Wednesday, November 30, 2016

seriously romantic: how not to let go by emily foster

how not to let go is the sequel to how not to fall of the bellhaven duology. i know that duologies are a thing in new adult romance, but i'm not a fan. i feel like the story being told here could have been compressed into one book. there was a lot that was repetitive and mostly the entire plot revolved around charles getting his shit together psychologically in order to accept that 1) he was totally head over heels for annie and 2) to deal with his dysfunctional family crap.

the author, emily foster, is wicked smart and has a doctoral degree in health behavoir and human sexuality with a master's degree in counseling and this is very evident in the story. in several chapters we get these extended psychological metaphors for what is going on in charles' head and i just wish they hadn't felt like filler. part of me feels like it's unnecessary to illustrate the character's psyche to this level of detail. it was already obvious what charles' hang-ups are and what he needed to come to terms with in order to be in a good place to sustain a meaningful relationship.

i also felt that given the cliffhanger ending of the first book, the characters should have actually spent more time apart than they actually do in how not to let go. basically they are back together by the third chapter, even if not officially. but for all intents and purposes there is no one else in the picture and annie is clearly willing to wait for charles to get his head on straight. in a sense this is the problem with how not to let go. the initial conflict is solved so quickly that even though charles' psychological state is important and his being able to accept a relationship with annie is key, it all feels like a given. so it just felt like the stakes weren't high enough, and even the obstacles, some of which felt entirely manufactured didn't feel like real problems. they were just silly excuses to keep the characters apart.

this is not to say that how not to let go isn't enjoyable, because it is. and i like charles and annie. it was nice to see their universe expand to include more of their families. getting the background on their family life fills in so much about who they are and why they are built the way they are. and given the author's goal of writing sex-positive romance, i feel like she accomplishes this quite nicely.

**how not to let go will publish on december 27, 2016. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/kensington books in exchange for my honest review. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

seriously romantic: duke of pleasure by elizabeth hoyt

the latest in the maiden lane series, duke of pleasure, tells the story of the duke of kyle and a street urchin named alf. hugh is intent on disbanding and unmasking the notorious lords of chaos, and he hires alf, in her street urchin garb, to help him investigate and attack he believes was instigated at the command of the lords. hugh doesn't know alf's secret, he thinks she is a teenaged boy. alf has many secrets in fact, because she is also the current ghost of st. giles.

alf has had run-ins with hugh in both her guises, she saved hugh from a nasty attack on the streets of st. giles as the ghost. an encounter that ended with a heated kiss and his realization that the ghost of st. giles was a woman. and as a street urchin/informant who barters information for coin, they first crossed paths when alf was working for valentine, and again when hugh asks alf to look into the nasty attack and suss out who hired the gang of thugs to take hugh out.

working with hugh puts her life in danger, and when he insists that she stay in his home, her secrets start to unravel. because there is an attraction between hugh and alf, one that is undeniable. and even though alf has always had to be a boy, she suddenly finds herself wishing more people knew her true self.

all too soon hugh knows she is a woman, and there is no way they can keep apart. eventually the case requires alf to take on her womanhood. and once she makes these changes for hugh there is no going back. they belong together and it's just a question of figuring that out.

the threads that link this book to its sequel start to come together in this book, and i can't wait to see where duke of desire will take us as the series concludes. elizabeth hoyt has created such a rich world with the maiden lane series, it will be so sad to leave it behind. but we have at least one full length novel and a holiday novella in the works before that actually happens. in the meantime, we get to see hugh and alf figure out their thing. fun fact: it involved lots and lots of chemistry. and time in bed.

**duke of pleasure will publish on november 29, 2016. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/forever (grand central publishing) in exchange for my honest review. 

Monday, November 28, 2016

seriously romantic: winterblaze by kristen callihan

poppy ellis lane is miranda and daisy's eldest sister, though she didn't have much of a role in either of her sister's novels. but at the end of moonglow she's had to reveal to her sisters, and to her husband, winston, that she is involved with the society for the suppression of supernaturals (aka the s.o.s.). and that she has always been aware of miranda and daisy's supernatural abilities.

this does not go over well. there are still more secrets that poppy is keeping. and the thing is winston, in particular, is devastated because he has spent 14 years adoring a person he realizes he didn't know. not really and truly. and here's the other thing: i can sympathize with that. it was harder to sympathize with poppy. so this book, which is about how these two married people find themselves torn apart and who are still desperately in love with each other, was a bit of a challenge. because we are meant to empathize more with the woman, as a woman, i hate when i can't empathize more with the woman. we're supposed to be mad at him for leaving her, but she lied to him. and even when we find out the secret lurking in his past, it's not something poppy is even mad about. so even though he feels guilty, you end up feeling like he's feeling super guilty for no good reason.

i struggled with this because some of the conflict felt so manufactured. but the star of the novel here is really winston. maybe as he came around on poppy and we got more flashbacks to their original love story, he made her more likable, but he was just a great character all around and more familar to us given his presence in the previous books. unlike every other one of the characters so far in the series, he is truly human. [though, technically archer is human now that the demon that was possessing him was vanquished.]

this book actually served to do a lot more world-building, so that we could really understand the connections and provenance of the s.o.s. and it provides a peek at the next set of characters to get their own novel in mary chase and jack tallent. something i'm looking forward to. there was so much chemistry and angst there that felt real, rather than the rather tame love story of winston and poppy. it's hard to write a romance novel about two people who clearly love each other from the get-go and the only conflict between them is a silly argument. yes, there are other things happening in the story, but i like stories about relationships and how they build so this was less interesting to me.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

seriously romantic: surrender to sin by nicola davidson

the fallen series kicks off with surrender to sin, a novella that makes it clear that this is not your average regency romance. this has an added layer of sexy that works in spite of the fact that none of it feels historically accurate. grace, lady carrington, has been inconveniently married to an old geezer who mercifully dies five years into the marriage. on the eve of the end of her mourning period her father, a prominent bishop, informs her that she is to be married off to an even worse old geezer than her first husband. this causes grace to nearly lose her mind. she was about to be free. free to look for someone who could stir her passions, after years of dealing with a loveless and painful consummation she yearns for something more.

her maid suggests she seek out lord sebastian st. john, known as lord sin, he is part owner of a house of sensual delights called fallen. and as the son of a former courtesan and a baron he is unconventionally open-minded about women's sexuality. he might be willing to help grace make herself unweddable. because the last thing in the world grace wants is another passionless marriage. when grace approaches sin he is enchanted by her, and from their first meeting their chemistry burns off the pages.

for a novella there is a surprising amount of sex, and a surprising amount of variety of situations. the characters' attitudes and language are a bit too modern for the time, but if that kind of thing doesn't bother you, then you will be fine. things escalate very quickly between the leads, but the format doesn't allow the author much time and even still she does a pretty good job of giving the main characters the appropriate amount of depth.

for a quick, steamy read, you can't really ask for more.

**surrender to sin will publish on december 12, 2016. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (scorched) in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

seriously romantic: the highlander who loved me by tara kingston

unlike the darkest london series, the highland hearts series does not deal with things that go bump in the night. at the very least there are no werewolves or vampires or demons to worry about. but in the highlander who loved me there are thieves and murderers and evil kidnap pets who will think nothing of cutting short the lives of innocents. johanna templeton is desperate to save her niece, who has been taken and is being held hostage in exchange for a rare first edition copy of frankenstein.

but the ransom demand isn't actually about the rare book. it's about finding the map to the demon's heart, a rare ruby linked to the macmasters family. the ruby is said to have rare powers that lead to unpleasantness, and the macmasters family has been charged with protecting and recovering these old scottish artifacts. so when connor macmasters saves johanna at the first encounter she has with the kidnapper's henchmen, she isn't sure whether she should be grateful or upset that she's a pawn in someone else's games.

it takes her a while to trust connor, and this was actually something i found challenging in the novel, because he kept telling her he was trustworthy, and really nothing he did countered what he was telling her, but somehow she couldn't believe him. and i think maybe there was more backstory with being misled by the men in her life too many times before, but i feel like some of this was edited out of the novel. and i'm not saying that wasn't a bad thing, because i feel like the novel mostly worked as written, it's just that johanna's level of distrust didn't seem to be fair to connor.

he was also just a super likable hero, so maybe this also made it difficult to understand johanna's reticence. but this was a great introduction to the series. the macmasters we do meet are all charming and aching for stories of their own. so there is a lot more exploring of this world that can happen.

**the highlander who loved me will publish on december 12, 2016. i received an advance copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (select historical) in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, November 25, 2016

seriously romantic: moonglow by kristen callihan

moonglow is the second book in the darkest london series. it takes on the story of two characters we met in firelight: daisy ellis craigmore, miranda's older sister; and ian rannulf, archer's friend/rival. daisy is recently widowed and is feeling reckless after enduring a loveless marriage. she craves attention and affection. always a free-spirit, she's been bound by propriety and society for too long.

while at a party she crosses paths with ian, who notes her attention but has no intention of getting involved. he's had enough tangling with her family after miranda and archer settled down together. but then daisy finds herself in the midst of a werewolf attack. and ian saves her and takes her back to heal. he is especially concerned by the attack, given that he is a lycan and his brother is the current head of the lycan family.

daisy finds herself pulled into this supernatural world, and she loves it. the danger, the adventure speak to her free spirited soul. she feels more herself with ian than she ever has with anyone else. as they resolve the mystery of the rogue werewolf, ian and daisy realize that in each other they have found something truly special. and how callihan makes their love story work is well worth the read. so far moonglow  has been my favorite book of the series.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

simply giving thanks is

it's the day before thanksgiving and i'm surrounded by extended family and friends and am feeling grateful for all the good things in my life. this past year has been complicated and challenging in many ways, and i have no idea what the future holds, but at the very least i am facing it with a wonderful group of people.

in any case, here's my favorite thanksgiving gif:

happy thanksgiving all!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

seriously romantic: firelight by kristen callihan

i'd been reading callihan's contemporary series and was all caught up when i realized there was a historical series i could check out. firelight takes place in victorian london, but there are people inhabiting this london that have special abilities. miranda ellis is one of these people, her ability to start fire with no kindling has been both a blessing and a curse. a blessing because it has provided protection from unsavory elements and a curse because this ability is what in part caused her father's ruin. when benjamin archer first encounters miranda he is entranced. she is still too young and he has his own secrets.

when he approaches her father years later and asks for her hand in marriage it is because he can't stay away, her allure is too strong and he doesn't have much time before the darkness that has been consuming him swallows him whole. as the story unravels, we get to the truth behind archer and miranda's secrets. this opens their eyes to a whole new world beyond the one we see at first sight.

i didn't know the darkest london series was paranormal romance, but i have enjoyed them even though they aren't my usual cup of tea. they are romances above all, firelight for example borrows heavily from the beauty and the beast fairy tale, but this retelling works because the characters of miranda and archer are so well drawn, they go beyond the fairy tale they're drawn from and are so much more. this london they inhabit is worth exploring, so lucky me that there are seven more books in the series!

Monday, November 21, 2016

seriously romantic: the twelve days of dash & lily by rachel cohn and dave levithan

it's fitting that there's a blizzard happening outside just this moment. because it doesn't feel weird to write that it's christmastime and we have another wonderful adventure to enjoy with dash and lily in the twelve days of dash & lily. i loved their first outing dash & lily's book of dares, and it's been a year since dash and lily found each other and it's been hard to keep the romance of the holidays alive throughout the year.

part of the problem is that lily's beloved grandfather suffered a heart attack in the spring and since then nothing has felt quite right. dash doesn't know what to do to get through to lily. but he knows something is off, because it's christmas and it's her favorite time of year and she isn't feeling it. lily isn't sure of what she is feeling. she knows things are all wrong but she doesn't know how to fix it. she's the ray of sunshine, the incurable optimist, who can't stop feeling like everything around her is falling apart.

dash knows he needs to make things right for lily. so he enlists her entire family and their friends in another whirlwind scavenger hunt through manhattan, and in doing so proves to lily how much he really cares about her. how much he loves her. it's such a delight spending time with all these characters again. and as the magic of christmas brings joy to one and all, dash and lily are more in love than ever and it's wonderful.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

seriously romantic: completely yours by erin nicholas

zach ashley knows about saving lives. fixing people who are broken is his life's work. when he meets kiera connelly in completely yours she's just suffered a severe trauma. she's not the kind of girl he normally finds himself attracted to, especially considering she's dressed up as a video game character at a comic-con.

zach doesn't understand video games, he doesn't really keep up with pop culture, but it doesn't matter, because from the moment he meets kiera he wants to get to know her. he wants to be a part of her life. he recognizes her loneliness, because it is a loneliness that he too has felt. so he sets about breaking down her walls, and slowly she is convinced that maybe he is someone worth really getting to know.

the connection that grows between these two characters is surprisingly emotional. granted both zach and kiera have some heavy baggage that they end up working through together and the way their relationship develops is really sweet. completely yours kicks off the opposites attract series, and i'd definitely be interested in seeing more of this world and these characters. also, the novel is set in boston, which is the hometown of my heart. i love reading boston-set stories, and visiting my old haunts even if it's a fictional visit.

**completely yours will publish on december 20, 2016. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/forever (grand central publishing) in exchange for your honest review. 

Saturday, November 19, 2016

strictly literary: a torch against the night by sabaa tahir

in an ember in the ashes we were introduced to the world of martials and scholars, with our narrators elias and laia giving voice to the struggles of each faction. in a torch against the night the world expands, with helene's voice added to the narration. a choice that makes sense given that elias has seemingly thrown his lot in with laia's.

the novel picks up moments after an ember in the ashes closed. elias and laia are in the catacombs of the city trying to escape the martials on their tail. elias seeking to get them both out of there and figuring out a way to kauf prison, where laia's brother darin has been taken and whom he has promised to do all in his power to rescue.

elias must not only evade helene, installed as the emperor's blood shrike and tasked with capturing and executing him, but also the commandant, his mother who has made it her life's work to give him hell. keris veturia is plotting something, she's always plotting. her ultimate goal is to take control of the empire. she's made a deal with the nightbringer and she'll deal with the devil himself in order to get the power she wants so desperately.

keris manages to injure elias, she poisons him with nightweed and elias knows he doesn't have long for this world. as hard as he battles to stay close to laia he keeps finding himself pulled to the waiting place, where he is tasked by the mysterious shaeva to help anguished spirits pass through to eternity. this waiting game has a deadline, and as he runs out of time his focus on getting to darin and getting him out of kauf prison intensifies. when he chooses to leave laia behind in an effort to save himself some time he doesn't realize the danger he leaves her in.

it's not until too late that he realizes who keenan really is. and what his true goals are. even laia was taken in, and what she gives up, she soon regrets. when her eyes are opened to the truth of who keenan really is, she realizes how she's been played, but what saves her is that she's always been drawn to elias. that spark between elias and laia never really extinguishes even when they are apart. and that's what keeps them fighting. these books are not really a romance, but that push-pull between laia and elias is necessary because why would they fight so hard to honor their promises to each other if there wasn't something else between them. it's always been between them, and watching it grow keeps us interested. or at least keeps me interested. there is so much that is happening, but i love the way the characters develop--we learn more about them as individuals, but we also learn more about them in their relationships with others. elias is good, kind, giving and laia is trusting, loyal, loving--these qualities get them in trouble, but also makes them worth rooting for.

as the novel closes, everything remains up in the air. it's no wonder it will take four books to tell this story. luckily this is a world i enjoy spending time in.

Friday, November 18, 2016

somewhat scientific: replica by lauren oliver

it's hard to explain replica without giving away too much. it's hard to describe replica because you can read it in several different ways. the way you choose to read this book will influence the way you see the story, the way you experience the story. there are four ways to read the story, 1) you can read lyra's book and then gemma's, or 2) gemma's and then lyra's, or 3) you can read one chapter of lyra's book and then one chapter of gemma's until you reach the end, or 4) you could also read one chapter of gemma's and one chapter of lyra's until you reach the end. there are some overlapping scenes and dialogue in the story, but not so much that you would find it burdensome or repetitive. the fact that you have two different perspectives on these overlapping scenes helps with this.

i followed option 3. reading alternate chapters beginning with lyra and ending with gemma. and this totally worked for me. in some ways structuring the book in this manner gives the reader so many choices into how you can absorb the material. and part of me wonders if this was necessary since the truth is, even if it had been laid out in alternating chapters, as a reader you always have the option of reading just one character's side of the story before reading the others. we are trained not to do that but the reality is that this is always something available to us as readers. as someone who tends to skip ahead in most stories, i'm less particular about needing to read a book starting page one and straight through to the end. i'm definitely pretty flexible about that. i'm the kind of girl who spoils the ending for herself all the time. i can't stand the suspense of not knowing where things will end up.

at first i wasn't sure that i was going to be able to stick with the method of reading i chose, but once i got into a good groove it felt natural and it made no difference to me to be flipping pages and the book around whenever i finished a chapter.

as for the story. i think i love lyra as a character more than gemma. but their stories are so intertwined and i loved them both so much. i was happy to hear that there will be a sequel to this, because even though the book ends having resolved the main conflict, there is still so much material to explore. so many places this narrative can go. though i wonder if the narrative structure will need to change by necessity in a second book? i don't know that you could replicate the structure of replica in a sequel. because the way the books converge in a sense is so unique to the story the books are telling.

i've loved lauren oliver's books since i got hooked on the delirium series, but i didn't love panic and vanishing girls was just okay and i thought, oh no, maybe she's losing her touch. but i think it was more a question of me finding the stories actually appealing and there is so much in replica that appeals to me on every level. you guys, this is so good. so worth the read, even the super complicated alternate chapters way. in fact, i think that's probably the best way to read this.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

seriously romantic: managed by kristen callihan

book 2 in the vip series doesn't start out with quite the same literal bang as idol, but managed gets you hooked quickly with the delightful banter between sophie darling and gabriel scott. gabriel is used to being an island. as the kill john's manager he's taken care of business and made himself and his friends very, very rich. but he's also held himself apart. no one cracks his walls, until he's seated next to sophie on a transatlantic flight and finds her constant verbal assault a distraction for his very real fear of flying. in those early moments he comes so close to opening up, that it's not until she reveals that she's coming to new york to interview for the kill john team that he realizes that he needs to take a step back.

gabriel tries so hard to stay away. he tries so hard to stop himself from making a claim on sophie that he can't take back. and he completely and utterly fails at this. everyone knows it. except, of course, for sophie and gabriel. they spend a lot of the book denying themselves. they deny the depth of connection that they feel. they aching need they have for one another. the fact that when they are in each other's arms the rest of the world fades away and they are at peace.

it takes a lot for them to finally accept it. and even then their past hurts and vulnerabilities almost keep them apart. luckily it really was a silly misunderstanding that is easily solved by one grand gesture on gabriel's part. i don't always love the grand gesture plots, but in this case it worked because it brings the novel full circle.

i can't wait to see what the rest of the series has in store for the kill john boys.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

strictly literary: devil and the bluebird by jennifer mason-black

devil and the bluebird is jennifer mason-black's debut young adult novel. blue riley is searching for her sister, cass. after making a deal with the devil where she must give up her voice for a pair of boots that function as a compass--where north happens to be her sister's location--she embarks on a cross-country adventure with nothing but her backpack and her mom's guitar.

there's magic in this story, music in the words. blue's story is one of love and loss. she learns a lot about herself, about her talent, her ability to survive, and she learns the truth about her past and how those truths give her a different perspective on her family and the hurts that were more complicated than they looked.

in the end, blue learns that in order to survive, in order to save herself and her sister, she needs to believe in herself. she needs to believe in the music that she holds within her soul. she needs to believe in the music she hears in other's souls. not speaking gives her the chance to take a person's measure in different ways. learning to communicate without words, learning how to really listen to the things left unsaid.

i think this was just a beautiful story. and what a pretty cover. it's so nice when the words inside are as pretty as the picture on the outside.

Monday, November 14, 2016

seriously romantic: the millionaire's revenge by wendy byrne

luke mccall is determined to take down his business rival, a man who has bribed or stolen his way into the real estate deals luke had been looking to develop. his rival's daughter, grace wilson, is sick of being wooed by guys out to get something from her dad. when she and luke meet he pretends he doesn't know who she is. and she at times charmed and wary of his too good to be true behavior. she had come up with a test to weed out the loser guys looking for something from her dad, but luke passes every test.

the key is that luke doesn't want anything from her dad except a confession of wrong-doing. and as his plan involves him more in grace's life, and as he gets to know her, he realizes that she is not her father's daughter. she is bright and funny and giving. and something about grace encourages him to let down the walls he had built around his heart after a terrible childhood and start to feel things again.

his plan backfires spectacularly when the authorities realize that they have enough reason to charge grace's father with criminal behavior. and she realizes that he had ulterior motives in seeking her out. eventually they figure things out and both grace and luke make some compromises to continue a relationship. the millionaire's revenge is a solid category romance. i wish the titles of these books were a bit better than referring to a character by their financial status. but i suppose that's a thing and it didn't stop me from reading the book. i'm just always slightly embarrassed by titles like these. my issue, i suppose.

**the millionaire's revenge will publish on december 12, 2016. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (indulgence) in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

seriously romantic: one sexy mistake by sarah ballance

finding love while trapped in a snowstorm is one of my many favorite romance tropes, even though it totally requires a suspension of disbelief in how quickly the characters end up in a relationship. one sexy mistake is a delightful example of this. this novella extends the chase brothers series to one of their brothers-in-law. grady donovan is a computer whiz and hacker and he's decided that he's no good at  relationships and they are no good for him. so he joins tinder n the hopes of finding a one night stand. he figures if he's super upfront about what he wants then he won't get in trouble with the ladies.

and it's not like olivia is looking for a relationship either. she also wants a one night stand. her ex-boyfriend screwed her over badly and she just needs a palate cleanser so to speak. she appreciates that grady has laid out what he wants so explicitly. that means there are no surprises.

but being upfront doesn't stop someone from feeling hurt. and the fact is, that the reason surprises are a surprise is because there was no way of anticipating it. the one night stand sex goes off without a hitch, but when the weather strands them in grady's apartment and they start really getting to know each other things get difficult.

and that's what makes a relationship, working through the tough stuff together. it takes olivia and grady a while to figure it out, but the author doesn't drag it out, this is a novella. and the happy ending brings the entire chase family together for one last cameo. (i think, unless there is another worthy character for a spin-off.)

**one sexy mistake will publish on november 28, 2016. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (lovestruck) in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

seriously romantic: tempting tanner by lexi lawton

the main characters in tempting tanner spend a lot of time willfully misunderstanding one another, situations, and actions. it's amazing that they manage to work anything out because when they aren't willfully misunderstanding each other they are failing at communicating.

juliana shea has spent two year pining after tanner collins. the fact that he's her roommate's boyfriend is a big complicating factor in pursuing a relationship. but when he finally breaks things off and admits that he's been thinking of her in a more than friends kind of way, things finally seem to be working out.

except rebecca, juliana's roommate and tanner's ex, is insane. she refuses to accept the break up. and constantly tells everyone who can listen that she and tanner are together. which he denies. and you know, he also is actively dating juliana, so you'd think that would be enough to prove a break up. juliana doesn't really doubt that they've broken up, but she still doubts tanner's feelings for her? i think that's the issue, because when rebecca claims to be pregnant and that the baby is tanner's, juliana fails to tell him that rebecca had been cheating on him. and instead gets mad at him because he doesn't fight for their relationship even as she understands that he is complying with rebecca because she is threatening an abortion if he doesn't stop seeing juliana.

like i don't understand at all why she just didn't say, "are you sure the baby is yours? because i caught rebecca and some other dude having sex in our dorm room a couple of weeks ago." like that is all she had to say and then maybe 1/3 of the grief and heartache and getting back together drama could have been avoided. and the whole thing felt so telegraphed, like you knew exactly what was going to happen before it did. there could have been way more interesting ways to handle the plot than what the author chose.

this is the first book in a series, but it might be a one and done for me.

**tempting tanner will publish on november 28, 2016. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (embrace) in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, November 11, 2016

seriously romantic: temporarily yours by diane alberts

a while back i read his best mistake, which was the last in the series of shillings agency novels. i enjoyed that novel, and when i was given the chance to review the first of the series, temporarily yours of course i said yes. because of course this book has one of my favorite tropes, seated next to someone on an airplane leads to fake relationship leads to love. if that trope seems oddly specific to you, well, you're right, but it's a thing and i love that it's a thing.

anyway, kayla moriarty is a stats nerd who is terrified to fly. when she meets cooper shillings at the airport she's so unnerved that she can't stop herself from confessing her fear of flying. cooper is an ex-marine with a hero complex so when he realizes how scared she is, he maneuvers his way into the seat next to her. this isn't a hardship because he obviously finds her attractive. luckily for him it's mutual and the two of them do their best to try to hit all the bases mid-flight.

and then once they've landed they are so hot for each other they decide to seal the deal at the hotel kayla's booked. when cooper accidentally reveals his presence to kayla's mom, he convinces kayla that he should play the part of the fake boyfriend she's invented for her sister's wedding weekend. and so suddenly he finds himself thrust into these complicated family dynamics. and cooper is overwhelmed. he doesn't handle this well.

but his big gesture does quite a bit in gaining him any lost ground and as the novel closes, you can see these two headed for sunny skies.

**temporarily yours published on february 3, 2014. i received a review copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (brazen) in exchange for my honest review. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

simply taking it all in

where do we go from here i wonder? today's headlines are not the outcome i was hoping for. i think about where i was 24 hours ago, standing in line, excited to vote for our first woman president. and now, knowing that my vote wasn't enough. that racism and sexism and ignorance won the day yesterday.

i don't know how i feel about these things. i'm heartbroken. more than that even. i feel shredded. i always knew this outcome was a possibility. just because i couldn't imagine a world where donald trump was president, didn't mean others couldn't either. and obviously i surround myself with like-minded people, so i don't know or understand how anyone could be on the other side. i get that we all have different feelings and views of this country, but i thought we were better than what we got.

my dad would say that america got what it deserved. that this is what jerry springer and reality television and fox news and celebrity culture have wrought. and maybe he has a point. in the end, i guess i was an optimist. i was naïve.

and now? the way forward i think it to move onwards and upwards. if this is rock bottom, and i really hope it is, then we have nowhere else to go but up. i can take solace in that. and i can take solace in knowing that if things go to shit, then at least i did my part to try and avoid it.

and maybe i'll just have a little more wine please.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

seriously romantic: more than friends by jody holford

owen and gabby have been best friends and neighbors for a long time. ever since they both went through some painful breakups while recently moving into the same apartment building. owen comes from a crazy, loud family and all he wants is a quiet christmas. but when his little white lie that he didn't want to leave his new girlfriend alone over the holidays results in his entire family planning to spend christmas at his place he begs gabby to pretend to be his girl.

more than friends, that's exactly what gabby would like to be. but owen has never given the slightest indication that he even realizes she's a girl. she's his friend and she is so stuck in the zone. so she keeps hoping that by agreeing to this pretense, she'll get this aching want for him out of her system. maybe the forced proximity will reveal that they aren't perfect for each other.

except she isn't that lucky. or maybe she is? because while she is having a hard time resisting falling even more head over heels in love with owen, he is suddenly realizing that the girl across the hall is exactly what he wants in a woman, and he'd be a fool to keep their relationship a ruse.

but because they are lying, everything is complicated. neither of them can tell when the other is faking, mainly because neither of them are faking, but it's all so confusing. and when owen's loud, boisterous family shows up everything kind of blows up.

even worse, it blows up because while the relationship between owen and gabby is so very real, they keep lying to each other about stupid things. and these stupid lies reveal themselves in the worst sort of way. owen tries so hard to make things right, but he really messes up and hurts gabby incredibly. and even though it was entirely unintentional, he has to work pretty hard to win her back. which he does. just in time for the new year.

**more than friends will publish on december 5, 2016. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (bliss) in exchange for my honest review. 

Monday, November 7, 2016

seriously romantic: forever charmed by dawn chartier

the story of forever charmed isn't bad.

see the synopsis:

rose morgeaux is a healer, not a killer, so training to fight is the last thing she wants to do. and if going against everything she believes in isn’t bad enough, she has to do it with the eyes of the dark and handsome callahan mccray on her back.
cal’s seen the work of warlocks firsthand when one killed his brother a year ago, so rose’s hybrid heritage is all the reason he needs to stay away. teaching her to throw a knife was not on his agenda, but neither was falling for her.
when rose begins to pay a heavy price for her passions, cal’s love must be enough to save her from herself and keep her from following in her grandfather’s dark footsteps.
sounds good right? my problem with this book was the writing style. it was so abrupt and the character's internal monologues made them sound like morons. it was so hard to get through. which is such a bummer, because i love young adult romance and i enjoy supernatural stuff. when we aren't in the character's heads and they are interacting like actual humans do, the chemistry between the two leads is good. all in all, this was a frustrating read, due entirely to the writing style. it certainly wasn't the fact that this was the third book in a series that bothered me. it stands alone just fine. i just didn't enjoy the voice in this book, which is such a bummer and seems crazy to me given how rich and crazy good it could have been. i mean the french quarter? witches? i love that stuff. hello, i watch the originals. it's one of my favorite shows. this was definitely not my favorite book. and i feel bad about it, even though i totally shouldn't. but i want to like the books i read. i really do.
**forever charmed will publish on november 7, 2016. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (covet) in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

seriously romantic: wrong brother, right match by jennifer shirk

in this sweet holiday read, kennedy pepperdine is ready to launch her new matchmaking software. software that she developed expressly for her matchmaking firm, and that she's tested on herself. she's got the perfect match in justin ellis. everything should be perfect, except kennedy has never felt her life so out of control and nothing feels right.

when she goes back home with justin for the holidays to meet his family for the first time, she realizes that she has a history with matt ellis. justin's older brother. months before at a conference in las vegas, she and matt had ended up stuck in an elevator together. they'd shared a kiss and kennedy had admitted some of the misgivings regarding her relationship with justin. matt had found himself thinking of that interlude often, so when kennedy shows up and he realizes that the woman he's been dreaming about, the woman he is crazy attracted to is going to be his future sister-in-law, he isn't all that sure about what he is going to do.

this situation seems impossible, especially given that justin and matt may not be the closest of brothers, but there is still a lot of love in the ellis family. so falling for his brother's girl is kind of a problem. everything works out in the end, and wrong brother, right match makes the bro-code rule-breaking okay. even though you might  have to suspend disbelief in that while you were sleeping kind of way, but it works. and since that happens to be one of my favorite movies ever, it's all good.

**wrong brother, right match will publish on december 5, 2016. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (bliss) in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

seriously romantic: no romance required by cari quinn

so it's well-established that i love a good fake relationship story. in no romance required cory santangelo starts out the novel getting some crazy pressure at a charity event from his family to take a step back from work and look for some romance. when he goes outside for some fresh air he runs into victoria townsend, the designer he is currently working with and his nemesis since childhood. And for some reason, sparks fly. they share an intimate moment, which is photographed without their knowledge.

to cover for the photographs, cory proposes that he and victoria pretend that they have something serious, at least until his parents' retirement and goodbye party. this will get his parents off his back about his sex life and will cover for their momentary indiscretion.

cory and victoria go back and forth on whether or not they can actually commit to being in a fake relationship. and there's a lot of back-and-forth on whether or not victoria can handle the kind of sexual intimacy that cory demands from his lovers. they spend more time in this will-they-won't-they than they do on the relationship. but eventually the chemistry is too great to deny. and they give into it.

and obviously from the get-go it is clear that there is more between them than something fake. they have strong feelings for each other, feelings that go back to the middle school, even though they never actually have a real conversation about this.

one of my frustrations with the story was the fact that there was a lot going on, a lot of past history to cover that the shorter format of a category romance doesn't allow. i also didn't love the fact that cory's parents take credit for manipulating the situation. i really hate it when the characters develop a relationship and then other secondary characters claim to have all the credit for it. these two were going to have a relationship no matter what, why does it have to be on someone else's timetable? that just makes no sense to me.

but whatever, in the end this is a quick, sexy read. this was also book 3 of the love required series, and it wasn't necessary to have read the other books in the series to enjoy this one.

**no romance required published on august 12, 2013. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (brazen) in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, November 4, 2016

seriously romantic: hard compromise by samanthe beck

hard compromise is the companion book to compromising her position, in fact many of the events in both novels overlap with one another, which is why it is so surprising that they are publishing nearly a year apart.

but no matter, luckily for me i didn't find out about the series until now and i read the books in the opposite order. and while reading this one first spoils some of the events that take place in compromising her position it's still not a big deal. and both books work perfectly well as standalones.

hard compromise tells lauralie peterson's story. she is chelsea's best friend, and her childhood left her with a lot of baggage. her mother was emotionally abusive, neglectful, and criminally indifferent to laurie's emotions. she first meets ethan booker when she is 16 and being busted for underage drinking. she'd gone to a college party with the intention of losing her virginity and booker stops her cold. he also turns her down when she propositions him. telling her then that they would revisit the matter in 10 years.

and since it's been 10 years, and ethan hasn't forgotten the original proposition, he takes steps to revisit the matter. the chemistry between these two leads is off the charts. but laurie has so many hang-ups about her past, about how she comes from nothing and ethan was born with a silver spoon. so it takes some convincing. he gets her to agree to a fake relationship with the hope that he can convince her to let down her guard and let him in, let him love her, let herself love him.

it's not easy for booker, but it does work. eventually. and their ups and downs make the whole thing worthwhile. when they finally figure it out, it's worth the wait.

here's hoping that the next installment in this series gives us arden st. sebastian's story. she's served as a decoy in both compromising her position and hard compromise and i think it's her turn now.

**hard compromise will publish on november 21, 2016. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (brazen) in exchange for my honest review. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

seriously romantic: compromising her position by samanthe beck

i came across the compromise me series on netgalley, actually reading the sequel to this book first. but since i decide when i post things, i'm reviewing compromising her position first. this sexy contemporary read follows chelsea wayne and rafe st. sebastian from a super steamy meet-cute in a supply closet to a marriage proposal in the aforementioned closet.

the thing about romance novels is that once you've figured out the main players, you generally know where things will end up. romance novels are not only about happy endings, they are also about the journey it takes to get there. chelsea and rafe have a slightly bumpy road, but the moments that we witness of how they build their relationship on off-the-charts chemistry are so worth it.

there's a lot of sexy back-and-forth, and you guys, it's really sexy. rafe is totally a take-charge in the bedroom kind of guy, and the push-and-pull he gets from chelsea only intensifies things. beyond that the characters are also smart, hardworking people. the business plot provides the framework for the novel, but it's all the time rafe and chelsea don't spend on business that matters.

in the end, there was no way these two crazy kids were going to not end up together, and the way they figure that out, is probably one of the best scenes in the novel. who knew supply closets could be so entertaining.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

seriously romantic: addicted to you by renita pizzitola

set in the fictional small fishing town of port lucia, addicted to you, tells the story of two best friends who have loved each other forever. but for many reasons, some valid, some ridiculous, neither colby or isla has ever dared to take the step that would push them over the line to lovers.

but isla is at her breaking point. she's planning to leave town to go to nursing school and she doesn't want to leave town without knowing whether or not she and colby can be something more. and when an incoming storm strands them at colby's home for a night, they finally cross that line.

but it's still complicated. colby holds himself back and isla can't figure out why he's blowing hot and cold on her. she also is completely unaware that colby's brother landon has a thing for her, which is the main reason colby is holding back. the whole thing is a little preposterous because colby is being so noble because he wants to make everyone happy. except that he is miserable and isla is miserable and landon is totally unaware that he's complicating something real. i think too, if he had real feelings for isla his reaction to finding out that colby and isla were really into each other would have been more than a shrug and "oh shit" realization that he was inadvertently cock-blocking his brother. especially since there isn't ever a doubt in isla's mind as to who she loves.

maybe if we spent some time in colby's head we would have been able to see his struggle more closely. but we only get his perspective in an unnecessary epilogue that shows us how they're making their relationship work. in the end, this was a perfectly nice new adult romance.

**addicted to you will publish on november 1, 2016. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/random house publishing (loveswept) in exchange for my honest review.