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Genre: Love & Romance

Friday, January 6, 2017

Review: Off Base by Annabeth Albert

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Adult, Review0 Comments

Review: Off Base by Annabeth AlbertOff Base (Out of Uniform, #1) by Annabeth Albert
Published by Carina Press on January 9th 2017
Genres: Adult, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Friends to Lovers, GLBT, Love & Romance, Contemporary Romance, Social Issues, War & Military
Pages: 304
Source: Netgalley
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: Treble Maker, Status Update, Love Me Tenor, Beta Test

Place(s) Traveled To: West Hollywood, California // Coronado, California // San Diego, California

First Line(s): “What do you mean they’re not coming?” Zack tried hard to sound like the badass navy SEAL he was now.

OFF BASE is the newest release from a new favorite author of mine, Annabeth Albert. I’ve been devouring everything she’s written and so was very excited to get my hands on this one. Especially since its a spin off of her #gaymers series which I adored. We first meet the main characters in OFF BASE, in CONNECTION ERROR (review coming soon) and Zack seems even more up tight than he was when we first meet him. Its a good thing that Pike worms his way into his life because he is Zack’s opposite in many ways and the two of them really work well together.

OFF BASE is filled to the brim of heart achy feels because Zack is just so tortured about who he really is. He’s been brainwashed since he was young that being gay was wrong and he’s faced nothing but homophobia since which has made it hard to be comfortable in his own skin. Things start to change when he is roomed with Ryan in the VA hospital and he starts to see another side to what he thought he always knew. I loved all the moments between Zack and Pike and the cameos of Ryan and Josiah. They all just made my heart sing. What I didn’t like was the homophobia that ran rampant throughout the book. It just made my skin crawl whenever Zack’s teammates said something or when Zack talked to his parents.

Overall though, I really enjoyed the relationship between Pike and Zack. I do wish that Zack was a little more comfortable in who he was but I understood it. I also liked watching Pike come into his own as he found his grove in teaching. I liked that he learned that sometimes the unexpected path could lead to something even better than what he dreamed was possible. And once Pike and Zack started to put their difference aside this story because a favorite enemies to lovers story. There was just so much tension between Pike and Zack that I couldn’t stop turning the pages in order to see how they would reach their happily ever after.

I find that Annabeth Albert really excels at writing a feel good story that often packs a punch to the emotions. Her characters are real and raw and they are all so uniquely drawn. Every story she tells does follow a certain path but there is always a fresh spin that keeps me coming back for more. The are quick, engrossing reads that I just suck up when I get my hands on one. I lose track of time until I hit the final page and then I am sad because I can’t read the story for the first time again. If you are a fan of MM Romances then you really want to give Annabeth Albert a try.

Add Just Drive by L.A. Witt to Goodreads. (Review coming soon.)

Add Him by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

four-stars
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Thursday, January 5, 2017

Audio Review: Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Adult, Review0 Comments

Audio Review: Hidden Bodies by Caroline KepnesHidden Bodies (You, #2) by Caroline Kepnes
on 23 February 2016
Genres: Abduction, Action & Adventure, Adult, Dating & Sex, Death & Dying, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Illnesses & Injuries, Love & Romance, Mystery & Detective, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Suspense
Length: 13 hrs and 3 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: You

Place(s) Traveled To: New York, New York // Little Compton, Rhode Island // Los Angeles, California // Malibu, California // Palm Springs, California // Cabo San Lucas, Mexico // Las Vegas, Nevada // Reno, Nevada

First Line(s): I buy violets for Amy. Not roses. Roses are for people who did something wrong.

Joe is back!

And he’s just as crazy as ever. HIDDEN BODIES is the sequel to Caroline Kepnes’s YOU (my review) which introduces us to Joe, a total sociopath that you just can’t help but love. As a reader, you know that Joe is crazy-pants and that what he is doing is wrong and yet it all seems so logical when you read his thoughts on why he does the things that he does. In HIDDEN BODIES, Joe has moved on to a new relationship “choosing better” as he says with a girl named Amy. As with the previous women that have come into Joe’s orbit Amy is a flawed character and that seems to be what draws Joe to them. Its as if the inevitable betrayal is what drives Joe to choose these women because deep down he really wants to give into his baser instincts of murder.

In HIDDEN BODIES, Amy does a thing that as a reader just makes you gasp as we know what Joe is capable of when he is betrayed. Amy does not. Which makes you feel for Amy but yet at the same time you are also angry at her for not living up to Joe’s expectations. Its really amazing just how much Kepnes’s writing puts the reader on Joe’s side as he’s usually the character we want the hero or heroine of the story to capture and put behind bars. But with YOU and HIDDEN BODIES all you want is for Joe to find peace and happiness. Its a strange feeling to be cheering for the bad guy and yet, how can you not?

HIDDEN BODIES is a fast paced thriller that will keep the reader on the edge of their seat. Santino Fontana returns to narrate the story and he just becomes Joe. Fontana’s is a voice that is going to be hard for me to separate from this character as it just fits Joe so perfectly. Fontana’s narration style just sets the perfect mood for HIDDEN BODIES and makes it so easy to fall for Joe and to want him to come out on top. To find his place in the world and to be happy. Happiness isn’t easy for our Joe, he’s had a hard life, but by the end of HIDDEN BODIES you think that maybe things will turn out ok for him.

HIDDEN BODIES takes the reader to new places and we meet new characters. Some of whom are even worse than Joe. There are lots of ups and downs and twists and turns and where you end up is no where near where you thought you would. I fell for this story and just loved everything about it. I’m in awe of everything that Kepnes managed to do and know that I am going to want to rush out to grab her next book in hopes that its even half as good as this duology. Kepnes is a master of suspense and in defying expectations and this series is one that you must check out if you love a good mystery.

 

 

four-stars
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Friday, November 4, 2016

Blog Tour Review: Heartless

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Blog Tour, Review, Young Adult0 Comments

Blog Tour Review: HeartlessHeartless by Marissa Meyer
Published by Feiwel & Friends on November 8th 2016
Genres: Emotions & Feelings, Fairy Tales, Folklore, & Legends, Family, Fantasy, Friendship, Love & Romance, Magic, Politics & Intrigue, Romance, Royalty, Young Adult
Pages: 464
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
Setting: Wonderland
four-stars

Long before she was the terror of Wonderland — the infamous Queen of Hearts — she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.
Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the yet-unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend and supply the Kingdom of Hearts with delectable pastries and confections. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next Queen.
At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the king's marriage proposal, she meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship.
Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

Also by this author: Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Fairest, Winter

First Line(s): Three luscious lemon tarts glistened up at Catherine.

First things first…there are FOUR days until HEARTLESS!

Can you believe it?!? The wait is almost over!

excited-baby

We all know the story of Alice in Wonderland even if we’ve never read the book by Lewis Carroll we at least know the Disney version about a plucky girl who falls down a rabbit hole and goes on a most extraordinary adventure. There are songs and shenanigans and run ins with the evil Queen of Hearts. When you watch the movie or read the book the Queen is always cast as a villainous character and as a viewer its easy to sympathize with Alice and cheer her triumphs. But you don’t always think about why the Queen is so evil or that maybe Alice isn’t as nice as you originally think. We grow up conditioned to think about fairy tales in a certain way that it can be a bit shocking to see alternate versions of the stories we love. We see this in the stories of Gregory McGuire and on the show Once Upon a Time and now here, in HEARTLESS by Marissa Meyer we get to see a new side to the Queen of Hearts. Not only does HEARTLESS make you think differently about a story you thought you knew but its also a bit of a unicorn in the world of fantasy books in that it is a standalone book.

lurking

HEARTLESS is a story that will suck you in from the start. This book is such a different sort of story from Meyer’s series, The Lunar Chronicles and yet you still get her signature writing style and her ability to spin a beautiful story. HEARTLESS is not a retelling of Alice in Wonderland, its a prequel. Its a story that came about because Meyer’s asked the question why is the queen so evil? Was she born this way or did something happen to make her this way. Catherine (aka the Queen) is a girl much like the readers of the book she has hopes and dreams and a love for baking that will make a reader’s mouth water throughout this book. She’s of a noble family but she dreams of opening a bakery with her friend and maid.

cupcake

But we all know that’s not how the story ended up and I loved Meyer’s take on the story. I love the characters that she created and how she incorporated some old friends. It was a wonderful mix of original and new and told in a way that I think would make Lewis Carroll proud. HEARTLESS is a book that will suck you in with its whimsy and you’ll fall in love with Cath. You’ll turn the pages hoping against hope that somehow the ending of this story will be different and that Cath will get her bakery and her happily ever after. You’ll hope that in the end you’ll learn that the Queen of Hearts is a different girl altogether. But not all stories have a happy ending and sometimes your heart has to break. And boy does Meyer’s play with your heart but everything that happens needs to happen and despite the lack of a HEA its still possible to love this book. In fact, its kind of hard not to like this story and I highly recommend it.

broken-heart

irishdarkblue

JOIN THE #HEARTLESSCOUNTDOWN!

Join Fierce Reads in celebrating all things Heartless by Marissa Meyer! Starting Monday, September 19, they’ll be counting down to on sale with daily challenges where you can show your love and excitement, AND where you’ll have the chance to win a special edition advance copy of Heartless and MORE every single day.

Enter for your chance to win each day from September 19 – November 8 on Twitter or Instagram using #HeartlessCountdown and #Sweepstakes.

Fierce Reads will be posting weekly challenge updates and adding more links and information for some challenges as we get closer. Click here to take a look at the schedule and join in the excitement!

four-stars
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Friday, October 7, 2016

Blog Tour Review: Enjoy the Dance by Heidi Cullinan

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Adult, Blog Tour, Review1 Comment

Blog Tour Review: Enjoy the Dance by Heidi Cullinan

Blog Tour Review: Enjoy the Dance by Heidi CullinanEnjoy the Dance by Heidi Cullinan
Series: Dancing, Book 2
Also in this series: Dance with Me
Published by Self-Published on October 11, 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friends to Lovers, Love & Romance, Performing Arts, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues
Pages: 224
Format: eARC
Source: Author
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
Setting: St Paul, Minnesota (2012)
three-stars
Also by this author: Love Lessons, Fever Pitch, Lonely Hearts, Short Stay, Dance with Me

First Line(s):  One cool October day, after a dispiriting seven hours of teaching privileged kindergarten children, Spenser Harris returned to his apartment to discover a teenage boy – battered, bruised, and coiled into a ball – in front of his door.

ENJOY THE DANCE is the second book in Heidi Cullinan’s Dancing series and takes place about a year after the events in DANCE WITH ME (my review) ends. While this book features cameos from people that we’ve met before the two main characters are new ones to the reader, Spenser and Tomas. Both of whom I really liked and I also really liked their story and the journey that they took over the course of the book. I liked how they became friends first and then worked up to something more. I liked the slow burn aspect of this book but also liked that it wasn’t so slow that I lost interest. I also liked how Spenser and Tomas interacted with the people around them.

What I didn’t like about ENJOY THE DANCE was just how much was going on in this book. There was the issue with Duon, there was the political aspect, and then there was what was going on with Tomas’s family. Just one of those plot points would have been a lot but all three together and it all got a bit jumbled and distracting. The political portion of the story line, while an important part of modern history, isn’t something that I really want to encounter to the extent mentioned in this book. As a bit of filler here and there fine but it was just so much. Although, I do think that part of this dislike of mine comes from politic fatigue. We are in the midst of Presidential election season and I’m just really really really tired of politics. So this portion of the story may not have bothered me if I’d read it at a different time.

ENJOY THE DANCE is a quick read and I liked it I just didn’t love it as much as I would have liked. I think if there was more focus on the romance and less on the political situation than I would have liked it more. I enjoyed the cameos of the characters we knew and I won’t be surprised if Duon eventually gets his own story. The boy has been through a lot of the course of the two books in this series and ENJOY THE DANCE ends in 2015 so there is potential for it. Speaking of the ending, ENJOY THE DANCE had an epilogue that did not suck. You know me reader, I am not a fan of epilogue but I think that Cullinan did a good job with this one. Although I did think that the timing of things didn’t seem entirely plausible for a 3 year stretch from the start. A year, maybe, but three? It just seemed forced. But overall, I liked it and I liked how Tomas and Spenser’s story ends. Unlike make of Cullinan’s books I didn’t find this ending to be too sugary although it does end in a way that is so very Cullinan.

If you are a fan a Cullinan, then you will like ENJOY THE DANCE. There is a lot to like about this book and I think that new fans and old will enjoy it. ENJOY THE DANCE can be read as a standalone book but there is something added when you know the other characters involved. This was a quick read for me and I do look forward to reading more of what Cullinan comes up with.

enjoy-the-dance-quote

three-stars
Rating Report
Plot
three-stars
Characters
four-stars
Writing
three-half-stars
Pacing
three-stars
Cover
three-stars
Overall: three-stars
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Thursday, October 6, 2016

Review: Dance with Me by Heidi Cullinan

Posted by Irish in 3.5 Stars, Adult, Review0 Comments

Review: Dance with Me by Heidi CullinanDance with Me by Heidi Cullinan
Published by Self-Published on 26 July 2011
Genres: Adult, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Family, GLBT, Illnesses & Injuries, Love & Romance, Performing Arts, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 418
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
Setting: St Paul, Minnesota (2010)
three-stars
Also by this author: Love Lessons, Fever Pitch, Lonely Hearts, Short Stay, Enjoy the Dance

First Line(s): Ed Maurer tapped his thumb on his steering wheel as he inched through Twin Cities traffic, sloughing off a rough afternoon as he headed to Halcyon Center.

I became a fan of Heidi Cullinan when I read her series Love Lessons, in that series we meet a character named Ed Maurer who is the hero of her book DANCE WITH ME. DANCE WITH ME is a book with a trope that I like, the ol’ hate to love scenario and Ed and Laurie do not get along when we first meet them. Part of the issues between Ed and Laurie is because they don’t talk to each other. Once they do things start to change between them and they grow closer.

DANCE WITH ME is far from perfect and there were a few times where I rolled my eyes and got frustrated with the characters. There were times when the forward progression of the story stalled and Ed and Laurie just seemed to keep circling the same issues…getting and giving the same responses with the same distraction as a way to change one scene to another. Then there was that one scene that had me cringing. I won’t go into full details here but it involved a hot tub and a man that, while not blood related (I don’t think), but who Laurie called Uncle. And just *shudders* it totally took me out of the story and I wish I could scrub it from my brain.

dance-with-me-quote

Overall though I did like DANCE WITH ME. It was a quick read with an interesting cast of characters and enough momentum to the plot to keep me reading until the end. I liked Ed when he was with Laurie and vice versa. They two were opposites sides of the same coin and they brought out the best within each other. They each needed qualities found in the other to bring out things within themselves that they didn’t know they had. I liked how they worked to build a relationship even if they did go in circles at times.

As with most Heidi Cullinan books, the ending was a little too cutsey and too neatly tied up with a bow but I get why she gives the endings she does. They allow each book to be a standalone even as her characters spill out into her other stories. I loved meeting this version of Ed and Laurie which are different than who they are when we meet them later in the Love Lessons series. I like how her characters make these cross overs as it fleshes out the world that Cullinan has created and makes it a little more real. Her stories aren’t perfect but they do make for a good afternoon distraction.

irishdarkblue

ir-dance-with-me

Add Beta Test by Annabeth Albert to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add The Understatement of the Year by Sarina Bowen to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

three-stars
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Monday, October 3, 2016

Blog Tour Review: Say It Louder by Heidi Joy Trethway

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Adult, Blog Tour, Contest, Review0 Comments

Blog Tour Review: Say It Louder by Heidi Joy Trethway

Blog Tour Review: Say It Louder by Heidi Joy TrethwaySay it Louder by Heidi Joy Tretheway
Series: Tattoo Thief,
Also in this series: Tattoo Thief, Tyler & Stella, Revenge Bound
Published by Self-Published on September 28, 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Love & Romance, Music & Musicians, Performing Arts, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues
Pages: 246
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-stars
Also by this author: Tattoo Thief, Tyler & Stella, Revenge Bound

 

Place(s) Traveled To: New York, New York // Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

First Line(s): I’m shaking as I leave Tyler’s loft.

One band. Five love stories. Too many secrets.

We’ve been waiting a long time to find out how the band Tattoo Thief will deal with drummer Dave’s toxic ex—and the secrets she’s been collecting on everyone. It was worth the wait.

You don’t have to be a fan of the series to love a book that starts fast with a huge wow moment and then unpacks the band’s secrets. In fact, you don’t have to read the earlier books because each book is a different love story about a different member of the band.

 About Say it Louder:

I had a choice—dump my toxic girlfriend, or break up my band.

It should have been easy. But she’s been collecting dirt on all of us for years.

Just when I think I’ve hit rock bottom, a pink-haired street artist rocks my world. They call Willa “the Parking Lot Picasso.” I call her my refuge, my center, my last reason to hope.

When Willa’s life on the streets collides with a sudden spotlight on her art, I’ll stop at nothing to protect her. But when the spotlight turns on my secret shame, she might be my only salvation.

Review

SAY IT LOUDER is the long awaited sequel in Heidi Joy Tretheway’s Tattoo Thief series and it picks up almost immediately after REVENGE BOUND ends. We see Dave at a crossroads with the members of his band and the after effects of choices he makes from that meeting. Though its a decision that’s a long time in coming since readers are well aware of the toxicity that is Dave’s girlfried, Kristina. We also know that Kristina won’t go quietly though I did expect there to be more tension and drama from her. The scenes with Kristina just fell flat for me as did much of this book. Perhaps, because I’d been waiting for it for so long that my expectations were higher than they may have been and as a result SAY IT LOUDER just never really lived up.

As an installment in the series, I liked where SAY IT LOUDER went but just never really felt the heat between Willa and Dave. Willa was intensely dislikable at first and Dave seemed a little wishy-washy. Willa does change over the course of the book but it seemed pretty sudden and I never really bought her change in behaviour. I didn’t really feel the heat between Willa and Dave but as a couple they did work. They definitely worked better than Dave and Kristina ever did. For me, SAY IT LOUDER just didn’t seem to hit the right now. It was well written but it just seemed to lack the heart of the other books and while I liked it I just didn’t love it as much as I’d wanted.

A portion of SAY IT LOUDER was also spent introducing a new character, Ryan, and placing her into the path of the main characters. As with the introduction of Willa in REVENGE BOUND, this was all part of a set up and we learn that there is to be another book in the series, SKIP A BEAT. Which I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it. On one hand, I like the idea of another rock star musician book but on the other I was ready for this series to be over. Ryan also wasn’t really developed enough in this book to give a sense on who she is and if her story is worth reading. Although, deep down I know that I will because I do enjoy Tretheway’s writing.

irishdarkblue

 

Grab your copy today:

Amazon ebook | iBooks | Kobo | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | Paperback

 

sil-teaser-2

 

Get the first book in the Tattoo Thief series free (on iBooks, Amazon, Nook or Kobo), or dive in to Say it Louder by downloading a free extended sample for Kindle or all other devices. Check out this excerpt, and then enter the Rafflecopter giveaway to win a signed paperback and special swag.

Tattoo Thief (#1) – https://heidijoytretheway.com/0px%20!important;%22%20/%3E

Tyler & Stella (#2) – https://goo.gl/WrLTff

Revenge Bound (#3) – https://goo.gl/Uq5VTR

Skip a Beat (#5) – releases Jan. 31, 2017

All buy links are at www.heidijoytretheway.com/books

 

About Heidi Joy Tretheway:

heidi-joy-tretheway-author-photo

Heidi Joy Tretheway is a sucker for campfires, craft cocktails, and steamy romance in books and real life. She sings along with musicals (badly), craves French carbs, and buys plane tickets the way some women buy shoes.

Her first career as a journalist took Heidi behind the scenes with politicians, rock stars, and chefs, all of whom inspire her stories. Heidi Joy is currently working on her tenth book from her home in southwestern Washington.

 

Connect with Heidi:

Contest

Enter Heidi’s Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Tour Stops

September 30th                             

Socially Awkward Book Nerd     Review

Barbara’s Book Reveiws                              Excerpt

October 1st                      

Books,Dreams,Life          Excerpt

The Silver Dagger Scriptorium                   Excerpt

Vera is Reading                Excerpt

October 2nd                    

Sassy Girl Books                             Review

A Dream Within A Dream            Excerpt

Quesarasera Book Blog                Review

October 3rd                     

Southern Belle Book Blog            Excerpt

Ticket to Anywhere                       Review

Reading Tigress                Review

October 4th                     

My Favorite Things         Review

SnoopyDoo’s Book Reviews        Excerpt

October 5th                     

Words of Wisdom from The Scarf Princess           Review

Reese’s Reviews               Excerpt

Bound By Books Book Review    Review

October 6th                     

Romance Book Nerd      Excerpt

EskieMama Reads           Excerpt

October 7th                     

Collector of book boyfriends      Playlist

iScream Books Review

Captain Reads A Lot       Excerpt

Inked in Chapters            Review

October 8th                     

CReeeBookWorld            Review

Renee Entress’s Blog      Review

Author Groupies              Review

October 9th                     

A Brit and a Yank             Review

Reading Between the Wines Book Club Guest Post

bookshelf dreaming       Review

Ashley Book Blog            Review

October 10th                   

The Smut-Brarians          Review

Books to Breathe             Review

Books Need TLC                              Review

October 11th                   

Adventures in Writing    Playlist

Live read and breathe    Review

Novel Addiction                              Review

October 12th                   

Alpha Book Club              Review

Red Cheeks Reads           Excerpt

Wild and Dirty Book Blog             Review

October 13th                   

G & T’s Indie Café            Excerpt

Short and Sassy Book Blurbs       Review

Ramblings From This Chick         Review

The Phantom Paragrapher          Review

Nay’s Pink Bookshelf      Excerpt

 

three-stars
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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Review: A Scot in the Dark by Sarah MacLean

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Adult, Review0 Comments

Review: A Scot in the Dark by Sarah MacLeanA Scot in the Dark by Sarah MacLean
Series: Scandal & Scoundrel #2
Published by Avon on August 30th 2016
Genres: Adult, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Historical Romance, Love & Romance, Regency, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues
Pages: 392
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
three-stars
Also by this author: The Season, Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake, Ten Ways to be Adored When Landing a Lord, Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart, Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover, The Rogue Not Taken

Place(s) Traveled To: London, England (1834)

First Line(s): Miss Lillian Hargrove was the most beautiful woman in England.

 

I always get a little giddy when a new Sarah MacLean books is placed in my hands and I was super excited to get an early copy of her newest, A SCOT IN THE DARK. I really liked the first book in this new series, THE ROGUE WORTH TAKING (my review) and was looking forward to seeing more of King’s friend the Duke of Warnick. And while I liked this book I didn’t love it as much as the first in the series but any book that has Freddie (aka the Earl of Stanhope) in it will always hold a very special place in my heart. I enjoyed the chemistry between Warnick and Lily but, for me, there was just something missing from this one and looking back I can’t quite put my finger on what.

A SCOT IN THE DARK was a quick read but its also one that I found easy to put down. There was nothing about it that made me want to keep picking up. Though when I was reading it I was throughly engaged and even laughed out loud on several occasions. There is some good banter between the hero and heroine but they just paled in comparison to King and Sophie from the first book. Those two just set a really high bar and Warnick and Lily didn’t live up. But they did have some really fun scenes together and I loved the cameos from the Talbot sisters. I think perhaps, part of my disappointment with A SCOT IN THE DARK is because it wasn’t a Talbot sister book. I just got really attached to that crazy family and it was hard to say goodbye to them.

scot-in-the-dark-quote

My disappointment is all my own. I think that any devoted reader of Sarah MacLean will love A SCOT IN THE DARK. There is humor and adventure and potential for scandal around every corner. There is chemistry and heart ache and a book that has a lot but still remains true to the love story at its core. There is some fun banter between the main characters and some good side scenes when they are not sharing a page. I just wish that I was able to connect with the lead characters more which would have had me liking this book more than I did.

A SCOT IN THE DARK is a book that can be read as a standalone but why would you want to? It totally helps to read all of MacLean’s books in publication order because then you can enjoy the cameos all the more. I just love how those little cameos really help to flesh out a world and make it seem more real across the various series that MacLean writes. And MacLean can write, that is something that never changes from book to book. She is a gifted author and one that I think all lovers of romance should experience. I know that I, for one, am already looking forward to her next book even though April 2017 seems like its an eternity away!

 

irishdarkblue

ir-scot-in-the-dark

Add Lady Bridget’s Diary by Maya Rodale to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add Duke of My Heart by Kelly Bowen to Goodreads.

three-stars
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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Review: His Royal Favorite by Lilah Pace

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Adult, Review0 Comments

Review: His Royal Favorite by Lilah PaceHis Royal Favorite by Lilah Pace
Series: His Royal Secret, Book 2
Also in this series: His Royal Secret
Published by Intermix on 16 August 2016
Genres: Adult, Dating & Sex, Family, GLBT, Love & Romance, Royalty, Emotions & Feelings, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 245
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: His Royal Secret

Place(s) Traveled To: Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya // London, England

First Line(s): “Fiona, it’s Ben.” Thank God he’d gotten her machine.

HIS ROYAL FAVORITE is the direct sequel to Lilah Pace’s HIS ROYAL SECRET (my review.) I’m usually wary of direct sequels as I hate to have manufactured drama break up a couples hard won happily ever after just to bring them back together again. But I also found that I couldn’t resist the temptation that HIS ROYAL FAVORITE presented so I found myself not only picking it up but then staying up into the wee hours of the morning just to finish it. I was hooked on this story from the very first page and I just loved the progression of Ben and James’s story. I also loved how HIS ROYAL FAVORITE showed a real relationship at work as that is something that is usually missing in romance novels.

HIS ROYAL FAVORITE deals with the very real aftershocks of James coming out of the closet and Ben has to decide if a public life is a life that he can accept. There are struggles for them both as they deal with their new relationship, family, and the onslaught of public opinion. New relationships can be hard enough but they become exponentially harder when they are lived in the public eye. Especially when you don’t know who is a true friend and who might sell your secrets just for a little cash and 15 minutes of fame. My heart totally ached throughout this book because it was just so real and I hated some of the things that Ben and James had to deal with.

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But what I loved most about HIS ROYAL FAVORITE is that there was no pointless breakup!! And while there was angst it wasn’t unnecessary or over done and everything just really worked for the story. I truly hated for HIS ROYAL FAVORITE to come to an end because it just hit all the right notes for me. HIS ROYAL FAVORITE isn’t a perfect book but it was compelling and held my attention. It had me cheering on this couple wanting them to overcome the obstacles in front of them and come out stronger on the other side. For me, HIS ROYAL FAVORITE was a total page turner and I couldn’t stop reading until I hit the final page.

HIS ROYAL FAVORITE will take you on an emotional roller coaster but at the end of the ride you’ll heave a happy say and want to make the journey all over again. I loved this story and I can’t say it enough how much I loved seeing a couple be a couple. I always feel a little cheated when it takes an entire book to get a couple to get together just to have it end before we experience their HEA. In HIS ROYAL FAVORITE, Pace gives that extra look into this world and I am so happy that she did. This series was just so sweet and lovely and its perfect for all fans of a good love story. Doubly good if you like books with a royal twist (and seriously who doesn’t like to read about a literal prince charming?) If you trust me at all then you’ll want to have this series on your radar.

Seriously friends….go buy it now!

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.)

four-stars
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Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Review: Rookie Move by Sarina Bowen

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Adult, Review0 Comments

Review: Rookie Move by Sarina BowenRookie Move (Brooklyn Bruisers, #1) by Sarina Bowen
Series: ,
Published by Berkley on September 6th 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Love & Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Sports & Athletics
Pages: 336
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Goodreads
three-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, Steadfast

Place(s) Traveled To: Brooklyn, New York // Denver, Colorado // Phoenix, Arizona // Dallas, Texas

First Line(s): Cobblestone streets did not pair well with high heels.

Long time readers will know that I am a big fan of Sarina Bowen’s books and I’ve really enjoyed her Ivy Years series. With ROOKIE MOVE, not only does Bowen make the leap from self-published to traditional publishing but she also starts her very first spin off series. We first meet Leo Trevi as a secondary character in the Ivy Years books but don’t learn a ton about him until THE FIFTEENTH MINUTE (my review) when his brother’s story is told. That first sneak peak was enough to have me eager for ROOKIE MOVE which is an adult read set in the same universe as the Ivy Years books only the characters aren’t in college any more. In ROOKIE MOVE, Leo is getting ready to start his first year on a professional NFL team and he’s both excited and nervous as this is everything that he’s ever wanted. Well, except for maybe his high school love, Georgia, who just happens to be the teams PR representative. To make things even more complex, Georgia’s dad is also the new Brooklyn Bruisers coach.

To say that ROOKIE MOVE has a lot going on is an understatement and I think that there are some plot points that could have been avoided. Especially the one where Georgia’s dad was just a complete and utter fuck-tard. Seriously, there was no reason for his attitude towards Leo and he acted more like a 3 year old in the midst of a tantrum than an adult professional. I don’t know why the team’s owner put up with it nor do I understand why Leo never took things up with HR because the man was out of control. That whole story line took away from my enjoyment of this book because there was no basis for it nor was it resolved well. It was just sort there and it didn’t fit in with the story as a whole. Drama for the sake of drama and really took me out of the story.

Rookie Move Quote

The other part of ROOKIE MOVE that was a disappointment was Leo and Georgia’s relationship. It just seemed too easy and there was no angst or drama to it. The only real drama in this book came from Georgia’s dad and so the love story seemed to be a bit forgotten about. Leo and Georgia were apart throughout their college years and then they just seemed to reconnect so quickly without ever fully dealing with their issues. I also didn’t feel any real chemistry between the two and thought that Leo had better chemistry (non-romantic)/storylines with some of his teammates than he did with the love of his life.

I wanted to love ROOKIE MOVE but, for me, this one just fell short of my expectations. I am looking forward to reading more books in this series and am glad that I read the story but it was just an okay read for me, not a great one. I just needed something more in ROOKIE MOVE that never fully materialized and I hope that other books in the series will read better for me as the characters and plots will be more new. As much as I wanted to see Leo and Georgia’s reunion I am now thinking that their story may have been better told as a secondary storyline in another book.

irishdarkblue

IR - Rookie Move

Add Any Man of Mine by Rachel Gibson to Goodreads.

Add Fair Play by Deirdre Martin to Goodreads.

three-stars
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Monday, September 5, 2016

Review: Game On by Michelle Smith

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Review, Young Adult1 Comment

Review: Game On by Michelle SmithGame On by Michelle Smith
Series: Lewis Creek, Book 2
Also in this series: Play On
Published by Bloomsbury on 16 August 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Friendship, Love & Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Young Adult
Pages: 328
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: Play On

Place(s) Traveled To: Lewis Creek, South Carolina // Sommerville, South Carolina // Beaufort, South Carolina

First Line(s): It’s probably a bad sign when the hangover hits you before you even leave the party.

GAME ON by Michelle Smith is a companion to her debut story PLAY ON (my review) and that is where we first meet Eric. Eric is an underclassman on the baseball team and in this book he moves up to be the starting pitcher. Bringing with it all the pressures that anyone from a small town can understand. Sports is life in many small towns (and even some big ones) and adults are way too involved and get way too emotionally invested. These pressures only compound the issues that Eric is already dealing with as a preachers kid, a newly out gay older brother and his past as a player and a screw up. Eric is trying to make a new start in order to live up to all of his expectations but he keeps making poor choices and getting into trouble. It also doesn’t help that he has a bit of a drinking problem and a temper which lands him into more trouble than he needs.

Enter Bri, the girl next door. Bri and Eric used to be friends and then they drifted apart.  Eric has always had a thing for Bri but has always thought that he was too much of a screw up and not good enough for her. So you can imagine all the angst that the boy goes through over the course of GAME ON as Bri and Eric begin to reconnect. For Bri is dealing with a douche of an ex along with some abandonment issues which could have lead her to being a troubled teen. However, Bri is smart and has a good head on her shoulders and she becomes the rock that Eric needs to really get his life back on track. Through Eric, Bri also learns to deal with some of her issues and learns that she isn’t alone in the world. That there are people who will fight for her and beside her depending on what the situation calls for.

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GAME ON is a quick read and had everything I like to see in a contemporary young adult book. There was angst but not a ton of it and there were lots of heart achy feels throughout Bri and Eric’s journey. I loved their chemistry and I loved how Smith dealt with their issues and brought them together. It was realistic and emotional and had me flipping the pages quickly to see how it would all end. GAME ON isn’t a perfect read and there were things that I didn’t like but those flaws were small compared to all the things that I liked about this book. I like a book that can keep me entertained and invested even while there are things I disagree with or that I would do differently. But the things that happened all felt real to the characters and that is what matters most.

I enjoyed returning to the town of Lewis Creek with GAME ON and I hope that this isn’t the last time that we see this world or these characters. I like this group of teens and think that there are plenty of stories that could be told much like Miranda Kenneally does with her Hundred Oaks series. If you are looking for a fun, realistic read to keep you company then look no further than GAME ON. This book is great for the beach, a plane ride, or for sitting under a blanket on a snowy winters day. This is a must read for YA Contemporary lovers. I don’t think that you’ll be disappointed.

 

irishdarkblue

IR - Game On

Add Shuffle, Repeat by Jen Klein to Goodreads. (Review coming soon.)

Add The Distance from A to Z to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

four-stars
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