wasn’t the case here and I loved it.

I also loved that her romantic interest didn’t fit traditional stereotypes, Reid was nerdy, not a gym rat and he accepted it. He owned it. I think this book portrays to its readers that you fall for the person and not always the pretty picture. I want my own real life Reid to come and sweep me away with his bright white sneakers and fondness of Queen Elizabeth I.

Molly’s interest in pinterest crafts made my fingers twitch to do the same, even though I am not super crafty. But I will be researching about putting cookie dough in mason jars because that’s just too good not to look up.

This book was very fast paced, I devoured it so so quickly. I loved this author’s first book Simon, and this one lived up to my expectations which rarely if ever happens. I cannot wait to read more from Albertelli.

My favorite quote from this book? (because it’s ME):

I read an advanced copy of this book

The Player

The Player by Claire Contreras

4.5 stars!

“Life is short. We’re only here to chase moments. I’d rather make those moments worthwhile.”

Claire Contreras, cheers to you! This book was awesome!

The Player is about Warren, a talented soccer star who plays in the United Kingdom. He comes to New York on vacation and on family business where he meets Camila. Camila is from a family that fell from grace and she took it hard. Now she works for a non profit and can’t afford much, but she works hard and knows what she wants in life.

Warren is used to women falling all over him based on his looks and celebrity status. So when he pursues Camila and is shot down, he’s genuinely surprised, but still eager to go out with her. Camila is unsure of Warren, his fame and his fortune. She doesn’t want to tame the player, she’s tried that before and failed. But there’s something drawing them together, and they can only fight the attraction for so long.

“If you’re at the other end of the chase, it would be impossible for me to be disappointed.”

I honestly was hesitant to go into this book, and yet at the same time I was intrigued. I’m not a big fan of the whole hot guy cover trend, and was worried this book was going to be all hot and no plot. That wasn’t the case here, we got a sweet and touching story with some very emotional and poignant moments thrown in.

This book pulled and yanked at all my emotions, at first it was hard to think a player like Warren was serious about Camila, but as the book went on I found myself a believer in change. There’s always something thrilling about seeing the player settle down, and I loved the way Warren fell for Camila. The attraction between the two of them was so charged, you could feel it coming off of the page.

I loved Camila as a heroine, she was quiet yet strong. She had to work hard for what she had and didn’t back down easily. She was also cautious, which I respected. It was so refreshing to read a romance where the heroine doesn’t follow at the heroes feet two seconds after meeting him. And I have mad respect for Camila (and Claire) for that.

If you want to read something explosive, filled with tension and longing, this is the book for you.

“I’d give up my career to chase moments with the right woman.”

How to Date A Douchebag: The Failing Hours

How to Date a Douchebag: The Failing Hours by Sarah Ney

5 stars!

“Not everyone has a broken wing that needs mending, Violet. Maybe this guy isn’t worthy of your special brand of caring.”

Zeke Daniels isn’t just a douchebag; he’s an a**hole.

^^^From the blurb itself, this man was a D. I. C. K. But oh, how when you peel back the layers you see what he truly was.

While I read and enjoyed the first book in this series, The Studying Hours, I went into this book with literally no expectations. And it completely blew me away. I mean, immediately after reading I went online and ordered a paperback, that’s how much I loved it!

The Failing Hours is about Zeke and Violet. Zeke is the grump jerk on the wrestling team who needs to be tutored. His bad attitude has gotten him into hot water with his coach, and coach begins making Zeke jump through hoops to remain on the team. Violet is the timid tutor who spends her time in the library. When she first meets Zeke she’s so unbelievably intimidated by him and the dark cloud surrounding him, she doesn’t want to be his tutor. But the more time they spend together, they both see there is more behind what they look like on the outside.

“He swears too much.
He isn’t nice.
He isn’t sweet.
He isn’t kind.
Or generous with words. Or affection.
But he’s reliable. Dependable. And he was there for me.”

This was a book I picked up as a side piece. Yup that’s really as bad as it sounds. It’s the book i chose to read in situations where it was inappropriate to read paperbacks or kindles in front of others. I was sneak reading it on my phone/ipad. The first 20% was actually pretty slow for me, and Zeke was SUCH AN ASSHOLE I didn’t know if I would like it. I mean, he was a special brand of mean. BUT once I got about halfway this lovely book was no longer a side piece but my top choice and I devoured the last half of it.

Asshole heroes are always hard for me to like, because they never seem to be regretful or tend to walk all over the heroine. But that’s not the case here. Zeke was damaged from a childhood of neglect, and my heart friggin BLED for him the entire book. I legit just wanted to give him a giant hug the entire book. And Violet, though she may be quiet and stutter, she is no one’s doormat. I admired her resilience and strength with all she faced in her life, and the fact that she was firm in the fact that whomever she ended up with respected her.

An emotional read, I found myself sighing, laughing, and tearing up when reading this book. Sarah Ney placed herself among my auto-buy authors with this book. Woman stepped up her game with this book and I find myself in awe of her talent. I am so excited for the next book!!!

“But you’re not jaded—not like me. I’m a beautiful mess. You’re just beautiful.”

Vassa in the Night

Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter

3.75 stars

This is quite possibly the most bizarre book I’ve ever read. But I actually ended up liking it a lot.

Vassa in the Night is a book I would have never picked out for myself, but I got it in one of my Owlcrate’s and decided to give it a shot. I’ve been needing a change of pace with my genre’s lately, so I picked up this one.

And my god, this book is weird. BUT the writing style sucked me into the story and I felt like I got lost in the pages of this peculiar story.

“Why did it take me so many years to understand that Night is something you can talk to, something that might even decide to watch over you or kiss you just when you’re about to crumple from loneliness?”

The story begins when one of Vassa’s stepsisters asks her to go to the local convenience store to get light bulbs for their apartment. But Vassa’s Brooklyn isn’t like our regular Brooklyn, it’s one under the curse of longer nights and sparse days. And the local convenience store isn’t convenient at all, it’s a place that beheads shoplifters and hooligans, run by Babs Yagg.

Vassa might be able to break the curse Babs Yagg has on the neighborhood, but she also might get herself killed.

“No matter who I couldn’t save before, no matter if I’m stuck being a random mess of a girl, I’m still going to save something.”

Like I said before, this book is just plain weird. But at the same time it’s enchanting. I went into this book expecting not to like it based on numerous negative reviews and a low average rating, so imagine my surprise when I just couldn’t put it down.

I have no clue who I would recommend this one to, it’s a hit or a miss for a lot of people. The only real negative thing I have to say about this book is the plot wasn’t very coherent. While I enjoyed reading this very much, there were lots of times where I thought to myself “what the heck is happening right now?”.

Sarah Porter is a brilliant writer, talented at what she does. I would be happy to read more by her in the future and see the world through her unique eyes again.

“You don’t have to be human to be a person. I mean you don’t have to be human to be somebody. I don’t know you that well, but you seem like way more of a somebody than lots of humans I know! Really.”

Three Dark Crowns

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

1 star

Me giving out a 1 star rating to a book is so rare, and yet this book just fills me with ragey feelings. So be warned, whatever I say will be ragey and spoilery.

I was excited to read Three Dark Crowns, it was my second ever Owlcrate book, written by an author I like and had an interesting premise. But OH MY GOD this book was awful. I don’t understand how you can have almost 400 pages and still never manage to develop a single character. The first half of the book was boring and a tad but confusing, and it really didn’t pick up until the last half and that part of the book just made me angry.

And the romance.

Giant middle finger to the romance. Too much time spent on cheating and deceiving than actually developing what was there. Too much self pity and too many doormats.

So obviously, I hated it. Can’t think of a single person I would recommend this too. I have zero desire to read the next book.

Thanks for reading my rambling ragey rant.