Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Marriage Merger, by Jennifer Probst

3.5 out of 5 Stars

I received an ARC copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review...

Julietta Conte is the top executive for her family's business, La Dolce Famiglia bakery.  This business is her passion.  It's what drives her and she is perfectly content to pour all her energy into her job.  She's single and lives in a trendy Milan apartment, which she loves and her next conquest isn't some guy but taking La Dolce Famiglia to the next level.  This includes forming an exclusive partnership with her brother-in-law's friend Sawyer Wells, who will soon be launching his own empire of international boutique hotels.

Blissfully happy in her own marriage her sister Carina has been bugging Juliette to focus on her personal life and to make time for love.  She insists Julietta perform the same love spell she used before meeting her husband.  Fed up and having been badgered enough Julietta appeases Carina and performs the ritual which includes listing the qualities/characteristics she most desires in a husband.  Once the spell is complete she forgets about it and focuses all her attention on her upcoming meeting with Sawyer Wells, whom she knows nothing about.  

When Julietta arrives at Sawyer's office it's all business as usual that is until she lays eyes on him.  There is no doubt she is attracted to him as she can barely keep her mind out of the gutters and focused on business.  Will Sawyer hold the key to cracking Julietta's heart or will Julietta resist his charms and keep her business and personal lives separate in order to guarantee success for the family business?

This book held my attention and I was curious to see what was in store.  I definitely enjoyed the chemistry between Sawyer and Julietta and never felt it was forced.  I honestly thought they were a good pair and seem to balance yet challenge one another.

They enter a physical relationship under a verbal contract with the understanding its purely to satisfy a physical need.  While it may seem strange I thought this was perfect and what individuals who are professionally driven like them might actually do.  What made it even more fun is watching to see what would happen when Julietta realizes Sawyer can give her the one thing no one else before has ever been able to.

I found Sawyer's back story intriguing and his relationship with Wolfe made him a really likable character, even though I though he took way to long to acknowledge his feelings for both Wolfe and Julietta.  In the bedroom Sawyer takes on the alpha male role and his relations with Julietta take on very light BDSM tendencies which result in some pretty juicy sex scenes.

I would have enjoyed this story more if Julietta and Sawyer hadn't taken so long to develop more of an emotional relationship.  Their professional and physical relationship was leaps and bound ahead of any sort of emotional connection.  The emotional one didn't come until right before the story ends. 

In the end I thought The Marriage Merger was an enjoyable read it just wasn't one that really impacted me.  When it was over I wasn't wondering what would happen next for either of them, nor did I find myself thinking about the story or characters days later.  However, if you are looking for a fun, complete in a day beach read then look no further.  Or if you have already the other 3 books in the Marriage to a Billionaire series then you certainly don't want to miss this installment.  

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Keatyn Chronicles, by Jillian Dodd

Stalk Me - 4.5 out of 5 stars

Book Description:

Keatyn has everything she ever dreamed.  Her life is following the script she wrote for the perfect high school experience.  She's popular, goes to the best parties, dates the hottest guy, and sits at the most coveted lunch table.

She's just not sure she wants it anymore.

Because, really, things aren't all that perfect.
Her best friend is threatening to tell everyone her perfect relationship is a scam.
Her perfect boyfriend gets drunk at every party they go to.
It's exhausting always trying to look and act perfect.
And, deep down, she isn't sure if she has any true friends.

To add to the drama, her movie star mom has a creepy stalker.
A hot, older man flirts with her and tells her they should make a movie together.
And she's crushing on an adorable surfer.  Dating him would mean committing social suicide.

So she writes a new script.  One where all the pieces of her life will come together in perfect harmony.  But little does she know, there's someone who will do anything to make sure that doesn't happen.


I love Jillian Dodd!  She is so talented at just sucking you into books.  She got me right away in That Boy series and again with the Keatyn Chronicles.  The other points Jillian earns as an author from us...she never fails to make us laugh.  Like out loud.  A lot.

The Keatyn Chronicles can be classified as extremely mature YA with an incredibly addictive storyline.  Stalk Me is the first book of the series and you absolutely cannot read the other books until you've read this one.

Keatyn Douglas has everything in life she could ever want.  Super star mom, super star step dad, great family, huge beach house in California.  I mean seriously is there anything Keatyn doesn't have???  Oh that's right, love from a guy who loves her for her.  Keatyn is one of my all time favorite book characters.  She is genuine and the books are written in the form of a daily diary so you see everything playing out just like she does.  You would think a girl with all the things Keatyn has should be happy, and she is, but she struggles with thing all of us (even adults) struggle with on a daily basis.  For example, everyone wants to be popular but at what price.    

When I first started reading this book I found myself very frustrated with Keatyn's thoughts and especially her actions.  I also was kind of put off that before something happened or before she would talk to another character she would literally "script" it in her head first.  I'm not going to lie her immaturity frustrated me so much in the beginning I think it held me back from instantly being hooked, however, Jillian Dodd has this incredible storytelling ability and before long all I cared about was finding out what Keatyn was doing and how she was going to get herself out of the next crazy situation.  Before long I was so caught up in the story and especially in Keatyn's life that I couldn't put the book down!

I think its also important you go into this series with the knowledge that Keatyn is only 17 years old and therefore her actions are going to resemble those of a typical teenager, maybe just more extreme because she has been exposed to so many different things having grown up in Hollywood.  In the end this is one of the reasons I fell in love with the series.  It's just such a fun break from the reality of my own life.  Keatyn lives in the moment, who doesn't wish their real life could be as glamorous as growing up with a movie star mom, being able to purchase anything they want, no curfew, being able to go and come as she pleases, a closet full of the latest fashion, and of course living in picturesque Malibu???  It's completely unreal how much this 17 year old girl can get away with, but then again she isn't a normal 17 year old. 

Boys...so many boys and so little time for Keatyn to decide who she loves.  She is so wishy washy but that is a typical teenage right?  I would know, I have one in my house.  Sander her boyfriend appears great on the surface but is always getting drunk.  Brooklyn, the hot surfer neighbor, is older and seems to be laid back and good for Keats but is he too laid back?  Cush is her best guy friend with lots of potential to be more, and he doesn't expect or want her to change.  Or there is Vincent, hot new neighbor and film director.  He is older, but it could work.  Who will Keatyn choose?  In this first installment you will also see Keatyn battle with the "Queen B" at her high school.  Make connections to possibly launch her own acting career.  You also join Keatyn for an out of this world 17th birthday celebration, a summer alone in Europe with one special boy and even witness craziness as someone puts Keatyn's life in danger.  One things for sure, Keatyn's world is about to be turned upside down and you don't want to miss one minute of it!  WARNING:  Prepare to find yourself addicted!  As soon as you finish Stalk Me you are immediately going be dying to start Kiss Me. 

Kiss Me - 5 out of 5 stars

Book Description:

I've always written scripts for my perfect life.
But no way could I have ever scripted this.
My life is so far from perfect, it's not even funny.
All because of a stalker.

I'm at a boarding school where I have to lie about who I am.
I can't see my family.
I'm tutoring a Hottie God that tortures me with his smile.
The most popular girl already hates me.
But there's this boy.
This hot, sweet, sexy boy.
So I'm going to stop trying to script my life and just live it.
Because who knows how long I have left.


To begin, if you have not read Stalk Me, STOP reading this review now!  It will ruin the first book in the Keatyn Chronicles for you.  But if you haven't read it go one click it right now!  Seriously, it has been on sale for FREE for a few weeks and if you let that opportunity pass you by then pay for it, it is worth it.  Okay, now that you have been properly warned, on to the review.

Oh my goodness...I can never get enough of these books!  Yes, it's official and I am not ashamed to admit that I'm 31 years old and 100% addicted to this series.  These books are like a drug I never saw coming!  Keatyn is so much fun.  Even running away from psycho Vincent and being stuck at boarding school, she is freakin awesome.

Kiss Me picks up right where Salk Me left off, so at this point you have met some new people in Keatyn's life at her new boarding school.  Aiden, Dallas, Riley, Whitney, Peyton and Dawson to name a few.  I love how these books pick up right where the last one starts.  We don't miss a thing and it's fantastic.  Keatyn is on her way to a new life at boarding school.  She just made the dance team and took a ride on the Ferris Wheel with the God of all Hotties AKA Aiden.  She is trying to live her life the way she always wanted to in California, without drama and not worrying about being the most popular.  She left that life behind with Vanessa and she definitely doesn't want to start it again with Whitney.  This is her chance to be herself, she can start fresh and she's decided she has no interest in being the popular girl, however, one thing's for sure, everyone is going to know Keatyn Monroe, the fearless, confident girl who isn't afraid to go after what she wants and who finds herself involved with more extra curricular activities than she ever dreamed of before.  She is taking full advantage of being an "unknown" and making sure she gets the "true high-school experience."

So what can you expect with the 2nd installment...boys, boys and more boys!  There's Dallas and Riley her friends who she sometimes kisses, Hottie God who she undeniably has an instant connection/love at first sight thing and kisses, Brooklyn (who I wanted to punch for his stupidity, but was also secretly thrilled Keatyn finally opens her eyes to his true personality) who yes she kisses, Gorgeous who even though she shared the worst kiss of her life with is now finding incredibly sweet and there's some serious chemistry with.  So, the question is, which boy is the best?  And, let's not forget about Vincent, he's there and Keatyn finds herself thisclose to being discovered!  There is drama and more drama, but Keatyn also begins to make some real genuine friends with actual bonds.  But let's be honest...by the end of this book you are going to find yourself even more vested in all these boys and you aren't going to be able to stop yourself from jumping on team to team when it comes to trying to decide who should/will be her "moon boy."

Keatyn is like able because she is nice, sweet and makes decisions that are easily oftentimes justified in her mind.  She is young, beautiful, loves to have fun, wants to be involved in everything, but she also over thinks everything.  She wants to find true love and it's more than fun to watch her look for it in all the hot guys vying for her attention.  I promise you'll be sucked in like a really good prime time soap...think gossip girl with the love triangles of Vampire Diaries.

Date Me - 5 out of 5 stars

Book Description:

I'm not scripting my life anymore.
I'm living it.
I'm done with the God of all Hotties.
I'm going to give my heart to the boy who I think deserves it.
The boy whose kisses are hotter than molten lava.
The boy who offered me the key to his heart.
The boy who asked me to Homecoming in a big, sexy way.

There are so many things to look forward to.
Parties at the Cave.  Homecoming festivities.  Drama Tryouts.  Shopping trips to NY.
But things aren't always as perfect as they seem.
Not that I can blame him.
I have secrets too.
But, for now, I'm going to pretend I'm just a normal girl. 
I'm going to pretend he's not still out there.
I'm going to pretend he's not getting desperate.
I'm going to pretend I'll never see him again.
But, I will.
And this time, I might not get away.


Again, if you have not read Stalk Me and Kiss Me, go do it NOW.  Do not pass go, do not collect $200 just DO IT NOW!!!!

Have I mentioned this is my guilty pleasure???  Once again I couldn't get enough, I was sucked in before I even finished page 1 and didn't stop reading until the last page was turned.  Yes, you heard me, I read this book in 1 sitting!!!  Of course when it was over I was devastated I would have to wait months to get my next Keatyn fix.

With each book we see Keatyn become more and more mature.  She is able to recognize when a bad decision has been made and you can really see she is learning and growing from those experiences.  She finally realizes she cannot script her life and tries to embrace living each day to its fullest.  As always her life is messy but it's fun and addicting to watch Keatyn navigate through the chaos.

Date Me picks up immediately after Dawson asks Keatie to be his homecoming date in the most memorable and outrageous way possible.  In this installment you are treated with the full homecoming experience, a nail biting Vincent encounter, parties and shopping in NYC with the girls, more Whitney stand-offs, of course more major crushing and dancing with the Hottie God, the making of a crazy sexy music video.  Keatyn also learns that boys are boys and sometimes she too easily trusts those boys with her heart, what happens when said boys disappoint.  She also ponders what true love is and whether or not she's found it.  She learns to juggle doing things for herself vs. doing them for some guy.

Jillian is going to make you laugh and cry, scream in frustration and jump up and down with joy when Keatyn finally does something right.  I absolutely love these books are told on a day to day basis.  I think one of the things I enjoy most is that I honestly have no idea where or with who Keatyn is going to end up with (but for what it's worth we at Romance Rewind are team Aiden and have been since book 2).  I think Jillian is going to keep us guessing until the end, but getting there has already been so much fun and I literally cannot wait until the next installment, Love Me is released...hurry up August 11th!!!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Knight (Unfinished Hero # 1), by Kristen Ashley

3 out of 5 stars

First lesson in this review is to pay close attention to your kindle when you click on a book.  Basically, Kelly told me to read a specific book that she thought was great.  (I am not going to tell you which one until we post the review, so get over it.  J) Anyways, as I am reading I am thinking, “Was Kelly smoking crack while reading this book?”  I mean we might have subtle differences in opinions, but not major.  Ever!  So, I called her.  Basically, I am a moron and clicked the wrong book but didn’t realize until I was already vested, so I decided to just finish it.  The accidental book was Knight. 

Ok, on to the review.  The good stuff...this book was a quick read.  It had some good characters.  I loved the lead character, Anya Gage, because despite the fact she had a crap life she pulled herself up and makes something of herself with hard work and determination.  I also love her friend, Viv.  She is sassy and a tell it like it is person.  I am a lot like that so I guess that’s why I like her.  Knight, the lead male character, (Love the name, right?  It just sounds hot!) is a pretty predictable, millionaire, overprotective guy.  He is ok, but some things he does just irritate me and therefore remove the sexiness for me.  For example, he says “Yo”.  Not just once either, like all the time.  Irritating!  He also doesn’t talk in complete sentences. Ever. Next, he refers to females as bitches, even Anya. And while I know I can be one at times, it’s just not ok to call all women bitches all the time.  Cause I am not one ALL the time.  Basically, imagine reading the dialogue of Kanye West.  Shoot. Me. Now.  But the MOST annoying thing in the book for me, was the fact that he insisted that Anya call him Daddy.  Ewh. Gross!  Can we say disturbing?  So anyway that is my beef with the characters. 

As far as the story goes, it is pretty drama free and steamy.  (If you can block out the whole Daddy thing!)  I really didn’t see much plot occurring, but some people enjoy those kinds of books.  Occasionally, I can read that kind of story and veg out.  I prefer a book with a few bumps in the road that eventually lead to a HEA.  I will say this as well, I thought that I got this book on sale for like .99 so I wasn’t too upset about not getting my moneys worth, but after examining my account, I saw it was $3.99.  I do not think it was worth that, but if you could get it on sale go for it.  In the end, it’s all about what you like.  So, don’t take my word for it.  See for yourself what you think, because as the saying goes, everyone has an opinion.  

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Frigid, by J. Lynn

3.7 out of 5 stars

Sydney has been in love with her best friend Kyler for as long as she can remember.  Kyler, never feeling worthy of Sydney, has slept his way through high school and college never with one person for too long, but always looking out for Sydney.  Sydney is afraid if she reveals her true feelings to Kyler she could risk ruining their friendship and there is no way she can loose him.  So, what happens when the two of them find themselves alone and stranded at a ski resort during a massive Nor'easter?

I absolutely fell in love with Wait for You, my first J. Lynn book, and I was very excited to read Frigid.  I had such high hopes for this book and while I did enjoy the story I have to admit it took me a little longer to connect to the characters than I typically like.

For more than half of the book it was back and forth between Sydney and Kyler, both afraid to make a move.  Since the book is written in switching POV's you know how each character feels about the other and I found myself extremely frustrated in how long it took for them to get on the same page and act on their feelings.  Once it finally happens their chemistry explodes and they get to spend a lot of time together finding ways to keep each other warm.  However, it's not all rainbows and sunshine for this new romance because it has become increasingly apparent there is a stalker who is determined to make surviving the storm and each other almost impossible.

I loved the setting, Snowshoe Mountain, West Virginia and when I was finished reading the book I wished it were winter and I could be there skiing!  Once Sydney and Kyler confronted their feelings and took the step beyond friendship I finally started feeling sucked in to their story, but then there was maybe only 30 or 40% of the book left, so it felt like as soon as I got vested in them as a couple their story was over.  I did however like the ending and was thrilled to see Sydney and Kyler get their happy for now ending.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Ten Tiny Breaths, by K.A. Tucker

4 out of 5 stars

I received an ARC from netgalley in exchange for an honest review...

One night someone who had too much to drink made the decision to drive home anyways.  This one small decision made a really big impact.  The same night a teenage girl lost her mom, dad, best friend and boyfriend.  She may have physically survived the accident but the girl she once was died in the car that same night alongside of the people she loved.

After the accident Kacey and her little sister Livie must move in with their Aunt and Uncle.  The Aunt constantly pushes church onto Kacey not knowing how to deal with a bad attitude teenager who copes with alcohol and sex.  To make matters worse her Uncle looses all their inheritance in a card game and is trying to force inappropriate advances on Livie.

She may not be the girl she once was but Kacey knows Livie deserves more so they run-away in the middle of the night to Miami, seeking a fresh start.

It's in Miami where Kacey begins to take the breaths she needs to actually live again.  In Miami she chooses to be responsible, gives up boys and even slowly allows people to get close to her again and if she's honest with herself Kacey realizes she cares about them as well.  It's also in Miami she meets Trent.  The incredibly hot bad-boy neighbor who only has eyes for Kacey, who wants nothing more than to be the one who makes her happy again.

Of course just as things start looking up and Kacey starts living again her world comes crashing down. Will her mother's advice be the key to saving her life, "Just breathe.  Ten tiny breaths...Seize them.  Feel them.  Love them." or will she forever live in the tragedies of her life?

K.A. Tucker doesn't waste any time, right from the get-go you are thrown and sucked into this story.  Told from Kacey's perspective you journey with her through all the stages of grief.  You re-live her tragedy, you struggle as she struggles to make sense of one person's bad decision.  You join her on the bumpy road to true forgiveness and shout for joy once the journey is made and Kacey finds the way back to herself.

Kacey comes across as a strong character physically, never making excuses for her self, putting her sister's needs above herself, but emotionally she is weak and incredibly vulnerable.  She also realizes this about herself and as a result makes it her life's mission to never let herself get attached to anyone else because she isn't sure she could survive another heartbreak.

Her sister Livie was an integral part of her recovery and I loved how strong she was for Kacey, I love all the silent support she gives, then at one point she gets completely real and calls her out, begging her to get help, forcing her to see that she wasn't the only victim the night their parents died.  I couldn't help but loving her character and their bond as sisters.  She may not have been the star of this book but the story wouldn't have been as good without her character.

If you are like me you enjoy a good steamy love story so, don't worry the chemistry between Kacey and Trent is on fire.  These two cannot help but be drawn together and you're going to get fireworks!

I was able to figure out the plot twist pretty early on in the story and while I still enjoyed the journey I would have preferred to be challenged with it a little longer.  I also thought the last part of the book kind of felt rushed to wrap everything up, but you do get a pretty great epilogue which gave the story a nice ending. K.A. Tucker really uses the plot to force readers to think.  I love a book that makes you think and Ten Tiny Breaths is a story not easily forgotten.


Monday, July 22, 2013

Summer Loving, by Nicola Yeager

3.5 out of 5 stars

I was asked by Endeavour Press, the largest independent digital publisher in the UK, to review a new adult book for their new US division.  Of course, I jumped at the opportunity!  I am always up for trying new authors and reads.  I decided to read Summer Loving by Nicola Yeager.

Saskia Lucas is on yet another luxury summer holiday in an exotic location. This time it’s in the Algarve, in the south of Portugal. She’s with Franklin, the man that she likes to refer to as her ‘provider’, or as some might say, her Sugar Daddy.  A wealthy businessman, and close on forty years older than her, Franklin and Saskia have little in common, apart from a taste for the finer things in life. Two years into the relationship, Saskia has expensive clothes, the latest handbags, lots of shoes, perfect blonde hair... and new boobs. Everything she ever wanted.  Except for love.  Unknown to Franklin, Saskia is still nursing a broken heart from a relationship she had when she was only nineteen with a surfer named Kirstan. And when Franklin abandons Saskia for a couple of days to play golf she decides to book some surfing lessons.  But she is in for a shock, one that will change her life forever.

Now for my confession time...Does anyone else reading a book set in the UK and Europe with British characters read with an English accent in their head?  Maybe its just one of my quirky things.  The other thing I have a slight issue with is the fact that the surfer guy is named Kirstan.  Now maybe in the UK guys have this name, but I have only experienced girls with this name so I changed his name in my head to Kristian.  It just worked better for me.

Nicola’s writing style reminds me of Sophie Kinsella, one of my favorite British authors.  (Confessions of a Shopaholic)  I really enjoyed reading the book because I love some of the British humor that was interjected.  There were several points in the book that I was chuckling to myself over the internal monologue from Sask.  She was a really lovable character.  Kirsten was also hilarious, his sense of humor won me over as well. 

My main issue with this book and the main reason for the 3.5 star review is that it was so incredibly short.  It was only 123 pages.  For me that is just an hour or so of read time.  Because of the length of the book, I felt the story was a bit rushed and I did not have time to fall as much in love with the characters as I could have.  The entire book basically takes place over 3 days.  There is a lot of build up to the climax of the book, but it is over and resolved in a couple of pages.  I don’t think it was bad, I just felt like the characters deserved more time to work through the issues or something.   

In conclusion, if you are looking for a short read to take on a car trip, to the beach or are just in the mood for a short and sweet read, you should give this novella a try.  Hopefully, Nicola will expand on their story and there will be a sequel so we can see what the characters are up to in the next part of their life.  

Friday, July 19, 2013

Knock Love Out, by Pella Grace

3 out of 5 stars

I received an ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review...

30-something Lilla King finds herself frustrated with her marriage and with life in general.  In her eyes it is the same every day.  She takes care of the house, plans the meals, buys the groceries and then prepares those meals without any acknowledgement or appreciation from her husband.  Every day he comes home from work and does his own thing like she doesn't exist and if he does comment on what she's done its always critical.  She feels so alone, longing for some type of physical connection.

One day she finds herself in Valentine's Grocery contemplating the idea of an affair because she's so desperate to even feel noticed.  This thought turns into a plan of action when she catches the eye of 20-something Warren "Cash" Valentine, the son of Valentine's Grocery's owner.

What starts out as innocent flirting quickly evolves into an affair.  Cash not only gives her the physical connection she's been yearning for but also touches her emotionally, helping her find the way back "to herself" and eventually back into a life full of happiness.

This is the story of Lilla King's journey to independence, happiness and love.

Knock Out Love is told through the eyes of both Lilla and Cash, so for the entire story you are able to get a better understanding as to the circumstances in their lives and whats behind their reactions to those circumstances.  This is an easy read and you will have no problem following the story.

It was hard for me to fully review without alluding to some spoilers so if you don't like spoilers then please don't read any further.

Unfortunately, for me, I had a hard time emotionally connecting to the story.  I found Lilla to be a hard character to really even like.  Don't get me wrong I can understand why she felt the way she did and even the driving forces behind those actions but I just didn't agree with them.  I felt it took her too long to admit to Cash or even herself that she was as much of a reason as her husband was for the demise of their marriage.  It would have been one thing if she had been honest with him about her unhappiness before engaging in an affair.  I would have had more respect for her if she had chosen to talk to him and given themselves an opportunity as husband and wife to make things better before deciding to end things.  I think it would have helped me to believe in the love between her and Cash.

I'm glad Lilla grew into an independent and happy woman but I was also frustrated with that growth because it felt extreme.  When she was with Adam she wasn't happy and definitely wasn't independent and with Cash she was happy but maybe too independent, always hesitant to fully let him into her life and make the ultimate commitment to his love.  Was she afraid she would lose herself again?  If that was the case then maybe she didn't learn as much as she should have on her self discovery journey, because I believe you can have independence and still be in a fully committed relationship.  

Cash on the other hand looks at life so simply...go after what you want, speak up for yourself and when he gives his love to another person whether it be a friend or girlfriend, he is all in holding nothing back.  He had several redeeming qualities of a leading male character, but I had a hard time falling in love with him and Lilla together in any capacity.  I never understood what made her his "Eden."  It's like he was her life coach and had a relationship with her on the side.  Why did he want to commit to her?  What were the reasons he didn't want to be with anyone else?  What qualities did she possess that made him feel complete?  Those were all questions I needed more answers to.

In conclusion, I will say Lilla and Cash do get their HEA with everything wrapped up nicely, which is definitely a bonus and Pella Grace does a great job with her writing, allowing readers to follow the easy flow of conversation between the characters.  I still think you should read this book for yourself, just because I didn't "feel the love" of Cash and Lilla doesn't mean you won't.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Uncharted (On the Island # 1.5), by Tracey Garvis-Graves

4.5 out of 5 stars

Owen Sparks, a 23-year-old millionaire, desperately wants a change in his life.  With his success and hard earned money comes headaches, constant phone calls and people always asking for more money.  He feels as though he never gets a moments peace and subsequently finds no enjoyment or happiness in life.  He wants to get away from it all, and in his mind the perfect place to do this is on an uninhibited island in the Maldives.

Calia Reed, a beautiful British girl vacationing in the Maldives with her brother James, meets Owen on her last night in town and decides to extend her trip and join him on his island adventure.

Same uninhibited island as T.J. and Anna, same dangers, the only difference is they have plenty of supplies and Captain Forrester knows where they are and can come "rescue" them whenever they desire.

Even though Owen thought through and planned everything out perfectly he had no idea things could take a turn for the worse or that one decision alone could have such an effect on anyone other than himself.  One day he shows up on the doorstep of Anna and T.J.'s house and you are going to be blown away with the story he has to tell, especially their connection to one another.

Owen's story and adventure is just as good of astory as Anna and T.J,'s, in fact after hearing both it's hard to believe they were even "stranded" on the same island.  The obvious difference of course being the choice in which each came to the island.  For me, having everything take place in the exact same setting is one of the things I loved most about this book.  It felt like a completely different place through the eyes of Owen Sparks.

Another thing I really enjoyed was catching back up with Anna and T.J., experiencing their emotions as Owen explains the details of his time on the island.  Watching them first hand deal with their emotions as they realize the effect of Owen's decision on the outcome of their lives.  Anna and T.J. have grown so much emotionally since we met them in the first chapter of On the Island and getting to see them continually living their HEA was icing on the cake!

If you haven't already read On the Island, you absolutely need to read it before Uncharted, however if you have read the first book then please don't miss out on this companion novel.  It absolutely enriches the entire On the Island experience.  Tracey Garvis-Graves writes with such beautiful descriptions and emotional depth that you cannot help being sucked into her stories.  

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

On the Island, by Tracey-Garvis Graves

5 out of 5 stars

Meet Anna Emerson, a 30-year-old teacher looking to make some extra money during the summer.  When offered a job to tutor 16-year-old cancer patient T.J. Callahan, who is in remission, she doesn’t hesitate to accept, especially knowing she will get to travel with his family to their rental home in the Maldives.  What could be better than a working vacation?

Meet T.J. Callahan, on the verge of turning seventeen and having fought cancer for the last several years the last thing he wants, now that he is finally in remission, is to be stuck on an island far away from his friends, with just his family, playing catch-up on school work.  In an act of rebellion he refuses to leave with his family but instead stays behind to attend a “party” with some friends and decides to fly out with Anna and meet them a few days later. 

On the last leg of their route to meet T.J.’s parents the pilot of the seaplane they have chartered suffers a fatal heart attack leaving his plane to go down into the shark-infested waters of the Indian Ocean.  Having survived the plane crash T.J. and Anna cling to their life jackets until they eventually wash on shore of an uninhibited island. 

After several days they realize there isn’t much hope for being rescued and in order to survive they must work together to find food, fresh-water, shelter and overcome the very real dangers of living on an uninhibited island.  Their days turn to weeks, weeks turn to months and months eventually turn into years.  While Anna arrived on the island as an adult, each day there she has watched T.J. grow from an adolescent into a man and she recognizes her feelings for him have also changed.  She no longer sees him as a teenager but as a man whom she depends on, who she has fallen in love with. 

This book blew me away.  When I first learned what the story was about I had my doubts.  I didn’t think I would enjoy reading about and older woman falling in love with a teenager while being stranded on an island.  I figured it was going to be far fetched.  I also assumed I probably wouldn’t be able to relate to the characters and I thought their relationship might feel awkward with such a large age difference.  But so many people were talking about what an awesome book it was I decided to go against my gut and give it a chance.  I am so glad I did! 

On the Island was written beautifully and I don’t have anything negative to say.  It pulled at the strings to my heart and I have no doubt it is a direct result of Tracey’s amazing ability to tell a story, making every aspect incredibly authentic.  I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since I finished reading it back in May.

The relationship between Anna and T.J. felt genuine and wasn’t an instant love at first sight, nor did they get intimate until he 19-years-old so there was never the issue of him being a minor.  Because the story was written with switching POV’s you really understood where each character’s feelings were stemmed from and you saw they struggled with their growing feelings.  It wasn’t rushed.  T.J. and Anna literally depended on each other for their lives.  I think their love for one another grew out of respect and appreciation.  The root of their relationship was teamwork. 

I don’t want to say too much more about the story or about their relationship because I’m not sure I could do it without giving away the whole plot.  This book was incredibly well written and I think the switching POV’s allowed the story to develop naturally.  For me it wouldn’t have been the same if I couldn’t experience the intensity of the situations through each character.

If you are worried whether or not there will be a HEA, worry no more!  You get one.  In fact the epilogue was just brilliant and wrapped up the story perfectly.  I literally couldn’t put this book down once I started and had it finished in one day.  Don’t hesitate like me, go buy it and experience it first hand for yourself.  It’ll definitely give you a book hangover, the kind you want!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Beautiful Broken Rules, by Kimberly Lauren

4.5 out of 5 stars

Emerson Moore accepts her reputation as the school's slut.  There aren't too many people after all who follow the same rules as herself:

  • Never sleep with someone that a friend has feelings for
  • Never sleep with someone who is in a known relationship
  • Never sleep with someone more than three times

Her reason behind creating these rules - no desire whatsoever for a relationship.  She figures if she is upfront and honest from the beginning then there is no room for miscommunication.  She absolutely DOES NOT want a boyfriend.  These rules also allow her to have a good time and enjoy life without getting her heart broken.

One morning after a wild night of partying she finds herself in a prediciment...no clothes and needing to get home so she can make it to a class.  With no other options she decides to leave the frat house in only her bra and panties, besides who is she going to run into at 7:00am???  She opens the front door only to find her best friend Cole and a hot, mysterious boy on a motorcycle.  Instead of feeling embarrassed she embraces her situation and keeps her confidence.  

Mysterious hot biker boy turns out to be Cole's roommate and her new next door neighbor, Jaxon Riley.  It also turns out there is more to Jaxon than tattooed muscles, a sense of humor and sexual chemistry, he's slowly learning to break Emerson's rules.  The question is now that all her rules are broken will Emerson finally come face to face with the one thing she has tried to avoid since she was 15...heartbreak, or will she find true happiness and love with Jaxon?

I thought Beautiful Broken Rules was a refreshing twist on the typical romance novel of today.  I absolutely loved and thoroughly enjoyed watching the lead female character take on all the common stereotypes of a male character - playgirl who has never wanted or been able to settle down, never falls in love but loves a good time.  I also loved that Emerson's character embraced these qualities in herself and never made excuses nor did she try and convince anyone else, including Jaxon, she was any different.  It made her completely lovable.  Almost from their first meeting Emerson lays her rules on the line to Jaxon and he can either accept them or not, the choice is his.  Of course when this happens you immediately know that when it comes to her relationship with Jaxon those rules are going to fly out the window!  

Honestly it was beautiful to watch all the walls Emerson had carefully constructed over the years come crumbling down, how you as the reader realize what's happening to Emerson even before she puts the pieces together.  Throughout the whole story you remain in Emerson's thoughts, and when that inevitable heartbreak happens you cannot help but want to comfort her.  

And, talk about a fantastic ending, I thought the epilougue was perfect!  For me the book wouldn't have been the same without it because it really gave you a sense of closure for both Emerson and Jaxon!  Make the time to read this book, it's refreshing and funny filled with plenty of emotional depth.  It can easily be read in one sitting and would be perfect to enjoy during a day at the beach.

Also, if you end up liking it as much as me you will be happy to hear Kimberly is working on another book about Jace (Jaxon's equally handsome identical twin brother)! 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Facade (Games #2), by Nyrae Dawn

4.3 out of 5 stars

This is the story of Adrian and Delaney.  Two people whose lives have been turned upside down as a result of one tragic event.  Each of them have been forever changed and neither one of them expected nor were they looking to find love.  

Delaney's father committed a horrible crime and left his family completely shattered.  Since then Delaney has tried to go on living pretending everything is fine, which of course is far from the truth.  The reality is the people she loves, including herself, are falling apart, their lives at a standstill and she believes if she can atone for her father's sins, seeking forgiveness from the family he hurt then maybe just maybe her family can move past the tragedy and get their lives back. 

Adrian has the reputation of a sexy, fun loving, always up for a party, playboy reputation.  However, this isn't the real Adrian at all, its just what he wants everyone to think about him because the truth of who he is and what he thinks he is responsible for is just too painful to share.

One afternoon everything starts to change.  Drawn to Delaney, Adrian finally starts opening up, little by little removing pieces of his mask, revealing his true nature.  As much as Delaney tries to resist Adrian she is inexplicably drawn to him.  They're falling in love, but they still have secrets they cannot seem to share, what happens when the truth comes out?  Will they be able to move beyond the past together?  Can their love for one another save them?

This is fantastic book about heartbreak, grief and love.  Facade switches the POV between Adrian and Delaney, which I love because it really gives you insight into the full picture of what is going on in each person's life.  You see both characters struggling to be honest with one another and take off the "mask" they wear.  

Tragedy has affected both Adrian and Delaney, they just deal with it differently.  Adrian gets stoned and tries to numb his pain behind a party boy mask, where as Delaney tries to take on everyone's problems and fix them herself.  Early on in the book, you find out Delaney's secret and how her life is "intertwined" with Adrian and it's interesting because each of them can sense in the other that they are hiding from the secret ghosts of their pasts.  I found myself screaming at them to come clean before it was too late.  Couldn't they see secrets never lead anywhere good?  

 I loved their love story and and enjoyed witnessing their struggles in finally coming to terms with their feelings for one another and how that realization impacts the other parts of their life, especially the secrets they worked so hard to keep.  

All the characters in this book are easily lovable and their actions seem completely realistic of someone who may actually be living with those kinds ghosts.  Of course, if you have read Charade you will already be in love with Colt and Cheyenne, my favorite secondary characters in Facade!  If you haven't read Charade go buy it and read it first!  (You could read Facade as a stand alone novel, but why would you want to?)  Overall, this book is a great, quick read about two people falling in love while overcoming regret and grief and who learn to allow happiness and joy into their lives once again.  It really is a beautiful story with a surprise twist!  Don't hesitate to read this book.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Left Drowning, by Jessica Park

5 out of 5 stars

If you've read Flat-Out Love, Flat-Out Matt and Relatively Famous, then you know Jessica Park is a pretty talented writer.  This past weekend I was thrilled to see I had been approved to read an advanced copy of Left Drowning, her newest creation, on Netgalley. 

For the last few weeks my anticipation for this book has gotten out of control as I kept seeing an endless stream of 5 star reviews and let me tell you, saying I wasn't disappointed in all the hype is an understatement.  This book completely blew my mind wrecking every single one of my emotions along the way.  It absolutely deserves all the attention and praises it's receiving.  Jessica Park your talent clearly  knows no limits or end.  Left Drowning is absolute perfection.

Blythe McGuire, a senior at Matthews College, is struggling through every single aspect of her life.  She is plagued with the loss and grief following her parents death over 4 years earlier and desperately longs to feel anything.

One morning, unable to sleep, she has a chance encounter with Christoper Sheppard, also a senior, who secretly fights his own personal demons.  Immediately it's obivous these two individuals have a connection on a spiritual and not just a physical level.

Through her friendship and relationship with Chris and his siblings Blythe begins to heal, she begins to live life again learning to breathe through the pain.  As Blythe seemingly moves forward with her life Chris finds himself struggling to keep his head above the waters of his own family's traumatic past.

Will Chris allow Blythe to rescue him or will he drown in his own pain? 

Be warned...this is probably the most emotionally tense story you may ever read.  There is no mistaking Left Drowning as a fluffy, soft, feel good story.  This book is incredibly real and there is a whole lot of heavy darkness you have to journey through to get to the light.  But honestly, that's what makes it so amazing.

The character development of not only Chris and Blythe but also the secondary characters was outstanding.  I had a special place in my heart for each of them because every single one was crucial to Blythe's healing and to the whole story. They're all going to make an impression on you and you're going to wish you could be a part of the family they've created.  I think its through these characters Jessica Park was able to successfully intertwine her own unique personality and sense of humor into the story, which is an added bonus!

Now let's talk about the chemistry between Chris and Blythe...it's undeniably hot with explosive moments of sexual intimacy.  Jessica Park can seriously write some hot, heart pounding, blood throbbing sex scenes!  That being said, prepare yourself for some extremely graphic writing when it comes to those parts of the book.

Left Drowning is a book everyone should take the time to read.  It's about the reality of sometimes having to go through life in pain, of how some people get dealt a shit hand and don't always know how to navigate through or around their pain on their own.  It's about accepting your life has a purpose even when you cannot see it for yourself.  It's also about the life saving beauty that comes when you open yourself up to others.  It's about friendship, family and love.

Pre-order this book today it's one you are going to want to read.

That Boy and That Wedding, by Jillian Dodd

5 out of 5 stars

I think it's only fair to start this review by saying I feakin love Jillian Dodd.  I mean, seriously love her.  There isn't a single one of her books that I haven't fallen in love with nor would I hesitate to recommend.  Jillian is a very entertaining storyteller.  Everytime I finish one of her books I think to myself, "Wow, she completely sucked me in again!"  Those opinions aside let me continue telling you about these two wonderful books so you can go buy them and get to experiencing their awesomeness!

Both That Boy and That Wedding are told from the perspective of the main character Jaydn James Reynolds.  AKA JJ, Jay, Jaybaby and Princess.  The story of That Boy unfolds with Jaydn freaking out at a surprise engagement party which "that boy" has sprung on her after having only been dating for a week!  There, during the middle of Jaydn's freakout, you are transported back through her memories to her first kiss and then further reminisce with her throughout elementary, middle, high school and college.  All of the pivotal milestones which have led her to this moment, the moment where she decides whether or not to give herself to the only boy she has ever truly loved, even if they have only been in a relationship for a week!

During her flashback you get to meet Phillip and Danny her two best friends since childhood.  It is so much fun hearing how they first met, the adventures they had, their fights, learning to kiss, Jaydn's dates and the boys reactions to those dates.  You're there with Jaydn experiencing all the good times, all the times when she has struggled, all the times when she has fallen a little bit more in love with "that boy."  There is no doubt about it...Jaydn loves both Phillip and Danny, but she is only "in love" with one of them.

Ok, once you finish That Boy you are going to immediately want to start That Wedding!  I will only refer to Jaydn's fiance as "that boy" so as not to spoil the first book for you.

This story takes place in the present.  Jaydn finally realized she is truly, madly and deeply in love with "that boy."  She absolutely cannot imagine living her life with anyone else.  All that being said, since they had such a short courtship, she is planning on a very long engagement.  She figures they are going to need this time to see if they can even make it as a couple instead of just being friends.

But you know life...it has a funny way of sneaking up on you and changing your plans.  So what happens when Jaydn and "that boy" decide to move their wedding up???  What you would expect to happen, Jaydn completely freaks out and starts to question everything!  Not to worry though because she has Danny and Phillip and as usual they are going to help her navigate through life just as they've always done.

The thing I love most about reading is being able to connect with a character, feeling their emotions, happiness, sadness, fears, everything.  Jillian does an amazing job with this and there were times during these stories where I was sobbing, actual unstoppable tears, but there were also times when I was rolling in the floor laughing.  Some parts were so hysterical that I would stop and re-read them to my husband just to prove it was funny enough to be laughing out loud!  One of the things I love most about this series is that it is so true to life.  Jaydn's life is far from perfect, but she is so fun loving and heartwarming you cannot help but fall more in love with her character every time you turn the page.  Her relationships and connections wtih Danny and Phillip are so  believeable, the texts, discussions and things they go through as friends make you love them both as well.  Their relationships with each other also prove that family isn't just being related by blood but by being connected to one anothter through life and love.

In summary, I would  have to say Jillian Dodd is a fantastic author, if you are looking for a fun and fabulous read with two hot and loving boys, do not look any further, go buy That Boy and That Wedding now.  You won't regret it.  Once you read it you will understand why they are on our MUST READ list.  Look for That Baby to be released in 2014.