Tuesday, February 28, 2017

seriously romantic: catch and release by laura drewry

it's always so sad to reach the end of a series, and catch and release, the conclusion of the fishing for trouble series by laura drewry is a bittersweet read in part because of this. this series has always been highly charged emotionally, with the o'donnell brothers holding in a world of hurt that has colored their relationships with each other and the women they love.

ronan might be the most damaged of them all. out of the three brothers we've spent the least amount of time with him. we know him to be withdrawn and yet also very temperamental, and inside his head there are so many emotions and feelings and pain that he cannot begin to express. and when he meets hope seaver, the new producer on the reality show being filmed at the buoys, there is a surge of fierce attraction that he can't deny. and the more time he spends with her, he starts to let go of all the pain and fear his previous relationship instilled in him.

because let's face it, ronan is dealing with massive abandonment issues. the o'donnell's were abandoned by their mother in their teens, their father abused both alcohol and his children, and his wife chipped away at his confidence, forcing him to live a life he never wanted, only to leave him in the end.

hope has her own issues to deal with, but they don't consume her the way ronan's do. but because she's overcome so much loss, she's better prepared to handle ronan's pain. and her coping mechanisms are quite endearing. when she gets nervous she quotes the most random facts she can. it's almost a compulsion, she can't stop herself. and this adds a degree of levity to the often heavy moments in the novel.

i loved spending more time in the world at the buoy's and i think ronan might very well be my favorite brother, and hope, my favorite heroine. everything wraps up so nicely here, and honestly i can't wait to see what world this author creates next, because she is so good at building characters and giving her stories emotional weight that elevates the love story.

**catch and release will publish on february 28, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/random house publishing (loveswept) in exchange for his honest review.

Monday, February 27, 2017

seriously romantic: off the ice by julie cross

you guys, this book gave me so many feels. welcome to juniper falls, mn, where you live and breathe hockey given that there are few opportunities to enjoy anything else. off the ice, is more than a sports romance though. it's an emotional coming-of-age story set in a small town with many secrets. the story opens at claire o'connors goodbye party. she's leaving juniper falls to pursue her dream of singing on the stage, starting at an advance studies musical theater program at northwestern. she's had a crush on luke pratt since forever and for the first time ever he's paying attention to her and she wants this to go somewhere.

except it doesn't go anywhere good. in the meantime, tate tanley, claire's best friend's little brother sees what's happening while dealing with problems of his own. his father is a hockey hero, revered in the town, but behind closed doors his behavior is less than honorable. he's a mean drunk, and while tate is trying to keep the keys away from his dad so he doesn't drive things get heated. claire tries to intervene, but the situation escalates so quickly and tate ends up with an arm broken in two places. when they go to the emergency room, they come up with a cover story and swear to never talk about the events of that night again.

but a year later claire is back in town. her father is recovering from surgery to remove a brain tumor, and claire is trying to help keep the family afloat by working at her parents' bar and restaurant and staying on top of the bills. college seems like an expense that should be cut away, not splurged on. her initial intention is to take a semester off, but as things get even more dire with her family and their finances a year seems like a more realistic option. and that's if she can even continue at northwestern. there are cheaper schools out there.

when tate sees that claire is back, he finds himself drawn to her. she was always more that just his big sister's friend. but he never expected her to see him in a different light. but that night in the back alley changed them both. for the first time, they really saw each other. and tate, for one, is so relieved to know that there is someone else who sees him--flaws and all. he's not just the hockey hero's son following in daddy's footsteps. he's someone who has the ability to fix and repair things. he's someone you can count on when you need him. he's honorable. he's holding the weight of the world on his shoulders and claire knows it.

other people suspect it, like tate's stepfather and his best friends. but claire is the only one he trusts with all of his truths. and as both tate's and claire's worlds are rocked with tragedy and misunderstandings, the connection they forge and how they help each other rise above the madness is both emotionally draining and utterly satisfying. things come to a head, as they do, and it's totally chaotic and tense and terrifying, but even as things implode around claire and tate you don't doubt the depth of their feelings for each other. they walk through fire for one another, even when they aren't speaking, it's clear that there is so much love there. it wouldn't hurt so bad if they didn't care so deeply.

i just loved everything about this novel. the characters, the setting, the romance, the stakes--it all worked for me. and i honestly am so excited to know that there will be more stories set in juniper falls, it seems to me like it's a town worth knowing.

**off the ice will publish on february 28, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (entangled: teen) in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

seriously romantic: sweet victory by gina maxwell

i love a good fake marriage story, and xander and sophie really deliver in sweet victory. sophie's uncle holds the key to the trust that owns the commercial development where sophia's bakery and xander's gym are based. until she turns thirty or she gets married she has no say in what happens to the trust, and her uncle is unscrupulous enough to use that to his advantage.

when he makes a real estate development deal that will force all the tenants in the development to relocate, xander is furious and when he goes to talk to sophie about the situation he overhears the possible solution straight from mr. caldwell's mouth. so he barges in and pretends that they're engaged to be married.

sophie's been intrigued by xander for a long time, and his kiss is so hot and so surprising that she simply follows his lead. and when he proved that he is willing to do anything that is needed to preserve her bakery she decides to take him at his word.

she has every intention of things remaining platonic for the 180 days demanded by the court to prove the validity of their marriage. but there is so much explosive chemistry between them that when an outing to a carnival results in a bet where the payout is three orgasms, it's not really a surprise. and from there we get to see sophie and xander build a real marriage, a real relationship, a real friendship. even though they don't actually talk about what happens once their 180 days are up.

there's this wonderful scene with sophie's grandmother, who suffers from alzheimer's disease, where you see how deeply they are both in this relationship. the undeniable sweetness of their feelings, the incredible chemistry of these two characters--it all gets to develop so realistically. so often in romance novels you go from chemistry to love with nothing in between, and then there's some ridiculous blow up and then everything is magically solved. and yes, there is a moment where xander and sophie's wires get crossed, but even this is understandable. and i don't want to give anything more away, but to say that everything gets sorted out in exactly the right way.

sweet victory closes out the fighting for love series with a deeply emotional, satisfying love story. xander and sophie are perfect for each other from page 1 and seeing their love grow as the days count down in their pretend marriage is an absolute delight.

**sweet victory will publish on february 27, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (brazen) in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, February 24, 2017

print versus screen: shadowhunters, season 2a, episodes 1-8

i haven't had time to squeeze in any talk about shadowhunters, something so badly done of me because i continue to be obsessed. i read all the mortal instruments books last year and binge-watched the first season on a whim after i finished reading the novels. and then i binge-watched season 1 again before starting season 2 because i just wanted to watch jace and clary fall for each other all over again.

like i said, i've read the novels. and i'm going to assume that most people watching this show have read the novels. or have read about jace and clary in the novels and know, know that whatever they are to one another, they are not blood relatives. this whole plot point was icky in the novels, but it's even more icky on the screen, especially since jace and clary so clearly want to jump each other's bones whenever they share a scene together. it was like that in the novels too, so the actors are playing this correctly.

the thing is, because i loved these books, i can't really separate the novels from the television show. what i read informs how i feel about the things that happen on the show. even if the path taken is different. because i think that in the end the novels and the show are headed in the same direction. there is so much material here that i don't see how the show would suddenly start making up its own way. cinematically speaking, not all things written will translate well onto the screen, so the differences in plot or setting don't actually bother me. that the timelines of things happening on the show don't follow the exact same timeline from the books is irrelevant. but jace and clary were endgame in the books, and i believe they are endgame on the show, so actually one thing i hope they change is the timline for finding out that they aren't really siblings. this was something that didn't totally work for me in the books, and doesn't work on the show.

if i'm being honest, watching jace grapple with his feelings for clary is torturous. he is so not okay with how he feels. he knows it's wrong to want your sister. but he also fell in love with her. and given that everyone in his life is telling him that he is infected with demon blood, he can't help feeling super awful about himself. and yet, the guy still tries to save the world single-handedly every chance he gets. the way jace is broken apart in the novels and on the television series does make sense dramatically speaking, but i'm also kind of impatient and want to see him stop stressing about being in love with his sister because we all know he is not.

but there is that one scene in city of ashes that takes place in the seelie court that is so good, that i kind of hope is brought to life on the screen. but at the same time i'm ready for the clary and jace are siblings thing to be over. because the first season was a combo of books 1 and 2 and this season seems to combine books 2 and 3, i guess i don't know where they will fit things in. i will say that the subtle production tweaks they've made from season 1 to season 2 of the show have been for the better. the rune tattoos look better in black and the weapons less silly.

obviously, jace and clary are still working for me. even though i know that we need to get through simon and clary before we see anything significant happen for jace and clary. and i know that simon and clary are just getting off the ground, so to speak, and here i am already dying for it to be over. i think part of the issue i have is that i know how much story there is left to go before jace and clary learn they aren't really siblings. though i hear we will meet sebastian this season, so maybe we'll find out sooner rather than later. but there are several pieces of key information regarding jace's identity that have yet to be revealed. the connection to the herondale family still hasn't been made. there were hints of it well before the truth of jace's heritage was finally revealed. obviously i'm obsessed with jace. i can't help it.

as to the other characters, i mean, i'm really just enjoying the show. i love alec and magnus. izzy's plot of being hooked on the ying fen seems to be stolen from the infernal devices series, but i'm willing to give this the benefit of the doubt. izzy was always a character who was somewhat underserved in the novels, so this gives her an additional way to stand out.

i think the challenge of watching a show where you've already read the source material to its conclusion is what feeds my total impatience. like i said, i actually don't care about the differences in timeline or the changes to certain characters stories. i understand that what works on the written page is not always going to work on film. it's more that i hate being privy to information that is important to the plot and that the characters are wholly unaware of. if only there were a way to get jace to jump into the purity pool at the iron sister's, then clary and the rest of the clave would know that there is no truth to the claim that valentine injected him with demon blood, and maybe they'd figure out that jace isn't exactly who valentine says he is.

the second season isn't even at it's halfway mark, and i'm already thinking of binge-watching it again. i could just spend hours watching these characters. i also admit that i have a weakness for the fan videos on youtube. they are like a drug.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

slightly silly: riverdale, episode 4: the last picture show

okay so finally everyone knows about archie and miss grundy. these teacher-student things never end well or in a satisfying manner on these shows. back when pacey had an affair with his teacher on dawson's creek the resolution of that left a lot to be desired. and this one isn't really all that much better. betty, her mom, and archie's dad confront the two of them and miss grundy agrees to leave town. this is after betty's snooping reveals that her real name is jennifer gibson and that she tutored jason blossom and owns a gun. there's this final scene when miss grundy is leaving town that you think, maybe she is just a sexual predator. will she be back?

honestly, i kind of hope not. the character was too poorly developed and the illicit romance wasn't really working. having betty find out about it was good for drama though. and finally we got some scenes with archie that showed some actual depth. we see how deep his friendship with betty goes, and archie's good heart in his willingness to understand and forgive her part in the confrontation with grundy. and then there's the moment with his dad, who tells archie that he's not selfish or dumb for falling in love with his teacher, and that things will work out, and then simply holds archie as he cries. and the moments with jughead where you can just tell how long they've been friends, and how different their lives have become.

because jughead is totally worried about the fact that the drive-in is shutting down. and partly he's worried about this because it's a landmark. and partly because it's where he works. and partly because the drive-in was a haven for his family when he was a child. and partly because it's where he sleeps at night. we finally get to learn a little more about the mysterious jughead jones. we meet his gang member father, who is played by skeet ulrich by the way! skeet ulrich. i feel like this show is going out of its way to make me feel old.

we get to know a little more about veronica and her parents' shady dealings. and kevin and his dad and their relationship. even though the miss grundy plot came to an unsatisfying conclusion, and the episode did little to advance the mystery behind jason blossom's disappearance, it did develop these characters further, gave us glimpses into each of their psyches in a way that i ultimately found satisfying. i can't wait to see where it goes. there are still so many threads to untangle, everything in riverdale seems to spin a wicked web.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

seriously romantic: saying goodbye, part one by abigail drake

the cover of this book is so pretty, i could just stare at it forever. i didn't, i read the book, and am more ambivalent about that. saying goodbye is a two-part story that i've only read part one of. so my take on this is incomplete, but also an argument against these kinds of duologies. i get the business model, but the reader experience is often frustrating given the stop in action.

as far as cliffhangers go, though, this one isn't bad. in some respects, you can say this is a complete story. samantha barnes meets ethan hunter at a frat party. she's already had three relationships that she considers mistakes and isn't looking for #4. she's studying japanese and has a semester abroad planned in january and doesn't need the commitment or drama of a relationship.

at first, ethan seems so different from the other college guys she knows. he's more mature, in part because he had to take a year off for reasons that aren't explained until later. things move quickly in their relationship, getting serious in ways that sam never intended to be. when he tells her he loves her, she says it in return. except as she is doing it she acknowledges that she doesn't actually feel that way about him.

and this is the hardest thing about sam, we spend all this time in her head, and we know how she really feels about people. but she doesn't treat them well. the author tries to portray ethan as controlling, and sam's friends claim he's borderline abusive, except that while he was certainly jealous and took the lead on planning most of their time together, the parts of the relationship you do see don't seem to be all that bad. it's clear that he is a guy who has some issues, but the reality is that sam is just not as into him, so he keeps trying harder and harder to make things perfect so that she won't leave him. and if she had actually expressed what she wanted, maybe things would have been different. the thing is she was attracted to ethan, and she wanted to sleep with him. and the sex was great. and then she found herself in a relationship where things meant more to him than they did to her and she didn't know how to be the bad guy in that scenario. but that's not a good excuse. especially given how all these people keep warning her to be careful with him.

so when things come to a head, alongside all this other heavy stuff going on with one of ethan's frat brothers and one of sam's sorority sisters, it all blows up impressively. there are reasons why ethan is the way he is. when he starts to go off the rails it's kind of obvious that something is going on with him, and sam's inability to fully comprehend his issues, as well as her inability to express what she really wants in her friendships and her relationships that exacerbate the situation to an untenable degree. and i think it's my ambivalence about sam given that she carries the book, that makes it difficult to discern my feelings about the part of the story i do have. my guess is that the second part will do more to redeem sam than the first one is able to.

**saying goodbye published on september 16, 2016. i received a reader copy courtesy of netgalley/backlit publicity in exchange for my honest review. 

Monday, February 20, 2017

seriously romantic: the undateable by sarah title

when you accidentally become a meme due to your resting bitch face and fall into stereotypes you've long tried to rise above, it makes life a little difficult. it's not like bernie had an active dating life. she wasn't even wishing she had an active dating life.

but colin, the only male on staff at a fashion blog/e-zine, needs a story that will up readership and solidify his place as the features writer. so he approaches bernie with a plan. he'll prove that she isn't undateable, if she'll let the magazine feature her dates as a series, and offer some help in the fashion, makeup, and hair department.

the undateable follows bernie and colin as they navigate her horrible dates and he posts dispatches about the highlights and lowlights. it's not all terrible. and some of the dates show some promise. bernie realizes that making an effort for a date doesn't mean becoming someone she is not. it's not an assault on feminism if you dress up or put on a little mascara. there is something to be said for looking good for yourself. making time to feel good about how you look isn't a horrible thing. if it helps you feel good, then there is nothing wrong with it. and bernie figures out what her limits are--what things are for her and what changes cross the line.

feeling better about herself does improve her dating life. and this improvement proves to be unsettling for colin. he can't deny he is attracted to bernie. in some ways he's the one who spends the most time with her throughout the dating series. they start out antagonizing each other, only to become friends. they never put up the walls that often exist when you start out on a relationship with someone. bernie and colin see the worst of each other, and for a time believe the worst of one another, but the truth is that they know each other better than anyone. the friendship that grows between them is something real and precious.

when colin kisses bernie after she is stood up on one of her dates, he's not sure how he crossed that line. but soon they find themselves crossing it more and more. but bernie is committed to having thirty first dates in thirty days and colin has committed to seeing it through. and when colin's boss insists on a bachelor-like finale, colin is put in an untenable position. he knows that bernie doesn't want anything like that. at the same time he can't say no. it's his job to see this through. and his avoidance of the issue cause some real problems that he and bernie need to figure out.

**the undateable will publish on february 28, 2017. i received an advance ready copy courtesy of netgalley/kensington books (zebra shout) in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

seriously romantic: falling for the bad girl by nina croft

regan malloy has done hard time, three years of it to be exact. and the man who ensured she was locked up, he hasn't stopped thinking of her in all that time. nathan carter knows he's losing his mind when he shows up outside the prison on the day she is released. and following her and her friends that first day out is a bit beyond the pale. and then meeting up with her at the bar is the height of insanity.

and he swears it will only happen one time, one night, just to get this insane attraction that has been driving him crazy for three years. that regan feels the same way is incomprehensible. but she does. she felt the pull back when he was working to get her behind bars, even though at the time she wasn't sure that he felt anything for her. and now that she's a free woman, intent on staying on the straight and narrow, feeling the way she does about nate is a complication she doesn't need.

her family are known con artists, thieves, tricksters, and not only is nate a cop, he comes from a long line of cops. their worlds couldn't be more different. but when one night segues into two, and then a third, and then instead of one night they decide to give themselves a month. a month of being together and not mixing in each other's worlds.

as if that wasn't an impossible task. because nate and regan are perfectly matched. and if it weren't for his profession and her family, maybe they could work things out. but falling for the bad girl is a stupid thing for a cop to do, especially one up for promotion. and even if she's only a minor league bad girl, more of a robin hood than a bonnie parker, she still has all that baggage. she still belongs to a family of criminals. but when they don't think about that, and are simply together, the way their relationship deepens and grows is really wonderful to read. they talk about their lives, their dreams, they open up to one another in a way that feels so real and so romantic.

but how do they get from being a couple in their bubble to one that can make it in the real world? what sacrifices are they prepared to make for one another. are either of them ready to trust that this uncontrollable passion that they feel is actually love? getting those answers is so worth it. spending time with nate and regan put a smile on my face. their story was emotionally satisfying, deeply romantic, and incredibly sexy. what more could a girl ask for?

**falling for the bad girl will publish on february 27, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (brazen) in exchange for my honest review. 

Saturday, February 18, 2017

seriously romantic: dirty girl duet by meghan march

the dirty girl duet is a spin-off to march's dirty billionaire trilogy, with greer karas, creighton's younger half-sister as our female lead. a more spineless, pushover of a heroine cannot exist somewhere, right? because greer is a ninny. allegedly, she is an attorney and is a capable human adult good at her job. except we see no evidence of this throughout the 500 pages of this two-part story. the story kicks off when greer posts an improper ad on craigslist after catching her idiot ex cheating on her. she posts using her real name, because her hidden motive is to reconnect with the guy that got away, cavanaugh westman.

cav is now a hotshot movie star. except he's also a misogynistic, violent asshole with a super sketchy criminal past and who acts unforgivably on multiple occasions in this story. the fact that greer keeps excusing him, forgiving him, and brushing off his, quite frankly, abusive behavior is beyond me.

it's all supposed to be alpha male stuff, but the things that cav does to isolate and terrify greer on several occasions are not okay. there is actually a scene where he binds and gags her while she is asleep and then tosses her into a duffel bag without revealing his identity at all to her at any point during the process. she thinks she's being sold into sexual slavery. he sort of admits that maybe he crossed a line. after that moment i could barely finish this duology.

making light of human trafficking isn't easy to brush off, terrorizing someone so deeply and excusing it as having been done in the name of love doesn't make things okay. we're supposed to buy that cav loves greer, but all i got from the novels is that he is a sociopath and she is a moron for being with him. i kept hoping that there would be some way to redeem cav, but there is nothing there. for every moment you'd think, maybe he isn't so bad, you'd learn something new about him and think, oh yes he is.

there's a lot of sex in this story, which is the only reason this is a duology because otherwise this could have very well been one book. the only saving grace is that this book will lead to banner and logan's story told in the real duet. having that as my prize at the end of this reading experience was the only way i was able to get through it.

Friday, February 17, 2017

seriously romantic: delicious satisfaction by sabrina sol

book three in the delicious desires series, delicious satisfaction, gives us alexa montoya, an up-and-coming l.a. chef and dante perez, her brother's best friend and the one guy who got away.

for years alexa has been planning the restaurant of her dreams. when she realizes her jerk of an ex-boyfriend has basically stolen all her ideas and opened the very restaurant she'd always intended to open, she loses it. in a pretty spectacular manner, since impulse control is something that alexa struggles with. the cops get called on her, she turns to dante to get her out of her mess, since he not only is her brother's best friend, but also his attorney.

alexa is prepared to do the avoidance thing she does so well when it comes to hanging around dante, but he's had it. he doesn't want to pretend that he didn't feel something all those years ago. he wants to pursue the chemistry and pull he feels from alexa. since the magical time they spent together in puerto rico, he's been waiting for her to look at him again, and he's watched her date loser after loser. and he's done waiting. she called him and it's past time to see where they can go.

of course, both alexa and dante have some abandonment issues they need to sort through. alexa has dealt with them by only entering relationships that will fit her preconceived biases, and dante has always held his true self back from everyone. even alexa's brother has no idea that dante is a product of the foster care system. dante has made a good life for himself and continues to pay it forward, and needs to not be ashamed of where he came from. and alexa needs to stop thinking that she's less than, maybe she's reckless and impulsive, but she's also a kickass chef and a good businesswoman. realizing these things about themselves, lets them come together finally. all they needed to do was let go of some of their preconceptions. it's a hard thing to do, but oh so worth it in the end.

also, just a shout out to diversity here. you don't always see an all latino main cast of characters in romance novels. and often there are some serious stereotypes that come into play. but as a puerto rican, i feel like the author got all the family dynamics right. and the description of the food was spot on. it made me hungry for some of my mom's own cooking. and made me think of my own abuelas. 

**delicious satisfaction will publish on february 27, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (brazen) in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

something from the archives: say goodbye - part 7

click the links to catch up on parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. part 7 follows the jump.

simply all about take me back - a cover reveal

meghan march's latest novel, take me back, is releasing on march 20, 2017. i've been lucky enough to have the chance to share the oh so pretty cover with you, as well as a few details to get everyone excited. she's been teasing her secret standalone project for a while now, and i'm super excited now that i know more about it.

click into the post to see the cover details and learn more about the novel.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

slightly silly: riverdale, episode 3: body double

things start to heat up in riverdale and the show starts to settle into itself in this episode. plus we tackle some "after school special" issues. but finally the characters start to behave a little less like total caricatures and more like people. i mean everything is still highly charged and stylized, but it's just been toned down slightly so that you believe it a little more.

but like if this sets the tone for a normal episode, you can see how the show can continue. the murder mystery plot still advances, but the relationships between all the characters deepens. one of my favorite moments is one that has all our main cast sitting together in a break room, setting the main plots in motion.

this week we have a case of bad boy locker room behavior coupled with some serious slut-shaming. veronica gets caught in the crosshairs, but she's no shrinking violet and refuses to just sit down and take it. and since betty is conveniently reviving the school newspaper alongside jughead, she thinks that this has the potential to be a prime exposé on the jerks leading the football team.

it's the first time we get to see betty step out of her good girl persona, and it's all good at first. but things take a turn. and now i really want to know more about polly, because part of me is almost thinking that maybe she isn't real. except that archie and betty have been friends since they were little so clearly polly must be someone real. but then if cheryl and jason were twins and polly is betty's sister, what's the age difference we're talking about here? i'm just so intrigued by all these things.

veronica very clearly remains my favorite character, i think because she's also new to all things riverdale so she helps educate us as the audience on what the subtext is as she figures out stuff. oh, and we should keep an eye on ethel, she may have stepped up to get chuck's comeuppance in the books, but she also seems like she's up to no good.

when i think about it, the biggest problem this show has is that archie is hot, but isn't much else. his storyline about his music and banging the music teacher and fighting with his dad is so blah. compared to the high drama that betty and veronica get to deal with, it just doesn't feel like these characters inhabit the same world. we need more than a fleeting moment at pop's shop for archie, veronica, betty and jughead to be friends. i think the show is trying to get there, and i hope they figure out a way to make it work. because it's really close i think. every episode gets closer. i think once they can blow up the miss grundy/archie affair this will improve. keeping that a secret won't be nearly as interesting as what happens when everyone finds out.

seriously romantic: any boy but you by julie hammerle

oh look, it's my stop on the chapter by chapter blog tour for any boy but you. you can refresh your memory of the book at my previous post or at the publisher's page and read below for my review. spoiler alert: i liked this one.

the princes and the chestnuts have two things in common. sporting goods stores and a mutual dislike for one another and their entire families. oliver prince and elena chestnut have both been brought up in the family tradition of mutual dislike and would gladly continue it, if it were not for the fact that oliver needs some help bringing up his latin grade and elena is trying to make some extra cash by tutoring since her family's sporting goods store is failing.

she'll take the princes' cash, but she'll still gladly blame them for her family's current misfortunes, even if it's not really fair. the chestnut's store had ben suffering for a while. both stores had been actually, since they were facing greater competition from larger chain stores. and while north pole, minnesota is sort of a tourist destination given the town's ridiculous name, the truth is most people don't think much of the north pole when it's not christmastime.

in all honesty, oliver isn't a sporting goods kind of guy. it's the dead of winter, and growing up in florida didn't give him the chance to beef up his winter sports skills. at his heart, oliver is a computer programmer with mad skills. and to help his dad out he's created an app that will hopefully help drive up the store's business and will look good on his résumé. of course, when his mom busts him on his antisocial behavior and sets him up with elena as a latin tutor while also banning him from his laptop the day after the app launches, he's more than bummed out.

and so both elena and oliver are not in the best of moods when they are forced to interact with each other. neither of them has any intention of playing oliver's app game either. oliver because his original intention was to be on the lookout for bugs, but since his electronic device ban does not include his phone, and playing the app is the only way he can interact with his baby, he gives it a whirl. it's also his way of checking on his twin sister's managing of the app while he's out of commission. meanwhile, elena gives in when the prize becomes too tempting and she figures there's no reason why she shouldn't throw her hat in the metaphorical ring.

the app has a chat component, and elena finds that she enjoys trash-talking her peers. somewhat inadvertently she finds herself chatting with this one person, whom she thinks is a guy. they share a similar sense of humor, and don't give each other any slack, though they also help one another out. and even though she doesn't know who this guy is, she finds herself opening up to him. and he feels the same way. of course our secret guy is oliver, but it's some time before elena catches on to this.

i love this kind of secret identity story because the characters are interacting with each other on two different levels and get to see different sides of each other. when they finally put the whole picture together it's so satisfying, because they can understand one another more fully. and that's what happens with elena and oliver over the course of the story. it actually takes them a while to figure out that they've been chatting with one another. they both react pretty strongly to realizing the truth behind their chatroom personas, in so many ways, they were the last person they were expecting to be chatting with. and this is also complicated by the fact that in their real lives, there had been a thawing of the constant tension between them, so the truth feels almost like a betrayal. plus they have all this other family drama to deal with given their parents and their family history.

the best thing about any boy but you is seeing how elena and oliver's relationship develops and deepens. there are so many layers to their story and the novel also has a great cast of characters in this town, some of whom who will be great candidates for sequel stories in the series. i can't wait to spend more time in north pole, minnesota. and i've never said that about somewhere cold ever.

**any boy but you published on february 13, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (entangled:crush) in exchange for my honest review. the blog tour has been organized by chapter-by-chapter

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

seriously romantic: love runs deep by gail chianese

nic riley and kyle hutchinson hook up at a bar one night before either of them has to report for duty in love runs deep. nic tries to leave it at one night, but it's just her luck that she ends up assigned to the same submarine as kyle, and he ends up as her sponsor on the ship. they have six months of duty to get through, and fraternizing is a definite no-no.

and yet the connection between them is impossible to ignore. kyle does his best to keep things platonic while watching out for nic on the ship, but when he catches a junior officer with an inappropriate recording of nic in the shower this get a little intense. the fallout from the incident is the kind of stuff that makes or breaks relationships. and how nic and kyle deal with the problems created by the subsequent military inquiry and trial is the bulk of the story.

kyle is unequivocally in nic's corner, but they come from two different worlds. nic is military royalty and kyle was lucky to leave behind his rough beginnings by joining up. and yet, those differences don't actually cause the biggest problems between them. their problem is that all too common they stop actually communicating. so when nic has a moment of doubt, kyle is devastated. at the same time her family has convinced him that staying away is the best thing for her at the moment.

until they start listening to other people, nic and kyle's relationship progresses nicely, so eventually they do figure out how to tune others out. it takes a while, but they also cut each other pretty deeply when they doubt one another. but love runs deeper still, and nic and kyle come through it all in the end.

**love runs deep will publish on february 21, 2017. i received an advanced reader copy courtesy of netgalley/kensington books (lyrical shine) in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, February 13, 2017

simply all about any boy but you by julie hammerle

Keep an eye out for my review, coming on February 15th! Check out the rest of the Tour Schedule!

Title: Any Boy but You (North Pole, Minnesota #1) 
Author: Julie Hammerle
Publication Date: February 13, 2017
Publisher:  Entangled: Crush
Add to Goodreads
Elena Chestnut has been chatting with an anonymous boy late into the night. It’s a very You’ve Got Mail situation, and she has no idea who he is. He can’t be Oliver Prince, hot-and-bashful son of the family running the rival sporting goods store. Their fancy sales strategies are driving Elena’s family out of business. Elena’s mystery boy has teamed up with her in their latest sales strategy, an augmented reality game, to help her win the grand-prize plane tickets. Money’s so tight Elena’s going to miss senior year spring break with her friends if she can’t win this game.

The girl Oliver's fallen head-over-heels for online had better not be Elena Chestnut. She's his angry, vindictive Latin tutor, the daughter of his dad’s business rival, and the one girl he’d never even think of kissing. She’s definitely not his online crush, because that girl is funny, sweet, and perfect.

When Oliver asks to reveal their names at the Valentine’s Day dance, their IRL relationship will either ruin what they have online, or they’ll discover just how thin the line between love and hate really is.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains swearing, snowball fights, and sexual tension that could melt the North Pole. Read at your own risk.

Buy here: Google Play | BAM | Amazon | Indies | B&NKobo | TBD | iBooks

About the Author:
Julie Hammerle is also the author of The Sound of Us, which was published by Entangled Teen on June 7, 2016. Before settling down to write "for real," she studied opera, taught Latin, and held her real estate license for one hot minute. Currently, she writes about TV on her blog Hammervision, ropes people into conversations about Game of Thrones, and makes excuses to avoid the gym. Her favorite YA-centric TV shows include 90210 (original spice), Felicity, and Freaks and Geeks. Her iPod reads like a 1997 Lilith Fair set list.

She lives in Chicago with her husband, two kids, and a dog. They named the dog Indiana.


Sunday, February 12, 2017

seriously romantic: lady of silver by shona husk

this paranormal romance introduces us to the race of supernatural beings known as the albah. they've always walked among us, silver-haired and pointy-eared, passing for human as much as possible. because there are those out there who hunt them. because the albah have some impressive supernatural powers, though it varies by individual, but all of them have the power to become albanex, or, as us regular old humans like to say, vampires.

lady of silver is the first of a series, so by necessity must spend some time world-building, which wouldn't be a problem, except for the fact that i think the relationship between detective dale morgan and psychic saba venn gets a little short-changed in the process. dale is investigating a series of murders that smack of vampirism. the cops pretty much know exactly who did it, they just don't have any evidence that would prove it. so dale comes to saba hoping that she can see the victims' last moments, hoping that something in saba's visions will provide the missing links between their suspect and the victims.

dale starts off as a nonbeliever, but the more time he spends with saba opens his eyes to the fact that there is clearly magic at work. eventually saba must explain the truth behind her heritage, and the fact that their suspect is clearly a former albah, one who is unfortunately connected to saba given the fact that when she used blood magic, there was still some of the victim's blood in the albanex's system.

this paranormal thriller with strong romantic elements is totally enjoyable. even if the way the albanex situation is ultimately resolved seems a bit sudden. at the very least there is some good groundwork setting up the characters to the sequel story, about saba's little sister and the albah she's been waiting to meet on a train. given the glimpse we get at the end of this one, i'll definitely want to check it out.

**lady of silver will publish on february 21, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/kensington books (lyrical press) in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

slightly silly: the boy is back by meg cabot

a good meg cabot novel is like cotton candy, light, airy, sweet and prone to result in untamable laughter. the boy is back follows the tradition of her other boy books, where the story is told via emails, text message chains, newspaper articles, and diary entries. cabot is good at navigating the constraints of the semi-epistolary format, and is great at giving each of her characters a unique voice, so it's easy to follow who is narrating at any given moment.

as far as the romance goes, this is a second-chance at love story. years ago, reed stewart left town after his father threatened to cut him off if he didn't toe the family line. at the time he'd been seeing becky flowers, and in fact, the event that caused his being cut off was golf cart crash into the pool at the country club.

reed left that night and never came back. never wrote or called or texted or emailed to even say "hey becky, let's break up." it was ghosting before ghosting was a thing. and reed really did disappear out of becky's life. and it's fine, because she's over it. she's over him. she has a new boyfriend who is perfectly nice. she's got a great job. she owns her own home. she's got everything nice and organized.

so when reed's parents begin behaving erratically, becky thinks there's no way reed would come back. he has siblings who live locally after all. it won't make a difference because anything that happened with reed is ancient history. and as mad and as hurt and as upset as she was with him leaving, she also can't forget the fact that he got in trouble protecting her and she feels guilty about it. and the other thing is, when reed left without saying goodbye, it left a giant hole in her heart and it's never quite closed up. becky and reed never had closure.

and when they see each other again, closure isn't really what either of them is feeling. becky's horribly confused and reed just wants to win her back. this time things can be different. or at least, things can end differently. instead of reed running off and leaving everything in his life behind, he can build something worthwhile with becky, and do something more with his career. figuring this all out takes him a while, but one of the great things about the format this story is told in, is that it allows you to hear the character's innermost thoughts, but also you get to see all the characters through other people's eyes. so in a sense you have a more complete sense of who they are as a person.  reed and becky figure their relationship out, and it's nothing too hard or complicated. at the end of the day, these were two people who fell in love when they were really young and spent some time apart. coming together only helps prove that what they had, what they felt back then was real. and that's pretty amazing.

Friday, February 10, 2017

seriously romantic: distracting the duke by elizabeth keysian

in distracting the duke, marcus, the duke of ulvercombe, is, as austen might put it, a single man with good fortune in want of a wife. but he wants a marriage that is free of strife, having grown up in the toxic atmosphere that surrounded his parents' loveless union. he figures that to get that, he needs to find a sweet, innocent woman without strong opinions.

and he has a great candidate, miss eleanora soper checks off all the boxes, except he keeps getting distracted by her argumentative guardian, lady clara tinniswood. at every turn she challenges him, about their families' past connections, about the weather, there is nothing this woman won't argue with him about. but unlike the horrible dread and persist awfulness that surrounded his parents' arguments, marcus finds himself enthralled by clara.

quite literally, he can't stay away from her. he keeps trying to remember that he's supposed to be courting eleanora, but the reality is that if clara is in the vicinity she holds all his attention. and it's not just that he's attracted to clara sexually, he finds that he enjoys the time he spends with her. it's exhilarating in a way that most society interactions are not. she challenges him and he feels alive.

he also recognizes that she has some baggage that causes her to keep him at arm's length. her first marriage was not a happy one, and her husband was emotionally and physically abusive. her sister also betrayed her by sleeping with her now-dead husband and bearing his illegitimate child. so that's a lot to deal with. once he figures out what is holding her back though, once marcus realizes that only clara will do, his previous statements of milquetoast wives bedamned, then he goes after it.

he may not win every argument he has with clara, but this is one he can't, he refuses to lose. and this is what is great about the book, marcus might have some doubts about how he feels for clara, and it definitely takes him some time to decide what it is he wants, but once he figures it out, he fully commits. i mean, from the moment he meets clara, all he does are things to please her, to protect her, to make her happy. and when he realizes that his life would be colorless without her, he goes about making things right. he brings back the light to the dark corners of clara's heart, he makes himself so irresistible, he proves to her that he will love her no matter what the future holds. and it's so freaking romantic.

**distracting the duke will publish on february 20, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (scandalous) in exchange for my honest review. 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

something from the archives: say goodbye - part 6

i have a feeling that by the time i'm done posting this fanfic i'll be sick of putting up the links to previous parts. it's actually not the most efficient way to post people through it but the other way means i have a lot of editing to do too. i may do it, it might just take a while.

parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 are at the links. part 6 can be read after the jump.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

slightly silly: riverdale, episode 2: a touch of evil

oh man, this show is so uber ridiculous. and i freaking love everything about it. it's not perfect, but man, oh man, there is some good teen drama developing here.

the love triangle, actually quadrangle, dominates the story. archie must have some special pheremones because everyone wants to get in his pants. it's not even just betty and veronica, it's the music teacher and cheryl, and even mrs. lodge and him have some sparks. it's crazy. archie and betty actually have the least amount of sparkage out of all the pairings, which if kevin's statement that they are endgame is true, it's kind of unfortunate.

in so many ways riverdale is like dawson's creek sexed up and dirtied up. and the framing device of jason blossom's murder and jughead's narration really help sell the story. right now everything is still too new, it's still a bit hard to believe these characters and some of the insta-friendships. so the layer of intrigue and the fact that there is still a lot to be learned about all these characters is a good thing. i'm not sure the show has found it's rhythm quite yet, but i think it has so much promise. there are so many places to pull story from. and as the connections between the characters are revealed and deepened, i think the show will continue to improve.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

seriously romantic: pretty face by lucy parker

i picked up act like it a while back, and loved it so much that i periodically would check to see if the author had published anything else. so i was really excited when i saw that pretty face was available for request. set in the same west end world as act like it, we get close-up and personal with the london celebrities that inhabit it.

luc savage is in the family business, his mother is a world-renowned opera singer, his father an acclaimed actor, while he is a big-deal director on the london stage scene. he's in the process of opening his own theater and setting up the world premiere of 1553, a tudor-era period drama. for a host of reasons, lily lamprey is in the running to play elizabeth. except she has one big problem, her speaking voice is not good. in fact, it's especially terrible when you consider that on a stage you need to project and do it for an extended period of time. it's described as being somewhere in the range of film noir and chipmunk, or marilyn monroe on acid. and i actually know someone who speaks like that and oh dear god it's the most irritating sound a person could make and there would be no way i'd sit through a performance if one of the leads spoke like that the whole time. especially if she has a lot of lines.

but, luc sees that there is a possibility. there is the chance that she can be properly trained. and she's otherwise perfect for the role. and maybe perfect for him, even though he doesn't date younger women, and dating actresses is a terrible idea, which he knows from previous experience. the thing is he can't keep away from her. he finds her so compelling, enchanting, irritating and confounding. and she feels the same way. and the attraction that builds and builds between them is so well-paced and when they finally reach the breaking point it's so perfect.

except, lily is hoping this play is her big break into acting. she's well-known, but not for anything good. she's played a twit on the popular soap opera knightsbridge and she's yearning for something more respectable, more aspirational on her résumé. and sleeping with the director is possibly the dumbest thing she could do. because of course everyone is going to think that she slept her way into the role. but they work through all these things. and it's all so wonderful, they are adults, real adults. yes they have their foibles, they aren't perfect. they're human. and these characters are so real, and their feelings run so deeply through every word, that you almost forget that you're reading a story.

and yes, there is a moment of crisis, and luc and lily separate, take some time apart. but their feelings are never really in doubt. luc is clear that he loves lily and that he will be there for her when she is ready. and she is grieving and lost and sad and angry and maybe taking some of her abandonment issues out on luc. but she does figure these things out. and when they do come back together, it's so freaking romantic.

and then we get this bonus epilogue scene. and it's like the final scene in the kiera knightley-matthew macfayden pride & prejudice where the characters are incandescently happy and you are so happy and so sad because the story has ended and you just wish you could live in that world forever. it's seriously the best ever. and god, i can't wait to read whatever lucy parker writes next.

**pretty face will publish on february 20, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/carina press in exchange for my honest review.