The Closer You Get by Rose Grey

Jessica and Ronan were once close friends, but they haven’t seen each other in years. Will they possibly find their happily ever after when so many obstacles still stand in their way?

What’s it About? 

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Two responsible people. Two impossible dreams. What could possibly go wrong?

Jessica Piers learned all about responsibility the day she became a single mom. Responsibility means working all hours to pay for ever longer jeans, tons of peanut butter and band camp tuition. At least she doesn’t have to worry about running into Ronan Durrell. He’s never coming back to the island. Which is good, because she’ll never forgive him for leaving when she needed him the most.

When Ronan is fired from a prestigious Boston architectural firm, all he feels is relief. Well, that and guilt. So he heads home to the island to figure out what’s next. One thing’s for sure. It can’t involve Jessica. Because dreams are fine for boys, but a man does the responsible thing. Even if it means walking away from the only woman he ever wanted.

First Impressions

This is the final book in the Durrell Brothers Trilogy, and I must say it’s bittersweet to see this series come to an end. It’s been fun to see each brother find their own unique happily ever after, not too mention the adorable pooches featured on every cover. In this third novel we’re presented with Jessica and Ronan; two people who were once close friends, but haven’t seen each other in years. At the start of the book we’re presented with a very brief mention of their former relationship, and as the story progresses we get more bits and pieces of how their friendship fell apart all those years ago. On the one hand, I feel like I never fully understood or got enough information on their teenage connection. It was kind of difficult to dissect their former dynamic, who they were back then and specifically how Jessica felt about Ronan.

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It’s clear he was in love with this popular diva, and that things sort of fell apart when she became pregnant with another guy’s baby. However, I still don’t really know how she viewed Ronan all those years ago. If he was merely a close friend, if she secretly yearned for something more, or if it’s only now after years apart that she recognizes how close their connection truly was. On the other hand though, I also kind of appreciated the fact that we didn’t get a perfectly succinct overview of their past. It lent a sense of realness to the story, as though we were truly running into these two former friends after years of no communication. They know all the intimate details of their past, and it could have been a bit unrealistic for them to reiterate everything that played out when they were young. In a way it was both a blessing and a curse to the overall foundation of the story.

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A Small Coastal Town

Another constant throughout this series, aside from some adorable canines and having a Durrell brother as the male lead, was the fact that our setting remains the same in this small island town outside of Boston. The unique blend of island inhabitants always lends both a sense of community and conflict to our tale. We’re usually presented with some down-to-Earth, lovable locals that you want to see more of whenever possible. Then you have the upper crust, elite, snobbily wealthy townsfolk who are constantly full of themselves by thinking they’re above everyone else. More often than not, it’s this latter group of locals who present our main characters with numerous issues, and this proves once again to be the case with this final read. Ultimately it’s inspiring to see our humble leads stand up against these stone pillars of affluence, but it’s certainly a long and bumpy road to success. It’s hard to believe that such distinct groups could emerge from this same small island without constantly slapping each other!

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Reversal of Fortune

The most fascinating aspect of this read was seeing how Ronan and Jessica’s views of themselves and of each other have changed so dramatically as their personal situations evolved over time. When they were younger, Jessica was one of the social butterflies of the school. Immensely wealthy, and consumed with status. Ronan came to this island to live with his grandparents after a family tragedy which has always been talked about in hushed tones. He was an outcast in many ways, and yet these two managed to find a friendship with each other in spite of their differences. After having a baby when she was just a teenager, and subsequently being disowned by her family, Jessica has now been thrust into a different social status than what she was used to. Upon re-connecting with Ronan she sees herself as a single mother with only a high school degree, whereas he is a well-educated city guy who she views as too good for her. Jessica now feels inferior to Ronan, whereas in their teenage days it was Ronan who felt sub-par. The question now is will they find a way to meet in the middle, and put their personal feelings of inferiority behind them to finally find happiness with each other?

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*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*

Series: Durrell Brothers Trilogy, book 3.

Final Impressions: The main sticking point I had with this read was that I wanted Jessica and Ronan to fight for each other! All those years ago when Ronan walked out of Jessica’s life she was left feeling broken. Now he’s back, and he clearly desires her. Stand up and fight to keep him in your life! And the same goes for Ronan. Jessica was the woman of his dreams, and he always felt like he wasn’t good enough to be with her. The one time he voiced his feelings for her she turned him down. Now that the years have passed their situations are completely different. They have an undeniable chemistry which the both of them openly acknowledge, and yet Ronan still assumes that Jessica would never consider bringing him into her life. His heart was broken before, so he chooses to stay quiet about his feelings this time around. I just think I would have preferred to see him fight for her by presenting all the reasons he’s truly worthy of her love. It was like both of them just assumed for a large portion of the book that the other wouldn’t be interested in a serious relationship. Let this be a lesson folks: never assume!

Smut Level: No raunchy scenes in this read! At one point Jessica does feel self-conscious about wearing non-sexy underwear in front of Ronan, to which he responds with the line, “Champagne tastes good in any glass.” Smooth sir…very smooth.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. Simply Romance Press. 351 Pages.

Happy Ever After by Nora Roberts

Parker is a straight-laced woman who demands order in every aspect of her life. But when sexy bad-boy Malcolm comes along offering her a ride on his motorcycle, she can’t possibly say no.

What’s it About? 

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As the public face of Vows wedding planning company, Parker Brown has an uncanny knack for fulfilling every bride’s vision. She just can’t see where her own life is headed. Mechanic Malcom Kavanaugh loves figuring out how things work, and Parker Brown—with her endless legs—is no exception. But as a good friend of Parker’s brother, he knows that moving from minor flirtation to major hook-up is a serious step.

No man has rattled Parker in a long time, but the motorcycle-riding, raven-haired Mal seems to have a knack for it. His passionate kisses always catch her off guard, much like her growing feelings for him. Parker’s business risks have always paid off, but now she’ll have to take the chance of a lifetime with her heart…

First Impressions

Parker is a planner in every sense of the word. Not only does she handle the fundamental management of her wedding business, Vows, with her group of besties, she’s also meticulously organized when it comes to her personal life. She may not have time for romance, but when it does happen she has the basic idea of what the love of her life will look like, act like, and how he’ll eventually propose. Let’s just say that when sexy grease monkey Malcolm comes along, he completely throws her perfectly planned schedule off its tracks.

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“What’s happening with Malcolm is completely off script”

We’re meant to believe that these two are polar opposites who can’t help but be physically attracted to each other. However, once we dive deeper beyond the surface level details of their occupations, not to mention the fact they grew up on different sides of the track, we find that they actually have more in common than we or they were led to believe. First off, they’re both business people. They weren’t afraid to grow something from the ground up into the successes they both have today, and that prowess is an aphrodisiac unlike any other. Second, and most importantly, they’d do anything for family. Whether it’s his mother, or her best friends who have essentially become sisters, these two are caring and affectionate behind the tough facades they like to wear for the outside world. When they both catch glimpses of this in each other, they can’t help but fall deeper in love.

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A Hectic Compromise

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, the key to any relationship’s success in Romancelandia is compromise. Malcolm and Parker both excel, yet also flounder when it comes to this concept. On the one hand, these two lovebirds are excessively busy business people, which means that they oftentimes have to balance their time together when the harsh realities of running a business come knocking. Parker especially is wont to answer her constantly ringing phone to placate and soothe a nervous bride-to-be. I think one of the reasons Parker knew Malcolm was different than all the other men who came before was that he never chastised her for being busy, and even encouraged her to answer her phone during a date.

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This is something that obviously wouldn’t work for everyone, but for these two it made sense. Malcolm knew she’d constantly be worrying about who was on the other line if she didn’t pick up, and he could also appreciate that her business was her baby. Vows was part of the package when it came to dating Parker, and he was more than willing to compromise a few minutes on their date if it meant it would set her mind at ease for the rest of the evening…and into the next morning if you catch my meaning.

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The Past Can Hurt

One area where I feel these two struggled to compromise was in communicating openly about their respective pasts. Malcolm has obviously suffered on multiple accounts throughout his past, including the loss of his father, abuse at the hands of an uncle, and a car accident which left him scarred beyond just the physical sense. All of these experiences have influenced the man he is today, and he’s hesitant to open up about the details of his past. When the going gets tough, he prefers to push it aside rather than talk out with Parker what’s bothering him. After a while, Parker becomes fed up with the fact he won’t be more open with her, and it results in an argument that threatens to break their relationship.

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Now…I get why she was frustrated. She could always tell when something was impacting Malcolm, and while she knew some of the basic details of the difficulties he’d previously experienced, he never confided in how he felt about those things. However, we don’t exactly see her throwing all of her emotional cards on the table to discuss how she felt in the aftermath of her own parent’s deaths years before. I feel like if she had shared a little bit about her own past tragedies in those moments when she wanted to learn more about him, perhaps Malcolm would have been more willing to bare his soul. As it stands she would just yell and storm out in anger. Not very productive.

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Series: Bride Quartet, book 4. The sun has finally set on this romance quartet.

Final Impressions: Overall this was a fun, cute series with a group of gals and guys you’d love to hang out with and drink some wine. The author does a good job of inviting us into their world, and making it feel as though we’re witnessing the love stories of our actual friends. The series as a whole is kind of lacking in drama, with just a few minor arguments sprinkled throughout. At times I’ll admit things did kind of straddle the line into boring when too many wedding planning details were being discussed, or our couples contemplated whether or not to admit how much they cared for each other. Books two and four were probably my favorite, but as a whole it was a nice, cohesive series.

Smut Level: Of all the books in this quartet, this last one is probably the steamiest of them all. Malcolm might not be what Parker was expecting, but she’s more than willing to go for a tumble between the sheets with him. Or even in a supply closet!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $7.99 Kindle Price. Berkley Publishing. 369 Pages.

Aflame by Penelope Douglas

What happens when the happily ever after ends?

What’s it About? 

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Everyone wants to be me. Maybe it’s the sway of my skirt or the way I flip my hair, but I don’t care. Even though their attention is the last thing I crave, I just can’t stop. I dominate the track, the speed rattles my bones, and the wind and the crowd screams my name. I’m her. The girl driver. The queen of the race. And I’m surviving—something he thought I’d never do.

They all talk about him. Did you see Jared Trent on T.V? What did you think of his last race, Tate? When is he coming back to town, Tate? But I refuse to care too much. Because when Jared does come home, I won’t be here. Tatum Brandt is gone. I’m someone new.

First Impressions

So, it’s been over two years since I read the last book in this series. The fact that this fourth novel revisits the couple allll the way back from book one meant that I needed a bit of a refresher to remember who the heck these people were! After reading through a few synopses online it all came rushing back to me, but nevertheless the start of this novel definitely throws you for a loop. After all, the last time we saw Tatum and Jared they were madly in love with each other, and were always the glue that held this small group of friends together throughout the entire series. However, when this fourth and final book opens we find that they’ve been broken up for a few years now, and seemingly can’t stand to be around each other. As far as the progression of a series, this one is surely unique in that we once again get to revisit the couple which started off this whole world, and we see that things weren’t necessarily all rainbows and sunshine after their happily ever after.

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A Bump in the Road

While Jared and Tate had a rocky road to eventually finding love during their last year of high school, books two and three of this series highlighted that their relationship was stronger than ever. So where did it all go wrong? As it turns out, when Tate was happily following her dream of studying in college, starting out on the path to one day becoming a doctor, Jared was secretly sulking. He may have been blissfully and wholeheartedly in love with Tate, but he was unhappy with other aspects of his life, mainly in regards to what his calling would be in terms of a profession. Jared ultimately decided he had to break out of the humdrum routine of his life to figure out what it was that he really wanted to do. Mkay, totally understandable. The problem though is that he went about it in a rather shit way!

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Essentially, Jared secretly stewed in his melancholy without opening up to Tate about how he was really feeling, and basically made up his mind on his own to pack up his bag and leave her behind one day without any warning whatsoever. For all she knew up until that point, they were both living their best lives. Tate saw his departure and search for an identity as a selfish choice whereby he abandoned her. Jared on the other hand still loved her, and just assumed that because of their close connection she would understand what he was thinking. His biggest misstep in this whole situation was that he assumed she would wait for him. Why should she? Jared gave no indication of where he was going, when he might be back, nor did he attempt to establish any lines of communication with her before he left. While we do sympathize with his ennui with life, Jared should have confided in the love of his life about everything. All in all, he certainly dropped the ball on the matter, and shouldn’t have been too surprised when Tate ultimately turned to another man in an attempt to move on following Jared’s departure.

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“I left so I could be a man for you, so I could come back to you.”

A Trip Back Home

So that’s how our novel opens! The perfect couple apparently wasn’t so perfect after all. They haven’t seen or spoken to each other in years, and yet when Jared is called home by his mother to welcome the birth of his little sister, his and Tate’s paths cross once again. After all these years Tate is still bitter about Jared’s unexpected departure, and he judges her for not trusting in him to return. Lo and behold when the two meet again they can’t help but revert to their old ways. It was pretty humorous, yet also somewhat preposterous that now that we see them as adults they both adopt the same relentless strategies they used when they were teenagers, and the story once again manages to feel like a high school drama.

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The truly interesting component though is that whereas their teasing back in book one quickly devolved into controversial bullying, now that they’re adults the teasing becomes a form of sexually charged foreplay. Sure, they throw out some low blows and say some shitty things to each other, but you almost roll your eyes at the fact that we all know where these two are gonna end up. In bed…naked…with each other. Why do they fight it? No freakin’ idea. Especially when they both admit to themselves they still have feelings of desire and love for one another. They can push each other away all they want, but if the history of these two characters has taught us anything, it’s that the harder they push, the harder they’ll fall. They might as well just give in and get rid of their clothes already.

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Series: Fall Away, book 4. This appears to be the last full book in the series, with a few half and quarter books here and there to follow. However, we seem to get a nice conclusion to the love story of Jared and Tatum.

Final Impressions: The start of this book was rather jarring to see that the seemingly strongest couple of the series was no longer together. It was important to show though that not every relationship is perfect. While there may be a few bumps in the road, if it’s true love then nothing can keep a couple apart. However, it didn’t take long before the immature antics of our lead characters started to get old, and you sort of yell in frustration for them to admit they’re still in love with each other. We know it’s an inevitability, yet I was still surprised when it eventually did happen, as there was still a good portion of the book left. I guess the progression of the story seemed somewhat off kilter, but overall it was an interesting and engaging tale. It was also fun to eventually get a glimpse of what happens to our characters even a few more years down the road.

Smut Level: Tate and Jared spend a good portion of the book trying their hardest to dislike each other, but all that does is build up an immense pressure of sexual tension. When that pressure is ultimately released…it blows the roof clear off!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. InterMix Publishing. 222 Pages.

Ghost Moon by Kathryn Knight

Inheriting an old, rundown house from a distant family member would be stressful enough. This house comes with the added bonus of a creepy, crying ghost.

What’s it About? 

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When Lark Cavanaugh’s life in New York City falls apart, she’s left reeling from a staggering betrayal. She escapes to Cape Cod, where a distant relative has left her an old house with a tragic past. Rumors of a haunting presence plague the abandoned home, but Lark doesn’t believe in ghosts…until she has no choice.

After completing his military duty, veterinarian Jesse Holt returns to his small hometown to take over his father’s practice. He soon finds himself drawn to the alluring redhead now living next door, but she has made her intentions clear—she’s moving back to the city as soon as possible. When frightening events threaten her safety, though, he can’t deny his protective instincts.

Unable to fight their feelings, they give in to desire…but another battle looms. Lark’s arrival has awakened a decades-old mystery, and the truth of what happened at Holloway House will only be revealed when it claims yet another life.

First Impressions

Lark is a bit down on her luck when she moves to a small New England town after leaving her cheating fiance, and inheriting an old house from a distant family member. Her luck seemingly plummets even more when she discovers her new home is being haunted by a despondent ghost, and her cat goes into a state of shock from these spooky new surroundings. However, there’s a bright light in the form of her neighbor, a sexy veterinarian who is inclined to help Lark get to the bottom of this haunting…and maybe spend some time together in the bedroom. I must say the characters in this novel were the standout feature from start to finish. Jesse, our veterinary hero, is an absolute dreamboat.

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I appreciated the fact that he never thought Lark’s descriptions of her ghostly encounters were the result of her being crazy, or out of touch with reality. He believed her from day one. As for our female lead, you have to admire her tenacity when facing this ghost. As mysterious happenings start to occur with more frequency, you almost want Lark to get angry and scream out, “Just tell me what you want already!” Or maybe that’s just what I would be tempted to do in a similar situation. Enough with the creepy crying and shoving picture frames off of walls, simply tell me what you need to move on. Instead, we see a beautiful reflection of sympathy emerge from Lark as she contemplates how this ghost could very well be a family member, and she feels obligated to help. The ability to tap into those feelings of compassion, even when fearing what this ghost might be capable of, truly spoke to the strength of her character.

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A Haunting and a Romance

While Lark and Jesse try to get to the bottom of who this ghost is, and why he/she has unfinished business, we see a relationship start to develop between them. Lark is hesitant to place too much blind faith in Jesse following a recently horrendous breakup with her fiance, but this mysterious haunting constantly brings these two together. I was definitely a fan of the mystery surrounding this haunting, as well as witnessing the development of Jesse and Lark’s romance, but I do think the intermingling of the two story lines was slightly off balance. Personally, I would have liked to see a bit more interaction between Lark and her ghostly companion interspersed throughout the book. While I certainly appreciated the fact that Lark never broke down or cowered in the presence of this apparition, I would have loved to see a scene where Lark and the ghost actually exchanged a few words in conversation. Instead the ghost always dissipates when Lark tries to initiate a discussion.

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Throughout the novel we’re constantly wondering how it was that this ghost met their untimely end, and ultimately we see everything play out in a climactic vision towards the very end of the book. This was definitely a suspenseful final scene, but it would have been neat to see Lark personally uncover more of the details surrounding this mystery as the story progressed. Instead we see her rely more on the town gossip which Jesse reports back to her, rather than doing any of the investigating herself. For example, Jesse’s mother proves to be a useful resource in providing some of the history behind the house and the previous owners, and yet we never see a scene involving Lark speaking to his mother directly. All of these conversations happen “off-screen”, and we see Jesse come back to Lark with a brief summary. Ultimately I was fully enthralled with the final reveal of who this ghost was, but I wanted more snippets of this story to emerge throughout the book rather than saving everything for one final reveal at the end.

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*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*

Series: Stand-alone

Final Impressions: I’m not always a huge fan of ghost stories, but Kathryn Knight’s are proving to be some of my favorites. The characters constantly draw you in, and you can’t help but wonder how everything will come together. While I really loved Jesse and Lark’s connection, it did seem at times that our ghost story was kind of pushed aside to focus more on their romance. It left the novel feeling slightly unbalanced, especially when we see all of our questions answered in one final vision at the very end of the book. However, it was still an exciting read that had an interesting mix of romance, suspense, adorable animals, a passionate moment in the rain, and a ghost with a tale to tell.

Smut Level: Jesse is a dream! A love machine who can bring a bit of steam 🙂

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Wicked Whale Publishing. 213 Pages.

Withering Hope by Layla Hagen

After crash landing in the Amazon, Aimee needs to rely on Tristan to survive. As time progresses, she realizes he needs her just as much. A story of survival, mutual reliance, and love.

What’s it About?

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En route to a tropical paradise, overworked and dedicated Aimee Myller is ready to begin her new life. But when the plane defects, the pilot, sexy Tristan Bress, needs to make an emergency landing in the heart of the Amazon rainforest. With no way to reach civilisation, being rescued is their only hope. A slim one that withers away, desperation taking its place. Because death wanders in the jungle under many forms: starvation, disease, and fangs of beasts.

Forced to fend for themselves, Tristan and Aimee begin to forage for food and shelter. As they fight for survival, they grow closer. Despite knowing he’s off limits, Aimee can’t deny her attraction to Tristan. Tristan knows Aimee is the one woman he can’t have. But how can he fight love when she’s slowly becoming everything to him?

First Impressions

In a way, this story is more so one of survival than romance. The whole novel is sort of a slow build to Aimee and Tristan finally giving into their desire for each other, but essentially every scene from the moment they crash land on this hill in the Amazon involves them engaged in tasks of ensuring their survival. While some are intense, such as a face-off battle with a jaguar, for the most part we kind of focus on the monotony of their daily struggles. Light the signal fire, gather more wood, fruit, take a shower, practice weaponry, sleep, and repeat the next day. Pretty repetitive, and not always the most forward moving plot, but in a way you have to appreciate the realism of that scenario. These two are on their own, and they needed to be stranded for some time in order for us to believe, and more importantly support, the development of their relationship. The longer they spend in the jungle, the more their hope for rescue withers away, in addition to their hope of keeping their hands off of each other.

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A Slow Burning Flame

As Aimee and Tristan struggle to survive, we see their relationship slowly build into something more significant. This slow progression was something which I particularly appreciated. Tristan has always had a bit of a thing for Aimee, and while she’s always treated him cordially, they were far from friends. Upon first landing, he’s pretty quiet and tries to keep to himself, whereas Aimee seeks solace in talking so as not to go crazy at being so far removed from civilization. Only as time passes do they start to open up to each other. They slowly start to discuss their favorite foods, colors, flowers, etc. but eventually they get to some more emotional details of their pasts. Tristan eventually opens up about the horrors he experienced as a solider in Afghanistan, and Aimee discusses the untimely death of her parents who were absent, yet loving, for most of her life.

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Throughout this time she forces herself to stop thinking of her fiancé, because the thought of him searching and waiting for her is too hard to bare. Only when a few months have passed, and Aimee starts sleeping next to Tristan to calm his night terrors, does she start to feel something stirring within her. Surprisingly, it’s not really passion or even lust, but rather guilt. Guilt over the fact she’s starting to feel something for this man which goes beyond friendship. She feels it’s a betrayal to her fiancé. Aimee may have forced herself not to think of her fiancé, but now she can’t help but remember him in those moments where Tristan’s touch makes her feel alive. This inner quandary she’s fighting with, in addition to the fact she and Tristan didn’t immediately fall in love, makes us sympathize with her difficult emotional struggle.

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From Monotony to Bursts of Suspense

While the first half or so of the novel deals with Aimee and Tristan struggling to survive, the bulk of the suspense to the plot doesn’t really come around until the end of the book, and it’s just jam-packed with calamity after calamity. It had me holding my breath in anticipation more than once, and near tears with the desperation our characters display when presented with the very legitimate possibility of losing the other person. You really do question if either of these characters will make it out of the jungle alive, and if they do whether their love will survive the transition back into the real world.

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Series: Stand-Alone

Final Impressions: Overall this is a pretty good read. It’s a story of survival and love in the jungle. The progression of Tristan and Aimee’s relationship from acquaintances to friends to family is an intriguing one that is built upon openness and emotional trust. There were parts of the story that lagged with the repetitive monotony of survival in the jungle, though I definitely think I learned some good survival skills along the way. Although, the bugs, snakes and jaguars of the Amazon would still probably kill me in the end! There was a heartbreaking epilogue that I actually probably could have done without, as it seemed like a last minute attempt to pull some tears outta ya, but overall an entertaining read.

Smut Level: It takes quite some time for anything physical to develop between Aimee and Tristan, which was an aspect I certainly appreciated. Any other way and it would have seemed forced, and it probably would have been more difficult to sympathize with Aimee’s decision to sleep with someone who wasn’t her fiancé. Nothing toooooo graphic when all is said and done.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. Self-Published. 262 Pages.

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Trying to Score by Toni Aleo

I’m starting to notice some shared features of the books in this series. 1) they’re about 200 pages too long, and 2) the female leads are extremely frustrating.

What’s it About? 

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Fallon Parker’s dream has always been to turn her family’s wine company into a runaway success and eventually start a cellar of her own. Since graduating from college, she has worked relentlessly to make that dream a reality, especially after taking a chance on love–and losing. By the time Fallon becomes an official sponsor of the Nashville Assassins, she feels like all her hard work is finally paying off. And then the man who broke her heart skates back into her life.

On the ice, Lucas Brooks is the NHL’s leading scorer–at least when he’s not in the box. Off the ice, he’s a mess, with all his anger and misery bottled up inside. He threw away the most important person in his life and has regretted it ever since. But when Lucas returns to Nashville in a trade, he’s determined to convince Fallon that he’s a changed man. The attraction is still there. The tension is electrifying. But the odds are stacked against them–especially after Lucas finds out that Fallon has been keeping a devastating secret.

First Impressions

This novel definitely left me with some conflicting emotions. On the one hand, I can’t help but commend the author for succeeding in making me sympathize with our male lead Lucas, who cheated on Fallon years ago when they first dated. Cheating is a big no-no, and often a death knell for my opinion of any character. However, we’re able to see how troubled Lucas was back then as he turned to drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism to deal with his father’s death. While this was certainly no excuse for his cheating, it demonstrated how tumultuous his head space was back then. More importantly though, we see how much Lucas has struggled and grown as a person in the seven years since, and succeeded in moving past his depression and addiction to become a whole new man. One who is ready to fight to win back the love of his life, Fallon.

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And this is where the conflict comes in. Fallon is definitely one of the most frustrating female lead characters I’ve encountered in a long time. Following the discovery of Lucas in bed with her best friend, Fallon ran away as fast as her legs could carry her, and vowed to cut Lucas out of her life entirely. Girl, I feel ya! You do you. Her misstep though was that she soon discovered she was pregnant with Lucas’s child, and yet she chose to keep it a secret from him. It’s only when Lucas is ultimately traded to the hockey team in Fallon’s home town that their lives are thrown together once again, and Lucas discovers the shocking truth that he’s a father to a son he never knew existed. Fallon may have had every right to cut Lucas out of her life, but not their son’s.

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Where Past Meets Present

Now I know what you’re probably thinking. If Lucas was douche enough to cheat on Fallon, how was she supposed to know how he might treat their child. As it turns out, pretty easily! Throughout the first part of the novel, we see a constant interweaving of their present situation with flashbacks from the development of their past relationship. We see it all, from the night they first met to the moment when everything fell apart. We also see some of their more intimate conversations of what they wanted out of life, and how much they loved each other. It’s during these flashback scenes that we learn how much they both wanted children, Lucas especially.

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Fallon fully acknowledges that Lucas was always very open about how much he wanted children, and admits that if their relationship hadn’t fallen apart years ago they’d probably have a few children by now. That makes it almost impossible to sympathize with her decision to keep Lucas in the dark for so long about the fact that they have a child. Yes, he cheated on her like an ass hat. Inexcusable. But he should have known about his kid. Especially when we learn how crushed he was after the death of his father when he was just a teenager, and his vow that no child should grow up without a father. She not only robbed Lucas of the chance to see his son grow up, she also denied their child the opportunity to get to know his dad.

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Letting Him Back In

Eventually Lucas discovers that he has a son named Aiden, who is just about as adorable of a character that you can get. They’re both so excited to get to know each other, and Lucas’s love for Aiden is clear as day. However, Fallon seems determined to be annoyed or angered by everything Lucas does when it comes to his interactions with her son. Even the simple act of giving Aiden a nickname fills Fallon with unnecessary rage and annoyance. While most would see it as a cute way for father and son to bond, she sees it as Lucas interfering in everything she’s built and developed with her son, including his very name. Mkay chill out a little bit, it’s not like he took him to get a legal name change or anything, it’s a nickname for crying out loud.

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When it comes to Lucas, he is absolutely determined to not only get to know his son, but also to win back Fallon so they can finally have their happily ever after. I couldn’t help but question…whyyyyyy her?? Fallon never told him he was a father, and kept their son from him for over seven years. On top of it all, once the two reunite Fallon is as standoffish and close-minded as ever when it comes to allowing Lucas back into her life. She pushes him away at every turn, is rather demeaning in her comments towards him, and yet Lucas keeps coming back for more. Dude, there are other fish in the sea you know! Even when they do start dating again, and Lucas opens up about all the pain and addiction from his past, it’s clear that Fallon is still holding back from placing her full trust in him. She’s seen how much he cares for their son, that he wants nothing more than for them to all be a family, but it’s almost like she’s just waiting around for him to make some kind of mistake that she can use as an excuse to end things between them.

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Series: The Assassins Series, book 2. While the story lines for books one and two were definitely distinct, they were still similar in being too long and having female leads who were beyond frustrating. I’m thinking I’ll give one more book in this series a try. If we see yet another heroine who gets on my nerves I might have to call it quits.

Final Impressions: Aiden and Lucas were far and away the two bright lights of this story, with Fallon being the dark stain of the group. I almost wish we could have just seen a story which focused on the two of them learning how to be father and son, and simply eliminated the romantic component between Lucas and Fallon. While we can certainly understand Fallon’s initial distrust of Lucas considering his past misdeeds, the fact she kept Aiden’s existence a secret for so long was inexcusable, and her inability to see how much Lucas has matured and grown as a person over the past 7 years was beyond frustrating. I couldn’t help but feel that Lucas could have done better.

Smut Level: Fallon seemingly does everything in her power to push Lucas away, so it’s understandable that it takes a while before they do the deed. When they finally do, Lucas is determined to show that their connection is as strong as ever, and he won’t let her get away so easily a second time.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. Loveswept Publishing. 578 Pages.

Torn by Kim Karr

A blast from the past threatens to tear Dahlia and River’s relationship apart. Is their love strong enough to survive the ultimate test?

What’s it About?

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Dahlia was certain she had found true love and met her ‘Once in a Lifetime’ when she reconnected with River. But Dahlia’s world comes crashing down when someone from her past resurfaces, and all of River’s carefully hidden secrets are exposed.

River wants to show Dahlia that life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass—it’s about dancing in the rain! But how many times can one broken heart be mended? Will River and Dahlia be able to face the turmoil together or will they be torn apart?

First Impressions

First things first, it’s pretty much impossible to discuss the major plot points of this novel without spoiling the surprise twist ending of book one. Therefore, if this is a series you’re considering, I’d recommend that you stop reading this post right about now. That being said, if you don’t really care, or if you’ve already finished book one, then thanks for sticking around! Now that’s out of the way, let’s continue. So at the end of the first novel we discovered that Dahlia’s fiance, Ben, who she’s thought dead for over three years is actually alive. Here she is ready to start her forever with River, when who should walk back into her life demanding a second chance, but Ben.

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Needless to say, his reappearance throws everyone for a loop. Not only Dahlia and Ben’s family, but River as well. To say the two lads aren’t fond of each other is an understatement. Ben sees River as his substitute, not his replacement. He’s convinced that if he can get Dahlia away from River, he can remind her of everything they once shared, and pick up where they left off. River sees Ben as the ultimate nuisance. He worries that Ben’s intrusion in Dahlia’s life will cause her to abandon him. And what about Dahlia? The poor lady is understandably overwhelmed both mentally and emotionally.

Get it Together

This is a man she’s mourned for three years. His death made her question if life was even worth living anymore. And just when she’s finally found love and happiness with someone else, Ben walks back into her life alive and healthy. He’s not just come back for a quick hello though. No, he tries to convince her to leave River, and go back to the way things were. Imagine how much of a mindf*ck that would be. The thing that frustrated me the most with this read, was that nobody else seemed to acknowledge how difficult of an adjustment this would be for Dahlia.

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When Ben first comes back, she’s confused and angry at him for leaving, especially when Ben admits that he chose to leave her all those years ago in an attempt to protect her. While Ben saw this as a selfless act of devotion to her safety, Dahlia viewed it as a selfish choice by Ben because at the end of the day it was in fact a choice. He chose to leave her in the dark. He chose to fake his own death rather than admit to her what was going on. She doesn’t want to talk to him, and feels she needs time on her own to process everything. But that doesn’t stop Ben from pressuring her to talk, River throwing a hissy fit any time she mentions Ben’s name, or others who are close to her demanding she “get her shit together”. Are you kidding me?! I would need massive amounts of therapy to get over that kind of emotional stress, and yet everyone expects Dahlia to figure things out on her own and make a decision right away in regards to what she wants in life. Leave the poor girl alone!

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The Threat

Even though Dahlia constantly tries to push away Ben’s advances, and never once seems to contemplate the idea of getting back together with him, River immediately questions her any time she mentions Ben’s name or spends any time alone with him. What I found most interesting with this read was that Dahlia’s primary dilemma with Ben’s reappearance was the question of whether or not to forgive him for his deception, and if she should accept him back into her life as a friend. After all, they were were friends long before they were ever intimately involved. It’s a complicated thing to consider, and when she tells River she needs time to figure things out, he takes offense, thinking that she’s asking for time to consider their own relationship, rather than her friendship with Ben.

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What follows is a plethora of scenes involving River and Dahlia failing to communicate their fears, concerns, or true feelings. This is amplified by the fact that these two seem to forget or lose their cell phones at the most inopportune moments! They start to question if they can trust each other, and when they can’t express themselves verbally they result to using sex to try and communicate. Which…obviously doesn’t work. River questions if he can trust Dahlia to spend any time alone with Ben. Dahlia starts to question if she can trust River to spend time alone with his female publicist, a side plot which felt absolutely unnecessary in my opinion considering everything else that was going on. When it is revealed that River was keeping secrets about events from Ben’s past, Dahlia seriously starts to question if she can trust him. Is he just like Ben by using deceit to keep her in the dark? Gosh darn-it Ben do you see how much trouble you’ve caused by coming back into everyone’s lives??

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Series: The Connections, book 2. It looks like this is one of the last full-length novels to deal with River and Dahlia. Some aspects of the story were left a bit open-ended, but it seems like they’ll come back into play with different characters in a future novel. I would be interested to continue on and see what might come next.

Final Impressions: Overall I think I liked this second book better than the first one, but it still had some faults here and there. The constant question of how Dahlia might deal with Ben’s reappearance in her life was very intriguing. However, it was hard to believe that everyone around her would be pressuring her so much to make a decision so quickly. Give the girl some space! It was also interesting to see the conflict between River and Dahlia, specifically when Dahlia compared River and Ben’s previous deceit, and how it might impact her relationship with both of them. That being said, the constant back and forth between her and River over their lack of ability to communicate, and jealousy over their external relationships got tiring rather quickly.

Smut Level: The physical connection between River and Dahlia never goes away, no matter how much they might fight and argue about Ben. Their sexual interactions start to adopt a sense of desperation, like they’re both trying to convince each other through their bodies how much they don’t want to let go of each other.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $5.99 Kindle Price. Berkley Publishing. 354 Pages.