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.

 

 

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Review: Dancing on a Moonbeam: Part 2 by Kate Perry

28953773Title: Dancing on a Moonbeam: Part 1

Series: Bedford Falls, #1

Author: Kate Perry

Publication Date: February 10, 2015

Publisher: Firelight and Fairydust Unlimited

Genre: Contemporary Romance, Chick Lit

Goodreads Synopsis:

Eleanor Westwood strikes a deal with her neighbor: if Max withdraws the complaint that stopped renovation on her dance studio, she’ll help him with his movie score.

Being a muse shouldn’t be hard, right? For Eleanor there’s too much at stake to fail. She just never realized that rousing Max’s imagination means rousing his passion too—for the music, and for Eleanor herself.


5 / 5 Stars


In Dancing on a Moonbeam: Part 2, Kate Perry continues her sweet second chance romance. Eleanor and Max are both reeling from their kiss. Neither is looking for a relationship, but both of them wants more than just that kiss.

Eleanor and Max are also able to come up with a compromise so Eleanor can finish her studio. She volunteers to be his muse and finds herself finding her own groove with dancing. But nothing is ever that simple and Eleanor soon find another hiccup in the renovation of her dance studio.

The slow-burn romance of Dancing on a Moonbeam heats up in Part 2. It was just as sweet as Part 1, but with a lot more sizzle. I loved the way Eleanor and Max have figured out how to work together. It was also fun to see Eleanor figure out where she’s lacked in friendships in the past and how much she wants to reclaim those friends. My favorite parts of the story, though; are the conversations between Max and Eleanor’s daughter. His words to her got through to her in a way others couldn’t. I loved that.

I’m truly loving this second chance romance series. It’s different from the other novels I have read by Perry as the characters seem more mature, but it’s just as beautifully written. It tells a story many readers will be able to identify with. I can’t wait to find out how the story wraps up in Part 3!

I would caution readers that this is the second part of a three part novella series. I would not suggest skipping Part 1 before reading this. The story gradually builds throughout the three parts. Plus, Part 1 was so much fun to read! (You can find my review for it here.)

**I received an electronic copy of Dancing on a Moonbeam:Part 2 from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Combative by Jay McLean

20894361Title: Combative

Series: Combative, #1

Author: Jay McLean

Publication Date: February 5, 2015

Publisher: CreateSpace

Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance, Mystery, Romantic Suspense

Goodreads Synopsis:

We all play victims to our pasts; to the choices we make and the lives we create.
They define who we are.
And sometimes if we’re lucky enough, the past stays where it belongs: in the past.
I’m not one of the lucky ones.
I never have been.
Because now the past is knocking on my door, offering deals I have no choice but to take… deals that will help bring justice—not just for me, but for my brothers.

The problem?
The deal is a ticking time bomb.
One I didn’t know existed.

Tick.
Tock.


4.5 / 5 Stars


Jay McLean shocked me with this intense story. I knew the writing was going to be great, it is Jay McLean after all. I just didn’t realize how different it was going to be from what I’ve read from her before.

I don’t want to give too much of the story away, but Combative is a story told from two different view points. The first is Ky. He’s just returned from four tours of duty and feels unworthy of still being alive. It’s gotten him into some trouble with the law, and now he’s stuck helping out the police to save himself from prison.

The second point of view is Madison’s. She just moved into Ky’s apartment building. She’s beautiful and Ky can’t stop himself from wanting her. Madison is kind of a mystery. She’s got some issues, but she keeps them a secret.

Ky and Madison try to keep things simple and friendly, but they can’t stop themselves from falling for each other. Soon, his feelings for Madison are distracting Ky from the job he’s meant to do.

I was sucked into mystery of Combative from the very beginning. I loved Ky and the sweetness he hid under his tough guy exterior. He was so good with Madison and her quirks. At times I wanted him to push her a little harder for information on her past, but I enjoyed the build up not having that information gave the story. Madison’s thoughts were confusing and intrigued me. I couldn’t wait to see where her storyline was headed.

I also loved the mystery surrounding the other characters in the book. I wanted to know who Nate DeLucca really was and what he was up to. I wanted to know what Jackson’s motives really were. All of the mystery around everyone was so suspenseful and intense. I was always slightly confused and excited to see what was going to happen next.

And the cliffhanger!!! Crazy! I need book 2 now!

Combative was an intriguing book filled with mystery, suspense and romance. Anyone who enjoys intense books shroud in secrecy will love this one.

**I received an electronic copy of Combative in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

 

 

Review: Blocked by Jennifer Lane

23110334Title: Blocked

Series: Blocked, #1

Author: Jennifer Lane

Publication Date: October 24, 2014

Publisher: Psyched Publishing

Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance, Political Fiction

Goodreads Synopsis:

College freshman Lucia Ramirez has a secret crush on Dane Monroe. He’s a tall drink of water — blond, brash, and one hell of a volleyball player. ¡Híjole! Lucia hopes her volleyball scholarship to his school will make him notice her.

Too bad what’s noticeable is Dane’s obvious hatred for Lucia. Her family’s politics contradict everything he stands for. And politics are front and center in both their families. Dane’s mother is about to face Lucia’s father in the race for US President.

When Secret Service throws them together, Dane can’t deny his frustrating attraction to Lucia’s athletic curves and sweet faith in the world. Amid the intense pressure of college athletics and presidential politics, can opposites not just attract, but overcome overwhelming odds to be together? Or do their differences block their match from the start?


4 / 5 Stars


 

What originally drew me to Blocked was the cover. I love sports related romances and I was intrigued by the volleyball. I had never read a romance centered around the sport, so I was excited to see how it would play into the story.

Several things surprised me about Blocked. First, the amount of volleyball in the book. Second, the parts psychology and beliefs played in the story. Third, how politics and family worked into it all. Blocked had so many different components going on.

Blocked was unlike typical New Adult sports romances I’ve read, where the romance is heavy and the sport is light. Several scenes featuring the sport were showcased throughout the book. It helped to develop the characters and explain their actions.

At first, I didn’t like Lucia. Her poor body image and low self-confidence drove me nuts. I could relate to it, but at the same time it frustrated me because–Hello! Lucia’s a college athlete. You have to be in darn good shape to be a college volleyball player. But as the book went on, I grew to understand her thinking and the psychology aspect of it all. I ended up liking her character and how she triumphed over her problems.

Dane was the quintessential New Adult jock. I loved him from the beginning. He was hot, cocky and talented. Dane also had problems of his own, but they didn’t quite move me the way Lucia’s did.

My favorite parts of the story were when Dane and Lucia gave into their feelings for each other. I loved the slow-burn of their romance and how they took care of each other.

What really made this book interesting and different, though, was the Presidential race between Lucia’s Republican dad and Dane’s Democrat mom. It influenced everything the two did, from their actions on the court to their feelings for each other. Neither wanted to fall for someone of the “wrong” political party. I loved the way they worked through their many different beliefs to come to an understanding so they could have a relationship. It made me wish more of the world could do the same.

My only major complaint about Blocked was the ending. I would have liked more than I got.

**I received an electronic copy of Blocked from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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: Nine Million Minutes by Leigh Ann Lane

27974959Title: Nine Million Minutes

Author: Leigh Ann Lane

Publication Date: November 11, 2015

Publisher: CreateSpace

Genre: Contemporary Romance, New Adult

Goodreads Synopsis:

Twenty-six years is long enough to be a wallflower. Armed with a new auburn hair color and a lime green Jeep that screams “look at me,” Kricket Taylor steps outside her shy comfort zone.

Jay Hunter has a successful career as a speaker, capturing audiences by rolling up his sleeve and baring a jagged scar that signifies the biggest mistake of his life…making a promise he couldn’t keep.

With a coast-to-coast supply of willing and beautiful conference attendees, he has no desire for a relationship. But an encounter with a shy redhead triggers something deep. Now, the only way to make up for his long ago broken promise is to protect her from himself.

Nine Million Minutes, a contemporary romance novel, will resonate with anyone who has picked themselves up, brushed off the dirt, and awkwardly stumbled towards a new beginning.


3.5 / 5 Stars


Nine Million Minutes is a complex story about two people fighting their attraction to each other due to a combined pasts that still haunt them.

At sixteen, Jayson saw himself as the older brother and protector of his eight-year-old neighbor, Krissy. When the unspeakable happens, Krissy is torn away from Jay and their neighborhood. Jay feels it’s his fault because he didn’t do enough to protect her. Being so young, Krissy has no memory of that horrible night.

Flash forward seventeen years. Kricket (aka Krissy) returns to her Oklahoma hometown and meets gorgeous Jay(son) at Starbucks. Neither realize they know each other. When something brings their connection to light, they realize they can’t act on their attraction to each other — no matter how much they want each other.

Nine Million Minutes is a hard book for me to rate. It was fast-paced and kept my attention the entire time. I was invested in the story and loved the push-pull thing Jay and Kricket had going on. I enjoyed the slow-burn of their romance. It was a really great book on it’s way to a five star review– until it got to almost the end. That’s when things started to unravel for me.

Remember that slow-burn romance I just mentioned? Well, once they decided to act on their attraction, the slow-burn turned into steaming hot. It felt like the last couple chapters of the book were all sex. I have no problem with sex in books, but it felt out of place for the characters to get it on that much in one night. Or maybe it was just the way Jay bragged about it to his family. (Do his mom and dad really want hear about that?!?)

Then, there was the epilogue. Instead of wrapping things up nicely, it added unnecessarily to the story. I honestly didn’t see the point of it.

My biggest problem with Nine Million Minutes, thoughwas Jay’s secret. I couldn’t stand Tara’s part in it all. There had to be a better, less disgusting reason for Jay to keep them apart. Although, I do have to admit I loved the resolution to the issue.

Oh, and I almost forgot! I love the meaning behind the title of the book!

New Adult readers who enjoy complicated love stories filled with angst and secrets will enjoy Nine Million Minutes.

 

 

Review: The Distance from A to Z by Natalie Blitt

25393664Title: The Distance from A to Z 

Author: Natalie Blitt

Publication Date: January 12, 2016

Publisher: Epic Reads Impulse

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance

Goodreads Synopsis:

This full-length novel by debut author Natalie Blitt is a pitch-perfect blend of Stephanie Perkins and Miranda Kenneally that proves the age-old adage: opposites attract.

Seventeen-year-old Abby has only one goal for her summer: to make sure she is fluent in French—well, that, and to get as far away from baseball and her Cubs-obsessed family as possible. A summer of culture and language, with no sports in sight.

That turns out to be impossible, though, because her French partner is the exact kind of boy she was hoping to avoid. Eight weeks. 120 hours of class. 80 hours of conversation practice with someone who seems to wear baseball caps and jerseys every day.

But Zeke in French is a different person than Zeke in English. And Abby can’t help but fall for him, hard. As Abby begins to suspect that Zeke is hiding something, she has to decide if bridging the gap between who she is and who he is is worth the risk.

Epic Reads Impulse is a digital imprint with new releases each month.


4 / 5 Stars


 

I loved reading The Distance from A to Z. It hooked me right away. I couldn’t tell it was written by a debut author. The writing was amazing, the characters were well developed and the romance sweet. There was even a little bit of mystery behind Zeke to add to the romance. Why not 5 stars then, you ask?

I couldn’t stand Abby half the time. Her hatred of everything sports related was a little over the top. I get that it played into the plot of the book, but it felt crazy. I was expecting a bigger, badder explanation behind her hatred than what actually caused it. Plus, even when it was explained, I felt like I was missing something. Was their a fall out with her mother? What really caused the big switch in Abby’s life?

There were some great things about Abby, too, though. She was an amazing friend. The way she looked out for Alice was sweet. Her relationship with her brothers was cute. Their love for baseball may have annoyed her, but she put up with it (for the most part) because she loved them. I also loved her relationship with Zeke. Her confusion over their friendship/romance felt real and like something I would have gone through as a teenager.

Zeke was pretty perfect. He was that popular guy who was both nice and smart. My only complaint about him was that at times he seemed older than 17. He had a maturity about him.  I’m not sure if that came from his dedication to his sport or what, but it seemed like he was about five years older than Abby to me.

So, even though Abby annoyed me at times, I still loved this book and would highly recommend it to YA contemporary romance readers. I’m actually hoping Natalie Blitt comes out with a sequel to The Distance From A to Z. I would love to see where Zeke and Abby’s relationship goes from here. (There is a short deleted scene from the ending of the book on Natalie Blitt’s website for anyone who wants a little more of the story. It does contain spoilers, if you haven’t read the book yet.)

Oh, and last time I checked, you could download The Distance From A to Z for $1.99 on Amazon.