Review: Hollywood Dirt (Hollywood Dirt #1) by Alessandra Torre

Title: Hollywood Dirt
Author: Alessandra Torre
Series: Hollywood Dirt #1
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
Cole Masten. Abandoned by his superstar wife, Hollywood’s Perfect Husband is now Hollywood’s Sexiest Bachelor: partying hard and screwing even harder. Watch out Los Angeles, there’s a new bad boy in town.

Summer Jenkins. That’s me, a small town girl stuck in Quincy, Georgia. I cook some mean chicken and dumplins, can bluff a grown man out of his savings in poker, and was voted Most Friendly my senior year.

We were from different worlds. Our lives shouldn’t have collided. But then Cole Masten read a book about my small town. And six months later, his jet landed on our dusty airstrip, and he brought Hollywood with him.

From the start, I knew he was trouble. For our town. And for me.

Sometimes, opposites just aren’t meant to attract.

My Review:
Absolutely loved it. A fantastic enemies to lovers story with real heart. And The Rehearsal Dinner from Hell – ha, ha, loved it, not sure what that says about me! Can’t wait to see this one on Passionflix soon.

Review: Catching Jordan (Hundred Oaks) by Miranda Kenneally

Title: Catching Jordan
Author: Miranda Kenneally
Series: Hundred Oaks
Rating: 4 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
ONE OF THE BOYS

What girl doesn’t want to be surrounded by gorgeous jocks day in and day out? Jordan Woods isn’t just surrounded by hot guys, though-she leads them as the captain and quarterback of her high school football team. They all see her as one of the guys and that’s just fine. As long as she gets her athletic scholarship to a powerhouse university.

But everything she’s ever worked for is threatened when Ty Green moves to her school. Not only is he an amazing QB, but he’s also amazingly hot. And for the first time, Jordan’s feeling vulnerable. Can she keep her head in the game while her heart’s on the line?

My Review:
I really enjoyed this although the ending let it down. Characterization was superb and it was full of witty banter and laugh out loud moments. It was a little light on the romance for me and I wanted more of a grand gesture/more swoony moments at the end but still a really good read. Recommended.

Review: Moonshot by Alessandra Torre

Title: Moonshot
Author: Alessandra Torre
Series: standalone
Rating: Contemporary Romance
Genres:
Links:

Blurb:
Baseball isn’t supposed to be a game of life and death…

The summer that Chase Stern entered my life, I was seventeen. The daughter of a legend, the Yankees were my family, their stadium my home, their dugout my workplace. My focus was on the game. Chase… he started out as a distraction. A distraction with sex appeal poured into every inch of his six foot frame. A distraction who played like a god and partied like a devil.

I tried to stay away. I couldn’t.

Then, the team started losing.
Women started dying.
And everything in my world broke apart.

My Review:
Wow, I freaking LOVED this book so much, and that cover is to DIE for – seriously it’s a work of beauty.

I’m still chock-full of emotion after reading Ty and Chase’s story. How do I even attempt to gather all my thoughts in a way that will do this book justice? I’m not sure, so I’ll just say that this book ticked all my favorite boxes:

Forbidden love – check.
Second chance romance – check
Sports romance – check
Mystery/Suspense subplot – check
Hot male lead – check
A relatable, likable heroine – check
Sizzling hot chemistry and swoon-worthy romantic moments – check
Fantastic character development – check
Well paced plot – check
Sublime writing – check

I just gobbled this one up. My only complaint is that there wasn’t enough Chase in the latter third of the book and I wanted more at the end and a dual POV epilogue but other than that it was absolute perfection on a page.

I read a complimentary copy of this book and I have voluntarily reviewed same.

Review: Boys South of the Mason Dixon (South of the Mason Dixon #1) by Abbi Glines

Title: Boys South of the Mason Dixon
Author: Abbi Glines
Series: South of the Mason Dixon #1
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
The only thing hotter than the weather South of the Mason Dixon line are the boys. Worn, faded blue jeans, slow Southern drawls, and those naughty moments in the back of pickup trucks a girl never forgets.

Welcome to the world of the Sutton boys.

Five brothers who fight, party, drink a little too much, but more importantly, they love their momma. Nothing can tear them apart… until the girl next door wins more than one of their hearts.

My Review:
Oh em gee, I freaking LOVED this book! Honestly, it felt as if Abbi took everything I love and created this book especially for me. I’m a sucker for a love triangle and a forbidden romance theme, and with the additional complexity of the boys being brothers, I was in literary heaven. All five Sutton boys are hot and intriguing and I cannot wait to read more in this series. The angst and drama levels were exactly to my liking and the pacing and writing were spot-on. And Asher, oh my, how perfect is he? Totally swoon-worthy and so selfless and I loved him from page one.

Roll on book two, please 🙂 I hope we don’t have to wait too long and I’m dying to know which of the brothers it will be about. Would love to read Bray’s story next as he is so troubled and out of control and I just know it will make for riveting reading.

Awesome job, Abbi. I don’t even mind the fact I have massive dark circles under my eyes this morning from staying up half the night reading.

Review: Gus (Bright Side #2) by Kim Holden

Title: Gus
Author: Kim Holden
Series: Bright Side #2
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
The journey that began in top-rated, best-selling Bright Side, continues …

This is the story of Gus.
Losing himself.
Finding himself.
And healing along the way.

“ … but the honest-to-God truth is I don’t even know how to function anymore. Bright Side wasn’t only my best friend; she was like my other half … the other half of my brain, the other half of my conscience, the other half of my sense of humor, the other half of my creativity, the other half of my heart. How do you go back to doing what you did before, when half of you is gone forever?”

My Review:
Loved it. Gus is AH-MAZING and it was great to see him getting his well deserved HEA. While this was heartbreaking and it definitely tugged at my heart strings, it was more uplifting than anything. A real feel good story. Would love to see Kellar get his own story so I know he’s okay too.

Review: Bright Side (Bright Side #1) by Kim Holden

Title: Bright Side
Author: Kim Holden
Series: Bright Side #1
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
Secrets.
Everyone has one.
Some are bigger than others.
And when secrets are revealed,
Some will heal you …
And some will end you.

Kate Sedgwick’s life has been anything but typical. She’s endured hardship and tragedy, but throughout it all she remains happy and optimistic (there’s a reason her best friend Gus calls her Bright Side). Kate is strong-willed, funny, smart, and musically gifted. She’s also never believed in love. So when Kate leaves San Diego to attend college in the small town of Grant, Minnesota, the last thing she expects is to fall in love with Keller Banks.

They both feel it.
But they each have a reason to fight it.
They each have a secret.

And when secrets are revealed,
Some will heal you …
And some will end you.

My Review:
I’ve sat at my laptop for the last ten minutes attempting to structure my thoughts into some type of coherent form so I can write a review that will do this book justice. But the truth is I’m still struggling to come to terms with this story and get over the epic-and I mean EPIC-cryfest I engaged in during the latter part of the book. The last time I sobbed my heart out like that was after reading Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma and even that pales in comparison.

I picked up this book months ago on the recommendation of one of the readers in my Street Team and it kinda fell by the wayside as I have so many ARCs to read that I tend to one-click books and not get to them for ages. Then, I recently saw this advertised on Bookbub and it reminded me that I had to read it. My husband was out last night so I decided I’d quit work early and start reading this. I had to put it down at 3.30 a.m. purely because I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I finished it a little while ago and I swear, I don’t think my heart will be the same.

I can’t believe this is a debut work because it’s absolutely magnificent. This is very much a character driven story-don’t expect any major plot twists or turns because there aren’t any; it isn’t that kind of book. Character development is superb and the authenticity and uniqueness of Kate’s voice are wonderfully refreshing. Kate is an amazing MC – funny, warm, loyal, open, caring, honest, and she pushed those around her to be the best version of themselves. She lit up the pages of my kindle like she lit up the people around her. Gus and Kellar were both wonderful too and the other characters weren’t just relegated to the sidelines either.

The connection between Gus and Kate was uber special. In real life, I think two people like that would be a couple but I was okay with them remaining friends because it works here. They adore one another, support one another and know one another inside and out. Gosh, I just loved them! Kellar was fantastic too and I was rooting for him and Kate and dying for them to get their act together.

Ms Holden sure knows how to pack a mighty emotional punch behind her beautiful prose. I felt everything these characters were feeling especially at the end. God, I’m welling up again just thinking about it.

This book contains some important messages about self-love and self-worth and being true to yourself and always making the best out of life. While the story itself is tragic, it was also uplifting.

I think this review is probably rather rambly and all over the place but it just goes to show where my head and my heart is at in this moment. I may come back to rewrite this as I want to do it justice. This book deserves the hype. This author is phenomenally talented and she deserves to have a very long, very successful career. I will most definitely be checking out more of her work and I have just, in fact, downloaded a copy of Gus courtesy of my KU subscription.

Absolutely breathtaking. Grab a copy of this book, you won’t be sorry.

Review: Stripped Bare (Vegas Billionaire #1) by Heidi McLaughlin

Title: Stripped Bare
Author: Heidi McLaughlin
Series: Vegas Billionaire #1
Rating: 4.5 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
They don’t call it the Strip for nothing. . . .

In this sinfully sexy Las Vegas romance from bestselling author Heidi McLaughlin, a man who has it all reunites with a woman who takes it all off.

Living in Sin City, Finn McCormick is no stranger to one-night stands, but the last person he expects to find losing big on the casino floor is a former high school fling. Even though Macey Webster’s clearly down on her luck, she’s still a knockout, and she’s dressed like a stripper—because she is one. Drunk off an unfamiliar cocktail of lust, pity, and compassion, Finn offers to pay Macey’s debts if she cuddles up to him around town . . . and does whatever he wants between the sheets.

Macey came to Vegas for one reason only: money. She’s got a young daughter to support, and the tips really are bigger in Vegas. But when she blows her earnings on blackjack, her guardian angel is the rich boy who once stole her heart and never called her back. Although Macey would love to turn the tables on Finn, she can’t afford to refuse his proposition—and soon she’s enjoying herself much more than she cares to admit. Macey’s used to baring her flesh, but baring her soul will take far more courage.

My Review:
Macey has been raising her ten-year-old daughter, Morgan, under very difficult circumstances, and doing the best she can. Needing to get her away from her dysfunctional mother, she takes a stripping gig in Vegas to make a chunk of cash and in doing so she crosses paths with her old highschool crush, Finn McCormick. Finn is a very successful casino and hotel owner who watches Macey lose big on the table and decides on a whim to proposition her.

Macey was an admirable character and her love for her daughter shines throughout this story. Morgan was a little sweetheart who wormed her way into my heart without difficulty. Finn is your typical asshole alpha with commitment issues to start off with but he was compassionate behind the rough exterior.

Brandy was an annoying whiny ex who I couldn’t stand.

The romance plays out quite predictably and the plot twist isn’t a surprise but from the way it’s written I guess that the author intended it to be so. It didn’t in any way dent my enjoyment because I really enjoyed reading this book. Initially, I was attracted to read this one as I’d read a similar story with the same title previously and enjoyed it so I had a feeling I would like this one too, plus I’ve read some of Heidi’s other work and I know she’s an accomplished author so I knew the writing would be stellar, and it was.

This is quite a quick read and the pace is consistently fast. No filler. Character development is decent and I loved the dual POV. The romantic/sex scenes were hot and the chemistry very believable.

The only thing I didn’t like is how we’re expected to believe Macey wouldn’t seek financial support from the father given her dire circumstances, but, hey, it’s fiction so I gave it a pass.

In summary, this was a great, entertaining second chance romance with a happy ending and one I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend. Good job, Heidi, and thanks for the great read.

Actual rating: 4.5 Stars

Thanks to the publisher for supplying an ARC of this book via Netgalley. I have voluntarily reviewed same.

Review: Fame (Hollywood Love #1) by Jillian Dodd

Title: Fame
Author: Jillian Dodd
Series: Hollywood Love #1
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
From USA Today bestselling author Jillian Dodd comes the eighth book in the addictive Keatyn Chronicles series. Discover a breathless fairy-tale romance with swoon-worthy characters set in a glittering celebrity world. Fans of reality TV will devour this pulse-pounding, sexy Hollywood drama.

Follow the lives and loves of those who work at Captive Films:

Riley Johnson — Captive Films’ CEO and millionaire playboy is hot, privileged, and seriously single. He’s got it all–a brand new jet, exotic cars, a luxury penthouse, and a different aspiring actress (or two) in his bed every night. His life is perfect until the only girl he ever loved walks back into it, causing him to wonder if he truly has it all.

Keatyn Douglas — Hollywood’s sweetheart and owner of Captive Films leads a chaotic, glamorous life. But running a successful film studio, writing scripts, and her own acting career leave little time for the things she dreams of, like marrying the man she loves and having babies. When drama starts at work, she may decide to give it all up for life out of the fast lane.

Dawson Johnson — The dark and dreamy marketing consultant joins Captive to escape his past. For the last two years, his sole focus has been on caring for his adorable daughters after tragedy struck their lives. He comes to Captive looking for a fresh start and, if all goes well, he might find a lot more than that in Hollywood.

Knox Daniels — Considered the sexiest man alive by a certain magazine, the sentiment is echoed by the actor’s adoring fans. While romance abounds in the roles he plays, he’s convinced he’ll never find his own happily ever after–until he meets a woman who just might change that.

Shelby Benson — The beautiful cocktail waitress and wanna-be actress struggles to make ends meet. A chance encounter with Riley Johnson is her lucky break and the golden ticket to everything she’s ever dreamed of–fame, power, money, sex, and love.

Written soap-opera style with multiple points of view, you can expect lots of drama, sex, and tabloid-worthy events.

My Review:
Well, damn you, Jillian Dodd. Now you’ve gone and sucked me into another one of your worlds and there’s no way back. Knew this would happen! I freaking LOVED this book. I loved all the different pov’s, loved catching up with my fav characters from The Keatyn Chronicles now that they are older and (supposedly) wiser. Riley disappointed me a lot but he is still so heartbroken so I cut him some slack. That ending was brilliantly awful and there’s no way I can’t continue. I need Riely and Ariela to get their HEA as they so deserve it. Knox is a scream. Still love, love Aiden, and it was great to catch up with Dawson and Dallas too. Aw, I have all the feels.

I really liked how this was structured into different scenes and love the Hollywood setting.

If you have read TKC then this is a must read. If you haven’t I recommend starting with that series first.

Review: Get Me (The Keatyn Chronicles #6) by Jillian Dodd

Title: Get Me
Author: Jillian Dodd
Series: The Keatyn Chronicles #6
Rating: 4.5 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
From USA Today bestselling author Jillian Dodd comes the final book in the addictive Keatyn Chronicles series. Discover a breathless fairy-tale romance with swoon-worthy characters, suspense, and a glittering celebrity world. Fans of Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars, and reality TV shows like Keeping up with the Kardashians will devour this pulse-pounding, sexy teen drama set against the backdrop of Hollywood and an East Coast boarding school.

Keatyn’s crazy life comes together in one perfect script.

Will Keatyn get her life back?
And if she does, which life (and boy) will she choose?

My Review:
Initial Thoughts: A brilliant ending. I have SO MANY FEELS.

For me, this was probably the best book of the series, and I enjoyed it immensely. This was much more fast-paced than previous books and I loved how Jillian tied everything up at the end. While it’s not quite a neat little bow (Brooklyn’s story made me really sad and Riley doesn’t get his HEA but I’m not complaining as he has a spin-off series, yay) it brought a fair amount of happy endings.

Of course, the two main threads were wrapped up in this one – who is Moon boy and did she choose him, and the stalker plotline. It looked like it was going a certain way on the romance and I was feeling an actual pain in my chest but thankfully it all went my way. I had been mad at the other boy for most of this series and one of the things I really liked about Get Me was how Jillian brought me to a point of understanding in that relationship. Both of them thought they were in love, wanted to be in love with one another as they had been crushing so hard in secret for so long but the reality vs the fantasy was very different. Both also had a lot of growing up to do over the series and it was beautiful that they came to the same realization at the same time: They would always love each other and be a part of each other’s lives but only as friends. All my frustration with him melted away at that and, in hindsight, I have to admire how Jillian crafted that relationship.

And I was incredibly happy she chose the right boy because he was perfect for her and with every book I just fell more and more in love with him so I was jumping for joy (even if Keats did give me a heart attack with how she was acting at this part of the story.)

The stalker plotline ended explosively although I think some of those scenes could’ve been a bit more developed but it was great to see Keatyn take control of the situation and take back her life.

Probably the thing I enjoyed most about this series was Keatyn’s development (as well as Aiden because come on, The God of All Hotties!) Keatyn was an immature, spoiled little brat in the first book and she has matured into a responsible, confident young woman who knows what she wants and takes steps to achieve it.

I adored the ending and how Jillian tied in Captive Films and the trilogy on the big screen and I thought it was very cleverly done.

Having read this series now, I can happily recommend it. I loved the angst-driven romance throughout this series and all the love interests were fun even if I was frustrated at certain points. It meanders a bit in some of the books and the stalker aspect could’ve been executed better but for swoony romance and high-school drama, it gets ten out of ten. Overall series rating: 4 stars.

Actual Rating for Get Me – 4.5 stars.

As an aside, I’ve hummed and hawed over whether to comment on the pricing because, as an author myself, I always try to maintain respect in my reviews. I understand how much work goes into writing, publishing, and marketing a book. However, I feel strongly that this series is overpriced and it’s the one thing holding me back from reading the spin-off Captive Films series. I don’t usually read any e-books priced more than £3.99/$4.99 as it’s my cut off point and I only ended up reading this series because I picked up the first three books in a boxset for £5.49. I wish they were cheaper, and my personal belief is the author would sell more books in this series if she lowered the prices a little. I mean no disrespect when I say this.

I did pick up Fame a few months back for 99p so I’m going to read that even though I’m scared it will suck me in like this series did and I won’t be able to stop myself from one-clicking the rest.

Review: Escape from Paradise (Paradise #1) by Gwendolyn Field

Title: Escape from Paradise
Author: Gwendolyn Field
Series: Paradise #1
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Adult Contemporary Romance/ Dark Romance
Links:

Blurb:
When college sophomore Angela Birch sneaks from Texas to Mexico for Spring Break, she believes the worst that can happen is her parents finding out.

Wrong.

The worst is falling for the ruse of handsome, alluring Fernando. One spontaneous choice whisks Angela across the world to the pseudo paradise of Spain’s Mediterranean Riviera where she has another choice to make: live cooperatively as one of billionaire Marco Ruiz’s slaves, or die.

* * *

Colin Douglas’s future was seized and choked when deliberate tragedy struck his Scottish family at the age of sixteen. He spent his remaining youthful years infiltrating the U.K.’s crime world, seeking power, control, and revenge, all leading to a position as an undercover agent. With nothing to lose, Colin accepts the seemingly impossible job of rescuing America’s famous missing girl, Angela Birch. Colin knows that to enter a snake lair, one must become a snake. It turns out to be a mission which will put his desire for control to the ultimate test, and make him wish for things he never knew he wanted.

*AUTHOR’S NOTE* Escape from Paradise is a work of fiction intended for adult readers, containing graphic sexual scenarios and strong language.

My Review:
Disturbingly brilliant. Escape from Paradise is a dark, erotic romance that will not be to everyone’s tastes, but I pretty much inhaled it from cover to cover and had an extremely difficult time putting it down.

I thought the author portrayed the situations very realistically and it was scarily believable. Angela’s survival instincts were strong, and she did what she had to in order to stay alive. I felt her fear and her humiliation as she adjusted to her new reality. It was truly heartbreaking.

I loved Josef – he was a fantastic secondary character and I wish we knew what had happened to him and the others left behind.

Marco was a sick b***ard but his character was fascinating too. He genuinely thought he was doing his slaves a favor by plucking them from their dysfunctional backgrounds.

Fernando deserved to burn in the fiery pits of hell and I so loved the justice meted out to him.

Colin was fantastic and I loved the moral dilemma he went through in Spain and how he battled his own dark side.

And Graham – oh, how I ached for him. I would love to read his story (hint, hint) and if ever a character deserves a HEA it is him.

In summary, this is a well-written, well-paced dark romance and one I would recommend. There are potential triggers and the material is gritty and not always easy to read, but there is no denying how captivating the story is and how invested I became.