Review: As She Fades by Abbi Glines

Title: As She Fades
Author: Abbi Glines
Series: standalone
Rating: 4 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
On the night of her high school graduation, Vale McKinley and her boyfriend Crawford are in a terrible car accident that leaves Crawford in a coma. They were supposed to spend the summer planning for college, for a bright future full of possibility. Together. Instead, Vale spends long days in the hospital, hoping Crawford will awaken.

Slate Allen, a college friend of Vale’s brother, has been visiting his dying uncle at the same hospital. When he and Vale meet, she can’t deny the flutter of an illicit attraction. She tries to ignore her feelings, but she’s not immune to Slate’s charm. Slowly, they form a cautious friendship.

Then, Crawford wakes up . . . with no memory of Vale or their relationship. Heartbroken, Vale opts to leave for college and move on with her life. Except now, she’s in Slate’s territory, and their story is about to take a very strange turn.

My Review:
Absolutely loved this except the end was far too abrupt, and it feels like I don’t have closure. Happy I guessed the twist, and it was genius. The blurb really drew me in and it had the right level of angst and drama to keep this reader happy, just wish the ending was different.

Also, I’m wondering why the end paragraph of the blurb is there as it’s technically not correct. I’m wondering if the story was maybe written like that first, and was later changed. It was actually that part of the blurb that really hooked me. I can’t help thinking of how angsty that would’ve been. Maybe she’ll do a Jessica Sorensen on it and write a different version of the same story with a different Part 2 – would love to read that!

Review: Discovering Alexis: Truths & Lies (Bad Boy Rebels Book 7) by Jessica Sorensen

Title: Discovering Alexis: Truths & Lies
Author: Jessica Sorensen
Series: Bad Boy Rebels Book 7
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
My name is Alexis and up until a day ago, I thought the worst thing that ever happened to me was catching Blaine and Masie kissing. Boy was I wrong. Like really, really wrong. Now my life is filled with crazy hackers, dirty lies, and three hot guys trying to protect me. And who knows what tomorrow will bring.

My Review:
I LOVED this volume and I’m enjoying Alexis’ character way better than Zharas. The boys aren’t quite as captivating as the boys in Zhara’s harem, but West and Steel are smokin’ hot and very intriguing. Ellis not so much. This one was a fantastic read, plenty of laughs, sexual tension, and mystery. Initially, I was peeved that the story was splitting between Zhara and Alexis but after this volume, I really don’t mind. I hate that they are so short because I’m so stuck into it and then, bam, it’s over. Aaggh! I’m hungry for more even though I can’t really complain as I’ve read these all back to back.

Totally addicted to this series – I need more like, yesterday, lol. Please tell me the next volume is coming soon? Can’t get these guys out of my head!

Review: Discovering Zhara: Sweet Lies & Kisses (Bad Boy Rebels #6) by Jessica Sorensen

Title: Discovering Zhara: Sweet Lies & Kisses
Author: Jessica Sorensen
Series: Bad Boy Rebels #6
Rating: 4 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
My name is Zhara and my life is filled with drug lords, threats, lies, secrets, and kissing…
It’s making separating my real life with my undercover life complicated.

The Bad Boy Rebels series is a novella series that follows Zhara and six guys who are part of a secret detective program. It contains a lot of kissing, steamy scenes, with a bit of suspense, and mystery.

My Review:
5 hawt stars for all the gorgeous, interesting guys but 3 stars for the gullible heroine, weak premise, and plot holes. That said, Zhara is growing on me as she becomes more forthright but the premise behind the story is not believable and I’m consistently rolling my eyes at how she has to “prove” she’s dating six guys. There is no credible reason for it or the fact that others are demanding proof. But, I really enjoy the detective agency side of it and the mystery is intriguing, and I’m one hundred percent invested now.

And that scene with Benton and Xavier was hot (even if ridiculous that they were asked to do it.) Hoping for steamier scenes as it progresses and I’m definitely loving the RH aspect.

Wish I knew when the next Zhara episode was out, but Jessica is very prolific and she releases quickly so I’m confident we won’t have to wait too long. Usually, I’m not a fan of serials like this but I’m really enjoying this one (complaints aside.)

Review: Coming Up for Air (Hundred Oaks) by Miranda Kenneally

Title: Coming Up for Air
Author: Miranda Kenneally
Series: Hundred Oaks
Rating: 4 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
Swim. Eat. Shower. School. Snack. Swim. Swim. Swim. Dinner. Homework. Bed. Repeat.

All of Maggie’s focus and free time is spent swimming. She’s not only striving to earn scholarships—she’s training to qualify for the Olympics. It helps that her best friend, Levi, is also on the team and cheers her on. But Levi’s already earned an Olympic tryout, so Maggie feels even more pressure to succeed. And it’s not until Maggie’s away on a college visit that she realizes how much of the “typical” high school experience she’s missed by being in the pool.

Not one to shy away from a challenge, Maggie decides to squeeze the most out of her senior year. First up? Making out with a guy. And Levi could be the perfect candidate. After all, they already spend a lot of time together. But as Maggie slowly starts to uncover new feelings for Levi, how much is she willing to sacrifice in the water to win at love?

My Review:
Combine high school romance, best friends turned lovers, and a competitive sports environment and you have one heck of a great read!

I chose to read Catching Jordan and Stealing Parker just before I read this book as I wanted to familiarize myself with the Hundred Oaks series and with Miranda’s writing. While I enjoyed both those books, I felt they were lacking on the romance front and I didn’t like the fact that our couple only got together at the end. Coming up for Air was a vastly superior read, for me, because the romance was much better written and I loved how our couple got involved at a much earlier point in the story.

I adored both Maggie and Levi and was rooting for them from the start. Both are very focused on a future career in swimming and very dedicated to their craft with one key difference. Levi has regular hook-ups to alleviate stress where Maggie has barely even kissed any boys. When she proposed that Levi “coach” her so she was better prepared for college it was obvious the way this was going to go. I didn’t mind that though, and I enjoy that trope so I happily went along for the ride. What I didn’t like was how Levi used that evil witch to help push Maggie away and I was screaming at my Kindle in blind rage at that scene. Maggie was the more mature of the two even if she was way more inexperienced than him. She knew better than to treat her best friend that way.

Miranda seems to excel at abrupt ends that leave you scratching your head, and this book was no different to the others I’ve read in this series. I hated that it ended so suddenly and I don’t feel like I have proper closure which is the only reason this is a four-star rather than five-star review. I did enjoy the epilogue in Sam Henry’s narrative and it explained a little more but I wish the ending wasn’t so rushed.

Overall though, this was a superb read. It gave me all the feels and I adored the setting, the characters, the best friends to lovers trope, the writing and the pacing was spot on.

I look forward to reading other titles in this series at some stage.

Thanks to the publisher for supplying an ARC of this book via Netgalley. I have voluntarily reviewed same and all opinions expressed are entirely my own.

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: Love Me (The Keatyn Chronicles #4) by Jillian Dodd

Title: Love Me
Author: Jillian Dodd
Series: The Keatyn Chronicles #4
Rating: 4 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
My mom says that you can’t love someone until you learn to love yourself.
So even though Vincent is getting more and more scary.
Even though he’s doing a nationwide search for me.
I’m going to learn to love myself.

Well, I’m going to try.
Mostly, I want a boy to love me.
But which one?

Dawson – The gorgeous boy who made a mistake, but whose molten lava kisses and steaminess I can’t freaking resist.
or
Aiden – The God of all Hotties, who is practically infused with love potion. Who I thought liked me, but now says he wants to be my friend.
or
Brooklyn – The boy that first stole my heart. Who has always loved me. Well, until the whole cabana incident.

I mean, it was bad enough when there was sort of a love triangle, but now that I’m talking to B again, it’s like I’m in a love rectangle, or a rhombus, or something.

Oh, and did I mention Cooper Steele?
The new soccer coaching, health teaching, tattooed hunk?
Who Garrett sent to school to guard my body.
I mean, be my bodyguard.

But back to loving me.
I should forget about boys and worry about me.
Love me.
Like, eventually.

My Review:
I had a love-hate relationship with this book and I have a severe case of literary whiplash after reading it. Keatyn really frustrated me with her indecisiveness in this book and her inability to choose between Dawson and Aiden. I mean, it was totally obvious she should pick Aiden but it took her forever to get to that place. I felt so bad for Aiden – he was doing everything right and still having to watch her run from his arms to Dawson’s. I totally get that you can be crushing on more than one boy at a time, and I don’t have an issue with that, but I did have an issue with her kissing one and sleeping with another at the same time. Then B comes back into the mix and it got even more tangled. Despite my frustration with Keatyn, there is no denying this book was full of angsty drama and swoony romance and it’s annoyingly addictive. I’m totally rooting for Aiden now and I hope she ends up with him.

Again, the stalker plot is not really doing it for me but there are indications that she’s going to try and take back control of her life in the next book so I’m hoping this aspect of the story gets the development it needs as the series progresses.

Now, onto Adore Me.

Review: The Keatyn Chronicles: Books 1-3 by Jillian Dodd

Title: The Keatyn Chronicles: Books 1-3
Author: Jillian Dodd
Series: The Keatyn Chronicles #1-3
Rating: 4 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
Keatyn’s crazy life comes together in one perfect script in this special combined addition of the first three books in The Keatyn Chronicles.

Book 1 – Stalk Me Keatyn’s life is following the script she wrote for the perfect high school experience. She’s popular, goes to the best parties, dates the hottest guy, and sits at the most-coveted lunch table. But she’s thinking about giving it all up to date an adorable surfer. So she writes a new script. One where all the pieces of her life come together in perfect harmony. But little does she know, there’s someone who will do anything to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Book 2 – Kiss Me Keatyn’s always written scripts for her perfect life. But she never would have scripted this. She’s now at a boarding school, where she has new challenges to face. Like tutoring a hottie god that tortures her with his smile. And having the most popular girl hate her because of a guy. So she’s decided to stop trying to script her life and just live it. Because who knows how long she has left.

Book 3 – Date Me Keatyn’s giving up scripting her life. Sort of. She’s done with the God of all Hotties. She’s going to give her heart to the boy whose kisses are hotter than molten lava and who asked her to Homecoming in a big, crazy way. Because there’s so much to look forward to. Parties at the Cave. Homecoming festivities. Drama Tryouts. Shopping trips to NY. But things aren’t as perfect as they seem. She knows he’s still out there and getting more desperate. And even though she wants to pretend she’ll never see him again, she knows she will. And she’s afraid that this time, she might not get away.

My Review:
Book one finished – actual rating 3.5 stars. This book was hugely entertaining and it had me laughing out loud at the absurdity of it. I had literary whiplash keeping up with Keatyn’s changing feelings over the boys, but, you know what, I think it captured those teenage hormonally-fueled decisions and the enormous indecision as you are struggling to find your identity and your place in the world. It’s over the top drama and sexualization and all the conversations with her parents and their friends were totally unrealistic but I just laughed my ass off because I think the author wants you to take it tongue-in-cheek, so I did. Cush was great until he acted like an asshole, but, I forgave him. I blew hot and cold on Brooklyn – I did want them together at the start, and part of me is still hoping he’s her forever love, but he frustrated the hell out of me in this one because he did string her along and it wasn’t fair. Ultimately, I feel he’s too mature for Keatyn, and also not ready for a committed relationship. She’s still got a lot of growing up to do, and her behavior and inner monologue had me tearing my hair out at times. The writing is decent and the little scripts were fun. The reason this isn’t rated higher is because the plot was so weak and there were holes and it took all of two seconds to figure out who the stalker was. For a movie star’s daughter, Keatyn was ridiculously naive and quite juvenile at time. Loved the change of scenery at the end and new hot boys to drool over (I’m totally shallow like that.) Despite my issues with the plot, it was a hoot reading this book and I’m glad I bought this box set so I can get stuck into the next book. Overall, a decent start to a fun, light-hearted, entertaining series.

Book 2 – Loved the change of scenery in this one and the introduction to Dawson, Riley, Dallas, and the God of all hotties, Aidan. Keatyn is very indecisive at the start and it wasn’t cool that she was dancing and flirting wtih Aidan while having sex with Dawes. I totally buy the fact that you can have feelings for different boys at the same time, especially as a teenager, but acting on those feelings is another matter entirely. And, B is majorly in my bad books now – how could he do that to her? I wanted to strangle him. I thought he was going to end up her forever love and now I’m hoping he doesn’t cos he’s a total jackass. Loving her and Dawson and hoping they last the difference even though Aidan is totally swoon worthy. 4 stars

Book 3 – I was glad when Keatyn made a decision, drew a line on what was and wasn’t appropriate, and became a couple with Dawes. I was really loving how amazing he was for her until the end – WTF? I wanted to jump into my Kindle and throttle him and give her a big hug. The stalker plotline is weak and very much secondary and I wish it was better developed because I don’t feel the fear or tension. Character development was good in this one, especially with Keatyn and Aidan, and I love how she’s besties with Dallas and Riley – they are a great team. I’m invested in this series because of the romance. I love that there are several love interests once it doesn’t cross a line. And I loved that ending. Seriously, Keatyn is so dense that she didn’t realize that. Really hoping she ditches D and starts dating Aidan in the next book. Dawson doesn’t deserve to be forgiven. 4 stars.

Review: The Vincent Boys (The Vincent Boys #1) by Abbi Glines

Title: The Vincent Boys
Author: Abbi Glines
Series: The Vincent Boys #1
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
Ashton is getting tired of being good, of impressing her parents and playing ideal girlfriend to Sawyer Vincent. Sawyer is perfect, a regular Prince Charming, but when he leaves town for the summer, it’s his cousin Beau who catches Ashton’s eye. Beau is the sexiest guy she’s ever seen, and even though he’s dangerous, Ashton is drawn to him.

Beau loves his cousin like a brother, so the last thing he wants to do is make a move on Sawyer’s girl. Ashton is off-limits, absolutely. That’s why he does his best to keep his distance, even though he’s been in love with her forever. When Ashton wants to rekindle their childhood friendship in Sawyer’s absence, Beau knows he should say no.

Ashton and Beau don’t want to hurt Sawyer. But the more they try to stay away from each other, the more intense their urges become. It’s getting way too hard to resist….

My Review:
This was everything my angsty-romance loving heart desired. Three besties and one messy love triangle. Hated that they cheated but, as the story unraveled we discover that Sawyer pretty much cheated both of them too. Beau is to die for – no wonder Ash couldn’t keep her hands off him! He was so protective of her, and I was completely swooning. The writing and pacing is great and it was a relatively quick read. Interested in reading Sawyer and Lana’s story as I want to see him get his HEA even if he was an ass to Ash in school during that week of hell. He was hurting, so it’s understandable.

Review: Did I Mention I Need You? (The DIMILY Trilogy #2) by Estelle Maskame

Title: Did I Mention I Need You?
Author: Estelle Maskame
Series: The DIMILY Trilogy #2
Rating: 4 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
It’s been a year since eighteen-year-old Eden Munro last saw Tyler Bruce: her stepbrother…and her secret love. Although they called time on their forbidden relationship for the sake of their family, Eden can’t help but feel excited when Tyler invites her to join him in New York City for the summer.

Anyway, Eden is happy with her boyfriend Dean, and surely Tyler has moved on too. But as they spend a long, hot summer in the excitement of the city that never sleeps, it soon becomes obvious that they aren’t over each other. But can they resist temptation?

In Did I Mention I Need You?, the second volume of Estelle Maskame’s phenomenal DIMILY trilogy, Tyler and Eden must face up to their feelings and decide what to do next. Is their love strong enough to face the challenges that lie ahead?

My Review:
Fair warning – if you haven’t read book one this review contains minor spoilers.

It’s been two years since Tyler and Eden ended things romantically, and both are really looking forward to her spending six weeks with Tyler in New York. Tyler has been on an event tour talking about the abuse he suffered at his father’s hands. It’s been therapeutic for him and it’s helped him turn his life around. But, has he really dealt with his demons? Is everything a product of his past?

Eden has been dating Tyler’s best friend Dean and she loves him. He is head over heels for her and has no clue that she still loves Tyler and that they used to be more than just step-siblings. I was so surprised that Tiffani kept that secret but later on we understand why.

As soon as Eden steps foot in NY, she realizes she still loves him and begins to see that she made a mistake pushing him away. As Tyler gives her the guided tour of NY, she falls more deeply in love and soon they are acting on their joint feelings, despite their guilt over Dean.

Tyler won a lot of brownie points in this instalment (except for the end where he lost a few but more on that) but Eden lost a lot of ground with me. I found her character development to be a little lacking and she grated on my nerves a fair bit. She seemed to want to have her cake and eat it and her actions were unfair on both guys. I also don’t understand how she could date Tyler’s best friend knowing she still loved Tyler. I get that she was trying to move on, but, seriously, girl, pick an unknown boyfriend would ya? Her choices were extremely selfish when it came to the two guys. However, the biggest gripe I have about her is her reaction and action when Tiffani made an appearance. It was 2am in the morning and I had to swallow my screams of frustration. I slammed my Kindle down in disgust, inwardly yelling at Eden for her complete idiocy. I’m really glad Estelle didn’t drag that out because I might have just given up on this book if she had.

Eden’s dad is still being an ass -part of me can understand because he had to live with Tyler for years when he was in the height of his self-destructive mode and I get why he wouldn’t want his daughter to be with him – but it was his failure to address the shortcomings in his relationship with Eden that really angered me. He was a terrible father-figure.

I was happy with the decision they made at the end of the book and I felt their anguish when their news wasn’t well received. Maybe I’m very liberal, but if I was the parent in that situation I really wouldn’t give a monkeys about the step-sibling relationship. They are not blood relatives and they didn’t grow up as brother and sister so what’s the big deal? I want my kids to be happy and I will always support their choices once I know they have given them due consideration. They may not always make the choices I would, but they are their own person, and I’d like to think that when they come of age I will respect that fact.

I was totally shell-shocked at that ending, and felt let-down by Tyler. I couldn’t believe it and I had to immediately download the next book to find out what was going on. Having read the third book at this stage, I can say that all will become obvious and make total sense, so if you are frustrated at the ending of this book, don’t give up. The explanation is worth it.

In summary, this was another great read crammed with more angst and drama which I loved.

Review: Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

Title: Forbidden
Author: Tabitha Suzuma
Series: standalone
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
She is pretty and talented – sweet sixteen and never been kissed. He is seventeen; gorgeous and on the brink of a bright future. And now they have fallen in love. But… they are brother and sister.

Seventeen-year-old Lochan and sixteen-year-old Maya have always felt more like friends than siblings. Together they have stepped in for their alcoholic, wayward mother to take care of their three younger siblings. As defacto parents to the little ones, Lochan and Maya have had to grow up fast. And the stress of their lives—and the way they understand each other so completely—has also brought them closer than two siblings would ordinarily be. So close, in fact, that they have fallen in love. Their clandestine romance quickly blooms into deep, desperate love. They know their relationship is wrong and cannot possibly continue. And yet, they cannot stop what feels so incredibly right. As the novel careens toward an explosive and shocking finale, only one thing is certain: a love this devastating has no happy ending.

My Review:
Initial Thoughts: This book almost destroyed me. Heartbreaking.

Full Review:
Forbidden was very thought-provoking and I found myself, at times, both disgusted and sympathetic in equal measure. Having reflected on it for a few days, it is hard to look at the love between Lochan and Maya as wrong even if that is how society categorizes it.

Their family situation is completely dysfunctional. They were quasi-parents to their younger siblings, and they never really had a traditional brother and sister relationship. I couldn’t help wondering if they’d had a normal upbringing would they have fallen in love or were they always destined for one another irrespective of their environment and their circumstances? It’s an interesting question and one that’s had me thinking about this book several days after I finished it.

Modern society has a genuine reason for saying no to incest – proven birth defects in any children born of incestuous relationships. And I get that, but my mind was contemplating all kinds of scenarios whereby it could be permitted – what if it was allowed and both parties agreed to sterilization, then the risk is eliminated. Of course, that wouldn’t solve the stigma or the myriad of other issues, and I’m not saying every government should rush out and change their laws because it’s a hugely sensitive complex issue, but I would genuinely feel for any couple like Lochie and Maya and believe it’s wrong that society says they can’t be together.

Characterization was superb in this book, with emotional depth and plenty of substance. I felt both of their pain as they struggled with their feelings for one another – as they tried valiantly to fight their attraction and burning need for one another. The irony is that the family unit was actually stronger when they were together – it made sense.

Their parents should be strung up for their neglect and I wanted to hurl my Kindle a few times, such was my loathing for both mum and dad.

I knew this wasn’t going to end well but that finale still KILLED me – I was sobbing my heart out for ages and I felt an actual pain in my heart. It was horrific but compelling.

I applaud the author for her ability to tackle such a complex subject with sensitivity and grit. It was never glorified or ridiculed.

The writing was breathtaking if a little over descriptive at times – I did skim a bit.

In summary, this book had a deep impact on me and I love books that challenge my thinking and challenge social norms. This one will definitely stay with me for a long time.