Friday, October 21, 2016

seriously romantic: falling for the girl next door by tera lynn childs

falling for the girl next door is the second book in sloane and tru's story. when i picked this book up i wasn't really aware of that fact. it's also the fifth book in the creative hearts series, which just feels a bit confusing. like maybe the author is trying to build up a high school series like the sweet valley high books? maybe teens are on the look out for things like that?

while i hadn't read the first book, it didn't really matter because the first couple of chapters recap a lot of the stuff that happened in the first book. while i found it useful to have the background i also struggled with finding this recap stuff interesting. and if i was new to the series and not interested really, how bad would it be for a returning reader?

another thing i wasn't sure of, though i'm sure this is continuing the style of the earlier books, was that sloane's perspective took place in the first person. tru's perspective took place in third person. why do we need that shift in perspectives? i didn't mind the alternating viewpoints, but the shift from first person to third really got on my nerves for some reason.

i'm not sure why there was a sequel to sloane and tru's story from the first book. perhaps some of tru's issues hadn't been fully resolved, and they do take care of that here. but other than that, sloane and tru were working through stuff in their relationship. and they both were dealing with some serious family drama. and things mostly got resolved.

this was a perfectly fine read, but i'm not sure i'm interested enough to go back and catch up on the series.

**falling for the girl next door will publish on november 14, 2016. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (crush) in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

something from the archives: headlong - parts 10a & 10b

so when i started writing this story i was so sure i would just be happy to put liz and michael together, because that's what i always did. but then as i wrote it i became more and more conflicted. i liked the kyle i created and liz did too. so i decided i would write alternate endings. either way liz ended up happy with one of the guys, and since she was my absolute favorite character it worked for me.

you can catch up with the earlier parts at the links: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9. and choose your own adventures for parts 10a and 10b after the jump.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

seriously romantic: the bad boy bargain by kendra c. highley

faith gladwell is a good girl. she's driven by her passion for theater and dance, and is not quite happy in her relationship with a handsy football player as the bad boy bargain opens. meanwhile kyle sawyer has done everything in his power to cultivate the image of a bad boy. but he's a bad boy with secrets, his biggest one being that he is in no way, shape or form a bad boy--the rumors about him at school are just that. rumors.

when faith's handsy boyfriend cheats on her at a party and publicly dumps her and starts spreading rumors about how she is a cold-hearted bitch, she knows she has to do something to take control of the situation. it just so happens that another of kyle's secrets is that he owns a successful gardening and landscaping business and he has been hired by faith's mother to re-do their yard. when faith proposes faking a relationship to change the narrative, kyle agrees in spite of himself. he and cameron have a history, one that informs who the person kyle pretends to be in the present day.

as faith and kyle get to know each other a couple of things happen. one, they have crazy chemistry, faith is stunned by how attracted she is to kyle. she had never had any interest in sex with cameron, but with kyle things are different. kyle is just as attracted to faith, except he is actually terrified, because contrary to the relationship rumors he has cultivated at school, he has no relationship history and faith is the first person he's wanted to pursue something with since middle school. two, both faith and kyle struggle with insecurities and trust. this feels so authentic to me. they misinterpret each other's silences and miscommunicate all the time, but it's because they feel too much, too strongly. and it's terrifying to trust your heart in someone else's hands. especially when you've been burned before.

when kyle comes through for faith in a really big way, he tears down the pieces of armor that had been helping him cope with school and his insecurities. in the end this is a super sweet young adult romance. i loved faith and kyle and i loved their story.

**the bad boy bargain will publish on november 14, 2016. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled teen (crush) in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

seriously romantic: at last by addison fox

at last kicks of a series about three foster brothers who live in the fictional area of brooklyn called park heights. park heights basically functions like a small town within the framework of a larger city, which is weird because in a way this story could have been set anywhere. unlike most new york stories, the city wasn't an actual character in the novel. in at last local boy, nick kelley, former NFL player and up-and-coming bar owner is looking to expand his business by buying the union brewery.

meanwhile, emma vandenburg bradley returns home after a bitter divorce only to find that her father is selling her legacy to her former high school crush. she has all this unresolved drama from her marriage and divorce and miscarriage that it sometimes feels like we never fully get to figure out what makes emma tick. we spend more time getting to the bottom of nick's.

as part of a compromise for the brewery nick agrees to apprentice to emma, at the end of three months if he passes the same brewmaster's test she did, nick will get the brewery. and as they spend time together the attraction between them flourishes. and while their love story is at the heart of at last, it's not the only story being told. we also follow nick's adoptive mother louisa, and his foster brothers, landon and fender, as well as emma's friend holly and nic's friend hector. i'm imagining some of the threads begun in this novel will continue through the other ones as the setting of park heights does play an important role in the novel (it's just the new york city thing that isn't important).

the supporting characters play a strong role in this one, and maybe because the novel was so intent on establishing the unconventional family unit, at times you wondered if nick and emma were being short-changed. in the end their story is sweet, i wish a bit more time would have been spent on when their relationship was really good, because it takes them a while to get there and then things are in flux rather quickly. but it all works out in the end of course.

**at last will publish on november 1, 2016. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/st. martin's preess (swerve) in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, October 17, 2016

seriously romantic: all the ways you saved me by jamie howard

in this new adult romance, bianca easton is a senator's daughter who has always toed the line and never put a step wrong. in all the ways you saved me she doesn't actually put a step wrong. all she does is stay in new york after graduating law school. but deviating from her parents' plans for her is apparently unforgivable. she chooses to stay after graduation when her friend, renée is killed in a car accident. renée had a bucket list and as a way to honor and remember her, bianca decides to finish crossing off all the items on the list.

used to being the good girl, some of the items are a bit of a stretch. so bianca decides to start small. buying coffee for the next person in line at a local coffee shop. she's not sure about the intent behind renée's task, but she fulfills it nonetheless. and this is how she meets ian, she buys him a coffee and gives it to him no strings attached. ian is a bit weird about it. but he feels compelled to seek her out the next time she's in the coffee shop. and then when she tells him about the list he decides to help her out with crossing things off.

as they start spending time together, they go through a series of ups and downs mostly caused by ian's inability to share more of himself. he's closed off, and we slowly start to get his story through a series of flashback chapters. i'm not sure this was the most effective way to tell this story, because we see who ian was eight years ago and read about his love story with maggie. so while he develops a relationship with bianca in the present day you know that there is a story of loss waiting in the wings.

i think it would have been more compelling to see him work through his guilt and grief in a more immediate sense, without also having to see him fall in love and get married to his first love. it's just really weird. like you are getting two stories for the price of one.

this isn't bad, i quite enjoyed it. i liked ian and his family and bianca and her friend harper a lot. there were a lot of dead characters in the story and i'm not sure the author did a good enough job dealing with the loss and grief and guilt and anger and hurt that those events would have caused in the characters' psyches, but as a story about love the book mostly worked. as an exploration of life after loss, i'm not sure it did.

**all the ways you saved me will publish on november 1, 2016. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/st. martin's press (swerve) in exchange for my honest review. 

Sunday, October 16, 2016

seriously romantic: crossed by ally condie

crossed is the second novel in the matched trilogy. narrated by both ky and cassia we see the world beyond the confines of the society. as both ky and cassia navigate life in the outer provinces, where the society is barely fighting a war that never ends, using the endless bombings to eliminate the aberrations and anomalies present in society.

when ky sees a chance to escape into the carving, a canyon where anomalies, who actually go by the term farmers, are said to leave he does. his only goal is making sure he has a chance to see cassia again. cassia has been sent to a work camp, but when she sees the chance to get to the outer provinces, she does. even though she has to pretend to be an aberration to do it. and once there, she learns of ky's escape into the carving, so she follows him there.

and even though it takes a while, they do meet up again. and though they still love each other, they are not necessarily on the same page. one thing cassia has learned is that there is a rebellion, and she wants to join it. but ky grew up with a father who was part of the rebellion, and he doesn't trust them to save anyone. he only trusts the love he has for cassia. everything else is ephemeral.

cassia lives on hope in a way ky doesn't. he sees reasons to be skeptical, but cassia looks for the good in people. this is part of the push-pull of their relationship. cassia sees the good, and ky sees where it can all fall to pieces. but they love each other so much still. no matter what it is clear that they will do anything, go through anything to be together. and so wherever cassia goes ky will follow, and wherever ky goes cassia will follow.

the expanded world is interesting, and once ky and cassia make it to the rebellion it is clear that the next part will deal with how they will take everything that the society stands for apart. and i can't wait to see that.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

seriously romantic: the untouchable earl by amy sandas

book 2 of the fallen ladies series, the untouchable earl, takes its title literally. avenell slade, the earl of harte, cannot bear to be touched. he can barely handle the feeling of clothes rubbing against his skin. so he very obviously has intimacy issues. it's only with the help of the renowned madam  pendragon that he is able to desensitize himself enough to handle going out in society. the most unexpected touch can cause him unmentionable pain and he's built up his defenses specifically to avoid situations that could cause him torment.

but when he meets lily chadwick, from the first moment he sees her across the room he feels the spark. he knows instinctively that she makes him feel more than he ever thought possible. being with her could be life-altering if only he let himself trust her. because perhaps her touch will give him more pleasure than pain. he resists knowing her from the outset, and it's only when he finds himself forced to save her after she is kidnapped by a moneylender and put up for private auction by the infamous madam pendragon, that he allows himself to get close.

when avenell saves her, lily sees her chance to explore the feelings that surge within her whenever she finds herself around him. she suspects that being with avenell could be immensely pleasureable. ever since she read her former governess' stash of erotic novels, she's wanted to experience the things she's read about firsthand. so she strikes a deal. she will become his mistress. she is ready and willing. and then avenell makes her wait.

for a long time he doesn't reveal his affliction. and eventually lily puts it together, although it almost takes her too long. there is a lot of foreplay in this novel, and maybe not enough follow through? it just felt like maybe the pacing was off. i think maybe it would have been better to have avenell admit his problem to lily much earlier in the novel, and to have them work together to figure out how to find pleasure together. i enjoyed their story, but i think that more depth could have been added to elevate it. but it's fair to say that this is a pretty enjoyable regency with some unexpected plot twists.

one thing that the copy i received didn't have was an author's note explaining what avenell's affliction was in modern medical terms. maybe the author made it up, but maybe she didn't. it would have been nice to know if there was a scientific basis for his problem or not, and what historical records show about how similar patients would have been treated. i always enjoy when fiction contextualizes historical reality. but i'm also a lit nerd.

**the untouchable earl will be published on november 1, 2016. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/sourcebooks casablanca in exchange for my honest review.