Lila knows she wants to use the Bennet families business, Longbourne, for flowers for the wedding sheFind this review and others at Carlene Inspired.
Lila knows she wants to use the Bennet families business, Longbourne, for flowers for the wedding she is working on. Not only is it for THE celebrity family you see on TV nightly, it's her chance to prove that she is ready to be on top in the wedding planning biz. Too bad her boss and the youngest celeb sister are out to get her and she doesn't need daily interactions with Kash and his stupid t-shirts on top of that. Everything seems to be going great until her perfectly curated life comes tumbling down. The only stress relief she really needs is a good rebound and Kash is there with his easy charm and offer of no-strings fun. She never realized how good looking he is, how smooth, how complicated this could make things.
Kash is the easy brother, the one who likes his greenhouse work and feels more connection with the flowers and dirt than with the sassy Lila and her white suits. Nevermind that he's pictured her all mussed up, relaxed, and beneath him. Working together is one thing, even being her rebound is alright, but when his feelings just can't be buried anymore he challenges Lila for more. What he isn't ready for is just how different their lives are and just how much he doesn't fit in. With wedding season underway and a family crisis bubbling to the surface, Kash and Lila must decide whether opposites truly do attract or if the blossoming romance is destined to wilt.
"And I had to admit it was nice to be handled just a little."
Talk about not only an incredible retelling, but just an incredibly well-written, magical book. Staci Hart absolutely knocked it out of the park with Gilded Lily, it's just beautiful to read. Like a bouquet, this is a romance that blossoms with time; Kash and Lila's story is an opposites attract story line filled with character growth and emotions that reach out and touch you. It's filled with chemistry, heart, and life. Kash and Lila are easy to like, their goals, dreams, and struggles are so relatable and the added elements of the Bennet business just bring it all together. Plus, somehow Staci Hart managed to write the most beautiful smut scenes I have ever had the pleasure of reading. Seriously, they are works of art.
"The longing and quiet envy I felt struck me in the softest of places."
Gilded Lily is a story of passion, both for one's dreams and for another human. Kash and Lila are both so intense, but in such different ways. Despite their differences they fit together very well. Their coming together is certainly a choice made of convenience, but in time their intensity overflows and along with it their emotions. It's a chaotic time though and Staci Hart brought the wild ride that is a celebrity wedding to life, I even had anxiety. The dialogue in this book felt natural, the settings so easy to picture, and the characters are just so perfect. I love how the characters, including the secondary characters, band together to tackle issues. There is no issue too big for the Bennet clan to tackle and those friends and loves they've added along the way are just as much a part of the family.
"It was anything but casual. And I didn't know just what to do about that."
With the Bennet Brothers series, a Pride & Prejudice retelling, Staci Hart has given us characters with family values, realistic issues, and love stories that play before your eyes like a movie. Gilded Lily had just enough heat, heart, and quirk to keep me turning the pages long after I should have been asleep. I even cried, yes, that's right I cried and no one is surprised at all. I was that attached to this book, it's not even angsty, but it sure did feel like I was physically there! I absolutely recommend this book, this series, and always, always this author.
Holly McGregor is ready to take her family's business in a new direction, expandingFind buy links, excerpts, and more at Carlene Inspired.
Holly McGregor is ready to take her family's business in a new direction, expanding into the film industry feels like the right move, but Holly finds herself fighting a member of the board on it. Sebastian Renaud has just joined the board, but he already presents a challenge, both due to his history as a stubborn business man and the insane attraction Holly feels for him even while she hates him. As Holly works to move the business forward she finds herself working alongside Sebastian more than she'd like and along the way she discovers a side to him she did not expect.
Sebastian Renaud has long harbored an attraction for Holly, but he's more than the businessman she knows. His tough persona isn't just a front, it's built from a difficult past, a dangerous profession, and secrets best left buried. His title of The Deal Maker is about to become the one thing he must rely on as Holly becomes entangled in part of Sebastian's life he holds closest to him. Dangerous people, deceit, and power collide as Sebastian and Holly work towards a business deal that threatens the very safety Sebastian has guaranteed to the McGregor family.
"But my prince wasn't the hero. He was the villain. And yet, I couldn't help but want the bad guy."
Oh my word, I have loved every Dublin Nights book, but The Real Deal is easily my favorite. It's got all the characters we know, it ties in perfectly to the two previous novels, but it's also a complete standalone with a complex story line that feels interesting and new. It's the story of good and evil, the clash that comes from them meeting, and the hero that rises from it all, proving that everyone has a little bit of both in them. Sebastian was everything I wanted in a hero, he's every bit as terrifying as he is handsome, with a dark past and a huge heart and ominous stories shared about him that bring fear out in people. He was so interesting as a character, I really loved how deep Brittney got into his past and the pieces of his puzzle, I could've easily read an entire series about him alone. Holly is sweet, strong, and one heck of a ferocious businesswoman. Like all of Brittney's heroines, Holly has sass, drive, and the inability to take things lying down. She approaches things sometimes with a leap and sometimes with logic, it makes her feel realistic and the situations come to life. Sebastian and Holly have so many similarities, especially when it comes to their vulnerabilities, but it makes them an ideal couple and watching them discover that in this story, all while work and threats continue coming their way, really makes for an incredible read.
"My sins were easily hidden when the sun slept."
The Real Deal is another successful, action-packed, and romantic read from one of my favorite go to authors, Brittney Sahin. As a longtime fan it was so nice to revisit characters I've loved and to dive into a book world we haven't been in for a while. Like all novels she writes, Brittney Sahin brings to life the locations the novels are based in and creates complex, realistic characters for readers to root for. With heart and heat, Brittney Sahin has given us another book that is impossible to put down.
Unexpectedly my favorite of the series! With an incredible opening scene, set to the song This Year'sFind this review and others at Carlene Inspired.
Unexpectedly my favorite of the series! With an incredible opening scene, set to the song This Year's Love by David Gray, The Mighty Anchor follows keeper Vance Morley as he discovers he has a son. All his life he's been predicted to be the next Keeper for Rogue Football Club, he's just waiting for his turn, but a son, with the woman he's always loved, will change everything for him. Vance and Lara had a relationship that was under wraps, when he leaves her behind she does everything she can to pick up her life. She provides her son a good life, other than hiding his father from him. When Vance comes back into their lives she expects him to run the moment the club comes calling, but Vance is set on proving otherwise.
"We fought hard; we loved harder."
Lara and Vance are both headstrong individuals, they view their previous relationship differently and certainly have different expectations for their future, but they share immense love for their children. I so loved how Carrie Aarons tackled the hidden child story line, this felt more realistic than any I have read before. Vance is a stand up father, he wants to be there for Lara and their son, but he also recognizes why she did what she did. I love how the relationship is formed anew, with just the right amount of drama, angst, and passion. The complications of youth weigh heavy on them, but they tackle them maturely, sometimes with a lot of humor, and in a way that is believable.
"Love is swift and lethal, it has no regard for the emotions of its victims."
The Mighty Anchor is such a fantastic closure to a great sports-romance series. Vance would not have previously been my favorite, but he certainly is now. I loved him, I loved revisiting the friendships he has with Jude and Kingston, and I loved how this book follows a different path than the previous two. I was so caught up in this book, devouring it in just a few hours, and I highly recommend it and the previous novels to all sports-romance fans.
Maggie O'Farrell knows the moment she answers the door that something is wrong, you can't beFind this review and others at Carlene Inspired.
Maggie O'Farrell knows the moment she answers the door that something is wrong, you can't be the wife, or widow, of a cop without recognizing right away when a cop is at the door for something bad. She knows something has happened to Emma. As she is escorted to Emma's college she begins to pick apart the things she knows herself, like how Emma couldn't have been staying in the dorm and that something sinister must be lurking in the small college town. As she walks in her daughters footsteps, desperate for answers, she learns she didn't really know Emma at all anymore.
Gripping and fast paced, Where She Went by Kelly Simmons follows Maggie as she pushes for answers in her daughters disappearance. With alternating perspectives, Simmons gives readers a glimpse into Emma's college experiencing leading up to her disappearance and finds Maggie pushing the cops to try harder as she tries to place herself into Emma's shoes. Maggie is the classic, overprotective mom, Emma is the friendly, but naive new college student. They are two peas in a pod, so similar to one another, which I found lent itself to the story. I could see them in one another and believed in Maggie as she followed the few clues she could find. I loved the alternating chapters, it made the book more suspenseful and the anxiety I felt pushed me to keep reading. While I wouldn't call it a thriller, it certainly had all the right elements of a mysterious suspense read.
Where She Went isn't predictable, I really was quite surprised in the end, but it does lack some of the thriller aspects I usually enjoy in my suspense reads. The events leading up to Emma's disappearance feel mundane in comparison to Maggie's encounters as she hunts for clues. The twists are fairly mild and the conclusion felt more like a blanket laid down to soothe fears rather than that feeling of needing a deep breathe after having ran for one's life. It's all a matter of perspective and what you're looking for in your read though. If women's suspense/thriller is what you need for your Autumn cozy read, then I recommend Where She Went for sure.
A quick read that kept me glued to the pages, Where She Went is an intriguing mystery novel with characters that are realistic and relatable. I enjoyed the unraveling of secrets, complicated relationships, and the characters that made this story feel like a true crime read.
Kingston Phillips has only ever been shot down by one woman, Poppy Raymond, and he's finally done whatFind this review and others at Carlene Inspired.
Kingston Phillips has only ever been shot down by one woman, Poppy Raymond, and he's finally done what she said he had to do to get her attention. He's finally made it to the elites, as part of Rogue Football Club's team Kingston should be able to do anything, but just as Poppy shoots him down he shoots himself down too. Poppy makes Kingston question what it is about football, and being on top, that he loves so much and he's put to the test to prove he belongs there. Along the way he discovers a little challenge never hurt anybody and Poppy, the ice queen, is the best prize he could ask for. As Poppy and Kingston see in one another the darkness they keep within themselves, sparks could fly or they could go up in flames.
"If you believe you're untouchable, you take risks. Risk that the public can see, and ones you're not afraid of answering for."
We first met Kingston Phillips in The Second Coming, a certain scene in that novel with a certain model actually is the kick off to his own story. Kingston is all good looks, charm, and sexual appetite, he's never wanted or needed more. He's the bad boy with an attitude and in The Lion Heart we learn why. It's hard not to like Kingston's swagger and antics, but Poppy Reynolds putting him in his place and then proceeding to draw out a side of him no one has ever seen before is what makes this book so good. The growth they experience and the impact these two characters make on one another is unexpected. It's lust and sexual tension and a heaping pile of humility for Kingston. In The Lion Heart we learn about the dark side to wealth and notoriety. We learn about the secrets, lies, and ugly truths the two swallow to remain on top and what an expensive price it is to pay. I loved reading about them peeling back their layers for one another, each hiding behind beautiful masks and finding love despite it.
"Oh, you'll see. This girl is going to be the end of Kingston Phillips. I can see it already."
It was so nice to visit the Rogue Academy boys, this trio of men have so much to give and their unique stories make the series really stand out. Yes, they're romance novels, but beyond that they aren't predictable. In The Second Coming the sports aspect really led the story, in The Lion Heart we dive into the deep end of fame and fortune, and now we wait for the next. I personally cannot wait to see where Vance's story will take him. The ladies of this series don't take anything lying down and the transformation from the trio of single men to taken men is so entertaining. Carrie Aarons has created a sports romance series with heart.
The youngest Bordeau sister has been plagued by her role and nickname of Baby Bordeau for tooFind this review and others at Carlene Inspired.
The youngest Bordeau sister has been plagued by her role and nickname of Baby Bordeau for too long, she's using this summer to face everything she left behind and stand up to her sisters. Christina Hart's Ruin Me follows poetry writer Kitty Bordeau as she faces old love, struggles through heartbreak, and fights against the secrets her sisters have kept in the name of love.
"This all feels too familiar. This searching for him. My heart is always searching for him."
A second chance novella in the Summer of Secrets collection, Ruin Me is a fast paced love story set in the heat of summer. With gorgeous, emotional poems kicking off each chapter, Christina Hart takes readers on an angsty journey with 19 year-old Kitty and her ex-beau, Joey. Kitty is such a relatable character, her creativity is her pride and her mental health battle is the driving force. She uses words to battle her demons, especially as her former flame re-enters her life and reignites the flame inside her. It's a summer of push and pull for the young couple, each trying to overcome a past of ugly secrets and lies, each chasing after a love that they don't want to give up.
"For a moment we slipped and said what we meant. The truth has a way of escaping the things we say when the earth falls away."
Ruin Me was a solid introduction to the Bordeau sisters, I loved that it started with Kitty and gave us her youthful perspective on the challenges she and her sisters have faced since the loss of their parents. I do wish it had been longer, the close of Kitty's story comes far too quickly and deserved more fanfare. This was my first Christina Hart read and I can already say, after reading Kitty's perspective and the gorgeous poetry, I will be reading more. The Summer of Secrets collection starts with an angsty bang and I am already turning the pages to start part two, Hate Me.
Teach Me, the final novella in the Summer of Secrets series, follows eldest sister Elizabeth Sophie asFind this review and others at Carlene Inspired.
Teach Me, the final novella in the Summer of Secrets series, follows eldest sister Elizabeth Sophie as she navigates the small town of Cherry Cove that she had left behind in search of healing and herself. She wants to help at Bordeau Books, she wants to heal her relationships with her sisters, and she wants younger Sloane Callahan, she just doesn't know how to achieve any of it. With a teaching job and a pile of secrets held close to her chest, Sophie finally allows the great loss of her and her sisters' life to guide her in the direction she must go.
"I think I'm in love with a fleeting moment. Wishing on this stolen thing we have."
Oh my word, J.R. Rogue, you dirty, smutty writer! I mean, with a cover like this I knew I was going to get some naughty out of one of my fave angst queens, but Teach Me was downright filthy...in the best way possible. A little bit taboo, a lot a bit emotional, Teach Me is the perfect conclusion to the series. Not only do we get closure on the other sisters' stories, but we get the older sister perspective and it brings things full circle. Sloane and Sophie have a shared responsibility, brought about by similar losses. In one another they see a friend, a companion, someone who understands. Through the fog of lust they navigate the difficult waters of grown up responsibility brought on long before it's time. It's heart-wrenching, romantic, and somehow still smutty; J.R. Rogue has talent.
"I want to call him my future. I want to call him mine. I want to crawl into his bed every night. But how can that happen?"
Teach Me is another hit from J.R. Rogue, her lyrical prose weaving a story about love and loss, she takes readers on an emotional journey. As a whole, the Summer of Secrets series was just an incredible reading experience. The three authors, Christina Hart, Cynthia A. Rodriguez, and J.R. Rogue, bring to life the Bordeau sisters, their small town, and their fierce, sometimes difficult love for one another. Together these authors tackle the difficult subject of loss and the painful, beautiful experience of life. I highly recommend these novels and all three authors.
Eloise "Lucy" Bordeau has done everything to keep her parent's bookstore alive, even as her sister'sFind this review and others at Carlene Inspired.
Eloise "Lucy" Bordeau has done everything to keep her parent's bookstore alive, even as her sister's ran from their hometown. She's given up everything, including herself, unable to let go, to chase her dreams too. A handsome stranger, like those in her books, seems like the perfect distraction, until she discovers who he really is. Ezra James holds the money she needs, but the contract he asks her to sign asks for more than interest in return.
"I’ve always heard the saying that there’s a thin line between love and hate. Those people never straddled the line between lust and disdain."
I devoured Hate Me and then I had to live in this uncomfortable feeling of knowing exactly what Eloise was feeling. She's been the rock, the foundation of her sister's lives, and yet she so desperately desires something more, something she won't speak of. One night with a handsome stranger turns into an arrangement she can't refuse, even if it leaves her questioning everything. Filled with secrets and shame, Eloise begins an affair with a man she knows she shouldn't, but she doesn't know the secret he too is keeping. The chemistry between these two is off the charts, I was not prepared for it, but I absolutely loved it.
“God, it’s so fucked up, but I want to be the first man to break your heart,” he murmurs.
Hate Me is novella two in the Summer of Secrets collection and, without hurting anyone's feelings, I will say it's my favorite. It's a sexy, quick read that somehow still made me cry. How is that even a thing? Cynthia brings to life the bookworm, her bookshop, and the take-control man that flips her world upside down. It's a story filled with the pushes and pulls of life, with lust, control, and independence. Eloise was such an interesting character, so perfectly middle sister, and these pages are her truths being revealed, just as Ezra takes the time to reveal her heart and soul.
Natalia de la Rosa has embraced her role as Calavera cartel royalty, as the wife of Cristiano de la Rosa she is expectedFind more at Carlene Inspired.
Natalia de la Rosa has embraced her role as Calavera cartel royalty, as the wife of Cristiano de la Rosa she is expected to be able to rule and care for the people just as Cristiano does. Cristiano is set on proving his innocence though and has put himself, his team, and Natalia in danger's way. It is only the training that Natalia and the others have received that saves them, but it reveals to everyone in the Calavera that they are not as impenetrable as they once thought. The danger pushes Natalia and Cristiano together and through their relationship they are able to uncover the secrets once buried in order to end things once and for all.
"It was, finally, the first indication that she could find a way to love me."
Violent Triumphs is the final novel in the White Monarch trilogy and it packs a punch. Filled with action and passion, Violent Triumphs takes readers just a bit into the future and presents to us a changed Natalia. She is uncovering the Cristiano we've always known and rooted for, giving readers the relationship we've long waited for. It isn't all romance though, the passion they share burns like fire, it's a push and pull, a testing of strengths and wills. I loved watching them each pull their walls down, revealing to one another their truths and the emotions they've long held onto. It made the entire series worth it. Cristiano is as cocky and alpha as ever and Natalia is finally the strong woman we've wanted her to be.
"If there'd been any question about whether I could learn to follow the devil . . . I had my answer."
More than the relationship development, I enjoyed the action and story line closure in Violent Triumphs the most. Jessica Hawkins has taken us on a roller-coaster in this trilogy, filling the pages with bloodshed, half truths, and deceit. Violent Triumphs not only closes out a difficult chapter in Natalia's life, it answers every question readers have had with great detail and imaginative scenes. It isn't a short, quick read, it takes us all over Mexico with surprises at every turn. It is a fantastic conclusion to the trilogy; filled with character development, danger, and plenty of heat.
Logan Becker: Middle child, whiskey distillery tour guide, and hopelessly crushing on Mallory Scooter, daughter of the sworn enemy, all4.5 Stars
Logan Becker: Middle child, whiskey distillery tour guide, and hopelessly crushing on Mallory Scooter, daughter of the sworn enemy, all Scooters. Mallory Scooter: Outspoken, vibrant, artistic, not your average Scooter. What starts as a crash course on being the best distillery tour guide becomes a romantic, fast-paced novel with just the right amount of tragedy. Like Romeo and Juliet, the Becker and Scooter families have long feuded over the distillery and its history, and no amount of love between Logan and Mallory will clear it up. A dream of more is all they have to go on, but over whiskey and secret rendezvous the two find love, despite their destinies.
"We were the son and daughter of a bitter rival sparked to life decades ago and still burning hot today."
Opposites attract in Kandi Steiner's latest, Neat. Logan and Mallory are from two different worlds, with Logan's being neat and organized and Mallory's as bright and sharp as whiskey on the tongue. The rivalry runs deep, but just like they are opposites from one another, the two are not like their families either. As they challenge history and fate Logan and Mallory find in one another a love that neither believed they'd ever find. From books to art, and their shared love of the family whiskey, the two find love despite what the stars say. I loved their crash course in romance, how Mallory gave Logan this wild side he'd never have otherwise and how Logan became like gravity for Mallory. They're so suited for one another, but unlike the title of this book there is nothing neat about it and readers get to follow along for the crash, for the comments, the stars, the whispers, and the ever-meddling families.
"That kiss was an answer. That kiss was a lie. And distantly, I realized that kiss might be the biggest mistake of my life."
Neat was such a nice little escape, released just in time for the changing season and my desperate need for a romance lighter on the angst. Kandi Steiner gives readers a romance you can cuddle up with, that makes you laugh, smile, and feel just a bit. I so enjoyed this happily ever after and this new perspective from a member of the famous Becker clan. I can't wait for whats next, especially with this book taking us another step closer to the answers we've been seeking since On the Rocks.
Piper knows her father is the Chosen One. He is a Prophet that is hoping to protect the people from the Government, from the poisonous food, from thePiper knows her father is the Chosen One. He is a Prophet that is hoping to protect the people from the Government, from the poisonous food, from the radiation of cell phones. Living with the other children far from the community, Piper helps manage the other children and run end-of-the-world drills, preparing herself and the others for the day when they will be called upon. Only, that day doesn't come and Piper's father might not be telling the truth, because the Government has broken apart the community and Piper finds herself in a strange house, with a strange woman they say is her real mother, and with no idea what has happened to her siblings or the boy she loves. Ripped from the life she knows, Piper grapples with what she believes is the truth and the story she is being told, that she had been kidnapped and that everything she once knew was a lie.
Told from Piper's perspective, The Liar's Daughter alternates between past and present, giving readers a glimpse into life before and after the cult. Rather than focusing on the cult itself, something many authors do, Megan Cooley Peterson gives us only the perspective of one teen, Piper. We understand the beliefs as she understands them, we know her terror and concern about being separated from her family, and we feel just as she does when the kidnapping blow is delivered to her. Piper isn't the most likable character, her childhood upbringing and her family's manipulative beliefs have shaped her and she lacks the childlike, scared quality we expect of a kidnap victim. She instead plans, provokes, or dissociates, bringing a fierceness to her that felt realistic to me. She is a steadfast believer in her father, it is only through time that Piper begins to face the real truth. Jeannine, the woman who has taken her in for the Government as Piper believes, is really her mother and the interactions she has with Piper are so powerful. It is an incredible testament of the love and devotion a mother has for a child.
Megan Cooley Peterson does an incredible job of telling the harrowing story of Piper as she transitions into a life post-cult. The conditioning, the adjustment to life outside the community, and the frightening moments of Piper grappling with what is real and what is not, all bring a touch of realism to this emotional story. A tad on the predictable side, at least for this cult-book fan, The Liar's Daughter is a suspenseful and fascinating young adult read.
A slow-burn friends-to-lovers read with all the action-packed suspense you could want from a militaryFind this review and others at Carlene Inspired.
A slow-burn friends-to-lovers read with all the action-packed suspense you could want from a military romance novel. Finding the Way Back has been my most anticipated release from Brittney Sahin since the moment we met Knox in the Stealth Ops series. As the son of a senator, and Presidential candidate, Knox knows what the spotlight is like, but he's avoided it for years both while he was in the Navy and now as a member of Scott and Scott Security. When an attack against his parents is attempted Knox knows he has to come out of the shadows and protect his family, despite their lack of support over the years. What he doesn't plan for is his best friend, Adriana, a Secret Service member to be there too, willingly putting herself in the line of fire. He's harbored love for Adriana for so long, since their first kiss as teens, but seeing her in action and watching her put herself into danger makes him finally realize he can't keep it a secret any longer. The opportunity to protect the Senator is one Adriana can't say no to, even if she'll have to put her feelings for Knox and his family to the side for a time. The threat against the Bennett family is serious though and as Knox's team and Secret Service are pulled into a deadly game of cat and mouse Knox and Adriana are forced to face their feelings.
"It was a way to keep her guard up, and he knew it. He hated it. And he wanted to tear it the hell down."
I have been dying for Knox's book, this man has been my favorite from day one. He's giving, honest, and has a good head on his shoulders, plus he's attractive just like all the Stealth Ops men. What I loved the most was how unselfish he has been, willingly putting himself into danger in order to protect his men and the women in their lives. Of course, he's also the obnoxious guy with a female best friend he's uber protective over, but we all knew that couldn't last. These two have smoking hot chemistry and I've just been biding my time, waiting for it to bubble over. Adriana is a tough as nails woman, having lost her mother at a young age and setting her sights on completing her mother's dream of being in the Secret Service. I love her determination, I am obsessed with their friendship, and I cannot get over how this slow burn romance EXPLODED on the pages.
"'Who the hell are you guys? And for real.' She could no longer hold back. After seven years, se needed answers."
Finding the Way Back is the slowest paced of Brittney's novel and yet the suspense and action is non-stop. I didn't even realize we hadn't gotten to the heat of their lust until halfway in, because I was so distracted by the fast-paced mission Knox and Adriana found themselves working together on. For me, this book was such a win, because we got to see a different side to all of the Stealth Ops team. Loyalty was such a big part of this book and watching the team fold Adriana into their own was just amazing, it was the key to unlocking Knox's future. However, it was impossible to predict if these two would finally get their happily ever after, that's how intense the action is. So many what ifs tumbled from my mouth while reading, but I can happily report that Brittney Sahin manages to mix the romance into the action and suspense perfectly. I got the book I dreamed of reading about and Knox, he's still my number one for sure, but now I'll willingly share him with Adriana.
"She matched his pace, but in truth, she was hanging on to the edge."
Brittney Sahin hits it out of the park again with Stealth Ops #5, Finding the Way Back. This series, its characters, have evolved and changed overtime and I love that Brittney found a way to make each book a standalone yet still tie in all the other characters. The Stealth Ops men are my favorite military characters ever and I happen to love Military Suspense reads, it's a high honor. This book, like the previous in the series, feels authentic and there's a perfect mix of mission and romance in the story. Add this well-written, engaging romance read to your list, trust me, it's a must.
You always have a favorite in a series and when it comes to The Nash Brothers series,Find more reviews and bookish thoughts at Carlene Inspired.
You always have a favorite in a series and when it comes to The Nash Brothers series, Falter is mine. Fletcher Nash is the brother the entire family worries about, he's got demons and while he's done his best to turn his life around there always seems to be someone checking in. He's followed the rules and played by the books, he's left no room for error, so why does the wild and wicked smart Ryan tempt his five years of single-hood so? Ryan Shea has had her fair share of men with demons, her most recent didn't seem to know how to stay honest in a relationship. Coming back to small town Fawn Hill is meant to get her away from the drama, give her a chance to slow down and figure out her next steps. There is no room for men in her life, especially not the handsome Fletcher, even though she's attracted to him like a magnet.
"I shouldn't do this, admire her fox-like features or search for answers to questions I can't ask in those whiskey-colored eyes."
Vulnerability and trust are requirements for a relationship to succeed, they're also the two things that Ryan and Fletcher are unwilling to make space for in their current state. Fletcher is satisfied chasing his goal after fighting to remain sober for five years. Ryan is just trying to figure out what her life looks like with roots in one place, at least for a little while. We first met Fletcher in Fleeting at the height of his addiction and Ryan has been a secondary character through out the series. I've wondered where Carrie Aaron's was going to take Fletcher, how his story would change as we read the other novels, spanning a few years, first. We're rewarded with a completely different man, the kind of man who embraces his flaws, fights for his passions, and is the kind of man I call a book boyfriend. I loved reading about his hobbies, how his relationship with his family changed, and what the years looked like as he fought to leave alcohol behind. Ryan is a fairly unknown character for us, beyond her job and looks we don't know who she really is and boy is she interesting. More than Fletcher being my favorite brother, Ryan is my favorite heroine in the series. She's so tough and while vulnerability isn't her strong suit, she certainly overcomes that as she reveals her past, her beliefs, and faces the one thing she maybe didn't know as well as she thought, love.
"'Okay'. Just one word, but I feel my whole world go topsy-turvy."
Tackling deeply-rooted trust issues, forgiveness, addiction, and more, Carrie Aarons has created a beautiful, realistic romance with Falter. Fletcher and Ryan came to life for me and I loved getting to know them both separately and together. Their relationship isn't easy, there's no insta-love here, but the passion they have, both for life and each other, drives them together. If you've not met the Nash brothers yet, now is the time to do so, because Falter has the best brother in it and I insist that this series be read in its entirety and not as individual standalone novels.
That Night follows Hailey as she tries to uncover the truth about what happened to her boyfriend, Declan. He wasFind my review at Carlene Inspired.
That Night follows Hailey as she tries to uncover the truth about what happened to her boyfriend, Declan. He was happy, a believer, it had to be something else. Hailey has selective amnesia though and it is only after she become a pseudo-Nancy Drew that she begins remembering the events leading up to Declan's passing. Kane, her best friend and Declan's step-brother, remains her steadfast friend, but as the truth is revealed it becomes harder for Hailey to distinguish from what is real and what is not.
That Night by Cyn Balog left me feeling sad, like how could any of these people continue to interact as they were after what had happened. How was any of this allowed to happen under the watchful eye of parents and teachers and friends? Oh wait, the parents were absent, school seems to be an afterthought, and no one thought that the strange interactions of one individual were worth mentioning. Is it a gripping story? Absolutely. I didn't catch onto the big twists into quite late into the story, but by then I was already just so sad. Hailey lacks everything she needs to have to be a successful person, it's so painfully obvious, and it's sad to me that she feels like a secondary character even in her own narrative. I couldn't see how everything amounted to what it did, though I admit Hailey was supremely selfish. All her actions should have made someone help seek mental health assistance, not just throw a rug over it.
It feels like this book was meant to be a thriller, but the mental health portion is handled in such an insensitive way that it makes it more of an uncomfortable read rather than a shocking one. ...more
Sarah Smith feels like something is missing. She's got her bookstore, her friends, her books, and Ridge Warner, but she's no longer satisfied with itSarah Smith feels like something is missing. She's got her bookstore, her friends, her books, and Ridge Warner, but she's no longer satisfied with it all. Then she gets a call from a fellow bookstore owner, Sophie, who interests Sarah with the idea of a bookstore swap. Without much thought, Sarah trades spaces with Sophie and moves to Paris to run Once Upon a Time. She's got a list of items on her bucket list she'd like to complete while there, along with spend some quality time with Ridge while he's home from writing assignments, but Paris's most popular bookstore might prove to be too much for Sarah.
If my reading/sleeping habits are something you know about, then you will know what I mean when I say the following. I stayed up until 11 pm reading this book in one sitting. I love sleep, I'm in bed at 9 pm every night, but this book was one I could not put down. I considered it at 9, again at 9:30, and gave myself another thirty minutes once it hit 10, but I could not put it down. I needed to know the ending, I wasn't sure if it was a HEA or not, but I had to know. Now that I do know, I need to get this book into the hands of every person I know! Seriously, it's that good. I haven't read a Rebecca Raisin book before, she's a new-to-me author, but I will be reading all her books after this.
Sarah is me in book form; I truly believe in the magic of books and I'd give my right arm to have her bookstore (and her man). She's a true romantic, total bookworm, and feeling a little lost in life as she faces some unsure future plans. I love that Sarah said yes to the switch, despite the fact that it seemed so out of character for her. That's what makes a book so adventurous and fun, doing something out of character is always a good story line. Plus, Paris! Rebecca Raisin described it with so much detail that I literally hungered for some macaroons and wine. I could see the cobblestone streets, the Siene, and all the beautiful people. Ridge is one hunk of a man as well and I definitely enjoyed seeing their relationship play out long distance. Especially as Sarah found herself fitting in to Paris and with her fellow coworkers.
The bookstore she took over was so interesting to read about and I loved all the individual characters we met there. I never felt like I had one main character, there were several, and it was so entertaining to read their interactions and read about Sarah's growth as she does all the things she'd never thought she'd do before. The building is phenomenal, one I'd only wish to see in real life. The romance is beautiful, a very key part to the story, but Sarah's interactions with the bookshop patrons were my absolute favorite. I'd be very interested to see what happens with all the characters and can't wait for this series to keep growing.
The Little Bookshop on the Seine is the first book in The Little Paris Collection, but is not the first book about Sarah. While it can be read as a standalone (I read it as such), there is a series called The Bookshop and you can start from the beginning with Sarah in The Little Bookshop on the Corner....more
Orla Cadden wants to be a writer, but not just the gossip column writer she is today, she wants to be known in the literary world. A publishing deal seems impossible until her wanna-be famous roommate shares a plan that could catapult them both into success. Floss is willing to throw ethics out the window for her A-List dreams and Orla finds herself along for the ride, her social media smarts catapulting them both into stardom. The fame, though, is not what it seems and Orla soon discovers the dark side to popularity. Several years in the future the world has changed after a devestating event called The Spill. Young Marlow is an internet sensation, selected by the government to live in a California village where the cameras are always following you. With twelve-million followers and the perfect life, Marlow should be satisfied, but long buried secrets make her question the on screen persona hand-picked and spoon fed to her. Marlow has never lived outside the private village, but in her desperate hunt for answers she flees security for the unknown. Orla, Floss, and Marlow once lived for followers, but while popularity is a powerful drug, there is a dangerous side to obsession.
"It's not good to be a followers."
Followers is one of those books that stays with you, because it is almost too believable. The settings are places we know and the future state of America feels like something that could easily occur. It's a profound story that's layered and complex, with just a hint of science fiction to take this story into the scary future Megan Angelo created. Main narrators, Orla and Marlow, are complicated women, each feels held captive by their own lives, but their thoughts are colorful and intelligent. They envision something different for themselves and as the book progresses we see just how far each is willing to go to change their lives. Megan Angelo takes the role of social media influencer and fame to the next level with this twisted, realistic tale that I could not put down.
"She had grown up seeing paper as synonymous with secrets."
Culturally significant, Followers is a read that I truly think everyone needs to read. We are so attached to our phones, to the ease of access to information, and to the celebrities that give us regular glimpses into their lives. We know what will get the most likes, we can name the latest famous baby, but do we even know our own best friend's birthday without the help of social media? It is a poignant reminder of just how much the world has changed, and in such a short period of time, since the creation of the Internet, computers, and cell phones. The Spill, a significant incident in this book, was not quite what I expected it to be, but as a reader I could easily take the events and imagine something quite similar and significant happening today. I loved the brain fog that regular phone and computer users experienced in their later lives, their forgetful nature something that made me think quite a bit about how much I rely on searching the web for answers. The ending, though quite simple, was a nice wrap up for such a fast paced, suspenseful read.
"There were so many ways what happened next might not have happened."
Followers by Megan Angelo is already in the running for one of my favorite 2020 releases. Megan Angelo showcases her incredible writing talent in this well-plotted novel that held my attention from start to finish. Followers, the word itself used in several clever ways throughout the novel, is a story that has left a lasting impact on me, ironically since I did indeed read it on a tablet.
What's summer without summer camp, crushes on boys, and unrequited love? My answer is, it isn't one, but main character Piper Calloway might4.5 Stars
What's summer without summer camp, crushes on boys, and unrequited love? My answer is, it isn't one, but main character Piper Calloway might have an argument against that. Piper's mom believes in the quintessential youth experience, a sleep away summer camp and the serious role of camp counselor. Piper's in it for the new car, there's no way camp will be better than jet-setting with her best friends, but summer camp has a way of seeping into your heart. As an adult, Piper's all business as the VP of a multi billion-dollar real estate business, but the boy from summer camp has never left her mind. Where is he now, where did he go then, and why in the world does he call her the wrong name when they run into one another several years later?
"He turns and our eyes meet, and thirteen years seem to evaporate in the air between us."
Say You Still Love Me is a sweet, romantic journey that blends both new-adult and adult romance into one. K.A. Tucker tells a story of young love, broken hearts, and second chances. Piper is a force to be reckoned with in the business world, but she still sometimes cries into ice cream with her lifelong best friends and pines for the unknown. While she must be cutthroat in the boardroom, in real life she's still the sweet girl who cares for people more than she cares about their financial situation. Kyle was the first boy to steal her heart and for the last several years she's wondered what happened to him. When he becomes a security guard in her office she takes it as a sign, a chance to write the wrongs and rekindle their romance, but people don't stay missing for thirteen years for no reason. Piper, Kyle, and some of the old camp crew, must finally face the past they left behind at the lake.
"'There was a place where you and I worked, but it was thirteen years ago and we can't go back in time, Piper.' ..."
Told from the perspective of Piper, Say You Still Love Me takes readers on a trip through the past that shaped her into the woman she is today. It's an incredibly well written novel that doesn't follow the typical plot of rekindled romance, there's a secondary story line here that I never could have guessed at. There's also beautiful friendships and family members that make up a stunning cast of secondary characters, each bringing me more into the story and making me want to live inside their camp days forever. Say You Still Love Me is out just in time to make my summer reads list and is the perfect book to sit out on the dock with as you say goodbye to the warmer days and welcome in fall.
4.5 Stars Rhett Bennett and Ainsley Rose have a lifetime of memories together, with Ainsley's older brother BrodyFind more reviews at Carlene Inspired.
4.5 Stars Rhett Bennett and Ainsley Rose have a lifetime of memories together, with Ainsley's older brother Brody relying on him to help parent her after their parent's pass away. Along with Brody's girlfriend, the four of them have been inseparable since their youth, the only rule being that they always protect Ainsley and she's always treated as the little sister. Little sisters grow up though and even Rhett, the womanizer, can't deny that he wants to know where the spark they share could go. Romances aren't always just fun though, even Ainsley's fairy tale romance ideas can't save love.
"They always say when you're in love you glow, but no one ever talks about what you look like when you lose love, when it punches you in the gut."
I picked up Just Love, fell in love with the gorgeous cover, and immediately grabbed a pile of tissues and settled in for a cry fest. Prescott Lane is one of my favorite angsty romance writers, she always knows how to pull emotions right out of me. Told from dual perspectives, Just Love follows Ainsley (A. Rose) and Rhett as they tackle the past and present of their love story that never stood a chance. Ainsley is the believer in love, fairytales, and princes that sweep brides off their feet, meanwhile Rhett believes in beautiful women, fun times, and fast flings. The rule that you never go after your best friend's sibling should hold him back, but it doesn't and we see them connect in a beautiful way before everything goes up in flames. I had absolutely no idea about the journey we were going to go on with these two, Prescott Lane totally surprised me with the twists in this. Just Love tackles difficult topics relating to love, loss, hopes, dreams, futures, and the perseverance each of those require. It's a beautiful, epic, heart wrenching story that I'm thankful I made the time for.
I will say that the dual perspective and switching from past to present was very confusing at first and I found myself having to be extra careful to check the chapter headings prior to reading. For me this took away from the reading, especially when I realized a few chapters in that I was so lost in the story that I had to start over. Once you get into the swing of things though it moves along quite smoothly, so I only deducted half a star for that small bit of confusion.
"This is the exact way we started. Are we starting over?"
Just Love is a romance roller coaster ride, the kind you line up for again and again despite the feelings it pulls from you. Prescott Lane once again delivers a passionate, heartfelt romance that readers are sure to love.
Wren Sterling is a fixer. She's given all of her time and energy to Moorehead Media to ensure theirFind this review and others at Carlene Inspired
Wren Sterling is a fixer. She's given all of her time and energy to Moorehead Media to ensure their success and to hopefully secure her own future. An opportunity to spend less time with the difficult younger Moorehead brother has Wren signing up to bring the brooding Lincoln up to speed. His suits don't fit, he's less than patient in the board room, but something about him just tugs at her. Lincoln Moorehead would rather be helping impoverished communities, anything but sitting in a stuffy suit with his insufferable family. Wren makes his days a little better, but he still doesn't see this being his future. Sparks fly between the two, but when a new scandal comes to surface Wren must choose between her future and the brooding, handsome Lincoln.
Wren Sterling is your stereotypical go-getter. She is all business attire, driven, no-nonsense attitude with a coffee in hand and a glare on her face. Except, she's also human and I love how Helena Hunting brought her to life. She is every woman that's been accused of going after too much and yet she really has a heart of gold. She's willing to grin and bear it in order to reach her goal, to make her dream of helping others come true. It is impossible not to like this woman, which is of course something Lincoln sees in her beyond her beauty. Lincoln, on the other hand, besides his good looks and his desire to help others doesn't seem to have a nice bone in his body. He's the word gruff to a t. Yet, like Wren, we fall for him. I loved how his true personality, his thoughts he'd held onto for so long, came to light. These two, despite their initial meetings and their vastly different opinions of one another, really are quite the match. We may be in an office building fighting over money and business future, but what the two really share is the same kindhearted nature and love of life. I think Helena Hunting hit it out of the park, this relationship and story didn't feel like or read like all the other workplace romances out there and that made it a unique read for me.
You know those books that just give you that romantic butterfly feeling that seems to go missing once we all turn into jaded adults? Handle With Care gave me that feeling. It's romantic, it's sweet, it's laugh out loud funny. Lincoln and Wren don't fit like the two puzzle piece matches we're used to in most books, resulting in what felt like reading a truly natural dating story. They butt heads, they flirt, the lust between them is insane, and in the mix of all that they have work and a seriously challenging situation to deal with. While I loved the entire Shacking Up series, Handle With Care, the fifth and final book, just might be my personal favorite.
Carrie has a knack for making you feel all the things when you read and Flutter is just another example of that. TheFind more at Carlene Inspired.
Carrie has a knack for making you feel all the things when you read and Flutter is just another example of that. The drama in Flutter is true to real life, touching on dating after the loss of a partner, being a single mom, family arguments, age gap, and your usual small town gossip. Forrest Nash is the genius of the Nash brothers, his tendencies to be socially awkward have landed him the spot of being the one most oft picked on, the one they don't take serious, the one they don't see settling down. He may be a cop, one everyone trusts, but he's always been the younger guy. His feelings have been bottled up for too long though and a friends-with-benefits situation puts him in the position of falling for the woman least available. Penelope is the do-it-all single mom, she doesn't let anything hold her back, even when her heart just wants to mourn the loss of her husband. She doesn't have time for feelings, especially not for the handsome as sin, sarcastic Forrest, but he keeps doing the unexpected. What starts as quickies when they can soon turns into this gray area of dating, but when Forrest is put on a sensitive security job it's no surprise that the genius in everything but feelings let's things explode.
I wasn't sure I'd like Forrest, he is so cocky and always sarcastic, but like always Carrie shows us the heart within the characters. He's a good guy, really a teddy-bear, he's just been stomped on so often. I felt for him and, like everyone, I cheered when Penelope finally gave him a chance. Penelope presents herself as strong all the time, rarely letting anyone in, so it makes for really entertaining reading when it's the awkward Forrest who finally sees the real her. These two run hot and cold, their arguments as epic as their lust-filled encounters. That means the first 60% or so of the book is just us really getting to know the characters and I must admit, I enjoyed that. There's no insta-love, these two have known each other forever, but there is chemistry that gets built upon until there's no denying that the two belong together.
A classic small-town romance, Flutter has just the right amount of contemporary drama to make it a winner for me. I loved the mix of sexy and sweet that Carrie Aarons blends together, it kept me engaged and just like Penelope did, I fell for Forrest too. The Nash Brothers series has been such a nice escape for me, these books make you feel just enough and they make you believe in sweet fairy tale romance. I highly recommend this series, and Flutter especially, if you're looking for romance and characters with a lot of heart.
When the Bennet children return home to help their aging parents and save their once massively successful flower shopFind more at Carlene Inspired.
When the Bennet children return home to help their aging parents and save their once massively successful flower shop Tess knows it will mean seeing Luke, but she doesn't know all the long buried feelings would come back with him. He's insufferable, immature, frivolous, nothing like her organized, studious, safe self and yet something is there between them still. What starts as a project to remake the store, to bring in the sales, turns into self exploration and a little bit of funny business. She wants to hate him, to keep the feelings from ten years ago, but Luke has a way of charming just about anyone, a way of bringing out her wild side just like the plants she loves so much.
"'Not in a million years would I trim that beat back. Let her be wild.'
'It's good advice, Tess. You could stand for a little more wild in your life.'"
I often bring up in my reviews how much I cried, how much your heart will be gutted, or how you'll need to grab tissue before you begin, I just have a type of book I like, I guess. While I did cry reading Coming Up Roses, come on I'm a blue I always cry, it was a different sort of cry. This book is just beautiful and heartwarming, the kind of story that makes your eyes tear up because you're just so happy. It's a story of family, friendship, love, and forgiveness. It's a retelling, a spin off from Staci Hart's The Austen Series, that follows Luke Bennet and his family as they set out to save their family's flagship flower shop. At the center of Longbourne Flower Shop is Tess, the brains behind the arrangements and the one woman Luke hasn't been able to connect with since their friendship went up in silent flames ten years prior. Luke and Tess are forced together by proximity, but the romance of flowers, the rush of chemistry they share, all adds to love potion that's long been brewing.
"When he'd told me he was mine and asked me to be his. And forgotten he'd ever uttered the words."
Oh my word, how I loved Luke and Tess, these two are certainly a perfect match. Told from their dual perspectives, we see the two tackle the awkwardness of working together and the internal havoc they go through in denying their lust. There's flowers, assumptions, contempt, and backhanded compliments galore. I spent this first half of Coming Up Roses just laughing, loving the banter, loving that it was all happening inside a flower shop. Luke's always been the flighty player, Tess is a stuck in her ways mother hen. While Tess has a distaste for frivolity, she also wonders about the adventure, about the trip he'd take her on as he sets out to redesign the shop, one shirt pulled off at a time. It's obvious they need to be together, but I loved the way Staci Hart brings them together. It's more than just connection, there's this whole world inside Coming Up Roses that follows the characters through interactions with family, friends, customers, and more. It isn't just a simple romance read, there's so much more to it. It's the sort of book I could read again and again.
"There was a kiss waiting on those lips, waiting for time to start again. There was a kiss on those lips, one I wanted."
With beautiful imagery, stunning prose, and just the right amount of humor, Staci Hart re-imagines Pride and Prejudice with Coming Up Roses.
Y'all, I love me a good, sexy, angsty book, but nothing beats a book with all of those qualities AND the added bonus ofFind more at Carlene Inspired.
Y'all, I love me a good, sexy, angsty book, but nothing beats a book with all of those qualities AND the added bonus of being about a forbidden love affair. J.R. Rogue gives us this with The Rebound. Featuring Sean, the singer all girls are fans of, and Calliope, his Uncle's wife, we get to know about this couple that comes together in a time of loneliness, of grief, of anger, and of long buried feelings. Sean's girlfriend and his uncle have been having their own affair and in his shock Sean runs to the only family he has left, into Calliope's comforting arms in the Ozarks. It's meant to be for the summer, to be a secret, but all things come into the light at some point.
"She felt something then. When he touched her, when he hurt her. She felt. And she didn't want to let go."
I knew I was in for an age-gap romance, for a forbidden relationship with an "aunt", and of course I knew there'd be angst, but nothing prepared me for the feeling J.R. Rogue put me through. The Rebound tells of devastation, of coming-of-age, of the lengths a person will go to in order to survive. It tells of love and loss and fear and anger. It's about life and the quality of living that we dream about, but can't attain. It's a book that took me deep into my feelings, into those dark corners that authors rarely reach, while also making me see the strength in climbing from those depths to reach humanity and kindness and life. It isn't about The Rebound, it's about what the rebound revealed, about the secrets and lies that had been holding them all captive for far too long.
"People come into your lives in seasons. I will be a short one for her. One of those falls you barely feel, before winter grips you."
I devoured this book so quickly, I was in love with how J.R. Rogue paired her poetic prose with a gritty story that readers may shy away from. It's worth putting your usual rules for books away, it's worth taking a blind chance on. It's one of those books that's real, that can hit close to home, but it's done magnificently. In all the darkness there is a story of hope and love and the human experience. The Rebound will consume you, swallow you hole, and it will stay with you long after you read the last word on the final page. ...more
Taking place immediately after Violent Delights, Violent Ends follows Natalia as she entersFind this review and others at Carlene Inspired.
Taking place immediately after Violent Delights, Violent Ends follows Natalia as she enters Cristiano's world as his bride. With terrible rumors about the Badlands in her head and a hurting heart from Diego's betrayal, Natalia is unprepared for the men, women, and children who make up Cristiano's followers. Are they there by choice or by force? Natalia does't know, but she must accept she's there for now. Whether she'll use it against him or embrace the desire she has for the devil himself is yet to be determined.
"Like a crown, black lace turned me from eager bride to cartel ruler."
I am well aware that I am the worst with reading the middle books in a trilogy or longer length series. I get way too excited to know more and then I always find myself shocked that I don't have all the answers at the end. I either need to stop reading them or wait till they all release. The good news is, Violent Ends doesn't suffer what many middle books suffer from. It is, essentially, an entire novel with a true beginning, middle, and end. Yes, it ends on a cliffhanger, but it also progressed the story along quite well, taking us from a more meek Natalia to a heroine with a bit more bite. I still didn't love her always, she can be dense, but I did appreciate that Jessica Hawkins put her into a situation to make her open her eyes a little. Cristiano continues to be the bad boy we all love, only he's not so bad, he just looks it, tastes of it, and talks like it.
The push and pull between Natalia and Cristiano continues in Violent Ends. The chemistry between them is the hottest flame, but years of hate and sorrow continue to be barriers between then. These two play the longest game of cat and mouse as they attempt to push one another to their breaking point, or in Natalia's case, Cristiano wants to see her give in to her true desires. Violent Ends takes us into the Badlands, into the devil's bed, and out into the streets where human traffickers hold the power. I really appreciated Cristiano's backstory finally being revealed to us, while it was obvious he wasn't quite as nefarious as Natalia thought, it was still a big blank spot for the character development. Jessica Hawkins gives us many of the answers we were left asking after Violent Delights, specifically why the path they must travel down is this one. Of course, it wouldn't be a novel about Mexican cartels if there wasn't more suspense, drama, and action, so yes, more questions arise by the last page.
While Violent Ends isn't your typical middle read, it still leaves you with that desperate feeling for more. Readers only have to wait until November to read the final installment of White Monarch and by then we'll all know which side is the right side. Are you Team Diego or Team Cristiano? I'd say right now, I'm 100% with Cristiano and his band of merry men....more
Isn't high school difficult enough without owning the identity of being bisexual and non-religious inFind this review and others at Carlene Inspired.
Isn't high school difficult enough without owning the identity of being bisexual and non-religious in the town of Provo, Utah? Tanner, while out and proud at home, has agreed with his parents that keeping his identity quiet is for the best, his family's past experiences with identity in a Mormon family weighing heavy in their decision. His best friend, slightly annoyed by his easy success in school, prods him to join the prestigious Seminar, a class the challenges students to write a novel in just 4 months. Tanner takes Autumn on, 4 months seems like too long to write a novel and he wants to prove to her what a joke the class is. It only takes on class though to make Tanner recognize that not only is 4 months an eternity, it also can go by in the blink of an eye when one Sebastian Brother, son of a local Bishop, catches his eye and turns his world, and his heart, upside down.
"This is how we reveal ourselves: these tiny flashes of discomfort, the reactions we can't hide."
I do not feel worthy of reviewing this novel, how could the words I have to say about it even come close to the beautiful, moving prose inside the pages of Autoboyography? The truth is, they just won't, and so much that I want to talk about I can't, I refuse to spoil this read for you. Christina Lauren, the author duo, have created a coming-of-age novel that encompasses all of the feelings of high school angst, with the added bonus of identifying as queer and living in a small, predominantly Mormon town. As a part time resident of a similarly small town in Utah, I can say that Autoboyography reads incredibly accurate for the present time and location. We all know the natural feeling of not fitting in, even our most popular friends will tell you they had those same fears and worries, but Tanner's self discovery, while not unique entirely, is incredibly unique in the Mormon town of Provo.
"In reality, I'm thinking that it isn't fair to think of Sebastian as an LDS diehard. I don't know how to explain it, but he seems so much more than that."
I loved Tann and Seb, it was impossible not to. Autoboyography is their journey, separate and together, of self discovery. It is a story of first love, that initial awareness of one another, the butterflies that follow and the risk one takes for that all consuming feeling. It's the story of religion and boundaries and beliefs. Tann initial sees Provo as suffocating, he has non-LDS friends and a handful of LDS friends, he breaks them into these groups himself. His limited understanding of Mormonism changes entirely with his crush on Sebastian, an up and coming author that seems to blush with every look Tann sends his way. Sebastian is LDS, he's set to go on his mission shortly and with his father being a Bishop he has an image to uphold. Where Tann is comfortable in a graphic tee and holey jeans, Sebastian is clean cut and proper, the image of conservative. Their tentative friendship blossoms, taking Tanner on a journey into the "nice" mormon world, with family visits and acts of service. I was incredibly impressed with Christina Lauren taking the difficult topic of Mormonism on, I loved when Tanner questions his family's dislike of the religion and cheered as CL took him on a deep dive into their past practices with those that identify as queer, giving him a voice that is part innocent and part gay rights warrior. Tanner believes Seb when he says he feels right in his feelings for Tann, but the looming threat of sin that Seb will not be allowed to commit cannot be ignored.
"Now there's a guy, with a name and a phone. We've all been so cool about it, but I realize, sitting here at this silent dinner table, that there are layers to their acceptance."
I highlighted more passages in Autoboyography than I have in any YA novel. That's saying a lot, because two of my favorite authors only write YA and I consider their books some of the absolute best out there. Autoboyography just resonated with me, it took me back to high school, it put me into the shoes of another and gave me an experience that I wouldn't have had otherwise. I felt the angst, the worries, the elation, and the absolutely crushing feeling of heartbreak as I read. It carries a powerful message of acceptance, all while showcasing that being considered different can make one feel so small. I was so sad for Tanner and Seb, they have to fight against a conditional love, rather than safely knowing that anything they did would never stop the love of family and friends. Just thinking about it makes me cry, that's how well Christina Lauren tackled the topic of sexuality and acceptance.
"'Why wouldn't you just be with a girl, then?' He asked quietly. 'If you were attracted to them? Wouldn't it be so much easier?'" *SOBS*
Autoboyography is a complex story about a simple love and the power of acceptance. It's the sort of book you pick up and read, non-stop, until you are finished, captivated by the words and the incredible characters in its pages.
I need a lifetime supply of Kleenex and a trophy that says Best Book of 2019 to give to CaseyFind this review and others at Carlene Inspired
I need a lifetime supply of Kleenex and a trophy that says Best Book of 2019 to give to Casey McQuiston. My heart now has a space carved out that belongs to Alex Claremont-Diaz and Prince Henry Windsor, to Red, White & Royal Blue, to all of us readers left in a puddle of tears caused by this beautiful, poignant story. Not only is this book an incredible LGBTQ+ enemies to lovers romance, it's also the book you didn't even know you needed in our present political climate. I didn't even know I needed it and now I can't shut up about it. I said it in one of my Instagram stories, I wish I had this book in my hands when I was 18 and preparing to vote for the very first time. I wish I had all the thoughts I have now in my head, but at least I've got them now, and hey a Presidential election is on the horizon.
Cute, funny, and full of heart, Red, White & Royal Blue follows Alex Claremont-Diaz, son to the President of the United States, as he is forced to befriend Prince Henry Windsor, Prince of England to be exact, at least for the media. Alex is the Mexican-American first son to the democratic FEMALE President and he has high hopes of joining the political world alongside his mother. He sees the title President in his future, but that won't happen as long as he is considered the enemy of the Prince of England, which he really is. Prince Henry Windsor, who we shall now just call Henry, is the quiet, arrogant, well-dressed grandson of the Queen. He is charity events, forced smiles, and a media golden child, at least to Alex. When they're forced to hang out in order to put the media storm to rest they discover that they have quite a bit in common and soon their alliance forms into a friendship. Their friendship leads to some startling discoveries for Alex, like he's bisexual, and some timid sharing from Henry, a closeted gay thanks to familial and societal expectations. What started as a laugh-out-loud story of forced friendship soon became a story of heartbreak, hope, and humanity as Alex and Henry explore their blossoming desires for one another. Their romance is told through in person-interactions, texts, phone calls, and the best emails I have ever read. It's an authentic story about two young men discovering their identities and figuring out the shape and direction of their futures, all with an ocean and several titles between them.
"Whatever, fine. Henry is annoyingly attractive. That's always been a thing, objectively. It's fine."
Casey McQuiston created an entirely new world in Red, White & Royal Blue. Sure, it's America and England, but it's a world with diverse leaders who desire to make positive changes, who truly fight for the people. Alex and Henry know their position and their families' position in the public will make their relationship, their identities, more difficult to embrace, and yet Casey creates for them a world in which they recognize there is strength and power in owning it. Their friends and families, and employees, come from diverse backgrounds, have various heritages, and love freely. Many are out and proud, many wear that culture proudly, Alex and Henry have just not yet found their footing among them. I loved the secondary characters in this novel just as much as I loved our two main heroes. Speaking of secondary characters and world building, I am obsessed with the character interactions in this book. The relationships felt fluid and natural, there is no stilted dialogue. The characters speak and think like their age, their humor is spot on, and the romance is fresh and new feeling. The language, the prose, all of it just made this book that much better for me. I could live in these pages and I mean that quite sincerely, snotty sobbing and all, this book holds a story I want to live and I'm thankful Casey McQuiston gave me the opportunity to do so with her words.
"Straight people, he thinks, probably don't spend this much time convincing themselves the're straight."
Royal romance, politics, and everyone writing about their heart and their tears? Not normally my cuppa tea. I saw the reviews for this though, they were darn good, and one of my closets friends said it was a must-read for my June Pride reading challenge, she also included it was her favorite for the year, so I picked it up and now I do not want to put it down. For the six hours I read this book I sincerely believed every single character was a real person in my life. I was either crying, making heart eyes, or preparing to go fight alongside them. Red, White & Royal Blue took me on the cutest adventure ever and my emotions were not prepared for all the adorable, painful, and realistic moments in is pages. Not only do I wholeheartedly recommend this novel, I also think it should be a must read. It's important, while also being the feel-good story we need.
And my favorite quote: Spoiler marked, because I know some people will think this one is too long. (view spoiler)["'Oh, like, I thought we were already there with the being bi and everything,' she says. 'Sorry, are we not? Did I skip ahead again? My bad. Hello, would you like to come out to me? I'm listening. Hi'" (hide spoiler)]...more