Review: Starbound (Starstruck #3) by Brenda Hiatt

StarboundTitle: Starbound
Author: Brenda Hiatt
Series: Starstruck #3
Rating: 3 stars
Genres: Science Fiction Romance
Links:

Blurb:
Being a Princess isn’t all it’s cracked up to be!
Between keeping high security secrets from everyone (including Rigel) and trying to keep Rigel and Sean from killing each other (with no help from Trina, of course!) M has more than enough on her plate already.
She knew that as newly discovered Princess of a secret Martian colony, she’d have to return there someday—but over spring break?? An emergency requires her immediate presence but not everyone is overjoyed to have their long-lost Princess back. Can she win her people over in time to save the colony from destruction? And what will she have to give up in return?

My Review:
I loved the imagination of the author in this installment of the series, and I really enjoyed the different settings, especially the fictional Martian colony in Ireland, the spaceship journey, and Mars itself.

I also enjoyed the few chapters we got from Sean’s POV. Poor Sean, he really has gotten a bum deal. He is so loyal and supportive to M even though she always makes it clear to him that she loves Rigel, and that that will never change. I felt for the guy. I would have liked some chapters from Rigel’s perspective, as he was getting a raw deal in this book too.

I was enjoying this book up to the 60% mark and then it slowed down and I started skimming. The political situation was way too drawn out and repetitive and there was very little on the romance plot. I hated that Rigel and M were either separated or forced to stay apart in this book.

It’s still well written, but it could have been shorter in my opinion.

When I finished the book, I was actually so frustrated with it that I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue with the series. My finger hovered uncertainly over the one-click button. In the end, I went ahead and purchased the last book, as I hate not finishing the full story. I just hope the next book improves.

Review: Starcrossed (Starstruck #2) by Brenda Hiatt

Starcrossed brenda hiattTitle: Starcrossed
Author: Brenda Hiatt
Series: Starstruck #2
Rating: 4 stars
Genres: Science Fiction Romance
Links:

Blurb:
Marsha Truitt’s life has changed dramatically over the past few months. Instead of a nerdy nobody, she’s the newly discovered princess of a secret civilization. Even better, she’s dating the hottest guy in school, who just happens to be her literal soulmate. But when a new boy arrives at Jewel High, everything M thought she knew about herself and her future is turned on its head. Will the very destiny that lifted her from obscurity now tear her away from Rigel and their happy ever after?

My Review:
I thought this book was a vast improvement on the first book and I’m definitely hooked on this series now.

Starcrossed was fast-paced from the first page and the author packed more suspense and intrigue into this book. I really liked the introduction of the O’Gara family and love-love-love the Irish connection. The fact that the Martian language is essentially Irish/Gaelic made me laugh out loud, I really got a kick out of that. It enabled me to forgive the stereotypical description of Sean (copper-colored hair and freckles)

Ah, poor Sean. He’s very likeable and not in an enviable position at all. Even though I’m Team Rigel, I still really felt for Sean.

M has to face the realities of her new situation and she is forced to grow up fast. However, I was so frustrated with her in parts because of her failure to recognise the strong bargaining position she held and how she could have protected Rigel, and their relationship, from the get-go. I had to remind myself she was only 15, but when she was portrayed as having grasped the intricacies of Martian politics, I felt she could have realised the strength she possessed far earlier than she actually did.

The threat to Rigel’s life never felt like much of a threat to me and I would have liked those scenes to have been further developed.

The romance continues to be very sweet and Rigel and M are so adorable as a couple.

All in all, though, I really enjoyed the second installment and I’ve already started into the third book.

Review: Starstruck (Starstruck #1) by Brenda Hiatt

StarstruckTitle: Starstruck
Author: Brenda Hiatt
Series: Starstruck #1
Rating: 3.5 stars
Genres: Science Fiction Romance
Links:

Blurb:
Nerdy astronomy geek Marsha, M to her few friends, has never been anybody special. Orphaned as an infant and reluctantly raised by an overly-strict “aunt,” she’s not even sure who she is. M’s dream of someday escaping tiny Jewel, Indiana and making her mark in the world seems impossibly distant until hot new quarterback Rigel inexplicably befriends her. As Rigel turns his back on fawning cheerleaders to spend time with M, strange things start to happen: her acne clears up, her eyesight improves to the point she can ditch her thick glasses, and when they touch, sparks fly—literally! When M digs for a reason, she discovers deep secrets that will change her formerly humdrum life forever . . . and expose her to perils she never dreamed of. Yes, the middle of nowhere just got a lot more interesting!

My Review:
Marsha Truitt isn’t popular in school, but she’s used to it. Constantly taunted by cheerleader Trina, she does her best to ignore her with the support of her two best friends. M’s home life isn’t much better – her aunt and uncle were forced to take her in when her adopted parents died shortly after adopting her. Her aunt is a total tyrant and her uncle is usually tongue-tied around his domineering wife.

When hot newcomer Rigel starts to take notice of her, M’s life changes in ways she could never have imagined or predicted. She discovers her real identity and the path that lies in store for her.

While this was a decent read, I wasn’t blown away by it. The writing is very good and it’s clear than Brenda Hiatt is an experienced author. So, no issues with the writing style at all. However, I found it quite slow-paced in the first half and I kept waiting for something to happen to inject a much-needed spark. Though, to be fair, the plot more than made up for that in the second part of the book.

In the main, I liked M and we start to see a transformation in her as the story progresses (not just physical). But I was screaming at her to stand up to her aunt at certain junctures and I wish she had more backbone.

Rigel is a great male lead though I was unhappy with him in the latter stages of the book. While he implemented a selfless plan in order to protect M, I didn’t like that he had to partner with evil Trina to do it. Surely, he could have chosen a different girl!

The romance was sweet and clean, and there was a nice build up to it.

Overall, I found this to be a lot more juvenile than the YA books I usually read. Most of them are categorized as age15/16+ but this is suitable for younger teens.

I was in two minds as to whether I was going to continue the series, but the hinted-at Irish connection is what swayed my mind. Onto Starcrossed next.

Blog Tour: Wicked Reunion (Wicked White #2) by Michelle A. Valentine

Wicked Reunion releaseday
Today is my stop during the blog tour for Wicked Reunion (Wicked White #2) by Michelle A. Valentine. I share my review with you and there’s a tour wide giveaway!

Wicked ReunioncoverTitle: Wicked Reunion
Author: Michelle A. Valentine
Series: Wicked White #2
Rating: 3 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Wicked Reunion teaser 3

Blurb:
College sweethearts London Uphill and Jared Kraft were inseparable. He was a rising baseball star with a promising future, and she seemed destined to become “Mrs. Kraft.” Then a tragic night and a series of devastating mistakes caused Jared to walk away from his life, leaving London without any explanation and tearing the couple apart.

Five years later, Jared has reinvented himself by putting down the bat and picking up a guitar to play for the red-hot band Wicked White. In all that time, London hasn’t gotten over her forever love—or the pain—despite seeking solace in the arms of the one man no one dreamed she’d run to.

When Wicked White’s lead singer goes MIA, Jared finds the time—and courage—to return to his hometown and face the mess he made. He’s shocked at how London’s life has changed, yet he’s determined to prove their love is worth fighting for. Is this breakup too big for any hope of a reunion tour? Or can London open her heart to Jared once again?

Wicked Reunion teaser 1

My Review:
I have mixed feelings abut this book. On the one hand, I loved the premise and it’s what sucked me in, but unfortunately, the execution of the story fell flat in parts which dented my overall enjoyment.

London and Jarod have been in love since they were kids. Jarod’s older brother Wes also seems to be harboring romantic notions toward the lovely London, which she is largely clueless about. Everything seems to be going according to plan for our lovebirds until a family tragedy turns their world upside down overnight. Then everything turns a full 360. Cue betrayal, sacrifice, heartbreak, and angst.

I enjoyed London’s character, for the most part, and I felt she was the most consistent. Though, I didn’t like her treatment of Wes at the end- she was very unfair to him.

I really loved Julie, and I thought she handled the conflict with her sons in a very fair manner. Those scenes were very well written.

I didn’t warm to Jarod for ages. Honestly, he was a selfish self-obsessed jerk. Wes was too much of a wet blanket for me to lust after him, so I found myself reading a book with no enticing man to root for. That was definitely a turn-off.

I felt both character development and plot development required more fleshing out. I didn’t really feel the characters emotions or pain, and it was difficult to remain engaged the whole way through the story.

At times, the writing is excellent, at other times not so much.

This book had so much potential, and the actual concept is brilliant, with further development I think it could be fantastic. But as it stands it was a bit frustrating to read. However, the quality is still decent and that’s why I’ve rated it 3 stars instead of lower.

Wicked Reunion teaser 2

About the Author:
Michelle A. Valentine is a Central Ohio nurse turned New York Times & USA Today bestselling author of erotic and New Adult romance. Her love of hard-rock music, tattoos, and sexy musicians inspired her erotic BLACK FALCON series.

Links:

Be a little naughty – join Valentine’s Vixens (http://on.fb.me/1mh1uFq) on Facebook for sneak peeks at Michelle’s upcoming works, as well as fun and chatting with her and other readers!

There’s a tour wide giveaway, for a chance to win enter the rafflecopter below:
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Review: Sea of Stars (Kricket #2) by Amy A. Bartol

Sea of StarsTitle: Sea of Stars
Author: Amy A. Bartol
Series: Kricket #2
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Science Fiction Romance
Links:

Blurb:
Eighteen-year-old Kricket Hollowell was looking for her place in the world when she discovered that the universe was bigger—and more dangerous—than she had ever dreamed. Now, whisked across space to the planet Ethar, Kricket learns that her genetic ability to see the future makes her a sought-after commodity…and the catalyst for war between her star-crossed parents’ clans. According to Alameedan prophecy, one house will rise to power and the other will be completely wiped out, and Kricket’s precognition is believed to be the weapon that will tip the scales.

A target of both the Rafe and the Alameeda houses, Kricket finds protection—and a home—in the arms of Trey, her Etharian bodyguard-turned-boyfriend. But her visions of what’s to come disturb her deeply, especially since she must discover whether the gift of foresight will allow her to rewrite the future, or if her fate is as immovable as the stars.

My Review:
Right, so there wasn’t a single page, nor a single word, that I did not love. This book seriously rocked. It is fast paced from the very start and it didn’t let up the whole way through. So much happened and it was full of plot twists and turns. I seriously loved it and devoured it in less than 24 hours. Thank God the next installment is out soon as I so need more.

Trey + Kricket = match made in heaven. I love them together and it got quite steamy in this book. Get it on!!

Kyon is a bit of a conundrum. Total douche, without a doubt, but he has his moments. Still, that ending killed me.

Can’t wait to see where Amy takes this next.

If you love fast-paced, imaginative sci-fi with tons of swoony romance then you need to check out this series.

Review: Under Different Stars (Kricket #1) by Amy A. Bartol

Under Different StarsTitle: Under Different Stars
Author: Amy A. Bartol
Series: Kricket #1
Rating: 4.5 stars
Genres: Science Fiction Romance
Links:

Blurb:
Kricket Hollowell is normally not one to wish upon stars; she believes they’re rarely in her favor. Well versed at dodging caseworkers from Chicago’s foster care system, the past few years on her own have made Kricket an expert at the art of survival and blending in. With her 18th birthday fast approaching, she dreams of the day when she can stop running and find what her heart needs most: a home.

Trey Allairis hates Earth and doubts that anyone from his world can thrive here. What he’s learning of Kricket and her existence away from her true home only confirms his theory. But, when he and Kricket lie together under the stars of Ethar, counting them all may be easier than letting her go.

Kyon Ensin’s secrets number the stars; he knows more about Kricket’s gifts than anyone and plans to possess her because of them. He also knows she’s more valuable than any fire in the night sky. He’ll move the heavens and align them all in order to make her his own.

When everything in their world can be broken, will Kricket rely upon love to save her under different stars?

My Review:
I’ve wanted to check out this series for ages and I’m so glad that I finally got around to reading it. I am totally hooked now!

The action started pretty much straight away which I loved – right into the thick of it. Awesome. Kricket is feisty and straight-talking and used to taking care of herself. While she has always suspected that she is different, she wasn’t aware of just how different she is.

Kidnapped by Trey and brought to her home planet Ethar, she sets out on a journey that will transform her life.

The world Amy has created is captivating and so imaginative, though I did feel that sometimes it was overly descriptive, and there were parts of the journey that I skimmed through. However, it’s my only complaint and it’s minor.

This book has everything that I love in a great YA sci-fi read – tons of action, plenty of intrigue, stunning world building, complex characters and lashings of scintillating romance. Yeah – I’m addicted.

A fantastic read. Highly recommended.

Review: Say You’re Mine (Shillings Agency #5) by Diane Alberts

Say You're MineTitle: Say You’re Mine
Author: Diane Alberts
Series: Shillings Agency #5
Rating: 3.75 stars
Genres: Military Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
She’s a challenge he can’t afford to lose…

Navy SEAL Steven Thomas has only ever been able to count on three things: waking up in the morning, going to sleep sometime during the night, and Lauren Brixton. She’s been his best friend since grade school, and what they have is the only relationship he’s managed not to ruin.

Until one drunken night puts that all in jeopardy.

Lauren’s watched Steven flit from one-night stand to one-night stand, seemingly not interested in something more. So when the long-ignored attraction between the two of them blows up in their faces, she does the only thing she can-she pretends she doesn’t want him. But all’s fair in love and war, and Steven’s not about to lose the only person in his life who matters…

My Review:
This is a well-written ‘friends to lovers’ story and an entertaining quick read. Steven is a Navy Seal who has returned from his stint overseas struggling to deal with the horrors he faced. He’s been in self-destruct mode since then, drowning in booze and women. Lauren has been his best friend since forever. At the same juncture, they both seem to realize that they have more than friendly feelings toward each other and the story is essentially about their transition to lovers.

There is plenty of witty dialogue and tons of sexy scenes, and it’s signature Entangled/Brazen.

I enjoyed Diane’s writing style and the two mains were solidly developed and likable despite their flaws. I also liked Holt and Lydia and they were decent side characters. I assume Mark and Daisy’s story is coming next and I look forward to reading that in the future.

For me, this book felt like it was missing an element. The story is purely about the romance and generally, I only enjoy contemporary romance where there is an extra dimension or layer to the plot. For example, with Elle Kennedy’s Out of Hours series and Jennifer L. Armentrout’s Gamble Brothers series (both from the same publishing house) there was a mystery/suspense/dramatic sub-plot running behind each romance that made it more intriguing and added more depth.

That said, I still massively enjoyed reading this book and if you are a fan of this series, or of this author, in general, then I think you’ll love it.

Actual Rating: 3.75 stars

Diane AlbertsAbout the Author:
Diane Alberts is a USA TODAY bestselling Contemporary Romance author with Entangled Publishing. Under the name Jen McLaughlin, she also writes New York Times, USA TODAY, and Wall Street Journal bestselling books with Penguin RandomHouse. She was mentioned in Forbes alongside E. L. James as one of the breakout independent authors to dominate the bestselling lists. Diane is represented by Louise Fury at The Bent Agency.

Diane has always been a dreamer with a vivid imagination, but it wasn’t until 2011 that she put her pen where her brain was, and became a published author. Since receiving her first contract offer, she has yet to stop writing. Though she lives in the mountains, she really wishes she was surrounded by a hot, sunny beach with crystal clear water. She lives in Northeast Pennsylvania with her four kids, a husband, a schnauzer mutt, and three cats. Her goal is to write so many fantastic stories that even a non-romance reader will know her name.

Links:

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Blog Tour: Teased (Dark Protectors #7.5) by Rebecca Zanetti

TEASED - R&E Tour banner
Today is my stop during the blog tour for Teased (Dark Protectors #7.5) by Rebecca Zanetti. There will be an excerpt from the book and I share my review.

Teased 1001 Dark Nights Rebecca ZanettiTitle: Teased
Author: Rebecca Zanetti
Series: Dark Protectors #7.5
Rating: 3 stars
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Links:

Blurb:
The Hunter

For almost a century, the Realm’s most deadly assassin, Chalton Reese, has left war and death in the past, turning instead to strategy, reason, and technology. His fingers, still stained with blood, now protect with a keyboard instead of a weapon. Until the vampire king sends him on one more mission; to hunt down a human female with the knowledge to destroy the Realm. A woman with eyes like emeralds, a brain to match his own, and a passion that might destroy them both—if the enemy on their heels doesn’t do so first.

The Hunted

Olivia Roberts has foregone relationships with wimpy metro-sexuals in favor of pursuing a good story, bound and determined to uncover the truth, any truth. When her instincts start humming about missing proprietary information, she has no idea her search for a story will lead her to a ripped, sexy, and dangerous male beyond any human man. Setting aside the unbelievable fact that he’s a vampire and she’s his prey, she discovers that trusting him is the only chance they have to survive the danger stalking them both.

Teased now available

My Review:
This was an enjoyable enough read, but I can’t say that I was blown away because I wasn’t. I must point out at the outset that I haven’t read any other books in this series, and I definitely think it helps if you are already familiar with the world and the characters. It can be read as a stand-alone but if you’re like me, you might feel it slightly lacking as a result. If you’ve read and enjoyed all the other books in the Dark Protectors series then more than likely you will love this one. To be fair, the author did a superb job of explaining minor details about the world and I didn’t feel like I missed out in this regard. In fact, Rebecca has created a very intriguing world, and I must admit to being curious to read more.

I also liked the writing, in the main, and it’s clear that Rebecca is an experienced author.

The main issue, for me, is character and plot development. Everything felt too rushed and lacked depth. The plot was nonsensical at times – cue lots of eye rolling. I didn’t connect with the characters on a deep enough level to really care what happened to them. In general, I make this comment a lot after reading novellas, and I think they only work if they are providing backstory to an existing series and further developing characters we’ve already met. Of course, this may very well be the case with this book. So, I think I’m going to decline to read novellas in future unless I’ve already read the existing books in the series.

While I liked Olivia, I didn’t like how easily she succumbed to Chalton’s allure. Though I usually enjoy soulmate stories this all just happened too fast to be believable. I didn’t feel the chemistry or the connection so didn’t really buy into their love.

It was a very quick read, and I’m grateful to have been introduced to this interesting world. I’m definitely going to check out this series from the start.

Teased teaser 3

Excerpt:
“Are you empathic?” he murmured.
She jerked. “No. I don’t think so.”
Interesting. “But you can tell a falsehood?” He’d never heard of an enhanced female being able to do so, but it could be an offshoot of empathic abilities, so it did make some sense.
“I just have good instincts.”
Ah, the lies humans told themselves to avoid anything they couldn’t rationalize with logic. He stepped right into her space.
“What are you doing?” she gasped, her chest rising.
He slid curly dark hair off her shoulder. “I’m facing a bit of a dilemma.”
Her head lifted, although her gaze only reached his lips and stayed there. “How so?” Her voice lowered to a breathiness that licked along his cock.
“I need a shower to wipe off the blood and grime, so my choices are to bind you or have you join me.” It was crazy, but he’d give his left arm for her to join him in the shower.
She half-coughed and half-laughed. “Are you hitting on me?”
His hand curled around her nape. “Yes.”
Her gaze lifted to his, and her pupils widened. “That’s insane,” she whispered.
“I know.” Hell, the woman was right. “But here’s the deal. My brothers won’t return for several hours, and then we’ll have to move again. I want you, and you want me, so let’s take the edge off so we can think.” His mind hadn’t been clear since he’d first sighted her two days ago, and he needed clarity. One good night, and he could get her out of his system. “What do you say?”
“I say you’re crazy.” She stepped back against the window. “If all I wanted was an orgasm to take the edge off, I sure as heck don’t need you for that.”
Humor bubbled up, and he full-on laughed. The woman was one of a kind. “Well then.” His hands slowly went to unbuckle his belt, and he drew the heavy leather through the loopholes, quite enjoying the way her breath caught and her eyes widened. “Plan B it is, then.”

Teased teaser 4

RebeccaAbout the Author:
New York Times Bestselling author Rebecca Zanetti is the author of over twenty-five dark paranormals, romantic suspense, and contemporary romances, and her books have appeared multiple times on the USA Today, NY Times, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iBooks bestseller lists. She lives in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest with her own Alpha hero, two kids, a couple of dogs, a crazy cat…and a huge extended family. She believes strongly in luck, karma, and working her butt off…and she thinks one of the best things about being an author, unlike the lawyer she used to be, is that she can let the crazy out. Her current series are: The Scorpius Syndrome, The Dark Protectors, The Realm Enforcers, The Maverick Montana Cowboys, and the Sin Brothers series.

Links:

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Review: No Limits (Ultimate #1) by Lori Foster

no limitsTitle: No Limits
Author: Lori Foster
Series: Ultimate #1
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
A surprise inheritance reunites a mixed martial arts fighter with the woman he’s never forgotten in the first in a smoldering new series from New York Times bestselling author Lori Foster…

Cannon Colter is quintessential hero material: chiseled jawline, shredded body—the works. He’s also the guy who rescued Yvette Sweeny from kidnappers, only to put an end to her romantic dreams. These days, she’s older, smarter, determined to face whatever life throws her way. Even the prospect of sharing a house and business with Cannon.

Cannon knew Yvette wanted him three years ago. But she was young—and some things are worth waiting for. Thrown together by her grandfather’s legacy, he realizes how deep Yvette’s scars really go, and how much danger lurks in their quiet town. As pent-up desire explodes between them, protecting her becomes the only fight that matters. And he’ll break all the rules to do it…

My Review:
I actually read the third book (Tough Love) first and then decided to start at the beginning (as you do.) At the time of writing this review I have now read all 3 books, and this book is my favorite so far.

Cannon is a Saint, in more ways than one. He has always been there for Yvette whenever she needed him. As soon as she reappears in his life he steps up and never lets her down. And I just loved him for it.

Yvette is a woman on a mission – she’s out to prove that she is not damaged by her past and that she is a strong, independent woman who doesn’t need Cannon to swoop in and save her all the time. Yvette has been in love with him for years though she doesn’t realise that Cannon has never forgotten her. With his help, she is finally able to leave the past in the past.

This book contained all my favorite ingredients – compelling characters, angst, longing, betrayal, hurt, revenge, suspense, intrigue, swoony romance and redemption. I loved it in its entirety and I’d highly recommend it.

Review: One Night of Trouble (After Hours #3) by Elle Kennedy

One Night of TroubleTitle: One Night of Trouble
Author: Elle Kennedy
Series: After Hours #3
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
No More Mr. Nice Guy…

The moment AJ Walsh sees the sexy, tattooed pixie walk up to his bar, it’s lust at first sight. He’s always been labeled the “nice” guy―opening doors, buying flowers, and never, ever having one-night stands. But with this wicked little angel with red lips and unfathomably dark eyes? Oh, yeah. Tonight, “nice” has nothing to do with it…

Brett Conlon is trying to convince her family that she’s put away her reckless wild girl side for good. Nothing―and no one―could be better for her reputation than golden boy AJ Walsh. So they make a deal: if he plays The Good Boyfriend for her family, he can be a very, very bad boy with her. Now their one naughty night is about to turn into a whole lot of trouble…

My Review:
So this is AJ’s story and for me this book was the best in the series.

AJ is carrying his fair share of baggage as a result of a tragic accident when he was a kid. Consequently, he has spent most of his adult life trying to please others – trying to be the perfect son, friend, and boyfriend. But there is only so much of that a person can take before they start to fall apart. AJ is in that space when he bumps into Brett in Sin (the nightclub he co-owns with his friends Gage and Reed)

Brett is almost the antithesis of AJ. She has lived her life the way she wants and she’s been rather reckless. Her choice in men has been disastrous up to this point. She has finally copped on and is trying to sort out her life and stay on the straight and narrow. These two meeting when they are at completely different stages could have been disastrous but it isn’t. They are perfect for one another.

Brett wants AJ to be the person he truly is and the man she fell in love with and AJ is a rock for Brett as she tries to focus on her career and convince her dad that she has what it takes to manage their new business.

This book is HOTT – yes, Extra-T worthy hot – and uproariously funny. There is one scene where AJ ends up in the wrong place and is forced to spend the night at a gay couple’s wedding. I almost peed my pants I was laughing so hard. Man, it was so so funny.

I loved this book in it’s entirety and you won’t hear me complaining about a single thing. Elle Kennedy’s writing is amazing and I can’t get enough of her books.

Highly Recommended.