Review: Darken the Stars (Kricket #3) by Amy A. Bartol

Darken the StarsTitle: Darken the Stars
Author: Amy A. Bartol
Series: Kricket #3
Rating: 4 stars
Genres: Science Fiction Romance
Links:

Blurb:
Kyon Ensin finally has what he’s always wanted: possession of Kricket Hollowell, the priestess who foresees the future. Together, their combined power will be unrivaled. Kricket, however, doesn’t crave the crown of Ethar—she has an unbreakable desire to live life on her own terms, a life that she desperately wants to share with her love, Trey Allairis.

As conspiracies rage in the war for Ethar, Kricket’s so-called allies want to use her as a spy. Even those held closest cannot be trusted—including Astrid, her sister, and Giffen, a member of a mysterious order with a hidden agenda. But Kricket’s resolve will not allow her to be used as anyone’s pawn, even as the Brotherhood sharpens its plans to cut out her heart.

As the destiny prophesied by her mother approaches, Kricket will backtrack through her fiery future to reshape it. For she knows one thing above all else: the only person she can truly count on is herself.

My Review:
Gosh, that was totes emote. Very unexpected in a lot of ways.

Kricket has been kidnapped by Kyon and taken to his island home. He is his usual controlling, psychotic self from the get-go and Kricket uses every opportunity to plot her escape. However, it becomes clear quite quickly that she’s not getting off that damned island. What also becomes obvious is that Kyon has acted to protect her. She still has considerable enemies who want to take her out of the equation, and Kyon has her back, always. He is a bit of a conundrum of a character. He is everything we have seen of him in the previous two books, but we also see a different side to him here. He secretly loves how she stands up to him and tries to boss him around. It’s easy to see how she’s a true match for him in many ways.

I felt this book started quite slowly and it took me longer to get into it than the first two books. Part of that was because I was missing Trey, Wayra and Jax so much. We hardly see them at all in Darken the Stars and it lacked as a result.

Kricket seemed worn out in this book and I couldn’t really blame her. It must get tiring fighting for your life all the time and having so many different factions gunning for your ass. What I didn’t like is how quickly she gave in to Kyon and how easily she seemed to forget about Trey. It didn’t seem consistent with her character though I could understand how jaded she was of everything.

When the book picked up pace it was action packed and I raced through the second half holding my breath most of the time.

Now onto the ending. Holy Moley. The ending felt very rushed and I don’t feel like I have closure. I’d love a novella showing what happens after the epilogue.

Overall though, this was a brilliant emotionally-charged conclusion to a superb series. Hate that it’s over. I need more.

Cover Reveal: One Day Soon by A. Meredith Walters

ONSbanner1
Today is the cover reveal for One Day Soon by A. Meredith Walters. Let me know what you think of the cover! There are also some teaser images.

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

ODS teaser #5

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.

ODS teaser broken heart

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

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

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

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

Links:

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Review: Holding Strong (Ultimate #2) by Lori Foster

Holding StrongTitle: Holding Strong
Author: Lori Foster
Series: Ultimate #2
Rating: 4.5 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
Heavyweight fighter Denver Lewis plays real nice, but he doesn’t share. That’s why he’s been avoiding top-notch flirt Cherry Peyton. But a man can only resist those lush curves for so long. Their encounter surpasses all his fantasies, bringing out protective urges that Cherry’s about to need more than she knows…

Denver’s combination of pure muscle and unexpected tenderness has been driving Cherry wild. Yet no sooner does she get what she’s been craving than old troubles show up on her doorstep. And this time, Cherry can’t hide behind a carefree facade. Because the man by her side is one who’ll fight like hell to keep her safe…if only she’ll trust him enough to let him…

My Review:
Cherry has had her eye on Denver pretty much from the first moment she met him, but he has been deliberately keeping her at arms length. Finally caving, they decide to hook-up only for Cherry to fall ill and Denver ends up looking after her. They quickly become involved in each other’s lives and discover that both of them are harboring secrets.

Cherry has had an awful childhood and her past is threatening to catch up with her. She wants Denver nowhere near that, but he is in protector mode and he’s having none of it. He’s got his own family issues to deal with too.

Cherry and Denver were really good together though his bullying behaviour at the start was a major turn-off however he eventually won me over. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the world Lori has created and all the other guys are amazing. Armie is such a walking contradiction, but it’s hard not to fall for him. I can’t wait to read his book and I hope it’s coming soon.

This book lost a half star because I felt the pacing slowed during the period where Cherry was sick, and I was annoyed that Denver didn’t call Pamela out after she was spotted with Carver – it was out of character for him and not believable.

However, all in all this was a fantastic read and I’m totally hooked on this series now.

Actual rating: 4.5 stars

Cover Reveal: Mountain Charm by Sydney Logan

Mountain Charm Cover Reveal & Giveaway
Today I will help reveal the cover for Mountain Charm by Sydney Logan. I hope you’ll like the cover and enter the tour wide giveaway!

Mountain Charm eBook CoverTitle: Mountain Charm
Author: Sydney Logan
Series: standalone
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Release Day: January 30th, 2016
Links:

Blurb:
“True love and sweet whispers, till death do us part;
Send someone to love my Appalachian heart.”

At the age of thirteen, Angelina Clark followed in the footsteps of her ancestors by casting an Appalachian love spell, which promised she would find her true love. A young Angelina had been thrilled to participate in the ritual, but through the years, her father’s untimely death and her mother’s illness have shaken Angelina’s magical faith to its core. Now, as her twenty-first birthday approaches, she refuses to practice her supernatural gifts and no longer believes in the love charm.
That is, until Dylan Thomas arrives on her front porch.
Dylan, a Nashville writer, travels to the mountain town of Maple Ridge to unearth the family’s supernatural secrets. While her clairvoyant mother is convinced that Dylan is her daughter’s soul mate, Angelina refuses to see the nosy reporter as anything more than a nuisance.
The two grow closer just as her mother’s health takes a turn for the worse. Faced with mounting medical bills, Angelina is faced with selling the family’s music shop to make ends meet. Desperate to help the woman he loves, Dylan explores his own family tree and finds support from an unlikely source.
Can Dylan prove his love is real—spell or no spell?

MC Full Wrap

About the Author:
Sydney Logan is the bestselling author of six novels. She has also penned several short stories and is a contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul. A lover of music, she fills her playlist with everyone from Johnny Cash to Eminem.

Sydney holds a Master’s degree in Elementary Education and spends her days surrounded by kids and books. A native of East Tennessee, she enjoys playing piano and relaxing on her porch with her wonderful husband and their very spoiled cat.

Links:

There’s a tour wide giveaway, for a chance to win enter the rafflecopter below:
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Review: Betrayal (Infidelity #1) by Aleatha Romig

BETRAYAL 1Title: Betrayal
Author: Aleatha Romig
Series: Infidelity #1
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance/ Erotica
Links:

BK1.1 Betrayal Facebook Cover Art

Blurb:
One week. No future. No past. No more.
Alexandria Collins has one week to live carefree—no ghosts of her past or pressures of her future haunting her. Reinventing herself as “Charli,” she is knocked off her feet by a sexy, mysterious man who brings her pleasure like she never imagined. With her heart at stake, she forgets that decisions made in the dark of night reappear in the bright light of day.

“Some of my tastes are unique. They aren’t for everyone. I understand that.”

Lennox “Nox” Demetri is wealthy, confident, and decisive—he knows what he wants. From the first time he sees Charli at an exclusive resort, he knows he wants her. Although he is usually the one to make the rules, together they agree on one:

One week. No more.

When betrayal comes from those closest to Alexandria, she must decide how far she is willing to go to survive. Choices are not always easy, especially when they involve the heart, body, and soul. After all, Infidelity is a business, and some rules are meant to be broken.

“Is it really cheating if you’re doing it to yourself?”

From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Aleatha Romig comes a sexy, new dominant hero who knows what he wants, and a strong-willed heroine who has plans of her own. With classic Aleatha Romig twists, turns, deceptions, and devotions, this new epic dark romance will have readers swooning one minute and screaming the next. Have you been Aleatha’d?

BETRAYAL is a full-length novel and the first of five in the INFIDELITY series.

My Review:
What a sensational read! I’ve just read a couple of books that were a bit meh, so this book was like a welcome breath of fresh air. I loved it in its entirety – the beautiful writing, solid, consistent character and plot development, steady pacing, and steamy romance. This book had it all in spades and it sucked me in from the very first line.

There was a heady, enticing mix of romance, mystery, and suspense, combined with dark secrets and plenty of skeletons in the closet. The premise is so intriguing – one week to be someone else, and to indulge pent-up (hidden) desires, one week to escape the trap lying in wait. Who wouldn’t want an opportunity to enact out some fantasies with an amazing, hot guy before taking a return trip to reality?

I felt shivers all over whenever Alton was in the frame. I know where this is going and it’s going to be explosive. No wonder she referred to herself as Rapunzel – her childhood was a prison and her family do their best to lure her back in. I loved that Alex was strong enough to stand up to them, and so willing to forge a future path in life on her own terms, even though she is letting go of everything she has known and taken for granted. She was a strong character who wasn’t afraid to stretch herself out of her comfort zone with Nox either, and it can’t have been easy to relinquish control to him, but she was brave.

I’m intrigued to find out more about Nox. We only get one chapter from his perspective and I’m hoping the second book has more in his voice. I still need to understand what really makes him tick.

When Infidelity was introduced I was blown away by the unexpected turn in the plot – totally unpredictable, and I love when a book catches me by surprise. Though I did foresee where it was going with our couple after that revelation, it was still a fantastic twist.

And that ending? Sweet Jesus, I think I’ll DIE if I don’t get my hands on the next book, like NOW!! I need it like I need air to breathe. I know plenty of people hate cliffhangers, but I love’em even though they are the worst form of bookish torture. I like them because it makes the book MEMORABLE and difficult to forget. This is definitely one that is going to stay with me until I can get my hands on the continuation of this story.

I would highly recommend this book, especially if you enjoy strong storytelling, complex characters, and flawless writing. I also think it will particularly appeal to fans of Laurelin Paige, Lori Foster, Elle Kennedy and Addison Moore.

Favorite Quotes:

“Dreams, like Fairytales, all come to an end. We wake or turn that final page. There’s no escaping it. It may take days, years, or an entire lifetime, but forever doesn’t truly exist. No matter how hard we wish or try, the end always comes.”

“The void in my chest gaped open. It was so painful I feared looking down. If I did, I was sure I’d see bloody shreds of vessels and flesh where my heart had been.”

betrayalteaser2

aleatharomig1About the Author:
Aleatha Romig is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who lives in Indiana. She grew up in Mishawaka, graduated from Indiana University, and is currently living south of Indianapolis. Aleatha has raised three children with her high school sweetheart and husband of nearly thirty years. Before she became a full-time author, she worked days as a dental hygienist and spent her nights writing. Now, when she’s not imagining mind-blowing twists and turns, she likes to spend her time a with her family and friends. Her other pastimes include reading and creating heroes/anti-heroes who haunt your dreams!

Aleatha released her first novel, CONSEQUENCES, in August of 2011. CONSEQUENCES became a bestselling series with five novels and two companions released from 2011 through 2015. The compelling and epic story of Anthony and Claire Rawlings has graced more than half a million e-readers.

Aleatha released the first of her series TALES FROM THE DARK SIDE, INSIDIOUS, in the fall of 2014. These stand alone thrillers continue Aleatha’s twisted style with an increase in heat.

In the fall of 2015, Aleatha moved head first into the world of dark romance with the release of BETRAYAL, the first of her five novel INFIDELITY series. She also began her traditional publishing career with Thomas and Mercer. Her books INTO THE LIGHT and AWAY FROM THE DARK will be published through this mystery/thriller publisher in 2016.

Aleatha is a “Published Author’s Network” member of the Romance Writers of America and represented by Danielle Egan-Miller of Browne & Miller Literary Associates.

Links:

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Blog Tour: All In by Aleah Barley

AllIn_BlastBadge
Today is my stop during the blog tour for All In by Aleah Barley. I share a excerpt form the book with you and there’s a tour wide giveaway!

All In CoverTitle: All In
Author: Aleah Barley
Series: Leaving Las Vegas #2
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
World-class statistician and poker prodigy Daisy Drake has two rules: never risk anything you can’t afford to lose, and never, ever, trust a gambler. Which is why she gave up the game and moved to Los Angeles, where she became a tenured professor. But when an old acquaintance calls needing Daisy’s…expertise…to help catch a cheater, she heads back to Las Vegas and the poker tables.

FBI Agent Ryan DiNatto’s been a gambler since he was four, and a hustler since he hit puberty. Coming off an undercover mission that ended with him shot and his partner in a wheelchair, Ryan’s out for blood. With a mob accountant and a hit man on the loose, the stakes have never been higher, and this time, he’s determined to make things right—even if it means beating spunky, sexy, Daisy Adams at her own game.

Excerpt:
In the two weeks he’d prepped to go undercover as a tournament poker player at the Hendrix, Ryan had studied the case file more thoroughly than he’d ever studied anything in college. This was his chance to prove he was really back. That he wasn’t just the screw-up who’d gotten Jack shot.
More importantly, it was his chance to take another crack at Vic Morelli. There’d been enough stolen property in the warehouse to send Vic upriver for five to thirty—depending on the judge—but the Feds were still working to build racketeering and corruption charges. Ryan wasn’t about to let that stand. He wanted the mobster in jail for life or—better—parked on death row for conspiracy to commit murder.
Forget the drug dens in Manhattan or the warehouse in the Bronx; he was going to hit the man where it hurt.
His wallet.
Edgar Blethins was Vic’s best friend and personal accountant. The FBI had frozen all of the accounts he managed, but there was still a chunk of money unaccounted for.
Ten million, seven hundred and twenty-six thousand dollars to be exact.
Almost eleven million dollars hadn’t just gotten up and walked away. So when Blethins signed up for the Hendrix’s inaugural poker tournament in Las Vegas, it only made sense to send an agent in undercover to keep an eye out for him.
Ryan had demanded to be put on the case. He’d fucking begged, and when he’d finally gotten the go-ahead for the assignment? He’d started doing his homework.
He knew every employee, every longtime guest, and every big winner currently checked into the hotel. He for damn sure knew every player registered to play in the tournament, but he didn’t know “Adams, Daisy Adams” from Eve.
The woman had to be a last minute entry.
But how? And why?
In the world of professional gambling, the women who played were tough, domineering, and sexy as hell. Men wore TT-shirts, shorts, and lucky charms, anything to stay comfortable. Women wore low-cut shirts and too much makeup, working their own special charm to gain the slightest advantage.
Daisy Adams wasn’t sexy. She was cute.
Wearing a pair of cotton-candy pajamas with fluffy white sheep embroidered on them, she was adorable. The pajamas were a size too big, hanging loose on her already petite frame, but they didn’t completely hide her curved hips and firm, high breasts. Her hair was inky black, loose waves flowing around her heart-shaped face like a dark and twisted halo. Her features were delicate, like the rest of her. Her eyes were royal blue, so deep they were almost purple.
“Is there any other reason I’d be in Las Vegas?” she snapped, answering his earlier question. Her tone was harsh, coming from soft pink lips that curved generously on top and were full on the bottom. At five in the morning, she probably wasn’t wearing any makeup, so the apple red color of her cheeks had to be all natural. Fresh from bed, she smelled like the orange trees his grandparents kept in their dining room in Coney Island in winter, then dragged outside for the summer months.
Fresh faced and innocent, what the hell was she doing in the casino?
“You play poker?” Ryan asked, just in case he was missing something.
“Sure, want some pointers?”
Cute wasn’t his type. He liked leggy law-enforcement professionals who knew the score—he’d been engaged to three of them—but Daisy had spunk.
Ryan liked spunk.
It kept things interesting.
He wondered if the blush that was coloring her skin went all the way down, underneath those absurd pajamas. The way she was glaring at him, she’d probably cut his throat if he tried to find out, but it might be worth it. His gaze moved back to those warm, full, lips. It would definitely be worth it.
“I’m always up for improving my technique.” He ran his fingers through his hair, wishing he’d had time to brush it before he opened the door. “Give me a second to throw on a shirt, and I’ll take you out to breakfast.”
“What?” Daisy’s hands went to her hips—all spunky and defiant—and those threadbare pajamas pulled tight against her petite curves.
Ryan lost the ability to think.
Damn. Daisy might be small, but she was very well proportioned, with luscious breasts and full hips. What was she wearing under those things anyway? A gentleman would step back and close the door, but—fuck it—he definitely wasn’t a gentleman.
He moved closer for a better view.

Check Out the First Book in the Leaving Las Vegas Series!
LLV Cover - NEWTitle: Leaving Las Vegas
Author: Aleah Barley
Series: Leaving Las Vegas #1
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
When West Virginia wild child, Glory Allen enters a private poker game with her town’s dreams at stake she loses it all. To make matters worse, she’s trapped in a car with the sexy but infuriating man who won—and accused her of cheating. Now because of him, she’s on the run from the mafia who put out a hit on the stuck-up casino magnate with the toe-curling good looks—and he isn’t even her type. So why can’t she cool the explosive chemistry between them?

She’s out of control…and she’s enough to drive Luke Tanner crazy. Yet she’s the only one willing to put her neck on the line…for him—a complete stranger she professes to hate. Now he’s in debt…to her. And it’s a debt he’s willing to work off any way she wants…on the hood of his sports car, in a waterfall—wherever she’ll have him, he’s willing to pay the price.

But the stakes are raised when they return to West Virginia—helping Luke escape has put Glory and her hometown in the sites of someone who wants him dead. This time Glory decides she’s not going to end up empty-handed—it’s time for the winner to take all and she won’t stop ’til she wins his heart.

Aleah Barley Author PhotoAbout the Author:
Aleah Barley is a writer of explosive romance for everyone. She lives and writes in Detroit, Michigan, with a cat who’s recently learned how to levitate, an over enthusiastic Labrador, and the cutest guy in the world. She will do anything for a hot cup of coffee or a wild romance–and, she can spell onomatoepia without using spell check.

Links:

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Review: Starfall (Starstruck #4) by Brenda Hiatt

StarfallTitle: Starfall
Author: Brenda Hiatt
Series: Starstruck #4
Rating: 3.5 stars
Genres: Science Fiction Romance
Links:

Blurb:
The electrifying conclusion to the Starstruck series!

M, no longer a nerdy nobody, has finally been acclaimed Sovereign Emileia, ruler of the Martian colony Nuath. But at what cost? Without her soulmate Rigel, life seems pointless but she’s expected to shake off her heartbreak and assume her responsibilities. Reluctantly, M does what she must until an unexpected discovery restores a glimmer of hope for the future. Now she is determined to do whatever she can to salvage her longed-for happy ending—if it’s not already too late.

My Review:
This was a decent conclusion to the series, and a vast improvement on the last book, in my opinion.

I really felt for M in this book as the full extent of her leadership role hits home. Thrust headfirst into the manipulative political world on Mars, she must keep her wits about her if she is to correctly separate those who are trustworthy from those who are power-hungry and who seek to use her for their own end. It’s a tricky situation, especially for one so young. Betrayal abounds with heartbreaking consequences.

Separated from Rigel, she struggles to hold it all together. But M proves her resilience and demonstrates what a natural born leader she truly is.

The twist with Rigel was good and unexpected.

There is strength in numbers, and together, M and Rigel, are a force to be reckoned with.

One of the things I really liked about this series was how loyal both M and Rigel were to each other. M never wavered in her love of him, and though Sean was a genuine option, and he was more than happy to enter into a relationship with her, she stayed loyal to Rigel the entire time. Kudos to M.

I still felt so badly for Sean in this book. He definitely drew the shorter straw. The author attempted to give him his HEA at the end and I didn’t like it – it was rushed and an ill fit.

Now that I’ve completed the series, I can say that it was enjoyable, but it didn’t rock my world. If I was rating the entire series, I would rate it 3.5 stars. I can’t ever see myself re-reading it, which is something I always do with series I love. That said, it’s a well-written series that is suitable for tweens and up.

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.