Review: Ready to Burn (Due South #3) by Tracey Alvarez

Ready to BurnTitle: Ready to Burn
Author: Tracey Alvarez
Series: Due South #3
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
Love small-town romance with an unforgettable cast of characters? The Due South series will transport you to an unspoilt, wild island of the coast of New Zealand. Meet Shaye and Del…

Take one sassy Harland girl…

Shaye Harland, sous chef de-awesome, desperately wants the role of Due South’s head chef. Though a little out of her depth, she can totally cope with the extra de-mands if she can resist her future brother-in-law when he muscles in on her kitchen. The Hollywood wannabe is nothing but a troublesome distraction and he fries her sex-ometer to a crisp. But as far as romance? Forget it. Love, when she finds Mr. Perfect, will be as sweet as her to-die-for cookies.

Add a bad-boy from LA…

Del Westlake swore he’d never again set foot on the island he calls the “ass end of New Zealand.” With his reputation as a sous chef in one of LA’s hottest restau-rants trashed, and his estranged father’s restaurant needing a head chef, Del wants nothing more than to go in, get the job done, and get out. Except his feisty second-in-command carves herself a spot in his heart and completely incinerates his plans.

Watch the sparks fly as they burn it up in the kitchen…

Winning a spot on a TV reality show is just what Del needs to jumpstart his career back in the States. Nothing can get in the way of him winning—not even the woman whose trust he’d destroy if she discovers his secrets. But with a film crew capturing the explosive kitchen chemistry between them, will his bad-boy ways rear up and ruin his shot at becoming Shaye’s Mr. Perfect?

My Review:
Wow! What a mind-blowing book! Easily my favorite of all the books I’ve read in this series so far.

Ready to Burn has everything I adore in a book: Sublime writing, witty dialog, brilliant character development, stunning world building, strong emotions & relationships, lots of hot, steamy romance, and a fast-paced plot. There is nothing I would fault in the slightest.

Del Westlake has burned his bridges in LA so when an opportunity presents itself to go home, he can’t turn it down. Especially because it may well allow him restart his chef career in Chicago. Del is hiding behind his fair share of demons and it takes a very special lady to crack his nut. (Ahem!)

Shaye has been one of my fav characters in this series to date so I was really looking forward to reading this book. She is warm but sassy, strong yet vulnerable; particularly to Del’s charms.

They spark off each other at the start, and Shaye’s nose is understandably out of joint when she finds out Del has been hired temporarily as Head Chef, a position she believes she can easily fill. However, she quickly falls for Del’s Hollywood bad-boy charm and is soon in deep over her head.

I loved Del and Shaye as a couple and really enjoyed how Del transformed his whole attitude on life by the end of the book, even opening up to his family about the demons that have been torturing him. He was a great leading man.

I also adored the reality-TV theme, it added an interesting dimension to the story.

There was some really funny, laugh out loud moments in this book, like this bit: “Her revenge was squeezing your bum and letting you put a tongue in her ear? Sounds like cruel and unnecessary punishment.”

All in all, a truly amazing read. I’m only sorry I read it so quickly. I wish I could wipe my brain and start over, to relish the enjoyment all over again.

This is an excellent series and I highly recommend it.

Review: Melting into You (Due South #2) by Tracey Alvarez

Melting Into YouTitle: Melting into You
Author: Tracey Alvarez
Series: Due South #2
Rating: 4.5 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
Big, sexy men who don’t relate well to kids need not apply…

Kezia Murphy plays her widow card well. When you don’t trust people not to let you down, it’s easier to not get involved—and getting involved with a man who makes her skin sizzle just by looking at him would be una pazzia—crazy! Four years ago while Kezia’s daughter, Zoe, battled leukaemia, a tragic accident stole her husband’s life. Starting over in the little town of Oban where she’s adopted into the close knit community on Stewart Island, Kezia and her daughter are all the family the other needs. Except Zoe yearns for more.

New Zealand’s worst candidate for instant fatherhood…

Ben doesn’t do gooey emotional stuff. He doesn’t do cosy home and family. And he sure isn’t the big teddy-bear Kezia Murphy, the woman he secretly fantasises about, thinks he is. So when Jade, his surprise eight-year-old daughter arrives on his doorstep, he’s a D-minus student struggling to pass a crash-course in parenting.

They’ll either melt or raze their lives to the ground…

When the sparks of attraction between Kezia and Ben fan into an inferno, Ben doesn’t know how much longer the layers of resistance around his heart can resist melting into the gooey mess he fears. The more he fights it the harder it is to make the choice that will destroy the family he now longs to claim.

My Review:
Melting Into You is a great second book and another wonderful addition to this series.

I really love Tracey’s writing style and the quality is of a very high standard. I enjoy the small tight-knit rural community setting and I think it’s amazing that Tracey can write so many fantastic stories within such a small world. But she pulls it off with aplomb.

Ben Harland is a typical long in the tooth bachelor, a real live Neanderthal Man. He grated on my nerves a bit at the start, but I quickly warmed to him. His progression is heart-warming and I loved his loyalty toward his daughter at the end of the book. The two girls were so cute in this book and it really appealed to my maternal side.

Kezia is battling some pretty big insecurities, and she is terrified of relying on any man again. With Ben’s help and some prodding from her friends, she learns to overcome them.

It’s a beautiful love story – two guarded people opening their hearts and deciding to share a family life together.

Another fantastic read.
Actual Rating: 4.5 Stars

Review: See Me (See Me #1) by Wendy Higgins

See MeTitle: See Me
Author: Wendy Higgins
Series: See Me #1
Rating: 3 stars
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Links:

Blurb:
While most seventeen-year-old American girls would refuse to let their parents marry them off to a stranger, Robyn Mason dreams of the mysterious McKale in Ireland, wondering how he’ll look and imagining his cute Irish accent. Prearranged bindings are common for magical families like her own, however when she travels to the whimsical Emerald Isle she discovers there’s more to her betrothal and McKale’s clan than she was led to believe.

What starts as an obligatory pairing between Robyn and McKale morphs over time into something they both need. But one giant obstacle stands in the way of their budding romance: a seductive and deadly Fae princess accustomed to getting what she wants—and what she wants is McKale as her plaything. Love, desire, and jealousies collide as Robyn’s family and McKale’s clan must work together to outsmart the powerful Faeries and preserve the only hope left for their people.

My Review:
I really wanted to enjoy this book as I adore Wendy’s Sweet Trilogy. Perhaps that’s part of the problem, I had set my expectations too high. This book just didn’t grab me at all. It was still an enjoyable enough read, but not really my cup of tea. It pains me to have to write this review.

The writing is excellent as I’ve come to expect from Wendy, so there wasn’t an issue with the words on the page. I also felt it flowed well and I liked the description of the world; I could clearly visualize the fae and leprechaun worlds.

Cass and Rock made this book for me – they were fun and unpredictable and always up to mischief.

The big issues I had were with the plot and the characters.

I felt that Robyn was very flawed as a character. On the one hand, she is this popular, modern-day, feisty girl who plays football and isn’t afraid to hustle the guys. Yet, she accepts her arranged marriage to a guy she’s never met without question. When they arrive in the leprechaun village, it’s like stepping back into the Dark Ages but apart from one comment about the electricity, she never mentions it again! Realistically she would have struggled to fit in, but that’s not how it pans out.

McKale had no personality and he was in no way sexy or alluring as the male lead. I just couldn’t relate to the attraction between them as there seemed to be no reason for Robyn to fall for him, other than obligation.

The Fae are presented as the evil villains of the piece, yet this was without substance. And the Fae princess falling for gormless McKale? Not believable in the slightest.

The leprechauns are presented as very stereo-typical Irish (Orish) and, as an Irish native, it grated on my nerves at times. Thankfully, early on Wendy made a point of saying how different the leprechauns were to the normal Irish people the characters had met in Dublin Airport. Thank you for making that differentiation Wendy! If you hadn’t I would have given up on this book, but instead I took how the leprechauns spoke and acted as tongue-in-cheek, which I think is how it was intended.

All in all I was disappointed with this book but it won’t stop me picking up another of Wendy’s books. It just wasn’t my thing.If you enjoy folklore-type fantasy then you will most likely enjoy this book.

Review: In Too Deep (Due South #1) by Tracey Alvarez

In too DeepTitle: In Too Deep
Author: Tracey Alvarez
Series: Due South #1
Rating: 4 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
She vowed never to return.

To save her brother from financial ruin, Piper Harland must do the one thing she swore she’d never do—return to the tiny island home-town where Ryan “West” Westlake crushed her heart. Piper is tough, resilient and a little wild—much like the remote and beautiful Stewart Island where she grew up. As a cop who’s part of the elite New Zealand Police National Dive Squad, bringing the dead back to their families still doesn’t stop the guilt she feels over her father’s drowning death. Now nine years later she’s obligated to return to a hostile community as the outsider, and forced to work with the man who was once her best friend and first lover.

She’s a risk he can’t take.

West is an Island man, through and through. As owner of the local pub, he lives and breathes the local community, and sure as hell can’t imagine living anywhere else. But most of all he refuses to ever fall for a woman like his flighty mother. He lost Piper once to give her the chance to fulfil her dreams of becoming a cop. But now she’s back for an unexpected six week visit to help her brother—his best mate. Maybe West wants her a little bit, maybe he can’t resist the temptation to tease and touch her, but can he fall in love with such a flight risk?

Saying goodbye the second time might just destroy them both.

My Review:
I really enjoyed this book and I’m definitely going to continue the series.

I loved the writing, strong characterization and worldbuilding. Initially, I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy a small, rural community setting but the author wrote it so well that you couldn’t help falling in love with the place.

Piper and Ryan (West) have spent years dodging each other and as the story develops we being to understand why. The author skillfully builds longing and angst and I really felt the emotions of both characters. I felt it dragged a little in the middle and I thought I’d die if they didn’t get their act together.

Both characters develop and grow throughout the story and eventually learn to let each other in. It was really sweet and romantic (and there’s plenty of steamy action too!)

The ending was a bit too cheesy for me (though I’m not usually opposed to a bit of cheese)and the only other thing I didn’t like was the slight change in perspective and tense on occasion which was jarring. Minor complaints though. For a debut novel, I think it’s very accomplished, and I look forward to reading more from the author.

Thanks to Tracey Alvarez for running a promo on this book which enabled me to pick up a copy for free. I’ve already downloaded the second installment and I look forward to getting stuck in.

Review: Sweet Reckoning (The Sweet Trilogy #3) by Wendy Higgins

sweet reckoningTitle: Sweet Reckoning
Author: by Wendy Higgins
Series: The Sweet Trilogy #3
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Links:

Blurb:
It’s time.

Evil is running rampant and sweet Anna Whitt is its target. Nobody knows when or how the Dukes will strike, but Anna and her Nephilim allies will do anything necessary to rid the earth of the demons and their oppressive ways.

The stakes are higher than ever, and Anna is determined that the love she feels will be her strength, not a liability. But trying to protect the ones she loves while running for her life and battling demonic forces proves to be perilous—especially as faces are changing and trust is fleeting. When the Duke of Lust sends Anna’s great love, Kaidan Rowe, to work against her, Anna must decide how much she’s prepared to risk.

In the most sensual and fast-paced installment yet, Sweet Reckoning brings all the beloved Neph together one last time to fight for their freedom.

My Review:
OMG. Incredible. Love Kaidan Rowe. Feel like crying now that it’s all over. Can’t wait for Sweet Temptation.

That pretty much sums up how I feel right about now. I’ve had the life sucked out of me and some. I really wasn’t ready for this to be over.

What an epic ending for an epic series.

In Sweet Reckoning, the underlying message is that love truly does conquer all. Kaidan and Anna are properly united as a couple and it’s equally sweet and hot as hell. That group dinner in Patti’s house! OMG, I was in convulsions at Kaidan’s inability to keep it in his pants. It was laugh-out- loud funny.

Kaidan and Anna have to act as enemies in order to keep the Duke of Lust off their scent. These scenes are brilliantly written – really spot on.

Anna is brave in the face of danger and really grows up in this book; the last vestiges of childhood wiped away.

We get to see a lot more of Ginger, Blake, and Marna in this book and I loved all of them.

The ending is so bittersweet, heartbreaking as much as heartwarming. And how amazingly perfect was that epilog? Kaidan is finally able to come to terms with his past and properly lay his demons to rest.

I feel totally bereft now, which is how I always feel when I have to say goodbye to a fab series. I honestly don’t know how I can wait until September to read Kaidan’s book.

Love this author and this series. Can’t wait to read more of her work.

If you haven’t checked out this series, then you need to do so – pronto!

Review: Sweet Peril (The Sweet Trilogy #2) by Wendy Higgins

Sweet PerilTitle: Sweet Peril
Author: Wendy Higgins
Series: The Sweet Trilogy #2
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Links:

Blurb:
Anna Whitt, the daughter of a guardian angel and a demon, promised herself she’d never do the work of her father—polluting souls. She’d been naive to make such a vow. She’d been naive about a lot of things.

Haunted by demon whisperers, Anna does whatever she can to survive, even if it means embracing her dark side and earning an unwanted reputation as her school’s party girl. Her life has never looked more bleak. And all the while there’s Kaidan Rowe, son of the Duke of Lust, plaguing her heart and mind.

When an unexpected lost message from the angels surfaces, Anna finds herself traveling the globe with Kopano, son of Wrath, in an attempt to gain support of fellow Nephilim and give them hope for the first time. It soon becomes clear that whatever freedoms Anna and the rest of the Neph are hoping to win will not be gained without a fight. Until then, Anna and Kaidan must put aside the issues between them, overcome the steamiest of temptations yet, and face the ultimate question: is loving someone worth risking their life?

My Review:
Sweet Peril picks up in the months after Sweet Evil and we witness a totally new side to Anna. Forced to work, in order to keep up appearances, she has become quite the party girl, the lifeblood of her school social scene.

Anna still pines for Kaidan Rowe though he won’t have anything to do with her. It’s heart-breaking, even though you know he is only staying away because he thinks it’s the right thing to do. He crops up in a few minor scenes in the first half of the book but I missed him terribly, and I was so happy when I kicked into the second half of the story and he was a regular feature.

The first part of the book is largely taken up with Kope and Anna jet-setting around the world to gather more allies. The prophecy has been revealed and the Neph finally have a chance at reclaiming their lives and ridding the world of all demons. It’s not without danger and they need to stay one step ahead of the Dukes at all times.

We learn more about the other Nephs in this book and I particularly warmed to Blake (he’s a riot) and Marna (she’s a sweetheart). The family connection is still strong, which I love, although I was shocked at her dad’s actions. Surely a man who has spent years pining for his true love wouldn’t do that to his own daughter?!

When Kaidan and Anna finally open their hearts to one another I felt like getting up and dancing a jig! Yay! Sorry, but I didn’t feel any compassion for Kope, nice guy, but he was never going to get the girl.

All in all another fantastic read from Wendy Higgins – accomplished writing, brilliant execution.

The only issue I have now is that Kaidan Rowe is pushing for a No. 1 spot on my book boyfriend list. It’s starting to get real competitive at the top and I don’t know how I’m going to choose. (It’s not like I can bump Edward, Aiden St. Delphi or Roth off the podium.)Nice dilemma! He! he!

Blog Tour: Songbird by Sydney Logan

Sydney Logan Songbird Release Day Banner
Today is my stop during the blog tour for Songbird by Sydney Logan. I share my review with you, an excerpt and there’s a tour wide giveaway!

Songbird ebookTitle: Songbird
Author: Sydney Logan
Series: standalone
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
One bridesmaid. One groomsman. One classic wedding hookup.
But for Callie and Devin, their weekend of passion is anything but typical.

Callie Franklin doesn’t do one night stands.

Ever.

She’s far too responsible and focused on her career to ever let herself give in to temptation. But, on the eve of her best friend’s wedding, she meets that temptation . . .

And his name is Devin McAllister.

Devin, on the other hand, has no problem with meaningless hookups. The very last thing he needs—or wants—is a relationship.

Relationships come with strings.

Relationships come with heartbreak.

A late-night encounter in the hotel’s piano bar finds the two unable to resist each other. With her angelic voice and bright blue eyes, Devin’s sure he’s never met anyone as beautiful as his Songbird.

Six weeks later, when two pink lines confirm Callie’s worst fears, she and Devin have to face the consequences of their wild weekend.

And they have to deal with each other—whether they like it or not.

With a love story that’s far from traditional, Callie and Devin begin to wonder if their one-night stand could turn into something neither of them anticipated.

A happily ever after.

Songbird Sydney Logan Launch Day Price

My Review:
This is a beautifully written love story that really tugged at my heart strings.

Devin is a commitment-phobic player with a successful law practice. Since his twin sister died when they were fifteen he has struggled to let anyone in, and he certainly hasn’t given anyone a piece of his heart. A chance encounter with Callie changes all that.

Callie is Devins opposite in many ways. She doesn’t indulge in one-night stands but her and Devin are inexplicably drawn to one another and they quickly cave to their mutual attraction.

At her friends wedding the next day, she realizes he is the errant groomsman that has been missing, and they end up spending the night of the wedding together as well.

When she falls pregnant, she is gobsmacked but determined to do the right thing by her baby. Devin receives the shock of his life when she first tells him and he doesn’t react well. Once he’s had time to recover, he tries to make it up to her, but she has shut him out. The rest of the book is the story of how they slowly let each other in and discover a love that was always meant to be.

While their love may be unconventional, it is sweet and romantic and I loved reading every moment of it.

I kept waiting for some big drama, or some major curveballs – certainly with Dominic and Nina, there were options to really milk the suspense – but the author didn’t do that, and I loved her for it. Instead, this is a simple, sweet tale of two people opening up their hearts and falling in love. It’s also a story about family and friendships, and overcoming long instilled fears and pre-conceived notions.

Callie’s mom has been bitter since she got pregnant with her at 17. Some of her warped ideals have twisted Callies perception of men, marriage, and the world in general. However, with the help of Devin and her friends, she is able to make her own decisions, and learns to trust her own instincts. I loved her dad. What a sweet man, and the opening scene where we meet him was very funny.

It’s hard as a reader not to fall in love with Devin. He starts out being a total ass but once he lets his barriers down, and learns to keep his controlling ways on a leash, he was perfect leading man material. His tender love and care of Callie was swoonworthy.

I was gripped from the very first page. I started reading it late at night only intending to read a few chapters but I stayed up until 3am and finished it in one go. I was so engrossed I just couldn’t put it down.

I love Sydney’s writing style and the words flowed beautifully on the page. As this is a character driven story, the character development was superb. She really got under both Devin and Callies skin and I properly understood what made them tick. I felt a strong emotional connection to them and their story. I honestly can’t fault this book at all. What an amazing read. I think I’ll be adding Syndey Logan to my list of favorite authors, and I look forward to checking out more of her work.

Thanks to the author and Inkslinger PR for providing an ARC of this book for review in exchange for my honest opinion.

Excerpt:
Traffic’s insane, but I finally make it to Callie’s apartment just after two. I anxiously knock on the door, ridiculously eager to get my hands on her. Maybe she’ll be wearing some flimsy lingerie. Maybe she’ll be naked. My mind’s busy conjuring all the possibilities when she opens the door . . . wearing a sweatshirt and jeans.
“Hey,” she says softly, stepping aside to let me in.
“Hey. You okay?”
She looks pale as a ghost. Is she sick? She looks sick. Maybe I should call an ambulance. Or my dad.
“I’m okay.” Callie leads me over to the sofa. “Look, Devin, I know you probably have some plans for us for tonight, but that won’t be happening.”
“Oh.” Disappointment floods me, but if the nauseated look on her face is any indication, it’s probably best. Besides, there’s the next night. And the next.
“But we need to talk, so I’m glad you’re here. I have something I need to tell you.” She abruptly jumps to her feet and walks toward her kitchen. “Would you like something to drink?”
I can’t tell if she’s being a good hostess or simply stalling, but I ask for a beer. It looks like I’m gonna need it. I hadn’t pegged her for the kind of woman who needs to talk about her feelings.
When she returns to the living room, Callie hands me a bottle and sits down next to me. I notice she only brought one.
“You’re not drinking?”
She curls her feet beneath her. “Unfortunately, no. I won’t be drinking for a long time.”
I’ve had it with the riddles.
“All right, what’s going on? My brother and his girlfriend threatened to murder me if I make you cry. Something’s obviously up with you because you just want to talk.”
Her forehead creases. “Don’t you ever just talk to a woman?”
“Not if I can help it.”
“Why not? The girls you usually date don’t have enough sense to carry on an intelligent conversation?”
“I don’t date, Callie.”
“I see. You just sleep with them.”
“Sometimes. Is there something wrong with that?”
“And are you careful?”
“Careful?”
“Safe,” she says softly. “We didn’t use protection. I just wondered if that’s typical for you.”
Oh. It’d be easy to blame the alcohol, but honestly, using protection was the very last thing on my mind that night.
“No, that’s not typical. I’m sorry about that.”
“So am I.”
Callie seems far more relaxed after my apology. Maybe this night won’t be an epic failure after all. I slide closer to her, but she raises her hand in warning.
“We’re not finished.”
I groan and lean back against the couch.
“Devin, I need you to listen. Something happened that weekend. I’m almost positive you won’t want to sleep with me after you hear what I’m about to say.”
“I seriously doubt that.”
“I don’t.” Callie sits up a little straighter and squares her shoulders. “I want you to know I expect nothing from you. Our weekend together was a mistake, and I’ll deal with the consequences of it. I don’t know exactly what I’m going to do at this point, but I thought you should at least know what’s going on.”
“What’s going on?”
Her eyes flood with tears.
“Devin, I’m pregnant.”
Pregnant.
Pregnant?
I stare at her. She stares at me. I watch her closely, hoping that at any moment she’s going to burst out laughing.
But she’s not laughing. She’s crying.
I hear Lorie’s voice in my suddenly throbbing head.
Don’t make her cry.
“Why . . . why are you telling me?”
She wipes her eyes. “What do you mean?”
“You’re assuming it’s mine?”
“Of course it’s yours!”
I snort. “Really? How can you be so sure? Maybe it was that bartender in the hotel’s piano bar. Or maybe it was the guy who sat with you at the reception. Or maybe—just maybe—it was the photographer you were with tonight. You two seem pretty close.”
Even as the bitter words drip off my tongue, I know better. Her face is just too furious . . . her eyes too heartbroken.
Suddenly, Callie stops crying. Her eyes flash with fury just seconds before she slaps me across the face.
Despite the ringing in my ears, I can hear my brother’s warning.
Don’t be an asshole tonight.
Too late.

Sydney Logan Bio Pic jpgAbout the Author:
Amazon best-selling author Sydney Logan holds a Master’s degree in Elementary Education. She is the author of five novels – Lessons Learned, Mountain Charm, Soldier On, Once Upon a December, and Pros & Cons. Sydney has also penned several short stories and is a contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul.

A native of East Tennessee, Sydney enjoys playing piano and relaxing on her porch with her wonderful husband and their very spoiled cat.

Visit her website at www.sydneylogan.com.

Links:

There’s a tour wide giveaway, for a chance to win enter the rafflecopter below:

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Blog Tour: Desperate Chances (Bad Rep #4) by A. Meredith Walters

dpbannertour
Today is my stop during the blog tour for Desperate Chances (Bad Rep #4) by A. Meredith Walters. I’ll share my review of this book with you and there’s an excerpt.

badrepseriesbanner

DC AmazonGRSWTitle: Desperate Chances
Author: A. Meredith Walters
Series: Bad Rep #4
Rating: 4.5 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
Sex changes everything.

And love can turn into an enemy…

Mitch Abrams, the bassist for the popular rock band Generation Rejects, has been in love with Gracie Cook for years. But Gracie, a complicated girl with a lot of baggage, was too blind to see how she felt about the man who had always stood by her.

Until one night of passion brought them closer than they had ever been before.

Feeling off balance and out of control, Gracie does the only thing a girl with self-destructive tendencies can do: end things with Mitch before they can really begin.

So Mitch moves on. With his band, his friends, and a new girlfriend.

Yet he can’t seem to forget about the girl who threw his heart away.

Gracie, who is still struggling to build a life after crashing to the bottom, finds it hard to forget about her one night with Mitch. And even as she tries to convince herself it was only sex, her heart knows differently.

But life is full of chances and desperate moments. And when Mitch and Gracie are thrown back into each other’s lives, will they seize at the opportunity to do things right?

Or will the rock star and the less than ordinary girl crash and burn?

DC teaser cover photo

My Review:
Well, that was an enthralling read! My first A. Meredith Walters book, but most definitely not my last.

Mitch and Gracie have been BFFs for years. He has always been in love with her, and her with him, but she was too wasted to notice until it was too late.

Gracie is battling some monstrous demons – alcoholism, anorexia and an interfering mom who appears to be at the root of a lot of her issues. Gracie struggles to stand up to her and allows her mother to boss her around like she’s a little kid. I loved how, in the end, she was strong enough to stand her ground and fight to be treated appropriately.

Gracie has been to rehab and she’s making a concerted effort to sort her life out. She has a new part-time writing job, is sharing an apartment with one of her oldest and dearest girlfriends, and she’s trying to wash Mitch right out of her hair. But it’s damned hard, because she remembers how amazing their one-night stand was, and his admission of love has imprinted on her heart and her soul. She knows now that she loves him too, but it’s too late because Mitch has been dating Sophie for the last year and Gracie feels like she has lost her HEA.

Sophie is a total drip and she has never fitted in with the band or made much of an effort to. Now, one part of me understands it, but seriously, the girl has no self-respect. Everyone can see that Mitch still loves Gracie yet Sophie clings to him like a wet limpet. Pathetic.

Mitch is a great guy, but he’s a douche for the way he treats Sophie. He knows she isn’t the one for him yet he continues to string her along. He lost some brownie points for that.

This book is awash with angst and heartache and I just lapped it all up. I enjoyed the world-building and it was sad to see how the band’s dreams pretty much imploded overnight. Character development was superb, and though I haven’t read the other books in the series (yet) I didn’t feel like I missed out. Backstory was adequately filled in and I got to know all the characters and their distinct personas . The writing is excellent and it flowed smoothly – there weren’t’ any sections that I felt were repetitive, unnecessary, or rushed.

Overall this was a fantastic read and I look forward to checking out more of this author’s work in the future.
Actual rating 4.5.

DC teaser pic #1

Excerpt:
I realized I was staring. Mitch knew I was staring.

So of course he purposefully gave his girlfriend his attention, his body angled towards me but his head bent low so that his face was close to Sophie’s. He pushed the hair back off her forehead. His eyes were on her face and he gave her soft smile that I recognized only too well.

A smile that I had thought, at one time, was only for me.

Get over it, Gracie! It’s been a year! What did you think would happen? That he’d pine over you forever? Get a grip!

I started to turn away when Mitch looked back towards me, his eyes locking on mine.

I forgot how to breathe.

My heart thudded almost painfully in my chest.

My mouth went dry and my hands began to tremble. A need that I had almost forgotten about thrummed through my body. My belly tightened and my nipples hardened. The air hummed and sizzled. I was altered completely. Just by a look.

How had I never felt this electricity between us before? The answer was obvious.

I had been totally blind. I hadn’t wanted to see it. Because if I had acknowledged it, everything would have changed. And at that time I couldn’t handle that. The truth was I had been absolutely terrified.

Maysie squeezed my arm but I barely felt it. Jordan was still talking but I didn’t hear him.

All I could see was Mitch.

All Mitch could see was me.

We were locked in a stand off, neither of us moving.

All too soon he broke our intense staring contest. He bent down and kissed his girlfriend almost angrily. It was a harsh press of lips that seemed to take Sophie by surprise. She wrapped her arms around Mitch and held him tenderly even as he ground his mouth against hers.

I looked away. I could barely breathe around the lump sitting painfully in the middle of my chest. A pain that I knew to be jealousy.

And regret.

DC teaser pic #2

ameredithwaltersAbout the Author:
The New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Contemporary and Paranormal romance including The Find You in the Dark and Bad Rep series as well as the upcoming stand alone romance, Reclaiming the Sand, and a dark new adult series for Gallery Books.

A. Meredith spent ten years as a counselor for at risk teens and children. First working at a Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault program and then later a program for children with severe emotional and mental health issues. Her former clients and their stories continue to influence every aspect of her writing.

When not writing (or being tortured with all manner of beauty products at the hand of her very imaginative and extremely girly daughter), she is eating chocolate, watching reality television that could rot your brain and reading a smutty novel or two.

A. Meredith is represented by Michelle Johnson with the Inklings Literary Agency.

Links:

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Review: Sweet Evil (The Sweet Trilogy #1) by Wendy Higgins

Sweet EvilTitle: Sweet Evil
Author: Wendy Higgins
Series: The Sweet Trilogy #1
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Links:

Blurb:
Embrace the Forbidden

What if there were teens whose lives literally depended on being bad influences?

This is the reality for sons and daughters of fallen angels.
Tenderhearted Southern girl Anna Whitt was born with the sixth sense to see and feel emotions of other people. She’s aware of a struggle within herself, an inexplicable pull toward danger, but it isn’t until she turns sixteen and meets the alluring Kaidan Rowe that she discovers her terrifying heritage and her willpower is put to the test. He’s the boy your daddy warned you about. If only someone had warned Anna.

Forced to face her destiny, will Anna embrace her halo or her horns?

My Review:
Anna Whitt has always known she is different. Raised by her protective adopted mom, Patti, Anna has led a pretty sheltered life. She is good, kind and sweet with huge compassion for others. Yet, she struggles with an inexplicable inner pull towards alcohol and drugs.

When she meets bad-boy ‘man-slut’ rocker, Kaidan Rowe, her life turns upside down in a flash. Kaidan helps her come to terms with who she really is and in the process she falls deeply in love with him. Kaidan blows hot and cold and she never knows how he feels about her.

Thrust into a world of angels, demons and Nephilim, Anna has to keep her wits about her if she is to survive this new reality. When she reconnects with her dad, she is strengthened by the force of his love and support. One of the things I loved most about this series was the importance of family and it was refreshing to see a strong mother and father figure.

This book sucked me in immediately and held my attention the entire time. I adored Wendy’s writing style and there are some really sweet romantic moments and some laugh out loud funny parts.

I loved Kaidan’s sharp British wit and his all round sexiness. It’s a little disturbing to learn what he has to do for ‘work’ but Wendy never glamorizes it.

All in all this was a fantastic read and I’m looking forward to continuing this series.

Footnote: In the Lux series, Kat and Daemon take on fake identities in the name of Anna Whitt and Kaidan Rowe. I was intrigued enough by this mention to check out this series. I’m so glad I did. I guess I now have something else to thank Jennifer L. Armentrout for!

Review: Falling Sky (Blue Phoenix #2) by Lisa Swallow

falling skyTitle: Falling Sky
Author: Lisa Swallow
Series: Blue Phoenix #2
Rating: 4 stars
Genres: contemporary romance
Links:

Blurb:
Sky’s world turned upside down when she met rock star Dylan Morgan, and exploded when she discovered his hidden past.

Four months after Sky learns Dylan’s devastating secret, she’s trying to piece her life back together. Without an explanation from Dylan, Sky has no choice but to try and forget him.

Dragged back into the life he ran from, Dylan continues to spiral downwards as he copes with his fame the only way he knows how. Shattered by the revelation Sky knows his darker past, he forces himself to return to England and explain.

Sky and Dylan reconnect, attempting to build on the shaky foundations of their summer. But the outside world continues to conspire against them.

Taking place in the epicentre of the Blue Phoenix world, Sky and Dylan’s story continues amongst the chaos surrounding the band and its members.

My Review:
I raced through this second installment, eager to know how things would end up for Sky and Dylan. I loved how both of them matured and developed as characters and how their relationship changed from being a sort of ‘crutch’ to a true partnership.

I still love this author’s writing though there were parts of the dialog that felt unnatural. Personally, I believe she missed a couple of plot opportunities, especially with Lily and Sky’s break-in. (Partly because I just don’t want their story to end.)

The last quarter of the book I was waiting for something climactic to happen but it didn’t. It was only at the end that I realized this is the last story centering on Sky and Dylan and I’m pretty heartbroken because I am not ready to say goodbye to them yet.

I’ve no interest in reading Liam’s book. We barely got to hear from him in Book 1 & 2 so I don’t feel any connection to him and Honey is just uugghh – a stereotypical gold-digger. I won’t be checking out that book, however, I’m really interested to read Jem’s story. He was a really interesting character – flawed, troubled and majorly hitting the self-destruct button.

Overall, this was a great read and this is a gem of a series.