The Time in Between

The Time in Between by Kristen Ashley

4.75 stars! 

“Promise, Cady. Stick with me, no matter what.” 

Kristen Ashley is BACK! This book is just like her old ones, full of magic and romance that digs its way into your heart!

The Time in Between is the story of Cady and Coert, two people who were in love eighteen years before, but lies and bad circumstances came between them and broke them apart. Now, years later, Cady’s husband has died, and he stipulated when he died that Cady had to move to Maine in order to reconnect with two men in her life, her brother, and Coert. Once there she buys a lighthouse and renovates it, biding her time to approach Coert, who is the local sheriff. Except Coert is angry and wants nothing to do with her.

“With him right there, nothing else mattered, nothing else even existed. This was simply where I was supposed to be. No matter what.” 

I have to admit, I was a bit nervous going into this one, mostly because some of the newer releases by Kristen Ashley just really weren’t my thing. BUT this is the Magdalene series, and I adored the first two books in this series, so I went in with an open mind. And what I got was a beautiful second chance romance story that by the end, brought that little bit of sappy mist to my eyes.

Second chance romance is sort of my Achilles heel of subgenres, I just love the idea of two people who lost their way get another chance to make things right between them. Cady and Coert have a lot of issues that bled over from their past, and while it was a rocky start when the two of them reunited, it got smoother as time went by. In fact, once they made up their minds, they did the adult thing and didn’t bring the past into their current relationship to haunt them. They moved on, and moved to something special.

My one small criticism and why I cannot give this a full 5 stars, is this book is SO LONG. Like I was reading it for four days! It took me four days to read the first Game of Thrones novel and that thing is enormous!!! I wish it had been a tad bit shorter because sometimes when reading it, it felt like I was tackling a mountain! But don’t let the length avert you from this gem, by the end I had happy tears in my eyes and was declaring my love for this magnificent book.

This story will stay with you a long time, and you will fall in love with Cady and Coert!

“Love you.”
“Love you most.” 

ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review 

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A Thousand Letters

A Thousand Letters by Staci Hart

4 stars!

“I told her now or never, and that mistake would haunt me until the day I died.”

Persuasion by Jane Austen is one of my all-time favorite books. EVER. So when I heard Staci Hart wrote a modern day version of that, I was intrigued. But what really made me read this book? Hart’s Facebook memes. I’m not even kidding, she posts the most hilarious stuff on social media, so I had to see how this woman with a sense of humor could write an emotionally intense novel.

Seven years ago Elliot chose her family over her boyfriend and love of her life, Wade. Their breakup has stayed with her over the years, and she’s never been able to get over him. Now, a family tragedy has brought Wade home from his deployment and the two see each other for the first time since the breakup. Emotions resurface, good ones as well as the bad. But the two need to pull it together in order to be supportive for their family.

“He was back. He was home. And he didn’t want to see me, didn’t want me there.”

I think this book was brilliantly written, it’s not easy to take a classic story and make it your own but Staci Hart did it. I really enjoyed her take on the story, the small changes she made to make it fit into a modern setting. And with this book, we got the perspective of the guy, unlike the original novel. I found it refreshing and fulfilling to know what he was thinking along the way instead of being kept in the dark on his feelings.

I know I keep comparing the two, but since this IS based on Persuasion I’m gonna make some comparisons. In the original book, Anne was the one who made the mistake, rejecting Wentworth because of his lack of fortune and because her family expected it. In A Thousand Letters, both parties were somewhat guilty, the blame on both of them for their choices and actions. I really liked this aspect of the story, because I feel there are so many real life situations when you look back where we all could have done something differently, whether we were in the right or in the wrong.

For those who haven’t read Persuasion, this is a beautiful romance between two broken people who keep making the wrong choices. I found myself getting lost in the words, the story and the characters. I found myself wanting more from the side characters, a huge sign the characters were well developed. It’s a story that will stay with me a long time, and I cannot wait to read more by Staci Hart.

“I would never get over him. Not as long as I lived.”

Fire in You

Fire in You by J Lynn

4 stars!

“Scars, whether physical or emotional, could be not just a representation of survival but also a story of hope.”

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Reading a J Lynn book always feels like coming home.

The sixth book in this series, Fire In You, follows the characters Jillian and Brock. When Jillian was younger she was in love with Brock, following him around everywhere like a puppy dog. But one night of tragedy changed that, and Jillian hasn’t been the same since. Now, about six years later, Jillian has agreed to go to work for her dad, and Brock enters her life once again. But Jillian has changed, immensely, and she refuses to go back to the way things were between them while Brock is insistent on being in her life again.

“What in the actual hell of all nine circles of Hell was this?”

There isn’t a book in this series I haven’t enjoyed or loved. This one started out very strong, I like how JLA develops her heroines so we get a sense of who they are before we get more of the story. I could totally see where Jillian was coming from, her insecurities and bewilderment at Brock’s sudden interest in her. But I think his big brotherly feelings did develop into something more, I just wish we saw more of his journey than hers.

I devoured this book beginning to end. I’ve been in a romance slump lately and was wary of reading this, but JLA delivered a story that sucked me in and wasn’t the same as everything else. There’s a reason she’s one of my favorite authors, she almost never lets you down. If you’re in the mood for a romance to make you smile, this is the book for you.

“I love you because you have this fire in you that you don’t even recognise, but I do. You’re strong and you’re a survivor.”

Roman Crazy

Roman Crazy by Nina Bocci and Alice Clayton

4 Roman stars!

“It wasn’t love or lust, but something we both recognized as a possibility of something.”

Leaving behind a painful divorce in the states, Avery heads to Rome to forget her problems and spend time relaxing with her best friend. On her first night there she’s shocked to run into someone from her past at a welcome dinner thrown for her. Marcello was a man Avery was involved with when studying abroad in Spain, a man she was never able to forget. But Marcello doesn’t seem very happy to see her, and Avery finds old feelings beginning to surface the more times she spends with him.

“Tell me what happened nine years ago, when you left to go back home and forgot all about Barcelona. And me.”

I’m a long time fan of Alice Clayton and I love new authors so I was beyond excited to read this new book with her and Nina Bocci. Icing on top of the cake? Second chance romance is my favorite of the romantic genres. Bocci and Clayton even one upped this by making it a second chance travel romance which I love even more!

Reading this book I felt like I was transported to Rome, a city I love. I feel the authors nailed the feel of the city and the country of Italy, describing perfectly the scenery and the culture. The food descriptions also made me incredibly hungry, so don’t go into this book with an empty stomach!

This book was so much more than a romance, it was a woman’s journey to find herself after many years of being lost. As much as I loved the romance with Avery and Marcello, I equally loved seeing Avery’s personal growth and her struggles with who she wanted to be after so many years of pushing her true self aside for others. Many women, single, married or divorced can relate to and empathize with Avery’s search for herself.

This book will make you want to fly to Italy and find your own Italian soulmate! I can’t wait to read more from both of these authors, together and separate, in the future.

“For the first time in a very long time, I felt treasured.”

ARC provided by authors in exchange for an honest review

This Heart of Mine

This Heart of Mine by Brenda Novak

4.5 stars!

So I found this book when perusing an angst list on Lana’s blog. It’s a great list and if you enjoy angst it’s very helpful. Having never read this author before I checked out the book from my local library. When I picked this book up I couldn’t put it down!!!

This Heart of Mine is the story of Phoenix and Riley. When Phoenix was seventeen she and Riley were in love until he unexpectedly broke up with her, leaving her pregnant and confused. After a series of immature pranks, Phoenix is convicted for killing the next girl Riley dated even though she’s innocent. But her past actions cause the community to not believe her and she spends the next seventeen years in prison for a crime she didn’t commit.

Now she’s out and she wants to get to know her son. Riley is opposed at first, but time and time again Phoenix proves she is worthy of her son’s time and affection. Now it’s up to the Riley and others to believe her claims of being an innocent person.

Picking this book up I fell in love with it almost right away. I love misunderstood heroines and second chance romance and this was a mix of both. I felt Phoenix was a great complex character and I loved reading how her mind and logic worked. I read the first 200+ pages in a matter of a few hours and when I wasn’t reading, I wanted to get back to it so badly.

Being a “paperback romance” I am surprised I loved it as much as I did, but it just goes to show yet again not to judge a book by its cover. This is a powerful story that many kinds of readers will enjoy and I hope others will give this a chance like I did.

What made this not a full 5 stars was fade to black sex, a very rapid resolution and I wish Riley had been stronger in his convictions when it came to his parents. But those could easily be overlooked, I am just a very picky reader (you should all know this by now).

Walk Through Fire

Walk Through Fire (Chaos #4) by Kristen Ashley

4.25 Chipotle stars

“Never give up. Never quit dreaming. Because dreams had a way of being. You just had to keep hold.”

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So so thrilled I was gifted with an arc. Ever since I read the blurb about this couple in the last book I have been dying to read their story, and Kristen Ashley does not disappoint.

On a regular day Millie decides to get a meal from Chipotle. While there she sees her ex Logan “High” in line ahead of her, precedes to freak out, run away and falls apart. Twenty years ago Millie and Logan had been in love, before she sent him away citing the Chaos motorcycle gang as the reason breaking both of their hearts.

For the last twenty years Millie hasn’t been living, she’s been going through the motions and merely existing. Millie’s real reason for sending Logan away is one that has haunted her the entire time, and now Millie decides she wants to tell this to Logan. Crashing a biker party, things do not go the way Millie intended, and she and Logan end up having explosive hate sex. But Logan has held onto his anger all these years for what Millie had ruined between them, and he wants nothing to do with her. At least, that’s what his head says. His body says otherwise.

“Nothing wrong with dreaming. But you got it right. Best way to dream is to do it, then earn it, no matter how that happens.”

Now we all know Kristen Ashley, what I just described above is only the tip of the iceberg of the story told here in this book. But because I don’t want to give away any SPOILERS (evil) I will not be saying anymore plot wise. I will say from this point on, the two go through some seriously hot hate fucking and Kristen Ashley decides to play tug of war with our heart strings. Simply brilliant, my favorite part of the book.

I did have a few moments like this:

—> especially when I found out how long it had been since Millie had had sex. Too long in my opinion, but you’ll have to read the book to find out and come to your own conclusions.

After the halfway point new issues and hurdles are tossed the couple’s way leaving them to navigate new territory for both of the MCs. This is also where the book gets a bit sweeter and mushier which I also like. But the second half of the book also turned into a stepping stone for the next book/conclusion of the series? and with that lost a bit of the charm that I loved in the beginning. To be honest I don’t give a hoot about the big bad they’ve been building up to and I tend to skim those parts.

I loved the cameos of the cats in the book. It’s obvious they were inspired by Ashley’s real life kitten duo (she’s got pictures on Facebook, look it up) and it made me even like cats for a little bit. But I don’t like cats I’m a dog person so let’s move on.

Millie and Logan are what I would call a timeless Kristen Ashley couple. Logan is a dominant man but not as much as KA hero’s in the past. He’s a man who lets things go when he needs to and it made him an amazing partner and father to his girls. Now while Logan is 44 and a little bit too old for me, I wouldn’t kick him out of bed.

And Millie was someone who suffered silently for years, I loved watching her come alive again when the love of her life came back to her. She’s one of those kind hearted people that would be irreplaceable if she was in your life. She’s devoted, loving and selfless and not one bit annoying (at least to me).

Also, I think this book is a great example of the power of Chipotle. One trip to that restaurant and it changed the course of a couple’s lives forever. So I say we all treat ourselves and get aburrito bowl from Chipotle. I’ll be sitting there getting fat and waiting for my dream biker man to come in.

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Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:

“Never, Millie, don’t you ever hide or feel ashamed of the emotion you have for me, for us, for what we lost, for all we got back. Don’t ever do that. All a’ this is gonna be pain right along with pleasure. That is, until we work through the pain and got nothin’ but the good left over. And I swear to you, fuckin swear I’ll get us there.”

“We didn’t walk through fire only to get to the end of that and not get our reward. If we can walk through fire, baby, we can do anything.”

“Everyone’s got an endless capacity for love. Which means everyone’s got the shot at receiving an endless supply of love. Don’t matter who you give it to or get it from. Just matters you got a heart big enough to give it and a heart open enough to get it back.”

“I’d do it again for another moment like this. And again for a moment like I had over French toast with you and your babies. And again and again and again, for each night I get to sleep with you. No joke. No lie. I’d do it every day it was so worth it to walk through fire for you.”

ARC kindly provided by the publisher via Netgalley

Paper Hearts

Paper Hearts (Hearts #2) by Claire Contreras

4 stars!

“You only need one person to believe in you, even if that person is yourself.”

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**Note: Paper Hearts must be read after Torn Hearts (1.5) which is included in the ebook. Mia and Jensen were post high school sweethearts. When Jensen was an outcast Mia saw him for who he was and loved him. When Jensen left for New York to pursue his dreams he made a mistake that ripped him and Mia apart for years.

Five years later and Mia has accepted a photographer job in New York at the same magazine where Jensen works as a writer. Despite her every effort to keep him out, Jensen is determined to get himself back into Mia’s life. But Mia cannot bring herself to trust Jensen despite their feelings for each other, and soon it may be Mia breaking Jensen’s Heart.

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I love angsty reads and second chance romance and this book was the best of both of those worlds. On top of being a romance, this book focused on finding one’s own place in life as well as the importance of family. I loved Jensen, he knew he had messed up, but he didn’t give up hope that he would end up with his soulmate. His determination to get Mia back was everything.

Mia had her world broken apart so it was hard for her to sort out her feelings on everything. She wasn’t always the nicest person to Jensen, but after holding in her anger for five years she let it out. To be fair, he did somewhat ruin their planned future with each other and it devastated her. Once someone’s trust is lost, it’s that much harder to gain it back.

Claire Contreras is a very talented author. Every book I’ve read by her packs a bunch of feels and sends the reader on an emotional yet heartwarming journey. I loved her inclusion of real reader questions in the book, it added a level of authenticity that made the answers so much more genuine. I also loved all of the side characters, and I’m hoping for an M/M novella about the story of Rob and Juan Pablo. Please? Pretty please, Claire?

“I used to wonder what I would do if I had the chance to go back in time and right something. Would I take it? Would I look at it as a second opportunity, or would I just let it go, knowing the experiences I went through and learned from?”

You Were Mine

You Were Mine (Rosemary Beach #9) by Abbi Glines

3.75 I hate myself for loving these books stars

“Things worth having don’t come easy. You have to fight for it until you’re tired of fighting, and then you take a breather and fight some more.”

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You Were Mine is an Abbi Glines book I was excited to read. I’ve noticed as an author she has the rare ability to make me like a character I’ve had doubts about previously. Bethy is the perfect example of this. To be honest, it’s been so long since I’ve read the first books in these series, Bethy and Jace’s relationship never really stood out to me. And I honestly didn’t even remember who Tripp was until it was mentioned he was the dude who sent Della to Rosemary Beach. Because of this, I feel like I got a fresh start on these characters.

Eight years ago, Bethy and Tripp had their own summer romance when Bethy was 16 and Tripp was 18. They met at a party, and decided to become friends. Tripp and Bethy never told anyone they were hanging out, and when romantic feelings developed, they didn’t say anything in fear of Tripp going to jail.

Tripp desperately wanted to escape the rich world built for him in Rosemary Beach, and he need to leave. Tripp just couldn’t take Bethy with him. The plan was to have her wait for him and then leave together when she was 18, but things went wrong and Tripp lost Bethy.

Eight years later and Tripp still loves Bethy, despite her hatred of him. Bethy lost her boyfriend Jace, Tripp’s cousin, in a tragic accident and has been slowly been wasting away with grief. Tripp finds he cannot leave the girl he loves to wither away, so he does his best to watch over her.

“It matters to me that you’re safe.”

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I think that this is the one of the most sad and angsty books Abbi Glines has ever written. Bethy’s inner struggle with her grief and regret was so heartbreaking. All of her friends tried their best to help her, but it was a battle she needed to fight on her own, but having their support helped. Tripp was an amazing hero with a heart of gold. He was never really the “bad guy” even with the mistakes he made 8 years previous because he was just trying to do what was best for him, and for Bethy.

This was probably the best installment for me in this series. Honestly this series has just been getting better with each book. Don’t kill me people, but the Blair and Della books were solid 3 star reads for me, but with Harlow and Bethy, we got something a little more complicated than the typical romance, and I like it. Sometimes with Ms. Glines books they can seem repetitive or cheesy. I didn’t get either one of those things when reading this book. Yes, it’s a chick book, and a guilty pleasure read, but it was a wonderful story and a great break from reality.

My only issue was I felt like the flashbacks were cut off short. They were very present at the beginning and then suddenly gone. It didn’t flow as well as it could have I guess. But otherwise this was a great read.

Looking forward to the next book, which doesn’t come out until April 2015. Boo!