For the past two years, I've been totally absorbed in the melodramatic, angst-ridden world of digital romance created (mostly) by indie authors. Their...moreFor the past two years, I've been totally absorbed in the melodramatic, angst-ridden world of digital romance created (mostly) by indie authors. Their stories are usually written in 1st person POV and sometimes - as is the case here - in dual 1st person POV. IMO this is by far the best POV to tell a story from because the reader is privy to what is going on in the minds of both hero and heroine. It effectively does away with the "WTF moments" and thus brings a new vulnerability to the hero that, until now, was a rarity in romance novels. Male emotion - raw, honest and straight from his heart - can be the difference between a good book boyfriend and an Oh.My.God.I.LOVE.HIM! great book boyfriend...
...which brings us to this story and Evan Maxwell.
I only have one negative thing to say about this book so I'll say it now and get it over with. The packaging sucks. As a big fan of new adult romance, I am familiar with how the genre is presented. These are digital books so readers are not walking into Barnes & Noble and picking up this book or that, mulling over the back blurbs, etc., we are checking out places like Amazon where there are already hundreds of books listed under this relatively new genre. With the majority of authors being unknown at this point, the "look" of the book - the appeal of title and bookcover - has the big job of reeling the buyer in. And once we're in, well...we are all pretty much "1-click crazy". Think "new adult" romance and covers/titles like these appeal:
Champagne Toast is every bit as good as these 3 books and fits the genre perfectly, yet the cover and title scream Nora Roberts' Bridal Quartet. Not even what a new adult reader is looking for.
Fortunately for me, I came across author Molly McAdams' review of CT and saw this:
WARNING YOU NOW LADIES: You will swoon. And not just swoon...but SAAAWOON! I actually sighed out loud at one part because I love Evan so much and my husband looked like he was going to go find the guy that gave me that dopey look on my face.
Molly's idea of a swoon-worthy hero is definitely my own (hello Team Brandon) and my number one "must have" in a book, so I bought it. Soooo damn glad I did!
Kate Armour is a free-spirited, part-time college student working at a local bar to support herself. She is beautiful, flirtatious, passionate about photography and a serial cheater in relationships...if that's what you would call the superfluous hookups she repeatedly engaged in. Sex and arm candy were the staples and love wasn't even a consideration. Yet coming from a home seriously deficient in affection, it is what Kate thought she wanted from a man.
Until the day Evan Maxwell walked into the bar.
Evan was in his 3rd year at the local University, working towards a degree in marketing. He had solid goals planned for his future and no doubt that he wouldn't meet them. He epitomized "tall, dark & handsome" as though the term was created just for him; and women were always a big part of his life...though he had never been in love.
Until the day he met Kate Armour.
The attraction between Kate & Evan was instant and mutual. However, Kate had a boyfriend, so the first few weeks of working together they were basically "flirting friends". Soon, however, lines started to blur as they became consumed by desire for each other.
He places the pads of his fingers on my cheek, brushing lightly before pushing my hair behind my ear and placing my long thick hair behind my shoulder. “What are you doing?” I whisper, my pulse racing so fast I feel like I might faint. “Swooning,” Evan smiles softly as he looks me in the eyes. My heart stops. “Oh,” I reply, swallowing hard, attempting to hide my emotions and failing miserably. He knows I want him as much as he wants me. “I want to kiss you, Kate. But, I don’t think I should . . . ” his voice trails as he explores my features with his eyes. “Why?” I ask, completely under his spell. Evan caresses my face gently with his fingers and then cups my chin with his hand. “Do you still have a boyfriend?” I nod with an apologetic glance. “It’s okay, I want you to,” I say, my words betraying me. “Not my style,” he says, shaking his head with a deep frown. He leans in and kisses me gently on the cheek. “Goodnight, Kate,” he says softly before walking into the back room. I hear him saying good-bye to Bree and Vince. Slowly, I slide down the bar until I’m seated on the floor, in a complete daze. Every bit of me is on fire, my skin, my hair, my bones. I didn’t know I was capable of swooning. But, Evan Maxwell has gotten under my skin in a way I never knew was possible. So, if Kate Armour swoons, this is how she does it.
Kate & Evan succumb to their desires that night and sleep together. The next day, Kate breaks up with her boyfriend and she and Evan are immediately a couple. For the most part their relationship is great...fun and comfortable and filled with love. As in any relationship, they have problems that they normally meet head-on and deal with; however, Kate's history of cheating coupled with Evan's quick temper and apparent lack of trust culminate in an explosive "it's-not-what-it-looks-like" scene that proves too difficult to overcome. So, after two wonderful years together, Kate & Evan part ways.
OMG their breakup nearly broke my heart! The author does an excellent job of showing rather than telling, and I truly felt like I knew this couple well...like I was actually living their relationship with them. Kate & Evan have a true, deep-seated "soul-mates" type of love that is so badly shaken I was afraid the damage that had been done was beyond repair. The dual POV works so well here as we get inside Evan's head as well as Kate's and understand that he is every bit as broken as she is, although he does try to move on.
Another Saturday night. Another evening surrounded by friends who are pushing me to move on. Patrick and I are meeting some other friends at a bar. Supposedly, there’s a girl he wants me to meet. Whatever. All I really want to do is show up at Molly’s, take a seat at the bar and watch Kate work. I want to watch her run her fingers through her hair and give the customers attitude. I want to watch her pour drinks and make smart-ass comments. I want to walk in that bar like nothing ever happened. But, I can’t. Walking to my dresser, I pull open the drawer and move the stacked clothes to the side. A small box sits in the drawer. It makes my heart race just looking at it. Opening the box, I see the promise ring that Kate threw back at me last spring. My brow furrows as I put the ring in my hand, like I do every few weeks when I can’t get her out of my head. Holding the ring between my fingers, I stare at the band knowing what this ring once represented. A life with Kate. A future that I let go of way too easily.
Champagne Toast is the emotional rollercoaster that we new adult fans crave. The perfect blend of love & happiness, promises & heartbreak, discovery & hope, and awesome, toe-curling sex. Best of all, it has a believable HEA. That's a must for me and I know for most of you as well. And Evan...mmmmmmmm! What can I say? The guy is book boyfriend perfection!!! Sure we all love the rockstars, the actors, the fighters...all the bad boys that just need to find that special someone to love them. But Evan isn't a bad boy at all (well...maybe in bed...mmmmmm). Yet he is so smokin' hot I dare you to read this book and not rank him right up there with the Kellans & Travis' of book boyfriend landia!
I can't say enough good about this book and really, the only reason I complained about the cover and title is because it diminishes the powerful story inside. Champagne Toast really needs more exposure so that others can enjoy this diamond in the rough. One thing is certain...Melissa Brown knows how to tell a powerful, emotional love story. I'm looking forward to reading more from her.
I don't know what I was expecting when I purchased this book but what I got was one helluva dramatic, suspenseful, heart-stopping journey into the see...moreI don't know what I was expecting when I purchased this book but what I got was one helluva dramatic, suspenseful, heart-stopping journey into the seedy underworld of hijackings and terrorists and the kickass men trained to thwart them. This is the book that defines the genre "romantic suspense" and anyone who enjoys a story that is one huge adrenalin rush from beginning to end will love Forged in Fire. Kudos to Trish McCallan for penning such a powerful debut novel. I'm not even a fan of the genre yet couldn't bring myself to rate it anything less than 5 stars!
Being a big fan of Beautiful Disaster and Thoughtless/Effortless, I'm always looking for a book that will give me the same adrenaline rush I felt when...moreBeing a big fan of Beautiful Disaster and Thoughtless/Effortless, I'm always looking for a book that will give me the same adrenaline rush I felt when I read those. Taking Chances was that book for me. It has the incredibly sexy, tatted, buzzed-head hero who makes a living as an underground fighter like BD and the heart-wrenching love triangle between a sweet girl and two equally awesome frat brothers who are both in love with her like T/E. Can Romancelandia get any better for me? Not likely.
Harper Jackson has just started her freshman year at San Diego State University. Being raised by a strict, emotionless father on a military base in North Carolina, she is completely overwhelmed by her over-zealous roommate Bree and the craziness of living in the dorms on campus. Bree's brother, Chase, is the first guy she meets; and, although they fall into a routine of trading snarky remarks with each other, Chase's chiseled, tatted body and surfer good looks have Harper secretly swooning despite her vow to steer clear of the obvious "man-ho". But then she meets Brandon, the sexy "Travis Maddox look-alike" and it is love at first sight for both of them. Unfortunately, Brandon lives in Chase's frat house and it becomes a messy love triangle that escalates to disastrous proportions.
I can't say anything more in detail without giving away the story, but it is an amazing, heart-wrenching, soul-searching journey that Harper embarks upon in her first year of college. It is a long book - just short of 500 pages - but I was so caught up in Harper's dilemma with her two awesome men that I read the book in one sitting. Yes, it is that good!
This is Molly McAdams debut "new adult" novel and I'm excited for her to write more because she has that special "gift" of bringing her characters alive and making her readers feel as though we know these people personally. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to all lovers of a good romance but especially to those who are still in a state of limbo after experiencing Travis Maddox and Kellan Kyle. But heed this warning: Have a box of tissue handy...there are a few situations that will have you tearing up and one incident that will tear your heart to pieces! *sniff*
This is Beautiful Disaster from Travis' POV and I loved it even more than its predecessor. Really...the book boyfriend mold was broken when Travis Mad...moreThis is Beautiful Disaster from Travis' POV and I loved it even more than its predecessor. Really...the book boyfriend mold was broken when Travis Maddox was created! They just don't get any better than him. *sigh*(less)
A well-written, sensual story about a man & woman who are instantly attracted to one another by an unexplainable sense of familiarity. This is str...moreA well-written, sensual story about a man & woman who are instantly attracted to one another by an unexplainable sense of familiarity. This is straight m/f eroticism at its best...truly captivating and highly recommended (especially if you crave rock star heroes like I do)!
Well, as you can probably guess from the title, this is a story about a love triangle...a teenage love triangle...involving Henry - the hottest-lookin...moreWell, as you can probably guess from the title, this is a story about a love triangle...a teenage love triangle...involving Henry - the hottest-looking guy in the senior class, Callie - his bitch-on-wheels girlfriend of 4 years, and Riley - the quiet, pretty girl who has fallen head-over-heels in love with Henry and is now his secret "piece" on the side. After spending nearly every night of the summer with Henry (he would climb through her window after her mother had retired each evening), Riley was hopelessly in love. The two of them got on fabulously together...admitted out loud to each other they were in love... and Riley was certain that she had found her soulmate in Henry. Even so, she was well aware that he had a girlfriend; and although Henry claimed that he didn't love Callie, he wasn't breaking up with her either.
The story begins as they are starting back to school for their senior year. Since the three have known each other for 13 years, Riley assumes that she will be able to handle seeing Henry and Callie together like she always has. Actually, she knows she has no choice but to act indifferent towards them...she loves Henry too much to let him go and would rather share him than not have him at all. But all of Riley's practical rationalizing over their odd relationship goes out the window the first time she actually sees Henry & Callie together. She is devastated...so much so that she becomes physically ill.
From the beginning I had Henry convicted & sentenced to suffer the "Lorena Bobbitt" punishment. How dare he insinuate himself into Riley's life (by way of bed) and then ignore her in public! He made her feel like she was his "dirty little secret" and I hated him for it. I had no idea how the author was going to mold this guy into hero material. Fortunately, she found a way and Henry did redeem himself ..but not 100%. There were a few scenes where Henry deliberately hurt Riley's feelings and the reasons were never confronted or explained away. And of course there is always the question, 'If he could cheat with me will he cheat on me?' Nevertheless, I suspended disbelief, shook off all nagging thoughts and bought right into the sweet HEA.
Even though this is a YA romance and I am so not a young adult, I do remember the feelings I had when I was 17-18 and involved with someone...they were very real and just as profound and complex as they have been in adulthood. I found myself truly empathizing with Riley and the inner turmoil she silently struggles to come to grips with. Bottom line: should she follow her head or her heart? Lauren Hammond is like a fountain overflowing with metaphors, and she uses them most effectively by telling this story through 1st person POV. Riley's intense love for Henry and her conflicted emotions because of it are so vivid through description that you can actually feel her despair. At times it became a little overwhelming and I had to stop reading to bring my heart rate back down!
4.25 stars Recommended to readers who thrive on angst
**spoiler alert** One word describes this story...intense. Extremely, brutally, heart-wrenchingly intense. It is the story of Michael Wade, lead guita...more**spoiler alert** One word describes this story...intense. Extremely, brutally, heart-wrenchingly intense. It is the story of Michael Wade, lead guitarist for the rock band Thrust and Annie Logan, the woman he loves. Their feelings for each other are genuine but their relationship is tempestuous, volatile and nothing short of overwhelming. How can it be otherwise considering the lifestyles they lead? But Annie wants what surely seems to be the impossible...the devotion, the honesty AND the fidelity of a man who has spent the last 20 years of his life proving that sex, drugs & rock n roll is much more than just a cliche.
I really loved Michael. He knew he had found his soul mate in Annie and he honestly tried to be as perfect as she wanted him to be. Being a musician herself, Annie was well aware of the temptations Michael was confronted with on a daily basis yet she cut him no slack. Most of the time I admired her for the short leash she was able to keep Michael on, but other times she irritated me when she was purposely trying to hurt him. Yes, he cheated early in their marriage. He was on the road on tour...tired, alone and missing his wife...when a persistent band groupie slut wouldn't leave him alone. He kept trying to get rid of her but she was giving him a massage and he basically let his defenses down and she gave him a blow job. It was over in two minutes but the guilt was already tearing him up when - unannounced - Annie arrived. Of all the cheating books I've read, this is the one heroine that didn't roll over and play dead. She bit, kicked, punched, and spewed venom at him...for months. When he tried to touch her, she would actually vomit (although being pregnant certainly helped that bit of drama along). Michael groveled. And groveled. And groveled some more. It was obvious that when she finally did forgive him, she wasn't being sincere because when a similar situation presented itself, Michael actually fought the girl off and got scratched for it. Annie saw the scratches; and without giving him a chance to explain, she walked out of his life & divorced him.
Michael did everything he could to make Annie happy...went to rehab, stopped touring, even let her divorce him without a fight. If nothing else, they had 2 baby girls together and he desperately wanted to be a part of their lives. But Annie's bitterness ran deep, and for claiming to love Michael so much, she did everything in her power to beat him down. Purposefully making out with a guy in front of Michael when he was there to see the girls was an immature stunt for a 34-yr-old woman to pull. Yes, he was flawed...he had cheated, but he paid for that indiscretion in spades...he lost the only 3 people he truly loved.
Although the author wrote Michael & Annie a happy ending, I'm not so sure that would've been the outcome in reality. But, thankfully, this isn't reality. And the rock legend, his loving wife and 2 beautiful daughters, drove their Land Rover to their beachfront home on Martha's Vineyard and lived happily ever after. *sigh*
I finished this book 3 days ago and I'm just now coming out of the stupor that I've been wandering around in since. One Day isn't a book with many gra...moreI finished this book 3 days ago and I'm just now coming out of the stupor that I've been wandering around in since. One Day isn't a book with many gray areas...readers will absolutely love the story or they will hate it. I happen to be one of the former...so much so that I have spent all of my free time in the last 3 days hunting down pictures, articles, interviews, etc, related to the book and the movie adapted from it (opens nationwide August 19th). Since the author of One Day, David Nicholls, also wrote the script for the movie, I have no doubt that this is going to be that rare exception where the movie will be as good or better than the book. The actors they have cast to play the lead protagonists are a perfect fit. In fact, Anne Hathaway loved the book so much, she flew to London to convince the director why she was perfect to play the part of Emma.
The story centers on the lives of two people, Emma Morley & Dexter Mayhew, who meet the night of their college graduation on July 15, 1988. The one-night-stand they attempt to engage in doesn't pan out; instead, they opt for being friends. Little do they know, this "off-the-cuff" friendship they've settled for will cultivate and grow - encompassing Dex, Em and all of the book's readers. Thus, July 15, 1988 marks the day that changes their lives forever. For each year thereafter, the story stops on that same day to check in with Dex and Em.
One Day is a character study like no other. I don't think I've ever read a book where I have known the H/h as intimately as I do Dex and Em. Their hopes and fears, successes and failures - as well as the steadfast bond between them - is all absorbed by the reader. Whether you enjoyed the book or not, I'd wager very few could deny the amazing chemistry between Dex & Em, as well as how thoroughly exposed & vulnerable their feelings become as the years go by. You will laugh a little at them and cry a lot with them. In fact, there comes a point in the story where the laughter will cease but not the tears...definitely not the tears. Even for those of us that normally don't cry at the drop of a pin...you might surprise yourself here. Forewarned is forearmed...have the box of tissue handy!
I am not going to elaborate on the storyline because it isn't one to tell; rather, it is a story readers should experience for themselves. Although it is a fictionalized account, there are situations in One Day that might hit home as being very personal to you. Friendship and love... does one lead to the other or should heading in that direction be avoided? Can they exist synonymously...running deep and true and eternal? Is there one specific day that changed your life forever?
The only genre I read is romance and IMO One Day is a 10-star contribution. However, if you require your romance to be all wrapped up in shiny paper with a big bow on top (like I usually do), I would recommend that you do not read this book. But for those of you who are willing to step outside of the box, you will get an extraordinary, emotionally-gripping, "laughter despite the tears" powerhouse of a novel in return. The cover of the book says it all!