Review: Sugar Kisses (3:AM Kisses #2) by Addison Moore

Sugar KissesTitle: Sugar Kisses
Author: Addison Moore
Series: 3:AM Kisses #2
Rating: 4 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
Sugar Kisses—nothing tastes sweeter than revenge…

Roxy Capwell couldn’t be more miserable. She just had her heart stomped on by her cheating boyfriend, and the last thing she’s looking for is love. She hates men.

Cole Brighton couldn’t be happier. He’s a player of the highest order, there’s not a girl at Whitney Briggs University that he can’t tag and bag. He loves the ladies.

Roxy’s dream is to own and operate her own bakery one day, but with no oven in her dorm, and a lucrative baking competition on the horizon, she agrees to move in with her best friend’s brother, the obnoxious, womanizing, Cole Brighton.

Between the heavenly scent of baked goods, and Roxy’s perfect body strutting around the apartment, Cole can’t think straight. So when Roxy’s ex starts sniffing around again, Cole volunteers to play the part of her new boy-toy and things get heated both in and out of the kitchen.

Roxy discovers she might not hate every man on the planet, and Cole discovers nothing tastes better than Roxy and her late night SUGAR KISSES.

Roxy is a ball of stress and anger.
Cole is all ego and sex.
Their attraction is unstoppable.
And when their bodies collide—its combustible.

My Review:
This is Roxy and Cole’s story and it was a great addition to the series. You’ve gotta love Roxy – she’s not just your typical fiesty girl, she is snarky and blunt as hell and I’d hate to get on the wrong side of her. But it’s all a front, a defense mechanism to protect her fragile heart.

Cole is the college bike and a bit of a joke to be honest. I didn’t like him at all in the first part of this book but as the story progressed, and I begun to understand what made him tick, he grew on me. Plus, he was very supportive of Roxy and that was super sweet.

There are tons of really funny LOL moments and some great comedic dialogue, and there’s plenty of the hot and steamy stuff too.

The writing was superb and really my only fault was how quickly Roxy did a 360 on her view of Cole. It literally flipped overnight which wasn’t believable. But, putting that aside, this was another great read from the fantastic 3AM Kisses series.

Blog Tour: One Day Soon by A. Meredith Walters

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Today is my stop during the blog tour for One Day Soon by A. Meredith Walters. I’ll share my review of the book with you.

OneDaySoon AmazonTitle: One Day Soon
Author: A. Meredith Walters
Series: standalone
Rating: 4 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
He found me in blood and tears.
I stayed with him through darkness and fire.
We loved each other in the moment between innocence and bitter truth.
We were the kids easily ignored, who grew into adults we hardly knew.
We weren’t meant to last forever. And we didn’t.
He ran away.
I tried to move on.
Yet I never stopped thinking about the boy who had fought to keep me alive in a world that would have swallowed me whole. He was the past that I buried, but never forgot.
Until the day I found him again, years after believing I had lost him forever.
And in cold, resentful eyes, I saw the heart of the man who had been everything when I had nothing at all. So I vowed to hold onto the second chance that was stolen from the children we had been.
Sometimes fate is ugly. Life can be twisted.
And who we are can be ruined by who we once were.
For two people who had survived so much, we would have to learn how to hold on before we were forced to let go.

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My Review:
A. Meredith Walters has done it again – taken my heart and ripped it to shreds. Boy was this book emotional, in fact, this is the second book in a row that I’ve read that involved issues of child abuse and neglect. I definitely need to read something lighthearted next.

Imi and Yoss are kindred spirits and they have left an indelible mark on each other. Yoss never felt worthy of her, so he sacrificed his own happiness to give Imi the life she deserved. Fate intervenes, bringing them together again after a fifteen-year separation. This time, it’s Imi’s turn to save him.

This was a beautifully crafted story, even though it was filled with so much angst, despair, and heartache. But it was also a story of second chances, and the redemptive power of love.

I love this author’s writing style and this book was no exception. Words glided effortlessly across the pages of my Kindle.

The ending was quite rushed, and a little confusing, but overall this was another exceptional read from A. Meredith Walters.

Thanks to the publisher and Inkslinger PR for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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Excerpt:
“Maybe I should tell you a story. It’s been a long time since I’ve done that. You always liked when I made up dumb stuff to get you to smile.” I chuckled. “The more improbable the better, right? So let me think of something completely unrealistic.”

I sniffled, wiping my wet cheeks. I hadn’t realized I was crying.

“Once upon a time there was a sad, lonely boy who was actually a forgotten prince. No one knew that he was rich and powerful and had a family that was searching for him.” I smiled sadly, wishing, more than anything, that this particular story had been true.

“One day he met a girl who swore that she would help him get back home to the castle. They fell in love. The prince wanted her to come back to the castle with him so they could live there together. They fought dragons and defeated ogres. They ran from witches and swam through oceans. And finally they found the castle. The prince’s family welcomed him home and he married his princess. And they lived happily ever after.”

I rested my forehead on the back of his hand, hating how cold his skin was. “You always loved your fairytales,” I mused, wishing he had been able to find his.

The hand in mine stirred and I bolted upright. Yoss’s face was contorted in pain, his eyes fluttering.

I got to my feet and reached for the call button so I could alert the nurse that something was wrong.

Then he let out a breath and his eyes opened. They were clouded and confused as they darted around the room, taking everything in.

I was rooted to the spot, not moving. He frowned and then winced when he tried to sit up.

“Uh, you shouldn’t do that. Take it easy,” I instructed, my voice shaking.

Then the wild, green eyes found me. There was no immediate recognition and I felt the crushing weight of disappointment.

He doesn’t know who I am.

His eyes were cold. So cold. Dead. He groaned as he lifted his hand to his face, touching the bandaged skin.

“Let me call the nurse. Your doctor will want to see you now that you’re awake—”

“Where am I?” he asked, his voice rough and hard.

It was a voice I had heard a million times in my dreams.

A voice I never thought I’d hear again. Not in real life.

“You’re at Lupton Memorial Hospital. You were brought in last night.” I didn’t give him any more details. I wasn’t sure he was ready for all that. He had just gained consciousness after all.

“The hospital,” he repeated. He struggled to sit up and hissed in pain at the effort.

“Seriously, you should wait and let me call the nurse—”

His eyes flashed in my direction and the cloud of confusion lifted as he speared me with a look that I felt in my bones.

Recognition.

His eyes widened and his mouth parted in disbelief.

I wanted to say something—anything—but my tongue felt frozen behind my teeth.

Yoss shook his head and closed his eyes. He let out a noise that sounded a lot like a sob and my heart knew the sound of pain when it heard it.

When he opened his eyes again, they were wet. Long, dark lashes spikey with tears that refused to fall.

A hundred memories arched between us. A thousand words spoken softly in the dark.

A dozen promises never kept.

His lips curved upwards into the shadow of a smile that I remembered and loved so much.

“Imi,” he whispered.

I nodded, still otherwise paralyzed.

“Imi,” he said again, a tear traveled the length of his cheek and dripped off his chin.

“It’s me, Yoss,” I said finally, forcing myself to speak.

Our eyes met. They held.

They clung and they devastated.

Fifteen years had passed but none of that mattered.

In that instant we were kids again. Remembering a time when, to each other, we were everything.

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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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Blog Tour: Out of Focus (Chosen Paths) by L.B. Simmons

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Today is my stop during the blog tour for Out of Focus by L.B. Simmons. I’ll share my review of the book and an excerpt.

OOF FOR WEB - CopyTitle: Out of Focus
Author: L.B. Simmons
Series: Chosen Paths
Rating: 3.75 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
*** Upper New Adult Spinoff Standalone to the USA Today Bestselling Novel, Under the Influence***

“Shhhh, Cassandra, it’s our little secret.”
Secrets are stubborn things when they refuse to remain hidden. They tear through your soul, clawing and lashing until the pain becomes so unbearable, you’re left no choice but to silently scream your agony. No one hears you, of course. You smile on the outside and drift through life as though your mind is at peace, but all the while, you remain your own tortured prisoner. Sealed inside the darkened, soundproof room of your conscience, deafening cries echo as you plead for someone to unlock the door and release you from your nightmares. And eventually, when no one comes, you find ways to cope. To dull the suffering the only way you know how.
But what happens when you’ve become so numb, when everything around you has become so blurred, that you begin to lose focus on the saving grace standing directly in front of you? When you’ve anesthetized yourself to the point of losing consciousness, forced to watch as his once solid image fades away, lost to your reach in the haze as it smothers you?
What do you do then?
You fight. You heal. Then you bring him back.
Well, my name is Cassie Cooper, and it’s time.
No more secrets.
This is my story.

***WARNING – The subject matter of this novel centers around the psychological effects due to sexual abuse experienced during childhood. For this reason, as well as sexual situations, language, and adult themes, suggested reading age is 17+.***

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My Review:
Actual rating 3.75 stars.

It’s clear that L.B. Simmons is highly adept at writing emotionally-charged, character-driven stories that deal with complex issues which really tug at the heart strings. Out of Focus, like its predecessor Under the Influence explores the difficult subject of child abuse. Major kudos to the author for her willingness to tackle such heavy subject matter head on. She does this is in a very credible way. It’s dark, raw, painful, gritty, heartbreaking. For me, this book was extremely difficult to read at times because of how skillfully the author created and developed the story.

Cass was one of my favorite characters from Under the Influence. She was a total riot, and I was expecting more of the same here, but we saw a completely different side to her. It made sense. She was the party-girl, full of life, always the center of attention, provocative, loud and in your face. But that’s all a mask to hide the inner turmoil brewing to storm-like proportions inside her head.

This book explores that inner turmoil in great depth. It was so believable that I actually felt quite depressed reading it at times, and was tempted to put it down on more than one occasion. Anything that speaks to hurting children really impacts me as a mother and a human being, and this was no exception. It is testament to the considerable skill of the author that it had such a potent effect on me.

However, I did feel that it was far too repetitive in parts and overall the darkness overpowered the light. Although Cass did heal, and she came out the other end in a much better place with the prospect of a happy future, the hope generated by her path to self-discovery was overshadowed, for me, by the extreme despair of the journey. Under the Influence was more balanced, and I finished reading that believing in the redemptive power of love. Not so much here. I’ve been in a real funk all day. Perhaps, I just wasn’t in the mood for it or I still have a book hangover from the last book, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I expected to.

Grady was an amazingly supportive man and Cass was so lucky to have him in her corner. However, we didn’t really get much of his backstory and I felt the book lacked somewhat, as a result. I wanted to know how long he had been shadowing her and how/what exactly it was that drew him to her in such a strong way.

Her parent’s treatment of her was horrendous. Again, that wasn’t delved into in any depth and I wanted to understand what would turn loving parents into the kind that would turn a blind eye for years and then refuse to accept what they had always known was right in front of their face. Cass had majorly hit the self-destruct button but they just looked down their noses at her. I wish this had been explored more. It would have made it a little more interesting.

If twenty percent of the repetitive inner monologue was cut, Grady’s character developed a bit more, and the plot line with the parents explored in more detail, I feel this book would be a better read for it. But that’s just my own personal view.

I adore L.B’s writing. Her prose is simply stunning, and I was highlighting like a crazy person at times. See some fav quotes below.

Reading back over this review it might appear that I didn’t like this book, which isn’t the case at all. I just found it heavy going. It is well-written in the main, and it handles a very sensitive subject in a realistic manner. Just be prepared going into it, and I think you will get more out of it that way.

Fav Quotes from the ARC I read:

“To me, there’s nothing more vindicating than the ability to find the strength necessary to turn the worst experience imaginable into something so beautiful, it eclipses all the ugliness. It helps to find reason, to find purpose, in something so senseless.”

“Courage can be such a fleeting emotion. One moment, you feel it rising in your blood, strengthening your resolve as it prepares you to face your greatest fears. The next, it recedes like the tide of the ocean, leaving you bereft, uncertain of its existence in the first place.”

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

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Excerpt:
Only twenty-three years old, and I’m so goddamn tired.
I used to be so much stronger. I somehow kept the voices at bay, the memories locked away safely, contained within the confines of my mind. But with each passing day, I feel the glow of my once-luminous strength fading. Darkness encases me now, bowing the walls of protection I put into place years ago. My past is an ever-present nightmare, repeatedly tapping, slowly fracturing the window of my sanity.
I have no doubt that it’s only a matter of time before the glass finally breaks. Blackness will eventually seep through its cracks and deliver me from the safety of my façade into a reality that will destroy me.
My reality.
I’ve done my part. I’ve kept the secrets thrust upon me with dedicated believability. My portrayal of who I am has become a blurred, hazy version of the once very distinct Cassie Cooper.
I read an ungodly amount of trashy romance novels.
I’m the overtly sexual and foul-mouthed friend who will say anything to get a laugh.
And I have exactly zero fucks to give to what anyone else thinks about my actions.
But the reality, the actuality, is this:
I read obsessively to escape my own world. To live the dreams of others when, for so long, the reoccurrence of my nightmares has been my reality. I read to fall in love and find a happily ever after, even if it is purely imagined. With each story I read, I’m able to live and love vicariously through the characters in my books. It’s the only plausible way for me to survive.
I threw away my virginity at the age of thirteen just to prove something. And when I found that proof, that vindication I was looking for, I sought it every chance I could. Sex is about control for me. Nothing more. The act will never be about making love, like it is for the heroines in my books. I will never be granted the beauty of that gift.
I use humor as a form of avoidance. I draw upon laughter to block the pain. And I smile to mask the agony of the eight-year-old soul who weeps within me.
And the fucks . . . well, that’s not entirely accurate either.
I have given two to be exact: One to my best friend of seventeen years. She knows nothing of my past, and although she so willingly disclosed the horrors of hers, mine remains hidden for no other reason than to avoid the pity she would undoubtedly cast my way if I were to ever tell her. I don’t want her pity. I would sooner die than have her look at me in any other way than with pride.
The other died with the person to whom it was given. Anthony “Rat” Marchione. He was my one allowance of naïveté. The one person I actually wanted to touch me, to hold me, to love me. He was going to rescue me from my brokenness as though I were a character in one of my books. Young and senseless, I thought he was to be my eventual happily ever after, but tragically, he was murdered five years ago.
Black coldness waits in vain to leech the void where his once beautiful existence filled the pieces of my irrevocably shattered heart. Where he temporarily healed the hurt of the innocent child and quieted the voices that tormented her.
He’s gone now. I’ve accepted that. And in turn, I have relinquished all dreams associated with finding the light at the end of this miserable tunnel.
I will keep trudging through this life . . . this sentence handed to me for someone else’s crime, my payment shackled by secrets and weighted with lies. I will continue to do so with the same fraudulent smile on my lips and play the part of the strong heroine so convincingly, that even I believe it.
It’s only a matter of time before my fictional strength wears out—when I’m no longer hidden safely inside my protective blur—and I have to face the very real and lucid image of my past.
But until that time comes, I’ll do all I can do.
All I have ever done.
I will pretend.

outoffocusannooucement

LB SimmonsAbout the Author:
.B. Simmons is a graduate of Texas A&M University and holds a degree in Biomedical Science. She has been a practicing Chemist for the last 11 years. She lives with her husband and three daughters in Texas and writes every chance she gets.

Links:

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Review: Winter Kisses (3:AM Kisses #1.5) by Addison Moore

Winter KissesTitle: Winter Kisses
Author: Addison Moore
Series: 3:AM Kisses #1.5
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
Laney Sawyer used to believe in love and all of the trappings that happily ever after could provide until Ryder Capwell crushed her heart.

When Laney is auctioned off as a prize at the drama department fundraiser the last person she expects to trade cold hard cash for her company is Ryder. Ryder Capwell is in love with Laney Sawyer. One year ago she walked out of his life and took the light of his world right along with her.

Ryder would do anything to have another chance with Laney, including purchasing her for the evening courtesy of Whitney Briggs University, and he does just that. One thing leads to whiskey, which leads to a one-night stand. She thinks it’s revenge sex—he thinks its make up sex.

Things can only go wrong from here…

My Review:
Anytime I pick up an Addison Moore book I just know it’s going to be an amazing read, and this was no exception.

This is actually a novella length book and I read it in less than two hours. I often complain that a lot of the novellas I read aren’t properly executed and there isn’t enough time to really connect with the characters and truly’feel’ the emotions. Addison Moore demonstrates how to perfectly pull it out of the bag with this book. Because we have caught a glimpse of Laney and Ryder previously, I already felt like I had a good insight into their characters, and the story didn’t feel too short or rushed.

Ryder and Laney are the typical beautiful couple destined for a fairytale HEA, however, when we meet them they have been broken up a year (over an orchestrated misunderstanding) and it’s obvious that both are still pining for the other. Laney is a scream and I love her character. Ryder finally mans up and supports her the way he should have the previous Christmas.

Great dialogue, excellent writing, and a fast-paced plot make for a killer read. While it can be read as a stand-alone, I highly recommend reading it as part of the series.

Blog Tour: The Consequence of Seduction (Consequence #3) by Rachel Van Dyken

The Consequence of Seduction Banner
Today is my stop during the blog tour for The Consequence of Seduction (Consequence #3) by Rachel Van Dyken. I share my review with you and an excerpt from the book.

seductioncoverTitle: The Consequence of Seduction
Author: Rachel Van Dyken
Series: Consequence #3
Rating: 4 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

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Blurb:
From New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author Rachel Van Dyken.

Reid Emory has never had reason to question his luck with the ladies. As the owner of a lethal set of aqua-blue eyes and a devastating grin, this Hollywood heartthrob always brings his A game…but lately his luck seems to have run out. The actor is in need of some help, and there’s only one person he can trust to take his love life—and his career—to an explosive new level.

Jordan Litwright’s newest client is trying her patience. As a publicist, she’s more than content to stay in the background and let others shine. But when a publicity stunt backfires, she suddenly finds herself thrust into the spotlight—as Reid’s new love interest. And while other men usually overlook her, Reid is focusing in with laserlike intensity. There’s no denying they have serious chemistry.

But once Reid breaks into the big time, can they turn their made-for-the-media romance into a forever love?

The lady who fell in love

My Review:
Usually, I like to put a nice, promo-type comment at the start of my reviews. You know, something professional and slick that adequately summarizes the main outstanding qualities of the book I’ve just read. I’ve been typing and retyping furiously for the last few minutes trying to do this book justice and honestly I keep coming back to this:

Pee-your-pants funny.

Seriously, that sums up this book perfectly for me. I have laughed myself silly at other books before, but I can’t ever recall a book that had me laughing continuously the whole way through. This book is unique in it’s crazy insanity. A few times I had to re-read a section to make sure my brain had actually deciphered it correctly. What’s particularly genius about this though is that each character was funny in their own different way. All the characters were superbly crafted with individual personalities and quirks.

Reid was a great leading man, and Jordan was a spunky, professional career woman who was quite vulnerable underneath that tough exterior. Together, they were a match made in heaven. I loved the slow progression of the romance and their sizzling chemistry.

I could devote an entire review on it’s own to Max. Hella, how do I describe him? He was psychotically endearing is the best way I can put it. If I knew him in real life I would not be able to stand more than thirty seconds in his company before I’d start feeling uncharacteristic violent urges. Seriously, how none of the characters gave him a few slaps is beyond me. They all have limitless amounts of patience. But he was charming and funny with it. One of these hyper-intelligent, interfering busybodies with a heart of gold. He was definitely swinging off the crazy tree but it was hysterically funny to read. The toing and froing between him and Reid was especially funny.

And Reid and his ‘grandma’ experience. I’ll say it again: pee-your-pants funny.

I’ve read a couple of Rachel’s other books, and I knew she was an accomplished writer, but she really nailed it with this quirky, different Hollywood romance that will have you laughing your rocks off. Seriously entertaining read. Highly recommended.

Actual Rating 4.5 Stars.

Thanks to the publisher and Inkslinger PR for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Picture of a handsome man behind

Excerpt:
Jordan’s body responded to my every single touch and caress.
“Now I know why you’ve never had to ask a girl on a date.” She hooked her legs around me and wrapped her arms around my neck, her tongue intertwining with mine, sucking, so. Damn. Hard that I couldn’t help but keep moaning. The things that woman could do with her mouth.
I deepened the kiss, my hands reaching for the clasp of her bra. I flicked it off. Jordan immediately froze. Her hands quickly covered her breasts.
“What are you doing?” I tried prying her hands free.
“Too fast.” She nodded, her cheeks staining with color. “You know for our, uh, date night.”
“Move your hands.”
“No.”
“Jordan.”
“Reid.” She laughed nervously.
“Fine.” I nodded. “I didn’t want to have to do this.”
Jordan frowned.
I raised my hand.
She frowned harder.
I flipped her onto her stomach and slapped her ass. Hard.
“WHAT are you doing?” she yelled.
“Why, sweetheart . . .” I kissed her ear. “I’m taming.”
“The hell you are!”
“You like it.” Another swat. “And I’m barely spanking you, but a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do. Cover them up again and I won’t be responsible for my actions.”
“But—”
I flipped her back around. “But what?” I honestly wanted to know why a girl that gorgeous would cover up.
“It’s just that—” Jordan chewed her lower lip. “I’m the lights-off girl.”
“Lights off?”
“Yeah.” She shrugged a shoulder as more color stained her cheeks. “You know, the girl you don’t really notice right away until you’ve had one too many, then you take her home and have your way with her—in the dark.”
Horrified, I could only stare in shock. “Please tell me that hasn’t actually happened.”
“Reid.” She shoved me away and started to get to her feet. “Look, I’m not stupid, okay? And I’m not even that insecure anymore. I know how guys think, all right?”
“Oh, yeah?” I stood, pulled her flush against my very hard body. “What am I thinking about right now?”
“ESPN?”
“Damn.”
Her shoulders deflated. “See?”
I burst out laughing. “Honey, we have a pretty big problem if ESPN gets me this excited, don’t you think?”
“Hey, sometimes baseball just does it for people.” She gave me a sexy-as-hell smile. “It’s not your fault you like balls.”
“I can’t believe you just challenged my manhood when it’s saluting you like that. Damn, woman, I’m basically giving you the equivalent of a high five and a home run all in one and you’re making jokes?”

Romantic style photo of missing couple

RachelAuthorheadshotAbout the Author:
Rachel Van Dyken is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author of regency and contemporary romances. When she’s not writing you can find her drinking coffee at Starbucks and plotting her next book while watching The Bachelor.

She keeps her home in Idaho with her Husband, adorable son, and two snoring boxers! She loves to hear from readers!

Want to be kept up to date on new releases? Text MAFIA to 66866!

You can connect with her on Facebook www.facebook.com/rachelvandyken or join her fan group Rachel’s New Rockin Readers. Her website is www.rachelvandykenauthor.com .

Links:

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Review: Rising (Blue Phoenix #4) by Lisa Swallow

RisingTitle: Rising
Author: Lisa Swallow
Series: Blue Phoenix #4
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
“Our demons don’t want to play but they sure as hell recognise each other”

Three attempts at staying clean after rehab and Jem Jones, Blue Phoenix guitarist, is determined this time he’ll succeed. Haunted by his recent past, Jem throws himself into the one addiction he still has left: his music. With Blue Phoenix on a break, he looks elsewhere for a place to channel his creativity and discovers up-and-coming band Ruby Riot.

For lead singer, Ruby, breaking into the music scene could break the cycle of abuse that’s controlled her life since she was a child. Finding release through music, the growing success of the band has set Ruby on the path to regaining her identity and self-esteem.

Ruby Riot brings Jem and Ruby together but they recognise they have more in common than their passion for music. Can this understanding of each other break down the carefully constructed barriers they’re trapped behind? Or is loving somebody too big a risk to take?

When Jem’s past slams into his present, he has to face the reality behind what made him the man he is and why he hurts the people he wants to love.

And as Ruby reaches out to help Jem, she discovers trying to fix somebody comes with the risk of getting cut by one of their shattered pieces.

Rising is the fourth book in the Blue Phoenix series. It can be read as a standalone but contains minor spoilers for the other books in the series.

Trigger warning: scenes of domestic violence.

My Review:
Having read books 1, 1.5, and 2 in this series, I was really looking forward to reading Jem’s story as he has intrigued me from the first time we met him. Talk about a troubled soul – not to be cliche, but he wrote the book!!

Jem has had the worst most fucked-up childhood ever. Fact. As a young adult, he enjoyed massive success with his band Blue Phoenix, and he indulged in all that the hedonistic lifestyle had to offer. Cue plenty of breakdowns, arguments, and meltdowns. He has just returned from his latest rehab stint during a period of band downtime. In order to avoid his demons, and keep distracted, he offers to help his Manager Steve out, in identifying a new support group for the next BP tour.

Enter Ruby Tuesday. Ruby’s childhood puts Jem’s in the shade. She has had one difficult event after another and now she is trapped in an abusive relationship that is threatening to destroy the one good thing in her life – her music.

Ruby and Jem crash into each others lives explosively. There is plenty of drama and angst as they enter into a game of pull and push. Both are so damaged by past events that it’s hard to open up to anyone else, even if that other person is more emphatic than your average individual. Gradually, though, they find a way to support and love each other and it was so heartwarming to read (especially the last few chapters.)

For me, the underlying message is not to underestimate the redemptive power of love.

This is far and away the best-written book in this series and there isn’t a single thing I could fault. The pacing is spot-on, the writing is superb, characterisation is insightful and raw, powerful, and it’s difficult not to feel a huge emotional upheaval reading it.

I’d give ten stars if I could. This can be read as a standalone though I’d highly recommend reading it as part of this great series.

Blog Tour: Shuffle (Ruby Riot) by Lisa Swallow

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Today I am sharing my review for Shuffle by Lisa Swallow. I read the first book Cadence awhile back and really enjoyed that one too, you can read my review of Cadence here.

Shuffle.EbookTitle: Shuffle
Author: Lisa Swallow
Series: Ruby Riot #2
Rating: 4 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
Will Campbell, Ruby Riot bassist, is back at university and failing badly at everything apart from partying.

With Ruby Riot on a break, Will returns to university to finish his degree. He needs major help if he wants to pass his final year and attempts to join a not-very-rock star study group. Will is horrified to discover the person organising the group is Fleur Roberts, the girl he’s secretly crushed on for two years and who recently threatened him with a restraining order.

Fleur’s rock stars are history academics. She has no interest in any variety of pierced, tattooed slacker, especially not the jackass rock star who humiliated her at a party. There’s no way in Hell that Will Campbell is joining her group.

Faced with losing the easiest way to fix his academic problems, Will has the perfect solution: pretend he’s his twin, Nate. Will and Nate have swapped identities before so nothing can go wrong. Surely.

Fleur is successful academically, but her love life is a failure. Following a number of disastrous dates, she finds herself falling in love with a guy who is lying to her. But Will’s deceit isn’t the only thing about to shatter her world. When another man Fleur trusted betrays her, and she attempts to retaliate, Fleur discovers how dangerous he is. And when Will becomes involved, the repercussions threaten both of their futures.

Shuffle is the second standalone book in the Ruby Riot series and can be read separately to the first book.

Shuffle available now

My Review:
Another stomping good read from Lisa Swallow. I’m a big fan of her Blue Phoenix series so I was delighted when I heard about this spin-off series featuring new up and coming band, Ruby Riot. Book 1, Cadence, was about Jax and Tegan and I mistakenly thought this book was about Nate and Riley. But it’s actually about Nate’s twin, Will, and his crush, Fleur.

I really enjoyed this book and I’m looking forward to continuing the series. It has all of the things I’ve come to expect from Lisa – great writing, consistent pacing, good world building and a plot that always keeps me engaged. There’s usually a great dollop of smexy times too, though Shuffle was a little on the lighter side compared to some of her other work.

Will has been harboring a crush on Fleur for a couple of years but she has barely noticed him. She’s no time for wanna-be rockstars, and she has her heart set on a life of academia and a man that blends seamlessly into that world. Will makes a total mess of it the first time they actually speak, so much that Fleur threatens him with a barring order if he comes near her again. So he pretends to be his twin Nate, as you do. Obviously, you know that’s not going to end well!

Fleur was the star of the show, in my opinion. She’s quite a different MC and I found that refreshing. She is intelligent, articulate, well-educated and very focused on her studies and her desired future academic career. She wants a nice boy, the type you could take home to Daddy. But all the supposed ‘nice boys’ end up being anything but. I really felt for her even though she has lousy taste in men, and she just keeps on picking em!

Will is a bit of a strange character, but charming and sweet too. Eventually, he wears Fleur down and they start dating. Cue the inevitable dramas, breakup and then HEA makeup.

I really enjoy rock star romances, and Lisa paints (what I imagine is) a realistic picture. We didn’t get to see too much of it here, though, as the band are on a sabbatical, thanks to Ruby’s maternity leave.

I enjoyed the first half of the book much more than the second half, as I felt some of the inner monologue became a bit repetitive, and I thought the part from the incident with Shaun to the end was a little rushed. I also disliked the way Fleur kicked Will to the curb after he saved her. I can understand her initial reaction, but she could have shown more understanding and gratitude. Will had so much to lose and I felt she could have been more sympathetic. That’s the only reason this is a 4-star instead of 5-star rating.

As an aside, I love these covers, and I loved Fleur’s name.

Overall, though, this was a fantastic read and I look forward to reading Nate’s story next.

Some of my fav quotes from the ARC copy I received:

“Have you ever kissed a guy with a piercing?” “No.” “Want to try?”

“Nothing’s changed – apart from everything.”

“Fleur is a million miles away, but I’d walk twice as far to reach her.”

“This girl is my opposite, but my everything.”

Thanks to the author and Inkslinger PR for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

About the Author:
Lisa is an Amazon bestselling author of contemporary and paranormal romance. She is originally from the UK and moved to Australia in 2001. She now lives in Perth, Western Australia with her husband, three children, and Weimaraner, Tilly, who often makes appearances on Lisa’s social media.

Lisa’s first publication was a moving poem about the rain, followed by a suspenseful story about shoes. Following these successes at nine years old there was a long gap in her writing career, until she published her first book in 2013.

In the past, Lisa worked as an English teacher in France, as an advertising copywriter in England, and ran her own business in Australia. Now she spends her days with imaginary rock stars. She lived in Europe as a child and also travelled when she left university. This has given Lisa stories which would sound far-fetched if she wrote them down, and maybe one day she will. These days, Lisa is happy in her writing cave, under Tilly’s supervision.

Links:

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Review: Coming in from the Cold (Gravity #1) by Sarina Bowen

Coming in from the ColdTitle: Coming in from the Cold
Author: Sarina Bowen
Series: Gravity #1
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance/ Sport Romance
Links:

Blurb:
He can’t have her. And he can’t tell anyone why.

Ski racer Dane “Danger” Hollister does not do relationships, though he keeps his reason a secret. The real-life curse he’s inherited from his mother will eventually cost him everything: his place on the Olympic ski team, his endorsement income, and his ability to fly downhill at top speed.

Reluctant country girl Willow Reade meets Dane by accident. Literally. Her skidding truck forces him off the road during a blizzard. Stranded together in his Jeep as night falls, the two loneliest people in Vermont find themselves sharing more than they’d planned. And not just conversation.

Yet neither can guess how their unlikely tryst will threaten Dane’s frightening secret and Willow’s tentative peace with her own choices. Only mutual trust and understanding can end their pain and give them a hard won shot at love.

My Review:
I picked up a copy of this book as part of a Bookbub promotion and it sounded like exactly what I was in the mood for. I planned on reading a few chapters last night but ending up staying up half the night reading it. It was just too good to put down. I adored it, totally loved it, and there is absolutely nothing I can fault about it.

It has to be said – Willow has lousy taste in men. First she ups sticks with her boyfriend to the middle of nowhere to set up a chicken farm and then he runs off with a younger model leaving her stuck with a load of debt and with no way out. Stranded in a snowstorm, she almost runs Dane off the road and a chance encounter turns into a life-changing event.

Dane has been hiding a big secret his whole life and he doesn’t let anyone get close to him. He can’t afford for that to happen. Then Willow comes into his life and she is like the embodiment of all he longs for but can never have. Though it kills him to walk away from her, he feels like he has no choice.

Circumstances thrust them together again but because of his big secret (a devastating medical condition that runs in his family and has already claimed the lives of his mother and brother at an early age) he continually pushes Willow away in a very hurtful manner.

This book deals with some heavy subject matter in a very realistic, sympathetic way. There was no sugar coating. Dane’s emotions dripped off the page and it was hard not to feel for him, even though he was a total jerkface to Willow for half the book. I really feel like Sarina got deep under the skin of her characters and I was so invested in both of the mains.

Willow is the nicest human being on the planet! Though she isn’t a pushover. She is compassionate with a big heart and lots of love to give. She is patient and kind with Dane even though he doesn’t deserve it half the time.

The romance was hot and steamy, just how I like it.

Callie is also a great BFF and she was well-developed for a side character. Book 2 is her story and I look forward to reading it soon.

The writing is fantastic and the book flowed fluidly the entire time. I was engrossed in every single page.

In summary, this was a fantastic read that dealt sympathetically and realistically with some heavy subject matter. The romance was steamy and angsty and thoroughly addictive. Highly Recommended.

Blog Tour: Dirty Tricks (The Burke Brothers #4) by Emma Hart

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Today is my stop during the blog tour for Dirty Tricks (The Burke Brothers #4) by Emma Hart. I share my review of this book with you, an excerpt of the book, some teaser images and a tour wide giveaway.

DirtyTricksTitle: Dirty Tricks
Author: Emma Hart
Series: The Burke Brothers #4
Rating: 4 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

burkebroseriesbanner1

Blurb:
Chelsey Young’s dad was a rock star. Glamorous, right? But late nights, frequent travelling, and watching endless women rub their bodies against Lukas Young’s in a bid for his attention wasn’t exactly how Chelsey planned to spend her senior year of high school.

So when Kye Burke, of the ultra-sexy band Dirty B, sets his sights on Chelsey, she figures the best way to get him off her back is by taking his sexy butt to bed.

But after one night together, Kye has no intention of staying away from Chelsey, especially when she’s kissing him one minute then pushing him away the next. From watching her father, Chelsey knows the rock star lifestyle that Kye leads—being away for long stretches of time, girls throwing themselves at him on the regular, shirtless photos showing up in his inbox ten times a day. She wants no part of it.

Kye is determined for Chelsey to get to know him, the real him behind the rock star persona. But that isn’t so easy when Kye’s schedule will take him away for days, weeks, even a month or two at a time, which is a dealbreaker for Chelsey. Long distance means temptation to stray, and infidelity was the reason her own parents split. She knows it’s not fair to project her own insecurities onto Kye, but some things are unavoidable.

But Kye Burke isn’t Lukas Young.

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My Review:
This was my first Emma Hart read though I doubt it’ll be my last. While this is the fourth book in this series it can totally be read as a standalone and the author does a great job of backfilling essential bits of the previous stories. I’m intrigued enough by the other characters to want to check out the previous books.

I really warmed to Kye Burke from the outset. He was sexy, sweet, witty and so caring and protective of Chelsey despite the fact that she regularly blows hot and cold on him. I loved how he didn’t give up on her even when she was downright nasty to him. That’s not to say that he was a walkover – because he most definitely wasn’t. He challenged her and ultimately made her face up to things. Kye is easily the best thing about this book.

Chelsey was such a refreshing female lead. She was an out and out bitch, and I don’t just mean a snarky, sassy type. She was MEAN, but I actually loved it, and she gave me some great laugh-out-loud moments. And it’s not all a facade to hide her true persona though that was partly the case, but she does have an inherent mean streak.

I really enjoyed Emma’s writing style, and she writes superb, sharp, humorous dialogue. All characters were solidly developed, even the secondary characters, and the romance was steamy without being too hot. The book flowed at a nice pace and there weren’t any slow, repetitive, or overly descriptive parts. A nice even read. The plot is very predictable though but it wasn’t a major issue as I think that’s pretty much par for the course with these types of books.

In summary, this was a fab read and I’d highly recommend it to fans of NA/Contemp women’s fiction.

Thanks to Inkslinger PR and the publisher for providing a review copy of this book, via Netgalley, in exchange for my honest review.

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Excerpt:
“What,” Chelsey exclaims, “the hell is that?”
With a wide smile spreading across my face, I shove my hands in my pockets like a teenage boy and look at her. “A Christmas tree.”
“Are those . . . penises?”
“Technically, dildos.”
“Like real ones?” She jerks her alarmed gaze to me.
“No. Just plastic.”
She flicks her tongue across her lips. “Uh-huh. Why do you have penises across your Christmas tree?”
“Because he’s an immature little bastard,” Leila answers for me.
“You didn’t stop me,” I shoot back.
“Hell no I didn’t. I cannot wait to see Mom’s face when she sees this!”
“When she sees what?” Mom’s voice creeps through the house ominously, and the close of the door after her sounds like the signal that I should run away.
“Uh . . . I’m just gonna go . . .to the store. . . .” I shuffle toward the door that connects the front room with the kitchen.
Chelsey lifts her eyebrows in amusement, and Dad grabs the back of my shirt so I can’t escape.
You wouldn’t think I was twenty-four. For numerous reasons, obviously.
“Kye Burke, why are there tiny penises on my Christmas tree?”
Her voice is calm. Really calm. I’m even more convinced that I should run. “Merry Cock-mas?”
Mom’s expression is somewhere between insane amusement and extreme frustration.
“I’m just gonna come back later . . .” Chelsey whispers, edging toward the living room door. “When there are less . . . cocks.”
“Good idea! I’ll come with you.” I wrestle out of Dad’s grip and dart behind him, through the kitchen, and into the hall.
Chelsey laughs and grabs my arm, dragging me back into the room. “I said I was going. I didn’t say you were escaping this cock-up.”
“Great choice of words,” Dad chuckles.
Mom pinches the bridge of her nose. “I should have known that when three boys left, one boy would have to make the impression of three,” she says, mostly to herself. “I should have known that the one who never left his little peep alone at two would one day decorate my tree in cocks.”
“Mom! What the hell?” I sputter.
“I should have known that his ball-hoarding obsession at six was a sign of things to come,” she sighs heavily and drops her hand. “After all, there’s one in every boyband. I thought I was ready for this.” Then, she turns to me. “Kye, son, we love you anyway, but I have to ask. Are you gay?”
Chelsey lets go of me, and laughter rips from her. Leila laughs, too, her book falling to the floor. Dad covers his face with his hands, and Mom just stands there in the middle of the room, her eyes wide. Her hands are now clasped in front of her sympathetically, and the tiny upturn of the right side of her mouth explains it all.
“Well played, Mother,” I say reluctantly, walking back toward the front door. “Well. Played.”

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DSC_9249About the Author:
By day, New York Times and USA Today bestselling New Adult author Emma Hart dons a cape and calls herself Super Mum to two beautiful little monsters. By night, she drops the cape, pours a glass of whatever she fancies – usually wine – and writes books.
Emma is working on Top Secret projects she will share with her followers and fans at every available opportunity. Naturally, all Top Secret projects involve a dashingly hot guy who likes to forget to wear a shirt, a sprinkling (or several) of hold-onto-your-panties hot scenes, and a whole lotta love.
She likes to be busy – unless busy involves doing the dishes, but that seems to be when all the ideas come to life.

Links:

And there’s a tour wide giveaway! For a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter below:
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Shuffle is almost here!

Shuffle teaser
Today I am sharing some teaser images for Shuffle by Lisa Swallow. Shuffle releases next week on 28 january and I am really excited for this book. I read the first book Cadence and really enjoyed that one, you can read my review of Cadence here.

Shuffle.EbookTitle: Shuffle
Author: Lisa Swallow
Series: Ruby Riot #2
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
Will Campbell, Ruby Riot bassist, is back at university and failing badly at everything apart from partying.

With Ruby Riot on a break, Will returns to university to finish his degree. He needs major help if he wants to pass his final year and attempts to join a not-very-rock star study group. Will is horrified to discover the person organising the group is Fleur Roberts, the girl he’s secretly crushed on for two years and who recently threatened him with a restraining order.

Fleur’s rock stars are history academics. She has no interest in any variety of pierced, tattooed slacker, especially not the jackass rock star who humiliated her at a party. There’s no way in Hell that Will Campbell is joining her group.

Faced with losing the easiest way to fix his academic problems, Will has the perfect solution: pretend he’s his twin, Nate. Will and Nate have swapped identities before so nothing can go wrong. Surely.

Fleur is successful academically, but her love life is a failure. Following a number of disastrous dates, she finds herself falling in love with a guy who is lying to her. But Will’s deceit isn’t the only thing about to shatter her world. When another man Fleur trusted betrays her, and she attempts to retaliate, Fleur discovers how dangerous he is. And when Will becomes involved, the repercussions threaten both of their futures.

Shuffle is the second standalone book in the Ruby Riot series and can be read separately to the first book.

Shuffle 1 week

About the Author:
Lisa is an author of new adult romance and writes both paranormal and contemporary, often with a side of snark.

Lisa is originally from the UK but moved to Australia in 2001 and now lives in Perth in Western Australia with her husband, three children and dog.

Links:

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