Release Day Blitz & Review: Redemptive by Jay McLean



Title: Redemptive (Combative Trilogy #2)

Author: Jay McLean

Release Day: March 8, 2016

Redemptive E-book


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Redemptive Wrap


It’s said that your life flashes before your eyes when you die.
It must only happen to those whose lives were worthy.
Clearly, mine was not.
The only thing that happened to me was a repeat of what I thought was my death.
The blast of the gun as it went off.
The loss of my breath as two hundred pounds of dead weight dropped on top of me.
And then darkness.
This replayed over and over.
When the guy squatted down next to me and asked if I was hurt, the only thing I could see, feel,
hear, were those few seconds.
Even now, as I sat in the back of a blacked out van—it was the only thing that ran through my mind.
Gunshot, breath, darkness.






5 / 5 Stars

Holy crap. 

That’s how I’d sum up Redemptive in two words.

A couple weeks ago I reviewed Jay McLean’s Combative. (You can find my review here.) It ended with one of those cliffhangers that had me pounding my fists demanding the next book. I needed more. There were so many unanswered questions.

While I still feel like I’m in the dark on most things, what I did learn BLEW MY MIND. It completely changed everything I thought I knew from Combative. I wanted to know more about Nate DeLuca. Jay McLean answered.

Nate wasn’t who I thought he was. Well he was, but he wasn’t. I can’t even begin to explain it to you. I was wary of the Nate I met in Combative. I just knew he was going to cause problems. The Nate I met in Redemptive was someone I adored. It confused the heck out of me! I didn’t know what to do with the two versions of him in my head.

And Bailey. I don’t even know what to say about Bailey. I felt for the poor girl.

Jay McLean has done an amazing job of messing with my head with this series. And I’m not complaining at all. I LOVED it. I can’t wait for the third book. I can’t even imagine what’s in store for everyone next.

**I received an ARC of Redemptive in exchange for an honest review.




Jay McLean is an international best-selling author and full-time reader, writer of New Adult Romance, and most of all, procrastinator. When she’s not doing any of those things, she can be found running after her two little boys, playing house and binge watching Netflix. She writes what she loves to read, which are books that can make her laugh, make her hurt and make her feel.
Jay lives in the suburbs of Melbourne, Australia, in a forever half-done home where music is loud and laughter is louder.


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Review: Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

7600924Title: Forbidden

Author: Tabitha Suzuma

Publication Date: May 27, 2010

Publisher: Definitions

Genre:New Adult, Contemporary Romance

Goodreads Synopsis:

She is pretty and talented – sweet sixteen and never been kissed. He is seventeen; gorgeous and on the brink of a bright future. And now they have fallen in love. But… they are brother and sister.

Seventeen-year-old Lochan and sixteen-year-old Maya have always felt more like friends than siblings. Together they have stepped in for their alcoholic, wayward mother to take care of their three younger siblings. As defacto parents to the little ones, Lochan and Maya have had to grow up fast. And the stress of their lives—and the way they understand each other so completely—has also also brought them closer than two siblings would ordinarily be. So close, in fact, that they have fallen in love. Their clandestine romance quickly blooms into deep, desperate love. They know their relationship is wrong and cannot possibly continue. And yet, they cannot stop what feels so incredibly right. As the novel careens toward an explosive and shocking finale, only one thing is certain: a love this devastating has no happy ending.

Forbidden is probably the hardest book I have ever reviewed. I wish I could say I loved this book, but I can’t. The subject matter was just too disturbing and taboo to be enjoyable to read. What I can say is that it was beautifully written. Only an exceptionally talented writer could deliver a story so brutally wrong and still have you empathizing with its characters.

I felt sympathy for every character in this book. My heart went out to them. Despite their flaws, I loved them. There were so many wrongs committed to each of them on so many levels. I wanted happy endings for them all. Mostly, I wanted to be able to forgive Maya and Lochan their actions, but I couldn’t. It was frustrating and devastating because there could never be a happy ending for them. There could never be an ending that would be completely satisfying to me. What I was left with at the end of Forbidden was a deep sadness. It’s a book that will stick with me for a very long time to come.

You probably noticed there are no stars on this review. I honestly couldn’t come up with a rating. How do you rate a story which makes you super uncomfortable, but love the characters? I haven’t been able to figure it out. Would I suggest reading it? That depends entirely on the reader.




Review: The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord

224293501Title: The Start of Me and You

Author: Emery Lord

Publication Date: March 31, 2015

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance

Goodreads Synopsis:

Brimming with heartfelt relationships and authentic high-school dynamics The Start of Me and You proves that it’s never too late for second chances.

It’s been a year since it happened—when Paige Hancock’s first boyfriend died in an accident. After shutting out the world for two years, Paige is finally ready for a second chance at high school . . . and she has a plan. First: Get her old crush, Ryan Chase, to date her—the perfect way to convince everyone she’s back to normal. Next: Join a club—simple, it’s high school after all. But when Ryan’s sweet, nerdy cousin, Max, moves to town and recruits Paige for the Quiz Bowl team (of all things!) her perfect plan is thrown for a serious loop. Will Paige be able to face her fears and finally open herself up to the life she was meant to live?

5 / 5 Stars

I’m sure I’m not the first person to say this, but The Start of Me and You  is the start of me and my love for Emery Lord’s books. Wow. Her writing is beautiful.

The title The Start of Me and You would lead one to believe this book is a romance. It is so much more than just a romance. It is a story of friendship and helping each other through the tough times in life. The romance most definitely played second string to the friendships in this book. Those tight friendships made the romance even sweeter.

I’m honestly kind of at a loss for words with this book. I feel like I can’t do it justice with this review. If you’re a YA contemporary romance lover, you should definitely read this book. It’s now one of my favorites. I can’t wait to read more of Emery Lord’s books.



ARC Review: Us by Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy

businessman working on laptop  in black suit

Title: Us

Series: Him, #2

Authors: Sarina Bowen, Elle Kennedy

Publication Date: March 8, 2016

Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance, LGBT

Goodreads Synopsis:

Can your favorite hockey players finish their first season together undefeated?

Five months in, NHL forward Ryan Wesley is having a record-breaking rookie season. He’s living his dream of playing pro hockey and coming home every night to the man he loves–Jamie Canning, his longtime best friend turned boyfriend. There’s just one problem: the most important relationship of his life is one he needs to keep hidden, or else face a media storm that will eclipse his success on the ice.

Jamie loves Wes. He really, truly does. But hiding sucks. It’s not the life Jamie envisioned for himself, and the strain of keeping their secret is taking its toll. It doesn’t help that his new job isn’t going as smoothly as he’d hoped, but he knows he can power through it as long as he has Wes. At least apartment 10B is their retreat, where they can always be themselves.

Or can they? When Wes’s nosiest teammate moves in upstairs, the threads of their carefully woven lie begin to unravel. With the outside world determined to take its best shot at them, can Wes and Jamie develop major-league relationship skills on the fly?

Warning: contains sexual situations, a vibrating chair, long-distance sexytimes, and proof that hockey players look hot in any shade of green.

5 / 5 Stars

Back in July, I read an ARC of HimIt was the first M/M romance I had ever read. At the time, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I just knew I loved both Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy’s novels. I was pleasantly surprised. I loved Wes and Jamie and their love story. There was just something about two strong men falling for each other, especially when it was based on an amazing friendship. I was excited to find out the authors were going to be releasing a follow up novel. I jumped on the chance to read an ARC of Us, the continuation of Wes and Jamie’s story.

In Us, Jamie has moved in with Wes in Toronto. Wes’ rookie year is in full swing and Jamie is coaching kids’ hockey. Everything is going smoothly in their new relationship except for the fact they are hiding it from the world. Jamie loves Wes, but the secrecy and long away games are taking a toll on their relationship. He’s not used to having to hide his relationships. To make matters worse, Wes’ teammate moves in above them and likes to stop by unannounced. Jamie and Wes will have to decide what’s more important: their relationship or Wes’ budding career.

I absolutely loved how Us continued Wes and Jamie’s love affair from where it ended in Him. This time, instead of dealing with falling in love and exploring their sexuality, they were dealing with the ramifications of hiding their relationship from the public. Neither of them wanted to ruin Wes’ new career, but the affects of hiding their relationship wore on both of them. They wanted to be able to declare their love for each other.

It was especially hard on Jamie, who felt isolated in his new city of Toronto, Canada. He didn’t have the built in support system Wes had with his team. Jamie didn’t want to have to lie or pretend around people. It caused him to push away potential friends, like his new co-workers. He started to have to deal with the resentment this created between him and Wes. The weather change also had a big affect on the Californian’s disposition.

Wes may have had instant friends in his team, but he also struggled with hiding his relationship with Jamie. Jamie was “just his roommate” and Wes felt like he couldn’t talk about him around his teammates. He was afraid of blowing their cover. Wes wanted to be able to keep his career and his boyfriend, but he was starting to worry it wouldn’t be possible.

While life was tougher for Jamie and Wes in Us, it wasn’t just filled with angst. Jamie and Wes still had their fun and sweet moments. Their banter with each other continued to be funny. I loved their connection with each other and what they were willing to do for their relationship.

Us was a really great story about a young, gay couple trying to maneuver through the world of love, professional sports and fame. Now, I just need Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy to write a story for Wes and Jamie’s new neighbor/teammate Blake! I loved that guy so much!

**I received an electronic ARC of Us in exchange for an honest review.



Review: The Year We Fell Apart by Emily Martin

22449806Title: The Year We Fell Apart

Author: Emily Martin

Publication Date: January 26, 2016

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance

Goodreads Synopsis:

In the tradition of Sarah Dessen, this powerful debut novel is a compelling portrait of a young girl coping with her mother’s cancer as she figures out how to learn from—and fix—her past.

Few things come as naturally to Harper as epic mistakes. In the past year she was kicked off the swim team, earned a reputation as Carson High’s easiest hook-up, and officially became the black sheep of her family. But her worst mistake was destroying her relationship with her best friend, Declan.

Now, after two semesters of silence, Declan is home from boarding school for the summer. Everything about him is different—he’s taller, stronger…more handsome. Harper has changed, too, especially in the wake of her mom’s cancer diagnosis.

While Declan wants nothing to do with Harper, he’s still Declan, her Declan, and the only person she wants to talk to about what’s really going on. But he’s also the one person she’s lost the right to seek comfort from.

As their mutual friends and shared histories draw them together again, Harper and Declan must decide which parts of their past are still salvageable, and which parts they’ll have to let go of once and for all.

In this honest and affecting tale of friendship and first love, Emily Martin brings to vivid life the trials and struggles of high school and the ability to learn from past mistakes over the course of one steamy North Carolina summer.

4.5 / 5 Stars

The Year We Fell Apart is a coming of age romance about a soon-to-be high school senior, Harper Sloan. Harper earned a bad reputation last year after an encounter in the school pool. Her actions got her kicked off the swim team. The past year has been tough and it looks like this summer will be no different. Her mom has been diagnosed with breast cancer and her best friend turned boyfriend turned ex-boyfriend, Declan, is back from boarding school.

Harper knows her relationship with Declan is over, but she can’t help the feelings she has when he’s around. She wants nothing more than to repair their relationship, but Declan obviously wants nothing to do with her. So Harper does what she’s done best this past year, she lets the rumors surrounding her define her.

The Year We Fell Apart broke my heart over and over again. It did it slowly, throughout the entire book. Each major revelation crushed me and made me see each character in a different light. They were constantly evolving, as were their relationships with each other.

Harper was a tough character to like. Honestly, I wanted to give her a good shake! The way she let her bad reputation define her and how she used it to cope with life was frustrating. I hated how she became what her harassers said about her. Her way of coping hurt her more than it helped her, and it was painful to read. I wanted her to dig herself out of the hole she was creating, but she had no desire to do so.

Harper’s relationship with Declan and it’s demise was sad and, at times, mysterious. She obviously blamed herself, but as the story unfolded I could see that Declan wasn’t as perfect as Harper made him out to be. The back and forth of their friendship/relationship during the summer made things harder for her. Like many teenage girls, she was basing her life and her self-confidence around a boy.

What really broke my heart, though, was the last fourth of the book. Even after she began to work through her problems with Declan, she continued to put herself in bad situations. And when she finally stood up for herself, it was kind of too late. Her actions exploded in her face. It was really sad because truly wasn’t a horrible person.

Here’s the thing about The Year We Fell Apart, though. No matter how frustrated with Harper I was, I couldn’t put the book down. I loved it. It was so beautifully written and filled with emotion. Even when I hated a character, I loved them. I wanted to see them overcome their problems and be happy.

I can’t believe this is Emily Martin’s debut novel. I’m incredibly excited to see what comes next. (I would love a follow up to The Year We Fell Apart or a second book about Chris.)


Review: Living with Regret by Lisa De Jong

18808092Living with Regret (Rains #3)

Author: Lisa De Jong

Publication Date: October 7, 2014

Publisher: Lisa De Jong

Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance

Goodreads Synopsis:

I had my whole life mapped out. Perfect guy. Perfect friends. Everything was exactly the way I wanted it.

That was until that night–the one I can’t remember. It’s all my fault, and now the memories are all I have left of him. Of us.

My guilt drowns me until Sam Shea steps back into my life and helps me to the surface. He slowly opens my heart and crawls deep inside before I even realize what’s happening. I know I don’t deserve him.

While I’m trying to get used to my new life, pieces of that night slowly start to come back to me. Lies and secrets shatter everything I thought I knew.

Maybe I’m not the only one living with regret.

5 / 5 Stars

Living with Regret is the third book in the Rains series. It can be read as a standalone novel, but there are some cute nods to the first two books in the series. It’s Rachel’s story.

In Living with Regret, Rachel is doing just that. In one night, her perfect future was shattered. She’s lost her boyfriend and her closest friends. Rachel can’t remember how it all happened, but she knows her life will never be the same.

While she’s trying to come to terms with the heartache life has dealt her, one person shows up to help her through the pain. Sam. He was her neighbor, the childhood friend she could always count on when she needed to escape. She hasn’t spoken to him much since she was fifteen and started dating Cory, but knowing he’s here to support her is what’s getting her through the day.

As Rachel begins to get stronger, memories begin to surface. The more she remembers, the more she realizes she might not be the only one responsible for what happened the night her life changed forever.

After meeting Rachel in After the Rain, I wasn’t sure what I thought of her. She seemed like the beautiful girl that let her boyfriend walk all over her. I wondered who she really was. In Living with Regret, I saw the strength that she had.

Rachel was dealing with so much in this book. She was completely devastated and I felt so bad for her. She had no clue how her life had taken such a drastic turn and blamed herself. I loved how Sam helped her through it all and was her support system. The “bad boy” wasn’t bad at all. He was so sweet.

I loved the way Rachel was in the dark almost the entire time — even if I could guess most of what happened. I liked finding out bits and pieces as I went along. I also loved the little gems Lisa De Jong sprinkled in from When it Rains.

The best part of the book was the message, though. Living with Regret was about accepting responsibility and learning to forgive yourself and others. Those are two very important things to learn while you’re growing up and maturing.

Review: When it Rains by Lisa De Jong

17833493When it Rains (Rains #1)

Author: Lisa De Jong

Publication Date: September 25, 2013

Publisher: CreateSpace

Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance

Goodreads Synopsis:

*This book contains mature subject matter and is not intended for those under the age of 17.*

One night changed my life forever.

Beau Bennett has been my best friend since I can remember. He was my first crush before everything came crashing down, and now he wants more, but it’s more than I can give him. Things are different now. I wish I could tell him why, but I can’t.

I haven’t told anyone.

I never knew how much I really needed him until the day he left for college, and I was completely alone.

Then one day, Asher Hunt rides into town with his dark, captivating eyes and cocky grin. He doesn’t care who I used to be, he’s simply breathing life into what’s left. People warn me to stay away from him, but he helps me forget the pain that has held me hostage for so long; something I thought was impossible before he walked into my life.

I’ve been hurt.

I’ve been saved.

And I’ve found hope.

I thought my story was written that night, but now I know it was only a new beginning. Until one secret turns my world upside down…



4.5 / 5 Stars

I’ve tried to write this review several times now. I keep hitting delete. I feel like no matter what I write, I can’t do When it Rains justice. I guess I’m just going to have to do my best.

When it Rains is a beautifully sad tale of young woman who is coping with a horrible event that changed her. It’s been two years, but Kate still feels like a shell of her former self. She’s pushed everyone but her mom and her best friend, Beau, away. I couldn’t help but feel for Kate. She felt so alone and couldn’t ask for help.

To make matter worse, Beau is leaving for college. Kate doesn’t know what she’ll do without him. She can’t imagine not seeing him every day. He makes things even harder by professing his love to her before he goes. Kate knows she can’t be the girl he needs, so she lets him go. It’s painful to read Beau’s reaction, to feel his heart breaking. I think mine broke a little, too. I couldn’t help but hope Kate would see her error and go to him.

She doesn’t, though. Kate’s trying to move on and continue life as she knows it when Asher Hunt walks into the diner she waitresses at. There’s something about Asher that makes Kate excited about life again. They quickly become friends and then something more.

For the first time in over two years, Kate feels hope. She feels happiness. Asher knows the right things to do and say to make her feel safe. I couldn’t help but feel torn about it. On one hand, I wanted Kate to be happy. On the other, I wanted it to be with Beau because Asher has some secrets I’m worried about. Secrets I can feel are going to hurt Kate.

I’m not going to say more about the story from here because I don’t want to give any of the surprises away. What I will say is the rest of the story gutted me. I haven’t ugly cried as much as I did reading this book since I read Bright Side by Kim Holden.

My only complaint about When it Rains is that I didn’t like the Beau-Kate-Asher love triangle. While I get it now, it frustrated me while reading the book. All that angst!

When it Rains is a book I would recommend to New Adult readers who enjoy a good ugly cry. There are situations in this book that would not be suitable for younger, immature readers.

Note: After finishing When it Rains, I downloaded the novella that comes after it in the series. After the Rain is a continuation of Kate’s story. I felt like it was actually a better end to her story than the ending in When it Rains. The added story was what I needed to for the story to be amazing. If the two had been combined, I would have given When it Rains the complete 5 stars. If you’re planning on reading When it Rains, plan on reading After the Rain when you’re done.