I received a free copy through Nina Bocci PR in exchange for an honest and unbiased review/opinion.
4 stars — I’m not always a big fan of enemies to lovers, but this one worked out okay for me. I think part of it is that there wasn’t any genuine hostility, they just enjoyed being rivals and giving each other shit. So there was a lot of little taunts and jabs, but it never felt mean-spirited.
Both characters were unlike any I’ve really read before. Brenna had SUCH a hard shell around herself. As the story went on and we learned more about her and her past, I feel like I totally understand why she is the way she is, and it makes sense. And it wasn’t just that she kept others at bay, she was tough on herself as well…except, not. Like, she was this weird mix of self-assured, confident woman, with a little kernel of self-doubt and shame…mostly coming from her relationship with her Dad. I really appreciated the way her relationship with her Dad played out at the end…it felt believable, and realistic. Sometimes I have a harder time with heroines who are so…hardened?? Not quite what I’m looking for. But it makes it harder for even the reader to connect with her at times, and I felt this a teensy bit with Brenna. I liked her, I admired her, I thought she was hilarious, and my heart hurt for her past…but I couldn’t relate necessarily.
And then there’s Jake. He was his own bit of conundrum. He’s SUPER confident, cocky even, though genuinely talented, and more importantly hard-working. I admired his drive and ethic. And he was very guy-y. Like he enjoyed the spoils of being a hockey player, and getting all the action off the ice so easily. But I didn’t feel like he was a playboy necessarily…more just that that was what was happening in his life, that was what fit around his hockey schedule, but I never felt any judgement from him over the girls he slept with. I think that’s one of the number one things I love about Ms. Kennedy’s writing (and authors like her): the complete lack of slut-shaming. OH GAWD, SO REFRESHING. I’m not saying our characters don’t have problems, but at least the book isn’t full of judgement. (sorry, been running into that a lot) ANYWAYS. I really kind of loved watching Jake fall for Brenna. I LOVED that he appreciated (and was turned on) by her confidence. And I loved that while he was like a confused rabbit dealing with his feelings, he didn’t run from them like so many heroes do. Well, not exactly. He acknowledged them, he just got overwhelmed. Again, ahhhhhh…refreshing.
The two of them together were pretty funny. They really did rag on one another with abandon. And I definitely felt their chemistry, though perhaps not always as much as previous couples. I really believed their feelings, I was just missing something there that I can’t seem to pinpoint.
The hockey stuff was great. Loved the in depth descriptions of the big match-up. As a HUGE Edmonton Oilers fan, and someone who lives there now, I was both excited to get a mention, and dismayed by the “Edmonton is cold” misconceptions. *sigh* It’s a dry cold! It’s not like that all winter! 😉
The Hollis side storyline was completely unexpected and amusing, if a bit OTT at times. I kinda wanted his book, so I’m not sure if this means he’s not getting one, though I expect not. So that was both a plus and a minus, it left me feeling torn. I also appreciated the way Hunter’s story ended up. So there were lots of good things coming for our boys, but I didn’t connect with any of the side girl characters really. Hazel’s storyline was unfortunately cliche, so it was hard to connect with her.
So yeah. Thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining, with undercurrents of seriousness here and there....more
I received a free copy through Nina Bocci PR in exchange for an honest and unbiased review/opinion.
4 stars — Oh those Brooklyn Bruisers…how I missed them.
Jason and Heidi were both so adorable and unique. It was odd reading about a hero who was so guy-y, so unapologetic about being bossy and who loved being in charge, and just…well guy-y. But at the same time Jason was SUPER sweet, kind, thoughtful, and a great friend. And he had such a big heart. Similarly Heidi was an honest-to-goodness spoiled princess in many ways, and she loved stereotypical girly things, like makeup, shoes, designer goodies… But she was also super hard-working, thoughtful, sweet, and intuitive. It was like Ms. Bowen gave us two character stereotypes, and said “aha! But look deeper!” I seriously DUG that. It was one of my favourite aspects of the story.
But while I loved that in a surface way, and while I did truly love our characters, I was never super attached to them either…like neither one made my book boy/girl list. And I don’t really know why. It’s not a bad thing, just something indicative of why this is not higher than 4 stars for me.
I think I felt like Jason’s personal struggles lacked something…but then again, they didn’t always. I found myself crying for him too. I think I just had a hard time with his turnaround…like it wasn’t unbelievable exactly, but I wanted something more there.
On the other hand, I ADORED the way Heidi stepped up to every challenge set before her. She had a bit of a raw deal, but I loved that she met each task with dignity and tenacity. I admire the hell out of her.
Jason and Heidi together were da bomb. They had amazing chemistry, and I loved how much fun they could have together, even in the steamy scenes. They made me laugh out loud many times, even as they gave me tummy tingles.
I loved that the hockey boys played a somewhat larger role in this story… I loved the support that they gave, and the sense of comradery that oozed off the pages. I am hella intrigued by Silas, and have a few theories of where his story might go, but I keep second guessing myself.
As a total aside, speaking from my own NHL hockey attendance experience, I found the whole mascot thing weird. Do they do that in other arenas? Not that it matters, this is fiction…it just startled me and felt unbelievable. What didn’t feel unbelievable was the section about the Ice Girls… I don’t know what the conditions are for the girls in this role in real life, but I’ve seen my own team struggle with appropriate attire (though at least now they’re in pants and long sleeves) and finding a balance.
So this review was all over the fucking place. Sometimes I have all these thoughts, and they really just don’t go together. And sometimes I write down my thoughts, but moreso bullet point form, and then when I come back to clean it up I struggle. The gist is that if you love the Brooklyn Bruisers series, you’re going to love this installment. If you love hockey romances, you’re going to love this hockey romance. If you love being surprised and inspired by your main characters, well strap in and enjoy the ride....more
I received a free copy through Nina Bocci PR in exchange for an honest and unbiased review/opinion.
4 stars — I enjoyed this one, as I enjoy all of Ms. Bowen’s works…but for some reason that I cannot define, I procrastinated a lot while reading this book. So I’m not sure if it was my mood, or if I just wasn’t as captured by Benito and Skylar’s story, you know? It’s so hard to tell. I think it’s a bit of both in the end.
Characters are my bread and butter, and in the case of Skylar and Benito, I just didn’t fall in love with either of them. I fell in STRONG like, for sure, but not in love. All the elements were there for me to love both of them, but it just didn’t happen.
Skylar was hella damaged from her past/childhood, and I felt for what she went through. The abuse from Gage was really insidious in all the little ways it dug in and stayed in her psyche. I thought that was explored really well, and I loved Benito’s description of the little sexual room in each person…what a great way to visualize it. Skylar was sweet, and a mix of sassy and meek that was intriguing. And can I just say that I LOVED that she was a tall girl? Represent! I also loved the way the story with her job/career worked out, even as at the beginning I wasn’t sure I would. But for some reason I had less patience with her romantic growth. I felt like while I got her trust issues, I was also mad at the two of them for not airing things out. I’m not a fan of miscommunication tropes, and this one spanned the entire book (though it remained in the background for most of it).
I thought I would absolutely LOVE Benito from reading previous books in the series. And he was most certainly his own mix of intriguing characteristics — unbelievably sweet and considerate mixed with dirty talking. But I just…I liked him, but he didn’t make my book boyfriend list. And I honestly don’t know why. I think he just didn’t stand out for me. There were moments when I totally thought he was going to, because honestly some of the ways he treated Skylar were just STELLAR. He was perfect at watching her moods and not pressing her. He was a truly great guy in general (with the occasional misstep here and there). But again, the miscommunication happened on both sides.
As for their romance, it was another area where I definitely enjoyed it, but just wasn’t blown away. I think I enjoyed the sweetness more than the steaminess with these two, which is not to say the steaminess wasn’t…well, steamy. 😛 I’m just so articulate today.
I thought the sprinkles of the past were really well done, and it was an interesting decision to write from an almost omniscient 3rd person? I’m not good at figuring out all those different POVs. Anyways, it worked for me, it just took me a minute to adjust to it. While there were many heartbreaking moments, I think I loved these glimpses into the past, because it made me fall in love with Skylar and Benito together. Their present selves just needed a kick in the pants.
I enjoyed the little bit of action/suspense side plot we got with Benito’s case, and how that tied in with Rayanne. Though I will admit that I almost wished there was more closure with Rayanne’s bit…maybe it’s been left open ended for a reason?? Things that make you go hmmmm….
So yeah. Ms. Bowen really can’t go wrong for me in this series…even presenting a miscommunication trope, which is low on my list, I still really enjoyed myself. And as always it was awesome to get glimpses of other True North characters, and even get some closure on a few little storylines (Zara). I have no idea if there’s going to be more, but I sincerely hope so....more
4.5 stars — OK, wow, this book went in places I wasn’t anticipating at all. And while I don’t want to spoil things, I will warn that if you have problems with people in porn or the sex industry, then you should steer clear.
So while I was surprised what subjects this book tackled, I found it really fascinating and thought-provoking. I doubt I was supposed to, at least to the degree which I was, but I think women who work in…shall we say “less savoury” professions are so often judged without looking deeper. And what’s strange is that a lot of romance books I’ve read have helped me to consider the reasons women might seek these jobs out, besides the obvious of enjoying it (or the common thought that they were forced or coerced). It’s a strange world we live in where sex really does bring in the money. And while that’s kind of a shame, I like how books I’ve read have helped me not to judge the *people* in those industries (well, the ones on the bottom, not necessarily the ones at the top who exploit). What I appreciated about this one was that we didn’t really get into the industry at all, it was just an aspect of Eden’s character. Instead we got to see the role it would play in a love story…which is, I suppose, the part that I found fascinating.
Ryder was not what I was expecting at all. I truly felt how lost he was when the book started, and how lonely. And while I’m not really a fan of mentioning some “secret” (about how his previous relationship ended) and then not telling the reader, I tolerated it in this book. I was worried about what the secret was going to be, but it was interesting in and of itself and added a new dimension to Ryder. Through him we also got a realistic view on grief as well. The thing that got me about Ryder is that he was this interesting mix of jealous/possessive with understanding/compassion. I loved that his compassion for Eden’s situation meant that his jealousy didn’t go out of control. It, again, felt very realistic. Because it would be hard to turn off those feelings, even as you understood the circumstances. He was just such an interesting hero for me, because he didn’t fall into any of the usual hero traps. He was a rich, powerful guy, but he was still struggling with what he wanted to do with his life. He loved his parents, and struggled with making his father proud. He was just way more humble and down to earth than I was expecting. He surprised me in the best ways.
I felt a bit more in tune with who Eden was going to be, and I loved that she was sweet, caring, and while she had her insecurities, we got to see her struggle to not let them overrun her emotions. She had her own balancing act between her fears and her desires. While I really liked Eden, I didn’t connect with her as strongly as I connected with Ryder, and I’m not sure why…truly. *shrugs* It happens I guess. She had her own “secret” that was kept from the readers, and while I had guesses to what it was, it was actually more intricate than I was anticipating.
I loved the way Ryder and Eden’s love story progressed, from their first interactions right to the end. I LOVED that the relationship wasn’t sexual at first, but that they got to know each other. I loved that they found they could share their true selves with each other. Basically their connection felt real to me, and I appreciated that it wasn’t a rush to the bedroom, despite how they met. But worry not, their steamy scenes were worth waiting for (in my opinion).
Now here’s the surprise of the story: Ollie. But I can’t tell you more without some spoilers, so proceed at your own risk. (view spoiler)[I didn’t expect to fall in love with Ollie as hard as I did. I think he took both me *and* Ryder by surprise. He was a pretty funny kid, and I loved how Ryder interacted with him, and learned from him. He helped Ryder to grow. I love that I truly believed in their connection as well. It wasn’t just that Ryder fell in love with Eden, he loved Ollie too. And OMG, the crisis phone call from Ollie near the end made me laugh (even as it again made me think). (hide spoiler)]
So yeah. Huh. I told my hubby I was having trouble writing this review, but apparently what that meant is that I had a novel’s worth of thoughts to put on paper. *rolls eyes* And I still think of other things to say (like I loved how the ex wasn’t really vilified). I can definitely see this book not working for everyone, but it totally worked for me. In the end, I fell in love with their love....more
4 stars — I think one of things I loved the most about this book is that Ms. Kennedy took a few stereotypes and dove into them, turning them onto their heads and providing depth to those experiences. In particular the “blonde party girl” and the “jock”. I love that kind of thing. I love when an author isn’t afraid to take a persona that is often made out to be the anti-hero, and turns it into a hero/heroine. And she totally succeeds with Fitz and Summer.
I don’t think I had any preconceptions about Summer necessarily…it’s been awhile since I read about her in the Off-Campus series. I mean, she seemed outgoing and sassy, so I was excited to get more of that. And she was both of things as well as so much more. Her vulnerabilities hit me hard. Not because I can relate personally, but I’m pretty sure my bro has an undiagnosed learning disability, and it always hurt my heart that he was convinced he was stupid. I’ve read a few books that finally get into some of those learning disabilities, and I thought Ms. Kennedy did a fantastic job showing us Summer’s experiences. What I loved is that she has this remarkably supportive family, but that didn’t magically cure her insecurities. It just made it real, and relatable.
Now, aside from all that, Summer was just a seriously cool chick. Like, she honestly felt like a popular girl who wasn’t just a caricature, but someone real. I LOVED the way she approached meeting new people, I loved how effervescent her personality was, I loved that she didn’t take shit from a lot of people (or at least she tried not to). She was feisty, and sassy, and bold, and sweet and caring and loyal. She was kinda da bomb dot com.
Fitz was a bit harder to fall in love with. I mean, I did (mostly), but damn the boy had some mean moments when he was protecting himself. But I understood it, you know? I got why he was the way he was. I was just sad, b/c while he was shielding himself, he was hurting Summer. It’s weird to be so frustrated with someone while also still feeling for him. I think it would have been worse if Summer didn’t have the backbone she did. He really had a LOT of growing to do in this book, and it took him a long time to get there. I really loved the dichotomy of jock and computer/artsy nerd though. And aggressive hockey player with introvert who doesn’t like the spotlight. It was intriguing, and it worked.
The two of them together gave me some anxiety, though I did love their chemistry. Normally I am not a fan of couples who yell at each other…and while I’m still not super cool with it, it fit their personalities somehow. That’s not something I ever thought I would say. On the plus side, I ADORED their bantering and teasing. Truly a highlight.
There were some interesting secondary storylines playing throughout this book, besides their romance, that I thought added to the story without becoming cluttered. I really appreciated (from a “relevant in today’s society” way) Summer’s struggle with her professor…and her advisor as well to a certain degree. It really showed how hard those situations can be, and how it’s not always black & white. I also really appreciated Colin’s struggles with Mr. Jain. He could be a bit over the top sometimes, but it was an interesting twist on bullies.
So yeah. This one totally surprised me, in some of the best ways. I think Summer is going on my book girl crush list, she was just endearing and fun. Can’t wait to read about Brenna, and I sincerely hope Hollis and Hunter get their own books too!...more
4.5 stars — This book was completely unlike what I was expecting…or rather, my initial expectations, b/c I did read a review that mentioned it was not as gut-wrenching as they were expecting, and hence why I was convinced to give it a try. I don’t mind the feels, but I like a balance. And this book had the perfect balance of feelz and lightness.
This is my first book by this author, and it definitely won’t be the last. I was intrigued by both Mila and Ames right from the start. Mila was such a different heroine from what I was expecting. She was so light and sunny and positive, even when struggling with dark things. It wasn’t an all the time thing, but more just who she was at her core. I loved how thoughtful she was about the struggles of life and grief, and how intrinsic it was to her personality to truly care for others and try to understand them. She wasn’t perfect, by any means, but I really loved her regardless. Her battle with her parents was different, and showed a different side of her…I enjoyed the fact that that wasn’t magically resolved, it just was what it was.
I struggled with Ames at the very beginning…he was just so gruff and rude, and I *almost* found his turnaround a bit hard to buy. But the funny thing is that I just didn’t care by that point, b/c I loved the new Ames we were getting to meet. His heart was so big, and I loved watching him make room in it for Mila. And just like her, he was definitely not perfect…he had great intentions with his family, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t being a blind idiot a lot of times. I really appreciated that at the end he didn’t let himself off the hook for his bad behavior. He truly felt that regret.
And the romance between Mila and Ames was just so freaking sweet and sexy…I definitely felt the chemistry, but more often than not I spent most of my time swooning. I also loved the interesting conversations they had about their pasts, love, grief, and all that good stuff.
This book had a really interesting cast of secondary characters as well, and I loved the relationships that our MC’s had with them. From Mila’s relationship with her twin, Jude (which made me look and confirm that he has his own set of books); to the friendship she develops with Lotte; to Ames’ friendship with Samson; to the wisdom passed down by Ames’ FIL Asher. I really appreciated how these relationships gave more insight into Mila and Ames. Obviously I’m wishlisting Lotte and Samson’s story…gotta see what happens there!
I will admit that closer to the end I found my attention wandering. It’s the reason I’m rounding down instead of up. It could have been just me and my mood, or it could have been that I was getting bored. But either way it was fairly brief and so really didn’t affect my overall enjoyment that greatly.
So yeah. I love it when you get a book as a recommendation from a fave author and it works out. Will definitely be looking to read more from this author in the future....more
I received a free copy through the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review/opinion.
4.5 stars — For a first foray into young adult, Ms. Bowen really nailed the feel of it — I ADORED IT!!! I loved all the different struggles we got to experience with Rachel. From navigating through her grief, adjusting to a father she’s never met, friendships that change and grow, and first love, it was all beautifully poignant, but not without its humour as well.
Rachel was pretty easy to like. I felt for everything she was going through, and I even recalled some of my own struggles with grief as a teenager. While I was fortunate enough to have a loving mother to hold me up, I still recognized that great sense of loss. A strange thing that I appreciated in Rachel was that she didn’t always behave the best, or make the best choices…she very much felt like a teenager testing boundaries, experiencing fear, and becoming irrational over different things. It can make it hard to read sometimes, but it also made her feel more authentic.
I also appreciated that while we eventually learn a few things about Frederick and how his role as Rachel’s father played out, there wasn’t some magical reason why he was absent. Ms. Bowen didn’t let him off the hook, because sometimes people just make bad choices and then they have to live with those consequences. I appreciated the way their relationship developed over the course of the book. It might have seemed smoother at the beginning, but that’s partially because Rachel wasn’t opening herself up to him out of fear of being abandoned. So it was interesting to see her act out in different places once she became a bit more sure. Frederick had a lot to learn himself, and I appreciated that he didn’t magically become super Dad, but we saw him fumble his way along with good intentions.
I loved the side plot with Jake, and the romance that developed there. I wouldn’t classify the book as a romance, but we did get lots of great goosebumpy stuff between the two of them. I was in love with Jake from the first email, and he was swoonworthy through the whole thing. I love a good nerdy boy, he was so sweet and just…GAH! I also appreciated that we got to see his own insecurities, and that they had their own stumbling blocks. Again, it felt very real.
So many other great side characters. I LOVED Rachel’s roommate Aurora…she was sassy and funny, and while it was totally foreshadowed to the reader what she was hiding, I thought it played out in a satisfying way. And I came to really appreciate Norah as well, even as Rachel struggled with her. I love how so many of these little storylines really showcase all the fumbling blocks of being a young adult, and showcase Rachel’s growth in different ways. I will admit that Alice didn’t grow on me as much, but I think she wasn’t supposed to. It was interesting to see so many flawed characters in this story…all with their own baggage. I could understand them even as I wanted to throttle them. But the trifecta of Franklin, Ernie, and Carlos was perfection. It was so nice to see such genuinely good guys in the background.
I could write more and more, though at this point I feel like I’m just repeating myself. I ADORED the musical touches in the story, from the rock side, to the a cappella side, to bits of musical theory. Straight shot, this was YA perfection in my opinion. I kind of wish I’d had more time to dedicate to reading it start to finish, without large gaps in between. Guess I’ll have to save that for a reread....more
4 stars — I really enjoyed this one!! It was a bit rough, starting the book with our main characters being split up, but I enjoyed getting glimpses of the past and seeing them work through their problems. It’s funny, b/c in another situation I could see this not working for me, so I’m not sure why I was immediately connected to both Blake and Nate. I guess I could feel their connection, I could feel their loneliness and despair, I could feel their regret… I LOVED getting those tastes of how they went from friends to lovers in the past, because it helped me to want to root for them. And hoo boy did they have chemistry!! I was seriously tummy tingly all over for them!!
I was worried about how I would feel about Nate in this situation, because of what happened on New Year’s. But I could really feel how regretful he was… There’s a part of me that wishes for something more in that resolution, but I’m not sure what, you know? It’s kind of a strange story, b/c we don’t get to see that part play out…and we don’t get to see much of who Blake and Nate were for the majority of their relationship. We end up meeting them at a very inopportune moment. Seriously, I’m totally baffled for why that didn’t bug me, but instead sucked me in.
I think part of it is that both boys were easy to connect with. They both felt very real, and could be funny, and adorable, but were also very clearly flawed. They both made bad choices. But by the end of the story, they were both trying very hard.
I’m torn about the novella length. In some ways I felt like the pace was fantastic, and it worked very well. In other ways I would have liked a full novel about these two. I have a feeling there was a lot more I could have learned from them…and a lot more I could have understood about their past.
I appreciated that there was a light delving into depression…I think that’s another area that in a full novel could have been explored in greater detail. But we got to see Blake suffering under depression’s lies (being a burden, dealing with it on our own), and I appreciated how Nate supported him once he found out.
This story definitely made me want to read about Elliott and Carsen too…totally putting that on my wishlist. I’ve read an earlier work by this author, and found it only OK…so I can tell that her writing has improved, and I was excited by how much this story captured me. Yay!!! I love it when that happens!...more
4-stars — Huh, the book went in slightly different directions than I was expecting! I really didn’t expect the time travel-ish aspect to the story! No, that’s a lie. I knew there had to be something b/c of the hints at the end of the previous book. But I didn’t expect it to take up so much space in the narrative I guess. Or maybe I just didn’t expect the way everything would play out. I grew increasingly concerned as the book went on about how it was going to end. You guys have no idea how hard it was to resist skipping to the end to find out…SO HARD. I’m glad I didn’t though, b/c it added to the reading experience to feel that stress and concern. And all in all I was happy with the ending, though I wanted a bit more epilogue…it felt a bit fast and I needed more wrap up I think.
The book was still written in third person omniscient, but it didn’t bother me as much b/c I was anticipating it. I was able to settle into the style.
I still loved both Maggie and Johnny, though they go through some pretty crazy trials in this one…the universe really did try to mess with them. I felt for Maggie when faced with the suddenly alive Johnny. And I felt for Johnny’s utter confusion and devastation. I don’t want to get into it and give away spoilers, but as much as I was frustrated by their emotions/attitudes sometimes, I also truly understood them.
And I truly loved some of their great romance scenes. Both prom nights were swoony for me, I truly loved them.
I also really loved getting to meet some new secondary characters, especially Lizzie. She was hilarious. I enjoyed seeing some of the little side plots that spun out of their time machinations. I will admit that I was a bit bummed that we got basically no resolution with Shad, and only little bits with Gus.
As I said above, I wanted a better wrap up for the ending. Not just the happiness stuff, but I felt like the whole Rodger plot was left unresolved…particularly the shadow stuff. I NEED ANSWERS!!!
So yeah. This is a very sporadic and odd review for me. For some reason I had a harder time figuring out what I wanted to say, but I’ve decided not to stress it! I definitely enjoyed this conclusion to Maggie and Johnny’s story, I just wanted a bit more at the end....more
I received a free copy through the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review/opinion.
4 stars — OK, this was a totally adorable conclusion to the Man Hands series. Which, don’t get me wrong…you don’t need to read the previous two books to enjoy this one at all. But given the glimpses of Brynn & Tom and Ash & Braht that we got, I have no doubt newbies will want to go read them as well.
I seriously loved so much about this story, I was completely sucked in and it made me excited to be reading again! But I will admit there were moments where I felt like something was missing. Like, occasionally it felt a bit slower, and even repetitive at times (though that might just be in the ARC, could be fixed in the final copy).
Both Sadie and Liam were characters that I mostly loved and adored, but with a few annoyances or reservations.
For example, while I understood Sadie’s reservations on the age difference, I was also annoyed with how long it took her to let that go…not to mention to realize that Liam was nothing like her ex, Decker. It occasionally made me feel like Liam could do better, you know? I think I just only understood her insecurities up to a point. Perhaps I needed a flashback to an actual scene with Decker in the past so I could better feel how much he truly damaged her. Now saying all that, I really did appreciate Sadie’s struggles in this book: with her own insecurity, with accepting that her girls would have to go to daycare, with missing out on parts of their lives, with dealing with her prick of an ex and the realizations she came to about her first marriage (even if it took a while). I appreciated that we got to really feel the struggle of a smart, successful woman juggling her career with being a mom. I rooted for her, I just also lost patience with her.
And then there was Liam. Liam was a total sweetie, and I loved who he was now and all the things he was passionate about. On the con side of things, I got strangely tired of the 14 year old Liam references (but that could have been just me…sometimes my humour just doesn’t connect). It just felt…not quite like him. Or maybe it didn’t fit the rest of the picture *I* drew in my head of Liam, if that makes any sense. But on the pro side, as I said, I absolutely ADORED his passion for childhood development, how smart he was, and how much he truly loved and cared about children. He was so good with them, and I loved that his f’d up childhood led to something so wonderful. He was just so comfortable in himself and so it made him really easy to love.
I LOVED the chemistry between Sadie and Liam, their first kiss was OMGOMGOMG…but I was also surprised by how many times the steamy scenes were cut short. It just struck me as odd. There’s nothing wrong with it, I just noticed it is all. It’s probably because I was greedy and wanted more.
As I said, I loved the glimpses of Brynn/Tom and Ash/Braht, and particularly being reminded of how much I LOVED the women’s friendship. They were hilarious together, and I loved seeing such strong friendships.
As I’ve often mentioned in my reviews, I’m not usually a kid person, but Kate and Amy were pretty adorable and definitely added to the story. Occasionally it felt like the twins were older than their <3 years old…but I also don’t have children, just a 3 year old niece to base that off of. So I’m chalking that up to my own inexperience.
So that’s my strangely up and down review. As always, my 4 star rating speaks for itself — these two authors know how to give good romance, great characters with depth, and a heaping helping of giggles to go with it....more
4.5 stars — I’m honestly still processing. I was so worried about this book, b/c Kjell was really hard to like in The Bird and the Sword…which is not to say I didn’t like him, but I almost liked him reluctantly if that makes sense. I knew this story was going to be a hard one, b/c Kjell had so much growing to do, and accepting the changes around him and the truth about himself. And he was still the gruff, grumpy, quick to anger guy that we knew. But of course Ms. Harmon managed to get him to dig inside my heart and make a place for himself there. I don’t even really know how…but despite his stubbornness and his rudeness, you could totally feel his vulnerability and just how LOST he was. Lost and damaged by his upbringing, and the betrayal of people he cared about. I found his story to be compelling, beautiful, and emotional. So despite Kjell not being the kind of hero I tend to gravitate towards, I still fell for him…even as I wanted to smack him.
This story is told almost entirely from Kjell’s POV, which is interesting in and of itself. What’s more interesting, is that while there was a part of me that wanted to see inside Sasha’s mind, it wasn’t as strong as I was expecting. Something about the way the story laid out from Kjell’s perspective was apparently enough to satisfy me. That rarely happens people. I am a hardcore dual POV lover. But I felt like the story we got was complete and left me satisfied. And I felt like I got to know Sasha and her motivations just from the way she interacted with Kjell and all the secondary characters. She was earnest, thoughtful, loyal, smart, and could be strong and stubborn when she needed to be, which made her a perfect match for Kjell. She was also amazingly compassionate, and I fell for that trait most of all. I loved the way she forced her way into the group, and didn’t allow anyone to stop her from doing what she thought was right. My heart broke for the experiences she had in the past, and how she had learned to cope with her gift and how people reacted to it.
I loved that Kjell and Sasha just fit so well together. Their strengths complemented one another, and made them so strong as a couple. She tempered Kjell and showed him love and patience, and in return he cherished her and showed her the compassion that she so freely gave others. His steadfast love for her truly made me swoon, even as my heart ached.
I was sucked into the story right from the start, and I loved that the plot completely threw me at parts. I was wondering what was going to happen, and then Ms. Harmon would throw a wrench into the situation. I was so excited to return to this magical world, and I loved learning different things about it. I loved all the little side plots, and even hearing Sasha’s storytelling.
I ADORED so many of the side characters. The King’s Guard, particularly Jerick and Isak, just made my heart happy. I loved the way Jerick interacted with Kjell, he needed that kind of friendship. I also loved seeing characters from the previous book, particularly seeing Tiras and Kjell together.
Yup. Definitely a success. Made me giggle, definitely made me cry and made my heart hurt. And truly made me wish for more stories in this universe....more
4.5 stars — Yup, it’s official. I am in love with both R.S. Grey as an author and Luci Christian as a narrator. I mean, don’t get me wrong, Joe Arden as a narrator is fantastic too. But there is just something about the way Ms. Christian makes Ms. Grey’s hilarious heroines come alive that just works for me. I laughed and laughed through this one, and even got verklemped at times. I didn’t want to put it down, even when I should have been reading other books.
Madeleine was the definition of a hot mess. I’m sure not everyone will appreciate her, but I felt for her struggle with “adulting” and having her life together. Normally I might be turned off by the “woe is me” attitude, but I have been known to suffer from that myself at times, and so I understand how you can get wrapped up in how things are not going right in your life. I loved how hard she tried…how every time she almost got sucked into the blues, she would give herself a pep talk and earnestly try again. I loved having a heroine that enjoyed her job, but whose job wasn’t everything she was…cause you know what? Not everyone has a dream job. And yet she still found fulfillment in life. I guess I just love an insecure woman who still shows up…I can vibe with that.
As with many other books by Ms. Grey, I found it harder to get a feel for Adam. I loved what I saw, but I still kind of wanted more — what were his feelings after his breakup with Olivia? What was he feeling about Madeleine? I don’t know. We’d find out in a roundabout way, but I guess I wouldn’t have minded a bit more time in his head learning about *him*. I was put off by him at first with his temper and his quick rush to judgement…but he was genuinely apologetic, and tried to stop this bad habit. Honestly, a lot of what I loved about him relates to his relationship with Madeleine, and his feelings for her.
The two of them together were hilarious and adorable. They had lots of ups and downs, fights and reconciliations. And I held on, because I wanted them to succeed. And I liked that any misunderstandings didn’t play out too long, and there wasn’t *too* much coyness about feelings.
And the secondary characters were fantastic. Adam’s meddling mom made me laugh with her evil shenanigans, and Madeleine’s friendship with Daisy was hilarious and perfect. Now I really want to read Daisy and Lucas’s book! I loved the little side plot with Mr. Bogs and how that all turned out. And of course the star was Mouse. That dog was hilarious, I could totally picture him.
So yeah, unsurprisingly, another hit from Ms. Grey. I can’t wait to read more, they’re just the kind of lightness I like to sprinkle in when I need a good laugh....more
5 stars — This is the first time I have listened to an audiobook where I haven’t read the book before, because I have the attention span of a fruit fly…wait, do fruit flies have low attention spans? Anyways, I was always concerned that I would get easily distracted and miss part of the book, and truthfully that did happen a bit. So prior to this book I’ve only listened to stories I already knew and loved so I could stress less. But in anticipation of meeting Ms. Grey at Book Bonanza, and trying my darnedest to get as many books in as possible before then, I decided to try listening to a new to me book and I COULDN’T have picked a better one. I listened to this one during my morning walks, so I was less likely to be distracted, and I found myself LAUGHING AND LAUGHING out loud so many times, I’m sure if people had been nearby they would have thought me crazy. I think I now understand the value a good narrator can bring to a story…because this story on its own was probably 4.5 stars rounded up. But the narrators made this one a full 5 stars for me. Especially Luci Christian — she made Lauren COME ALIVE. I couldn’t imagine a better narrator for our neurotic heroine.
I remember reading the blurb and cringing at the concept of their age gap in the past. But after reading a few of Ms. Grey’s stories, I decided I wanted to see what she would do. And I’m not sure if it will work for everyone, but I thought she did an excellent job of showing a connection, but not making it creepy. Sure, I suffered terrible bouts of secondhand embarrassment at the hands of teenaged Lauren and her massive crush…but she was just so freaking lovable, I couldn’t help but fall in love with her crazy self.
And that’s the thing that made this book full 5 stars — LAUREN. I have the biggest book girl crush on her imaginable. She was sweet, and sassy, and hilarious, and ridiculously neurotic. I want her to be real. I’m not saying she was perfect, but I just loved her and felt all for all her vulnerable moments. I felt like her teenaged self was authentic and real and relatable. And I loved that she didn’t lose that spark as an adult. She was a very young 27 year old, but it worked for her. I saw myself in her — how you’re an adult, but you don’t really feel that different and you still feel like you don’t know anything.
My only real complaint about the book is that I wish we’d gotten more chapters from Beau. I felt like I didn’t really know him as well, we didn’t get to dive into his head and really understand his hopes and dreams and what attracted him to Lauren. What I saw (heard) I loved. He was sort of closed off at times, but you could feel that underneath he was just reserved and cautious in his love. I just wanted more. Obviously, not enough to lower my star rating, but it was still a desire I had by the end of the book. It felt like this could have been a single POV book and I wouldn’t have lost too much.
I LOVED their interactions with one another though. They were delightful, and charming, and hilarious, and snarky, and just…heart melting at times. I LOVED them together. They were like book couple gold.
I also LOVED both of their mothers. I mean, a lot of the secondary cast was fantastic, but their mothers in particular stole the show. You could feel how much love they each had for their children and vice versa. And they kept it real…they made me laugh at their teasing.
So yeah. I actually ended this one with a few happy tears, and cheeks that ached from grinning. I absolutely LOVE when a book just works for you, you know? This one was tailor made for me, and Lauren is now on my top book girl list. Highly recommend listening to this one if you get the chance, it totally enhanced the experience for me....more
I received a free copy through the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review/opinion.
4.5 stars — Isn’t it amazing how you can find an author that just works for you? Which is not to say that every book is going to be a mega hit for you, but that you can be guaranteed an enjoyable experience at minimum? It was so refreshing to read another Sarina Bowen book and experience some magic that had been missing in my last few reads. I can 100% say that the True North series is my favourite by this author as well. Each story is so unique, but it blends interesting and deep issues with humour and sass. I LOVE that. And Speakeasy was just another great addition.
I ADORED Alec and May. Both individually, but especially together. They both had their own vulnerabilities, and I felt like I truly got to see them work through them. Their love story was a strange one, both in the manner in which their relationship started, and how it progressed. But I believed it all along the way, even as they occasionally frustrated me. They had so much chemistry — both as friends and definitely in the steamy department — that I rooted for them every step of the way. I really loved that their bumps along the road were not typical of so many romance stories.
I truly felt for May and how wrapped up in her own “hot mess” she was… I worried that I wouldn’t connect with her as quickly based on who I saw in previous books, but even as she was the EXACT same girl, seeing inside her head helped. I loved how strong she was, even if she couldn’t see it herself. I loved how determined she was. And she truly cared about others, despite sometimes getting wrapped up in her own head. I really connected with her quickness to cry and vulnerability. I just truly loved her.
Alec was honestly a star for me. He was just so…vibrant and goofy and honest and FREAKING ADORABLE…and yet he hid behind this confident facade, and not many people saw the struggles he faced in how he saw his own worth. I truly loved him. I loved how while he couldn’t always articulate what made May different from other girls, he wasn’t afraid of his feelings…just confused. I loved how passionate he was about his bar and his trade. I loved that he went after that even while believing that he wasn’t smart enough. And I love love LOVED how once he knew about May’s alcoholism, he just jumped right on board trying to be there for her…but in different ways from her family.
As always, the secondary cast was fantastic. As a fan of the series, it was so great to revisit so many characters. But even if I hadn’t met them, I would still love them. And OMG, some of Grandpa’s one-liners totally stole the show. I even appreciated the brief glimpses of a few new secondary characters. Makes you wonder who will show up in future books.
As an aside, I will admit that having never seen In Living Color (or at least not that I can recall), I totally didn’t understand the three snaps reference, even as it amused me. I had to Google that shiznit, and now it comes full circle.
So yeah. After a string of trying out new authors, and not always succeeding, it made this reader’s heart happy to be able to go back to a tried and true favourite and have another success....more
I received a free copy through the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review/opinion.
4 stars — OK, if you guys want to know the honest truth, I apparently forgot about this review. I don’t even know how that happened. I finished this like almost 3 months ago and wrote a few vague notes, and then…what? What happened? I don’t even know. It got lost in the shuffle? I think part of it was that there was a little thing that bugged me in the story (I had an issue with Sally’s family, and they weren’t redeemable in my eyes), but since this was a bit of a mini beta read, the author was going to play around with it a bit (and I saw some of her changes and they looked much better). So I initially didn’t want to review until I’d read the final copy, but I guess I’ll just leave that part out and I can expand my review in the future.
In the meantime this is going to be a bit of a lackluster review. I remember getting MEGA FEELZ in this one with Nate and Sally. I really felt for them with the struggles they went through in their relationship, and it got me in my heart. It was a pretty emotional read as a result, b/c relationships are hard, and it’s hard to watch a couple reach a breaking point based on poor communication (on both sides). It’s funny, b/c they both made mistakes and made me want to smack them, but I also wanted to hug the crap out of them too. They were very flawed.
I found the mystery storyline really interesting. I thought I had it all figured out, and I did guess some things pretty early, but there were twists that I didn’t see coming, and it’s all those little details that made it fun.
And that’s all I got. Lamesauce right? All I remember is that I really enjoyed so much of it, there were just a few problem areas that are likely not as big of problems anymore. Helpful right? Ah well....more
4 stars — The humour in this book was ON POINT. These characters seriously just entertained the shit out of me. It wasn’t like raucous laughter, but just so much sassiness and just normal person funniness. I really appreciated that. I mean, there were also very absurd situations on occasion, but the moments that lit me up the most were just the internal thoughts of both Josephine and Julian.
And in case it wasn’t obvious, I loved both Jo and Julian!! I don’t know what expectations I had, but these two were not what I was expecting. They were earnest, and silly, and flawed. I know this is going to sound weird, but I loved the way they both acted when they each got drunk…and not in a good way. It was just so realistic, they both behaved kind of badly. It just felt very real you know? Alcohol really does not make us all smooth human beings, it usually makes us a bit more abrasive. But they didn’t do anything I couldn’t forgive them for, I just rolled my eyes and thought “yup, that sounds about right.”
I felt like Jo was seriously approachable…like someone I could be friends with, even though I don’t have a fashion bone in my body. She was just down to earth, hardworking, and as I said — SO SASSY. I loved her inner monologue. I will admit I was a bit bummed that she was yet another mysterious unicorn heroine that is so stunningly beautiful that every man turns to check her out, but yet she doesn’t know it and doesn’t really have much romantic experience…BUT I could sort of understand that growing up in such a small town, she probably didn’t meet a lot of guys she didn’t grow up with.
Julian was more down to earth than I was expecting as well. And I loved that you could see his insecurity about his feelings and relationship with Jo, since he didn’t really have any experience with that. It was kind of endearing in a weird way. He was just not the hero I was anticipating, but I loved who we got even more.
Strangely enough it was the romance/chemistry between the two that kind of underwhelmed me. I LOVED their friendship and friendship chemistry, but I didn’t really get as many butterflies as I was expecting from the “more” parts. Part of that is because there was a bit of back and forth as they would give in, and then Jo would put up boundaries again…though I got her reasons, it did get a bit tiring. Another part is that I didn’t expect the steamy scenes to have a fade to black aspect. It totally caught me off guard, especially because it wasn’t like the foreplay was super clean, so I felt kind of let down. Honest to goodness, that’s basically the only reason this isn’t a 4.5 star or more book.
I really enjoyed the secondary characters as well, even though we didn’t get a lot of them. Obviously both Dean and Lily captured my attention with their antics, and so now I want to read their book. And I enjoyed the little bits of extra we got to see with both Julian and Jo’s families.
This is my first book by Ms. Grey, but it definitely won’t be my last!...more
I received a free copy through the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review/opinion.
3 stars — This one was more light on the romance, focused more heavily on the plot and mystery surrounding Alaina’s brother’s death. I was enjoying the mystery for the first half, but unfortunately I kept wondering about certain things, and I couldn’t get out of my own head. I was still fully entrenched in my slump when I read it.
Unlike many co-written novels, this is more of a co-written series. You can notice a stylistic difference in the writing. This author employs a lot of description, which can be nice to really get the reader entrenched in the setting. Unfortunately, my personal preference tends to lean away from too much description. I think she did it well, I just get bored with details, my bread and butter for liking books is more about characters.
And in the end I wasn’t completely sold on either character. I didn’t really get a super great sense of who they were…I got more of a sense of Alaina, but I really didn’t always understand her or empathize with her struggle. There were DEFINITELY moments where I was emotionally invested, so it wasn’t all the time. But I guess I just couldn’t get a good grasp on how she came to be who she was. That could be a me failing though, not sure.
Lucas was a bit of a mystery. I felt his sadness about being off the force, but we really didn’t delve into his psyche much, you know? And his friendship with Blaine was a bit different than what I had expected from book one, so that threw me off too.
I really enjoyed the first part of the mystery, and trying to figure out what happened to Noah. But somewhere along the way I lost patience in all the things they weren’t doing, in all the ways the characters were behaving that were antithetical to solving the mystery, and there was a certain point where it became super obvious when one character was involved, and it wasn’t noticed. Alaina not telling Lucas everything, keeping him at arms length was frustrating. And there were other things that happened that felt like plot devices, and that was it (namely Mariah Coates).
I don’t know. See? I’m just in a shitty mood, and so things are bugging more than they might otherwise. I mean, this probably wasn’t ever going to be a favourite, but I seem to get sucked into the things I disliked more than I should....more
4.5 stars — This is another review that I left for like a month with only a few notes, so it’s going to be disjointed and lacking. Heck, at this point I don’t even remember if I’d wanted to round up or down! :S I think it was down, but honestly I need to get better at being on top of things.
I was so excited to start this one after reading Flow. Bristol and Grip were both really intriguing characters, and the chemistry between them was amazing! I was curious how their relationship was going to play out, especially considering this book was starting out quite a few years later than I had been anticipating. For some reason I thought perhaps the story would start up again when Bris moved back to California, but it was even a few years after that. I’m not sure how I feel about that. I feel like I missed something in the interim…although a lot of that was my curiosity about Bristol’s twin Rhyson, and what happened with him. I loved seeing that he got his HEA, but I kept wondering if he had a book, and if he did I really want to read it!
OK, so back to our main players. I actually got really frustrated with Bristol quite frankly… I definitely understood her reservations to a point, but it almost went on too long. And poor Grip, he just wore his heart on his sleeve and didn’t get basically anything in return. She done him wrong! She punished him for her parents mistakes. Again, I understand to a point, but…
Bristol was also really hard to love because she was so brittle, but I did end up loving her anyways. And more than that, I was worried for her. And not just wrt the creepy guy (whose name I have totally forgotten, whoops)…and dude, was he ever freaking creepy. I know he was supposed to be, but wow. But in a broader sense I was worried for Bristol. I was worried she wasn’t going to figure things out and learn to love herself and be loved, you know?
As for Grip…can I just start off by saying he was hot AF? Like SERIOUSLY. Wow. And I’m not just talking in a physical sense. It’s just everything that makes him up. How he holds himself, how he interacts in the world. And most importantly, his inner self. I LOVED Grip’s raps and his words. They were SO effecting. I also loved that he just wouldn’t give up on Bris. Not that he didn’t have his dumb moments, and not that there wasn’t a point where he got fed up, but that doesn’t diminish the rest. Though I will admit I got worried at one point, b/c I felt like Grip was almost victim blaming Bristol about her getting taken advantage of. WAS NOT IMPRESSED with that. It was just slight, but I’m sensitive to it.
But then when they FINALLY get together?? HOOOOOOWEEEEE!!!! Dude. That’s all I’m going to say about that. Just, mmmmm….
One of the things I LOVED about Flow were the great conversations about race, and that continued to be one of my highlights in this book as well. I really felt like I understand exactly what it would be like to be pulled over for driving while black. Seeing it through Grip’s eyes made it so real for me. I also enjoyed the conversations with Grip’s Mom, and the way the author showed the struggle of black women. I thought that was explored tastefully and realistically. However, I was a bit annoyed with Jade, even knowing what got her there…but I appreciated that she didn’t have some miraculous turnaround…just seemed to be trying.
Also, shoutout to Greg at the end for making me cry in public…good going Greg. 😛
I’m intrigued by what’s going to happen in the next book. I apparently totally misread the top of the blurb and thought it said this book WAS going to be a cliffhanger, not that it wasn’t. So I’m curious where Bristol and Grip’s story will go. I need to get back and finish it!...more
4 stars — So after writing this review (below), I totes went and read through some other reviews, and even a 1 star one because I was curious. And while I hate when people have to be mean in their reviews, if I ignored the extremely negative way it was written, the reviewer actually made a lot of good points that had me nodding and saying “yeah, ok, yeah.” But you know what? Even with all those shortcomings, the main takeaway for me was that I was invested in this book, the things that *got to me* really impacted me and made me think, and so I kind of glossed over the things that bugged me. That’s a personal reader thing, you know? So I’m not saying this book is perfect by any means, but for *me* the good outweighed the bad. But I did dock it an extra half star because I couldn’t help but agree with those points.
I feel so much. It’s been a long time since a book has just burrowed under my skin and stayed in my heart. There was something at once fascinating and heartbreaking about this story. I even found myself occasionally convinced that this was really written by Tanner, and…I don’t know, I had no other explanation for the author name. It just felt very authentic and real. I connected to the characters so thoroughly, and empathized with their struggles. What’s interesting is that I didn’t always like the choices that they made, or their mistakes, but I FELT their emotions and just so much. Just GAH!
I’m not Mormon, and despite having a few friends that are, I really don’t know much about the religion. I have NO IDEA how a Mormon reading this book would feel, but from my completely outsider perspective, I didn’t feel like the authors were demonizing the religion in general. I felt like very clearly we were seeing characters that had unique perspectives (Tanner, his Mom) and how those perspectives might shape how they saw them. In general I felt like the vibe was that these were good people who do good things, but like many fundamental Christian religions, their viewpoints about the LGBT community, and being queer, is just never going to look anything but bad to a friend of the community. Honestly, the only other viewpoint that bled through fairly blatantly was about the overwhelmingly male leaders…which, again, from an outsiders perspective is weird. But I really appreciated that this didn’t feel like making fun of a religion, you know? It was interesting to have most of the book from Tanner’s perspective in that way, so that we don’t get to see much other than an outsider’s perspective, and even an outsider’s viewpoint on Sebastian’s thoughts (until the end).
I ached for both boys. It’s funny, b/c we mostly see Tanner’s side of things, but my heart bled more for Sebastian. I don’t know the last time I spent so much time truly contemplating a book, even when I wasn’t reading it. It really made me think about how hard it must be for any queer kid who grows up in a church community where being queer is not OK. How odd must it be to love your church, to be so fulfilled by so much of what you do and believe, but then struggle with one aspect of yourself and how it doesn’t fit. To choose between being your true authentic self and the family and community you love and the faith you truly believe in. I CAN’T IMAGINE IT. I felt like Sebastian’s struggles were very real, well thought out, and shown in this book. Even at the end when (as someone outside the church) you started getting mad at his parents and their reactions, I still understood their struggle too. It’s just not easy.
Now, obviously I loved Tanner too. The poor boy couldn’t help but wear his heart on his sleeve. He could be a bit of a dumbass, but he was just so earnest, you know? I loved how he fell in love, how he developed the crush, and his own struggles with knowing that going down that path lay heartbreak, but being unable to stop it. I loved seeing how much of a struggle it was for him to go from being out and accepted to moving to a town where you couldn’t do that anymore…or, at least not without challenges.
It was an odd love story, b/c I felt it for sure…but in some ways it was a strange vehicle for change and growth in our characters…it was almost a side plot, even as it was the catalyst and central reason for the main plot. I don’t know if that makes sense.
The secondary characters were all quite intriguing. There were just so many imperfect people doing the best they could. It felt very real. I loved so much about Tanner’s parents and family, even as I struggled with them at times. Tanner’s friendship with Autumn was so strange for me, and I struggle with how they interacted, but it felt real still. I really enjoyed the tiny glimpses of Manny and Mr. Fujita, especially Mr. F at the end.
Sometimes I found myself struggling with following the narrative at its pace…my eyes would skip forward wanting answers, and then I would go back and read the details. I’m not sure if it was a style thing that didn’t work for me, or if I was just so invested that I became impatient.
All in all this is a book that I finished and just…couldn’t stop thinking about. It made a VERY STRONG impression. I kind of love that....more
4.5 stars — Oh wow, another audiobook win! I’m telling you, there is nothing like listening to a mild Scottish accent. Now, I will caveat that by saying I have no idea how authentic it was — I know Mr. Morgan does not normally have an accent. But for someone with no ear for authenticity, it was swoony. I absolutely ADORED the way Jacob Morgan performed Lance…he made all of the emotions come alive, and he made my heart pitter-patter. I was worried about Rose Dioro at first, b/c she was so…delicate sounding. But she totally grew on me and made Poppy come alive. I also loved the way she would voice other characters, and how she would voice Lance as well. Seriously, this is another case where I believe the narrators took a great book and made it even better. I didn’t want to stop listening, and honestly sat in my chair listening to “just one more chapter” way too much when I should have been doing other things. That’s what I call a success. Now on to the actual book!
I was a bit concerned with the way the book started with Lance. We get a fairly explicit scene of him with another woman (women) at the very start, and normally that would be a complete turnoff for me. But in the end I think it helped me to truly understand the fucked up nature of his toxic relationship with Tash. It gave us immediate insight into how he saw himself, how he felt about sex, and all of the other emotions roiling around in him. And wow…my heart broke for him. Truly it did. I can’t even imagine what he went through in his childhood, and then to have Tash come along and take advantage of that. I completely understood why his damage made him feel that he deserved that kind of treatment, even as I cried for him. There was so much to his character, and I fell in love with him immediately. Which is not to say that I didn’t want to smack him for some of his choices, but I also understood why he made some of those choices. And he was seriously adorable — I loved his addiction to sweets, it only added to his boyish charm. I felt like we got to see him grow throughout the book, and truly accept the things he couldn’t change, but also strive to heal what he could.
Poppy was freaking adorable as well. I was initially annoyed with her for keeping their past a secret, but in the end I was okay with how that all played out. It made sense for them. I loved how patient and kind she was, but that she also wasn’t willing to put up with all of Lance’s crap. I loved that while she was a quieter, shyer character, that didn’t mean she wasn’t strong. She stayed true to who she was, even if it made her stand out. I loved how dedicated she was to the people in her life, and to her job.
And the two of them together made my heart explode. They had so much chemistry in the steamy sense, but I also truly felt their connection on the emotional level. They both made me giddy with how much they liked each other, and I was rooting for them not to get caught up in drama. I appreciated that when the conflict came, I was okay with both of their reactions. I hurt for them both, but I thought they both reacted as well as they could. It made the resolution so sweet.
So yeah, total success for me. I’ve only read one other in this series, Pucked, and I wasn’t a big fan of Violet in that one (though I LOVED Alex). So I was leery of more books in this series, b/c the humour in that one was a bit overdone. I can honestly say that this book had a completely different feel, though it still worked well within the series. So if you were like me and got tired of the beaver jokes, I highly recommend giving this one a shot. And I highly recommend opting for the audio, b/c both narrators knocked it out of the park....more
4.5 stars — Fantastic follow up to Daring Fate! I just knew it was going to be Nash, but I had NO IDEA what the explanations were going to be. And while I am super duper impatient, and hated having to wait until a good chunk into the book to get my answers, it was kind of fun to continually come up with theories. And while I was never spot on, I got close, and I was definitely satisfied with the answers I got…you know, in a totally horrified way.
So, as was not surprising (to me at least), this was a heartbreaking storyline…even a bit more horrifying than I was expecting. I mean seriously, Nash got FUCKED in life. Over and over and over again. I inherently loved him b/c Bay loved him. But because we didn’t have answers at the beginning and we were entirely in Bay’s POV, it was hard to watch him constantly distance himself from Bay and the pack. But once we found out what happened to him, and even when we got into his head, I started to understand how his trauma had shaped him. I felt like his reactions were reasonable given the circumstances, and I felt like his growth and healing happened at a reasonable pace as well.
Bay was hiding depths, that’s for sure. I kind of figured though, you would get glimpses of this in Dare’s story. You could really see how his mourning over Nash, and the effects of what happened with Gage really through him off his game. It was interesting to see this happy go lucky guy that was hiding so much pain inside. It was hard to experience his utter confusion over what’s happening with him. I LOVED how persistent he was with Nash, how he wouldn’t let Nash keep his distance, and how once he found him again he wasn’t going to accept any excuses to separate them again. I honestly think he would have followed Nash to his death if it’d come to that.
The thing I loved about this story, as in the last one, was the crazy plot line running through it. I loved seeing the Silver Tip pack reaching out to the Whitethroat pack, and I loved the different dynamics that were introduced there (including some interesting new characters). The whole Blanks thing was crazy…like holy tense action batman. I was all in from start to finish, and I loved that we got a satisfying ending after all that Ms. Erickson put us through with our boys.
It was fantastic to catch up with old characters, and get even more glimpses into others. My fingers are crossed for a polyamorous relationship in the next book!! I can’t wait to see where this series is going to go....more
4.5 stars — Before I get started, be warned about potential triggers! Luckily this author was smart and actually noted it in her blurb — nicely done!! 🙂
This was a difficult read, but also a very different read. It had romance in it, but it wasn’t the main focus of the story in my opinion. It was really about Christopher’s journey from an angry man who was 100% an asshole, to someone with hope again. It made it hard to read at times, b/c Christopher was mean and angry right down to his inner thoughts. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to connect with him because of that. But the author did a good job of showing what he went through, and showing how he came to that point. I thought it was really interesting and refreshing, b/c not everyone is 100% likable, and they don’t always make the right choices. I could totally understand why he couldn’t see the light…it still made me sad that he went full on hate-the-world, but there was a part of me that got it. And while I’m not sure I fell in love with him necessarily, I did come to sympathize with him and his struggle, and root for him to come back to himself.
I had waffled about this book from the first moment I heard about it simply because of the difficult subject matter, but after reading some snippets on Book+Main Bites, I was just too curious and had to take a chance. I know some of the negative reviews question Christopher’s quick transformation, but I didn’t for some reason. I mean it was kind of quick, but he was also in a unique situation, where he was with these other oddball/misfits for 24 hours a day. So I can see how that would influence him more. He was confronted head-on with the struggles of the rest of the group, and he got a first-hand glimpse of how they were each coping with it, and…I don’t know. In the end, I was OK with his transformation.
And through Christopher’s eyes we got to see each member of the group go on a journey. I fell in love with Connor and Jillian, and my heart ached for Barb. It was interesting to see how differently they all handled their individual struggles. I feel like so many times in books we just see the same thing, but this felt more real somehow. And I felt like it showed how difficult it is to deal with depression. It didn’t pull punches.
But honestly, what really got me in this book was the connections that Christopher made. I really FELT the friendships he formed, particularly with Jillian and Connor…I felt like I formed those friendships myself. And they all made me laugh and cry. For a book told from a single POV, it was actually a great cast book.
There were the occasional little things that bothered me…one in particular was Christopher and his pain pills. In one flashback in particular it appeared he was abusing oxycontin, and I just always assumed that addiction would be hard to avoid. Yet that wasn’t part of his story. Perhaps if it was a different pain medication I wouldn’t have noticed it. Obviously not really a big deal, it was honestly just a passing reference. It just up sticking out to me, and was a factor in why I chose to round down instead of up.
All in all, while I was wary of reading this book, it really made an impact on me, and it had a nice balance of light and hope to counter the feels....more
I received a free copy through the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review/opinion.
4 stars — I beta read this baby, so I got to read the conclusion earlier than everyone else! Woop woop! I will admit that it came at a time when I was distracted while reading, so I couldn’t sit down and absorb it like I wanted to, which is a bummer and always affects my enjoyment.
As with everything this author writes, I just get sucked in by the characters. Sayer and Caro were so intriguing and multi-faceted, there was so much that made up who they were, and that fascinated me. I didn’t expect to learn so much MORE about them, b/c we already learned so much about them in the first book. But there WAS so much more! I especially loved that we got to see sprinkles from Sayer’s POV in the past, that made my heart SO HAPPY!!! Well, happy and sad, b/c my heart broke for young Sayer, and how profoundly screwed up he was because of the way he was raised. I could see how his young self wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between right and wrong, but just want that security that had been missing.
I will admit that at the same time this book was a bit harder for me in the character space, and I think that had a bit to do with it being a romantic suspense. I don’t read a lot from this genre, and so I’m not used to not always knowing the intentions of my heroes. Well, that’s not true, that happens in contemps too, but the back and forth mystery about Sayer’s intentions was a really big part of the story, it was kind of key, and I struggled with that. In that vein, I also struggled with the fact that Sayer and Caro are both not 100% good guys. I don’t think I’m good at liking bad guys, my tender heart just thinks too much about potential misdeeds. Which is not to say that Sayer and Caro weren’t the best of the bad mob lot, but still…it affected how much I let my heart feel for them, if that makes any sense. It ended up being a LOT of push and pull for me, and I think A LOT of readers are going to love that about this book, but it was a bit much for my poor heart.
And related to that, while the steamy scenes were very hot, the struggle between Sayer and Caro meant I had a hard time getting into the romance at times. That honestly could have just been me though, I think I was holding myself back from them. There were lots of declarations of love between them, but it sometimes felt more like obsession, and I didn’t get to see what they loved about each other. This was tempered with the inclusion of the past chapters though, where I felt more of their connection. I just wished I could have seen the renewal of their connection in the present…well, besides the steamy parts…those were spot on.
You know what I did love?? THE ACTION and SUSPENSE parts!! *snort* So maybe I do like romantic suspense. I was seriously sucked in whenever the action ramped up, and I LOVED how that aspect resolved. I especially loved the ending, it was just so freaking satisfying!!! And related to the action part, I LOVED seeing Caro working her cons and thievery!! I know that’s kind of weird, b/c I just said that I had a hard time with bad guys, but she was just so freaking good at it, and so I liked seeing how her brain worked and how she made those things work. I loved that we got another taste of it in this book.
As for the plot, my head wasn’t in a good space, so occasionally I got a bit lost following all the intricate webs… But at the same time, I loved the little twists and turns we learned, particularly about Sayer and what he was doing in the background right from when he was 13…that was seriously so cool, and brought some interesting side characters into the mix.
As for other side characters, the one that surprised me the most was Mason. I loved Caro’s odd relationship with him, and I felt like the way that developed over the story was very believable. As for the rest, I’m still mega intrigued by Frankie and Gus, and now even Cage. Will be interesting to see if we get to see more of them in their own books.
So as you can see, this was a book with a few ups and downs for me. I ended the book extremely satisfied though, and so I call that a win!...more