Monday, July 31, 2017

seriously romantic: wicked takeover by tina donahue

the wicked brand series kicks off with wicked takeover, where lauren and dante develop a thrilling sex connection and a relationship worth fighting for. if only either of them had the guts to actually express what they want clearly.

they're actually really good at doing that in the bedroom, or not the bedroom, because most of the time they're having sex in public or semi-public places. it's kind of their thing. but they are both on the same page and clearly hot for each other.

the problem is that when it comes about talking about what they really want for the future, they both think that the other person isn't in for the long haul. and there is literally a scene where they are arguing about their future and are totally talking at cross purposes. it's actually kind of funny and once they both realize that they are being ridiculous it all ends well.

this was an enjoyable, sexy read. the chemistry between dante and lauren is strong. and i liked that dante was latino, and appreciated how the author brought his latino heritage into the story, i think he was supposed to be cuban, but to me it seemed like there was some blurring between puerto rican and cuban. it was clear to me that the author was not latina, and did her best to research the cuisine and such, but some of her descriptions were slightly off and the spanish phrases had clearly been crafted with google translate and not a native spanish speaker because they were just not right. this is a pet peeve of mine actually, and hopefully, there were corrections made before the galley went to press, but given that i see poorly worded spanish in published novels all the time, i'm not really holding my breath.

**wicked takeover will publish on august 7, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (scorched) in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

somewhat scientific: omega by jus accardo

omega picks up not long after infinity left off, with noah, cade and kori pursuing dylan through parallel universes in order to stop him from killing all the kori's. the problem is the cuff enabling their time travel is acting up, and the reality they end up stuck in is more dangerous than any they've faced before.

to a degree omega is a standalone, because it focuses on noah and his constant, ash, instead of cade and kori who are secondary characters here. but understanding the plot and the action really does require familiarity with the first book, so i would recommend people start there.

as lead characters noah and ash prove to be as compelling as cade and kori were. their connection is just as apparent, and given the reality they've lived in, is almost easier to accept than it was for cade and kori. the big bad here shifts somewhat, because even though dylan is still a threat, this new world they've inhabited has even bigger and badder villians. the omega project the book is titled after has huge implications for ash, in particular, and for all the characters, all of humanity, all possible versions of humanity, more generally.

skipping through alternate worlds continues to add to the adventure, and the book ends with a new threat. i'm certain there will be a third book in this series, possibly more, because i can't imagine things being resolved so easily, and i'm curious to see what set of characters will lead the third. if we'll get new ones or if we'll alternate between the core four characters in the series.

**omega will publish on august 1 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (entangled: teen) in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

seriously romantic: an earl by any other name by lauren smith

kicking off a new series by lauren smith, an earl by any other name, is set in the early twentieth century before the outbreak of world war i. it's a time in england where the age of high society is at a crossroads, the huge estates are no longer self-sustaining burdened as they are by death taxes, large staffs and maintenance costs.

leopold graham, lord hampton is in dire straits, his father's scandalous death has made associating with his family a questionable endeavor and he's got no way other than marriage to drum up enough money to cover the cost of running the estate in the future. he's dead set on marrying the very proper, very respectable, very boring mildred pepperwirth.

leopold's mother, mina, the dowager countess of hampton understands why her son is dead set on respectability and prudence. but she also knows that a marriage without passion would destroy his chance of happiness, happiness she knows would be within reach if he would open his heart to one miss ivy leighton.

ivy is a proper bluestocking. her unconventional upbringing has shaped her into a supporter of women's rights, especially women's suffrage. she has a special link to hampton's estate but out of deference to the dowager countess is keeping her identity a secret. she loved leo when she was a child, will she love him now that she is an adult?

from the moment they meet there is a flicker of connection. leo doesn't remember who ivy is immediately, but her presence reminds him of something he hadn't realized he lost. the more time he spends with her the more aware he is that he can't possibly go forward with his plan to marry mildred. maybe respectability isn't the only way forward. maybe he's been looking at everything all wrong. maybe ivy is the one person to set him straight.

if you enjoyed downton abbey, this novella will take you back to that era. for all leo's insistence on traditional ideas, he is actually more open-minded than he says he is. because even though being with ivy does change things for leo, the kind of about face he does has more to do with the fact that he was playing at being a stuffy traditionalist than actually being one. being with ivy taps into leo's true self, a self that he had hidden and tried to forget in order to ensure his estate's livelihood after his father's death. but there is more than one way forward, and when he finds ivy, he realizes this as truth.

**an earl by any other name will publish on august 1, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/grand central publishing (forever yours) in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, July 28, 2017

seriously romantic: kissing max holden by katy upperman

jillian eldridge can't leave max holden out in the cold. not when he's tapping on her window in the middle of the night in spite of the fact that they've been barely speaking. even if he's been a jerk lately she knows what he's been through. he's been a part of her life forever.

and that night, it makes no sense, because one moment they are bickering and the next they are kissing. and jill's dad is catching them in the middle of something. but jill can't explain what. max has a girlfriend. he's drunk and a mess. and still kissing him is the only thing she can think about. even if it's wrong. even if it changes everything. even if she has no idea what he's thinking.

mostly jill assumes she's a mistake. a lot of the time in kissing max holden, she thinks she can't mean as much to him as he means to her. but that kiss, it actually brought max back to life. his home life has been a mess since his dad suffered a stroke six months ago. nothing is the same and he blames himself. but being with jill makes him feel like maybe things can be better.

ironic that as max's home life improves jill's falls apart. but when max is there for her, when he lets himself be the person she can rely on, it's pretty wonderful. i really enjoyed this book. i loved jill and max and their friends and family, even jill's jerk of a father was a compelling character. and that's saying something because he is such a jerk.

jill and max's relationship is stormy and emotional and full of sparks, and while those things don't stop once they get together, there is also the sweetness of loving someone who knows you as you are. they've seen each other at their worst and can love each other in spite of it. the family drama that surrounds them from all sides adds some weight to the novel, this isn't just a light and frothy ya. yes there's romance, but there are some real issues tackled here in a way that allows the characters to grow. it's not just drama for drama's sake, it's well done.

**kissing max holden will publish on august 1, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/macmillan children's publishing group (swoon reads) in exchange for my honest review.

strictly literary: searching for beautiful by nyrae dawn

before brynn's mother died, before she fell in love with the wrong guy and got pregnant, before she lost her friends with lies, before christian moved back into town brynn was leading a normal teenage life, with normal concerns. and then everything changed.

searching for beautiful is about brynn's search for herself, because all the stuff that happened in between before and after is still messing with her. brynn begins the now portions of the novel closed off and insecure. and slowly she starts to see that even if she can't find the unbroken before brynn, people still do. that brynn isn't gone, she's just recovering. her heart was so bruised and beaten she's afraid to trust anyone else with it.

but slowly, she starts to open up. and as she does, everything gets better. it's not a miracle process, it's a slow and steady build-up to better. but better is good, because better means that you recognize that what happened before wasn't fine.

this is one of those ya books that i think tries to cram in too many issues so that it's not possible to do them proper justice. the novel works on the strength of brynn and christian's connection. but on the issues side of things, i'm not sure that worked for me. for example, when brynn finally talks to christian about jason, she mentions her pregnancy but does not talk about how she lost the baby. given that earlier in the novel she has several nightmares about babies and also has a freak out over a science class project that we never actually see her complete, it makes no sense to me that she wouldn't bring this up. it's these inconsistencies that lessen the impact of some of the issues the author is trying to highlight.

**searching for beautiful published march 4, 2014. i received a digital copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (entangled teen) in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

seriously romantic: the billionaire's intern by jackie ashenden

the latest fairy tale to get the billionaire treatment is sleeping beauty in jackie ashenden's the billionaire's intern. unlike the previous two novels in the series, this one felt like a stretch in terms of a retelling. in terms of the story of lorenzo de santis and his intern, kira constantin it felt like a compelling and emotionally satisfying romance.

the de santis men are all kind of alpha a-holes, and lorenzo is no different. he's emotionally closed off because he feels like he's failed both his mother and his first love, katie, by selfishly needing their love. when kira begins working for him, he tries to stay away. he tries to keep her away. because the way he is drawn to her presence, the way he needs to hold her and exert his control over her isn't rational. but he can't let her go.

kira has been obsessed with lorenzo since she was a child and he did his best to entertain her by folding paper cranes. kira has had a difficult childhood riddled with behavioral problems and poor impulse control related to untreated adhd. and these problems follow her to college and only ends when she is in a terrible car accident that claims the lives of two of her friends and leaves the third in a coma. since then she has tried to be her best self. always in control. never wild.

but lorenzo sparks something in her. it's as if she needs to spiral only so that he can take over for her. the more control he exerts the hotter she is for him. and the sexual chemistry between these two is totally off the charts. it's as if their souls recognize that they complete each other. he needs to be able to control and care for someone and she needs someone to control and care for her.

i continue to enjoy this series and can't wait to see rafael's story, which appears to be a retelling of little red riding hood. though my most favorite retelling of that particular fairy tale will be hard to top, even though it's a completely different genre.

**the billionaire's intern will publish on august 1, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/st. martin's press (swerve) in exchange for my honest review.

something from the archives: say goodbye - part 30

so it's the halfway point, as far as i remember. i have only found up to part 51 archived elsewhere online, but i'm pretty sure there were 60 (maybe even 62) chapters of this particular fic. it's the longest thing i've ever written. and you guys, this is still not everything. i don't know what i'll do when my archive material runs dry.

check out parts 12345678910111213141516171819202122232425262728, and 29. read on for part 30...

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

superbly suspenseful: say no more by liliana hart

the mysterious dante malcolm leads up say no more, the third book in the gravediggers series. unlike deacon and elias, dante has held himself apart from the team even as he is clearly a vital part of it. the reasons for this become clear early on in the novel.

dante has special skills, he was an mi6 agent, but also a thief in his previous life. so part of his role within the gravediggers team is also to run side missions for their boss, eve. the thing is, dante's past life is still very much alive for him. giving up his career, both legitimate and illegitimate was one thing, but it was giving up the great love of his life that still haunts him.

olivia rothschild is no stranger to tragedy and loss. losing dante, someone who had lied and betrayed her was one thing. another was losing her identical twin sister, who was kidnapped when they were 6 and was never recovered. liv has made it her career to find her sister, joining interpol right out of school, and when dante's betrayal cast a pall on her career it was more than his lies that she found unforgivable. but when a human trafficking case puts her on a collision course with dante's latest side project for eve. all the secrets dante has been keeping are about to come out into the open.

i liked dante and liv's story, its a true second chance at love romance with a good amount of suspense added in. the one issue i had was that there was a lot of setup about who dante was and how he and liv got together, but not enough time was spent on reconciliation. not between liv and dante or dante and his team members. things ended where i hoped they would, so it's fine. but i think that one thing the darkest corner did that worked so well was set up this underlying tension between eve and the gravediggers and what the mission is truly. and while there is still some of that, the individual suspense plot gets more airtime that the suspense plot that overarches the series. and that's fine, it's just that i think the first book did a better job of balancing this than the subsequent books have, and i hope that the next books—i'm assuming levi and axel will get their own stories—will balance it better. i think it's also because i like the way the team works together, and even though they finally got there in this one, there is still residual tension from dante's revelations that aren't fully dealt with and they were all separated into different pairings. anyway, i like the gravediggers, i want to see more of them.

**say no more published on july 25, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/gallery, threshold, pocket books (pocket books) in exchange for my honest review. read on for more information on the novel and the series...

seriously romantic: tease me tonight by jules court

this novella finds er nurse elizabeth owen getting all tangled up with easygoing firefighter, will macgregor. elizabeth isn't really looking for a relationship. orphaned just before she was set to go to college, she instead stuck around and raised her little sister. now experiencing a sort of empty nest, the last thing elizabeth wants in tease me tonight is anything serious.

who can blame her for wanting to be young or play the field? except willis one of those rare guys actively looking for the one. he wants to settle down. he's seen his parents' enduring love and marriage his whole life, and he wants that for himself. and when he connects with elizabeth he really believes she might be it.

just his luck that the one girl in boston not looking for a relationship is the one he happens to be interested in. the thing is things have always come easily to will. but if he really wants something with elizabeth he is going to have to fight for it. this is a novella so things move at a pretty fast clip, but the story here is enjoyable and satisfying.

**tease me tonight will release on july 31, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/carina press in exchange for my honest review. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

strictly literary: under the parisian sky by alli sinclair

under the parisian sky is the story of two ballerinas—lily johannson and viktoriya budian. in a contemporary setting lily is still recovering from a horrific car accident that destroyed her future career and killed her fiancé. in the past viktoriya struggles with life in france after fleeing russia and the bolsheviks. 

we are meant to draw parallels between lily and viktoriya, and their lives are in some ways connected. but while viktoriya's is imbued with a melancholy hopelessness—i was always waiting for everything to fall apart. and it does. with lily you can see that there is a reason to be hopeful, and that a huge part of that lies with yves rousseau and his insistence in being with her and helping her and letting her help him. 

if you like adriana trigiani, then you will like this. it's not really my cup of tea, but it's well-researched and written, so i can appreciate it. 

**under the parisian sky will publish on july 25, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/kensington books (lyrical press) in exchange for my honest review. 

seriously romantic: one true pairing by cathy yardley

hailey frost is in a tough spot, her family's bookstore is failing and she's working two jobs and stretched too thin to have much of a personal life. then she meets jake reese who is somehow even in a tighter spot, hiding behind the counter from some aggressive super fans at the coffee shop she works at. she helps him out not knowing that this small interaction will change everything in one true pairing.

after all it's jake reese, up-and-coming hollywood actor, currently he's starring on a sci-fi/fantasy show mystic on basic cable. his father—hollywood royalty, kurt windlass—has bigger ideas for him, and jake is really just a down-to-earth, sweetheart of a guy has no idea how much his father is interfering in his career. jake is up for contract renewal, and all he wants to do is sign on for more seasons of a show he really loves. he isn't in it for the money or the fame, he loves his job.

when jake is told by his agent that he needs to up his q factor, hailey comes up with a plan. she'll act as his girlfriend in exchange for him appearing at her family's bookstore that they are in the process of remodeling. the timeline here is pretty constrained, everything happens in a matter of days so if instalove/lust type books aren't your thing, you might be annoyed by this.

i found jake super charming, and was really rooting for him. hailey is a bit more prickly, but her baggage informs who she is, and once she starts letting jake in, you really do understand why she is the way she is. this was a fun, enjoyable read. perfect material for some time on the beach.

**one true pairing will publish on july 25, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/st. martin's press (swerve) in exchange for my honest review. read on for more information on the novel including an excerpt...

seriously romantic: too scot to handle by grace burrowes

the second book in the windham brides series, too scot to handle, picks up where the trouble with dukes left off. lady anwen and lord colin find themselves perfectly matched in this lovely regency.

lord colin is currently the heir to a dukedom, though he expects his brother's future children to actually inherit. nonetheless he is recently titled, is very wealthy and has set about trying to fit in with london society. but as time has gone on, he finds that london society isn't all that wonderful. the young men are spoiled and entitled and don't do anything productive. the young ladies simper and flirt to secure husbands. he's not actively looking for a wife. he just wants to be challenged by something.

he finds lady anwen intriguing. she's more than just a debutante. she cares deeply about london's poor, particularly the children. she's smart and funny and kind. most of all, when they talk to each other, it's not in society's coded language. they talk and it's for real. it's not about the weather or the latest gossip. and lady anwen is delighted to find that not only can she expect lord colin to listen and advise her like a peer, he also respects her insight and opinions and isn't ashamed to ask her for advice.

and while there is some drama and intrigue surrounding the home for wayward urchins that anwen and colin both sponsor, there are no ridiculous roadblocks or falling outs requiring grand gestures in this romance, and honestly, i really to appreciate that. lord colin and lady anwen's feelings are never in doubt. and they couldn't be more perfect for each other if they tried.

**too scot to handle will publish on july 25, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/grand central publishing (forever) in exchange for my honest review. read on for more information, including where to buy.

Monday, July 24, 2017

seriously romantic: the importance of being scandalous by kimberly bell

in the importance of being scandalous, nicholas wakefield has loved amelia bishop since, well, since forever. but they've also been best of friends since forever. away from england in part to grow up, in part to come to terms with his feelings, nick is intent on revealing all to mia and hoping for the best.

except she's about to announce her engagement to someone else. the thing about mia is that her entire life has been shaped by her sister's disability. born in a time where birth defects were considered a mark of sinfulness, amelia's family has been shunned by polite society due to her sister's infirmity. and now mia has the chance for normalcy and her family is determined that she take it.

but when mia realizes her fiancé isn't as accepting of julia's condition as she had assumed, she realizes she cannot marry him. there's also the matter of her pesky feelings for nick to contend with. she'd thought she'd put her girlhood crush behind her when he left, but now that nick is back, her feelings have returned and they are stronger and tinglier than ever.

the problem is, no matter how hard she tries to get rid of her fiancé he isn't budging on the matter of their engagement. his single-mindedness is fascinating, because initially he doesn't seem like a terrible person, but by the end of the novel it's clear that he isn't firing on all cylinders because why would he want to be with this woman who a) doesn't want him, b) comes from a family that has been tainted through no fault of their own and c) goes out of her way to humiliate and embarrass him.

it takes a while for nick and mia to find themselves on the same page, but once they get all their feelings out in the open, things start to fall into place. one thing that i really enjoyed in this romance is the friendships that the lead characters form. it's not just nick and mia. nick and julia have their own friendship with a rich history. nick's friend jasper is a breath of fresh air, and he proves to be a good friend to both nick and mia. amelia and julia are more than sisters, they are true friends too. and even nick's brother, who one might expect to be disapproving, is supportive of his younger brother and is kind and generous. honestly, the moms are just the worst in this novel. and the fiancé who will not give up.

one thing i wanted to know more about was julia's condition. it's described as a spinal issue, and she walks with a limp. so i wondered if it was spina bifida or something similar. the version i read did not have an author's note explaining things, so perhaps it's something that is pending for a future book, or it was meant to be purposely vague.

**the importance of being scandalous will publish july 25, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (select: historical) in exchange for my honest review.

seriously romantic: an earl for the archeress by e. elizabeth watson

sometimes it's nice to change things up from the standard regency period historical. i feel like i read a lot of regency, but i really do enjoy other time periods too. and this medieval romance, an earl for the archeress, a robin hood retelling of sorts is so, so good.

i always love a good robin hood story. something about the guy who roots for and protects the underdog is so appealing. and from the moment we meet robert of huntington we are charmed. mariel crawford is less charmed, but she has plenty of reasons to be suspicious of men. her father, the sheriff of ayreshire is abusive and cruel, and she has been running and hiding from him for the last 9 months. surviving as a woman in a man's world without resorting to prostitution is something of an achievement. mariel might not be an innocent, but she's given up the life of a lady to live on her wit's and talent for archery alone.

robert recognizes mariel as a woman the moment she steps onto the playing field. and when they are the finalists and tie in the tournament he is intrigued by this woman who is his equal. not only is she his equal in archery, she is his equal in all things. and for the first time the idea of marriage doesn't seem abhorrent, even though societal rules and mariel's own wariness are huge obstacles that would need to be overcome should things ever get that far.

from the moment they meet, mariel and robert put a claim on each other. mariel tries so hard to resist it, running from robert every chance she gets. but he won't let her go. he keeps fighting for her. and the fact that he does, that he keeps her close both horrifies her and heals her the deep wounds to her psyche caused by her father's treatment of her.

everything about this romance worked for me. the stakes, the obstacles, the lead's and their chemistry all came together beautifully. rob and mari were meant to be from the moment they encountered each other at the earl's tourney, and everything they go through builds on that moment of connection in a way that feels deep and meaningful.

**an earl for the archeress will publish july 24, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (select historical) in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

strictly literary: the inevitable collision of birdie & bash by candace ganger

the inevitable collision of birdie & bash looks like your standard contemporary ya—lighthearted, frothy, fun. except in this case judging a book by its cover will give you some serious whiplash, because this novel is heavy, sad, and tragic. though this is a love story, it probably shouldn't be.

both birdie and bash suffer some great tragedies in the month that spans the novel's timeline. and the fact that bash is inextricably linked to birdie's tragedy makes their entire relationship problematic. and bash knows this. he spends most of the time treating birdie badly, so it's hard to understand what about bash keeps her coming back.

chemistry and chemical reactions thread the narrative as a way to explain the connections between characters and events. but in the end, there is too much plot and not enough character development going on here. the sum total of all the horrible circumstances that birdie and bash are dealing with, is too much, it becomes too hard to believe that things could be that bad. or be resolved so magically.

and maybe that's the problem i had, there was so much that needed to be fixed, that when everything does blow up, the way things are solved doesn't feel earned or realistic to me.

**the inevitable collision of birdie & bash will publish on july 25, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/st. martin's press (griffin) in exchange for my honest review. 

seriously romantic: bonding games by cathryn fox

holly fairfax doesn't think this corporate retreat her boss has insisted everyone attend in bonding games will be all that valuable. she wants to go back to coding and solving problems. but she also wants a promotion and if bonding with her coworkers is part of the game she has to play in order to earn the bump in responsibilities she knows she deserves, well she will play it.

josh steele is a former seal working in the security sector. his latest assignment is to bring holly fairfax home and protect her from a threat to her life. the threat is vague and possibly made up. the fact that josh is able to go undercover at holly's company as a coworker is also totally implausible. which is the main problem of this romance. once you start pulling at threads the whole plot kind of unravels.

however, holly and josh are both compelling leads. the spark between them drives the story and the push–pull that josh feels between the duty to his job and his feelings for holly help build up the conflict more so than any external threat to holly's safety.

**bonding games will publish on july 24, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (brazen) in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

seriously romantic: a dance with seduction by alyssa alexander

vivienne le fleur is in trouble in a dance with seduction, as a spy for the british crown she's had to lie and steal and become someone else entirely. for years, on and off, she's worked with code-breaker maximilian westwood. she finds his precision and methodological habits infuriating and can't help ruffling his feathers every chance she gets. and maximilian finds her presumptuous presence annoying and her profession with its constant intrigues abhorrent and her entire being too damn beautiful for him to be comfortable.

when she asks him for help, pays him for it actually, she's doing it for herself, not for britain. she's caught in the middle of a dangerous spy game between england and france, and her sister's safety is at risk. and as the plot around her deepens and thickens, maximilian finds himself in the middle of it. it's the last place he wants to be, except it's also the only place he wants to be. because no matter what his head tells him about vivienne not being meant for him, his heart tells him that there is no other. and he can't stop himself from wanting to protect and aid this woman no matter what.

we really get to see this relationship grow and develop as the novel progresses, and how these two souls so used to working alone find a true partnership together. they have some serious—murderous—obstacles to overcome, but the combined force of a brilliant spy and master code-breaker should be enough to turn the tide. 

**a dance with seduction will publish July 24, 2017. I received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (select historical) in exchange for my honest opinion. 

seriously romantic: my hellion, my heart by amalie howard and angie morgan

book 3 in the lords of essex series, my hellion, my heart, brings together princess irina volkonsky and lord henry radcliffe, earl of langlevit. she's loved him since she was fourteen, but hasn't seen him since a mission in france went terribly wrong for him. the trauma of his time there has made him feel disconnected from emotion and unworthy of happiness.

princess irina is in her third season as the novel opens, having spent a season in st. petersburg and turned down many a proposal, and a season in paris where she turned down many more, she's gained the reputation of being frigid and an ice princess. the truth is that she won't marry someone who she doesn't love. and she loves henry. and no other man has ever been able to meet the ideal he's set for her. and as henry does everything he can to prove that he isn't worthy of irina, she recognizes that what she feels for him is something beyond a girlhood crush. he's it for her, even if he doesn't want her.

and this is the conundrum because henry wants her desperately, but he denies it. he doesn't believe that she could love him. he doesn't believe that he can be the husband irina deserves. so much so that he'd rather enter into a sham of a marriage with his best friend's widow than consider marrying irina. it's true that henry acts like a jackass for large chunks of the novel. he both reaches for irina and pushes her away. but the kind of trauma he is suffering, the pain he endures as a result of what happened—not just physical pain, but emotional—allow you to understand why he acts that way. even if it's clear that if he allowed himself to open up to irina he'd find a way to heal.

what's wonderful about irina is that she is so strong. henry puts her through hell, and she stands strong. she knows what she wants. she knows that she deserves more than what he gives her. she makes mistakes, but she also owns them. and when she and henry are forced into a dangerous situation by someone irina has always considered a friend, she doesn't lose her head. she stays strong and courageous and faces her worst fears head on.

**my hellion, my heart will publish on july 24, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (select historical) in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, July 21, 2017

seriously romantic: chance seduction by jess dee

this is another re-release of jess dee's samhain publishing titles and the companion novel to planned seduction. i'm going to be super honest here, i liked chance seduction so much more compared to planned seduction where both main characters annoyed me like whoa.

so in chance seduction, lexi tanner is intent on meeting aj riley because she has a proposition for him. she wants him to invest in a charity project that is near and dear to her heart. he's kind of reclusive though and she's not really sure what he looks like. when she literally runs into the hottest guy she's ever met she's distracted but not for long. when she runs into the stranger in an elevator and finds herself in his arms, well, it couldn't be helped. the spark between them was that strong. and the one night of sex was extraordinary.

so imagine her horror when she finally meets aj riley and realizes that he was her hot one night stand. aj, or adam, has been trying to get over the feelings lexi arouses in him for months. that encounter in the hotel wasn't the first time he'd laid eyes on her. and even from across a room he'd known that he should stay away from her. because she had the power to break through his shell.

ever since he had suffered an indescribable loss, he'd  been living a half-life. and unsure about how to best protect his fragile heart from more pain he blows so hot and cold that lexi suffers some severe whiplash. he rejects her cruelly and then pins her to him as if letting go were an impossible task. the extent of his pain is excruciating. what he puts lexi through is excruciating. but they have that explosive chemistry. and the fact that no matter how he protests he can't seem to let her go.

and that's something. and is it enough for lexi? because even though she understands his pain and why he suffers, it's still no excuse for how hot and cold he is with her. especially not when you consider how she lays herself bare for him. it would be an easy thing to hate adam, except you see how much he suffers. i love the deep emotional connection these characters share. and how they must overcome their suffering by letting love in.

**chance seduction will publish on july 24, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled pubishing (brazen) in exchange for my honest review. 

seriously romantic: casual affair by melanie munton

bea paxton is a commitment-phobe. she also likes to be in control of most situations, mostly to ensure that she can find a way out if she needs to, but also because she gave up something important for someone else once and it turned out to be a sacrifice for the wrong reasons. an ex-boyfriend who valued her only for her connections to her father, and not because he loved her. this lesson has colored her life ever since, and she's kept men at bay, enjoying the pleasures of their company but nothing with real emotion.

when she meets zane price in casual affair, her world is thrown off-kilter. the way she reacts to him isn't normal. he puts her on edge, even as he infuriates her with his need to control every detail and decision of their project. zane finds that he can't keep away from bea. he wants her, not just in bed, he wants something more. he never really thought he'd be able to open up to anyone the way he has with bea, but he recognizes her as a flight risk. and struggles with the right amount of openness about his feelings and his own need to dominate and control everything.

the push and pull between bea and zane feels real. they both have reasons for being protective of their hearts, but those reasons are also the reason that they can connect at such a visceral level. from the moment they met, there was that spark, they were kindred spirits, and in one another there is a chance for true happiness. they just have to get past those demons.

**casual affair will publish july 24, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (brazen) in exchange for my honest review. 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

something from the archives: say goodbye - part 29

previous parts are available at the links. see 123456789101112131415161718192021222324252627, and 28. read on for part 29...

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

simply all about the third kiss - a cover reveal

Let us know what you think of the cover for The Third Kiss (Love's Mortal Coil, #1) by Kat Colmer, which releases August 7, 2017!

This cover reveal is brought to you by Entangled Teen & YA Books Central.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

seriously romantic: wrecked by jb salsbury

when adam lost his entire unit in iraq it destroyed him. he'd trusted the wrong person and had been betrayed. and that betrayal compounds the guilt and the grief that he feels daily. in wrecked he meets sawyer, except he believes that she is her twin sister celia, and because sawyer is fulfulling her sister's dying wish, she doesn't correct the misconception.

and this is the one thing that comes between our lovers. because from the moment sawyer and adam meet there is a clear connection. sawyer has spent her life feeling responsible for the terrible things that have happened around her. like her grandmother dying after catching the flu from her. or the time she accidentally ran over a dog. and now her identical twin is dying and there is nothing she can do.

nothing except honor her wishes. even if this dooms her romance with adam.

adam carries that same sense of guilt too. his wounds are deeper and more traumatic. he's got nightmares and anxieties and a drinking problem to boot. and all of these things are caught up in the fall out. because celia is dying. and sawyer knows that she can't tell adam the truth, it will only traumatize him further. so she has to disappear. and when celia dies, if adam ever finds out he will need that she is dead too.

this is actually a pretty tangled net that salsbury weaves for our characters. and how she gets them out of it is quite satisfying. adam and sawyer are so well-suited to each other, and how they survive the loss and the guilt and build something worth treasuring is well worth the time.

**wrecked will publish on july 18, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/grand central publishing (forever) in exchange for my honest review. 

Monday, July 17, 2017

seriously romantic: love on the vine by roxanne smith

undercover detective oliver pierce has more than one reason to want to bring down the leaders of a drug ring producing super shrooms in love on the vine. and it's not just wanting to save people from a dangerous hallucinogenic. but when his boss gets fired for inappropriate on-the-job behavior he's got to start from scratch with kay bing.

on paper and in person it would be easy to dismiss kay bing. she's petite and blond and looks barely old enough to drive. but she's been mentored by two powerful women for her professional life and she decides to channel them in her new role as lead designer at free leaf concepts. she's out to make an impression, and her first order of business is firing oliver.

luckily it doesn't stick, but with kay suspicious of his motives oliver knows he will need to change tactics in order to keep the case. when honesty becomes the best policy, his cover depends on kay's buying the fact that all is not as it seems at free leaf concept. it's an idea she'd like to dismiss, but things are weird.

things are weird between kay and oliver too, because the truth is that there's this crazy attraction between them. partly because they are so good at reading one another. not just their motives, but the way their minds work. both oliver and kay are good at assessing people and figuring out what makes them tick. when kay is drugged with the shrooms in her salad everything ramps up, the case and kay and oliver's relationship.

it's a decent mystery and the romance works, as both kay and oliver are clearly meant for each other.

**love on the vine will publish on july 18, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/kensington books (lyrical shine) in exchange for my honest review. 

seriously romantic: to win her smile by mackenzie crowne

to win her smile, is the fifth book in the gridiron players series. quarterback wyatt hunter has no idea how things will change when he decides the woman he inadvertently hit with a football on the sidelines is his new lucky charm.

piper darrow has plenty of reasons to avoid a professional athlete, her ex saddled her with the label of the gold-digging baroness, and her land-rich, cash-poor inheritance helped lend credence to his claims. the last thing she wants in her life is another jock, especially not a superstar football player with hordes of press coverage, and even worse, his father happens to be running for president. so them as a thing can't happen. 

except someone forgot to tell her traitorous body. because one kiss from wyatt and piper's reasons completely slip her mind. and then there's the fact that wyatt keeps saying things like sticking together and falling for her and other words that commitment-phobes avoid. so she starts believing that maybe he won't let her down. 

of course he's a guy, and she's a lady, and there's this huge misunderstanding where he doesn't trust her or himself, mainly because someone he loves is hurt. and so winning piper back is going to take one hell of a grand gesture, because she'd been so close to believing in them when he forgot to believe in her. and those lapses of trust are harder to forgive even when you understand the reasons why. 

to win her smile is an enjoyable sports romance, and even though the fifth (possibly last) in the series it stands alone. although i enjoyed this enough to want to check some of the other books out. 

**to win her smile will publish on july 18, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/kensington books (lyrical shine) in exchange for my honest review. 

Sunday, July 16, 2017

seriously romantic: her cowboy's promise by jennifer hoopes

jennifer hoopes' debut novel, her cowboy's promise, runs deep with emotion and the aftermath of grief. adam conley only came to fly creek to fulfill his promise to his cousin. he needs to make sure emily white is done with grieving and back to living a full and happy life. but from the moment their eyes meet, adam realizes that this task will be more difficult than he expected.

for one, emily's grief still consumes her. it's been three years and you can still feel the pain and loss that exudes from the inner depths of her spirit. and secondly, when their eyes meet there's a spark. he's supposed to make sure emily has moved on, not fall in love with her. but from the moment their paths tangle it feels inevitable. and adam knows that he will only cause emily more pain when he reveals everything he has been charged with by his cousin, to her.

when emily meets adam she's startled to realize that the protective shell she's kept around her is starting to feel too small. since losing dylan she's been afraid to let anyone close, because that kind of loss would be impossible to come back vfrom again. the thing with adam confuses her, but she can't stop herself from seeking him out. it's as if he has the perfect amount of pushiness combined with the best amount of breathing room needed to keep her skittish self on an even keel.

there's a lot of emotion in this book, but it's centered on healing: life after loss; love after loss; finding yourself and the right place to call home. falling in love sets both adam and emily free. they can mourn and grieve; love and heal; live and forgive.

**her cowboy's promise will publish on july 17, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgally/entangled publishing (bliss) in exchange for my honest review.

seriously romantic: hate to love him by jody holford

the third book in the kendrick place series, hate to love him, finally gives us more of brady davis, all around good guy and friend to the other leads residing in kendrick place. he's a mechanic who owns his own garage and is looking to expand to detailing luxury vehicles. he's also got a chip on his shoulder and his initial impressions and interactions with mia kendrick bring out his resentment full bore. also he's crazy attracted to her and doesn't want to admit it.

and while mia does come from a wealthy family and has had every privilege in the world at her fingertips, she's also not a snob. she doesn't believe she is entitled and doesn't act like it either. while she hasn't been on her best behavior with brady, she can't explain why he gets her back up every time they are in a room together. mia is also a businesswoman under pressure to prove herself to her brother and father in an impossible situation.

as brady and mia spend time together not arguing, they realize that the simmering attraction has the potential to be something real. but mia is keeping something big from brady. something that affects him personally and that if it weren't for the nda she signed she would reveal to him in a heartbeat. when brady stumbles across the truth there is anger and hurt to go around. because brady still has that chip. and it's a little easier to believe something you've always carried with you, than someone new.

but all mia needs is a little faith. she needs brady to trust that she will make everything right for him. because she cares deeply about him and about kendrick place. it's more than just her heritage, it's her home, it's the community of people who have become her friends. kendrick place is something worth preserving and she will do her best to make it happen. for the family of friends she's chosen at kendrick place, for herself, but also for brady.

**hate to love him will publish on july 17, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (bliss) in exchange for my honest review. 

Saturday, July 15, 2017

simply a preview of the forbidden by jodi ellen malpas

Releasing on August 8, 2017, read on for more information about The Forbidden, including an excerpt and giveaway!


What do you do when you can't control your feelings for someone? When you know you shouldn't go there? Not even in your head. 

Annie has never experienced the 'spark' with a guy-the kind of instant chemistry that steals your breath and blindsides you completely. Until a night out with friends brings her face to face with the wickedly sexy and mysterious Jack. It's not just a spark that ignites between them. It's an explosion. Jack promises to consume Annie, and he fully delivers on that promise.

Overwhelmed by the intensity of their one night together, Annie slips out of their hotel room. She is certain that a man who's had such a powerful impact on her and who could bend her to his will so easily, must be dangerous. But she's already in too deep. And Jack isn't only dangerous. He is forbidden.

Friday, July 14, 2017

seriously romantic: the scars between us by mk schiller

when emma meets aiden in the scars between us everything changes. her plans. her feelings. her expectations. because she was imagining she'd meet some old, spurned lover. but instead, this guy is in his twenties. and he's not happy to see her. but she promised her mother she'd ask him to release her mother's ashes at the river in linx, texas. and you can't go back on someone's dying wish.

emma isn't what aiden expects at all. they are connected in ways that emma has no idea about, and aiden hesitates to tell her because he figures it would do her no good to know the truth. he's survived a childhood filled with trauma and torture and then joined the marines and saw things that reaffirmed his sense that the world is filled with dark, unpleasant things.

but now they are on this road trip that will take him back to the place where all the pain in his life began and he knows that he has to find a way to protect emma from it. he'll do anything for her. he'll die for her. incredible that meeting her would bring light back into his world. but she's an optimist at heart, even when she's lost everything in her world, she still expects things to get better. there's no way he'd ever shatter those illusions.

and what's amazing in this romance is that it doesn't matter. secrets like the one's aiden is trying to keep never stay buried. eventually, he has to tell her everything and turn her world upside down. but even in those moments, these two never let go of each other. the connection between them only gets stronger as the walls come down. because they may have not spent much time together, but they still know who the other person is down to their bones. their need for each other, to love and protect and save each other will keep them going. i loved it. i loved their relationship. i loved how there wasn't a big blow up or grand gesture required to prove their love.

what they go through is bigger than that. it's horrifying and devastating and deeply traumatizing. but it's about how they survive. it's about how they find a way to love each other. it's about healing and moving on from the past. it's emotional and oh-so-beautiful to find something to hope for after so much pain.

**the scars between us will publish on july 17, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (embrace) in exchange for my honest review. 

seriously romantic: trust by kylie scott

i've been dying to read trust since i heard about the book. several authors i follow have been raving about this book. and i love ya. i love romance. i love bad-boy-good-girl romances. in some ways talking about trust as just a romance feels reductive. it is a romance. but it's more than a boy meets girl and changes life for her kind of story.

when john and edie meet they endure a traumatic event. held hostage by an out of his mind drug addict, john calms him down enough to get him talking. but that doesn't stop him from holding edie at gunpoint and nearly killing everyone in the store. he kills the clerk and tristan, the young man buying drugs off john in the first place.

the fact that john is a drug dealer, was a drug dealer, should matter to edie. but it doesn't. becausee she knows he saved her life. and that moment of connection from the store, when edie realized he was trying to save everyone he could, soon turns into a real friendship. and more than anything else in this book, we see that friendship build and grow. and as it builds and grows it changes.

especially for edie. she trusts john like no one else. he is the only other person who lived through that moment in the gas station with her. but trusting him means that he has power over her. the power to hurt her. she knows she's not a typical teenage girl, and that maybe her innocence and her insecurities are huge turnoffs. but she can't help but want him. but does he want her?

i mean, it is a romance. but edie and john don't walk a straight path into a relationship. but this is what makes this book something more. the fact that both john and edie have past and present baggage to overcome. sometimes i wish that kylie scott did the dual pov thing, i like her heros, they are generally complex, layered, but because we only ever see the one side of the story they remain at a distance, a mystery that you never fully figure out. and i think because we spend so much time in edie's head worrying about her appearance and putting herself down, that you miss the counterarguments from john's perspective.

the truth is size shouldn't matter, right? i have enough of my own issues with weight and dieting and exercising, that if i'm being fully honest, i don't find all that appealing to read about. but at least it's nice when the hero makes it clear that he likes something to hold on to. that he's not seeing curves as weight that needs to be cast aside. i don't know. i guess i wish that there were a more interesting way to deal with the weight issue. or at least a more interesting way to make a heroine stand out, because i feel like i've read a lot of romance novels with heroines struggling with the same thing. and it's a common problem, i get it. but i like to escape, not be reminded constantly that i should also be going on a diet.

**trust will publish july 18, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/kylie scott in exchange for my honest review. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

seriously romantic: undone by lauren hawkeye

undone brings us to the conclusion of the uninhibited three-part serial. in this last part, cari and jasper confront the danger that brought jasper into cari's life head on. and while i'd guessed the identity of the stalker in an earlier part, the mystery here is less important than the romance.

jasper and cari go somewhere secluded to try and eliminate risk, but instead things get steamy as one would expect from these two at this point. but things also get sweeter, too. the timeline and amount of pages in the story are quite short, but cari and jasper manage to wring some real emotion and depth of feeling into their relationship. and also, sex.

anyway, this is an enjoyable, quick series. they don't take long to read, and even though the shorts have been presented in bite-size chunks it's totally worth binge-reading. and since this is part 3, you should be good to go.

**undone will publish on july 17, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (scorched) in exchange for my honest review. 

seriously romantic: tied up in you by erin fletcher

in tied up in you, luke jackson and malina hall have been best friends forever. and sure, malina sometimes wonders what might happen if luke saw her as something other than a friend. but he's a hot hockey player who can score with pretty much anyone, so she's resigned to her spot in the friend zone.

except he kisses her. and he says it was an accident but things are weird. because that kiss was hot. and she wants more. and so does he. but neither of them is sure how to make the switch from friends to something more. something romantic. 

so the first thing they do is set up a double date, where their dates end up as spectators to their bickering. their bickering is clearly foreplay. because it's pretty much obvious to everyone that they belong together. their dates are pretty sure. their friends are too. so all they need to do is make the leap. 

it changes everything. 

and of course, both luke and malina are up against some incredible pressure. it's the one time they could use having their best friend around, except now they have the distraction of something more. and for a moment it seems like they won't come through for each other. but love and friendship go hand in hand. being in love with your best friend can actually be the best thing ever. and i think malina and luke would agree. 

i really enjoyed this latest entry in the all laced up series. these hockey boys are so sweet, on top of being super sexy hockey players. and even though it's taking place around the holidays, it's the perfect read for a lazy summer afternoon.

**tied up in you published on july 10, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (entangled: crush) in exchange for my honest review. for more information about the book, including where to buy, keep reading...

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

seriously romantic: hello, sunshine by leila howland

when becca harrington is rejected from every college she applied to, she takes a cross-country drive with her boyfriend and plans to make it big in l.a. as an actress. of course, her boyfriend dumps her soon after they arrive. and the only place she can afford is a studio apartment that has seen better days. and she keeps getting laughed out of agents reception areas when she tries to get a meeting.

but becca is the kind of person who is relentlessly sunny-natured. she has enthusiasm and a drive to work hard to get where she needs to go in order to make her dreams reality. so even though her stay in l.a. doesn't start off the way she'd hoped, over time she does make progress on her to-do list.

i think what makes hello, sunshine so relatable is becca. she's not perfect, but she means well. she messes up but she owns her choices. there is just something about her that is so irresistible. this is a perfect poolside read, it's sweet and funny and thrives on becca's boundless optimism.

**hello, sunshine will publish on july 11, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/disney book group (disney-hyperion) in exchange for my honest review.

seriously romantic: a seal's courage by jm stewart

the first book in the military match series, a seal's courage, pairs up veteran trent lawson with 28-year -old virgin lauren hayes. i kind of wish that wasn't her biggest character trait, but unfortunately, it is. lauren has always had a thing for trent, he's her best friend's older brother. and when she signs up for this military focused dating service she is stunned to find herself paired up with the object of her fantasies.

trent is equally stunned. he's always liked lauren. he knew about her crush when they were younger. and now that he's back from the war she's the one person who calms all the anxiety and ptsd symptoms down. so he doesn't want to mess with their friendship. but being matched like that changes their view of one another. and so their friendship is irrevocably changed from that moment. even though both lauren and trent try to deny this.

lauren has always wanted to pursue something with trent, and every time he rejects her a little piece of her dies. and eventually,

he realizes he can't keep doing that to her. especially since he's denying himself too. he tries to put the brakes on their relationship, taking things slowly in deference to her virginity. except they burn too hot for each other.

the truth is lauren is someone he wants to spend time with. so all he has to do is stop borrowing trouble. he's so convinced that he's failed the people closest to him—his brothers in arms, his k-9 partner, his ex-wife—that he's certain he'll fail lauren too. but he can't predict the future. he can't control how life turns out. this is no reason not to pursue a relationship.

he's in a relationship with lauren from the start after all. their friendship is important. falling in love can only add another, deeper, dimension to it. they have the chance to be good together, and that is something worth pursuing.

**a seal's courage will publish on july 11, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/grand central publishing (forever yours) in exchange for my honest review. for more information about the book, including where to buy it, read on...

seriously romantic: maybe this summer by jennifer snow

we met owen mcconnell in maybe this love, he's the easy-going mascot for the colorado avalanche, and you'd think that there wasn't much to him except a carefree personality. but that isn't true. owen is such a dreamboat of a hero. he gave up his future in ice hockey for a military career, and when he was injured overseas he had to adjust his life goals. being inside the costume means that he spends a lot of time unseen. out of costume he's often overshadowed by the star power of his best friend, ben westmore. but now that ben has found love and stability, owen has to admit that he wants that too.

when he meets paige adams she couldn't be more clear that she isn't interested. but owen is the kind of guy who doesn't give up easily. and when he gets her to agree to go out with him, he's not even sure she'll show up. and when she does and they have an amazing time, the fact that he was supposed to meet up with a blind date olivia and ben set up for him later at that same location blows up rather spectacularly in his face. and the poor guy spends the rest of the novella groveling. 

the thing is you don't get mad at owen because he really is trying his best. he makes mistakes and he owns them. at his heart he is a genuinely good guy. and paige knows this. she just also has a ton of baggage. she is a survivor of a horrific attack that also changed her life goals. she believes in the work she does, working with the burn unit to help young victims recover and heal, but she hasn't accepted her own scars as part of her identity. a former model, her self-worth is still wrapped up in her appearance. nevermind that ben thinks she is beautiful even with the scars that cover her neck and arms. in order to accept owen's love she needs to be able to fully accept her own scars as part of her image. she needs to realize that the scars prove she survived, not that she is a victim. and this is not an easy task. 

given that this is a novella, you'd think that there wasn't enough time to accomplish all this, but maybe this summer really works. i can't tell you what a wonderful addition this is to the colorado ice universe. honestly, as loveable as the westmores are, owen is probably my favorite. note that we do get to see all the westmores here, as well as some hints as to what asher will be up to in maybe this christmas

**maybe this summer will publish on july 11, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/grand central publishing (forever) in exchange for my honest review. for more information about the book including where to buy, keep reading...