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.

 

 

 

 

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ARC Review: Carolina Dreaming by Virginia Kantra

25476077Title: Carolina Dreaming

Series: Dare Island, #5

Author: Virginia Kantra

Publication Date: February 2, 2016

Publisher: Berkley

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Goodreads Synopsis:

When it comes to love, anything can happen on Dare Island—especially in this latest novel from New York Times bestselling author Virginia Kantra. 

After escaping a disastrous marriage, bakery owner Jane Clark has convinced herself that she has everything she needs—her precious son, a thriving business, and a roof over her head. But the arrival of a handsome stranger on the island shows her exactly what she’s been missing…

The only home Gabe Murphy ever had was the Marine Corps. He’s working hard to rebuild his life. It will take a special place, and a special woman, to make him want to stay.

Now Gabe is determined to prove that he’s worthy of Jane’s trust—and her love. But when her past reappears, that trust will be tested, and Jane and Gabe will have to fight hard to hold onto their love and make their dreams a reality…


4 / 5 Stars


I always enjoy reading books from the Dare Island series. Each of the books have a fun romance, but also deal with deeper issues. I was excited to read Carolina Dreaming to see what Virginia Kantra had in store for Jane, who I briefly met in Carolina Blues.

Carolina Dreaming was a sweet second chance love story of two people trying to move on from their rough pasts. Jane was ready for her second chance at love and was willing to put herself out there. She had more strength than I thought she would. I loved how thoughtful and kind she was to everyone. Gabe was a guy down on his luck. He was finally getting a chance to be the man he wanted to be. I loved that he gave up his plan of waiting for the right moment to fall in love and just went for it. They were perfect for each other.

I really enjoyed reading Carolina Dreaming. Virginia Kantra could not have created a better match for Jane than Gabe. Their romance was cute and the emotional strength they gained from each other was special. I also loved the side romance between Jane’s crotchety single dad and his dispatcher. The only complaint I have about Carolina Dreaming was the way it ended. The story felt real up until it wrapped up quickly and too perfectly.

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

 

 

 

Review: Come Back to Me by Mila Gray

25312179Come Back to Me

Author: Mila Gray

Publication Date: June 19, 2014

Publisher: Pan Macmillon

Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance

Goodreads Synopsis:

Home on leave in sunny California, Marine and local lothario Kit Ryan finds himself dangerously drawn to his best friend’s sister, Jessa – the one girl he can’t have.

But Kit’s not about to let a few obstacles stand in his way and soon Jessa’s falling for his irresistible charms.

What starts out as a summer romance of secret hook-ups and magical first times quickly develops into a passionate love affair that turns both their worlds upside down.

When summer’s over and it’s time for Kit to redeploy, neither Kit nor Jessa are ready to say goodbye. Jessa’s finally following her dreams and Kit’s discovered there’s someone he’d sacrifice everything for.

Jessa’s prepared to wait for Kit no matter what. But when something more than distance and time rips them apart they’re forced to decide whether what they have is really worth fighting for.

A breathtaking, scorchingly hot story about love, friendship, family and finding your way back from the edge of heartbreak.


My rating: 4 / 5 Stars


I have been trying to write a review for Come Back to Me for a week now. I keep starting it, erasing it and then re-writing it. I feel like I can’t do this book justice with my review, but I’m going to try anyway. (Warning — I did include some spoilers at the very bottom, but they’re clearly marked spoilers.)

I loved the beginning of Come Back to Me. It started with Jessa waiting to find out who was killed in action: her brother or her boyfriend. It was tense and heartbreaking. But then I didn’t get that answer. Instead, I was transported months back to when Jessa and her boyfriend, Kit, fell in love.

Kit and Jessa’s love story was sweet and fun, but also filled with its fair share of drama. I liked it, but in the back of my mind I kept thinking, “Hurry up! I need to know what happened!” I couldn’t enjoy this part of the story as much I wanted to because I was waiting to find out what poor Jessa was going to have to live with.

The story of what happened after Jessa learns who lived and who died was more important to me than the beginning of their love story. It was deeper and more emotional. I wanted more of this part of the story than I got.

I still really liked and enjoyed Come Back to Me. It’s definitely a book I would recommend to New Adult romance readers or readers who enjoy military love stories. I have also read the second book in this series, This is One Moment, and enjoyed it as well. You can find my review for it here.

Other books in this series:

25433432

**SPOILERS**

Like I said, I didn’t get as much of the after story as I wanted. 85% of the story was in the past. That left little time to tell what happens with Jessa and Kit (Yes, he lived.) after her brother/his best friend dies. He doesn’t handle it well and ignores Jessa. Most of this time is portrayed through emails Jessa sends Kit. We don’t really get to see what Jessa’s going through after basically losing both men in her life. We don’t even see much of what Kit was going through. I really wish this would have been included. It was such an important part of the story to me. Oh, and was I the only one hoping that maybe her dad was the one that somehow died?

 

 

 

Review: It’s Only Love

24611719It’s Only Love

Author: Marie Force

Publication Date: November 3, 2015

Publisher: Berkley

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Goodreads Synopsis:

The new Green Mountain Romance from the New York Times bestselling author of And I Love Her.

Ella Abbott has long been secretly in love with Gavin Guthrie. A few recent encounters have only added to her infatuation, especially the kiss they shared at her sister’s wedding. It doesn’t matter to Ella that Gavin is in a bad place. He says there’s no hope for a future with him, that he has nothing to offer her. But all Ella cares about is the love she feels.

It’s been seven long years since Gavin lost his brother. He’d kept himself under control and moving forward until his brother’s beloved dog died and his brother’s widow re-married. Since then, he’s been drinking, fighting, and even getting arrested. It seems the only time his demons leave him alone is when Ella is around.

Gavin knows it wouldn’t be fair to drag Ella into his darkness, but when she inserts herself into his life, what choice does he have but to allow her to soothe his aching heart?


My rating: 3 / 5 Stars


I’ve been a fan of Marie Force’s series for a long time. I’ve read almost all of her books and enjoyed the majority of them. The Green Mountain series has been hit or miss for me, though. I enjoyed the first couple of books only to then lose interest in the series. I’ve kept reading because I like the Abbott family. I’ve  been waiting for It’s Only Love because I have wanted to read Ella and Gavin’s story since Hannah’s book.

I have to admit that I was a little let down by the story. It lacked the emotion I was expecting. I thought it would be a lot deeper of a story with Gavin still deeply affected by his brother’s death. I expected a darker journey for him. The story was cute, but it was very fluffy. It was mostly Ella and Gavin having amazing sex. While that was fun to read, I just needed more.

 

More Than Enough

More Than Enough (More Than #5) by Jay McLean

Publication Date: November 5, 2015

Synopsis:

Returning home with a war injury wasn’t in Dylan’s plans. He’s supposed to be with his unit fighting for everything that’s important. Instead he’s stuck at home trying to avoid memories that won’t leave him alone.

Then Dylan finds peace in a place he never expected.

What starts out as a refuge for Dylan quickly becomes more. She gets him. She gets his pain. She has her own demons to fight, but being together seems to ease both their pain.

Love wasn’t in the plans for either of them, but there’s no denying the love they’ve found. But in the face of demons, sometimes love isn’t enough.


My rating: 5 out of 5 stars


If you haven’t read More Than This (my review), More Than Her (my review), More Than Him (my review) and More Than Enough (my review) you will want to start at the beginning of the series. This book is the fifth book in the series and each book piggy backs off the last one.

I’ve been patiently waiting for More Than Enough to be released ever since I read the rest of the More Than series this summer. I was crossing my fingers for a book about Dylan-Heidi book. I thought we would probably get the history of them falling in love and then their present situation. What I got was something I wasn’t expecting — and I loved it.

I don’t want to give too much away (including our lucky heroine), but I will say this. More Than Enough was an emotional journey filled with ups and downs. It was about two people finding love despite the anger, grief and loss they were individually dealing with. It was heartbreaking and it was inspirational. More Than Enough was a beautiful story of redemption. And while Lucy and Cameron may still be my favorite More Than couple, More Than Enough is now my favorite More Than story.

I’m really hoping this isn’t the end of the More Than series. I’m hoping Jay McLean will give us more from this amazing group of friends and family.

Other books in this series:

Making Faces by Amy Harmon

Making Faces by Amy Harmon

Publication Date: October 12, 2013

Synopsis:

High school senior Fern Taylor knows she’ll never be beautiful like her best friend Rita. Fern’s got crazy red hair, glass and braces. If that wasn’t enough, she’s so tiny she could pass as a child. Fern knows she’ll never be beautiful enough to capture the attention of her crush, Ambrose Young.

Ambrose Young has it all. He’s not only tall and handsome, he’s smart and talented, too. The wrestling state championship has everything going for him, yet the pressure to be the winner his small town needs overwhelms him. So when the opportunity to be more presents itself, Ambrose grabs onto it. He enlists in the armed forces and convinces his four close friends to join him.

When tragedy strikes, Fern’s small town is torn apart. Five boys may have left for war, but only one will return alive.


My rating: 5 out of 5 stars


I had to give Making Faces 5 stars. The message in this story is so important — especially to teens and young adults. It’s a story about looking past what you see on the outside to what’s on the inside of a person. Looks can be deceiving and words can be hurtful.

I almost gave it 4 stars because it took me a while to get into the book and understand its flow. I was a little confused by the different points of view. I thought there would be two: Ambrose and Fern. There were three. Bailey, Fern’s cousin / friend, was also a narrator. I wasn’t expecting that. There were also some flashbacks peppered throughout the book that I didn’t get at first. I knew it would all make sense, it was just getting further into the story to understand where it was all going.

The beauty and message of this story completely negated those complaints. Once I got a few chapters into Making Faces, I honestly didn’t want to put the book down. I forgot about my previous confusion. I read it in one day. The story was filled with such love and loss — not just for the main characters but for the entire small town. It was also filled with beautiful writing and a powerful message. It’s a book I wish I would have read in my late teen / early adult years when I put so much pressure on myself based on my looks.

Making Faces was an incredible story. It’s one that will stick with me for a very, very long time. If you haven’t read it yet, I’d encourage you to consider it. To entice you, I’ll share one of my favorite quotes from Making Faces:

“If God made all our faces, did he laugh when he made me?

Does he make the legs that cannot walk and eyes that cannot see?

Does he curl the hair upon my head ’til it rebels in wild defiance?

Does he close the ears of a deaf man to make him more reliant?

Is the way I look a coincidence or just a twist of fate?

If he made me this way, is it okay, to blame him for the things I hate?

For the flaws that seem to worsen every time I see a mirror, For the ugliness I see in me, for the loathing and the fear.

Does he sculpt us for his pleasure, for a reason I can’t see?

If God makes all our faces, did he laugh when he made me?”

Beautiful, right? Read it!

The Nightingale

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

Publication Date: February 3, 2015

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Synopsis:

It’s 1939 and war is raging in Europe. France has been preparing for war, trying to keep Hitler’s army out of its boarders. In the village of Carriveau, the Mauriac sisters are driven apart by their views on the war.

Vianne, the elder of the two, does not believe war will come to France. Even has her husband is sent off to war, Vianne chooses to believe life will go on as it has been. But when the Nazis invade her village, Vianne can no longer deny it. War has come to France. She must do everything in her power to keep herself and her daughter alive.

Vianne’s younger sister, Isabelle, does not agree with Vianne’s stance. Eighteen-year-old Isabelle would rather meet the war head on than mearly try to survive. She joins the Resistance and spends her time trying to save others.

As the war rages on, Vianne and Isabelle will make choices that tear them apart and pull them back together.


My rating: 5 out 5 stars


To be honest, I avoided reading The Nightingale. I wanted to read it, but I didn’t want to read it. I love Kristin Hannah’s books, but I heard it was a little slow and a lot sad. I checked it out twice from the library. The first time, I had to return the hardback before I had a chance to read it. Really, I just wasn’t in the mood. The second time, I checked out an electronic copy. I only read 18  pages before it magically returned itself. Then, my friend let me borrow her copy. It sat on my counter for two weeks before I picked it up. I’m really sad I waited so long to read it. It was really, really good.

I feel like no matter what I write about The Nightingale, it won’t adequately reflect my feelings about this book. It was heart breaking. It was beautiful. It was captivating. I couldn’t put it down.

I can tell The Nightingale is going to be a book that sticks with me long after I have finished reading it. Kristin Hannah did a wonderful job weaving the French history of World War II into her story. The Nightingale may have been fiction, but I could easily imagine it being real. It’s a devastating thought because the history of World War II is so devastating. It happened and a lot of people died. There’s no avoiding the truth of it all.

The Nightingale is a book I would recommend to readers who enjoyed Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay. I would also recommend it to those reader who like historical fiction or just a really amazing book.