Young Adult Book Review – Louder Than Words by Iris St. Clair

Louder Than Words by Iris St. Clair

Louder Than Words by Iris St. Clair

4.5 Stars

Synopsis
Disappointment has been on speed dial in Ellen Grayson’s life lately. Her dad died, her mom numbs the grief with drugs and alcohol, and her so-called friends have slowly abandoned her.

Trusting a popular teacher with her troubles should have been safe and should NOT have led to an unwelcome seduction attempt that made her desperate to escape the final moments of Junior year. Lesson learned. Best to keep all the sordid details to herself and trust no one.

Enter Rex Jacobi, a cocky boy, recently transplanted from New York City and fellow summer camp employee. Though his quick wit and confidence draws her in, she can’t let him get too close. And summer is just long enough and hot enough to keep a boy like that at arm’s length.

But by the time Rex’s charm wears down her resistance, it’s too late. He’s put Ellen on the “just friends” shelf and has shifted his romantic attentions to the impossibly annoying and perky anti-Ellen. Even worse, the teacher who tried to get her to sleep with him is still at it, preying on other girls while Ellen struggles to come to terms with what happened.

With her ability to trust as shaky as a chastity vow on prom night, Ellen must decide if she has enough remaining courage to speak up about the well-liked teacher and risk retribution, tell Rex how she really feels about him and risk heartbreak, or hold all her secrets inside. After all, it’s the only safe place she knows when the only thing louder than words is the fear of being rejected.

——————————————————–

My Review
This is one of those young adult novels I didn’t want to end because as soon as I finished it, I missed the characters. Ellen Grayson is so multi-dimensional, she very nearly becomes a living breathing person. There’s a lot going on with her, in addition to longing for new boy, Rex Jacobi, she’s dealing with her father’s death and her mother’s spiral into drug addiction. If it wasn’t for her devoted older brother, she’d be in foster care. She has body image issues, only a handful of friends because she pushed everyone else away, and her favorite teacher put the moves on her. Like many teens in her situation, she harbors guilt, humiliation, and about a dozen other things as a result of her teacher’s behavior and keeps the incident a secret, hoping to put it behind her.

With all of that going, Louder Than Words, at its core is a sweet teen romance. Her relationship with Rex is the best part. I love their playful banter and the way he truly cares about her as a friend first and foremost. It’s painful to watch her feelings develop into something more as Rex turns his romantic attentions to petite, pretty Gracie. The book touches on so many topics, from unrequited love, to family loss, friendship, loyalty, and  bullying, but does all of it really well, never sacrificing one to focus on another.

Plot
Louder than Words has a complex plot with a lot going on, but underlying the subplots is the thread of Ellen and Rex. Watching their friendship flourish is delightful. I could feel Ellen’s angst as she watches the boy she’s fallen for date someone else. She has a lot going on in her life and she doesn’t have a lot of experience with relationships to begin with, but she pegs Rex as a player and doesn’t want to set herself up for heartbreak. The plot unfolds with impeccable pacing, allowing the reader to get sucked into the ebb and flow that is their friendship, feeling Ellen’s longing while also understanding her fears. I cheered for her when she finally digs deep to find the strength to stand up for what she believes is right.

Characters
Iris St. Clair’s characters are solid. Ellen is really well developed. It was easy to understand her motivations even if I didn’t necessarily agree with her. But I can identify with the sixteen-year-old girl hiding out in the bathroom stall to get away from her lecherous teacher. I understand why she didn’t tell anyone, even though the adult in my wanted her to speak up.

Rex is adorable as the New York transplant who befriends Ellen. He clearly wants more than a platonic friendship but doesn’t hesitate to move on when she makes it clear she’s not interested. I love that he pursues a relationship with her outside of romance, showing that he isn’t just into her for physical reasons.

Ellen’s brother, Robbie, is equally well-developed with his own issues. He’s the hero in this story for putting his life on hold to raise Ellen when their mom checks out.

Bottom Line
I love Louder Than Words. It’s one of those books that left me feeling good and wanting to read more by Iris St. Clair.

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

About the Book
Title: Louder than Words
Author: Iris St. Clair
Publisher: Swoon Romance
Release Date: September 16, 2014
Pages: 240
Genre: 
Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon

——————————————————–

Author Iris St. Clair

Author Iris St. Clair

About the Author
Iris St. Clair is the pen name for a long-suffering cubicle worker by day, a Walter Mitty-like dreamer by night. (Her alter ego Tatiana Ivanadance also choreographs gravity-defying routines in those fantasies, but that’s another bio.)

No matter what genre she writes, she prefers witty, insecure heroines and kind, persistent heroes able to break through to the gooey heart inside.
In high school she was voted most likely to win at Monopoly and Clue, but least likely to throw a ball anywhere near a target. Thank goodness writing requires less hand-eye coordination, punctuation errors notwithstanding.

Iris believes in the two-year “fish or cut bait” dating rule and has a 20+ year marriage and two teenaged sons as proof of concept. She lives, writes, dreams and dances in the rainy Portland, OR area.

Where to Find Iris St. Clair
Website | Facebook | Twitter Goodreads | Pinterest

Giveaway
$10 Amazon gift card + ebook of Louder Than Words (INT)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Young Adult Book Review – Heart Shaped Rock by Laura Roppe

Heart Shaped Rock by Laura Roppe

Heart Shaped Rock by Laura Roppe

4.5 Stars

Synopsis
Sometimes a shattered heart needs to sing to love again . . . Sixteen year old singer-songwriter Shaynee Sullivan hasn’t so much as touched her guitar since her mom died six months ago.

But when she meets a gorgeous and surprising rocker named Dean, her shattered heart begins to mend . . . and then burst at the seams. Heart-wrenching, heart-warming, and sometimes even heart-racing, Heart Shaped Rock will leave you laughing through tears and rooting for love in all its forms.

2014 Readers Favorite Award Finalist in three categories: Young Adult, Young Adult-Coming of Age and Young Adult-Romance!

Check out the full music soundtrack for Heart Shaped Rock at www.LauraRoppe.com at the “Music to HSR” tab!

“If you liked the music collaboration of Maybe Someday, you’ve got to check out Heart Shaped Rock.” — New York Times best-selling author of Maybe Someday, Colleen Hoover

“Laura Roppé has written a moving and emotional novel of first love, accurately capturing the voice and mind of a dramatic and emotional sixteen year old girl caught in a maelstrom of grief and loss, love and heartbreak. And then there’s Dean…you’ll just have to read the book, ‘cause I can’t do him justice in a few short sentences.” –Jasinda Wilder, New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of Falling into You

My Review
I wasn’t aware this book was set in San Diego when I signed up to review it. Somewhere in the first chapter, I not only discovered the setting is my hometown, but some of my favorite local establishments have cameos. My favorite local establishment is Sheila’s coffeehouse, loosely based on Java Joe’s in its Ocean Beach days (now located in Normal Heights). Java Joe’s is where Jewell and Jason Mraz got their starts. Yeah, that Java Joe’s. I’m not sure what locale Wang’s Palace is based on, but in my mind, I was picturing The Red Fox Room the whole time.

Even if you’re not a local, there is so much to love about Heart Shaped Rock by Laura Roppé. It’s a story of sixteen-year-old Shaynee, still reeling six months after losing her mom to cancer. She, her father, and little brother, Lennox, struggle to find a new normal, and Shaynee feels like she’s failing miserably. She’s angry, withdrawn, and believes her heart has shriveled up into a tiny, worthless shard. That is until her best friend, Tiffany, convinces her to get a job working at Sheila’s coffeehouse and drags her to a party on the beach later that night, where Shaynee meets not one, but two incredibly cute boys. Life is about to get interesting!

Plot
The story was a little slow to get started for me, but once it did, it took off at a crazy speed, like the first downward hill on the Giant Dipper rollercoaster at San Diego’s Belmont Park. As Shaynee struggles to understand who she is beyond a motherless teen, she discovers love, a different kind of loss and pain, guilt, and ultimately understanding. This angst-ridden teen novel is gripping, at times bittersweet, and extremely hard to put down. Like Shaynee, I found my pulse pounding in anticipation at points of the story. It may have been a few years since I was a teenager, but I don’t think anyone forgets what it’s like to be in love for the first time. That all-consuming desire deep inside to be with the object of your obsession. Laura Roppé does a fantastic job of capturing that and helping the adult reader feel it all over again.

Characters
I love the characters. Shaynee has a hard edge to her, but I can’t help loving her more because of it. Even when she talks about wanting to pound on her younger brother as he grieves for their mother. I understood what she was feeling and why. The fact that she didn’t act on those feelings made her even more human to me. Dean, one of the two aforementioned cute boys, is one of the better male characters in a young adult contemporary romance I’ve read this year. He’s not perfect, but he’s believable and sweet, and incredibly hot.

Sheila, Tiffany, and Shaynee’s dad and brother are more than just filler characters. They all add something to the plot and are well developed for their supporting roles. I loved Jared, the third in the love triangle. We probably only get a glimpse at the true Jared through a single phrase uttered by Dean’s buddy, C-Bomb, at the end of the story, but it was enough to put everything into perspective for me.

An unlikely character in the novel is the music. As a singer/songwriter, Laura Roppé has woven lyrics so perfectly into the story, they are more than just words. They take on a life of their own. You can download the soundtrack to the book from the author’s webpage, and I suggest you do that. The songs are wonderful, professionally produced, and bring the story even further to life.

Bottom Line
Heart Shaped Rock is a solid young adult romance, filled with gut-ripping angst that will leave you breathless.

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

About the Book
Title: Heart Shaped Rock
Author: Laura Roppe
Release Date: April 22, 2014
Pages: 316
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Soundtrack

Author Laura Roppe

Author Laura Roppe

About the Author
Laura Roppé is an award-winning singer/songwriter, author, audio book narrator, speaker, and former attorney from San Diego, California.

In 2011, Billboard Magazine ranked her as Number Three on its chart of the Top 50 “uncharted” artists in the world. In May 2013, Laura began hosting Amazon’s weekly podcast, “Kindle Love Stories,” for people who love hearing about love stories, romance, and happily ever afters.

Her first book is the non-fiction memoir, Rocking the Pink. Her latest is a YA-teen romance novel entitled Heart Shaped Rock, featuring a soundtrack.

Where to Find Laura Roppé
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter

Book Review – Contemporary Romance – Indiscretion: Volume 3 by Elisabeth Grace

Indiscretion Volume 3 by Elisabeth Grace

Indiscretion Volume 3 by Elisabeth Grace

4.5 Stars

Synopsis
A summer of f*ck buddies? Something to take the edge off? I was down.

But when Chloe shows up at my hotel door, wanting to rip my head off, rather than give me head—I cared. A lot. Too much, in fact.

This is turning into more. And I can’t do more.

Like the ink under my skin she’s becoming permanent. Enduring. Immovable.

Was I ready to let her go though?

Not a f*cking chance.

***Note: This is the third installment in the Indiscretion serial. There are 4 Volumes total. Volumes 1-3 are approximately 23K-25K in length, with the final fourth installment being longer.

My Review
This is my favorite book in the series so far. Everything is amped up from the desire, to the emotions, and especially the stakes. While Max and Chloe still each insist their relationship is purely physical and will be over with last waning days of summer, neither can deny, to themselves anyway, their feelings are evolving. When it appears that someone is stalking Chloe, Max’s protectiveness kicks in. His actions are not those of a guy who’s only looking to get a piece of ass.

The added suspense is a nice change up from just crazy hot sex. And like any relationship, as a reader, I’m ready to move beyond the bedroom and explore the rest of the word. Elisabeth Grace seems to know that and adds a little kick at just the right place. I’m a little frustrated by the cliffhanger, but after reading the first two books, I knew it was coming. Because the wait between the books is so short, I’m not letting that impact my rating. A little anticipation is a good thing.

Plot
The plot really develops in this volume, building on the seeds planted in the first two. The added subplot of the potential stalking amps things up. And while I think I know who it is, the fact that I might not, keeps me questioning everyone’s motives. The sneaking around and clandestine sex is just pure fun, knowing at any moment they could be caught. At this point, the reader knows these two belong together, but we’re still missing a couple of pieces of the puzzle — the big secrets that prevents each of them to committing. Everything in this volume leads to the big charity event and a surprise guest that turns Chloe’s world upside down.

Characters
I like Max and Chloe by now. They’ve grown on me, despite their many flaws. And I love that Chloe’s best friend, Jackie, is back in the picture. I missed her. Both characters still have a lot of issues to work through, so Volume 4 has its work cut out for it, but as the longest book in the series, there’s plenty of room for that.

Bottom Line
My favorite book in the series so far with lots more conflict, action, and even more clues thrown in to keep us on the edge of our seats.

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

About the Book
Title: Indiscretion: Volume Three
Series: Indiscretion Series #3
Author: Elisabeth Grace
Release Date: September 1, 2014
Pages: 79
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes

Author Elisabeth Grace

Author Elisabeth Grace

About the Author
I have a soft spot for romance novels with happily ever afters and a hot spot for alpha males! I currently live outside Toronto, Canada with my hubby and two small children. Life is busy, but never to busy for a good story and to share my love of reading and writing with others.

I’d been an avid reader my entire life, but when I discovered romance novels during my first pregnancy I was hooked! Not sure if it was the hormones or the lack of a life that was headed my way once my daughter was born, but since then I’ve been devouring several romance books a week. I love nothing more than reading about some serious alpha males and a happily ever after.

Where to Find Elisabeth Grace
Website | Facebook | Twitter Goodreads | Pinterest | Google + | Instagram

Book Review – Contemporary Romance – Indiscretion: Volume 2 by Elisabeth Grace

Indiscretion - Volume 2 by Elisabeth Grace

Indiscretion – Volume 2 by Elisabeth Grace

4.5 Stars

Synopsis
Fraternizing with the competition? Check.

Risking everything I’d worked so hard for? Check.

Mind-shattering orgasms? Double check.

Max Richfield made me forget myself. Forget all the reasons why I’d chosen to be alone for so long. I had goals. I needed stability. He brought chaos. I’d taken years erecting my walls. And with good reason, I would soon discover.

Now my inability to see beyond Max’s charm could cost me everything.

***Note: This is the second instalment in the Indiscretion serial. There are 4 Volumes total. Volumes 1-3 are approximately 23K-25K in length, with the final fourth installment being longer. The release schedule for the remaining instalments is as follows: Volume 3: Sept 1st, Volume 4: Sept 15th.

My Review
Indiscretion Volume 2 picks off where Volume 1’s cliffhanger left us, in the crosshairs of a bear. In this second installment, Chloe and Max acknowledge and then disregard their growing feelings for each other, determined to keep the other at emotional arms’ length. This time around, the sex scenes are more numerous and infinitely more mind blowing.

As things heat up between the sheets (as well as on the floor, couch, massage table, against the window), complications in their own lives threaten their relationship with each other. Elisabeth Grace definitely raises the stakes this time around, making this book more gripping than the first.

Plot
There is much more of a plot in Volume 2 as the characters wrestle with their feelings, their desires, their careers, and their inner demons that are still mostly still hidden from the reader, building a sense of mystery. The author puts several balls into play in this book and we see them all converging as we approach the end. Because the end of book 2 is only the halfway point of the story, we’re left with more questions and answers, but it’s still a satisfying wrap up to many of the issues introduced in Volume 1 and even some in Volume 2.

Characters
I was able to understand and get into the characters so much more in this book. We learn a lot more about what makes both Max and Chloe tick. There is some sprinkled backstory that helps us understand some of their motivations and a hint of the character growth to come.

Bottom Line
Volume 2 takes off as the story builds, characters are developed, and conflict increases. I had a difficult time putting it down. Now I’m off to read Volume 3.

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

About the Book
Title: Indiscretion: Volume Two
Series: Indiscretion Series #2
Author: Elisabeth Grace
Release Date: August 17, 2014
Pages: 72
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes

Author Elisabeth Grace

Author Elisabeth Grace

About the Author
I have a soft spot for romance novels with happily ever afters and a hot spot for alpha males! I currently live outside Toronto, Canada with my hubby and two small children. Life is busy, but never to busy for a good story and to share my love of reading and writing with others.

I’d been an avid reader my entire life, but when I discovered romance novels during my first pregnancy I was hooked! Not sure if it was the hormones or the lack of a life that was headed my way once my daughter was born, but since then I’ve been devouring several romance books a week. I love nothing more than reading about some serious alpha males and a happily ever after.

Where to Find Elisabeth Grace
Website | Facebook | Twitter Goodreads | Pinterest | Google + | Instagram

New Adult Book Review – Lennon’s Jinx (Lennon’s Girls No. 1) by Chris Myers

Lennon's Jinx (Lennon's Girls #1) by Chris Myers

Lennon’s Jinx (Lennon’s Girls #1) by Chris Myers

4.5 Stars

Synopsis
Sometimes in love, you don’t get to choose who you fall for…

Lennon spends most of his time raising his sister Currie while skating through his senior year of high school. He prefers groupies with no-strings attached but finds himself attracted to Jinx, the straight-A student in his choir—a girl way out of his league.

Jinx is not the perfect person her classmates think she is. She conceals the black truth about herself, even from her friends. She won’t admit to them that she screwed up big time, losing what she once held most precious.

Neither Jinx nor Lennon trusts the opposite sex. When she joins Lennon’s band, she discovers that he is not the bad boy every girl thinks he is and that he just might be the one.

My Review
After reading Lennon’s Hope, I went back to start with the first book in the series and I’m so glad I did. I loved getting to know the characters better and understand them more through the book that introduced them. Lennon tries to be this womanizing, bad-boy rocker type, but it quickly becomes clear he’s deeply wounded and uses sex as diversion from his life. His parents are absent at best, completely apathetic at other times. And he never lies to girls. They all know what they’re getting, and more importantly what they’re not getting — a relationship. It’s hard not to feel for the broken boy beneath the image.

The one girl Lennon will do anything for is his nine-year-old sister, Currie, and she is his saving grace. He sacrifice his own needs, putting her first. Always. Even when that means giving up coffee, meat, and even sex when Currie demands it. She keeps him human and relatable.

Jinx is equally damaged, but for other reasons. The two of them seem to find a kinship in each other. Whether or not it turns into something more is what the story is about.

Plot
This is a solid plot for a new adult romance. It’s really upper young adult as the characters are still in high school, but because of the subject matter and language, it probably better fits into the NA category.

First, there’s Lennon’s character development as he goes from bad boy to someone Jinx might be interested in. Then there’s Jinx dealing with her stepfather/ rapist, Currie’s best friend and next door neighbor, Zoe, who is suffering from cancer, Lennon’s band and their future, and his relationship with his deadbeat parents. It’s a lot, and yet Chris Myers manages to weave it all together flawlessly so that never feels too busy or becomes overwhelming. Several interesting twists and turns kept me on my toes.

Characters
The characters are the best part of this book. They are complex individuals with a lot of issues to deal with. Lennon is extremely authentic and I feel like I really get him. He’s hard not to like, despite all of his many flaws.

Jinx took me longer to connect with. She’s standoffish by nature and her personal demons don’t make her any more warm and fuzzy. But as she grows to appreciate Lennon for who he is, some of her walls start to crumble a little and she becomes more likeable.

The supporting cast, particularly Currie, Zoe, and Lennon’s band mates, are all very well-rounded characters that are deeply developed and compliment the plot and Jinx’s and Lennon’s development. The dialogue is crisp and true to older teens.

Bottom Line
Lennon’s Jinx is a compelling story that goes beyond the typical young adult or even new adult romance. The writing is crips and the angst is palpable. Because of the subject matter and language, I wouldn’t recommend it for teen readers under 16.

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

About the Book
Title: Lennon’s Jinx
Series: Lennon’s Girls #1
Author: Chris Myers
Publisher: Books on the Edge
Release Date: December 30, 2013
Pages: 220
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Author Chris MyersAbout the Author
Chris Myers spends most of her free time writing and dreaming up new characters who fight each other for page time. She is an award-winning author and lives in Colorado with her daughter, her better half, and her Bichon BeBe. Her work has appeared in the NewsMag and has earned several awards including first place Paul Gillette, Colorado Gold finalist, and semi-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.

She has taught writing workshops for conferences, PPW, and Delve Writing and was an adjunct professor at CSU. Chris is a member of SCBWI and Pikes Peak Writers. She earned a Masters from the University of South Florida. Look for her series RIPSTERS, a Young Adult, paranormal/mystery with the spark of romance, starting with DATE WITH THE DEAD.

Where to Find Chris Myers
Goodreads | Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook

Giveaway

Young Adult Book Review – Iron Pendulum (The Periodic Series) by Megan Curd

Iron Pendulum (The Periodic Series #2) by Megan Curd

Iron Pendulum (The Periodic Series #2) by Megan Curd

4.5 Stars

Synopsis
A month ago, Avery thought the world ended outside Dome Four. Thought she was one of the few of her kind. Thought the war that brought the human race to the brink of extinction was over.

But a month can change everything.

After fighting to escape a tyranny she didn’t even know existed, Avery has had to come to grips with all the secrets she’s uncovered. But more secrets continue to come to light, revealing how little of her world she truly knew. When evidence starts to show that Dome Four might be under siege, Avery knows what she must do.

Returning to the dome she longed to escape is a challenge for Avery, but now she knows there’s corruption lurking in the shadows. A massive steam shortage leaves half the dome without power, and people are falling ill. Dying.

And they’re blaming Avery.

A month can change everything. One more month could kill everyone. The clock is ticking.

My Review
Although I keep hearing dystopia is dead, I’m very that Megan Curd doesn’t agree. Iron Pendulum is the second book in her Periodic Series. I haven’t read the first one yet and was concerned that would be an issue, but it wasn’t. The author does a fabulous job of providing just as much of the backstory as necessary to keep up with  what happens in Iron Pendulum. And a lot happens. The book is full of action with a lot of unexpected twists.

There are a few relationships that would probably be more meaningful if I’d read Book 1 first, but it didn’t prevent me from enjoying this fast-paced young adult novel that is part fantasy, part steampunk, and a whole lot of pulse-pounding adventure.

Avery Pike is an elementalist, someone who can control the elements. Her specialty is creating steam which is used to provide oxygen to the inhabitants of Dome Four. Even though she generates enough steam in a matter of minutes to power the dome for a month, it disappears almost overnight. Add to that a deathly illness plaguing the Traditionals (non Elites), creepy zombie-like guards, and the erection of the iron pendulum that’s supposed to keep everyone safe, and things aren’t adding up. Avery and her friends try to find out what’s going on, save the lives of the Traditionals, and bring about a revolution. Like I said, action packed.

Plot
The plot is gripping and only slowed long enough to let me catch your breath, but just barely. There were a couple of areas that I thought didn’t seem plausible, but this is a fantasy, so I chose to ignore those and just enjoy the ride. Iron Pendulum is pure entertainment. It’s on the longish side at 335 pages, but it never drags. The author has created a fascinating world that is both dark and hopeful. And because of that, anything is possible, which means nothing is predictable.

Characters
The story is full of deep, complex, colorful, and nuanced characters that are easy to root for, to love, and even to loathe. Everyone from Jaxon, the sexy dreadlocked love interest and fellow rebel, to smart-mouthed, Christian house mother, Dana. I would love to get a peek a Vincent’s character bio. He’s the son of the Dome’s Governor Lindroth and is neither completely good nor bad, but is perfectly flawed to the point that he is believably human and infinitely fascinating.

I had a hard time getting a sense of who Avery is, though. This might be where reading Book 1 first would have paid off. If I had, perhaps I would have had a better sense of who she is. Because she’s the narrator, I can’t tell if she’s deliberately holding herself back, or if the author spent so much time creating such an amazing cast of supporting characters that she forgot about Avery. Regardless, it works really well because it’s easy to step into her shoes and experience the novel as Avery.

Bottom Line
A unique story in the young adult dystopian genre with its elements of fantasy and a fun steampunk vibe. The characters are fresh and a setting so brilliantly crafted, it’s almost a character itself. Now I’m off to read Steel Lily, the first book in the series available now for just $0.99.

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

About the Book
Title: Iron Pendulum
Series: The Periodic Series #2
Author: Megan Curd
Release Date: August 28, 2014
Pages: 355
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian Steampunk Fantasy
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Author Megan Curd

Author Megan Curd

About the Author
Megan Curd is a graduate of Northwestern College in St. Paul, Minnesota. While having always enjoyed reading any books she could get her hands on, Megan didn’t begin writing until a friend encouraged her to do so while in college.

When not writing, Megan enjoys spending time with her family and friends. Photography, traveling and snowboarding are hobbies she loves, and she doesn’t turn down the opportunity to play xBox with her brother and friends when it presents itself.

Megan currently resides in Ohio with her husband and son, where she is trying to convert them into Buckeye fans.

Where to Find Megan Curd
Goodreads | Website | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest

New Adult Book Review – Broken (Redemption No. 1) by Lauren Layne

Broken (Redemption #1) by Lauren Layne

Broken (Redemption #1) by Lauren Layne

4.5 Stars

Synopsis
Lauren Layne’s New Adult novel tells the story of a girl with secrets, a guy with scars, and a love that could save them both… or destroy them.

When Olivia Middleton abandons the glamour of Park Avenue for a remote, coastal town in Maine, everyone assumes she’s being the kind do-gooder she’s always been. But Olivia has a secret: helping an injured war veteran reenter society isn’t about charity—it’s about penance. Only, Olivia’s client isn’t the grateful elderly man she’s expecting. Instead, he’s a brooding twenty-four-year-old who has no intention of being Olivia’s path to redemption . . . and whose smoldering gaze and forbidden touch might be her undoing.

Paul Langdon doesn’t need a mirror to show him he’s no longer the hotshot quarterback he was before the war. He knows he’s ugly—inside and out. He’ll do anything to stay in self-imposed exile, even accept his father’s ultimatum that Paul tolerate the newest caretaker for three months or lose his inheritance. But Paul doesn’t count on the beautiful twenty-two-year-old who makes him long for things that he can never have. And the more she slips past his defenses, the more keeping his distance is impossible.

Now Paul and Olivia have to decide: Will they help each other heal? Or are they forever broken?

My Review
I’m a big fan of updated fairy tales, Once Upon a Time is one of my favorite TV shows, so this modern retelling of Beauty and the Beast was too good to resist. Sometimes it tries too hard to remind us of that, but for the most part, it’s just a really solid romance. Paul is the beast, scarred and damaged from a roadside attack in Afghanistan. Olivia is the beauty, stuck taking care of the beast and ends up falling for him.

Even the caretakers are a little Mrs. Potts and Cogsworth-esque. But the story departs enough from the well-known story to stand on its own and leave us guessing in a few instances. Without giving too much away (I don’t do spoilers) I will say I love that author, Lauren Layne, didn’t feel the need to pretty up the beast in the end. His battle scars don’t miraculously disappear with a spell-breaking kiss. The characters are far more real than that, which makes this retelling that much more enjoyable.

Plot
It’s a modern-day fairy tale with a twist. We all know the story, but there are no angry pitchfork-wielding villagers, although there is a bar fight. But unlike the fairy tale, two characters are flawed and need to grow in order to overcome their own demons in the end. Told from alternating first person points of view, the story gets us deep into their minds and allows us to experience their development right along with them. Even though we know these two are going to end up together, it’s fun watching how it happens.

Characters
Olivia is witty and charming and I liked her right away. I did question how much she beat herself up over her indiscretion, though. Sure, she messed up, but it wasn’t like shed’ robbed a bank or killed someone. I thought it was a little melodramatic, but then she’s a spoiled rich girl, so it truly is the worst thing she’s ever done and in that sense, it fits her character.

Paul is likeable, even if he has serious moments of major asshole-ishness. We understand why he’s keeping Olivia at arms’ length, although there are times when I wanted to smack him around and tell him he’s being a bit too self-pitying.

Bottom Line
A solid retelling of a tried-and-true fairy tale with a lot of window-fogging heat and one of the steamiest sex scenes I’ve ever read.

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

About the Book
Title: Broken
Series: Redemption #1
Author: Lauren Layne
Publisher: Flirt/Random House LLC
Release Date: September 2, 2014
Pages: 270
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Author Lauren Layne

Author Lauren Layne

About the Author
Lauren Layne is a snarky smartass with a serious weakness for happily ever afters. Marrying her high school sweetheart was a good start. *cue Disney soundtrack.* But Lauren wanted all romance, all the time.

Now she writes fictional happy endings, and considers her job done well if you swoon while reading her books.

Don’t worry. You will.

Once upon a time she lived in a Manhattan high-rise, but now she’s on the laid-back train in the Seattle area. If you ever find yourself in Issaquah, she’ll probably buy you a drink. Maybe.

Where to Find Lauren Layne
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter | TumblrAmazon

New Adult Book Review – Restraint (Revelation Series) by Randi Cooley Wilson

Restraint (Revelation Series #2) by Randi Cooley Wilson

Restraint (Revelation Series #2) by Randi Cooley Wilson

4.5 Stars

Synopsis
A FORBIDDEN LOVE WILL BECOME DEEPER.

A LOYALTY WILL BE TESTED.

AND ONLY DARKNESS WILL REMAIN.

One revelation changed everything, turning Eve Collin’s world upside down with grief and questions of identity and allegiance. Now as she flees enemies that refuse to give up, Eve must also face the mounting attraction between herself and her gargoyle protector. Will she ever truly be safe? How much will she sacrifice to survive and who will she become?

Restraint is an addictive pleasure a spellbinding continuation of Eve’s journey of self-discovery, love and sacrifice.

Readers captivated by Revelation will eagerly devour Restraint.

Restraint is volume two in The Revelation Series.

My Review
Restraint is more intense, more action-packed, steamier, and more heartbreaking than Revelation. The story picks up on the heels of the tragic loss of Aria as Eve tries to deal not only with her grief, but the guilt she feels over Aria’s death. Asher is forbidden to love Eve and Eve feels her preoccupation with Asher is partly to blame for what happened to Aria, so they both must exercise restraint when it comes to the other. With these two, that’s easier said than done.

Lucifer is after Eve and he’s got a legion of dark followers to help him. Eve has her gargoyles, and her ascension powers. And then there’ all that unresolved sexual tension which drives many of the best moments in the book.

Plot
I thought the plot was more gripping than Revelation. Revelation was about Eve discovering who she is and what she’s to become. But now that she knows, we really get into the meat of the action. Between that and the insanely hot scenes between Eve and Asher, Restraint was hard to put down. And I’ll admit, I’m dying read about Eve’s experience with Asher’s, er….piercing…

Characters
The characters are true to form. There is some development, but not a ton. And I think that’s okay at this stage. Restraint is more about plot development than character development. I’m still intrigued by Gage, still love Asher, and still want to see Eve succeed. I’m beginning to soften toward McKenna and might be secretly in love with Callan. One of the best scenes in the book involves Callan, sexual frustration, and lots of baked goods.

Bottom Line
Restraint is a solid follow up to Revelation that furthers the plot in intense fashion. If you like your paranormal romances on the steamy side, this is right up your alley.

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

About the Book
Title: Restraint (Revelation Series #2)
Author: Randi Cooley Wilson
Release Date: July 23, 2014
Pages: 250
Genre: New Adult Paranormal Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes

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

New Adult Book Review + Giveaway – Lennon’s Hope (Lennon’s Girls #3) by Chris Myers

Lennon's Hope

4.5 Stars

Synopsis
Sometimes in love, you lose all control…

At age ten, Rain fell hard for the sweet boy caring for his little sister.

At age eighteen, she runs into Lennon, now an experienced player and no longer the innocent boy she once loved.

At age nineteen, she has to put all her plans on hold to have his baby, and under a cloud of deception, she faces tragedy and heartbreak.

At age ten, Lennon proposed to Rain in front of the whole school.

At age eighteen, he thought he was over her until he sees her at a party, no longer a little girl but all grown-up and sexy as hell.

At age nineteen, he loses everything he ever cared about.

Trailer

My Review
This is the first book in the series I read, so a lot happened before this book starts. I recommend reading them in order. That said, the author tells a compelling, angsty story with deep, solid characters, and the story stands well enough on its own. Chris Myers does an amazing job of hooking us, letting us feel Lennon’s and Rain’s fears, pains, and triumphs.

Plot
There is a lot going on in the plot, but it never feels busy. Instead, it moves, weaving together the main plot with the character growth that comes about when teens become adults and are forced to face responsibilities they’re not really prepared for.

Characters
The characters are easily the best part of this story. All of them are strong, believable, edgy and flawed. Lennon is layered and intense. Rain and Jinx are distinctly different characters and we really can grasp what Lennox sees in both of them. The author’s storytelling style brings them to life so vividly, they truly feel real.

Bottom Line
Lennon’s Hope  is a page-turning tale of growing up, accepting responsibility, and dealing with tragic loss, all beautifully told. I can’t wait to go back and read the first two books.

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

About the Book
Title: Lennon’s Hope (Lennon’s Girls #3)
Author: Chris Myers
Release Date: July 1, 2014
Pages: 299
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Author Chris MyersAbout the Author
Chris Myers spends most of her free time writing and dreaming up new characters who fight each other for page time. She is an award-winning author and lives in Colorado with her daughter, her better half, and her Bichon BeBe. Her work has appeared in the NewsMag and has earned several awards including first place Paul Gillette, Colorado Gold finalist, and semi-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.

She has taught writing workshops for conferences, PPW, and Delve Writing and was an adjunct professor at CSU. Chris is a member of SCBWI and Pikes Peak Writers. She earned a Masters from the University of South Florida. Look for her series RIPSTERS, a Young Adult, paranormal/mystery with the spark of romance, starting with DATE WITH THE DEAD.

Where to Find Chris Myers
Goodreads | Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook

Giveaway

Young Adult Book Review + Giveaway – His Reverie by Monica Murphy

His Reverie (Reverie #1) by Monica Murphy

His Reverie (Reverie #1) by Monica Murphy

4.5 Stars

Synopsis
I knew from the moment I first saw her she was the one. The only girl I could ever want. The only girl I could ever love.

She is light.

I am darkness.

She is innocent.

I’ve done too much.

She is good.

I am bad.

She is my every dream. I should be her every nightmare.

We come from different worlds. She’s…perfect. And I’m…

Not.

Somehow she wants me anyway. So we’ll grasp at what we can. We’re going to make this summer count. She’s my secret. And I’m hers. The problem with secrets is they never last for long. And when others discover we’re together, they’ll do whatever it takes to keep us apart. All I know is: I won’t let them.

Because Reverie Hale? She’s mine.

My Review
This is the first book I’ve read by Monica Murphy and I have just one question — where have you been all my life? His Reverie is an intense upper young adult romance that breaks the mold in a number of ways. For one, it’s told almost exclusively from the male point of view. When we hear from Reverie, it’s through her diary entries in past tense, but the rest is told in first person present tense from Nick’s point of view. I’ve heard that YA romance from the male perspective won’t work. Well, after reading His Reverie, I beg to differ. All of the angst, the drama, the heartache is just as powerful from Nick’s viewpoint.

Plot
This is a young adult romance, although it’s in the upper age range. And as such, it has a solid romantic plot, filled with all of the angst we expect from teens in love. There is some strong language and sexual situations, but it’s appropriate for those 16 and older. Nick is balancing a lot, reeling from the loss of his mother, coping with life outside of prison after being released for a crime he didn’t commit, and falling for the unattainable girl. This is a classic tale of forbidden love with a very modern twist and I loved it. Sure, some of it was predictable, but that didn’t make it any less enjoyable.

Characters
The characters are what really makes this story so great. Nick’s voice is fresh and unique. I’ve heard people say that this will never work. Teen romance needs a female protagonist. Well, it really doesn’t. His Reverie is proof of that. Watching Nick twist in the wind with his inner emotions while only uttering short response is so fun to watch, because he’s such a guy. He can’t possibly put it all out there and be cool, but because we’re inside his head, we get to see it all, and it’s delicious.

The rest of the characters are equally well drawn. Reverie transcends the stereotype of the preacher’s daughter and Nick’s ex-girlfriend, Krista, is more than just the jilted ex. The rest of the supporting cast rounds out the book well with issues of their own, so that they’re more than just window dressing.

Bottom Line
His Reverie is a gripping tale and intensely emotional, without being melodramatic. I reached a point about two-thirds of the way in where it was literally impossible to put down. I’m anxiously awaiting the August release of the follow up book to see what happens next.

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

About the Book
Title: His Reverie
Author: Monica Murphy
Release Date: July 28, 2014
Pages: 249
Genre: Upper Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

His Reverie Teaser

 

Excerpt
“Thirsty?”

I jump at the sound of a soft female voice, my hand jerking so the hose splashes me right in the face. Muttering a curse, I drop the hose and reach out blindly, wrenching the faucet off with one hand as I swipe at my eyes with the back of the other. I hear the girl laugh and I whirl around, fully prepared to find some bratty preteen Hale daughter mocking me.

But she’s not a preteen. Not even close. More like around my age. She’s tall and slender, her long blonde hair falling far past bared tan shoulders. She’s wearing some sort of sundress or whatever you call it and she’s pretty much covered since it hits just above her knees though her arms are exposed since the dress is sleeveless. The sun catches her just right though, shining through the thin fabric of her skirt so I can see through it.

My gaze drops and all I can see is long, long legs through the shadowy fabric. Damn. Those sexy legs are endless. She clears her throat, like she knows exactly where I’m looking and what I’m thinking and I jerk my gaze up guiltily to meet hers, feeling like a jackass.

That’s when I notice her eyes are blue. As blue as the sky above us, and she’s so damn pretty, with delicate features and pink, pink lips, that I can’t seem to form words.

“Who are you?” she asks curiously. Her voice washes over me, sweet and melodic and now it’s my turn to clear my throat to get the lump out so I can freaking speak.

“Who are you?” I ask back like an idiot.

She smiles shyly and my entire body reacts, a bolt of electricity seeming to go through me. “I asked first.”

“Are you Hale’s daughter?” If she is, that sucks because holy hell she’s hot but yeah.

She’s completely untouchable if she’s a Hale.

Monica Murphy

About the Author
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Monica Murphy is a native Californian who lives in the foothills below Yosemite. A wife and mother of three, she writes New Adult and contemporary romance for Bantam and Avon. She is the author of One Week Girlfriend and Second Chance Boyfriend.

Where to Find Monica Murphy
Website | Blog | 
Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon

Giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blog Tour – Review + Giveaway – Never Been Kissed (Boys of Bishop #2) by Molly O’Keefe

Never Been Kissed Blog Tour

Today’s stop on the Blog Tour is a review. If you’d like to follow the rest of the Tour, you can find it on Molly’s website.

4.5 Stars

Synopsis
Perfect for readers of Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Rachel Gibson, Molly O’Keefe’s second novel in her exciting new series—The Boys of Bishop—features an irresistible romance and unforgettable characters in a page-turning story that delivers equal parts emotion and humor . . . with a little edge to boot.

As the daughter of a wealthy politician, Ashley Montgomery has had enough of her parents’ expectations for her future and is going her own way, volunteering to work at a refugee camp in Africa. But her act of charity turns dangerous when she takes a boat trip and is abducted by Somali pirates. Enter Brody Baxter, who was a bodyguard for the Montgomery family ten years ago and doesn’t think twice about coming to Ashley’s rescue. Handsome and tough, Brody has always done what needed to be done. So he swoops in, saves Ashley, and brings her to a place where she can rest and recuperate without the glare of the press and her demanding family: Brody’s small hometown of Bishop, Arkansas. But Ashley soon realizes that she’s not the only one in need of healing.

Holed up with Ashley in a tiny apartment over his brother’s bar in Bishop, Brody is tempted and torn in ways he never anticipated. Beautiful Ashley, vibrant despite her ordeal, fearless enough to love him beyond his wall of self-punishment, is now determined to save him. But with a little faith and a lot of love, they just may find happiness in each others’ arms.

“Molly O’Keefe is a unique, not-to-be-missed voice in romantic fiction.”—New York Times bestselling author Susan Andersen

My Review
I’m a sucker for the wounded bad boy so I was drawn to Brody’s story. The fact that I also adored Ashley was a bonus. She’s the spoiled little rich girl who bucks her political juggernaut family to spend a year in Africa helping the poorest of the poor. She’s sassy, smart, and has a wicked sense of humor. And anyone who’s ever done something really stupid at at the age of 17 can totally relate to her.

This is my first novel by Molly O’Keefe and I love her style. She has a way building unresolved sexual tension to new heights. Her characters are believable and deep, no two-dimensional characters here, not even with the supporting cast.

Plot
The overall plot worked well, but there were a lot of subplots that I thought distracted from the main plot. I loved the story of Brody and Ashley and even their various subplots. Brody’s relationships with his brother and father, his personal issues cultivated from tragic events in his childhood, Ashley’s kidnapping by pirates, her family drama, and trying to stay under the radar would have been enough. I don’t know that the romance between Brody’s brother, Sean and the cafe owner, Cora, were necessary. At least not from their points of view. I would have preferred a tighter narration from just Brody’s and Ashley’s viewpoints. But that’s about the only thing I can find wrong with this well-structured plot.

Characters
All of the characters were really strong. I was impressed with the development work Molly O’Keefe did with each one. Solid backstories, deep wounds, and fantastic arcs all worked together flawlessly. Brody easily had the most transformational storyline, but Ashley did some growing of her own. She came across as more of that shy 17-year old early on, but rapidly grew to the confident 27-year old she was. Although I don’t even know if it was so much growth, as it was an awakening.

Cora and Sean were fun to watch, and I love that both of them had their own backstories, even if I didn’t feel they were fundamental to the plot. But it made them more alive. Finally, Sean and Brody’s dad came across as so authentic, I felt like I really got him, especially when he had his big heart-to-heart with Brody.

Bottom Line
Never Been Kissed is a well-written, solid romance that reads more like steamy literary fiction in some places. Molly O’Keefe tells a great story, keeping the reader engaged, and has a gift for creating genuine characters that suck you into their stories.

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

About the Book
Title: Never Been Kissed (Boys of Bishop Series #2)
Author: Molly O’Keefe
Pages:
Publisher: Bantam
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Release Date: July 1, 2014
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About the Author
Molly O’Keefe is the RITA Award winning author of over 25 books and novellas. She lives in Toronto, Canada with her husband, two kids and the largest heap of dirty laundry in North America.

Where to Find Molly O’Keefe
Goodreads | Website | Twitter | Facebook

Giveaway
GRAND PRIZE: $10 Gift Card and ebook copy of WILD CHILD. 2 runners up get an ebook copy of WILD CHILD. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review – Sweet Girl (Titan Prequel) by Cristin Harber

4.5 Stars

Synopsis
A SWEET GIRL

Nicola Hart grew up under the heels of her older brother and his sexy best friend, Cash Garrison. Years of ignoring her spark with Cash has transformed their friendship into a slow burning sizzle. One night with him could ruin everything. Or it could be more than she ever dreamed. They play. They flirt. But they haven’t crossed the line because too much is at stake. Family. Friendship. And the deepest kind of love that she’d have to be crazy to walk away from. 

HE CAN’T STAY AWAY FROM
She’s his best friend’s little sister. The definition of hands off. Cash has tried to ignore her for years. Those innocent eyes and her smile that screams kiss-me-if-you-dare… Instead, he’s looked at every pretty little thing who’s crossed his path, all to ignore the girl he seems destined to want. But when his hard partying ways get old and everyone at school is interested in Nicola, it’s time to stake a claim. To make Nicola his girl, no matter the risks, and hold the hand of the one he really loves.

Sweet Girl is the novel length prequel to USA Today best-selling Garrison’s Creed. Before Cash and Nicola can fall in love forever, they have to suffer through their first love.

My Review
I didn’t know the story of Nicola and Cash before I read Sweet Girl. I knew of them from Savage Secrets, the only other Titan novel I’d read, but they were only mentioned briefly in a handful of places. So as I started reading Sweet Girl, I temporarily forgot who I was reading about and got lost in a college romance between two childhood friends. Cristin Harber’s style of creating super steamy action-packed romances worked in this instance as well. There was far less action, but she still packed an emotional punch of conflict that was fun to watch unfold.

Plot
Sweet Girl is well written with a believable storyline that never drags. Even though there are no Titan missions, there’s enough going on that I kept turning page after page. While I assumed there was a reason I was reading this backstory, I had no idea what was going to happen to them, so the ending took me by surprise. If you’ve read the rest of the Titan novels, particularly Garrison’s Creed, I’m sure you know what’s coming, but I almost think it was better to read Sweet Girl first.

Characters
I love the characters in this story. I wasn’t sure what to make of a cocky cowboy named Cash. He sounded like a stereotype, but I found myself soon rooting for him and Nicola. Nicola is sweet, befitting the nickname Cash gives to her. She’s so believable as the college co-ed in love with the boy next door who also happens to be her brother, Roman’s, best friend. Yet the events that transpire, forever changing the course of her life seem to fit with who she is. Roman is authentic as is the college quarterback with his eye on Nicola. Her fun and supportive roommates round out the cast of characters.

Bottom Line
I loved their story, even the heartbreaking ending. So much so, that I bought The Titan Series Boxed Set as soon as I finished Sweet Girl so I can find out what happens to them.

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

About the Book
Title: Sweet Girl (Titan Prequel)
Author: Cristin Harber
Pages: 200
Publisher: Mill Creek Press
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Release Date: July 7, 2014
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

Excerpt
Right. And now she was alone on the deck again, avoiding the alcohol-brave stares of freshmen boys. She glanced back into the house, wishing—

The familiar slide of Cash’s arm and the smell of soap paralyzed her thoughts.

“You look…” Breath hot, he whispered one word slower than the next, his lips a fraction away from the shell of her ear. “Gorgeous.”

A full body shiver started at her neck and ran south. “Hey, Cash.” She took a deep breath and let it out slowly, letting her eyes roam over him. “Bet you’ll break a few hearts tonight.”

He locked her in tighter. His breath was kissed by bourbon, and the scruff on his cheeks rasped against her skin. “Nah. Not in the mood.”

“The female population on campus is both relieved and saddened.”

“Oh yeah?” He pulled back an inch, then spun her into a loose hug, facing him. “Why’s that?”

“’Cause there’s still a chance, but it’s not tonight.”

A lazy smile curled. “Oh, you’re cute, Nic.”

God, he was gorgeous. Would his mouth taste like liquor? Her plan to get buzzed had not inoculated her against his dangerous good looks and charm. Her mind raced. “So I’ve been told.”

“What, by your date?” Cash tilted his head. He stepped back, dragging his arm off her neck, letting his hand smooth down her bare shoulder. His fingers drifted to her elbow. Another step, and he stuck his thumbs in his jeans pockets. His blue gaze smoldered. His button-down shirt, a little wrinkled, untucked and unbuttoned at the collar, was rolled up on his arms.

“I’m sure J’s said something like that tonight. Jaycee and Mira tell you their plans for you tonight?”

“Could not care even a little bit.”

She still felt where his fingers had traveled on her skin. Wanting that feeling again was driving her to distraction. Her eyes raked over his chest, sliding up to his face. He studied her. Intently. In an unnerving way, she could almost feel it. She swallowed and stole her eyes away because it was all in her head.

Cash stepped forward. “Let’s get out of here.”

His voice graveled. It had texture. She felt each word as it coated over her senses. Why did everything out of his mouth seem so much heavier? “I just got here, Cash.”

“Me too.”

“I didn’t come by myself.” Jacob was wandering around somewhere. Though she didn’t care.

“Neither did I.”

The air was thick. Tense. So much was unsaid. So much anticipation. She could taste it, feel it. Her heart raced; her pulse pounded. If she could touch him, hold onto his muscled arms, crawl onto his crazy-wide chest, if his arms could wrap around her and she could drown in his scent—

“What are you two so serious over?” Roman startled her.

One second. Two… What to say when she couldn’t think?

“Nic’s not feeling good,” Cash offered. A challenge danced in his eyes.

Roman’s protective gaze sliced to hers. “You’re not? What’s wrong?”

She swallowed at Cash’s lie, and now the ball of sexual-tension-meets-too-many-drinks was in her court. Was she misreading all of this? So much could go wrong. Two decades of friendship down the drain, not to mention Roman would kill Cash. “Car Bombs. I should’ve known better.”

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 – Lost in Starlight (Starlight Saga #1) by Sherry Soule

4.5 Stars

Synopsis
Star reporter Sloane Masterson knows she has one helluva story when she witnesses hottie Hayden Lancaster bending forks with his mind.

Like any good journalist, Sloane sets out to uncover the truth, even if it includes a little stalking. When the superhuman feats start to pile up and the undeniable heat rises between them, Hayden has no choice but to reveal his secret: he’s an alien hybrid.

They’re as different as night and day—she’s a curvy, purple-haired, horror junkie and he’s a smoking hot, antisocial, brainiac—yet the intense fascination between them refuses to go away. Even at Hayden’s insistence that dating each other is “off limits” and dangerous, their fiery attraction threatens to go supernova. 

Now Sloane’s dealing with creepy government agents, über snobby extraterrestrials, and a psycho alien ex-girlfriend out for revenge. After a crash course on the rules of interstellar dating, Sloane must decide if their star-crossed romance is worth risking her own life.

My Review
I thoroughly enjoyed Lost in Starlight by Sherry Soule. Her youthful voice, fun and quirky characters, and intriguing plot hooked me from the first chapter. There were a lot of similarities to Jennifer L. Armentrout’s Obsidian — the main character runs a review blog, but in this case horror films and not books, there’s a hot alien with unusual eye color, an equally hot alien ex-girlfriend, a secret alien society, and oppressive government involvement. But there were also enough differences that I found myself lost in the story and stopped trying to compare the two.

Plot
The plot moves along, the dialogue is witty, and I’m ready to read the rest of the series whenever it’s available. To me, that’s solid storytelling. There were a few things that kept it from being a full five-star review. For one, I felt like there were a few gratuitous kissing scenes. Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE kissing scenes, they are among my favorite types of scenes. But they tend to lose their effect when there are so many of them, and nothing really develops. I’m not saying that things needed to escalate, but if there is no escalation, we don’t need the play-by-play for every kiss. If it’s just more of the same, it’s okay to gloss over it to keep the plot moving forward.

Another issue I had was that Sloane seemed to overthink things to the point that I didn’t feel like she was developing as much as I’d hoped. She seemed stuck, and given her situation, that’s understandable, but the reader doesn’t need to revisit the same points with her over and over again.

Characters
Sloane is fantastic. She’s strong, smart-mouthed, funny, and confident. I love that she’s not super skinny and that she’s mostly content with her size 12/14 body. That really sets her apart from so many other young adult protagonists. I love her crazy purple hair. In fact, my daughter just had her hair colored and chose purple, so when I read about Sloane, she was already somewhat endeared to me just because of that. And I can personally relate to having big boobs in high school and the utter obsession boys have at that age of talking to your chest.

I adore her two best friends. Both of them are interesting, non-stereotypical, loyal, and exactly the kind of girls I’d want to have for my besties. Hayden is pretty cool, too, although I’m still trying to piece him together. In some ways, he’s a selfish teenage boy who just happened to fall in love with the wrong girl, but manages to do the right thing at times. In other ways, he seems far older than 18 and he talks way more than any teenage boy I’ve ever met. But all things considered, he’s not your average teenage boy, which makes him interesting and unpredictable.

About the only characters I found lacking to the point of distraction were Tama and Darion. Without giving anything away, I’ll just say I had a hard time believing their actions. It’s possible we’ll get a little more insight into them in the next book in the series, but for this story, I had to suspend a lot of disbelief to get through their scenes.

Bottom Line
Lost in Starlight is a fast-paced, fun read that left me wanting to read more.

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

Title: Lost in Starlight (Starlight Saga #1)
Author: Sherry Soule
Publisher: Moonlight Publishing
Pages: 293
Category: Young Adult Paranormal Romance
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
LinksGoodreads | Amazon | Kobo

About the Author
Sherry Soule lives with her family and one very spoiled black cat in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is the bestselling author of the adult novel, “Immortal Eclipse” and the popular YA series: Spellbound. Sherry writes thrilling tales of romance and suspense, often mingled with a dash of the mystical and a splash of trendy fashion. Her love of literature began when she was a young girl and it has continued throughout her life.

Her published novels do not include any graphic sex scenes or explicit violence, nor excessive profanity, so that all of her novels can be read and enjoyed by both teens and adults.

Sherry’s debut novel, “Beautifully Broken” was nominated for Best Paranormal Romance in the 2011 Wizard and Witch/Sorcery category by The Romance Reviews (TRR). Her adult novel, “Immortal Eclipse” is a *TOP PICK* by Night Owl Reviews.

Where to Find Sherry Soule
Goodreads | Blog | Twitter | Facebook

YA Book Review – Shadows (Lux 0.5) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

4.5 Stars

Synopsis
The last thing Dawson Black expected was Bethany Williams. As a Luxen, an alien life form on Earth, human girls are…well, fun. But since the Luxen have to keep their true identities a secret, falling for one would be insane.

Dangerous. Tempting. Undeniable.

Bethany can’t deny the immediate connection between her and Dawson. And even though boys aren’t a complication she wants, she can’t stay away from him. Still, whenever they lock eyes, she’s drawn in.

Captivated. Lured. Loved.

Dawson is keeping a secret that will change her existence…and put her life in jeopardy. But even he can’t stop risking everything for one human girl. Or from a fate that is as unavoidable as love itself.

My Review
While this is technically a prequel, I read it after I completed the other four books in the series while I not so patiently wait for the final book. I wasn’t expecting much because I frankly didn’t care that much about Dawson and Bethany beyond the cursory “he’s Damon’s twin” thing. Told in third person from dual points of view, it was a departure from the other books in the series, but I think that actually helped me get into it. It wasn’t trying to be Obsidian 2.0. It is a story of two people who aren’t Daemon and Katy but have an awful lot in common with them. For one, Dawson is Daemon’s identical twin brother, and for another, Bethany is also a human girl in love with an alien.

The story of how Dawson and Bethany fell in love, and what happened to them prior to Katy moving in next door to Daemon and Dee, is as compelling as Katy and Daemon’s story, and in some ways more so. Their feelings are just as deep and intense and their story is far more tragic. Before long, I was as invested in their story as I was Daemon’s and Katy’s.

Plot
Because I essentially knew their story from reading the other books, this book was more about their relationship. As much as it helps the reader understand why Dawson risked everything for Bethany and why he was covered in blood the day they went hiking, it also does just as much to help us understand why Daemon is the way he is. I suppose it’s possible Daemon had some serious character issues before his brother went missing, but we now understand why he reacted to Katy the way he did the first time he met her. Mostly because we get to see how deeply affected he was by Dawson’s disappearance.

Characters
This is mostly about Bethany and Dawson and getting to know them is fun. But it also gives us another perspective on Daemon from the boy who knows him best. We get to see the playful side from his twin’s point of view. We also get to see how different these two identical brothers are from one another. As the mother of identical twin boys, I really enjoyed this aspect, because while my sons are a lot alike, they are also very different. The fact that the author showed true differences in personality made them all the more real to me. Well, as far as fictional made up aliens can be.

Bottom Line
Shadows is a solid prequel to the series that introduces us more fully to Dawson and Bethany and helps the reader understand in far more detail the backstory that brought us to Obsidian.

Title: Shadows
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Pages: 165
Category: Young Adult Paranormal Romance
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: GoodreadsAmazon | Barnes & Noble

YA Book Review – City of Bones (Mortal Instruments #1) by Cassandra Clare

4.5 Stars

Synopsis
When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder― much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It’s hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing―not even a smear of blood―to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It’s also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know… 

Exotic and gritty, exhilarating and utterly gripping, Cassandra Clare’s ferociously entertaining fantasy takes readers on a wild ride that they will never want to end.

My Review
I’ll admit I’m late to the Mortal Instruments party. My daughter carries the books around and reads them whenever she has a spare moment. I finally got around to picking up the first one and began reading. It probably took until the third chapter for me to reach the point that I wanted to sneak read a page or two whenever I had a spare moment. But once I was immersed into the story, I was there. Completely.

Clary Fray lives a relatively normal life in New York City with her mom and her best friend Simon. When she witnesses a crime and is thrown into a hidden world she didn’t know existed, she’s suddenly hanging out with Shadowhunters, vampires, and werewolves. Nothing in her life will ever be normal again.

Plot
Once the story gets going, the plot moves and because Cassandra Clare’s world is of her own making, nothing is guaranteed or predictable. I think that’s what I love most about the story. Even when I thought I had things figured out, Cassandra Clare turned the hourglass and the sand began pouring in the other direction. Once I hit the midway point in the story, things took off and never slowed down until I crossed the finish line, broken and exhausted, and ready to pick up the second book in the series.

Characters
I absolutely love the characters in this story. Clary is awesome — everything from her fierce need to protect her mother to the way she doesn’t let Shadowhunter Jace get under her skin. She’s really complex for a teen girl, which only makes me love her more.

Jace is fascinating and none of that would change if he wasn’t amazingly hot. What I love about him is how damaged he is, but how he doesn’t let that keep him down. Instead he uses it to fuel what he believes is his purpose in life.

But I think it is Simon that I love the most. There is something so incredibly endearing about him. He’s the loyal best friend, the pining love interest, and the bravest of them all.

Bottom Line
City of Bones is a fantastic story that brings together so many delicious elements, it’s hard to classify it as just another young adult paranormal. It has elements of fantasy, it’s a ripping good adventure, a sweet romance, and a story of friendship, love, loss, and family.

Title: City of Bones (Mortal Instruments #1)
Author: Cassandra Clare
Pages: 503
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Category: Contemporary Romance
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

NA Book Review – Blue Crush by Jules Barnard

Blue Crush Blog Tour Banner

4.5 Stars

Synopsis
Genevieve Tierney moves to Lake Tahoe after college, determined to go it alone after being betrayed by her boyfriend. Working at a casino and avoiding cheating jerks seems like a good plan, until she meets the one guy tempting enough to drag her back down.

Lewis Sallee is six and a half feet of perfectly sculpted mountain man who threatens her play-it-safe approach and awakens a sex drive she never knew she had. Although Lewis is in a complicated relationship with one of the most beautiful women Gen has ever seen, she can’t seem to control her attraction to him.

To boost her confidence, Gen steps out of her comfort zone and signs up for the Alpine Mudder, a gritty endurance race. But as she prepares for the biggest physical challenge of her life, her emotional strength is pushed to its limits after she accepts Lewis’s help in training. He tests her willpower and has her fighting her body’s response to him—with her mind and heart not far behind

My Review
It took me a couple of chapters to get into Blue Crush, but once I did, I was in all the way. Gen is somewhat annoying at times, but Lewis more than makes up for it. He’s H.O.T. hot — one of the sexiest guys to cross my pages in a long time. The heat is intense without being overt and the relationship develops slowly while achieving a heart-pounding pace. How is that possible? I’m not sure, but I just know that Jules Barnard has managed to pull it off.

Plot
The plot is a little different from other NA books I’ve read. For one, it’s not a straight up romance. Gen is tired of being pushed around, particularly by men. Her mother is a lousy role-model, her ex-boyfriend a total douchebag, and her new job makes her the target of every lecherous man in the greater Lake Tahoe area. It doesn’t help that one of the executives at the casino where waitresses thinks she’s available for anything and everything he wants.

She runs into Lewis who gets her blood pumping in a way no guy ever has. There’s just one little problem — there’s another girl in the way. The nature of his relationship with this other girl is murky at best. When Gen decides to step out of her comfort zone and sign up for the Alpine Mudder Run, Lewis volunteers to help her train and sparks fly. When it comes to whether or not she can control her raging hormones around this delicious slice of man candy, all bets are off.

A series of well-developed subplots are woven into the main plot, making this far more than your average NA romance.

Characters
While Gen can be a bit hard to take at times, she does have her likeable points. She’s a loyal friend, works her ass off, respects herself and others, and wants to do the right thing. Lewis is perfection wrapped up in the prettiest paper on the planet. The supporting cast are not fluff, but remarkably well developed and do far more than just provide attractive background noise.

Bottom Line
I thoroughly enjoyed Blue Crush. It’s steamy, romantic, and at times funny. I may have just found my new favorite NA author in Jules Barnard.

Title: Blue Crush (Blue Series #2)
Author: Jules barnard
Pages:
Publisher: 
Category: Contemporary Romance
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo

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

Giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Review – Forever My Girl (The Beaumont Series #1) by Heidi McLaughlin

4.5 Stars

Synopsis
I was never supposed to be a rock star. I had my life all planned out for me. Play football in college. Go to the NFL. Marry my high school sweetheart and live happily ever after. 

I broke both our hearts that day when I told her I was leaving. I was young. I made the right decision for me, but the wrong decision for us. I’ve poured my soul into my music, but I’ve never forgotten her. Her smell, her smile. 

And now I’m going back. 

After ten years. 

I hope I can explain that after all this time. 

I still want her to be my forever girl.

My Review
Forever My Girl is an emotional love story told from two points of view. The first is Liam who makes a decision about his future, leaving his small hometown and girl behind. Josie is the girl he left broken and alone, who has spent the past ten years attempting to rebuild her life. Newly engaged, her life seems perfect until Liam arrives back in town for the funeral of their closest friend. When these two see each other again, sparks fly.

Plot
Heidi McLaughlin does a fantastic job of doling out information slowly, keeping us hooked and then carefully reeling us in. I found myself deeply into the story from the first chapter, and this is something that is rare for me with romance novels. It usually takes me several chapters at least to really get into it.

The plot unfolds at the perfect pace through most of the book. About the only thing really lacking is a decent antagonist. There is Liam’s conniving agent, but she’s not developed enough to really be the one you love to hate. And her plans to destroy Liam and Josie’s relationship comes too late in the story and isn’t nearly strong enough. And then there’s Josie’s long suffering fiancee. We get a glimpse at his potential anger early on, but it never escalates and he doesn’t present enough obstacles to really fulfill his potential as an antagonist.

Characters
The main characters are strong, fleshed out, and engaging. Even most of the secondary characters have depth that is often missing in romance novels. My only complaint is the lack of a solid antagonist which would have taken this story from 4-1/2 stars to 5.

Bottom Line
A very well written, engaging story with solid characters that you root for.

Title: Forever My Girl (The Beaumont Series #1)
Author: Heidi McLaughlin
Publisher: Bandit Publishing
Pages: 225
Category: Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Links to PurchaseAmazon | Barnes and Noble

Book Review – Savage Secrets by Cristin Harber

4.5 Stars

Synopsis
Savage Secrets is the newest title in the USA Today Bestselling Series!

When the past is impossible to ignore, love may be the only
way to survive.

Caterina Cruz has no home. No loyalties. No objection to exacting torturous revenge. Her life’s mission is to destroy the terrorist who murdered her family. Then she steps into an elaborate game of charades alongside a Titan Group operative posing as an arms dealer—and her newlywed husband. The sexy distraction may be more than she can handle.

Attacked with a psychedelic drug weeks before, Rocco Savage is plagued with hallucinations that threaten his new rank as Titan’s second-in-command. No one knows and he wants to keep it that way. Throwing him further off his game, he now has a wife with her own secrets he can’t crack and an agenda he can’t control.

Their mission—an elaborate deception of heated glances and passionate kisses—spins out of control. With Rocco’s mind already compromised, can he keep his secret and his distance? And with Caterina’s tragic past controlling her every move, can she keep the con up long enough to secure her revenge? Or will both go down in flames?

My Review
Not having read any of the other Titan novels, I didn’t know what to expect with Savage Secrets, but I was hooked from the opening pages. Cristin Harber manages to weave together an action-packed thriller with an insanely hot romance into a steamy page-turner. I didn’t even know that was possible.

Yes, there is a disturbing rape scene and I know some people were turned off by it. But rape happens every day in this country and around the world. Every.single.day. The author neither glorifies nor seeks to gloss over rape. In fact, she’s donating a portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book to a rape and sexaul assault survivors non-profit. One of the resources she mentions is After Silence.

The mission of After Silence is to support, empower, validate, and educate survivors of rape, sexual abuse and all types of sexual violence by providing a safe, extensive, reliable and easy-to-read website where victims can find the answers and support they need to heal and reclaim their lives.

Check them out if you’re in need of help and if you’re not, consider donating to them. They do good work. Important work. Rape is a crime, but talking about it is not.

Plot
The plot is basic — Caterina wants revenge on the man who killed her family when she was ten — but there are enough subplots that it’s almost a relief that the main plot isn’t too complex. First, there’s the romance, then there’s Rocco’s secret, and the terrorist plot they need to stop, and apparently there’s a lot of backstory on the other characters from the three previous books in this series, but not having read them didn’t make this one hard to follow.

Characters
The author does a good job differentiating the characters and Rocco is pretty much a straightforward dude. It’s one of the things I love about him. He swears, he likes to punch things, is more comfortable in jeans than expensive designer duds, and he’s not good at expressing how he feels. By comparison, Caterina is as deep and complex as Rocco is simple. So you know these two are either going to get all hot and heavy or kill each other.

Bottom Line
This is an intense, sometimes violent, thriller with lots of heat. It should appeal to women who love a good romance, but also get a kick out of James Patterson and The A Team reruns. Luckily there are three other novels in the Titan series for me to enjoy in the not too distant future.

Title: Savage Secrets (Titan #4)
Author: Cristin Harber
PublisherMill Creek Press 
Pages: 311
Category: Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Links to PurchaseAmazonBarnes & Noble

Book Review – Write Tight: Say Exactly What You Mean with Precision and Power by William Brohaugh

Wright Tight by William Brohaugh

Wright Tight by William Brohaugh

4.5 Stars

Synopsis
“These days, most creative-writing courses teach self-indulgence. Write Tight counsels discipline. It is worth more than a university education. Its advice is gold.” -Dean Koontz

Foreword by Lawrence Block

Not since The Elements of Style has a writing guide had the ability to turn a writer’s work around so effectively. Every writer struggles with keeping their prose focused and concise, but surprisingly few books address this essential topic. Write Tight is an informative and utterly readable guide that tackles these issues head-on.

William Brohaugh, former editor of Writer’s Digest, goes beyond the discussion on redundancy and overwriting to take on evasiveness, affectations, roundabout writing, tangents and “invisible” words. Other topics include:

-Outlining the four levels of wordiness
-Identifying 16 types of flabby writing
-Exercises that help writers avoid wordiness
-Streamlining through sidebars and checklists
-Tests that show how concise a writer’s prose is

“Write Tight is a supremely valuable, ‘must-have’ for aspiring writers in all fields from prose to nonfiction, journalistic copy, screenwriting and so much more.” -Midwest Book Review

My Review
As a writer and editor, I found this book to be useful for every kind of writing I do. I initially read it to help me shave word count on my novel, but I found it to be infinitely useful for the work I do for my day job. There are so many common sense lessons in the book that I easily shaved 10 thousand words off my novel in one revision and I continue to find additional areas to make my writing tighter with each pass.

There are useful checklists, exercises and examples to really help retain the lessons learned. The only thing that kept me from giving this book a full five stars is that it’s longer than it needs to be at 240 pages. I feel like it probably would have been fine at about half that.

Bottom Line
This is one of the top ten writing resources I’d recommend to all writers, not just those writing books. Anyone who writes anything for any reason will benefit from the lessons in Write Tight.

Title: Write Tight: Say Exactly What You Mean with Precision and Power
Author: William Brohaugh
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Pages: 240
Category: Writing Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Links to PurchaseAmazonBarnes & Noble

Book Review – Kisscut (Grant County #2) by Karin Slaughter

Kisscut (Grant County #2) by Karin Slaughter

Kisscut (Grant County #2) by Karin Slaughter

4.5 Stars

Synopsis
Saturday night dates at the skating rink have been a tradition in the small southern town of Heartsdale for as long as anyone can remember, but when a teenage quarrel explodes into a deadly shoot-out, Sara Linton–the town’s pediatrician and medical examiner–finds herself entangled in a terrible tragedy.

What seemed at first to be a horrific but individual catastrophe proves to have wider implications. The autopsy reveals evidence of long-term abuse, of ritualistic self -mutilation, but when Sara and police chief Jeffrey Tolliver start to investigate, they are frustrated at every turn.

The children surrounding the victim close ranks. The families turn their backs. Then a young girl is abducted, and it becomes clear that the first death is linked to an even more brutal crime, one far more shocking than anyone could have imagined. Meanwhile, detective Lena Adams, still recovering from her sister’s death and her own brutal attack, finds herself drawn to a young man who might hold the answers. But unless Lena, Sara, and Jeffrey can uncover the deadly secrets the children hide, it’s going to happen again

My Review
Kisscut is darker than Blindsighted and far more gripping. There are so many moving parts, it’s impossible to figure out what’s going on until the end. Even the subplots are engaging. First, there’s Sara and Jeffrey’s relationship. We take a trip back to Jeffrey’s childhood home and learn more about how he and Sara originally met and fell in love. Then there’s Lena’s recovery from the horror she endured in Blindsighted, and the weird kinship she feels with the brother of one of the young victims. And there’s Jeffrey’s unresolved guilt over shooting a teen girl, even though he didn’t really have a choice. Last but not least, running through all of that is why the girl put herself in a position that the police had no recourse but to shoot her, who took a young girl and why, and how the two are related.

Karin Slaughter does a masterful job of handling all of the subplots and the main plot, interweaving them, and keeping us on the edge of seats, wondering how they all intersect with one another. And they do, almost perfectly. The only thing that keeps this from being a five-star rating is the stomach-turning nature of parts of the story. While they were key to the plot, it kept me from loving the story, even if it is a page turner.

Plot
The plot was intense, and unique, and riveting. It was nearly impossible to put down at times. The subplots provided additional interest and the twists and turns kept me guessing until the end. But because of the nature of the crime and the people involved, it takes a strong stomach. Definitely not for the faint of heart or anyone who is easily offended. I know a lot of people complained about the disturbing nature of the crime and claimed the author was glorifying it. In no way is the crime glorified. It is detestable, but it is something that happens every day in this country, and pretending it doesn’t, won’t make the problem go away.

Characters
There were a lot of characters and they were often difficult to keep track of, but not to the point that I couldn’t keep up with the plot. I love that we get to dig deeper into our favorite characters from Blindsighted and learn more about Jeffrey, Sara and Lena. Karin Slaughter doesn’t try to gloss over the effects of what happened. The characters grapple with what happened, particularly Lena. This is something that I don’t think is done often enough in serial thrillers. Too often, characters just bounce back and go on with life, with very little reflection on what happened other than passing references. But what Lena endured at the hands of her attacker in Blindsighted becomes very much a part of who she is and the decisions she makes throughout Kisscut.

Bottom Line
Kisscut is an intense thriller that is equal parts moving, gripping, and disturbing. But it never failed to keep me turning the page, right to the very end. Sure, I felt like I needed to take a shower afterward, but isn’t that what a good thriller does?

Title: Kisscut
Author: Karin Slaughter
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Pages: 448
Category: Thriller
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Links to PurchaseAmazonBarnes & Noble