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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Review: His Royal Secret by Lilah Pace

Posted by Irish in 3.5 Stars, Adult, Review0 Comments

Review: His Royal Secret by Lilah PaceHis Royal Secret by Lilah Pace
Series: His Royal Secret,
Also in this series: His Royal Favorite
Published by Intermix on 19 July 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Family, GLBT, Love & Romance, Royalty, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues
Pages: 185
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-half-stars
Also by this author: His Royal Favorite

Place(s) Traveled To: Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya // Cape Town, South Africa // London, England // Gurness Holm, Scotland (2012)

First Line(s): James’s private landline rang.

When I first heard about HIS ROYAL SECRET by Lilah Pace I thought it was going to be such a me book and so eagerly accepted it for review. Before I picked up HIS ROYAL SECRET I decided to read another book by her, ASKING FOR IT and I was worried as I just couldn’t finish that book. I was wary when I finally picked up HIS ROYAL SECRET but I shouldn’t have been because it was everything that I was hoping it would be. HIS ROYAL SECRET is a short book (185 pgs per Goodreads) and so should have been a quick read but for whatever reason it took me far longer to finish than it should have. And its not for lack of reading because once I started I had a hard time putting this one down.

I am a sucker for royalty stories and secret romances and HIS ROYAL SECRET had both of those tropes in spades. James and Ben have such an intense connection that I was cheering them on throughout the book wanting them to get they HEA that they both so deeply deserved. HIS ROYAL SECRET is also filled with complex and wonderful secondary characters and my main complaint with them was that they weren’t featured enough! I would have loved to see more of the Queen, of Cass, of Indigo, of Roberto, of….well you get the picture. But I also loved all the warm moments between James and Ben and watching them get closer as they carried on their secret romance out of the public eye.

His Royal Secret Quote

HIS ROYAL SECRET had a few ups and downs and it dragged a little in the middle but over all this was a book that kept me invested. I stayed up well well well past my bedtime on a work night in order to finish it. I also liked that HIS ROYAL SECRET has an ending which I wasn’t expecting since there is a direct sequel, HIS ROYAL FAVORITE (Goodreads), so I feared a crazy dramatic cliff hanger that would tear my poor heart in two! So if you decide to not read HIS ROYAL FAVORITE I think you’ll be happy but at the same time I was so glad to have a copy of it because I desperately wanted more of these characters.

This is a book that lived up to my expectations and I know that its one that I plan on recommending to many and one that I will also reread. James and Ben were real and vivid characters and their whole story was plausible. I loved the royal backdrop that this one had and the added complications it gave to James and Ben’s romance. I loved how these two dealt with those pressures, among other issues, and worked together to overcome them. I adored that HIS ROYAL SECRET didn’t have any pointless breakups or unnecessary angst. It was a wonderful heartachy read and I think that you should all rush over to your favorite e-reatailer and pick this one up today!! Go on….go! You won’t regret it.

irishdarkblue

IR - His Royal Secret

 

Add All Note Long by Annabeth Albert to Goodreads. (Review coming soon)

Add Us by Sarina Bowen to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

three-half-stars
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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Review: Saving Maverick by Debra Elise

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, New Adult, Review0 Comments

Review: Saving Maverick by Debra EliseSaving Maverick by Debra Elise
Series: Outlaws of Baseball,
Published by Bloomsbury on 04 Apr 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Love & Romance, New Adult, Sports & Athletics
Pages: 250
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Pineville, Idaho

First Line(s): Maverick Jansen woke to the sound of a jackhammer tearing down his hotel room door.

If you know me then you know a couple things, namely that I like New Adult and that while I may not be a big sportsing fan in real life I do adore a good sportsing book. With that in mind one would think that SAVING MAVERICK would be a book that is right up my alley. Especially when you toss in a bad boy in need of redemption and the girl hired to save his image. I had hopes for SAVING MAVERICK but sadly this book failed to live up to them. First, SAVING MAVERICK is billed as a New Adult read but for me it came across as a very adult story. If you go just based on age I think it might just squeak in, though to be honest I can’t remember how old these characters were. But they were all pretty settled and established in their careers and that to me just makes this story lean more towards Adult. For me, New Adult is more college and early career, with characters trying to figure out their place in the world.

Another thing that bugged me about SAVING MAVERICK was that it was filled with errors and random head jumping. Some of the errors I could chalk up to reading an ARC but there were just so many that they became hard to ignore. And the head jumping oh my stars it was just bad. One paragraph we’d be in Kelsey’s head in the next Maverick and then a few pages later a whole new POV just for fun. I don’t mind books with alternate POVs but I do like there to be a little structure to them. The constant changing of POV makes it really hard to keep up with the story and it just gives my brain whiplash as I struggle to keep up!  It also didn’t help to endear me to Kelsey and Maverick who are just two very blah, cliched characters that are pretty forgettable. Sorry folks, no heart achy moments here….or at least none that I can remember.

 

Normally I have a really good memory when it comes to books and plots but when I think back on SAVING MAVERICK I mostly get a blank page in my brain and so am very glad for my Goodreads notes because my kindle has totally failed me. (Why oh why is it deleting my highlights and notes?!? *cries*) But memorability aside, Kelsey and Maverick where your pretty standard fare when it comes to romance characters and their story may have been a good one if the plot wasn’t so muddled with those errors mentioned above and the crazy side plot. The subplot was just too much and was more of a distraction than anything else. It was also very predictable. This whole story was pretty predicable. Not to mention repetitive. So very very very very repetitive. And we all know just how much I “love” repetitive dialogue and storylines. *eye roll*

In the end SAVING MAVERICK wasn’t a bad book but it wasn’t good either. It falls somewhere in the middle and was just mediocre for me. SAVING MAVERICK is the start of a series and I’m not sure if I’ll read the other books when they come out. Or at the very least I don’t think I’ll be rushing out to read it.

irishdarkblue

IR - Saving Maverick

Add Act Like It by Lucy Parker to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add Love Me Tenor by Annabeth Albert to Goodreads. (Click here for my review)

three-stars
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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Review: Steadfast by Sarina Bowen

Posted by Irish in 3.5 Stars, Adult, Review0 Comments

Review: Steadfast by Sarina BowenSteadfast by Sarina Bowen
Series: True North, Book 2
Also in this series: Bittersweet
Published by Self-Published on 12 July 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Health & Daily Living, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues
Pages: 310
Source: Author
Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-half-stars
Also by this author: The Year We Fell Down, The Year We Hid Away, The Understatement of the Year, Blonde Date, The Shameless Hour, Him, The Fifteenth Minute, Coming in from the Cold, Us, Bittersweet, Rookie Move (Brooklyn Bruisers, #1)

Place(s) Traveled To: Colebury, Vermont // Montpelier, Vermont // Tuxbury, Vermont

First Line(s): The last time I drove through Colebury, Vermont I sat behind the wheel of a 1972 Porsche 911 restored to mint condition with a sweet new paint job in Aubergine.

STEADFAST by Sarina Bowen is the second book in her True North series and a companion novel to BITTERSWEET (my review.) Its in BITTERSWEET we first meet Jude and learn a little of his backstory but you don’t get the full details of his past until the start of STEADFAST. All that you really know about Jude is that he’s a recovering drug addict and that he spent the last few years in prison. On the Shipley farm he tries to keep to himself as he isn’t used to letting people get close but if you’ve read BITTERSWEET and have met the Shipley clan than you know that Jude was fighting a losing battle. He needs the Shipley’s because Jude is a man who was made to love people even though he hasn’t had the best of luck in finding the right ones to let in.

The Shipley’s aren’t the only ones that Jude learns to love in STEADFAST but we also meet his high school girlfriend, Sophie. The girl he loved above all other, except for maybe his drugs, and the one who he hurt the most when his world came crumbling down. Which means that STEADFAST has one of my favorite tropes, the second chance at love scenario and I just knew I was going to like it. And like STEADFAST I did, I just didn’t love it and I can’t fully put my finger on why. Because I liked Jude, more than I thought I would even, and I liked Sophie and I liked their story but something just seemed a bit off. Perhaps it just seemed a little too fast and that forgiveness came too quick that it didn’t seem real.

Steadfast Quote

There was also the whole subplot plot that while realistic also didn’t fully mesh well in my brain with the story that I was expecting. That and the ending just felt so rushed. I made a goodreads comment during one scene at the end where things just escalated very quickly that I got reader whiplash and thought to myself, what just happened? The events aren’t things that come from out in left field but I just think that it would have worked better in my brain if there were more words leading up to it. But this is just a me thing I am sure because I am an Angelica and I am never satisfied. I also really want Zach’s story and I think my desire for that may have taken away some of my eagerness for STEADFAST.

Overall though, I did enjoy Jude and Sophie’s story and was happy that they found their HEA at last. I was happy to see how Bowen incorporated the Shipley clan into this book because I loved seeing that whole family again. I liked the journey that Jude took because it wasn’t an easy one and it had its up and downs but it was real and raw and an important story to tell. As with all Bowen’s books, STEADFAST is a quick and engrossing read and it is hard to put down once you start. Bowen has a real gift for writing real relationships and I just love the families that she makes in her books. STEADFAST can be read as a standalone but I think that it works better if you first meet the Shipley’s and learn all of their quirky ways in BITTERSWEET.

irishdarkblue

IR - Steadfast

 

Add Lead by Kylie Scott to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add Double Full by Kindle Alexander to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

three-half-stars
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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Review: Fast Connection by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Adult, Review0 Comments

Review: Fast Connection by Megan Erickson and Santino HassellFast Connection by Megan Erickson, Santino Hassell
Series: Cyberlove, Book 2
Also in this series: Strong Signal
Published by Self-Published on 11 July 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, GLBT, Love & Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues
Pages: 260
Format: eARC
Source: Author
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: Trust the Focus, Focus On Me, Make it Count, Changing His Game, Playing for Her Heart, Tied to Trouble, Out of Frame, Strong Signal, Leveling the Field

Place(s) Traveled To: Staten Island, New York // Boston, Massachusetts

First Line(s): The smell of bagels permeated the entire shop.

FAST CONNECTION is the second book in Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell’s Cyberlove series and features a minor character in that book, Dominic Costigan, who I will freely admit I didn’t like all that much in STRONG SIGNAL (my review.) But I shouldn’t have doubted the Erickson/Hassell writing team because they sure did deliver on a character with a lot of heart and lovability and oh how my opinion of him changed. In fact, this time around I found myself getting annoyed with Garrett and how he treated Costigan in this story! Boy did some of those text/phone conversations just break my heart because Costigan really needed a friend and Garrett was just being an ass.

Good thing that Dominic met Luke because oh my stars did those two have chemistry!! I just loved the two of them together and it just about tore me in two when they had drama. Which then made me want to glower at Garrett some more since Dominic didn’t have someone that he could rely on. FAST CONNECTION was such a heart achy read and I had so much trouble putting it down. I loved the connection between Dominic and Luke and their story was so real and raw and just everything that I love in a romance book. And its so hard to talk about everything that I love about FAST CONNECTION because words are hard and I don’t want to spoil.

Quote from: http://meganerickson.org/

Just know that FAST CONNECTION has it all. There are likable characters, even when they do stupid stubborn shit that makes you just want to shake them. There are real storylines that make your heart hurt. There are secondary characters that flesh out this story and just add to its depths and layers. There is emotion and romance and ALL THE FEELINGS!!! So many feelings and its a book that can be read as a standalone even though its listed as part of a series. Yes, there are connections and allusions to STRONG SIGNAL but I don’t think readers will be all that lost if they haven’t read that book yet (though you should be cause its awesome) but for me FAST CONNECTION was even better because to me it just felt more real. The issues that Dominic and Luke face are ones that I can relate to more and these two don’t enable each other. Instead they tend to call each other out on their bullshit which is part of why they have drama.

FAST CONNECTION is a book that kept me up as I couldn’t put it down. I was so sucked into this story and as I’ve said in various different ways just hit all the right notes with me. There really isn’t anything that I would change in this story….well except the stupid angsty drama that tore a hole in my heart…but other than that FAST CONNECTION was a wonderful roller coaster read and one that I know I’ll be re-reading a time or two (or a dozen) in the future. I really like the Erickson/Hassell writing team and I can not wait to see what these two have in store next. Because they need to co-write more. It’ll make me a sad little blogger if they don’t they just mesh so very well together.

irishdarkblue IR - Fast Connection

 

Add Flat-Out Sexy by Erin McCarthy to Goodreads.

Add All Note Long by Annabeth Albert to Goodreads.

four-stars
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Friday, July 8, 2016

Audio Review: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Audiobook, Review, Young Adult0 Comments

Audio Review: Six of Crows by Leigh BardugoSix of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Narrator: Brandon Rubin, David LeDoux, Elizabeth Evans, Jay Snyder, Lauren Fortgang, Roger Clark, Tristan Morris
Series: Six of Crows,
Published by Brilliance Audio on 29 Sept 2015
Genres: Abduction, Action & Adventure, Assassins, Death & Dying, Diseases, Emotions & Feelings, Epic Fantasy, Espionage, Friendship, Health & Daily Living, Illnesses & Injuries, Mystery & Detective, People of Color, Politics & Intrigue, Road Trip, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Suspense, Witches & Wizards, Young Adult
Length: 15 hrs and 9 mins
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible.com
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: Shadow & Bone, Summer Days and Summer Nights

Place(s) Traveled To: Ketterdam, Kerch // Dierholm, Fjerda

First Line(s): Joost had two problems: the moon and his mustache.

Narrators: Jay Snyder (Matthias), David LeDoux (Kaz), Brandon Rubin (Jesper), Lauren Fortgang (Inej), Roger Clark (Pekka), Elizabeth Evans (Nina), and Tristan Morris (Joost)

Confession time, although this won’t come as a surprise to some, but I did not like SHADOW & BONE (my review). It was such a struggle to get through and I just couldn’t be bothered with the other books in that series. So when I heard that Leigh Bardugo’s next series was also set in the Grisha universe I wasn’t sure if I would read SIX OF CROWS. But I was curious and so I kept sussing out what people thought about it and then when I was looking for a new audiobook it just up and stumbled into my basket. The SIX OF CROWS audio is a full cast recording and uses different narrators for each POV. I was intrigued by this and it wasn’t long before the story grabbed a hold of me in a way that SHADOW & BONE never did.

Curiosity

I’ll admit SIX OF CROWS did start a little slow but it wasn’t long before I was engrossed in the story. I loved how all the different narrators approached this story and the life that they gave to these characters. Each narrator really helped bring out the personality of the characters, not just the one of the POV they were acting out but all the characters that they voiced. It was interesting to see how the narrators saw the others in this motley crew and I never had any issues figuring out who was who. I also found it  very help to listen to the audio as I’m sure I’d have stumbled over many of the names and words used in this book.

Six of Crows Quote

At its heart SIX OF CROWS is a heist story and if you like a good heist story then you will like this book. There is intrigue and betrayal and a whole lot of shenanigans. But its also a story of friendship, of family, and of finding oneself despite all of the odds. Its a coming of age story and its even a love story on some levels. There really is something for everyone in SIX OF CROWS and its fast paced enough to keep the reader on the edge of their seat. I know that I spent every free moment I could listening to this audio because once I became invested in this story I couldn’t stop listening. I just wanted to know more and when I hit the end I was bereft because it was over.

Another thing I like about SIX OF CROWS is that it has an ending. Oh there are still things that are left to be done and even a wee cliff hanger but you know were most of the players stand and you see the set up for things that will happen in CROOKED KINGDOM. But best of all, its not predictable. I have no idea where this story is going I just have my hopes and my fears on what Bardugo is going to go. SIX OF CROWS is an intricately woven story and I h ave no doubts that CROOKED KINGDOM is going to be the same. There are twists and turns around every corner and a whole lot of heartache and shenanigans ahead.

I did not expect to like SIX OF CROWS as much as I did. I wasn’t even sure that I would read it. But I am so very very glad that I did because I was so engrossed in this story. For me, its a whole different style and delivery than SHADOW & BONE. The characters have more depth and they are smart and feisty and while flawed they aren’t broken. Bardugo weaves in the history of the Grisha world and the backstorys of this crews expertly in the story that there are no slow info dump moments. SIX OF CROWS is definitely a story that can be read independently of SHADOW & BONE. So if you haven’t gotten around to reading that one yet, or if you are like me and you didn’t like it all that much I would say that you can easily pick this one up and know what is going on with the world and not be lost.

thumbs up

irishdarkblue

IR - Six of Crows

Add The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add Heist Society by Ally Carter to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

four-stars
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Thursday, July 7, 2016

Review: The Long Game by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Posted by Irish in 5 Stars, Review, Young Adult0 Comments

Review: The Long Game by Jennifer Lynn BarnesThe Long Game by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Series: The Fixer, Book 2
Also in this series: The Fixer
Published by Bloomsbury on 07 Jun 2016
Genres: Abduction, Contemporary (No Romance Focus), Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, Mystery & Detective, Politics & Intrigue, Social Issues, Thrillers, Young Adult
Pages: 368
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
five-stars
Also by this author: The Fixer, The Naturals

Place(s) Traveled To: Washington, DC

First Line(s): “Tess, has anyone ever told you that you’re an absolute vision when you’re plotting something?” Asher Rhodes shot a lazy grin in my direction.

I don’t know about you dear reader but I was crazy excited to be able to get my hands on THE LONG GAME after finishing the wild ride that was THE FIXER!! There was an ending with THE FIXER but there were also just enough threads to leave this reader lusting for more and THE LONG GAME did not disappoint! THE LONG GAME picks up almost immediately after the events in THE FIXER end only the mysteries are bigger and the stakes higher and poor Tess may just be a tad bit over her head. Tess is still reeling from revelations that happened in THE FIXER and dealing the the consequences of that story so she really doesn’t need anything else going on. But trouble as a way of finding Tess and she just can’t let sleeping dogs lie. After all, who can be a normal teenager when your related to the biggest fixer in DC and go to one of the most elite schools in America?

I was totally sucked into this story right from page one and really hated to put it down for such mundane things as sleep or food. I just needed to see where Jennifer Lynn Barnes would take the story even as she broke my heart a time or two in the process. As I said above the stakes are higher in THE LONG GAME, lives are at stake and there is betrayal around every corner. The twists are twister and Barnes does an amazing job at keeping the reader guessing while not being so obtuse that the big reveal comes out of left field. THE LONG GAME is a crazy intense ride and its so hard to talk about without giving anything away.

One thing I really liked in THE LONG GAME is how Tess really comes into her own despite all the upheavals in her life. She is strong and smart and can take care of so much on her own but she always knows when things are above her and to ask for help. She may run head long into danger at times but she always makes sure that help is on the way. I also like how this series is not romance focused. Yes, there is a romance in the book but it sits more on the sidelines as THE LONG GAME is a straight up thriller. Its a book that will keep you on the edge of your seat while occasionally making you laugh and a few breaks in tension for a kiss or two.

I also really really really hope that this isn’t the end for this series because I would love to see more from Tess and the gang. Especially with some of the reveals that happened in THE LONG GAME. There are still threads that could be followed to bigger and crazier things. Although, I am not entirely sure that my heart could take more of the intensity that Barnes brings to this story. For me, THE LONG GAME was a total edge of my seat read and I count it as one of my top books of the year. You are really missing out on good crafty story telling if you haven’t picked up this series yet. There really aren’t words to describe how good it is just know that you won’t be disappointed if you pick up these books. If you are, then we can’t be friends. (kidding….maybe…gives you haters the stink eye)

intense

 

irishdarkblue IR - The Fixer

 

Add The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes to Goodreads. (click here for my review.)

Add Clarity by Kim Harrington to Goodreads. (click here for my review.)

Add Also Known As by Robin Benway to Goodreads. (click here for my review.)

five-stars
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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Cover Reveal: Long Way Home by Katie McGarry

Posted by Irish in Cover Reveal0 Comments

LongWayHome-CoverRevealBanner

 

 

Being released on January 31st, 2017, the highly anticipated third book in Katie McGarry’s Thunder Road Series has a cover that we can’t wait to share with you! LONG WAY HOME is a Young Adult Contemporary Romance being published by Harlequin Teen! Pre-order your copy of the next book in this emotionally charged series, and don’t miss Violet and Chevy’s story!

 

 

LongWayHome-cover

Seventeen-year-old Violet has always been expected to sit back and let the boys do all the saving.

It’s the code her father, a member of the Reign of Terror motorcycle club, raised her to live by. Yet when her dad is killed carrying out Terror business, Violet knows it’s up to her to do the saving. To protect herself, and her vulnerable younger brother, she needs to cut all ties with the club—including Chevy, the boy she’s known and loved her whole life.

But when a rival club comes after Violet, exposing old secrets and making new threats, she’s forced to question what she thought she knew about her father, the Reign of Terror, and what she thinks she wants. Which means re-evaluating everything: love, family, friends . . . and forgiveness.

Caught in the crosshairs between loyalty and freedom, Violet must decide whether old friends can be trusted—and if she’s strong enough to be the one person to save them all.

“An intoxicating and unforgettable story that kept me glued to the page.”

Kami Garcia, #1 New York Times bestselling author, on Walk the Edge

 

Add it to your Goodreads Now!

 

LONG WAY HOME Pre-Order Links:

Amazon | Kobo | BAM | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | IndieBound

 

 

And Don’t Miss the First Two Titles in the Thunder Road Series!

Nowhere But Here - cover

NOWHERE BUT HERE

Walk the Edge - cover

WALK THE EDGE

 

 

Katie McGarry - author picKatie McGarry Bio:

Katie McGarry was a teenager during the age of grunge and boy bands and remembers those years as the best and worst of her life. She is a lover of music, happy endings, reality television, and is a secret University of Kentucky basketball fan.

Katie is the author of full length YA novels, PUSHING THE LIMITS, DARE YOU TO, CRASH INTO YOU, TAKE ME ON, BREAKING THE RULES, and NOWHERE BUT HERE and the e-novellas, CROSSING THE LINE and RED AT NIGHT. Her debut YA novel, PUSHING THE LIMITS was a 2012 Goodreads Choice Finalist for YA Fiction, a RT Magazine’s 2012 Reviewer’s Choice Awards Nominee for Young Adult Contemporary Novel, a double Rita Finalist, and a 2013 YALSA Top Ten Teen Pick. DARE YOU TO was also a Goodreads Choice Finalist for YA Fiction and won RT Magazine’s Reviewer’s Choice Best Book Award for Young Adult Contemporary fiction in 2013.

 

 

 

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr | Pinterest | Goodreads

 

 

 

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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Blog Tour Guest Post: The Virgin and the Viscount by Charis Michaels

Posted by Irish in Blog Tour, Contest, Excerpt, Guest Post, Spotlight0 Comments

Blog Tour Guest Post: The Virgin and the Viscount by Charis Michaels

VirginandtheViscountCOVER

.

About THE VIRGIN AND THE VISCOUNT

In the next sparkling romance in debut author Charis Michael’s Bachelor Lords of London series, a proper viscount meets his match in a beguiling virgin who can’t help but break all the rules.

The Virgin
Lady Elisabeth Hamilton-Baythes has a painful secret. At the innocent age of fifteen, she was abducted by highwaymen and sold to a brothel. After two days, a young lord discovers her and enacts a brave rescue to get her out. Now she’s a grown woman, working to save other girls from the horror she saw that night and never forgetting the young man who rescued her.

The Viscount
Bryson Courtland, Viscount Rainsleigh has overcome an abusive boyhood, neglectful parents, and a bankrupt title to be one of the wealthiest noblemen in Britain. He works tirelessly to be upright and forthright and proper to a fault. Now he requires only one thing: A proper, forthright, proper wife.

The Unraveling
When a charity event puts Lord Bryson and Lady Elisabeth face-to-face, Bryson has no memory of the wounded girl of long ago. All he can see is a perfect candidate to be his future wife. Elisabeth has never forgotten him, but she worries that the brave boy who saved her so long ago has become a rich man with an unfulfilled life.

As a whirlwind courtship reveals the truth, Bryson must accept that Elisabeth is actually a shadow from his dark past, while Elisabeth must show that love is the noblest virtue of all.

 

Guest Post

 

Crafting a Book Title with a Title:  How The Virgin and the Viscount Got Its Name

The Virgin and the Viscount was the very first romance manuscript I ever wrote, way back in 2004, twelve years before it would reach the hands of readers.

Back then, it had a working title of, A Proper Scandal.

Back then, it was not connected to another book like it is now.

Back then it was double the word count.

            After I finished the first draft, it languished with its old title and original length until I was able to revise it into my Bachelor Lords of London series.  To my delight, the revisions came easily, almost as if it belonged in the series from conception. Characters were combined.  Chapters were cut. My writing became more succinct.

What did not come as easily was giving the book a new title.

            When an author names a work of commercial fiction like romance, she has the challenge of making quite a lot of people happy.  Herself (obviously), her editor, the editors above her editor, the marketing and publicity teams, her readers, and simply the trending Zeitgeist.

But before I could please everyone, I had to think series, I had to think “Bachelor Lords,” I had to make this book fit with the book before it, The Earl Next Door.

Since Book I in the series contains the aristocratic title “Earl,” we felt second book should hit on the hero in general and mention his rank particular.

Ha! Easier said than done….Here, I share with you a very few of my many, many rejected false starts:

The Stone-Cold Viscount, The Viscount’s Vow, The Viscount’s Vice, The Viscount’s Only Vice, The Viscount Takes a Vice, Unraveling the Viscount or The Viscount Unraveled.

When these were all rejected and I was pulling my hair, I sent up:

Stand and Viscount-ed,  Down for the Viscount (personal favorite worst of the worst), Where the Viscount Ends, or Viscount on the Verge.

And finally (pathetically):  Don’t Viscount the Chickens Before They Hatch, which is what I felt I had done by writing this book into the series without deciding on a viable name at the onset.

Alas, we all know a title emerged and the book is called The Virgin and the Viscount.  To arrive at this, I finally caught on to what my publisher seemed to want, the perfect balance of little bit sexy + a little bit catchy.

I began to search words that began with “V” (for the catchy) that might also be provocative (for the sexy).  When I stumbled on “Virgin,” I thought, fingers crossed, I might I might have a winner—and I was right.  I got the thumbs-up from my publisher, my writing buddies, and I even felt like my characters would approve.

Now, ahem, if I can only convince my mother.

Excerpt

 

Prologue

 

On April 12, 1809, Franklin “Frankie” Courtland, 6th Viscount Rainsleigh, tripped on a root in the bottom of a riverbed and drowned.  He was drunk at the time, picnicking with friends on the banks of the River Wylye.  According an account later given to the magistrate, his lordship simply fell over, bumped into a fallen log, and sank.

It was there he remained—“enjoying the cool,” or so his friends believed—until he became too heavy, too slippery, and, alas, too dead to revive.  But they did dislodge him; and after that, they claimed he floated to the surface, bobbed several times, and then gently glided downstream.  He was later found just before sunset, face down and bloated (in life, as also in death), beached on a pebble shoal near Codford.

At the time the elder Courtland was sinking to the bottom of the river, his son and heir, Bryson was hunched over a desk in the offices of his fledgling shipping company, waiting for the very moment his father would die.  It had been an exceedingly long, progressively humiliating wait.  Years long—nay, decades.

Luckily for Bryson, for his ships and his future, he was capable of doing more things at once than wait, and while his father drank and debauched his way through all respectability and life, Bryson worked.

It was an unthinkable thing for a young heir and nobleman—to “work”—but Bryson was given little choice, considering the impoverished state of the Rainsleigh crest.  He was scarcely eleven years of age when he made first foray into labor, and not so many years after, into private enterprise.  His life in work had not ceased since.  On the rare occasion that he didn’t work, he studied.

With his meager earnings (he began by punting boats on the very river in which his father later drowned), he made meager investments.  These investments reaped small gains—first in shares in the punting station; later in property along the water; later still, in other industry up and down the river.

Bryon lived modestly, worked ceaselessly, and spared only enough to pay his way through Cambridge, bring up his brother, and see him educated him, as well.   Every guinea earned was reinvested.  He repeated the process again and again, a little less meagerly each time ‘round.

By the time the elder viscount’s self-destructive lifestyle wrought his river- and drink-soaked end, Bryson had managed to accrue a small fortune, launch a company that built and sailed ships, and construct an elaborate plan for what he would do when his father finally cocked up his toes and died.

When at last that day came, Bryson had but one complaint: it took fifty-two hours for the constable to find him.  He was a viscount for two days before anyone, including himself, even knew it.

But two days was a trifle compared to a lifetime of waiting.  And on the day he learned of his inheritance—nay, the very hour—he launched his long awaited plan.

By three o’clock on the fourth day, he’d razed the rotting, reeking east wing of the family estate in Wiltshire to the ground.

Within the week, he’d extracted his mother from the west wing and shipped her and a contingent of discreet caregivers to a villa in Spain.

Within the month, he’d sold every stick of furniture, every remaining fork and dish, every sweat-soaked toga and opium-tinged gown.  He burned the drapes, burned the rugs, burned the tapestries.  He delivered the half-starved horses and the fighting dogs to an agricultural college and pensioned off the remaining staff.

By the six-week mark, he’d unloaded the London townhome—sold at auction to the highest bidder—and with it, the broken-down carriage, his father’s dusty arsenal, what was left of the wine stores, and all the lurid art.

It was a whirlwind evacuation, a gutting, really, and no one among polite society had ever witnessed a son or heir take such absolute control and haul away so much family or property quite so fast.

But no one among polite society was acquainted with Bryson Anders Courtland, the new Viscount Rainsleigh.

And no one understood that it was not so much an ending as it was an entirely fresh start.  Once the tearing down ceased, the rebuilding could begin. New viscountsy, new money, new respect, new life.

It was an enterprise into which Bryson threw himself like no other. Unlike all others, however, he could only do so much, one man, alone. For this, he would require another.  A partner.   Someone with whom he could work together towards a common goal.  A collaborator who emulated his precise, immaculate manner. A matriarch, discreet and pure. A paragon of propriety.  A viscountess.  A proper, perfect wife.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

About CHARIS MICHAELS

 Charis Michaels is thrilled to be making her debut with Avon Impulse. Prior to writing romance, she studied Journalism at Texas A&M and managed PR for a trade association. She has also worked as a tour guide at Disney World, harvested peaches on her family’s farm, and entertained children as the “Story Godmother” at birthday parties. She has lived in Texas, Florida, and London, England. She now makes her home in the Washington, D.C.-metro area.

 

Where to buy THE VIRGIN AND THE VISCOUNT

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Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Excerpt + Contest: Defending Taylor by Miranda Kenneally

Posted by Irish in Contest, Excerpt, Spotlight1 Comment

Praise for Defending Taylor

 

“I can’t quite put my finger on what is so enthralling about Kenneally’s newest novel, but it totally sucked me in. I loved that Kenneally didn’t go with an easy, traditional happy-go-lucky ending. I also enjoyed the flawed nature of the characters, which made them feel more relatable. This is a great summer read and my favorite novel by Kenneally so far!” –RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars

 Defending Taylor

Summary:

 

There are no mistakes in love.

Captain of the soccer team, president of the Debate Club, contender for valedictorian: Taylor’s always pushed herself to be perfect. After all, that’s what is expected of a senator’s daughter. But one impulsive decision—one lie to cover for her boyfriend—and Taylor’s kicked out of private school. Everything she’s worked so hard for is gone, and now she’s starting over at Hundred Oaks High.

Soccer has always been Taylor’s escape from the pressures of school and family, but it’s hard to fit in and play on a team that used to be her rival. The only person who seems to understand all that she’s going through is her older brother’s best friend, Ezra. Taylor’s had a crush on him for as long as she can remember. But it’s hard to trust after having been betrayed. Will Taylor repeat her past mistakes or can she score a fresh start?

 

Goodreads // Amazon //  Apple // Barnes&Noble //  BooksAMillion // !ndigo // Indiebound

 

Excerpt 

Excerpt from Defending Taylor:

I now understand culture shock: it’s me experiencing Hundred Oaks High for the first time.

A lot of kids go here. Five hundred? A thousand? There are so many I can’t tell. At St. Andrew’s, there were only forty kids in my entire class. We lived on a calm, sprawling, green campus. Walking down the halls of Hundred Oaks feels like last-­minute Christmas shopping at a crowded mall.

Two guys wearing football jerseys are throwing a ball back and forth. It whizzes by my ear. A suspender-­clad male teacher is hanging a poster for the science fair, while a couple is making out against the wall next to the fire alarm. If they move another inch, they’ll set off the sprinklers. At St. Andrew’s, kissing in the hall was an über no-­no. We snuck under the staircase or went out into the woods. Ben and I did that all the time.

Thinking of him makes me stop moving. I shut my eyes. Dating Ben was stupid. Going into the woods with him was stupid. Thinking about what happened makes me so mad, I want to rip that newly hung science fair poster off the wall and tear it apart.

A boy shoves past me, slamming my arm with his backpack. That’s what I get for loitering in the middle of the hallway with my eyes closed. He looks me up and down. “You coming to Rutledge Falls this afternoon?”

“What?”

“Paul Simmons challenged Nolan Chase to a fight. Rutledge Falls. Three o’clock. Don’t tell the cops.”

A fight? Where the hell am I? Westeros?

A girl bumps into my side. “Watch it!” Flashing me a dirty look, she disappears into a classroom with a group of friends, chattering away.

Seeing those girls together reminds me of my best friends, Steph and Madison. Right now, they’re probably gossiping before trig starts. I miss Steph’s cool British accent and Madison’s cheerful laugh.

I take a deep, rattled breath. And then another. I feel trapped, like the time I got locked in my grandpa’s garage and no one found me for an hour and I banged on the windows until my fists turned purple from bruises.

I can’t believe I had to leave my school. My home.

All because I made one stupid decision.

I check my schedule. My first class is calculus 1, the most advanced math course Hundred Oaks offers. Just a week ago, I was taking an advanced calculus quiz at the University of the South. St. Andrew’s is one of the best prep schools in the country, and they offer seniors the opportunity to take courses at the university, which is up the road. Even though I was still in high school, the professors treated me just like a college kid. I was only in the course for two weeks, but still. It was insanely difficult. The truth is, unlike everybody else in my family, I hate math. I have to work at it harder than anything else in my life.

But if I didn’t take college calc, there’s a good chance I wouldn’t get into an Ivy League school. I need to go to a top-tier school because that’s what people in my family do. My father attended Yale, and my sister Jenna is there now. According to Dad, my brother Oliver—­Jenna’s twin—­is a traitor for going to Princeton, but I think Dad respects him for having the balls to make his own decision.

Me?

When Dad called me into his home office last night, he barely looked at me as he pored over my new schedule. The silence was killing me.

“I don’t know how Yale will still consider me if I’m not taking all AP courses,” I said. “Hundred Oaks only offers AP chemistry.”

Dad sighed, took off his glasses, and set down my schedule. “I’m incredibly disappointed in you, Taylor.”

I looked him straight in the eyes. His quiet restraint worried me. I’d never seen him so upset.

But I was upset too. He rarely had time to call me when I was away at school, but he could spare a few minutes to comment on my one screwup? After how hard I’ve always worked?

Over the years, I’ve done hours of homework every night. I had a 4.2 GPA at St. Andrew’s. A 1520 SAT score. I was on track to be valedictorian. I was captain of the soccer team and on the debate team. I did everything I could to show Yale that I worked hard. That I am a unique individual. Because that’s what Yale wants.

But my one misstep has muddied my glowing record.

Dad ended our conversation with a death knell.

“Tee, I gave you all the tools you needed to succeed,” he said. “I’ve paid for your private school education since first grade, and you squandered it by getting kicked out.”

“I’m sorry,” I said, my face burning. “I’m going to keep working hard at Hundred Oaks though.”

“You’re damn right you will.”

My father had me so flustered, I wasn’t thinking straight when I said, “Maybe Yale will still take me because of who I am.”

“You mean because of who I am.” Dad rubbed his eyes. “I’ve always taught you kids the importance of integrity, and the minute you got into trouble, instead of owning it, you called me to bail you out. And now you’re doing it again. Using my name to try to get ahead.”

I hung my head. “I’m sorry, Dad.”

“I love you more than anything, but you have to take responsibility for what you did. You’ll have to figure college out on your own.”

“What does that mean?” I asked slowly.

“It means I’m not lifting a finger. I won’t be calling the alumni association or the school president to put in a good word for you.”

“But didn’t you do that for Jenna and Oliver?” I blurted.

He put his glasses back on. “You need to own up, Tee.”

So here I am, glancing around the unfamiliar halls of Hundred Oaks. The school is neat and orderly, but it doesn’t look completely clean, like no matter how hard you scrub, it still looks old. At least it’s not juvie.

I step into my math class, which is already filled with kids. I choose an empty seat at a wobbly wooden desk and stare out the window at the sunny, seventy-­degree September day. I bet at St. Andrew’s, my world politics teacher is telling my friends, “Gather your books. It’s a beautiful day out. Let’s have class in one of the gardens.”

I check out the problem set on the whiteboard. I could do this level of math years ago…

My former guidance counselor told me that colleges look for trends in our GPA and activities over four years of high school. So that means when colleges see my application, they will see:

      I’m taking easier classes;

      I’m no longer doing debate;

      I’ve lost my soccer captainship this year; and

      I was expelled.

I have never simply given up when calculus got a lot tougher or an opponent ran faster than me on the soccer field. So I refuse to believe my entire future is over because of one mistake.

I just need to figure out how to move forward.

Defending Taylor Quote

About the Author:

Growing up in Tennessee, MIRANDA KENNEALLY dreamed of becoming an Atlanta Brave, a country singer (cliché!), or a UN interpreter. Instead she writes and works for the State Department in Washington, D.C., where George W. Bush once used her shoulder as an armrest. Miranda loves Twitter, Star Trek and her husband. Visit mirandakenneally.com

 

Social Media Links:

Website: http://mirandakenneally.com/

Twitter: @MirandaKennealy

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mirandakenneally/

Contest

 

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Friday, July 1, 2016

Review: Deeper by Robin York

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, New Adult, Review0 Comments

Review: Deeper by Robin YorkDeeper by Robin York
Series: Caroline & West,
Published by Bantam on 28 January 2014
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Love & Romance, New Adult, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues
Pages: 370
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
three-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Putnam, Iowa // Ankeny, Iowa

First Line(s): Sometimes I hate the girl I was back then.

 

DEEPER by Robin York is a book that came to me highly recommended by a few different people. But once I saw there was no HEA and that the story continued in another book I was a bit hesitant to try it. I like my romance stories to be contained in one book and I most definitely like there to be a HEA. While I found DEEPER to be a quick read it hasn’t been a very memorable one. And my one Goodreads note, at 68%, declares West to be an asshole. This, ladies and gentleman, is the love interest. If he’s not a super likable character at 68% then how am I to be invested that he and his lady love, Caroline, are meant to be?? Caroline and West are your typical New Adult trope characters. She’s the goody goody rich girl that everyone loves and he’s the ultimate bad boy that she’s warned to stay away from. But there are sparks the moment they meet and while they don’t speak for years they both secretly lust after each other.

Then when Caroline’s super perfect (on paper at least) boyfriend, the golden boy of her high school and the guy her daddy adores doesn’t like that she broke up with him he lashes out. He posts intimate pictures of Caroline and posts her personal information (address, email, phone, etc) on-line like the true dickhead he is all while pretending it wasn’t him and that he’s shocked and upset and they should totally get back together. Everyone on campus of course can’t see that he did something wrong and she’s slut shamed and harassed on every level. Renege porn is a real and terrifying thing and I think that York handled that aspect of the story well. But I hated how everyone blamed Caroline for it, even her own father, and of course only West saw the crime of it which brings the two closer together.

Deeper Quote

Then things happen, there is drama and angst and all the new adult book cliches that you would expect. DEEPER is filled with ALL THE TROPES and then to go through all of that and not get a HEA?? Ugh. No. Not a fan. There is also nothing truly memorable about this book. Before starting my review I had to go and read reviews written by others on Goodreads because I was drawing such a blank as to what happened in this story. The only thing I really remembered was the whole revenge porn aspect. Other than that this story did not stick. Which, for me, is never a good sign for a book because me plot recall is usually pretty good. As such I’m not sure that I’ll read the sequel, HARDER (seriously NA please come up with better titles!!! You do your genre a disservice.)

I think that I just expected more from DEEPER because of all the hype and it just didn’t live up to my expectations. For a story that spans two books I wanted to be wowed and filled with an eager expectation to see what happened next. But in all honesty I really don’t care if Caroline and West ever find their HEA. I’m not invested in them enough as a couple for that. And despite being told over and over I’m just not sure that I believe in their romance. Yes, they lust after each other but as people I’m not sure just how well they mesh or believe that they’ll work in the long term. There were parts of DEEPER that were good but they just weren’t enough so in the end I was just meh on this one.

irishdarkblue

IR - Deeper

 

Add Revenge Bound by Heidi Joy Tretheway to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add All the Rage by Courtney Summers to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

three-stars
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