The Nature of Cruelty

The Nature of Cruelty by LH Cosway

4 stars! 

“Cruelty is easy, and it breeds only misery. Kindness is harder, and you have to be brave to give it.” 

When Lana was a young girl she fell in love with her best friends brother, Robert. Very quickly, those feelings went away when Robert began to torment her, calling her names and saying cruel things.

Now Lana is an adult and hasn’t seen Robert in six years, much to her relief. But when she moves in with her best friend for the summer, it turns out Robert will be there too. Except Robert seems different now and appears to want to make amends with Lana. But can Lana let go of the past and forgive Robert for all his wrongs against her?

“Sometimes you can be so deeply wrapped up in a person that the only way to deal with it is to use cruelty to push them away.” 

This is a Cosway book I’ve always been meaning to read and never got to. Lots of mixed reviews on this book, but Cosway has never let me down before and I decided to give it a try. I really loved the first 75% of this book! Lana’s struggles with trying to trust Robert and his intentions but also so wary, it made for a great emotional ride. In turn I loved seeing Robert try his hardest to show he changed and explain his past actions. To me, this was similar to Bully by Penelope Douglas, but I felt this hero had better justifications for his actions and he didn’t fill me with rage the majority of the book. Robert was apologetic, he wasn’t perfect but he tried to be good.

I felt the ending or last 25% of the book could have been much more developed, it felt a little in the wind in terms of story and the finish kind of came and went. The issues these characters had needed more work than what I as a reader saw, and I felt an epilogue could have helped with that.

This is a wonderful story, and one I enjoyed in the middle of a gigantic life book slump. Cosway is an author whose writing I just connect with and I always fear I will run out of books by her to read for the first time. You savor her works, not rush through them.

“Nothing worth having is easy. The same goes for people. The ones who take cold, hard guts to get inside of are the most worthy of all. The ones you have to fight for. 

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Hearts on Air

Hearts on Air by LH Cosway

4 stars! 

“Trev was the one thing in this world I could never, ever resist. I’d always want him. Only him. Even when I know wholeheartedly that I shouldn’t.” 

Trev and Reya were best friends, until they became much more. After years of pining for the guy she always wanted, Reya had him. Until he signed on to a parkour reality television series and the two drifted apart. Now, two years later, Trev reenters Reya’s life, and he is determined to bring her back into his. And he does this by bringing her on the road while his show is filming throughout Europe.

Reya is determined not to let Trev get under her skin again, but being in close quarters through some of the most romantic cities in the world make it difficult to resist him. Little does she know, Trev has been harboring some serious intentions for Reya, and this time he’s not going to let her go.

“Happiness was a stranger, but misery was a dear old friend.” 

I love the Hearts series so so much. Each book brings something unique and special to the table, every story something new, and every character a breath of fresh air. While this can be read as a standalone, we got brief glimpses of Reya and Trev in previous books in the series, and I have always been intrigued by their dynamic and have wanted to read their story.

I love reality television romance, it’s something we rarely see in the book world, but when we do it adds a little something extra to the story. That and Reya were my favorite parts of this book, I loved her as a heroine. She was alluring, curvy, and fierce. She had her issues and her insecurities, but they were what made her wonderful and she didn’t let them hold her back from living her life. Trev and Reya were explosive together, a delightful and beautiful couple. I know readers will love their story.

“He smelled like home. He embraced me like love.” 

ARC provided by author in exchange for an honest review 

The Cad and the Co-ed

The Cad and the Co-Ed by LH Cosway and Penny Reid

4 stars!

“I was the villain of the piece, and we both know it.”

The Cad and the Coed is the third book in the rugby series by LH Cosway and Penny Reid and can be easily read as a standalone novel. The plot centers around rugby player Bryan, a former womanizer and party boy, he’s since turned his life around and enjoys his new quiet way of living. Eilish is the cousin of Bryan’s teammate Sean and has recently started working for the team.

Bryan is immediately attracted to Eilish, and thinks he may be ready. Eilish seems less thrilled to see Bryan and is always dodging him. What Bryan doesn’t realize is he’s met Eilish before. He just doesn’t remember her.

“If I wasn’t careful, Eilish Cassidy would be elevated to sainthood level in my mind. I decided I should debauch her before this happened.”

Reading this book just made me want to go back and reread this series and rediscover all the characters in this world. I liked that the hero was a reformed man, he wasn’t perfect but he saw what he wanted in life and made the necessary changes to be the man he wanted to be. Eilish was a very endearing heroine who was put in a touch spot and made the most of it, and her life was all the better for it.

I loved seeing Sean and Ronin in this book, it was like seeing old friends again. We got to know Eilish a little book in previous books but I am glad I got to read her as a fully developed character in her own novel. She and Bryan were sensual and sweet, they made a lot of sense together, even though they didn’t always see it that way on their journey to each other.

Cosway and Reid are known for their unique and sometimes odd romances, and while this one was sweet, it was a departure from their distinctive writing styles for me. This book is a great story for readers who enjoy a more established love trope and want a sweet storyline. I look forward to more installments in this series, and more collaborations from these two wonderful authors.

ARC provided by Penny Reid in exchange for an honest review

 

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THE CAD

Bryan Leech is a cad.

Or, he *was* a cad.

No one is quite certain.

Once the quintessential playboy, Bryan claims he’s done with wild parties and weekend benders. No more one night stands leading to mornings he can’t remember; no more binges and blackouts; no more exploits plastered all over the tabloids and rag sheets. According to Bryan, he’s cleaning up his act.

The only problem is, no one believes him.

 

THE CO-ED

Eilish Cassidy never thought she’d be a mother at nineteen or still in college at twenty-four. Cut off from every member of her family except her favorite cousin, she’s finally managed to put her life back together. Stronger and wiser, Eilish enters her last semester of university determined to stand on her own. Now she just needs to find an internship.

The only problem is, her best option—by far—places her directly in the path of her son’s father, and he doesn’t remember her at all.

 

THE PLAN

Bryan is determined to prove he’s changed. Eager to settle down with the right woman, he’s got his sights set on the gorgeous redhead who seems terribly familiar.

Eilish is determined to hide her secret. She’ll do anything to keep her child safe, even if that means ignoring her own wishes and desires.

But what happens when Bryan starts to remember? And what will it take for Bryan to convince the girl he forgot that she’s unforgettable?

 

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Meet Penny Reid:

Penny Reid is the USA Today Bestselling Author of the Winston Brothers and Knitting in the City series. When she’s not immersed in penning smart romances, Penny works in the biotech industry as a researcher. She’s also a full time mom to three diminutive adults, wife, daughter, knitter, crocheter, sewer, general crafter, and thought ninja.

 

Connect with Penny:

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Twitter: @ReidRomance

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www.pennyreid.ninja

 

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Meet L.H. Cosway:

L.H. Cosway has a BA in English Literature and Greek and Roman Civilisation, and an MA in Postcolonial Literature. She lives in Dublin city. Her inspiration to write comes from music. Her favorite things in life include writing stories, vintage clothing, dark cabaret music, food, musical comedy, and of course, books.

 

She thinks that imperfect people are the most interesting kind. They tell the best stories.

Connect with L.H. Cosway:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LHCosway/

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2jVTDk8

Twitter: @LHCosway

Newsletter: https://goo.gl/vkhYHN

Website: www.lhcoswayauthor.com

 

 

Best Books of 2016

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Best books of 2016!

Here’s my list of my 15 favorite books that I read in 2016! Not all of these were published this year, but it’s the year I read them and I won’t overlook greatness for something as silly as a publication date. Without further ado:

Wolfsong by TJ Klune!!!!

If you would have told me that my all time favorite book of 2016 would be a gay shifter romance, I would have thought you were on crack. But Wolfsong touches your heart and just brings out every feel you have, and then finds more and brings them out too. Beautiful writing, a breathtaking story and a stunning romance, this is one I won’t ever forget. Plus the main character Ox is up there with the likes of Elizabeth Bennett, he’s one of my all time favorite characters.

Beard Science by Penny Reid

I’ve yet to find a Penny Reid book I haven’t liked, this woman is like nerd girl magic! Beard Science is my favorite Winston Brothers book (so far, I have a feeling Billy will be everything) and Cletus. Oh Cletus, I want to find a shrink ray, use it on him and make him the tiny devil on my shoulder. That man, sigh. There are no words. Instead, read the damn book already, will ya?

Paper Princess by Erin Watt

I have to say Paper Princess was a book that slapped me in the face with it’s amazingness. I feel like it came out of nowhere but now that it’s here, everyone has become obsessed with The Royals (myself included). The best YA/NA series I’ve read since Fallen Crest by Tijan, there is no doubt in my mind these Royals will ruin you. I also equally loved the second book Broken Prince, and enjoyed the third. I want more from this author duo!

Unbreak My Heart by Nicole Jacquelyn

Quite simply, the ANGSTIEST book of 2016 and I loved every bit of it! I learned to never doubt the dirty girl book friend who recommended this to me, and I discovered an amazing new author. Military family, regret and angst? Not for the faint of heart and it gets worse before it gets better. But in the end you get a beautiful story. The second book Change of Heart, a standalone was equally as amazing as this one.

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

I took a chance on a new author with this one and I am so glad I did! Bryn Greenwood is an evil genius and leaves the reader with so much to ponder. This is the kind of book that makes you reflect on yourself and how your perception of others can affect their life. It also portrays that just because something seems a certain way, doesn’t mean it is. Bravo Greenwood! I cannot wait to read more from you in the future.

In the Middle of Somewhere by Roan Parrish

An MM romance between a graduate student and a quiet man who lives in a cabin in his new town. Both have issues when it comes to love that they must overcome, but this book was the journey to both of them healing one another. Roan Parrish became a favorite author and a go-to author with this book, I love her writing style and her complex and realistic characters. The second book Out of Nowhere is a fantastic read as well.

Painted Faces

An unconventional romance between a straight drag queen and a curvy Irish girl. This is one of those books I was so skeptical about going into it and came out the other end of the book in awe. My favorite Cosway book to date, she did an amazing job with these two characters. It’s a very special novel.

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Veiled

It happened. THIS BOOK HAPPENED!!! This is a spin off of the Experiment in Terror series BUT it can be read as a standalone novel!!! Veiled is about a young girl named Ada who slowly discovers demons and other beings around her. Add in a sexy ginger guide as the romantic interest and I was thrilled! Everything I had hoped it would be. But like I said you can read and enjoy it as a standalone.

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Lingus

Romance with a porn star, sounds raunchy? It’s not! Sweet wonderful slow burn romance between two people who genuinely care for each other. I loved every second of this novel!! Mariana Zapata is the queen of slow burn romances!

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Swear on this Life

This is one of those books that hits you with emotion like a friggin mac truck. A journey of self healing and discovery, this also has an unforgettable love story. I ended up bursting into tears on an airplane while reading this book, and I don’t cry in public EVER.

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Black Swan Affair

An angsty love story that centers on a love triangle between two brothers and the woman they both love. I know what you’re thinking, that you hate love triangles. Trust me, let that part go and enjoy the ride. I was blown away by this book and so so happy when I got to the end! Nothing is what you think it is, remember that.

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The Bourbon Thief

A beautiful love story in the 70’s between a young rich girl in the South and the stable hand who is forbidden from her. A family full of secrets, this romance is almost haunting and beautiful at the same time. Proof that Tiffany Reisz can write an amazing book not centered on BDSM or sex.

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Wicked Heart

A second chance romance between a movie star and a stage director. Liam broke Elissa’s heart years ago and she never fully recovered. Now years later they are working on the same stage production and old feelings come back. But Liam is engaged to his costar and Elissa knows falling for him again would be a tragedy. I loved the Bad Romeo books and this is my favorite of the bunch. Is a standalone read with only connected characters.

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The Mind

Kate Stewart is possibly the most underrated indie author out there, this woman writes pure romantic genius!! The Heart is probably one of the few novellas I have ever loved, and I fell in love with Grant and Rose immediately. This is a prequel to The Heart and may not have an HEA in this book, but does in the next one (I promise). I sobbed big ugly tears when reading this and kind of wanted to kill Kate (I didn’t, obviously) but this is proof of how amazing Kate is.

Thief of Hearts

Thief of Hearts by LH Cosway

5 stars!

“Stu Cross wasn’t as predictable as I thought, and even though I was the teacher in this situation, somehow it felt like I’d been schooled.”

Damn. ALL. OF. THE. FEELS.

Thief of Hearts is the story of Stu and Andrea. We previously met Stu in the last two hearts books and know from those he was sent to prison, taking the fall for his brother Lee. Now two years later he’s out, and some demons came with him.

Andrea is his teacher for some adult learning courses, and the two feel a spark right off the bat. But Andrea’s past prevents her from moving forward, and on top of that teacher and student relationships are forbidden. But Stu and Andrea grow closer over time, finding they both understand the other more than the people around them.

“I guess you live and you learn.”
“But that’s just it, Andrea. Some of us never learn at all.”

So I went into this book completely blind as to the plot and I highly recommend you do that as well. It enhances the experience. I always had a soft spot for Stu in the previous books, but I totally fell in love with him in this book. His journey to the man he became was a rough one, and at many times we saw him in a very vulnerable state. It made him seem more human and easy to empathize with. When you grow up being shown only one path, it’s hard to look around at the other ones around you.

Andrea was a fantastic heroine, she was smart, kind and wanted her life’s work to mean something. She was a perfect teacher, valuing each one of her students for their strengths and differences, knowing they had the ability to change their own lives for the better. And the way she always believed Stu was more than he thought he was made me love her.

Thief of Hearts can be read as a standalone, but I recommend also reading the previous book as some of the story connects. Fantastic, original romance story, something I can always expect from this author.

“You shouldn’t always dismiss things before they’ve had a chance to wow you. If you do, you’ll miss everything that’s wonderful in the world.”

ARC provided by author in exchange for an honest review

Painted Faces

Painted Faces by LH Cosway

5 odd and unconventional romance stars!

“We all paint on a face to show the world. For some of us, that’s quite literal.”

Wow. Just…. WOW. I have never read another book quite like this one before. It completely blew me away!!! I mean, I never would have thought “straight drag queen” and “romance” would fit in the same category, but I was wrong!!!

Painted Faces is about Freda, a twenty something Irish woman who works odd jobs and has some terrible ex boyfriends. This story begins when Fred has a new neighbor move in and he immediately expresses interest in her. Nicholas is attractive and suave, and despite his advances Fred almost has him pegged as gay. But then she see’s his show and realizes he’s a drag queen and everything begins to make sense.

Nicholas offers Fred a job working as his assistant and she accepts. As time goes by the attraction between the two of the builds, but Fred is wary of his advances. Nicholas has slept his way across Europe and she isn’t sure if he’s serious about her, or just looking to shag her.

“I want to ruin you Freda, in the best way possible.”

I honestly didn’t know what to expect going into this book. I had read some of Cosway’s books before, but a friend had told me to read some of her earlier work as it was a little bit different (I then found out this friend hadn’t read this book yet lol). I’m so glad I read this book, and I kind of can’t believe I haven’t read it before. Why has no one recommended me this book???? Book friends, you are slacking!!! jkjk.

I loved both characters so much. Fred was an amazing heroine, she had insecurities yet she stood up for herself. She was understanding and accepting of ideas new to her. Was she perfect? No. But that’s what I liked most about her. Nicholas, oh he’s something else. He changed what I thought about masculinity. In a literary world of alpha males and dominance, here came a different kind of romantic hero and his uniqueness shone through the pages.

“I might not have a boyfriend, but I have cupcakes, and those tasty bastards haven’t let me down yet.”

This was such the perfect blend of romance and angst for me. I couldn’t put the book down, I was reading well into the early hours of the morning when I should have been sleeping. Believe me this book was worth not being able to adult properly the next day. I was so enraptured by this unique and special story, I didn’t want it to end.

So as you can tell, I bloody loved this book. I find myself wanting to go back and reread it even as I type just to be near Nicholas and Freda again. I can honestly say this is my favorite Cosway book to date and I probably will be binge-reading the rest of her books sometime real soon.

“It feels like nobody in the history of the world has loved another person as much as I love you. I love you so much it hurts. You make me smile, you make me laugh, you make me burn.”

Hearts of Fire

Hearts of Fire by LH Cosway

4 Flower stars

“You wanted me?” I said quietly.
“All the time.”
“I never saw. I thought I was the one who watched you.”
“You were. That’s why I started watching back.”

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Hearts of Fire is the second book in the Hearts series by LH Cosway and is about Jack, the younger brother of Jay from the first book. If you’ve read the first book, you know Jay believes Jack died in a fire, but outside forces have kept them apart. Now that Jack has grown up he works for the circus as a fire breather. Lille lives in a small Irish town, oppressed by her mother and yearns for something more. When she’s offered a job to work for the circus leaving town the next day, she decides to go with them.

The circus isn’t what she expected, it’s full of wonderful people and terrible ones. Many make it clear they don’t want Lille there, including Jack. But despite this, Lille feels really happy working for the circus, she feels free.

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“Why do you call me flower?”
“Because when I touch you, you fucking bloom.”

LH Cosway is one of those authors I’ve always been meaning to get around to. I read her book Six of Hearts and enjoyed, as well as her co-written novel with Penny Reid and liked that one too. So why I waited so long to pick up another one of her books, I have no idea. From beginning to end I couldn’t put this book down. Both Jack and Lille were such enthralling characters and I couldn’t get enough of either one of them.

I’m not normally one for suspense but I did like the mystery element added into this plot. It was just enough where it enhanced the plot without overshadowing it or being a footnote. Jack himself could be a dick at times but ultimately I found he was a wonderful hero. Lille was pretty awesome too. She followed her heart even if it made her feel foolish at times.

I will definitely be reading the rest of this series!

“You’re the love of my life, and I need you so much I can’t breathe without it.”

The Hooker and the Hermit

The Hooker and the Hermit by L. H. Cosway and Penny Reid

4.25 Bollocks, bitches, and Battlestar Galactica stars!

“I want you free. I want you wild. I want you brave. I want you any way I can get you.”

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***First off I want to clarify something, in the title Hooker does not stand for prostitution, it’s a sports position in rugby! I just wanted to put that out there because when this book started blowing up Goodreads, I honestly thought it was a about a lady of the night.***

Now that that’s cleared up, OMIGOSH THIS BOOK WAS SUCH A FUN READ!!! I adored Six of Hearts by LH Cosway, but I’ve never read anything by Penny Reid (despite her books sitting on my kindle for longer than I’d care to admit). I honestly could not tell that two people wrote this book, it was done so well! Needless to say, this book has lit a fire under my ass to start reading her books asap!

The Hooker and the Hermit is the story of Annie and Ronan. Annie is the secret blogger known as the Socialmedialite. Witty online through her writing, Annie in real life is incredibly socially awkward. She has trouble making eye contact and connecting to other people by talking. One day while out eating, Annie sees a Colin Farrell look alike and snaps a picture of him for her blog. This CF look alike is in fact a famous Irish rugby player who is taking a break from the game for personal issues. In a weird twist of fate, Annie’s PR company picks up Ronan as a client, and pairs Annie and Ronan to clear up his public image.

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At the beginning of the book, I have to say I didn’t care for Ronan all that much. He basically agreed to go along with the PR company mostly because his end goal was to get into Annie’s pants. Romantic right? Well, over time he turned out to be a pretty amazing book boyfriend. His determination to get Annie to open up to him, to give a relationship between the two of them a chance pulled at my heartstrings for the majority of the book. In fact, I love books where the man has to convince the girl to be in a relationship instead of the other way around.

Annie was so endearing. Her past led her to her social insecurities and I just wanted to give the girl a giant hug the entire book. I do think she may have overreacted a bit when it came to Ronan’s actions, and she pushed him away so many times, but I still liked her as a heroine.

I feel like a lot of us who review can relate to Annie very easily. For some reason or another, we all turn to our blogs or Goodreads in order to express ourselves and our opinions on books rather than just talking to other “real life” people. Many of us love our anonymity. Others may not care. But we all know what it’s like to sit in front of a computer screen and let out hearts pour out onto the keyboard.

This book was so freaking funny. There was many a moment where I smiled or laughed out loud (luckily I don’t laugh like Annie or I would have gotten some seriously weird looks directed my way). Here are some of my favorite quotes:

“Thought I won’t object to your calling me Daddy.”
Her eyes got really big then, and I burst out laughing, “I’m joking, Annie; relax. I’m joking”
“Thank God.”
“I know. I think I might have creeped myself out with that one.”

“She said seals sexually assault penguins and deserved to be clubbed. That woman is nuttier than a Snickers bar.”

“For the love of God, don’t ever laugh in public. No one will forgive you for it. You’ll be ridiculed, Ronan will go on an assault spree, and then Ian will have a mental breakdown trying to clean up the mess.”

“I love him more than Sean Connery loves talking about Scottish politics while living in Southern California with a llama.”

A very cute, fun book that I am so glad I read. Thanks to Suzanne (and Jasmine) for the recommendation!!!

Six of Hearts

Six of Hearts by L. H. Cosway

4 stars!

“People love shit that’s all obscure and mysterious.”

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Well, this is a book bandwagon I’m glad I jumped into. There’s been so many positive reviews written about this book since it’s release, and to be honest, I tend to stay away from the flavor of the month book because most of the time, I end up disappointed. That’s not the case with this book.

Placed in Ireland, Matilda works as a secretary for her father in his small law firm. One day the illusionist Jay Fields walks in and proceeds to turn their world around. A slanderous article has been published about Jay, and he wants Matilda’s father to assist him with the lawsuit. On top of this, Jay has rented a room with her father and is now living with the two of them for an indefinite amount of time.

“Note to self: Never try to out-trick a trickster.”

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I honestly put this book down around 17% because the pacing was slow and other shinier books were calling to me. But with the urging of many of my GR’s friends, I returned to this book to finish what I started. Around 22%, the book began to pick up some speed. At the beginning I really had to overlook how weird this book was set up. It all made sense by the end, but for me this dude just waltzed into these peoples’ live and made himself at home.

I really loved Matilda as the heroine. She was a little insecure from her dating inexperience, but it was charming and not at all annoying. Jay, well, we all know Jay is amazing. And I don’t want to inflate his ego so I will not continue.

About 50% of the way into the book I was growling with frustration. What was Jay’s game? Were he and Matilda friends? Dating? FWB? Give me a label people!!!! I call this point of the book the Frustration Game, as in:
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I mean really, he performs oral on her and then is all like “I can only be friends” to Matilda. Blow me asshole. Stop giving me whiplash!! Luckily, around 60% all that shit was remedied.

Was it my favorite book of the year? No. Was it a fun and entertaining read? Yep! The banter was witty, the chemistry off the charts, and the side characters very well developed. I call this book a success!

“I might tell you that you’re mine, but you need to understand that it goes both ways. I belong to you, too.”