Grip

Grip by Kennedy Ryan

5 stars! 

“I fell for her before the beat dropped.” 

First things first, before you read Grip you need to read the book Flow, which is FREE. So go and download that first. I’ll wait……….. You’re done now? Okay keep reading then.

This is the story of Bristol and Grip, two people who met and fell for each other years ago. Now Grip is one of the top rising musicians in the world and Bristol is his manager, but they aren’t together. Grip wants to be with Bristol, and she wants to be with him, but she still holds back for reasons she keeps to herself. But Grip may be done waiting, and Bristol needs to figure herself out.

“He’s dictating my heartbeat, governing my pulse, holding my next breath cupped in his hands.” 

I loved this story! Kennedy Ryan is a new favorite author of mine and I cannot wait to read the next book Still. Grip is an angsty and emotional rollercoaster ride (or should I say ferris wheel ride?) with ups and downs, twists and turns I didn’t see coming. I loved both of the characters equally, Grip with his determination and Bristol with her inner struggle. I loved that both characters knew themselves well, that they are driven and kind people.

I cannot say enough good things about this book! This needs to be put on your tbr, or bumped up ASAP! You don’t want to miss out on this beautiful story.

“If I break your heart, I break mine.” 

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On Hart’s Boardwalk

On Hart’s Boardwalk by Samantha Young

4 stars! 

“By the end of this vacation you’ll never doubt my love for you again.” 

This is a novella that depicts the couple from Before Jamaica Lane about fourteen years later. Nate and Liv have a happy life with two beautiful kids, but while they love each other, Liv feels disconnected from Nate. When he discovers this, he whisks Liv away to the small seaside town in Hartwell, Delaware hoping time for the two of them will bring them back together.

“I can’t lose you, babe. You’d take my soul with you.” 

Nate and Liv are my favorite couple from this series, in fact Before Jamaica Lane is one of my all time favorite books EVER so I jumped on the chance to revisit this couple. I really enjoyed this sweet (with a hint of angsty) story between a couple who loves each other, but seems to have lost their way.

Young did a really good job combining her series, I’ve read the Hart’s Boardwalk books but I feel someone who hasn’t could easily fall into this book, nothing is confusing and the writing style makes reading it effortless. I did get really confused on the timelines, because if this is 14 years later (2013+14=2027) and yet it takes place at the same time as the other series (2017) it doesn’t make any sense. I know I should let it go, but it is something that bothered me a bit when I was reading it. I can’t help it lol.

If you read this, you will fall in love with Nate and Liv all over again. Seriously, look up relationship goals and you’ll just see their names in the dictionary.

Also, can we PLEASE get Emery’s book? I’ve been dying for it ever since The One Real Thing and the wait is killing meh!

“I don’t need to walk this boardwalk with my hand in yours to know we’ll last forever, Liv. I know we’ll last forever because I’m never letting you go.” 

ARC provided by the publisher via netgalley. All/any quotes in this review came from an advance unedited copy and may be subject to change in the final product. 

Diversity in the Romance Publishing Market: What YOU can do to help it grow

Hey all!

This is an opinion piece. I normally don’t publish more than reviews on my blog, but I felt this needed to be said. In the last few years I’ve seen a large push for more diverse books and authors in the market and yet, we still don’t have a lot. In this post, I will be addressing the romance genre, but know what I say here I feel can be applied to all genres.

First off, check out this report from the women who run The Ripped Bodice, a bookstore in LA, compiled and wrote. Link to their report here.  If you don’t feel like reading the entire report, I’ll paraphrase. Romance publishers are barely publishing titles with diverse characters or books written by people of color, in fact some of them published even less in 2017 than the year before.

Here are two infographics from their report (photo credit to The Ripped Bodice).

It is astonishing to me that we are still in such low numbers!!!

What I want to address now is what YOU as a consumer can do to change this.

1) Publishers are a business, they publish what they think will SELL. It is our responsibility as the customer and the consumer to purchase books with diverse characters or written by people of color in order to show that yes, this is a profitable endeavor. BUY THE DANG BOOK! In my opinion, this is the BEST strategy to show those in charge that these are the stories we want to hear and the ones that matter to us! Create a demand for this product!

2) If you’ve read and loved a book with diverse characters or written by a person of color, LEAVE A REVIEW. The book world in general always talks about the importance of reviews for book sales (but more in context of authors making sales). So why not take advantage and make it public that you enjoyed what you read and you want more of the same? This creates even more proof on top of sales that there is a demand for these books and these stories.

3) If you don’t have a lot of spare change to buy these books or are on a budget, go to your public library and suggest a purchase! Many public libraries have this option already available on their website. If they know that you, the patron, wants to read these materials, they will most likely purchase them, leading back to my first point!

4) The power of social media: share on the social media pages of publishers and authors you want these books! Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, Instagram, and more! In fact, email the publisher yourself and tell them what you want to see more of. This way they know directly from the source what readers want.

I’m not saying that this is the one true answer or solution to getting books with more diverse characters or more authors of color published in the future. In fact, I personally need to buy more of these books and broaden what I’m reading. I’m just offering up a suggestion of what you can do to contribute if you really want to see change. I also believe that it is our responsibility as readers and customers to buy and share these books and stories with others.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, unless we demand these stories, I fear they will not just be given to us by the publishing gods. We need to ask for them, purchase them, and share them with the world. That’s the only way I can see change happening in the publishing world, and not just with romance publishers.

Thanks for reading my opinion! And thanks to The Ripped Bodice for their research and report that influenced this post.

 

Brooklynaire

Brooklynaire by Sarina Bowen

4 stars! 

“Everything seems fine and ordinary. Or at least it did until I hit my head.” 

Brooklyn Bruiser fans, we finally have Nate and Becca’s story! And it was SO worth the wait!

Becca has worked for billionaire Nate since the beginning, before he earned all the money and fame. Over seven years the two have had a great friendship and worked really well together. And while both are attracted to the other, neither one of them knows it or will admit it.

When Becca injures her head on the ice, Nate steps in to help take care of her. Doctors cannot figure out exactly what is wrong, and it’s extremely frustrating for Becca who just wants to get back to work. Staying at Nate’s place, she does her best to work out the past few years and how they ended up where they are now.

“We work together all the time. I can’t be the girl who just casually sleeps with her boss.” 

The thing I love about Sarina Bowen is, I enjoy her books 99.999999% of the time. Her writing style just works for me. Brooklynaire was such a fun read and a great escape from reality. I spent the majority of my weekend reading this avoiding real life tasks like cleaning and leaving my house.

While technically this is the fourth novel in the Brooklyn Bruisers series, it can totally be read as a standalone. Believe me, I skipped book two (hides in shame). I loved this story and glad we finally got to see Nate and Becca’s side of things and why it took them so long to give up the ghost and get together.

Sexy, fun and entertaining, this is the book you want to one-click right when it releases right away!

“Everything worthwhile is complicated.” 

ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review. All/any quotes in this review came from an advance unedited copy and may be subject to change in the final product. 

Deal Maker

Deal Maker by Lily Morton

5 stars! 

“My Jude. My best friend, my lover and my heart.” 

This book made me swoon! And I don’t friggin swoon!!!

Jude is a reluctant model, working the career because it pays well. When his apartment gets flooded, he needs a place to stay other than the sex filled apartment of his best friend. A fellow model gives him a tip, leading Jude to actor Asa.

Asa loathes models, everything they stand for. So when he takes Jude in he makes it clear he thinks Jude is dumb and self involved because of his profession. So Jude decides to make it interesting and plays along, fully intending to make Asa’s life hell…..

“Everyone is entitled to love who they want, and people aren’t weird just because of who they love. No one is weird.” 

After really enjoying Rule Breaker last year, I knew I wanted to read Jude’s story. And wow, personally I think Lily Morton outdid herself! While my tastes run toward angsty, I fell in love with this sweet and swoon-worthy story. Jude and Asa were amazing together, I had a constant smile on my face when reading this book.

Lily Morton is an author I will be automatically one clicking in the future. If you love MM romance you need to start reading her books ASAP!

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” 

Down by Contact

Down by Contact by Santino Hassell

4 stars! 

“It was perfect. He was perfect. We were perfect together.” 

Adrian and Simeon are enemies on rival football teams. They snark at each other during games, call each other out on social media and can’t stand the sight of each other. Simeon is a openly gay football player and Adrian seems to be anti-gay. When the two of them get into trouble on the field they are forced to spend time together working for a charity, where they both learn there is more to the other than they originally thought.

“All this time, I’d not only been starving for his body—I’d been deprived of his kisses. Now I couldn’t get enough. 

Santino Hassell became one of my all time favorite authors very quickly this past year. A very talented writer, he never delivers the same story twice and never the same character twice. That’s what I love about his books, they always bring something new to the table. Football isn’t my sports romance genre of choice usually but I that didn’t even cross my mind when reading this book, the game was important but it also didn’t overwhelm the story which I appreciate.

Simeon and Adrian were both such amazing characters, I loved both in different ways and for different reasons. While they may have started out hating each other, I loved being on the journey of understanding and acceptance with them and thought they had a very beautiful love story.

“I need you to tell me I won’t ruin your career by being in your life. Because no matter how hard I try to be discreet, I know somehow . . . I’ll screw it up. ’Cause that’s me, boo. I’m a mess. A loveable mess, but still a goddamn mess.” 

ARC provided by the publisher via netgalley. All/any quotes in this review came from an advance unedited copy and may be subject to change in the final product. 

Villain

Villain

Cover Design by Samantha Young

 The sexy and emotional companion novella to the New York Times bestselling romance HERO.

 Nadia Ray is not just a broadcast meteorologist. She’s Boston’s morning television It Girl. Successful and independent, she’s put a past she’s ashamed of behind her and is forging a future she can be proud of. However, when her new boss discovers her secret he blackmails her, intent on using Nadia’s popularity to make them the number one morning show in Massachusetts. He wants her to be part of uncovering the city’s biggest scandal – a secret billionaire Caine Carraway is hiding.

Soon Nadia is thrown into the path of Caine’s best friend: sexy, wealthy bachelor Henry Lexington. But she doesn’t encounter the dashing high society gentleman Henry is purported to be. Instead she’s faced with an insulting and defensive villain who misjudges her at every turn.

When Henry finally realizes the truth, and decides to make amends, Nadia wants nothing to do with him. But she underestimates his determination and charm and soon they find themselves embroiled in an intense, passionate affair.

An affair Nadia knows must come to an end before their feelings grow any deeper and he discovers her secrets.

After all, Henry Lexington isn’t the only one who played the part of a villain once…

My review:

4 stars!! 

“I acted like my story deserved a hero. But only a heroine deserves a hero. And I wasn’t a heroine. I couldn’t be. The truth was in someone else’s story… I was a villain.” 

Villain is the story of Nadia, a broadcast meteorologist. When her boss blackmail’s her into doing some deep digging into a wealthy man, his best friend Henry decides to fight back. Sparks fly, and hatred of each other evolves when Nadia and Henry realize they are both not what they seem.

But Nadia has a past that can threaten any relationship before it starts. That combined with severe trust issues promises an emotional and bumpy ride for these two.

“Grand gestures and fireworks are part of our lives; they’re not extraordinary to us. But when we get home and we close the door behind us and it’s just you and me…. that’s our extraordinary, right?” 

I love romances where the guy chases the girl. There’s just something so amazing about a man who knows what he wants and goes after it. Nadia was so unsure things would work and he never wavered. There were moment when this story seemed as if it would be cliché and predictable, but it had just enough angst and humor to push it over the edge and make it something a little bit more than the usual.

I read Samantha Young because she never fails to deliver me a satisfying story, and I will read her books as long as she keeps writing them because of this. A truly talented writer, I hope she never stops.

“I was born into a life of privilege… but I never knew true wealth until I met you.” 

ARC provided by the author. All/any quotes in this review came from an advance unedited copy and may be subject to change in the final product. 

 

Out December 5th in digital edition.

 

Preorder Links:

AMAZON US – http://amzn.to/2giFLfF
AMAZON UK – http://amzn.to/2yxhpZz

KOBO US – http://bit.ly/2i1siJr

KOBO UK – http://bit.ly/2yQpdGp

iBOOKS UK & US, & GOOGLE PLAY Links Coming Soon!

 

 

Connect with Samantha Young online:

Website:http://authorsamanthayoung.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/authorsamanthayoung

Twitter: @AuthorSamYoung

Instagram: @AuthorSamanthaYoung

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/samyoungauthor

 

 

Roomies

Roomies by Christina Lauren

4.5 stars! 

“You’re too beautiful to be inexperienced in love.” 

Roomies is a charming book that sneaks up on you and grabs your heart! Holland has had a crush on subway musician Calvin for months who then saves her when she gets attacked on the subway. Recognizing his musical talent, she is able to get him his big break in broadway. There’s only one problem, he’s from Ireland and has been living in America illegally for the last four years.

Holland finds a crazy solution, she decides to marry Calvin so he can be in the show. Marriage of convenience turns into lovers, and maybe something more. But how can either of them know if this relationship is real?

I loved this book. It started off a bit slow at the beginning, but this is a story that BUILDS. By the end I was so in love with this couple and wanted them to find their happiness. I see a lot of reviews calling this book sweet, and I totally agree. But it did have small doses of angsty bits that gave my angst whore self the hit I needed to bring this rating up!

Holland was an amazing heroine, unsure of where she was in life and yet not at all annoying. She didn’t see herself clearly, others around her did and Calvin always wanted what was best for her, trying to put her needs before his as much as he could. To me this was also a slow build romance, starting out strangers then friends then lovers, then finally more. You need to have the patience for this couple because it’s well worth it.

This is a story you savor, one you think about when you set the book down and continue to think about once you’ve finished it. I highly recommend roomies, it’s a perfect book to curl up with.

“I think you might be the best girl there ever was.”
“I think you’re the best boy there ever was, too.” 

ARC provided by the publisher via netgalley. All/any quotes in this review came from an advance unedited copy and may be subject to change in the final product. 

Brave

Brave by Jennifer L Armentrout

5 stars! 

Perfect ending to this trilogy!

Brave is the third book in the Wicked Saga, you need to have read Wicked and Torn before reading this book. So there may be spoilers about the other two books in this review, but no spoilers about this book specifically. Ivy has escaped the fae Prince Drake, being rescued by Ren and some good fae. Now she lives in a good fae haven, dealing with some serious PTSD from being held captive. Pulling away from her friends and loved ones, Ivy retreats into herself more and more. But with the threat of the Prince finding them and ending the world, she needs to shape up and get her act in gear to save the world.

Jennifer Armentrout is one of those very few authors that my reading tastes click with. And I mean I love her books, every single time. Reading her books is like coming home to your bestie and falling effortlessly into that friendship mode. Does that make any sense? This series also feels like a gift to the readers, she takes time out of her busy publishing schedule to bring us a fun indie PNR series. It’s a readers treat!

Everyone loves Tink, let’s be real. Half the reviews on here are about him. And I ADORE TINK. I want to hug him and never let go! He reminds me a lot of Jenks from the Kim Harrison Hollows series. My dream book would have a collaboration between Tink and Jenks in their own book. MIND BLOWN! And his connection with a new character? Seriously amazing and I want Tink to get his own book. Like yesterday.

Ivy and Ren… *sigh*. Hashtag couple goals! Ren is amazing and the way he loves Ivy is even better. I didn’t want this book to ever end. I will be holding out for any and all spin offs that come from this series! And if you haven’t started this series yet because you were waiting for it to be done……… well it’s done so you have no excuse and should be reading book 1 right now instead of my review! I mean it!

ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review 

Citywide

Citywide by Santino Hassell

Full disclosure, I only read Rerouted. Before all of you jump on me, I am allowed to read what I want to read, and I honestly was only interested in Chris, Jace and Aiden. Not that I have to justify my reading choices to anyone, but I have no desire to read the other two novellas because those characters don’t call to me.

That being said, I LOVED Rerouted. I could read about these three men for, well, forever. I wish they had their own full length novel. It’s about Chris, a bisexual man who finds himself as the extra to a married gay couple Jace and Aiden. Jace and Aiden have been together 20 years and are polyamorous, but lately they only want one man to make them a trio. When a blackout leaves the three of them stuck together, it’s up to the couple to convince Chris he’s perfect for them.

As I said before, I loved this story. Chris I wanted to hug the entire time, I understood all of his insecurities and where he is coming from. It’s easy to want him to fall into his happily ever after, but some things needed to be worked out and I think Hassell did a great job of covering all those issues.

Citywide can technically be read as a standalone, but I think maybe you should read Third Rail a short story first to get some background.

It Happened One Autumn

It Happened One Autumn by Lisa Kleypas

4.5 stars! 

“The next time you face a room full of strangers . . . you might tell yourself that some of them are just friends waiting to be found.” 

The Wallflowers are so good!!! I think this book is my favorite in the series so far (yes, I have read Devil in Winter already). I liked the chemistry between the main characters in this one the most so far, that hate to love you tension. This book is the story of Lillian and Westcliff, a brash and outspoken American and a formal, follow the rules Englishmen. Right off the bat they cannot stand each other, but as time goes by they realize their hatred for each other might be something more.

“I can’t get it out,” she said.
“Just pull at it.”
“It hurts. It’s throbbing.”
“Pull harder.”
“I can’t! It’s truly stuck. I need something to make it slippery. Do you have some sort of lubricant nearby?”
“No.”
“Not anything?”
“Much as it may surprise you, we’ve never needed lubricant in the library before now.” 

I’m not normally one for historical romance, but Lisa Kleypas has that magic about her writing. It’s never cheesy to me (and I loathe cheesy historical), and never do I roll my eyes at the language or the diction. It’s an amazing escape from reality, a foray into the lives and loves of the past.

I’m also going to add, when Lillian and Westcliff do finally give in, BOOM WENT THE OVARIES! You wanna read it now, don’t you?

“There is nothing on earth more beautiful to me than your smile…no sound sweeter than your laughter…no pleasure greater than holding you in my arms.” 

Third Rail

Third Rail by Santino Hassell

4.5 stars! 

I love love love the five boroughs series by Santino Hassell! This threesome of characters, Jace, Chris and Aiden are among my favorites, I’ll read anything about them. Honestly I wish there was like a 500 page book about them, but I’m just plain greedy. Third Rail is a collection of short stories about them in chronological order, because they get another story in Hassell’s Citywide coming out November 2017.

This book was HOT. I mean, Santino’s books always are. But an MMM threesome? Yeah. Enough said.

I believe this can be read as a standalone, other characters are mentioned but it’s not confusing. This book should also be free, so grab it while you can!

An ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review

Rhythm, Chord & Malykhin

Rhythm, Chord & Malykhin by Mariana Zapata

4.5 stars! 

“Not liking you is like fighting gravity.” 

After her boyfriend dumps her, Gabby is asked to go on tour with her twin brother selling merchandise for his band. Which would be fine, if she wasn’t insanely attracted to the lead singer of the other traveling band, Sacha. Three months and a bunch of countries, everyone will be tight together making for some interesting happenings.

“Because if I remember correctly, your text message said, ‘I just kicked the hottest guy I’ve probably ever seen in the ass.’ And I asked you what he looked like and you texted me back, ‘Like a double bacon cheeseburger I’d take a bite out of.” 

Mariana Zapata is an author who has never let me down. I’ve read six of her books and thoroughly enjoyed them all. She takes the time to develop her characters and her relationships, so everything feels more real. I love that she writes slow burn instead of instalove, I love seeing the journey her characters take when falling for each other.

Rhythm, Chord & Malykhin is an excellent book and falls in the middle of the spectrum, not my favorite Zapata and not my least favorite. It’s a solid rock star romance, but I also wondered why none of the band players were running around getting laid with everything that moved. Not that I want that, but I wonder if this was a more accurate depiction of the lifestyle where it takes place.

You need to start reading Zapata if you haven’t already. And if you have read some of her books, bump this one up the to be read list.

“He was the end to my beginning.” 

Dear Aaron

Dear Aaron by Mariana Zapata

4 stars! 

Full confession, I totally went into this book knowing mini spoilers. By that I mean I knew the majority of the first half of the book was in epistolary form aka written in emails, IMs and texts. I think it helped knowing that going in, because if I hadn’t I think I would have quit this book, and that would be a damn shame.

Dear Aaron is a love story between a soldier and his assigned pen pal. Ruby and Aaron meet via email when he is deployed in the Middle East through a letters to soldiers program. Over time, they become very good friends and some feelings develop, at least on one side.

I really don’t want to say more than that, go into this knowing it’s a slow burn, the first half the interactions are all written, and that it’s a long book and you’ll be good. Mariana Zapata writes the best slow burn romance. Hands down. You want a romance you’ll long for? Turn to this woman’s books. And while this one was on the sweeter side for me, I still found myself smiling as I was reading it.

This book was really a double edged sword for Zapata, and by that I mean the way it’s written is a tough balance. Too much written interaction and it’s too long, not enough and then people would complain it’s not developed enough. While it’s not perfect, I think she did an excellent job in building the relationship she did and that many readers will enjoy it.

I’m off to read the rest of Zapata’s books! I have two more to go until I run out and will sit here waiting for her to publish more!

Third Rail Release Blitz and Excerpt

Third Rail (Five Boroughs):

Christopher Mendez has always known his sexual identity had a swerve. No straight guy would have low-key lusted after his childhood best friend, right? Unfortunately, a combination of insecurity and overall lack of game has prevented him from further exploring his sexuality. That changes once he agrees to participate in a photoshoot for a queer dating app and meets Jace Fairbairn.

 

Jace is beautiful, fey-like, and in an open polyamorous relationship with his gorgeous linebacker-looking husband Aiden. Once they set eyes on Chris, they’re instantly in lust and determined to broaden his sexual horizons. But what’s supposed to be a straight-forward sexual encounter gets complicated once a one-night-stand has repeat performances, and Jace and Aiden begin to fall in love.

 

This collection of shorts explores the start of a relationship that eventually blossoms into something the three men realize they cannot do without.

 

THIRD RAIL releases on 10/25/2017. It will be FREE at all major retailers.

 

Links: https://www.books2read.com/u/4Awv5qhttp://santinohassell.com/books/

 

Subgenres: queer contemporary romance in the Five Boroughs universe.

 

Excerpt:

We took the train into Queens, which surprised me. I had it in my head that people like Aiden, who were in the same category as Caleb, Ashton, and Meredith, took cabs or slick town cars everywhere. My rich people hookup fantasy was shattered once he led me to the subway with the rest of the suckers.

“This would have been way cooler if you’d had a car downstairs waiting for us,” I confided as we descended the steps to the subway. “Like you in your suit and me with my fifty-pound backpack getting in a black Lincoln. That would have been tight as fuck.”

Aiden slipped his Metro Card from his pocket, snickering. “What, you thought this was some Fifty Shades of Queer set up?”

“Yup. Do you have a play room?”

“My entire apartment is a play room, bro. Have you met my husband? We don’t exactly keep it to one location in the house.”

“Good for you. I’m lucky if I get any action in my own damn bed with my right hand.”

We walked towards the E train, our conversation lost in the rush of bodies moving around us. He could have started describing exactly what they did in every corner of their place and nobody around us would have given a single fuck. But that was New York for you, and it was why I loved it.

 

 

About Santino Hassell:

 

Santino Hassell was raised by a conservative family but grew up to be a smart-mouthed, school cutting grunge kid, a transient twenty-something, and eventually transformed into a grumpy introvert and unlikely romance author with an affinity for baseball caps. His novels are heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of New York City, and his desire to write relationships fueled by intensity and passion.

 

He’s been a finalist in both the Bisexual Book Awards and the EPIC Awards, and was nominated for a prestigious RITA award in 2017. His work has been featured in BuzzFeed, Huffington Post, Washington Post, RT Magazine, and Cosmopolitan Magazine.

 

Connect with Santino: Website | Twitter | Instagram | FB Group | FB | GR | Tumblr