Book Review – Full Tilt by Emma Scott

Full Tilt (Full Tilt #1) by Emma Scott

Full Tilt (Full Tilt #1) by Emma Scott

4.5 Stars

Synopsis
“I would love you forever, if I only had the chance…”

Kacey Dawson has always lived life on the edge–impulsively, sometimes recklessly. And now, as lead guitarist for a hot up-and-coming band, she is poised at the brink of fame and fortune. But she is torn between wanting to be a serious musician, and the demons that lure her down the glittering, but alcohol-soaked path of rock stardom. A wrecked concert in Las Vegas threatens to ruin her career entirely. She wakes up with the hangover from hell and no memory of the night before, or how she ended up on her limo driver’s couch…

Jonah Fletcher is running out of time. He knows his situation is hopeless, and he’s vowed to make the most of the handful of months he has left to him. His plans include seeing the opening of his glass installation at a prestigious art gallery…they do not include falling in love with a wild, tempestuous rock musician who wound up passed out on his couch.

Jonah sees that Kacey is on a path to self-destruction. He lets her crash with him for a few days to dry out and get her head on straight. But neither of them expected the deep connection they felt, or how that connection could grow so fast from friendship into something more. Something deep and pure and life-changing…something as fragile as glass, that they both know will shatter in the end no matter how hard they try to hold on to it.

Full Tilt is a story about what it means to love with your whole heart, to sacrifice, to experience terrible grief and soaring joy. To live life with all its beauty, and all its pain, and in the end to be able to smile through tears and know you wouldn’t have changed a thing.

***FIRST BOOK IN A TWO PART DUET***

..

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My Review
Going into this, I knew there would be no HEA. It’s pretty much stated in the prologue, but I still wasn’t ready for the ending, and it gutted me in the most bittersweet of ways. Jonah and Kacey are soulmates, that becomes evident as the story unfolds. After Jonah rescues Kacey from her partying ways, their friendship is easy and natural. Stronger feelings develop, but because of Jonah’s health issues, he keeps her at arm’s length, but only for so long. Kacey knows what she’s getting into, but like the reader, she’s still not prepared for the ending.

Plot
As a romance, the main plot is the relationship between Jonah and Kacey. But Kacey’s relationship with her band, her life choices, and Jonah’s art installation are all solid subplots that help drive the main plot. There were times where I felt the pacing slowed down too much for my preference, but not long enough that I set the book aside to read something else. The romance is incredibly well done and heart wrenching. There’s so much emotion that is deep and raw, I was pulled deep into the story.

Characters
All the characters are really well developed, particularly Kacey, Jonah, and Jonah’s brother, Theo. Their backstories are complete and relevant and they lead to some of the most wonderfully complex characters I’ve read recently. Kacey, particularly, has her flaws as a result of deep family wounds. Jonah and Theo respond based on the illness the wrecked Jonah’s heart. There’s so much believable growth through the story, that I only come to love the characters more. So even though I knew how the story would end before the first chapter, it wasn’t any easier to read.

World Building
I love all the settings. Emma Scott makes the unbearable dry heat of Las Vegas come alive in a way that feels as alive as the real deal. And as a San Diegan, I loved the scenes set in my hometown. I loved the references to places I’ve been. And either she’s got some experience with glass blowing or she did her homework. I found myself googling images to see the beauty she crafted in my mind with my own eyes.

What Didn’t Work for Me
1. The pacing.
 There were a few places where things slowed down too much for me, but that’s really my only complaint.

What I Loved About Full Tilt
1. The ending.
 Not really, but I did love that the author warned us ahead of time. I was mentally prepared even if I wasn’t emotionally prepared. But oh what a gut-rippingly beautiful, horrible, amazing ending it was.

2. Theo. I love dark and twisty characters and he’s definitely that, wrapped up in some serious tattooed hotness.

3. The art. I’m now fascinated by Dale Chihuly and his amazing glass art.

4. Jonah. It’s ironic that the man with the biggest heart is also the one with the failing heart.

5. Kacey. She’s a wonderfully complex character that was easy to root for.

Bottom Line
Full Tilt is an emotional new adult romance that will pull at your heartstrings in the best ways.

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About the Book
Title: Full Tilt
Series: Full Tilt #1
Author: Emma Scott
Publisher: Trillian
Release Date: June 28, 2016
Pages: 292
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating:
 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon

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About the Author
Emma Scott is a writer, marathon runner, and caffeine addict, who lives and writes in the California Bay Area. She has two smart, feisty little girls, a super-supportive husband, and is a demonstrated fan of the Oxford comma. She is also an unabashed Star Wars geek and comic book enthusiast who fell into romance novels when a writing contest prompt turned a 1000-word romantic story into a full-blown novel. She also writes epic fantasy that suffers an epic word count.

She hopes you enjoy her work, encourages readers to leave feedback, and thinks it’s amusing to write about herself in the third person. And if she has a driving force that fuels her work, it’s that love always wins.

Where to find Emma Scott
Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter
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Month in Review – December 2015

Two weeks late, but you know, the holidays… Also, some front yard landscaping, and Aussie exchange student for eleven days, and final edits and publishing of The Uprising (which comes out on Tuesday!). Better late than never. Here are the books I read and reviewed in December, 2015.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Story: 4 Stars
Audiobook: 5 Stars

Title: Gone Girl
Author: 
Gillian Flynn
Release Date: 
May 24, 2012
Publisher:
Random House Audible
Narrators:
Julia Whelan and Kirby Heyborne
Length:
19 Hours 11 Minutes
Genre:
 Contemporary Mystery/Thriller/Suspense
Story Rating: 
4 out of 5 Stars
Audio Production Rating:
 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | AudibleAmazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis
On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge.

Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

Bottom Line
Gone Girl is a disturbing tale, beautifully written, and the audiobook version is one of the best produced I’ve ever listened to.

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Bad Romance: A Stepbrother Novel by by Jen McLaughlin

Bad Romance A Stepbrother Novel by by Jen McLaughlin

Bad Romance A Stepbrother Novel by by Jen McLaughlin

4 Stars

Title: Bad Romance: A Stepbrother Novel
Author: 
Jen McLauchlin
Publisher: 
Loveswept
Release Date: 
September 15, 2015
Pages:
242
Genre: 
New Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 
4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Synopsis
In this explosive novel from New York Times bestselling author Jen McLaughlin, a good girl falls for the ultimate bad boy: her stepbrother. Perfect for fans of Sabrina Paige, Caitlin Daire, and Krista Lakes, Bad Romance proves that passion can be so wrong it’s right.

Seven years in the army will change a guy. But after a shoulder wound ends his career as a sniper, Jackson Worthington finds himself back home, fighting a battle that’s all too familiar: keeping his hands off Lily Hastings. She’s still her rich daddy’s little angel, innocent, impossibly lovely, as squeaky-clean as Jackson is dirty. And she’s still his stepsister—forbidden but not forgotten, not after the soul-melting kiss that got him kicked out of the house at eighteen. He couldn’t resist her then. How the hell can he resist her now?

Lily is about to marry a man she doesn’t love, and commit to a high-stress job she hates, all to please the father who controls every waking moment of her life. On top of everything, her teenage crush is back, with a sleek, chiseled body and a trace of the rebellious boy whose lips sealed her fate. Jackson’s timing couldn’t be worse . . . or better. Because Lily’s all grown up, too. She’s aching for another taste. And for the first time, she’s ready to be a bad girl.

Bottom Line
Bad Romance is a page-turning romance about forbidden love and learning to live your own life.

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Royal Marriage Market by Heather Lyons

Royal Marriage Market by Heather Lyons

Royal Marriage Market by Heather Lyons

4.5 Stars

Title: Royal Marriage Market
Author: Heather Lyons
Publisher: Cerulean Books
Release Date: December 15, 2015
Pages: 335
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | iBooks | Kobo

Synopsis
Every decade, the world’s monarchs and their heirs secretly convene to discuss global politics and social issues—and arrange marriages between kingdoms. Elsa may be the Hereditary Princess of Vattenguldia, but she finds the entire situation archaic and unsavory. While she wants what’s best for her country, she isn’t about to jump into an unwanted relationship—let alone a marriage—with a virtual stranger. Of course, her feelings matter little to her parents, whose wheeling and dealings over trade pacts and alliances achieved at her expense begin the moment they set foot in California for the Summit. So when a blindingly handsome royal runs into her, she doesn’t hesitate to tell him there’s no way she’s marrying him.

Christian is all too happy to agree: no marriage. As the Hereditary Grand Duke of Aiboland, his main goal is to get through the summit without a bride being foisted on him. Which is why he suggests they help each other field potential intendeds. As Christian slowly gets to know Elsa, though, he realizes they have a lot more in common than just their feelings about the Royal Marriage Market. Only he can’t fall for her, because royal or not, they’re not meant for each other. Elsa and Christian will have to evaluate matters of the heart verses those of state and crown, and decide whether or not tradition trumps love.

Bottom Line
Royal Marriage Market is a fun twist on the contemporary romance genre with plenty of chemistry and more than a few laughs.

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The Writer’s Idea Thesaurus by Fred White

The Writer's Idea Thesaurus by Fred White

The Writer’s Idea Thesaurus by Fred White

3.5 Stars

Title: The Writer’s Idea Thesaurus: An Interactive Guide for Developing Ideas for Novels and Short Stories
Author: Fred White
Publisher: Writer’s Digest Books
Publication Date: September 30, 2014
Pages: 320
Category: Writing Fiction
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: GoodreadsAmazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis
Endless ideas at your fingertips, and at the turn of a page…

Need an idea for a short story or novel? Look no further than The Writer’s Idea Thesaurus. It’s far more than a collection of simple writing prompts. You’ll find a vast treasury of story ideas inside, organized by subject, theme, and situation categories, and listed alphabetically for easy reference. Author and award-winning writing instructor Fred White shows you how to build out and customize these ideas to create unique plots that reflect your personal storytelling sensibilities, making The Writer’s Idea Thesaurus an invaluable tool for generating creative ideas and vanquishing writer’s block—for good.

Inside you’ll find:
•2,000 unique and dynamic story ideas perfect for novels and short stories of any genre or writing style
•Twenty major idea categories, such as The Invasion of X, The Transformation of X into Y, Escape from X, The Curse of X, and more
•Multiple situations that further refine the major categories, such as The Creation of Artificial Life, The Descent Into Madness, Love in the Workplace, The Journey to a Forgotten Realm, and more
•Invaluable advice on how to customize each idea.

The Writer’s Idea Thesaurus is an interactive story generator that opens the door to thousands of new story arcs and plotlines.

 Bottom Line
The Writer’s Idea Thesaurus lives up to its name as a unique reference guide to aid writers in developing story ideas.

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Next Door to a Star (Star Series) by Krysten Lindsay Hagar

Next Door to a Star by Krysten Lindsay Hagar

Next Door to a Star by Krysten Lindsay Hagar

4 Stars

Title: Next Door to a Star
Series: Star Series #1
Author:
Krysten Lindsay Hagar
Publisher: Limitless Publishing, LLC
Release Date: September 1, 2015
Pages: 185
Genre: 
Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon InternationalBarnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | BAM!

Synopsis
Hadley Daniels is tired of feeling invisible. After Hadley’s best friend moves away and she gets on the bad side of some girls at school, she goes to spend the summer with her grandparents in the Lake Michigan resort town of Grand Haven. Her next door neighbor is none other than teen TV star Simone Hendrickson, who is everything Hadley longs to be—pretty, popular, and famous—and she’s thrilled when Simone treats her like a friend. Being popular is a lot harder than it looks.

It’s fun and flattering when Simone includes her in her circle, though Hadley is puzzled about why her new friend refuses to discuss her former Hollywood life. Caught up with Simone, Hadley finds herself ignoring her quiet, steadfast friend, Charlotte. To make things even more complicated, along comes Nick Jenkins… He’s sweet, good-looking, and Hadley can be herself around him without all the fake drama. However, the mean girls have other ideas and they fill Nick’s head with lies about Hadley, sending him running back to his ex-girlfriend and leaving Hadley heartbroken.

So when her parents decide to relocate to Grand Haven, Hadley hopes things will change when school starts…only to be disappointed once again. Cliques. Back-stabbing. Love gone bad. Is this really what it’s like to live…Next Door To A Star?

Bottom Line
While Next Door to a Star moves slow at times, it’s filled with a colorful cast of young teens who think and act like the kids on the cusp of adulthood they are.
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Review – Pepped Up Forever (Pepper Jones Series) by Ali Dean

Pepped Up Forever (Pepper Jones #5) by Ali Dean

Pepped Up Forever (Pepper Jones #5) by Ali Dean

4.5 Stars

Synopsis

This is the fifth and final book in the Pepper Jones series, and it’s one you don’t want to miss.

Pepper Jones is ready to start breaking some records. She’ll be a junior in college, and if she wants to run professionally when she graduates, it’s time to step things up a notch. This time around, she knows it won’t be accomplished by ramping up her training.

While Pepper’s hoping for a race day breakthrough, she wonders if there’s a mental barrier holding her back, and if so, how is she supposed to confront it?

Meanwhile, Jace Wilder wants Pepper back any way he can have her, but he’s reluctant to bulldoze his way into her life having already crushed her once (okay, probably a few more times than that) before. More scenes from Jace’s point of view in the book shed a new perspective into the character Pepper fans love to hate, and hate to love, delving into those layers he’s only given glimpses of in the past.

The Brockton crew is growing up. Zoe and Wes. Jenny and Rollie. Lexi and Brax. Bunny and Wallace. Pepper and ??? It’s time to find out what Pepper’s happily ever after will be.

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My Review
I had bittersweet feelings diving into this one, knowing it was the last book in Pepper’s saga. The story picks up more than a year after the end of Pep Talks. Pepper and Jace are still apart, but otherwise, life in Brockton has settled into normal, well a new normal. One where Pepper’s friends are in stable relationships while she is still single and focused on running and her future. While she can tell Jace has changed, she’s too afraid of his ability to break her to let him back in. Jace is reeling from the biggest mistake he ever made and at a loss for how to fix things with Pepper.

This book is relatively short at only 180 pages and I would have liked more. The story itself is fine, building to an intense climax and wrapping up loose ends before rolling into a satisfying conclusion. But there are elements that are shared in summary form after they happen and would have been great to have been shown in real time. Other than that, I like the character development, the overall arc, and the emotions this story evoked.

Plot
There’s a lot going on in this installment. Primarily, it’s the story of Pepper and Jace and how they navigate the ever changing waters of their lifelong relationship. Both so clearly love the other, but Pepper is understandably gun-shy. Pepper is being pursued by Clayton Dennison and that drives some obvious conflict between Jace and Pepper. It’s also the story of what happens with the rest of their lives. With Jace entering his last year of college, an NFL draft might be in his future, and Pepper needs to determine if her future lies in professional running. All plot points are addressed in a believable manner, but as I said, I did want more for some of them. I would have loved to see more struggles with some of the decisions that are made and more of Pepper’s running.

Characters
The characters are still wonderful, fully-developed, and complex. I love the changes that both Pepper and Jace go through as they mature, and I love that Bunny is still Bunny, Pepper’s wild, pot-smoking gran.

Writing
Other than including more exposition than I wanted, we get inside Pepper’s head the way we always do, and I still love her thought processes.

Ending
I loved the ending. This is a satisfying conclusion to the series. Yes, I’ll miss all the characters, but closure is good, too.

Top Five Things I love about Pepped Up Forever:
1. Buns. Everything about Pepper’s fun-loving crazy grandmother is amped up in this finale.

2. Jace. He’s got his issues, but his love for his family and friends is never in doubt — only how he deals with his issues.

3. Pepper. She’s still tenacious even if a bit unsure, but watching her process everything the way she does is always a treat.

4. Wes and Zoe. They’re incredibly cute. I’d love a series with these two starring in it.

5. The ending. So perfect. And yeah, I still want more, but I’m finally okay with letting go.

Bottom Line
A worthy ending to a great series.

Disclaimer
I was provided a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: Pepped Up Forever
Series:  Pepper Jones #5
Author: Ali Dean
Release Date: October 1, 2015
Pages: 180
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon

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About the Author
Ali Dean lives in Colorado with her husband, twin babies, and golden retriever. In addition to reading and writing, she loves the outdoors- everything from marathon training and biking to snowboarding and skiing.

Where to Find Ali Dean
Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon
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Book Review + Sale and Giveaway – The Accidental Assassin by Nichole Chase

The Accidental Assassin Tour

Welcome to the next stop on the blog tour for The Accidental Assassin, a new adult contemporary novel by Nichole Chase. See below for my review, information on the book, buy links, and details on her giveaway. Also, during the tour, you can pick up the eBook for just $0.99!

The Accidental Assassin by Nichole Chase

The Accidental Assassin by Nichole Chase

4.5 Stars

Synopsis
Ava McKenzie is a creature of habit. Life is passing her by and she has nothing to show for it. She’s had the same job since she started college, she orders the same dish every time she goes to her favorite restaurant, and only reads books from authors she knows. There is nothing new or surprising in her life… until her best friend marries a man from London.

When her newlywed friend asks her to house-sit while she honeymoons, Ava jumps at the chance. She thinks this could be the very thing she needs to shake up her life. Ava throws herself head first into her new lifestyle; she wants to try everything, go everywhere, and never get stuck in a rut again. Of course, offing a man in a car garage hadn’t been one of the things on her list to try.

Owen Walker spends every day in a new place with a new case. As one of the most renowned assassins in the world, he has his choice of marks—and he’s never failed in a mission. When a new hit takes him back to his hometown, he looks forward to spending time somewhere familiar. What he isn’t expecting is to help an attractive, confused American woman find out how she’s ended up on a hit man’s list.

As Ava and Owen dodge bullets, will they be able to escape their undeniable attraction to each other? Or will all of that chemistry blow up in a shower of hot and dangerous sparks?

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My Review
The Accidental Assassin was such a fun, unique twist on the new adult romance genre. The characters are quirky and likable and the plot weaves danger and humor, keeping me glued to the virtual pages.

Ava is an American house-sitting her honeymooning best friend. Owen is an assassin assigned to taking out one of the other inhabitants in the same building where Ava is staying. When Ava accidentally backs over the target with her car, she finds herself in the middle of a murder-for-hire plot, relying on the the hot, yet mysterious, Owen to survive.

Plot
The plot is unique in the new adult genre, at least for me. It’s a romance, nestled in danger, surrounded by nearly non-stop action. Nichole Chase pulls off a charming tale of an unlikely heroine, some intense chemistry, and a fast-moving thrill-ride, that is reminiscent of Janet Evanovich but really is all its own.

Characters
Ava is likable from the opening paragraph and even Owen makes it hard to dislike him. What with being choosy about who he’ll kill, and ensuring there is never any collateral damage and all. These two seem like an unlikely pair, and yet the attraction is palpable from the first meet. The supporting cast are all equally interesting, right down the shop store clerk and the arms dealer.

World Building
The world of spies and assassins comes alive between the pages, the settings feel authentic, with pop culture references thrown in to connect readers with the story even more.

Writing
I love Nichole Chase’s style. She tackles tough subject matter with traces of humor, but never making light of a serious topic.

Top Five Things I Loved about The Accidental Assassin:
1. Ava. She’s a fun, refreshing heroine who had me rooting for her from the first page.

2. Owen. He’s smexy, intelligent, and loyal. Hard to beat that combination.

3. The settings. Everywhere from Owen’s cottage in Oxford to the streets of Notting Hill were as alive as the characters who inhabit them.

4. The plot. A fun idea that was wonderfully executed.

5. The banter. I loved watching Ava and Owen going tit for tat, amping up the chemistry in a playful way.

Bottom Line
The Accidental Assassin is a fun, fresh take on new adult romance with a twist.

Disclaimer
I was provided a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: The Accidental Assassin
Author: Nichole Chase
Release Date: August 26, 2014
Pages: 354
Genre: New Adult Contemporary
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes

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Author Nicole Chase

Author Nicole Chase

About the Author
Nichole Chase is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Suddenly Royal, Flukes, The Dark Betrayal Trilogy, and several short stories.

She is also the instructor of Say What? a dialogue class at the Romance Academy.

Nichole lives in Georgia with her husband, energetic daughter, superhero dog, Sulcata tortoise, and two cats.

When not writing, you may find her reading, painting, crafting, or chasing her daughter around the house while making monster noises.

Where to Find Nichole Chase
Goodreads | Website | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Instagram | Amazon

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Giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway
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YA Book Review – Into a Million Pieces by Angela V. Cook

Into a Million Pieces by Angela V. Cook

Into a Million Pieces by Angela V. Cook

4.5 Stars

Synopsis
Allison McKready is a succubus. So is her twin sister. But while Allison spends her summer break hiding in the library behind her Goth makeup, Jade fools around as often as she can.

Allison can’t believe Jade would ignore their mother’s fatal example so recklessly, but concealing a cursed bloodline and its dangerous effects is far from Allison’s only problem.

Mean girl Julie’s snob mob is determined to ruin her summer, and Aunt Sarah’s Bible thumping is getting louder. Only her new friend, Ren Fisher, offers safe haven from the chaos of her life.

When one of Jade’s risky dates leads to humiliation and sudden tragedy, Allison reels, and Ren catches her. But as her feelings for him grow, so does her fear that she’ll hurt him—or worse—in an unguarded moment.

The choice is coming—love him or save him—but Allison might not live to make it. One way or another, the curse will have its due.

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My Review
I’ll admit going into this, I had no idea what a succubus was. Yes, I know… But I really didn’t. Paranormal isn’t my normal genre. Sure, I read the Twilight series, but after that, I’d kind of had my fill and only pick up a handful of of paranormal stories a year. But this one, with the twin sisters and the bible-thumping aunt, caught my attention. As the mother of twins, I’m fascinated by stories about twins.

Allison tries to fly under the radar. She’s a succubus, and falling in love just isn’t for her. So by dressing like a goth girl, she attempts to keep people, particularly boys, at arms’ length. Somehow Ren sees through the facade to the beautiful girl inside, but they can never be anything more than friends. Or can they? Allison’s and Ren’s relationship moves beyond the friend-zone with consequences, but Ren is willing to take the risk, even if Allison isn’t. When her twin sister, Jade’s, riskier behavior comes back to bite her, it also affects Allison, resulting in tragedy. But Ren is there for Allison, taking their friendship to yet another level.

While the story starts off slower than I would have liked, it picks up about a third of the way in when it takes a twisted detour into tragedy. That was difficult to get through, but once I did, the story gripped me and never let go. Into a Million Pieces is a paranormal romance, but it reads far more like contemporary with a paranormal twist. That twist is responsible for creating a forbidden love that was so angsty, I could almost physically feel it at times. It’s also a bit of a mystery, which I didn’t see coming, although once I knew what had happened, I did figure out pretty quick who did it. That didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book, though, because at it’s core, it’s not a mystery.

World Building
The world building is very subtle, but utterly believable. The whole succubus thing is woven through the story without overpowering it. The story is about the romance between Allison and Ren. She just happens to be cursed with a gift that could kill the boy she loves if she ever has sex with him. If that isn’t the world’s best birth control for teens, I don’t know what is. But rather than a story about the world of succubi (is that the plural of succubus?), it’s about a girl, who just happens to be a succubus, falling in love with a boy.

Plot
The main plot is definitely the romance of Allison and Ren and it’s extremely well done. The teenage angst is as good as any I’ve read, and I felt the emotional pull far more than I ever did with Edward and Bella. The subplot revolving around Jade is strong and weaves through the main plot, touching every aspect of Allison’s relationship with Ren. Other than the slow start, I thought the plot was strong and there were a couple of really well-done twits.

Characters
Allison and Jade are both well-developed as is the aunt. Ren is a little more than just two-dimensional, but I never felt like I got as good of a sense of who he is as I could have. He’s got some issues in his past as well, which are brought out, but I still felt like a little more development could have been done. However, if this is the first book in a series (please, please, please let this be the case) then it’s fine that the author has left this for a later book.

The Writing
The writing is solid. Cook excels at scene setting and creating an incredible amount of heat between her characters without ever getting graphic. I wish more authors would do this, because it’s not easy, but it’s so much more intense to read.

The Ending
The ending wrapped up all the main plot points, but left enough for another book (see above begging) if the author feels inclined. The conclusion is satisfying and hopeful without needing to create the perfect happily ever after. Because succubus and human.

Top Five Things I Loved About Into a Million Pieces
1. Twins. Because who doesn’t love stories about twins?

2. Ren. He’s sweet and the way he cares for Allison makes him a perfect book boyfriend.

3. Ren’s Grandmother. She’s an amazing woman who supports both Ren and Allison as only a grandmother can.

4. The mud fight. I actually smiled as I pictured the whole thing.

5. Allison’s integrity. The fact that she never gives into her desire in order to protect Ren is one of the things I love most about her.

Bottom Line
Into a Million Pieces is a different kind of paranormal romance with a hint of a mystery that left me wanting more.

Disclaimer
I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

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About the Book
Title: Into a Million Pieces
Author: Angela V. Cook
Publisher: Red Adept Publishing, LLC
Release Date: January 27, 2015
Pages: 206
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Romance
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | GooglePlay

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Author Angela V. Cook

Author Angela V. Cook

About the Author
Angela V. Cook lives a very unexciting, but never boring, life with her husband and two children just outside of Detroit. Like most writers, she’s been making up stories for as long as she can remember and can’t imagine a life that doesn’t involve creating worlds.

Angela loves to write novels for teens because it’s the best outlet for her sarcastic personality, immature sense of humor, and love of romantic firsts. Her idea of the perfect day involves a quiet house, a good book, and a piece of cheesecake. Or two.

Where to Find Angela V. Cook
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter | RAP
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Book Review – Caught Up In You by Colee Firman

Caught Up In You by Colee Firman

Caught Up In You by Colee Firman

4.5 Stars

Synopsis
Life has a way of shaping you into what it wants you to be, regardless of how much you fight it.

Brantley Prescott is damaged. Scarred by a past she can’t forget. Hiding secrets she’s terrified to share. Searching for a future she doesn’t believe she’ll ever find.

Myles Franco is alone. Burdened by mistakes he’ll never live down. Fostering a deep resentment for the opposite sex. Unleashing his wrath on any girl who gets too close.

Brantley has worked behind the bar long enough to recognize Myles for what he is—a douchebag player with nothing on his mind but keeping a steady stream of girls flowing through his bed. With his messy dark hair, sapphire blue eyes, rock-solid body, and endless tattoos he’s impossible to ignore. But that’s exactly what she plans on doing.

After just one run-in with Brantley, Myles is even more determined to stick to the rules he lives by. She’s mouthy, blunt, and doesn’t back down—no matter how hard he pushes her. She could turn out be the one temptation that drags him down the path he’s been trying to avoid. He won’t let that happen.

Both are content living behind the solid walls they’ve built around themselves. Neither is prepared for what happens when their lives collide.

Due to sexual content and graphic language – 17+ recommended.

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My Review
This is one of those cases when you absolutely shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. The sweet handholding depicted on the cover doesn’t even come close to capturing the intense, sometimes volatile, emotions between the pages. The tumultuous relationship between Brantley and Myles is anything but sweet, although they do share some very sweet moments. These two clash and collide, battling their way to loving one another.

The passion and fire between them is palpable, as is the angst driven by miscommunication, assumptions, and fear. Author Colee Firman has created a vivid new adult romance filled with well-developed characters. Myles and Brantley struggle to find their place in each other’s lives and the the larger world around them. The premise may not sound groundbreaking, but the storytelling sets it apart from other books in the genre. At least for me.

Plot
The plot is straightforward and really well done. I don’t find many straight romances that are page-turners, but this one was. The main story centers around Brantley and Myles, but there is some strong subplotting with each of their backstories as well as their futures apart from their relationship. My only real complaint is the event that forces Brantley to evaluate her feelings for Myles. I would have loved for that to have come about more organically, but it’s a small complaint in an otherwise strong story.

Characters
Both Myles and Brantley are tough and emotionally damaged. They both have attitudes to spare, and yet they are still extremely likable, which isn’t easy to do. Both hare really well developed and believable characters. The supporting cast are also well enough developed to be more than just cardboard props for the two protagonists to interact with.

Top Five Things I Loved About Caught Up in You
1. The banter. Myles and Brantley trade barbs with some of the most fiery couples in fiction.

2. The pacing. The way the backstory is meted out, kept me on the hook. I wanted to know about Brantley’s scars and the reason Myles left Princeton because of the way they were introduced. My curiosity was piqued and it kept me deep in the story, turning the pages to find out more.

3. Livvy. She’s the epitome of a best friend — fun, loving, and as loyal as they come.

4. Puck. Every boss should be this cool.

5. The Dempsey Boys. This pack of overgrown frat boys, all sharing a house in Baylor Grove, should be a recipe for disaster. Instead, they’re far more level-headed and responsible than you’d expect, and they’re genuinely good guys. I’m excited to see the next book in this series is about Wyatt Dempsey.

Bottom Line
Caught Up in You is one of the best new adult romances I’ve read. I look forward to reading more by this author. Soon!

Disclaimer
I was provided a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

About the Book
Title
: Caught Up in You
Series: Caught Up #1
Author: Colee Firman
Release Date: December 14, 2014
Pages: 299
Category: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon

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Author Colee Firman

Author Colee Firman

About the Author
Colee Firman has always been a closet writer. As an only child, there were constantly stories swimming around in her head. In 2012, she finally started unleashing them on the world, beginning with The Unbinding Fate Series.

As a Michigan native, she never passes up a chance to escape the winter weather. When she’s not working at her day job or writing, she’s traveling with her longtime boyfriend, reading with her cat, or binging on Netflix.

Where to Find Colee Firman
Goodreads | Website | FacebookTwitter | Amazon
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YA Book Review – Charm and Consequence (Snark and Circumstance) by Stephanie Wardrop

Charm and Consequence (Snark and Circumstance #2) by Stephanie Wardrop

Charm and Consequence (Snark and Circumstance #2) by Stephanie Wardrop

4.5 Stars

Synopsis
Sixteen-year-old Georgia Barrett is no expert on guys, but her bio-class partner is harder to dissect than anything in their lab tray. He’s smart, almost as sarcastic as she is, and cute in that preppie way.

Things are great . . . until he decides her vegan activism is ridiculous and suddenly can’t refuse a date with her fast enough. So why does he show up at her door, interested in learning how to make tofu ricotta? And why does he seem so upset that a senior hottie has taken an interest in her?

Could he be interested in Georgia after all?

My Review
Charm and Consequence picks up where Snark and Circumstance left us. Georgia’s older sister, Tori, is still cozy with newcomer, Trey, younger sister, Cassie, is still tight with Rick “the Brick” and even uber-conservative, Leigh, is getting her neck bruised by Alistair, the preacher’s son. Georgia is still sadly single, at least until hot and hunky Jeremy begins to show flirtatious interest in her. On top of that, things with Michael Endicott are getting interesting. Instead of fighting every chance they get, they’re actually having interesting, thoughtful discussions.

Plot
The second book in the Snark and Circumstance series is still centered around Georgia’s relationship with Michael. At the end of book 1, they seemed to tame some of their animosity enough to allow an almost friendship to begin to take root. But any good teen romance wouldn’t be complete without a healthy dose of angst as Georgia and Michael go back and forth in twisted seesaw fashion between almost flirting to outright animosity. Things reach the pinnacle of interesting when Georgia attends the Harvest Ball and is invited to dance by both Michael and Jeremy. And they go from interesting to downright fascinating the night of the New Year’s Eve party.

World Building
We get to learn a little more about the world of Longbourne and understand some of the social hierarchy of a small town with it’s own version of royalty. I have to admit, living in a big city, this isn’t something I’m familiar with, but I found it fascinating nonetheless.

Characters
The character development continues, as Stephanie Wardrop fleshes out the characters she introduced in Snark and Circumstance. I’m getting to know Georgia even more, and I really like her. Sure she can be annoying, but her heart is in the right place most of the time. Michael is also growing on me and I think I learned more about him in this book than any of the other characters. I still find Cassie and Leigh, along with their parents to be pretty flat. I’m hoping that changes soon.

Top Five Things I Enjoyed About Charm and Consequence
1. Georgia I’m still loving Georgia’s quick wit and sense of humor.

2. Tori. She goes through a bit of an emotional upheaval this time around, and we get to see more sides to her, rounding her out nicely.

3. Michael. He’s even more layered than I thought, and though he has many faults, he’s definitely one of the good guys.

4. New Year’s Eve. The party is particularly interesting as it so accurately reflects a teen party and builds to an interesting conclusion.

5. Philosophical Discussions. Because they lead to better understanding of characters across the board.

Bottom Line
I enjoyed Charm and Consequence more than its predecessor. Stephanie Wardrop increases the stakes and draws out the main characters, creating conflict in all the right ways.

About the Book
Title
: Charm and Consequence
Series: Snark and Circumstance #2
Author: Stephanie Wardrop
Release Date: May 24, 2013
Pages: 66
Category: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
LinksGoodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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Author Stephanie WardropAbout the Author
Stephanie Wardrop grew up in Reading, Pennsylvania, a town mostly famous for being a railroad card in Monopoly. After giving up on her childhood goal of becoming a pirate, she decided to become a writer but took a detour through lots of college and grad school and ended up teaching writing and British and American literature.

She’s the author of the Swoon Romance e-novella series Snark and Circumstance, based on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and lives in western New England with her husband, kids, cats, and gecko.

Where to Find Stephanie Wardrop
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter
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YA Book Review + Giveaway – How (Not) to Fall in Love by Lisa Brown Roberts

How(not)to-fall-in-love_tour

How (Not) to Fall in Love by Lisa Brown Roberts

How (Not) to Fall in Love by Lisa Brown Roberts

4.5 Stars

Synopsis
Seventeen-year-old Darcy Covington never had to worry about money or where her next shopping spree was coming from. Even her dog ate gourmet. Then one day, Darcy’s car is repossessed from the parking lot of her elite private school. As her father’s business hit the skids, Dad didn’t just skip town, he bailed on his family.

Fortunately, Darcy’s uncle owns a thrift shop where she can hide out from the world. There’s also Lucas, the wickedly hot fix-it guy she can’t stop crushing on, even if she’s not sure they’ll ever get out of the friend zone.

But it’s here among the colorful characters of her uncle’s world that Darcy begins to see something more in herself…if she has the courage to follow it.

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My Review
Neither the cover nor the book blurb really do this fabulous book justice. It isn’t nearly as dark and brooding as the cover and the story is so much more than the synopsis. The title is what hooked me, but the strong writing is what kept me turning the pages late into the night.

Darcy is the daughter of a successful motivational speaker who takes off on a sabbatical, leaving his business and family behind. Darcy’s world is turned upside down, not just by her father’s departure, but by the fallout, as her dad becomes late night talk show fodder, her car is repossessed, and she finds herself needing a job for the first time in her life. She reconnects with her uncle who owns a thrift shop and befriends his assistant, Lucas. The fact that Lucas is ten kinds of hot and has a girlfriend who looks like a supermodel doesn’t help. Through it all, Darcy discovers more about herself, her family, and what it means to be triumphant.

Plot
The plot centers around Darcy and her crumbling world, with a strong romantic subplot. And while the title is How (Not) to Fall in Love, this isn’t a typical teen romance. It’s so much more than that. Darcy has a lot on her plate and she steps up to it more than once, proving she’s more than just a spoiled rich girl who’s had life easy up until it falls apart.

World Building
The author does a remarkable job of creating such believable settings. Everything from the high-powered world of motivational speaking to the bohemian neighborhood where her Uncle Charlie lives come alive in vivid detail. I love the details of her uncle’s thrift shop and Liz’s coffee house. In both cases, I felt as if they were real places that I’d love to visit.

Characters
The characters were all really well developed. More so than almost anything I’ve read recently. Darcy, Lucas, Charlie, Liz, even Darcy’s parents all had incredible depth. The characters are the best part of the story, but more than just awesome characters. The plot is strong, it’s just that the characters bring it to life in refreshing fashion.

Top Five Things I Enjoyed About How (Not) to Fall in Love
1. Darcy. She’s resilient, unspoiled, and full of spunk. I loved watching her grow throughout the story.

2. Charlie. I love his free-spirited nature and how much he cares for Darcy.

3. Lucas. I love how he sees more in Darcy than she does in herself.

4. Pickles. What’s not to love about a pint-sized ball of determination?

5. Liz. Everything about this 40-ish hippy barista is awesome.

Bottom Line
How (Not) to Fall in Love was a surprise hit for me. I love the story, the characters, the settings, really everything. One of my favorite young adult reads of 2015.

Disclaimer
I was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: How (Not) to Fall in Love
Author: Lisa Brown Roberts
Release Date: February 3, 2015
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Pages: 379
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: GoodreadsAmazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooksKobo

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Author Lisa Brown Roberts

Author Lisa Brown Roberts

About the Author
Lisa Brown Roberts still hasn’t recovered from the teenage trauma of nearly tweezing off both eyebrows and having to pencil them in for an entire school year.

This and other angst-filled memories inspire her to write YA books about navigating life’s painful and funny dramas, and falling in love along the way.

Her almost forever home is Colorado, though she occasionally pines for the days when she lived within walking distance of the Pacific Ocean. Her house is full of books, boys, several fourlegged prima donnas, and lots of laughter.

Where to find Lisa Brown Roberts
Goodreads Website | Facebook Twitter

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Giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Review – The Phoenix Candidate (Grace Colton Series) by Heidi Joy Tretheway

The Phoenix Candidate (Grace Colton #1) by Heidi Joy Tretheway

The Phoenix Candidate (Grace Colton #1) by Heidi Joy Tretheway

4.5 Stars

Synopsis
Fans of Scandal, House of Cards, and The Good Wife will love Grace Colton…

Congresswoman Grace Colton is the most famous woman in politics—and the loneliest—until a drawling, sexy stranger offers her one night, no strings and no regrets.

Grace wakes to an empty hotel room and a phone call: the dark horse for the 2016 presidential election, Senator Shep Conover, is considering her as his vice presidential running mate. But first, Grace must be vetted and coached by Shep’s political consultant, Jared Rankin, who already knows too many intimate details about her. He’s Mr. One-Night Stand.

Grace is torn: Play nice with Jared to join the senator’s ticket, or play hardball and back the slick frontrunner? Grace must decide where her loyalties lie and if she can trust Jared with her future—and her heart.

The Phoenix Candidate is an erotic romance set in the world of presidential election politics. Recommended for mature readers due to sharp dialogue, wickedly hot sex, and a few delicious taboos. This full-length novel is first in a series and can be read as a standalone.

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My Review
I almost didn’t finish this book. I hated the first chapter. I hated the characters. Could’t stand either one of them. And even as the story progressed, I disliked them. I did’t understand Grace, hated Jared, couldn’t get why she put up with his controlling ways. Then, somewhere around the 60% mark, it clicked for me. I got her, why she made the choices she did, why she was willing to give so much to a selfish, controlling bastard like Jared. The fact that I made it that far into a story where I didn’t like the protagonist or the love interest is a testament to the strong writing and gripping political intrigue that Heidi Joy Tretheway brings.

I love politics. I’m a junkie. And part of what made this book appeal to me was the comparison to The Good Wife, one of my all-time favorite TV shows. But Grace is nothing like Alicia Florek. Except she is. Alicia allows a lot from Peter, because of her family or her career. There is a lot of Alicia in Grace, but Grace is her own person. And about that same time that I felt like I saw glimpses of a Grace I could love, could root for, and even respect, the plot took off at a frantic pace.

Plot
While this is technically a romance, and touted as an erotic romance at that, it’s really so much more. It’s a political thriller with a steamy romantic co-plot. Freshman Congresswoman, Grace Colton, is a far-left liberal on guns and the environment, two political hot potatoes that helped her get elected in the wake of personal tragedy. When her name is bandied about as a potential running mate for two of the Democratic parties’ top presidential hopefuls, those issues could be a liability. The political wheeling and dealing is almost as hot as the sex. Tretheway threw in several plot twists that upped the stakes and kept me turning page after page.

World Building
The world building is simply fantastic. Everything from the way Portland, Oregon is portrayed, to the Washington beltway is authentic. The author pays so much attention to the little things, the locations are like word paintings in exquisite detail. And the politics are about as real as it gets.

Characters
So, I didn’t love the characters initially. I didn’t even like them, but I couldn’t deny that they were incredibly well crafted, three-dimensional people. But by the end of the book, I loved both Jared and Grace. That’s some rock-solid character development. The supporting characters, everyone from Trey and Mama Bea to Darrow and Conover, are extremely well crafted.

Top Five Things I Enjoyed About  The Phoenix Candidate
1. The politics. The political landscape, the backstabbing, the games, are all so, so believable.

2. Trey. As Grace’s right-hand man, he has her back in every case and keeps her grounded.

3. Lauren Kennedy Darrow. She’s delicious as the polished antagonist with a complex backstory. So fun to hate.

4. Jared. Yeah, it took me almost three quarters of the book to warm up to him, but once I did, I did in a big way.

5. Grace’s Interview. When she gaffes on national TV, it’s epic!

Bottom Line
This is a smart, sassy political thriller, rolled in romance with lots of steamy sex, but it’s the politics that really set it apart.

Disclaimer
I was provided with a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: The Phoenix Candidate
Series: Grace Colton #1
Author: Heidi Joy Thretheway
Release Date: January 12, 2015
Publisher: Jasper Ridge Press
Pages: 254
Release Date: January 12, 2015
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

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Author Heidi Joy Tretheway

Author Heidi Joy Tretheway

About the Author
Heidi Joy 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, chefs, and detectives, all of whom inspire her stories. Heidi Joy is currently working on her eighth book from her home in Portland, Oregon. She adores hearing from readers at author.heidi@gmail.com.

Where to Find Heidi Joy Tretheway
Goodreads | WebsiteFacebook | Twitter | Newsletter

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Giveaway
Open internationally

Coach leather purse wristlet
Signed paperback copy of The Phoenix Candidate
Name a character in the sequel

a Rafflecopter giveaway

YA Book Review – Return to Us (Letters to Nowhere) by Julie Cross

Return to Us (Letter to Nowhere #4) by Julie Cross

Return to Us (Letter to Nowhere #4) by Julie Cross

4.5 Stars

Synopsis
30,000 word novella and part 4 in the 2014 RITA Finalist Letters to Nowhere series

Summer is definitely heating up…

So yeah, that really happened. Karen’s fist connecting with TJ’s face.

Not only is TJ dealing with a decent sized bruise on his face where Karen gave her best attempt at a knock-out match, now he’s got some explaining to do after Jordan finds out what happened.

Karen’s not ready to forgive TJ for his tough-love tactics to help get her bar routine back in full swing, but she is ready to figure out how to get through to Jordan. He’s being a complete idiot, not dealing with his health issues, forcing her to keep things a secret from Coach Bentley.

With her teammate, Stevie’s, help Karen comes up with a plan to steer Jordan in the right direction—all she needs is a night alone with him and the hiking and camping expedition he promised her weeks ago might be the perfect opportunity.

Or her plan could backfire and he could slip further away from her.

While Karen and Jordan are out playing lumberjack couple in the Pocono Mountains, TJ is dealing with a stranger trying to give him advice on his tumbling, some pretty overt advances from one of Nina Jones’ gymnasts (aka: off limits), and a random hook-up that will most likely end up being a big mistake.

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My Review
This is my favorite installment in the Letters to Nowhere sequel so far.  This time around, we get to hear from TJ, get inside his head and roll around, see some of the things that make him tick. I wasn’t so sure at first about this added point of view. I initially felt like it halted the momentum of what was happening with Jordan and Karen, but ultimately, I think it worked really well. TJ is a fascinating character, so spending more time with him can only be a good thing.

Things between Jordan and Karen continue to take two steps forward and one step back, but they both remain true to who they are, proving that even the seemingly perfect couples aren’t actually perfect. But neither Karen nor Jordan becomes someone else in order to drive conflict. Instead, forces outside of them test their relationship as well as their friendship in an organic way.

Plot
The plot picks up where Return to You left off, furthering the conflict between Karen and TJ, between Karen and Jordan, and between TJ and Stevie. Although the conflict between TJ and Stevie is the highly-charged sexual kind. Karen hates that Jordan is forcing her to keep things from his father, her coach. Jordan hates that Karen is pressuring him. Karen hates TJ for pushing her, even though it seems to have worked. And Stevie and TJ have some serious underlying chemistry, making his meaningless hookups somehow seem even more trivial.

I don’t know if this is the last installment in the series or not, but a lot of things are left hanging. I will be waiting less than patiently for whatever is next in this wonderful series.

Characters
Getting inside TJ’s head for the first time was a little unnerving, but the more time I spent there, the more I liked it. The more I’ve come to like him. I’ve always found him fascinating and loved the fact that the author added him. But now that I get to spend more time with him, hear his thoughts, I like him even more. I can’t wait to see what happens with him next.

Karen and Jordan remain true to themselves as they wrestle with things outside their control. There is some character development on both of their parts this time around which was nice to see.

Top Five Things I Love About  Return to Us
1. TJ and Stevie. Still love these two tough-talking characters. Love them even more when they are sparring with each other. It’s just fun to watch.

2. TJ and the Stranger. I knew who the stranger was after about the second directive he uttered, but reading TJ process it gave me more insight into him than almost anything else.

3. Karen’s Awakening Sexuality. Man, she is so uncomfortable with her own body sometimes. It’s both cringingly awkward and innocently delightful to watch. There were several laugh-out-loud moments involving this.

4. Karen’s Plea to Jordan. Without giving anything away, when Karen confronts Jordan about his health, it’s a raw emotional scene that packs a punch.

5. The Three-Word Challenge. It’s funny and cute and so Jaren.

Bottom Line
Return to Us is a fresh addition to this fantastic series, allowing the characters to grow, and introducing us to TJ’s thoughts.

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About the Book
Title:
 Return to Us
Series: Letters to Nowhere #4
Author: Julie Cross
Publisher: Long Walk Press
Release Date: June 16, 2014
Pages: 100
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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Author Julie Cross

Author Julie Cross

About the Author
Julie Cross lives in Central Illinois with her husband and three children. She’s a former gymnast and longtime gymnastics fan, coach, and former gymnastics program director with the YMCA.

She’s a lover of books, devouring several novels a week, especially in the young adult and new adult genres.

Outside of her reading and writing credentials, Julie is a committed—but not talented—long-distance runner, creator of imaginary beach vacations, Midwest bipolar-weather survivor, and expired CPR certification card holder, as well as a ponytail and gym-shoe addict.

Where to Find Julie Cross
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter

Book Review – Redemption (Revelation Series) by Randi Cooley Wilson

Redemption Blog Tour

Redemption (Revelation #3) by Randi Cooley Wilson

Redemption (Revelation #3) by Randi Cooley Wilson

4.5 Stars

Synopsis
A LOVE RETURNS.

A LOYALTY IS BROKEN.

AND WAR BEGINS.

For Eve Collins, darkness has descended after her love vanished into the night sky. A new protector has been appointed, one who challenges everything she’s believed to true.

In this third installment of The Revelation Series, Eve will become aware of dangers and worlds that exist only in her nightmares and bloodline secrets that will trigger a centuries old war.

You can escape anything, except your destiny.

Readers captivated by Revelation and Restraint will become enthralled with Redemption.

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My Review
This is my favorite book in the series. So much happens that I almost couldn’t catch my breath. Almost. The author skillfully ensures that I could in fact catch my breath. But just barely, before she sent me careening off again.

Eve is adjusting to life without Asher, but not very well. Things go from bad to worse when she finds out who is now in charge of protecting her.  She’s thrust from one crazy adventure to the next with danger around every corner.

There are some bittersweet moments, including her reunion with Asher, but because this is the Revelation series, it’s only the calm before the storm. I love where Eve and Asher are relationship-wise in Redemption. And I love the themes woven throughout. The stakes are higher than ever this time around and Eve learns a devastating secret that changes everything.

Plot
As always, Randi Cooley Wilson plots like a fiend. So much happens, but I never lost sight of the story. The main plot is strong and the subplots wind through like tiny vines, enhancing the main plot rather than detracting from it.

World Building
This is where Redemption really shines. Everything from the world of Gargoyles to heaven and hell and everything in between (leprechauns anyone?) is richly detailed and thoroughly developed.

Characters
The characters are the same ones we know and love, with no new major characters introduced. I see some growth in a few characters, less in others. I’d like to see Eve do a little more growing up in the next book. In fact, I believe that’s exactly where she’s headed based on how things end.

Top Five Things I Love About  Redemption
1. Eve and Asher’s relationship. I love where it’s going.

2. Callan’s aprons. I mean, come on, they’re awesome!

3. The growing tension between Asher and Keegan. This has potential to building into a wicked conflict.

4. The Leprechauns. They’re not what you think.

5. The big revelation. No, I won’t give it away, but I kick myself for not seeing it coming.

Bottom Line
I love Redemption, with all of its twists and turns, passion, danger, and yes, even the cliffhanger ending.

Disclaimer
I was provided with a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

About the Book
Title:
 Redemption
Series: Revelation #3
Author: Randi Cooley Wilson
Pages: 246
Release Date: December 15, 2014
Genre: New Adult Paranormal Romance
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords

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Author Randi Cooley Wilson

Author Randi Cooley Wilson

About the Author
Randi was born and raised in Massachusetts where she attended Bridgewater State University and graduated with a degree in Communication Studies. After graduation she moved to California where she lived happily bathed in sunshine and warm weather for fifteen years.

Randi and her husband recently moved back to Massachusetts with their daughter where she was encouraged to begin writing again.

Revelation is her first novel and The Revelations Series is her first New Adult Paranormal Romance book series.

“I’ve had a love affair with books, writing and storytelling since childhood. It has been a dream of mine to introduce this world and these characters to you. I hope I’ve done them justice.”

Randi loves to hear from readers, you can reach out to her via Twitter: R_CooleyWilson and/or Facebook: authorrandicooleywilson

Where to Find Randi Cooley Wilson
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Giveaway
$25 GC to B&N or Amazon (winners choice) and a digital copy (Nook or Kindle, winners choice) of: Revelation, Restraint and Redemption by Randi Cooley Wilson

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Book Review – The Real Thing by Cassie Mae

The Real Thing by Cassie Mae

The Real Thing by Cassie Mae

4.5 Stars

Synopsis
Eric Matua has one friend—his best friend and childhood sweetheart, who needs a place to stay for the summer.

Mia Johnson has thousands of friends—who live in her computer. Along with her email chats and Facebook notifications, Mia also devours romance novels, spending countless hours with fictional characters, dreaming of her own Romeo to sweep her off her feet.

When she starts receiving supersweet messages from a stranger who thinks she’s someone else, Mia begins to believe that real love is possible outside her virtual world.

When the two friends become roommates, Mia finds herself falling harder than she ever thought she could. But Eric keeps his desires locked away, unsure of himself and his ability to give his best friend what she deserves in a boyfriend.

As her advances are continually spurned, Mia splits her time between Eric and her computer. But she soon realizes she’s about to lose the only real thing she’s ever had.

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My Review
This book has a lot going for it. Eric and Mia’s long-term friendship, mutual crushes, interesting characters, and lots and lots of social media. Mia is addicted to the internet and social media. She’s also been in love with Eric since high school, but he had a girlfriend so nothing ever came of it. When Eric returns to the States after spending time in Samoa, the two share an apartment in the Florida Keys for the summer. They kept in touch via the internet over the years, so they pick their friendship up right where it left off, both oblivious to the feelings each has for the other.

The story follows these two as they explore a relationship beyond the platonic friendship they’ve always had. But Mia has a hard time tearing herself away from her internet friends long enough to appreciate what she has right in front of her. Coupled with Eric’s social anxiety, these two have a long way to go to get to happily ever after.

Plot
The plot is a little different than many new adult romances. Sure, there is the couple that everyone knows belongs together and all the obstacles that keep them apart, but Eric seems to defy the alpha male stereotype that is typical. Okay, he’s super hot, but he has so many insecurities, he’s anything but alpha. His lack of confidence only makes him more adorable and that totally defies the stereotype of the leading man.. Eric is sweet, thoughtful, romantic, but profoundly unaware of his qualities. The plot follows a different course as well, keeping me on my toes. I never really knew how it was going to play out.

The only issue I really had with this story is the ending. Without giving anything away, I felt like Mia was forced to work too hard to redeem herself without Eric having to own up to his overreaction. He ultimately accepts his role and apologizes, but it’s a minor blip compared to Mia.

World Building
The setting us the Florida Keys (I think), but I’ve never been so I can’t be sure. But, I felt like I was there. I felt the warm summer nights, the soft silky sand that is native to south Florida. Cassie Mae also does a masterful job of creating portraying internet /social media addiction and taking us inside the world of social anxiety.

Characters
The two main characters are solid, deeply layered, and unique. The rest of the cast are in supporting roles and they don’t appear much, but still don’t come across as one-dimensional. I think they’re fine for the parts they play. But Mia and Eric are so well-developed that the rest don’t really matter. This is their story and its told really well through dual-first-person points of view. The author does a great job of differentiating their voices so Mia never sounds like Eric or vice versa.

Top Five Things I Love About  The Real Thing
1. Mia’s love of social media, because it’s something we can all relate to.

2. Eric’s social anxiety. While I couldn’t identify with it, I feel like I have a better understanding of it now, and that’s always a good thing.

3. The first shower scene — and it’s not at all what you’d expect from that description — it’s sweet and steamy at the same time.

4. Dr. Seuss. Just love that Eric reads Dr. Seuss to Mia.

5. The friendship, because I married my best friend, so I know how friendship can become something more. Something that lasts.

Bottom Line
A wonderful new adult romance that is a refreshing break from what I’ve been reading in this genre. I love the characters, their story, and their enduring friendship.

Disclaimer
I was given a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Title: The Real Thing
Author: Cassie Mae
Publisher: Random House (Flirt)
Pages: 289
Category: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
LinksGoodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

YA Book Review – Return to You (Letters to Nowhere) by Julie Cross

Return to You (Letter to Nowhere #3) by Julie Cross

Return to You (Letter to Nowhere #3) by Julie Cross

4.5 Stars

Synopsis
Follow up to Letters to Nowhere, an Amazon #1 Bestseller in teen sports fiction!

IMPORTANT! Note from the author—Karen and Jordan’s story will continue in shorter installments with more frequent releases. If you haven’t already, please check out the full length novel, LETTERS TO NOWHERE to read how the story began.

ABOUT RETURN TO YOU (Letters to Nowhere Volume 3)

How many dreams can you chase at once?

Even with bad boy, TJ, disrupting their morning workouts, Karen and Stevie’s daily battles with each other are sure to bring both of them closer to a national title at next month’s championships. It’s the kind of feud that creates winning results.

Until a fall from the uneven bars shakes Karen’s rock-solid confidence. Not only does she balk every time she so much as attempts a routine, she’s also facing all this without much support from Jordan. After receiving some bad news, Jordan’s reluctance to listen to reason causes Karen so much frustration she begins to avoid him, needing space to deal with her own issues. He needs someone to force him to make the right choice, he needs his dad to intervene and Karen knows this, but is torn between her loyalty to Jordan and her concern for her coach’s son. Even though both paths lead to the same person—Jordan—it feels like she’s choosing between two different people.

And then there’s the growing tension between TJ and Stevie. They’re obviously on the verge of either ripping each other’s heads off or ripping each other’s clothes off. It’s hard for either Jordan or Karen to tell where those two are headed. Tension is building from every possible outlet and there’s bound to be an explosion of some kind in the very near future.

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My Review
Return to You is like a return to the Karen and Jordan we got to know in Letters to Nowhere. This installment reminds us what we love about the series — Jordan and Karen, Karen and gymnastics, and Jordan and his shaky relationship with his dad. As things begin to heat up between Jordan and Karen, things implode with Karen and the uneven bars after a particularly cutting remark by TJ. When Jordan doesn’t step up to help Karen, TJ takes it upon himself to get her back on track. There’s a lot more conflict in this than in volume 2, which ups the stakes from all angles. I can’t wait to see what happens in Return to Us.

Plot
The main plot through this volume seems to be Karen’s gymnastics performance and the struggles she faces. But her relationship with Jordan is a serious subplot if not a parallel plot. Now that they’re together again, they take their relationship to the next level, which intensifies things. At least until Jordan get some bad news and doesn’t react well to it, driving a wedge between them. There is also something going on with TJ that I’m not still clear about. The boy harbors deep, dark secrets and I have a feeling there’s a lot there.

World Building
While gymnastics is still the focal point of the world building, the summer camp is vividly woven in, with campers, cabins, and camp activities that makes the story come alive in an exciting new way.

Characters
Watching Karen struggle with gymnastics again after recent successes feels so authentic. It doesn’t matter which sport you participate in, no matter how well you did in the past, there’s always a concern about the next event, the next performance, the next race, so the fact she’s doubting herself again is not at all surprising and rather refreshing. Watching Jordan deal with his issues and pushing Karen away is totally within his character and it gives us a chance to watch both of them continue to grow and develop as characters. We also get a little bit more insight into TJ and Stevie which is fun. Those two are intriguing.

Top Five Things I Love About  Return to Sender
1. Karen’s Loyalty – To both her boyfriend and her coach. Her sense of loyalty is one of the things I’ve always loved about her.

2. Jordan’s Fear – Without going into details, Jordan’s fear, although somewhat irrational, is just another dimension that makes him come across as so real.

3. The Jaren Conflict – I’m not big on conflict for conflict’s sake, but the tension between these two is a key plot point and really well done.

4. The Little Campers – They provide a few moments of some much needed comic relief.

5. The TJ/Stevie Dynamic – I can’t wait to see where this is going.

Bottom Line
Return to You picks up the pace from where Return to Sender left off, raising the stakes and increasing the tension. Can’t wait to see what happens next.

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About the Book
Title:
 Return to You
Series: Letters to Nowhere #3
Author: Julie Cross
Publisher: Long Walk Press
Release Date: December 10, 2013
Pages: 61
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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Author Julie Cross

Author Julie Cross

About the Author
Julie Cross lives in Central Illinois with her husband and three children. She’s a former gymnast and longtime gymnastics fan, coach, and former gymnastics program director with the YMCA.

She’s a lover of books, devouring several novels a week, especially in the young adult and new adult genres.

Outside of her reading and writing credentials, Julie is a committed—but not talented—long-distance runner, creator of imaginary beach vacations, Midwest bipolar-weather survivor, and expired CPR certification card holder, as well as a ponytail and gym-shoe addict.

Where to Find Julie Cross
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter

Review – True Blue (Blue Series) by Jules Barnard

True Blue Release Day

A big apology to author, Jules Barnard, for missing my posting date. I finished the book and typed up the following review while on vacation, but my flakey internet access prevented me from posting.

True Blue (Blue Series #3) by Jules Barnard

True Blue (Blue Series #3) by Jules Barnard

4.5 Stars

Synopsis
Mira Frasier has worked hard to pull herself out of the darkness of her Tahoe reservation childhood, but rough beginnings shape a person in all the wrong ways. Mira gets mixed up with shady people while trying to bail out her destitute mother—and now Mira’s life is in danger.

Tyler Morgan grew up a star athlete and scholar, but a tragedy he hasn’t dealt with has him regrouping in his home town of South Lake Tahoe. The last person he expects to see is Mira, the girl he lost his virginity to in high school, and the only woman who ever took a piece of his heart. He’d rather live in a tent than do what his sister asks and stay with Mira while they figure out how to keep her safe from the men who attacked her.

To ensure Mira remains in his past where she belongs, Tyler agrees to look out for her temporarily until she’s safe enough to move out on her own. And if he has to push that process along by snooping around and figuring out what she’s hiding, he’ll do that too. Only, Mira is still beautiful, and she’s feisty as hell, and she has all his attention—just like she did six years before.

Mira is driving Tyler crazy, the tension between them off the charts while they’re trapped under the same roof. Something is going to crack. Will it be Mira’s last hold on a haunted life, or Tyler’s self-control around the one girl he’s never been able to get over?

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My Review
I read Blue Crush earlier this year and fell in love with the characters Jules Barnard created and the incredible chemistry she develops between them, so I couldn’t wait to get my hands on True Blue. I gotta admit, I was not a fan of Mira’s after reading Blue Crush, so the fact that True Blue was from both her and Tyler’s points of view made this one of my most anticipated sequels of the year. And it delivered!

We get to roll around inside Mira’s head and see why she is the way she is, why she relies so heavily on Lewis, and what her issues with Gen really were. But more importantly, we learn why she’s so damaged and more about the past that continues to haunt her. Man I just love her. We also get to see a lot more of Tyler Morgan, the younger brother of Gen’s roommate, Cali. Mira and Tyler have a history that is hinted at in Blue Crush and we finally get to see what that’s all about, and it’s intense.

Plot
Once again, Jules Barnard balances a solid main plot with a variety of subplots that keep you guessing. The book opens in middle school where we learn the history of Mira and Tyler, then zooms through to high school where we learn about the miscommunication that sets up the animosity between these two. Add to that Mira’s loan shark trouble, a less than stellar mother, and some shady characters at Blue Casino, and True Blue is a page turner.

I really only have two complaints, two things that really keep this from being a full five-star for me. The first is a rushed climax. After building a lot of intrigue and potential danger, I feel like it all culminated too quickly and wrapped up easier than it should have. The second is that after so thoroughly developing the conflict up front that weaves through the remainder of the book, it would have been nice for Mira and Tyler to have addressed what happened in high school. The reader gets an in-depth understanding, but I think if Mira and Tyler had really hashed it out, it could have made a compelling and emotional scene.

World Building
Once again, the story takes place in beautiful Lake Tahoe, one of my personal favorite vacation spots. It’s fun to read about places I know well. I can so vividly picture the setting, that I needed to remind myself a couple of times that the people are fictional even if the town is not.

Characters
I love Mira. She’s flawed and damaged and misunderstood, but this makes her growth that much more satisfying. And Tyler is awesome. Even though he’s deeply wounded, he still  does the right thing. But he’s not perfect. He’s human, makes mistakes, does things that make you want to scream at him, but those are the things that make him so believable, and also what makes him perfect for Mira. We get to see a bit more of Lewis and Gen, too, which is nice. I’m hoping the next book in the series gets us inside Zach’s head because he’s fast becoming my favorite character.

Top Five Things I Love About  True Blue
1. Mira’s boss Hayden Tate. She’s the boss everyone should have.

2. Mira. She’s such a well-developed character, I have to remind myself she’s fictional.

3. Tyler. He’s perfect for Mira, but he’s not perfect. He’s sweet, but a guy. He’s not an alpha male and that’s just so refreshing for a change.

4. The prologue. I’m not usually a fan of prologues, but it’s just so well done and sets the stage so perfectly, it’s hard not to love it.

5. The Lake Tahoe setting. Love, love, love it. It’s beautifully authentic.

Bottom Line
True Blue is full of incredibly real characters coping with real-life problems in authentic ways. It’s full of angst, conflict, and satisfying moments of sweetness.

Disclaimer
I was provided a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title:
 True Blue
Series: Blue #3
Author: Jules Barnard
Release Date: November 17, 2014
Pages: 240
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4-1/2 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

Author Jules Barnard

Author Jules Barnard

About the Author
Jules Barnard is originally from the San Francisco Bay Area. She attended UC Davis, whose college landscape often finds its way into her New Adult novels. She has a Master’s degree and spent many an hour running statistical analysis, until she realized her favorite part of the job was writing reports. She decided to cut out the math and add in some hot guys, and so began her career as a novelist.

Jules is a Northern California native living on the coast with her husband and two children. She has no impulse control around cupcakes and credits herself with the ability to read while running on the treadmill or burning dinner.

Where to Find Jules Barnard
Goodreads | Website Facebook | Twitter

Review – Hart Attack (Titan Series) by Cristin Harber

Hart Attack Blog Tour

Hart Attack (Titan Series) by Cristin Harber

Hart Attack (Titan Series) by Cristin Harber

4.5 Stars

Synopsis
Outside of Titan Group, there are few people that Roman Hart would die for. He’s a soldier, a protector, and he’s haunted that one of the people he should’ve been able to protect didn’t let him. That was years ago, and now a hardened heart and a cocky attitude are his impenetrable shields, until one woman—one challenge—drives him to distraction.

On the outside, Beth Tourne has it all. Luxury car, gorgeous condo, and a job partying with the rich and famous. It’s a plush CIA cover, but she wants more. Anything for an adrenaline rush that can override her guilty numbness and let her forget the tragedy she never saw coming.

Their scars make them perfect operatives. Their mirrored pasts give them deep, wounded reasons to stay alone. But the more they ignore the tension, the more vulnerable they become. Survival means trust. In one another, behind closed doors, and on the job. The only way they’re making it out alive is if they find peace while waging a war.

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My Review
Hart Attack is a solid Cristin Harber novel. It has all of the elements we come to expect: danger and intrigue, a hot guy who doesn’t need to fall in love, a strong woman who is the only one who can change his mind, lots of  steamy sex, and all of the characters we already know and love. Hart Attack opens with Roman and his team returning from a mission, with all but him having someone to go home to. He’s never really wanted that until now. And he realizes the one he wants to go home to is his sister’s best friend, Beth. They’ve been dancing around their mutual attraction for a year, but haven’t done anything about it. Until now.

And as I’ve come to expect from Cristin Harber, it’s not an easy transition. Beth has deep wounds as does Roman. They’re both coming to terms with what those mean to themselves and their ability to let someone into their lives. Their path to happiness is winding, detoured, and messy which only makes it more satisfying when they get there.

Plot
The main plot is good. It’s the ebb and flow of Roman and Beth’s relationship and it works. Well. I love that we get enough sweet moments to offset the darker themes throughout. The CIA subplot is also really strong. But once again, I think the story suffers from one point-of-view too many. I saw what should have been a shocking twist coming because of that POV. I think that pivotal scene would have been jaw-dropping without that additional insight.

World Building
We have more of the special ops for hire in the Titan group, but what really stood out to me is the world of the CIA. We go deeper inside than we did with Garrison’s Creed. Understanding cover stories and how they play into a particular operation and how the persona for the job can hide the person inside was fascinating. We also get a crash course in handlers and how they rotate based on the operation. I don’t know if any of this is how it really works, but Cristin Harber makes it so believable that it doesn’t matter if it’s not even close. Because unless you’ve been a CIA operative, there’s no way to really know the inner workings of the Agency and if you did and revealed it in a novel, they’d probably have to kill you.

Characters
Because we’ve known Roman all along, it’s great to finally get to see his story, understand what makes him tick. He’s long been one of my favorite Titans. I mean, as Nic’s older brother and Cash’s best friend, he already had two checks in the plus column. And I loved Beth coming into this, but she got on my nerves a few times in Hart Attack. I like the fun-loving Beth more than the deeply wounded Beth, but I think that’s how life is. How many people are just the face they put forth for the world to see? The fact that Roman could see through her party-girl exterior to the woman beneath and still cared is part of what makes him so awesome. I don’t dislike Beth, but there were definitely times I wanted to shake some sense into her.

Top Five Things I Love About  Hart Attack
1. Beth’s spunky personality when she’s not brooding or being self-loathing.

2. The world of CIA operatives and their handlers.

3. The moment on the helicopter after a pivotal scene when Beth reveals her deepest feelings.

4. The Cash-Roman-Nic chemistry is still there, strong as ever.

5. Jared and Sugar’s bet.

Bottom Line
Hart Attack is another fantastic installment in the Titan series.

Disclaimer
I was provided a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title:
 Hart Attack
Series: Titan #5
Author: Cristin Harber
Publisher: Mill Creek Press
Release Date: November 18, 2014
Pages: 268
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo
UK: Amazon | iBooks

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Author Cristin Harber

Author Cristin Harber

About the Author

Cristin Harber is a USA Today bestselling romantic suspense and military romance author.

Fans voted her onto Amazon’s Top Picks for Debut Romance Authors in 2013, and her debut Titan series was #1 romantic suspense, #1 military romance, and a USA Today Top 100 bestseller.

She lives outside Washington, DC with her family and English Bulldog.

Where to Find Cristin Harber
Goodreads | Website | Twitter | Facebook | Newsletter | Titan Team

Review – Garrison’s Creed (Titan Series) by Cristin Harber

Garrison's Creed (Titan #2) by Cristin Harber

Garrison’s Creed (Titan #2) by Cristin Harber

4.5 Stars

Synopsis
A SPY RUNNING FOR HER LIFE
Nicola is an injured CIA agent on the run from a failed undercover operation. Her escape plan shatters when she slams into the man who buried her a decade ago. Cash Garrison. Her first and only love. Now, sexier than her best memory and cradling a sniper’s rifle, he has questions she can’t answer. Why was she alive? And armed?

AND THE MAN SHE COULD NEVER SEE AGAIN
Cash is an elite member of a black ops organization, The Titan Group. He thought Nicola died his senior year of college and swore off love to focus on a decade of military missions. But when she shows up behind enemy lines, bleeding out and wielding a weapon, his heart and mind are unsure how to proceed.

BATTLE BETRAYAL TO SAVE THEMSELVES
Titan and the CIA join forces to uncover a mole hidden in a network of international terrorists and homegrown mobsters, teaming Cash and Nicola again. They fight old wounds and re-ignite sparks while closing in on a double agent. When disaster strikes, Nicola’s hidden past makes her the hunted target and Cash’s best kill shot may not be enough to save them.

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My Review
The first Titan novel I read was Savage Secrets. It was good so when Sweet Girl came out, I quickly devoured it and couldn’t wait to see what happened next. I “ran” to the iBookstore and picked up the entire Titan boxed set and decided to read them in order, starting with Winter’s Heat. But the shiny stack of ARCs sitting on my virtual bookshelf kept calling to me and I set it aside until my Hart Attack ARC arrived. Suddenly, I needed to know the rest of Nicola and Cash’s story before I read about Roman.

I know the author wrote Garrison’s Creed first, then followed it up with the prequel, but if you haven’t read either of these books yet, start with Sweet Girl. I think it’s much more bittersweet seeing how they meet up again after knowing their story, watching how losing Nic affected Cash. With that disclaimer, Garrison’s Creed is every bit as good as Sweet Girl and Nic and Cash are my favorite Titans.

After believing Nicola Hart died a decade before in a fiery car crash, Cash and his best friend, Roman, who is also Nic’s older brother, threw themselves first into the military, then into special ops with Titan. The job always came first and any women on the side were just for fun. No one would own Cash’s heart again, at least until he discovers Nic is alive, working for the CIA.

There’s a lot for both of them to deal with. Cash understandably feels both unfathomable relief as well as heart-crushing betrayal. He’s bitterly angry but does try to understand. Nic is dealing with regret and overwhelming guilt. But these two belong together and it’s only a matter of time for them to realize what everyone else already knows.

Plot
The main plot is the romance between Cash and Nic. There’s a lot of conflict there to work with, and the sweeter moments are a nice contrast. The secondary plot involves a potential double agent with the CIA who may or may not want Nic and Cash dead. About the only thing that keeps this from being a full five-stars for me is the addition of a third point of view. Being inside the antagonist’s head gives us glimpses into things Cash and Nicola can’t know and removes some of the tension. I’m not sure that extra POV really adds anything to the story.

World Building
Cristin Harber excels at creating believable worlds of spies and special ops for hire. The added conflict and suspense that her setting brings to her stories makes that ultimate happily ever after much more satisfying. As a CIA operative, Nicola and Cash’s path to happiness is a minefield at best. And just when we get to the point where things seem to be heading in the right direction, the author raises the stakes again, unfolding believably in the world she’s created.

Characters
The Titan characters are always strong. What I love is the way Cristin Harber really differentiates character voice so that I never feel like it’s the same character over and over again. I also love that even though Cash and Nic are a decade older than in Sweet Girl, they are still very much themselves, just more mature. We get to see a bit more of Roman in this, too as he comes to terms with his sister’s reappearance and the fact that his best friend is sleeping with her. And I’m already rooting for Beth and Roman.

Top Five Things I Love About  Garrison’s Creed
1. Cash’s Cowboy Hat. I’m not normally into cowboys, but Cash makes a strong argument for reconsidering that.

2. Nicola’s Love of Fashion. It makes her more human and shows her girly side.

3. Their First Kiss. That kiss on the ground in front of the truck — hot!

4. The Cash-Roman-Nic Chemistry. It’s nice to see this chemistry first introduced in Sweet Girl is still intact, albeit somewhat strained.

5. Jared’s Begrudging Respect for Nic. Jared is gruff, no two ways about it, but seeing the way he respects Nic makes me like him just a little bit more than I already did.

Bottom Line
Garrison’s Creed continues Cash and Nicola’s story with plenty of the action and suspense we expect from Cristin Harber.

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About the Book
Title:
 Garrison’s Creed
Series: Titan #2
Author: Cristin Harber
Publisher: Mandolin Park
Release Date: November 4, 2014
Pages: 233
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooksKobo

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Author Cristin Harber

Author Cristin Harber

About the Author

Cristin Harber is a USA Today bestselling romantic suspense and military romance author.

Fans voted her onto Amazon’s Top Picks for Debut Romance Authors in 2013, and her debut Titan series was #1 romantic suspense, #1 military romance, and a USA Today Top 100 bestseller.

She lives outside Washington, DC with her family and English Bulldog.

Where to Find Cristin Harber
Goodreads | Website | Twitter | Facebook | Newsletter | Titan Team

YA Book Review + Giveaway – Two Blue Lines (Crossing the Line) by S.C. Montgomery

Two Blue Lines Blog Tour

Two Blue Lines (Crossing the Lines #1) by S.C. Montgomery

Two Blue Lines (Crossing the Lines #1) by S.C. Montgomery

4.5 Stars

Synopsis
His fear . . . Her secrets . . . Their choice.

What if the only girl you’ve ever loved lied to you?

Lied to everyone?

Those two blue lines changed everything for Reed Young and Melissa Summers. In more ways than one.

And now, he must decide for himself . . .

Man up or walk away?

SC Montgomery has created an emotional tale of first love, difficult choices, and impossible secrets. A deliciously angsty debut you need to read for yourself.

***Reader Warning*** Two Blue Lines is the emotional, honest story of two teenagers whose lives are about to change forever. While not glorified, or portrayed in detail, there are themes of sexual assault and teen pregnancy, as well as allusions to teenage drinking and some foul language. It is all meant to create an honest, relevant novel, but please be aware and read only if you’re comfortable.

***Note, while this novel is a standalone that deals with mature subject matter, it may be helpful to read Lines in the Sand first to understand what makes Reed Young tick and hear about the summer that changed his life forever. Well, before this one.

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My Review
Two Blue Lines picks up four years after Lines in the Sand. Reed is with Melissa, the only girl he’s ever loved, and the girl he was crushing on in Lines in the Sand. Melissa is pregnant and everything in Reed’s life is about to change. Adopted herself and never feeling like she’s a full member of her family, giving the baby up is not an option. But Reed isn’t prepared to be a father. He’s too young and has big plans for his future. He refuses to allow one mistake in the back seat of his car to ruin everything. But he loves Melissa and will do anything for her. At least Melissa hopes so. Especially when she tells him her darkest secret.

I love that S.C. Montgomery never let her characters off the hook, absolved them from the consequences of their actions. They struggle in realistic fashion with the changes in their lives, fighting, loving, living, terrified and joyously from moment to moment.

The relationship between Reed and Melissa is angsty and authentic. Their love is intense, as it is with most teenagers, but the enduring quality of it sets them apart and drives the story.

Plot
The story moves at a solid pace, taking many twists and turns, breaking my heart and putting it back together again. The main plot and various subplots are woven together and kept me guessing. Just when I was sure I had it figured out, S.C. Montgomery threw me completely and left me with my mouth hanging open along with the characters in her story.

World Building
In a contemporary romance, it’s less about world building than establishing the setting, and that’s precisely what the author does. I can envision that south Texas beach perfectly, feel the salty breezes, the heaviness of the air from the humidity. But it’s also about creating the events leading up to the story that make the events believable. What might be acceptable in a large city would be completely inappropriate in a small town in the south. The time and place chosen as the backdrop for Reed and Melissa’s heart wrenching story is perfect.

Characters
The story unfolds from Reed’s point of view and he comes across completely authentic. Never did I question that the writer was anything other than a teenaged boy. His fears, doubts, even his tendency toward self-centeredness were completely believable.

We get glimpses of Melissa through her diary and I will probably get grief for this, but I didn’t much care for Melissa. I understood her motivations and she acted according to character, I just didn’t like her character. She came across as snively, controlling, insecure, and deceitful. Yes, I know she had her reasons, but I just didn’t like her. But Reed does and that’s all that really matters because it’s really his story. And even though I didn’t like Melissa, she was just as rich and developed a character as Reed.

The supporting cast, from Reed’s best friend Jonah, to both sets of parents and siblings round out the story nicely giving it depth.

Bottom Line
I loved this book. Two Blue Lines is a wonderful coming of age story that takes a genuine look at teen pregnancy and the struggles, tough emotions, and forgiveness that comes with it.

Disclaimer
I was provided a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

About the Book

Title: Two Blue Lines
Series: Crossing the Line #1
Author: S.C. Montgomery
Category: Young Adult Contemporary
Release Date: October 23, 2014
LinksGoodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

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Author S.C. Montgomery

Author S.C. Montgomery

About the Author
SC Montgomery is a self-proclaimed nerd and readaholic. She has dabbled in telling stories since she was very young by letting her imagination play out with her Barbie dolls and her bestie many a weekend. She also writes Contemporary adult romance under the pen name Shauna Allen, and it was in one of those novels that the YA bug bit when she wrote in a teenager loosely based on her own son.

Her first story, Lines in the Sand, was penned as a gift for her mother, but was published with her blessing, and it’s just taken off from there.

SC is married with three teenagers of her own, who give her plenty of inspiration and advice, and are a constant source of laughter and new terminology. Besides writing, she loves reading, movies, singing and dancing reality shows and going to the beach.

Where to Find S.C. Montgomery
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | eMail

Giveaway
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Book Review – One for The Money (Stephanie Plum) by Janet Evanovich

One for the Money (Stephanie Plum #1) by Janet Evanovich

One for the Money (Stephanie Plum #1) by Janet Evanovich

4.5 Stars

Synopsis
Welcome to Trenton, New Jersey, home to wiseguys, average Joes, and Stephanie Plum, who sports a big attitude and even bigger money problems (since losing her job as a lingerie buyer for a department store). Stephanie needs cash–fast–but times are tough, and soon she’s forced to turn to the last resort of the truly desperate: family.

Stephanie lands a gig at her sleazy cousin Vinnie’s bail bonding company. She’s got no experience. But that doesn’t matter. Neither does the fact that the bail jumper in question is local vice cop Joe Morelli.From the time he first looked up her dress to the time he first got into her pants to the time Steph hit him with her father’s Buick, M-o-r-e-l-l-i has spelled t-r-o-u-b-l-e. And now the hot guy is in hot water–wanted for murder.

Abject poverty is a great motivator for learning new skills, but being trained in the school of hard knocks by people like psycho prizefighter Benito Ramirez isn’t. Still, if Stephanie can nab Morelli in a week, she’ll make a cool ten grand. All she has to do is become an expert bounty hunter overnight–and keep herself from getting killed before she gets her man.

My Review
I borrowed this book from my mom with no expectations and didn’t even know what it was about. I was immediately absorbed into Stephanie Plum’s wacky world and laughed out loud. The fictionalized version of Trenton, New Jersey Janet Evanovich created is full of quirky characters, colorful villains and some of the most bizarre crimes ever to inflict one small town.

Stephanie Plum, recently unemployed and desperate to not have to move home with her parents and grandmother, resorts to working for her cousin, Vinnie, a bail bondsman. After Stephanie basically blackmails him, Vinnie hires her to catch criminals who have skipped bail. She lives in a small apartment with her pet hamster, Rex, and drives a beat-up car, but it’s hers and she doesn’t want to give up her independence. And after meeting her family, I can see why. They’re loveable, but just a little too much to take for more than a few hours at a time.

Things get interesting when the one fugitive who can help her the most is ex-boyfriend and current vice cop, Joe Morelli. If she can bring him in, she’ll be set financially for a little bit anyway. Stephanie is helped along the way by super-hot professional bounty hunter, Ranger, and a smart-mouthed streetwalker named Lula. Although Joe doesn’t want to be found, Stephanie manages to bumble her way around, locating him, and mucking up his own investigation that he hopes will clear his name. Sparks fly between these two in true love-hate fashion.

Plot
There is a lot going on in One for the Money. Primarily, Stephanie needs to bring in Joe Morelli and collect her finder’s fee. But hunting him brings out several interesting subplots, including her hot and cold relationship with Joe, her ineptitude at tracing skips, the evil boxing champion Benito Ramirez who may or may not be involved in all of this, and a potential witness who could clear Joe, if he didn’t want Stephanie dead. Threading through it all is her crazy family and her slightly dysfunctional relationship with them.

Characters
No one writes snarky, quirky, and wacky characters quite like Janet Evanovich. Everyone from Stephanie right through to Grandma Mazur is a hoot. In fact, Grandma Mazur has some of the best lines in the book. There’s not a heck of a lot of character development because this is largely a plot-driven story, but there is some growth and better yet, room for lots more. Since this is just the first book in at least a 20+ book series, Janet Evanovich has left herself quite a bit to work with over the series.

Bottom Line
One for the Money is a quick read, highly entertaining, and includes several really good twists I never saw coming. The laugh-out-loud dialogue will keep me coming back for more.

About the Book
Title
: One for the Money
Series: Stephanie Plum #1
Author: Janet Evanovich
Pages: 334
Category: Romance, Mystery
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
LinksGoodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

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Author Janet Evanovich

Author Janet Evanovich

About the Author
Janet Evanovich is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Stephanie Plum series, the Lizzy and Diesel series, twelve romance novels, the Alexandra Barnaby novels and Trouble Maker graphic novel, and How I Write: Secrets of a Bestselling Author, as well as the Fox and O’Hare series with co-author Lee Goldberg.

Where to Find Cindy Ray Hale
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon

YA Book Review – Destiny (Destiny Series) by Cindy Ray Hale

Destiny (Destiny #1) by Cindy Ray Hale

Destiny (Destiny #1) by Cindy Ray Hale

4.5 Stars

Synopsis
Destiny Clark, a young Mormon girl living in Tennessee, is wildly infatuated with Isaac Robinson, the headmaster’s son at her Baptist high school. When they’re cast together in the school’s production of Les Misérables, Destiny is horrified to find that she has to be publicly humiliated by acting out her true feelings of rejection onstage.

As their rehearsals begin, Destiny realizes the unimaginable: Isaac has developed deep feelings for her despite their religious differences and the fact that he has a girlfriend.

But will they be able to find their place amongst the backbiters of their ultra-conservative world?

Weaving around Destiny and Isaac’s alternating viewpoints, Destiny is the first book in a series inspired by the characters of Les Misérables and explores heartbreak, self-discovery, intolerance, and love.

My Review
This book made me angry. Not because it wasn’t well written (it is) or because I didn’t like the characters (I do), but because Cindy Ray Hale so perfectly captures the hatred and bigotry of religious differences, I wanted to throw my iPad across the room more than once. Although the characters in the story are fictional, the beliefs, that Mormons are a cultish religion, that Baptists won’t have the same blessings in the afterlife as Mormons, are real and they are destroying the relationships of living breathing people every day in this country.

Destiny is a Mormon attending the Bethel Baptist school along with her older brother. Isaac is a Baptist and the head master’s son. Destiny used to be Baptist, but her family converted. They were allowed to continue at the school, but they are outcasts to a large degree. Destiny’s older brother Michael, is popular, but with limitations. The examples set by the adults in this story are anything but Christian, regardless of the religion they belong to. So when Destiny and Isaac begin dating, things go from ugly to sinfully cruel.

I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy a book with such overt religious undertones, but I ended up loving it. The story of these two star-crossed lovers is intense, heartfelt, and so incredibly believable. I loved watching the two main characters evolve their views and understandings of one another over the course of the book. It’s the first in a trilogy, so there is still plenty of ground to cover and nothing so volatile as religious differences can be wrapped up in one novel, just ask Israel and Palestine.

What I really hope doesn’t happen though, is for one of them to convert to the other’s religion in order to be together. Their story will be so much stronger if they can learn to mutually respect one another’s beliefs without needing to believe the same thing in order to be happy together. That is the same hope I have for the world at large. Because if the only way to live in harmony is for everyone to believe the exact same thing, our planet is doomed. And sooner rather than later.

Plot
The plot is a basic young adult romance with a twist. The forbidden love story based on religious differences when both religions are Christian was a new angle for me and I loved it. There was so much angst as a result, because deeply held religious beliefs drive so many of the choices people make in life. And when those people happen to be hormonal teens, things are bound to get complicated. I also love how author, Cindy Ray Hale, wove in Les Miserables so perfectly. The characters had parallel roles in the story as well as the musical which added depth.

Characters
The characters are what really made this story so strong. They’re so authentic. From both sets of parents, to Destiny and Isaac, and even their siblings, everyone came across as believable and acted according to character. And it’s why I reacted so strongly to the story.

Bottom Line
Destiny is a moving story of forbidden teen love with strong characters and deep, meaningful themes that should appeal to people of all faiths.

Disclaimer
I was provided a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

About the Book
Title
: Destiny
Series: Destiny #1
Author: Cindy Ray Hale
Pages: 318
Category: Young Adult Contemporary
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
LinksGoodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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Author Cindy Ray Hale

Author Cindy Ray Hale

About the Author
Cindy Ray Hale is a Young Adult author and a book blogger. She lives in a little slice of wooded heaven near Atlanta, Georgia.

She spends way too much time following up-and-coming musicians on YouTube and dreams of joining their ranks one day. She’s a bit of a health food nut and can’t live without her daily green smoothies.

She tries to stay sane as she juggles writing with four kids, staying active on social media, and keeping up her book blog. In addition to writing and self-publishing two Young Adult Contemporary novels, she has also written articles for “New Era” magazine and The American Preppers Network.

Where to Find Cindy Ray Hale
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon

YA Book Review – Deity (Covenant Series) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Deity (Covenant #3) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Deity (Covenant #3) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

4.5 Stars

Synopsis
“History is on repeat, and things didn’t go so well the last time. “

Alexandria isn’t sure she’s going to make it to her eighteenth birthday–to her Awakening. A long-forgotten, fanatical order is out to kill her, and if the Council ever discovers what she did in the Catskills, she’s a goner… and so is Aiden.

If that’s not freaky enough, whenever Alex and Seth spend time “training”–which really is just Seth’s code word for some up-close and personal one-on-one time–she ends up with another mark of the Apollyon, which brings her one step closer to Awakening ahead of schedule. Awesome.

But as her birthday draws near, her entire world shatters with a startling revelation and she’s caught between love and Fate. One will do anything to protect her. One has been lying to her since the beginning. Once the gods have revealed themselves, unleashing their wrath, lives will be irrevocably changed… and destroyed.

Those left standing will discover if love is truly greater than Fate…

My Review
Deity picks up the pace in an already faced-paced series. It’s a busy, busy novel! Alex and gang are back home after killing a Pure at the council, which Aiden covered up for her. Major bonus points in Team Aiden’s column. Alex and Seth continue to “train” together and the heat between these two Apollyons nearly reach the boiling point. Bonus points in Seths’ column. But alas, Alex is in love with Aiden even though it is forbidden for them to ever be together. Seth has his good points, first and foremost, a relationship with him is permitted, but love is a fickle thing.

We finally get answers to some of the questions that have been piling up, including exactly why Pures and Halfs are forbidden to be together. And it’s a doozie!

This is my favorite book in the series so far. A lot does happen, but it’s never overwhelming. We get just enough answers to keep us from pulling our hair out in frustration. There are some very satisfying elements to make up for the unbelievably tense cliffhanger ending. Normally I’m not a fan of cliffhangers, but because I’m late to this series, I get to pick up and read the next book the minute I put this one down, and I’m in a forgiving mood.

Plot
It’s a busy, action-packed plot with lots of surprises and more than a few OMG moments. A lot of ground is covered in Deity, from answers and revelations we’ve been waiting for, to relationship development, and most importantly, character development. It was long past time for Alex to grow up and I’m pleased to see her moving in the right direction. She’s got a lot of issues, and she’s entitled to them. Her life has been anything but easy, but if anything, she seemed less mature as a result of things that should have sobered her up. It was great to see her finally accept that her lot in life is what it is, and bucking the system isn’t the answer.

One of the best parts of this installment in the series is the role of the Gods. I’ll admit to not being up on my Greek Mythology, so I had to do a little homework. I found a copy of the Cliff Notes guide to Greek Mythology in the garage and scanned it as I read. The Gods playing a bigger role only raises the stakes to astronomic proportions.

And yeah, there’s the cliffhanger mentioned before, so if you hate cliffhangers, be forewarned.

Characters
As mentioned above, Alex does some much needed growing in Deity and I like her more for it. Seth does a little devolving though, but at the same time, we get a deeper glimpse into who he is and what drives him. I know a lot of people were turned off by Seth after this book, but it only endeared him to me more. I love a tortured bad boy and Seth is pretty badass and ridiculously tortured. Aiden is still perfect, so I don’t have much to complain about.

Bottom Line
Deity is the most explosive book in the series to date. Tons of action, lots of revelations, and an edge-of -your-seat cliffhanger.

Title: Deity
Series: Covenant Series #3
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Pages:
Category: Young Adult Paranormal Romance
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
LinksGoodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble