The Torn Between Two Lovers trilogy is an interesting premise and takes on something that all readers ultimately want: the ability to choose the heartthrob for the heroine.
Restaurant owner Anna Claire leads a solitary life, fulfilled only by success in her business.
A group of four was having some sort of celebratory gathering, and they looked happy as they toasted with champagne. At ease and on top of the world. A promotion perhaps, or the landing of a big account. An engagement or a pregnancy. Whatever the occasion, Anna couldn't help but feel proud they'd chosen her restaurant for their celebration.
Things change for her when she takes notice of prep chef Grayson James.
Their eyes met, and a strange flutter of butterfly wings took off in her stomach. Gray was looking at her as though she were the answer to every question he had, and it was wonderful. Confusing. Arousing.
"You're so beautiful," he said with reverence, touching her face with the pads of his fingers.
"I don't remember the last time anyone told me that."
"You deserve to hear that every single day, because it's true."
"Thank you." Drawn to him, she reached up and traced his lips with one finger. "You're a very handsome man yourself."
"I wasn't fishing."
"I didn't think you were." She paused. "Why me?"
His face registered in surprise. "Why am I interested in you?"
"Besides your beauty, you're smart, successful. Kind. I think you need to unwind a lot, and I want to help you do that."
God, he smelled good. Woodsy and manly, and it made her body ache to be touched. Completed.
"Then help me, Gray."
Turns out, he wants more than to help her unwind. He's an FBI agent, working undercover to take down a drug ring that is apparently operating out of Anna's restaurant. He has to determine who's responsible, including if Anna's in on it, and take them down. Gray doesn't count on real feelings getting in the way, and you can imagine what happens when she finds out the truth.
"I've had feelings for you since we first met. Don't you remember that? I wanted you as a man, not an agent and my feelings are real."
Unable to deal with the intensity of their relationship or Gray's betrayal, Anna runs off to Aruba, where she runs into Gray's nemesis, Joaquin Delacruz. Sparks are already flying, and we'll find out more about Joaquin and his desire to turn his back on his mob life in the second book in the series, RISKY.
I was surprised by how much story Davis was able to tell in so few pages and over such a short period of time. We get a real sense of both Anna's character and the kind of man Gray is when he's "off the clock." The richness of the world-building and character development was amazing. Not only do we get to know Anna and Gray, but we're introduced to Anna's mother, Gray's partner, and even learn about head chef Ethan's diva-like personality.
"You imbecile! Did you get your certification from a box of cereal? Did it come with a plastic toy inside, too?"
Even though I liked this story overall and love the idea behind it, there were things that I didn't like. There's unrealistic insta-love between Anna and Gray. She's been on her own all this time and just seems to fall into a trusting no-holds-barred relationship pretty quickly. The use of some words, like channel, squick me out, and there's some sexytimes stuff that I thought was totally out of character, especially for Gray.
With that being said, I have to admit that I'm totally intrigued by the idea for this trilogy. After the release of RISKY on November 19, readers will be able to vote on facebook for #TeamJoaquin or #TeamGrayson and decide who Anna will end up with in REWARDED, which is the conclusion to the series (available March 2014). You better believe I'll be all over that. In the meantime, get to know Grayson so you'll be ready to help Anna choose the right guy for her. Guess who I'm voting for.(less)
MJ and I read this book together and lots of these words are hers ♥
Twelve contemporary authors disassembled and reimagine aspects of twelve timeless stories, ranging from fantasy and science fiction to literary classics. Melissa Marr and Tim Pratt contributed to and edited this compilation of works by such respected and loved authors as Neil Gaiman, Holly Black, and Carrie Ryan. Even though we each had things we liked (and didn't like), there is truly something here for everyone.
We thought we'd tell you about each of the stories included in Rags & Bones:
That the Machine May Progress Eternally by Carrie Ryan This is a stiflingly claustrophobic other side of The Machine Stops with terrifyingly vivid imagery and a depressing second half. We’re actually a little claustrophobic and couldn’t breathe for the first half of this tale, then were basically nauseated by the utterly depressive state of the character ultimately submitting to The Machine. The line “the weight of the dirt resting between him and the surface” is sort of the moment of transition, when he succumbs to the supposed comfort of The Machine. We can’t say we liked it, but it certainly affected us.
Losing Her Divinity by Garth Nix This story was written as a dramatic monologue with the writer character telling the story of the wayward goddesses in the past as well as what is happening to him in the present. It’s humorous. We found ourselves giggling out loud more than once.
The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman We don’t have a lot to say about this other than it’s what you’d expect from a storyteller such as Gaiman on an idea such as this. It’s unique and engaging and almost unrecognizable from the original source--Sleeping Beauty. You can tell he’s held this story inside his head with care until just the right time to tell it.
The Cold Corner by Tim Pratt
“This road trip was supposed to help me settle the question of who I was and what I wanted, but it wasn’t working so far.”
This tale is told in a familiar and contemporary style and timeframe. The tone is sardonic if not blase, but the landscape is lush and lulling, and semi-dreamlike. Also, we felt like we were sitting right next to the main character, Terry, throughout, experiencing it as he was. The conversational narrative made it feel like we were friends having coffee. This is one of our favorites of what we read, simply for what we’ve told you about it so far, but it’s also an interesting angle on the examination of “what might have been.”
Millcara by Holly Black Kind of pretentious and tedious. We love vampire tales, Carmilla included, so we were disappointed by the telling of this side of the tale. Maybe it’s just the tone, but it kind of made our skin crawl.
When First We Were Gods by Rick Yancey This is a future where the elite population of humankind is granted immortality based on a piece of technology called Transfers, which is super freaking creepy body jumping type of stuff. We liked the prose and the cultural references (laughed out loud the Gingrich Memorial Gardens on Moon Base Alpha), though. And it’s a love story!
Sirocco by Margaret Stohl This tale takes place on a modern-day film production set and follows the story of The Castle of Otranto, which is considered to be the first Gothic novel. We liked the life imitating art aspect and really liked Theo. The end was a little unexpected, but we liked this one--it made us laugh and swoon a little bit, too.
Awakened by Melissa Marr A truly refreshing tale, we loved Marr's retelling of Kate Chopin's The Awakening. Even though she completely changed the characters and their motivations, the feelings were all there.
I want passion, true love with a man some day in the distant future who is so overcome with love that he'll accept me for who and what I am. I want a man who did not trap me, who will not keep me in a cage. There is no happiness inside a cage, no matter how gilded.
The subject matter is definitely not for everyone--the main character, Eden, is literally held captive, but we really loved the way this one turned out.
New Chicago by Kelley Armstrong Set in futuresque New Chicago, this retelling of The Monkey's Paw has a dystopian, post-apocalyptic spin on it. It stays pretty true to the story, but we found ourselves empathizing a little more with the main characters this time around.
The Soul Collector by Kami Garcia This was an interesting twist on Rumpelstiltskin told in a modern-day drug-and-prostitution-fueled setting. We liked the exchanges the Soul Collector made with the main character, Petra, but ultimately didn't like how far it deviated from the true story in the end.
Without Faith, Without Law, Without Joy by Saladin Ahmed This retelling of The Faerie Queen was almost lyrical and quite poetic. The ending was perfect, but we didn't particularly like this one.
Uncaged by Gene Wolfe We weren't familiar with the story that inspired this retelling, The Caged White Werewolf of the Saraban. This story was okay. We didn't empathize or feel a connection with any of the characters.
Twelve tales, ranging from fantasy to sci-fi to just plain out there, Rags & Bones has something that will appeal to every reader whether they love retellings, creepy tales, or just good story-telling in general.(less)
I really love Robin Bielman's characters and stories and was pretty excited to check out Her Accidental Boyfriend. Kagan Owens temporarily escaped her billionaire father's plans for her life when she fled from her high-society job and obligations in NYC to the small coastal town of Cascade. She works in relative anonymity as a waitress and spends her days living the small-town life, fueled in part by her fantasies of local bad-boy architect, Shane Sullivan.
Okay, he'd been the lead in all of [her fantasies], with his square jaw, dazzling blue-gray eyes, and dark, neat hair that she really wanted to mess with her fingers. Not to mention he had a rock hard body that put all other bodies to shame. But she had no plans to act on the urges he stirred. For one, he held the title of first-rate flirt and town Casanova, and every single girl in a twenty-mile radius had set her sights on him.
When Brett, the guy her father intended for her to marry, shows up and demands she return home with him, Kagan tells him that she can't go back...because she's met someone in Cascade, and it's serious.
Shane just happens to walk up at pretty much that exact moment and plays along. When Brett decides to stick around, Kagan and Shane realize they're going to have to convince everyone that they're together.
"This doesn't mean we need to be together twenty-four-seven or anything. I've got work, you've got work. But since Brett has no plans to leave we do have to make it look real, which means lying to everyone--your mom and dad, your sister. Friends. I'm sorry I've put you in that position."
He tucked a piece of hair that had escaped her updo behind her ear. "Quit apologizing, okay? I'm happy to help you out."
"You're positive?" Under the street lights it wasn't easy to read his expression, but she was pretty sure she saw reluctance mixed in with his acquiescence.
"Truthfully, being anyone's boyfriend is not on my radar, but I can fake it will Brett's here. You're going to owe me big time when we're through, though."
They start spending time together, and you know what happens--what started out as fake isn't so fake anymore.
She bit her bottom lip and then leaned in a little closer, played with the hair at the nape of his neck. "You and me." She stared into his eyes. He stared back. "How I'd like to--"
He cut her off by smashing his mouth against hers. Fierce. Passionate. Kissing her with the kind of wild abandon that led to tearing clothes off each other.
I really liked Shane. He was sweet and attentive and swoony. He was a fun guy to be around. I loved that he was always thinking of Kagan's feelings and wanting to be good for her, even when it was just a ruse. I also liked the other characters, especially Shane's sister and best friend and Kagan's best friend.
Kagan was okay. Some of the time I liked her, but some of the time I didn't. I had a real issue with her constantly thinking of Shane as just a "wham-bam-thank you-ma'am kind of guy." He obviously cared about his family and about her, to put his life on hold to help out with her charade. He even took a vacation to spend time with her, and since she didn't have any close friends who told her about how he "loved her and left her," I didn't really get why she was so adamant about him being a playboy. Most of the things I liked about her were the things that Shane liked about her. He made me appreciate her more.
There were a few other things that I didn't like, including Kagan's father and Shane's boss, but overall, I enjoyed reading this story and will definitely be back for more from author Robin Bielman. With an awesome guy that you'll definitely fall for, an almost idyllic setting, and a storyline that will never get old, Her Accidental Boyfriend is a great way to spend an afternoon.(less)
5 stars. If I could give this book 19 stars, I would. love love LOVE
A modified version of this review can be found, with more quotes (if you can belie...more5 stars. If I could give this book 19 stars, I would. love love LOVE
A modified version of this review can be found, with more quotes (if you can believe it) and a dream cast, on Swoony Boys Podcast.
While I was excited to participate in the tour for Six Months Later because we love supporting debut authors, I thought this would be just another run-of-the-mill YA book. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
This. Book. Is. Famazing.
Right from the beginning, you’ll find yourself sitting on the edge of your seat to know what’s going on.
I’m sitting next to the fire alarm, and my best friend is going down in flames.
A junior in high school, slacker Chloe Spinnaker knows she needs to study more and bring up her less-than-stellar GPA if she wants to get into college. She wants to do better, but doesn’t spend much time trying to do anything about it. So it’s no surprise when she nods off during study hall one day in May. What is surprising is that she wakes up to find that six months have passed and it’s now November.
She can’t remember how she got where she is when she wakes up, or why her hands are dirty, or why her best friend, Maggie, doesn’t answer the phone when she calls her. She doesn’t understand when bad-boy Adam Reed is the one who comes to rescue her and is even more confused by the way she seems to feel about him.
“We can’t keep doing this, Chloe,” he says softly.
The words sting and I don’t know why. I don’t even know what he means, but I desperately want to argue with him. I want to shake my head and grab his hands and–this is crazy.
Way beyond crazy.
Chloe gets another shock when she practically falls into the arms of longtime-crush Blake Tanner. He’s her boyfriend now and seems to be crazy about her.
Blake stands next to me in every last [picture], his arm around my shoulder and my head tipped toward him. It’s the kind of pose that leaves no question to our status. We’re together.
My memory decides to have some sort of massive file corruption and these are the months I missed? What about my years in braces? Or the summer my dog and grandmother died a month apart? No, I get to miss the six months that turned my life from train wreck into perfection.
Over the summer, Chloe apparently joined an elite study group and her grades and SAT scores skyrocketed. She’s in with the popular crowd and has a perfect boyfriend. She has everything she’s ever wanted, but there are only a few problems with her “new life”:
1. She can’t remember anything that happened over the last six months and knows there’s something going on. 2. Her best friend refuses to talk to her–at all. 3. She can’t stop thinking about Adam.
Chloe gets little flashes of her memory whenever Adam touches her, but there’s more to it than that. She has an overwhelming connection to him. While trying to understand her feelings for Adam (and anti-feelings for Blake), Chloe finds little clues that let her know that she’s not totally crazy and that she needs to get to the bottom of what happened to her. She has to follow her instincts to figure out who to trust, and she becomes even more determined when she finds out that one of her friends might need her help. The twists and turns in this fast-paced story will keep you on the edge of your seat.
What I liked: I loved pretty much everything about this book. Chloe was a character that I was rooting for the whole time. And Adam? OMG I LOVE HIM I LOVE HIM I LOVE HIM. He’s sweet and beautiful and genius-smart and eats oranges and gives me all kinds of swoonyflails.
He smirks again, and I think I understand why girls go for the bad boy. Or at least, the guys who appear to be bad boys. “I think it’s all an act,” I say, licking Twinkie filling off my finger. “This bad boy thing. You do it to pick up girls.”
“Is it working?” he asks, leaning closer.
I cannot say enough about Adam, who definitely has a spot on my top ten list. I want to quote basically everything he said. I just love him.
I also loved that the plot was realistic and just…gah! Chloe was a bit of a dare-devil and loyal and just genuinely awesome. She has a lot to deal with, and I loved the way she handled it all. Her best friend, Maggie, was pretty awesome, too. Though Chloe hurt her and they don’t talk anymore, Maggie doesn’t abandon Chloe when she really needs her. This pair have a history since they were little girls, and I love that. I love that they love each other. I loved that even though Blake is the all-American prom-kind over-achieving guy that every parent wants their daughter to date, and Chloe's had a crush on him forever, she can’t shake the feeling that it’s just not right. I just want to tell you all the things, but I don’t want to spoil. Trust me, you need to read this one.
Six Months Later has it all: action-packed suspense, a believable main character who totally kicks ass, a sweet boy who’ll have you swooning and flailing, and a BFF that you'll want to hang out with. I can’t wait to find out what’s next for author Natalie Richards.(less)