Easy by Tammara Webber

Well ladies and gents, I didn’t think it was possible, but I may have just come across a new adult romance that reflects college life in a somewhat realistic light! The good and the bad. I’m talking midterms, doing laundry in the dorms, and having study time interfere with dating. Sadly, even rape. And yet in the midst of all this we still manage to uncover an incredible romance.

What’s it About? 

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Rescued by a stranger.
Haunted by a secret
Sometimes, love isn’t easy…

He watched her, but never knew her. Until thanks to a chance encounter, he became her savior…The attraction between them was undeniable. Yet the past he’d worked so hard to overcome, and the future she’d put so much faith in, threatened to tear them apart. Only together could they fight the pain and guilt, face the truth – and find the unexpected power of  love. A groundbreaking novel in the New Adult genre, Easy faces one girl’s struggle to regain the trust she’s lost, find the inner strength to fight back against an attacker, and accept the peace she finds in the arms of a secretive boy.

First Impressions

When this novel opened I immediately had a gut reaction that we’d be dealing with one of those typical college romances that you could guess the progression of from start to finish. We open with a beautiful lead who is leaving a Halloween costume frat party because she spotted her newly ex-boyfriend dancing hot and heavy with some sorority floozy. Alright, let’s just have her run into the dashing lad who will sweep her off her feet already, am I right? Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Within this opening scene we are immediately confronted with the oftentimes dark, harsh reality of what can happen at college. Sexual harassment and rape. Thankfully in this particular scenario the rapist was unable to follow through with his despicable actions, as we do have a knight in shining armor come along and beat the ever loving shit out of him.

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Little did I know that this moment would come to represent the constant emotional battle I’d experience as a reader for the rest of the book. On the one hand, turmoil and heartache that will make you hold your breath in anticipation, want to read through your fingers in suspense, and feel disgust on behalf of our characters. But then on the other you have an overwhelmingly positive sense of empowerment, true love, friendship, and sisterhood. It seems like a constant back and forth of highs and lows that will keep you on your toes, as well as have you turning the page to discover what comes next. This is also one of those books where I’d find myself thinking about it constantly throughout the day. I always say the sign of a good book is one that keeps your wheels turning even if you’ve put it down!

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Blaming the Victim

While the budding romance between Lucas and Jacqueline is obviously an important focus of the novel, the other primary feature is the shocking reality of rape on college campus. Our characters manage to confront and sometimes successfully squander practically every single stereotype and assumption that can be raised when it comes to rape on campus. She was dressed proactively. She walked out to her car alone. He normally seemed so nice. If she wasn’t a virgin, and she went up to his room, what else did she expect? And behind it all the most common, disgusting phrase that can be said when something like this happens: she was just asking for it.

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I’m not gonna lie, there were many parts of this novel which were hard to read, and my nostrils definitely flared a time or two as I listened to this on my walk to work. I may have also shook my head back and forth in disgust as you hear all the different ways someone can defend the actions of a rapist while blaming the victim. However, as these misconceptions are brought out into the open, there are a select few important characters, Lucas especially, who raise the most critical thing to remember when it comes to the women and men who survive these ordeals: it wasn’t your fault.

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Coming Together to Rise Above

Yes, there are many difficult scenes and confessions related to rape and attempted rape in this novel. But at the same time, it’s an empowering read where we see the strength of our survivors, and the love of their supporters is truly inspiring. There is one scene in particular that I think deserves mention. In it we see a female pledge confess the sad details of her rape by a frat brother to the other members of her sorority. This scene especially shows how almost every member of her sorority blames our victim, and it’s so tragic to think that these excuses are constantly used to silence survivors.

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Just when you think all hope is lost, and this criminal will walk free, the sorority president gives an impassioned speech that damn near brought me to tears. “You know what looks bad? A bunch of women who don’t support each other when a guy pulls some shit like this. I’m sick of it. Less than an hour ago, I told D.J. where he could stick his goddamned fraternal reputation…And you’re worried about who’ll look bad if they tell? Screw that…Are we sisters or not?” In addition to the words of support by some of our characters, we also see the highlighted importance of self defense. Again, it provides a sense of empowerment to our female characters by showing that with some proper training it can be possible to ward off an attacker, even if they seem bigger and stronger. After reading this book I am seriously interested in looking up a local self defense class.

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A New Romance

Lucas turns out to be Jacqueline’s savior in more ways than one. Not only does he rescue her that fateful night from a would-be attacker, but he helps her move on from her recent breakup. At the outset, Jacqueline only views him as a bad boy rebound, but as they spend more time together she learns that he has a secret sensitive side. He may also be the only person to ever see the true her. The scenes in which Jacqueline allows Lucas to sketch her prove to be particularly insightful. Not to mention hot as hell! That being said, he never pushes her to do anything before she’s ready.

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For the most part I really did enjoy the romantic relationship between Lucas and Jacqueline, but that’s not to say it wasn’t without some issues. First and foremost, while Jacqueline knows Lucas as her protector, it turns out he’s also her economics TA. Of course, he chooses to keep this other identity a secret from her, and because he uses his given name of Landon in all his TA related emails to her, she doesn’t find out until rather late in the game that her protector and her TA are one and the same. Now, I must say this little detail is strikingly evident from the very first email exchange, so I couldn’t help but throw a few eye rolls Jacqueline’s way at her naivety.

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My biggest issue though would have to be with Jacqueline’s curiosity revolving around Lucas’s past. Something tragic has obviously happened to him, but he chooses to remain close-lipped about the details. After all that these two have been through, from her attack, to him taking things slowly with her, to finally discovering that he’s her TA, you’d think she could have just been a bit more patient with him. After all, they’ve only been kind of dating for a few weeks. Maybe he’s not ready to reveal all of the troubling emotional heartache he’s been through in his youth. But that doesn’t stop Jacqueline from looking into discovering the truth on her own by sidestepping Lucas entirely, and doing a little internet search to uncover all the gruesome details of his mother’s death. I mean, come on girl don’t you know that curiosity killed the cat? You really want it to kill this damn near perfect relationship you have with Lucas???

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Series: Contours of the Heart, book 1. I’ll keep reading this series, though I must say I am slightly concerned with the premise of the next book as we just see a continuation of Lucas and Jacqueline’s story. They’ve been through enough at this point, can’t we just let them have their happily every after? What other drama could they possibly encounter?

Should you read it? I was particularly enthralled with the writing of this novel, as we are presented with a story that makes us feel as though we are there with the characters experiencing everything firsthand. It’s not all rainbows and sunshine either. There’s a trying road that Lucas and Jacqueline must traverse, but with each other they discover a love that neither thought was possible. Sure, they make a few mistakes along the way, but we all do silly things when young and in love.

Smut Level: These two have some hot and heavy make out scenes which are pretty detailed. However, they don’t take things too far until pretty late in the book, and I was surprised that we really didn’t get much of any detail for the big event. Some nice over the clothes stuff though for a good portion of the novel.

Get it on Amazon:Click Here. $5.99 Kindle Price. Berkley Publishing. 338 Pages.

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Captured Memories by Katherine McIntyre

A second chance at love. Can Liv and Zane overcome their troubled pasts to find love with each other, or will it be too heavy a burden to bear?

What’s it About?

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After the incident that caused Liv Morozov to drop out of college, years later she’s still trying to pick up the pieces of her life. She’s managed to carve out a career for herself as a photographer, but when it comes to guys? Her issues send them running for the hills, every damn time. Zane Parata has declared himself off-limits for relationships. Between trying to maintain sobriety and the long hours he works as a chef, no one wants to deal with his brand of damage, and he wouldn’t want to burden them in the first place.

When Liv shows up at Cupid’s Café, she never expected to find Zane, her brother’s former best friend who had vanished one day and never returned. The sparks that surged when they were both teens rekindle stronger than ever, and all too fast, Liv and Zane entangle in each other’s lives, breaking their own rules. Except with both struggling with the demons from their past, the love that’s begun to grow is one lapse away from shattering the two of them beyond repair.

First Impressions

I feel like there is one quote from this novel which perfectly encapsulate the power of the love story being told: “I’m never going to be an easy choice.” Here’s why this sentiment, and the tale love presented to us in this book is absolute perfection. Their love is intense, it’s raw, and most importantly, it…is…real. This story shows us how life is full of unexpected challenges, and to be quite frank, it can be an absolute bitch at times. However, while these external forces can sometimes test the relationship of our lead couple, they never break it. This isn’t one of those romance novels where a simple misunderstanding causes an unnecessary amount of drama, and results in our lovers spending time apart. Oh no. These characters fight for each other, and hold the other up if they’re ever at risk of falling down.

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These two have also been through hell and back. They are scarred lead characters who have experienced emotional and physical turmoil in their pasts. But they don’t just love each other in spite of these troubled pasts, they love who the other person is because of how these experiences have shaped them into who they are today. “I’m never going to be an easy choice” shows that their lives might be complicated, they might be thrown a couple of curve balls along the way, but in the end they will always choose the other. I’ve got all the goosebumps here people!

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An Unbreakable Bond

I think the reason I enjoyed this tale of love between Liv and Zane so much is that the novel primarily just focuses on them. Sure, we are introduced to a few supplemental characters along the way, but for the most part we are encapsulated in a little Liv/Zane bubble that you never want to see burst. They are aware pretty early on in the book when they meet again after so many years that a LOT has happened during that time apart. Liv was raped in college, which impacts the physical relationship these two start up pretty quickly. Zane is a recovering alcoholic who still feels the constant pull of the bottle.

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While some would run away from getting romantically involved with another person with such deep-rooted issues, these two refuse to be scared off. Zane does remain convinced for a large portion of the novel that it’s just a matter of time before Liv realizes how messed up he truly is and hightails it out of there, but he’s going to embrace every possible moment he can between now and when that day might come. In addition, he vows to take things at her own pace, refusing to rush her into a physical relationship before she’s ready.

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A Tough Road Ahead

I also loved that this novel demonstrates how past experiences such as theirs won’t simply be forgotten and magically healed forever by the power of love. Even after they build up to the point where Liv is ready to have sex with Zane, she asks him to realize that there might be a moment down the road where she could be triggered to flinch or push away from his touch.

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At the same time, Zane’s reality is that while he might attend AA meetings multiple times a week, and go for long periods of time without drinking, there will be times where the allure of the alcohol could force him to take a step back from socializing. And they both get it!! They understand when others won’t. They realize that life can be a constant struggle for some people, but they’re there to help and support each other. LOOOVE!

A Step Away From Perfection

At this point I think you can tell I really enjoyed this novel, and while I think the love story described is damn near perfection, I must admit there were a few flaws. The first I consider to be the main flaw, and the one I found to be the most perplexing. The impetus for Live and Zane to reconnect after so many years is that they both receive a cryptic invitation to visit Cupid’s Café where, “an admirer looks forward to meeting you”. Zane is humorously intrigued, and decides why the hell not? Liv is convinced she’s being taunted by her former rapist, and goes to confront him. When they both show up and their eyes lock through the crowded café the rest, as they say, is history.

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But that my friends is the flaw. The rest is history. Who the hell sent them these letters?!?! We never find out. There’s no clue or suggestion if it’s one of their friends, a matchmaking café proprietor, or just the cosmos being all funky. I was absolutely shocked that our lead characters never even bother to discuss it with each other. Now, I will say that this is the third book in this Cupid’s Café series, so maybe the one sending invitations is presented in a previous novel? Maybe it will finally be a big reveal when the series comes to a close? I don’t know but give me something!!!!

Waiting for No One

The one other flaw was relatively minor all things considered, and in the end sort of turned into a positive. Our novel opens with Liv on a date from hell, which abruptly ends when she hears the trill of her date’s phone and it immediately reminds her of the night she was raped. When she returns home to find a mystery envelope inviting her to meet someone from her past she’s immediately convinced it can be only one man, her rapist. Her reason for going was decidedly to finally find justice after so many years. Instead, she finds Zane waiting for her.

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Throughout the whole novel I kept waiting for the inevitable scene where Liv and Zane would be confronted with this man from her past. So imagine my surprise when it never comes! No glimpse from across the street, or even a more intense confrontation, nothing! Now, in hindsight I’m actually happy we were never presented with a threatening scene between Liv and her rapist. I think that scenario, combined with Zane confronting his own struggle with alcoholism, would have made the whole plot seem too artificially orchestrated. I guess I just would have preferred that it wasn’t implied at the outset that it could have been a possibility. I sort of felt like I was anticipating something I had no need to worry about for the whole book!

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

Series: Cupid’s Café, book 3. I kind of want to go back and read the first few novels from this series to see if I missed out on our mystery letter writer inviting our lovebirds to Cupid’s Café.

Should you read it? This is an emotional roller coaster of a read that shows you just how powerful, yet difficult love can be. While I definitely loved both of these characters, I personally found Liv to be truly inspirational. She survived a trying ordeal, and was brave enough to share what happened with Zane even though she thought it would put distance between them. Then when Zane experiences a relapse with his alcoholism she chooses to stand by him and refuses to give up even when Zane tries to convince her that she’d be better off without him. It’s such a refreshing contrast to your typical romance novel drama.

Smut Level: Liv and Zane recognize that after all these years their bodies still crave each other, though this sparked attraction is put slightly on hold after Liv experiences a trigger from her rape. But Zane sticks by her side and is willing to take things slow. Just because it’s slow, don’t think it isn’t delectable!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.03 Kindle Price. After Glows Publishing. 200 Pages.

 

Hardpressed by Meredith Wild

“I don’t know what it was about him pinning me up against hard surfaces, but I fucking loved it”. Amen sister!

What’s it About? hardpressed

Despite Blake Landon’s controlling ways, the young and wealthy hacker finally won the trust of the woman he loves. Internet entrepreneur Erica Hathaway broke down the walls that kept her from opening her heart and her business to Blake. Ready to start this new chapter in her life, Erica is determined not to let anything come between them, even if that means giving Blake back some of the control he craves in and out of the bedroom. But when demons from her past threaten their future, Erica makes a decision that could change their lives forever.

First Impressions

If I had to describe this book in three words or less it would be “frustrating as fuuuuuuuuuck”. Apologies, pardon my language, but what can I say? I’m frustrated!!! This is one of those novels where it seems like all of the drama, unhappiness and mayhem could have just disappeared in a poof if Erica had managed to open her mouth and share what was going on with Blake. Now I know, having the drama end all within the span of a chapter doesn’t make for a very exciting read. But in my mind, that means it doesn’t make for a very decent plot when you can resolve it all so quick and easy if the lead character acted in any way like a normal person would. Maybe add another dimension to it so that I don’t constantly want to pull my hair out and scream out loud, “JUST TELL HIM WHAT’S GOING ON!!!!” The fact I listened to this as an audio book primarily on my walks to and from work meant that I was constantly on the verge of looking like a psycho. Nobody wants that people!

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Feel the Pressure

One of the minor frustrating aspects of this novel revolved around Blake and Erica’s sexual relationship. It’s basically a continuation of what was presented in book one, with them running in circles like a greyhound chasing a mechanized bunny at the race-track. He’s used to non-vanilla type sex, where domination is the name of the game, and he’s the master of his bedroom. However, Blake is hesitant to fully dominate her since she was raped years before. He’s worried he’ll take things too far and they won’t be able to come back from it. Surprisingly, we see that Erica is actually the one pressuring Blake to take their sexual adventures to the next level. He desires total submission and she wants to give him that.

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The problem here is that both are so set on taking things to the extreme. She’s urging him to go all out in the bedroom, and he’s concerned going all out will trigger a panic attack for her. Whatever happened to baby steps people?! Like, you don’t have to go straight from missionary position in unique locations to being blindfolded, handcuffed, and spanked at the same time all in one go. Maybe have a slow and seductive introduction to the d/s lifestyle so that Blake doesn’t have to worry about taking things too far, and Erica can get used to a new side of sex she hasn’t seen before. Slow and steady wins the race folks! You need to learn how to tie the knot before stringing up your lover to the bedpost.

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Squashed Potential

The first quarter or so of this book was pretty dull, as it just dealt with Erica setting up her new business, and navigating her sexual relationship with Blake. And then we get a dramatic plot twist that I must admit I did NOT see coming. There was sooooo much potential here for the book to go in an entirely new direction with some depth and suspense thrown in. Unfortunately, this opportunity was pretty much squandered, as Erica draws together almost every stereotype of being a frustrating lead character. Now, I don’t want to give away this plot twist since it was undoubtedly the most interesting part of the novel. However, I will say that with this twist a character demands Erica break up with Blake, or else there is the implication that physical harm will come to him. So what does she do? She keeps her mouth shut about this external threat to Blake, instead choosing to end things between them.

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If Blake were just your average Joe Schmoe I miiiiight get why she didn’t want to draw him into her drama. Here’s the problem though. Blake is like, a gazillionaire. If Erica had just said, yo this person is threatening us as a couple, any thoughts? He probably could have hired a swarm of bodyguards, private investigators, and a swat team to resolve the matter. But instead Erica has to go and play the martyr, falling on her sword to give up her happiness with Blake to live in misery. Eventually he does find a way to weasel his way back into her panties, and it took a loooooong time for us to finally get there. And when we do? Blake has not only one option to resolve all her drama, but two! Just goes to show that working together as a couple, and opening up to your partner with the truth can make it so much easier to confront a threat than having to do it all on your own.

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Series: Hacker, book 2. This is a pretty meh series so far.

Should you read it? Really the only positive I can give with this one is the early plot twist, but unfortunately it just drags on and on before eventually going nowhere. Erica frustrated me to no end, especially considering how many times she pushed Blake away even though he was begging her to let him in and help. Makes it hard to sympathize with her woes when she’s being so stubborn.

Smut Level: They’re still in the introductory phase of the BDSM lifestyle. Blake enjoys his dirty talk, but you can tell he’s still hesitant to let his hand loose completely.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $6.99 Kindle Price. Hachette Book Group. 312 Pages.

Trying Not to Love You by Megan Smith

It always surprises me how many college romance novels pretty much leave out the concept of schoolwork completely.

What’s it About? 

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MacKenzie Cahill has dealt with overbearing and overprotective brothers her entire life, making it near impossible to enjoy her teenage years. Having a boyfriend was practically impossible until she met a guy that wasn’t afraid to stand up to them – Dominic. He was sweet, thoughtful, and everything MacKenzie ever wanted in a man. But when they go away to college at Old Dominion University, MacKenzie sees a whole new side of Dominic and begins to wonder if he really is different from every other guy. Her world is turned upside down after a party, and her brothers’ best friend Hunter is the one there to offer her a shoulder to cry on. The chemistry between them is electric, and feelings for each other that have been hidden for years are finally voiced. Is Hunter willing to be disloyal to his best friends in order to be with the one girl he’s always secretly wanted?

First Impressions

Alright, I know it’s something silly to get so upset about, but for some reason I get really peeved when a college romance completely ignores the fact our couple is actually in college. This novel is definitely guilty of it to the nth degree. Now, I get it, writing about going to class and studying for exams isn’t exactly the most thrilling concept to a plot, but come on!! It at least gives a sense of realism to the story. When it comes to this book, I seriously think we only get one mention of MacKenzie going to an actual college class, and I don’t even know if we get the name of the class.

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The only other educational mentions we get are MacKenzie’s undergraduate major, and the fact that she made it through her fall semester exams no problem. Beyond that, it’s just a constant slew of parties, relationship drama and weekend trips home. While I’m positive this probably does encapsulate many people’s college experiences, what can I say? Not something I find particularly interesting or relatable. Now, you give me a tale about a couple struggling to keep their relationship on track due to the time commitment of school? That I get. Hell, I’d settle for them just being part of the same damn study group!

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A Revealing Synopsis

This novel is sort of divided into 2 main sections. The first deals with MacKenzie going off to college with her long-term high school boyfriend, Dominic. The second half of the novel sees her moving on from her relationship with Dominic to finally explore a relationship with her lifelong crush, Hunter, who also happens to be her brothers’ best friend since childhood. I know what you’re thinking, kind of a spoiler alert isn’t it? After all, if she’s exploring something with Hunter that must mean her relationship with Dominic doesn’t last very long. Well, no spoilers here, as it’s all pretty much laid out and heavily implied as to how things end in the synopsis. Honestly, I wish this aspect had been concealed from us as the audience rather than basically spelling it out from the get-go. It simply would have made for a more intriguing read.

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Tales of the Unfaithful

It doesn’t take very long for us to realize that Dominic has been cheating on MacKenzie during the brief time he spent at school without her. OK, maybe a mini-spoiler, but honestly I don’t even care because it’s so blatantly obvious. It seems like every character in the novel knows about Dominic’s wandering eye, save one: MacKenzie. At first you can’t help but think, God how unbelievably naive can she be?! There are just so many moments where he has to explain away a seeming misunderstanding about his presence with another woman that you just wanna shake MacKenzie and tell her to wake up already.

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Eventually though, we come to realize that MacKenzie has been paying attention to all the clues, and even suspects that Dominic has been cheating on her. However, she’s been delaying confronting him directly, as she’s trying to latch on to just a small piece of her life back when things were simple and seemingly perfect. Honestly it was kind of a sad admission, and probably the most relatable part of the novel. I’m sure we’ve all experienced moments in life where we’ve tried to avoid change by keeping our eyes shut tight.

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From Crush to Reality

The second half of the novel deals with MacKenzie and Hunter finally opening up about their true feelings for each other. This is when the novel hits its sexy stride. Unfortunately, it’s also where I became increasingly frustrated with the progression of the story. For some reason which is never fully explained, MacKenzie’s brothers are entirely opposed to the idea of Hunter and MacKenzie getting together. Now, I can certainly assume some reasons they might be upset, but the only objection which is actually articulated is, “Dude, that’s my sister. Stay away from her!” Such an…eloquent objection.

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What’s so frustrating about this aspect of the story though is that it actually results in Hunter and MacKenzie not only arguing about their relationship, but also questioning it. I think I almost would have preferred we learned that Hunter was a womanizer, as it would have provided a more legitimate reason for her brothers to be so ridiculously and vehemently opposed to the idea of them getting together. Not to mention for MacKenzie to question if Hunter is right for her. Personally it made me question if the two were even right for each other considering how much they fought about it.

Series: Love You, book 1. Shockingly, this book ends on a crazy cliffhanger which I always find frustrating. Consider yourself warned!

Should you read it? Not my fav. I had trouble falling in love with any of the characters. MacKenzie comes across as pretty whiny and immature, which was definitely enhanced by the audiobook narrator’s intonations. Almost Valley Girl-esque. As for Hunter, he has his sweet and flirtatious moments, but also a fair number where he’s yelling at MacKenzie for some stupid overblown reason. There’s a crazy plot twist near the end I wasn’t expecting, and that I wasn’t altogether very fond of. Oh well, what can ya do?

Smut Level: We have some sexy moments, including a bathtub scene and an isolated cabin sexy weekend getaway. These two have desired each other for years, and they intend to make their time together count. Until her brothers get all butt hurt of course.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $0.99 Kindle Price. Self-Published. 291 Pages.

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From this Moment On by Bella Andre

Beach sexxxxx, say whaaaaaaat?!?!?!

What’s it About? 

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For thirty-six years, Marcus Sullivan has been the responsible older brother, stepping in to take care of his seven siblings after their father died when they were children. But when the perfectly ordered future he’s planned for himself turns out to be nothing but a lie, Marcus needs one reckless night to shake free from it all.

Nicola Harding is known throughout the world by only one name – Nico – for her catchy, sensual pop songs. Only, what no one knows about the twenty-five year old singer is that her sex-kitten image is totally false. After a terrible betrayal by a man who loved fame far more than he ever loved her, she vows not to let anyone else get close enough to find out who she really is…or hurt her again. Especially not the gorgeous stranger she meets at a nightclub, even though the hunger – and the sinful promises – in his dark eyes make her want to spill all her secrets.

One night is all Nicola and Marcus agree to share with each other. But nothing goes as they plan when instead of simply tangling limbs, they find a deeper connection than either of them could have anticipated. And even though they both try to fight it, growing emotions – and sizzling attraction – keep drawing them closer together. Close enough for them to wonder if stealing one more secret moment together can ever be enough?

First Impressions

Like book one in this series, we are once again presented with a whirlwind romance love story. Marcus and Nicola intend to keep things limited to just a one-night stand. However, while they don’t even have sex their first night together, it doesn’t take them long before they do, and once that happens they fall in love in about the span of a week. I really did enjoy the characters in this novel, but unfortunately I must say it fell a bit flat in comparison to book one. Firstly, Nicola’s pop star status, while intriguing, made her a bit less relatable than the heroine presented in book one. Certain aspects of her story, and her quick romance with Marcus, also made the overall tale less believable than I would have liked. Still a cute romance when all was said and done, but there was some room for improvement.

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Love for the Pop Star

I’d have to say my least favorite concept of this novel was the fact that Nicola was a famous pop star. At the start of the book she’s trying to let off some steam, and finally give in to the sex kitten image she’s been portraying on stage by engaging in a one-night stand with a complete stranger. She proceeds to run into Marcus at a night club, and the main thing which draws them together, aside from raw sexual magnetism, is the fact that he had no idea who she was. His ignorance to her fame is also sort of the main thing which keeps them together, as his nonchalance to her super star status draws her to him. But…what if he had recognized her upon first meeting?

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I feel like then their relationship seriously would have been limited to just one night, even if they did have a strong physical connection. It seemed like Nicola relied almost too much on the fact that he didn’t care about her fame as a reason to be with him. Shouldn’t a relationship be based on something a bit more substantive than the fact you’re dating a guy who…doesn’t get fazed by your profession? Don’t get me wrong, still important, but it just wasn’t convincing enough for me as a reason for these two to fall in love so deeply in the span of a week.

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Love for the Wine Merchant

So that’s sort of the main thing which Nicola finds appealing about Marcus, but what about the other way around? For him, it seemed to deal more with the fact that he had the chance to see who Nicola really was on the inside. She portrays herself as a sexy vixen, but in reality she’s a very passionate and soulful person. Shy, yet also sensual. My one problem with this though, is that Marcus supposedly doesn’t know a lot about Nicola as a public persona, so how could he reaaaaally tell if she was acting so much different than what others expected of her? Sure, she said that she could be her true self with him, but he didn’t know her to be any different to start with.

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Seeing Stars in the Bedroom

So I’ll admit, I’ve been pretty nit picky so far, but when you consider all these elements together you can see how it creates for just an ok romance. And then there is the final feature that is just the cherry on top. Nicola and Marcus have a very strong physical attraction to and sexual connection with each other. While sex isn’t the only component of their relationship, it’s definitely a primary feature. They could have connected even more in their conversations with each other, especially in regards to Nicola.

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We actually see Marcus open up a great deal when confessing how watching over his many siblings at such a young age following the premature death of his father really impacted his personal relationships as an adult. However, it may have come a bit too late in the story. By this point Nicola was already falling hard for him, so it wasn’t as impactful of a confession as I would have liked. As for Nicola revealing things about herself to Marcus, she never really seems to share what first got her interested in music, or her journey to becoming a famous pop star. Also, while we as the audience learn about her disastrous former relationship which helped sully her image, and Marcus learns some details secondhand from her fans, she never has the same heart-to-heart with Marcus that he had when talking about his father.

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Series: San Francisco Sullivans, book 2. This second book fell a bit short for me compared to book one. Nevertheless, I still love these characters, and I can’t wait to see what comes next with the many other Sullivan siblings.

Should you read it? I really wasn’t expecting a pop star romance in this series, and although it was still a sexy story it wasn’t my favorite. I couldn’t help but feel like, “yeah, it’s been done”, especially with the fact that he didn’t know who she was upon first meeting. They also relied too heavily on their sexual chemistry as a basis for their relationship to make me think it’s going to be a forever kind of love. Lastly, we have a slightly cheesy ending which will make you smile on the one hand, but also makes it feel a smidge less believable than the emotional finale from book one.

Smut Level: This man enjoys making his sex kitten purr. Whether it’s taking her in the cold surf of the beach, or giving her a light spanking on her tushy. He’s also willing to lick the sting away.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. Oak Press, LLC. 379 Pages.

Consumed by Skyla Madi

OMG you guys, the names in this book are so over the top “romance novel” names you can’t help but love it. Blade? Seth Marc? The guy literally has 2 first names. What more could you ask for???

What’s it About? 

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Olivia James has never been one to walk on the wild side, at least not until she meets Seth Marc—a cocky, sexy fighter at her father’s gym. He’s infuriating, nauseatingly addictive and she just can’t seem to shake him. He’s only been in town a short while and his name is already on everyone’s lips. He’s the kind of guy moms’ warn their daughters about—the kind that leaves a trail of shattered hearts behind him and he has Olivia in his sights. Olivia has never met anyone as confusing as Seth and his hot and cold attitude constantly sends her reeling. She’s never wanted anyone’s touch so badly in her life, but having recently come out of a long term relationship diving into another is something she’d prefer to avoid. Determined for his touch, but not to let him under her skin, Olivia embarks on the most thrilling ride of her life.

First Impressions

This novel has two main themes. First: it’s all about moving on from one relationship to another. Second: good girls can have fun too you know! Olivia has just got out of a six year relationship with an ultimate ass-hat who cheated on her multiple times. At first, she turns to fighter Seth as a distraction, and as a way to finally have a fiery sexual relationship in her life. Well, she definitely gets both, but also more! Olivia soon discovers that she wants more out of her tie with Seth, as she starts to develop real feelings for him. But can she take a chance on a man who is so different than anything she’s ever known, and will he choose to let his guard down for this “good girl”?

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All in All

I will say this isn’t the strongest story, plot-wise. It’s definitely an interesting read, but when all is said and done not a whole lot happens until the very end of the novel. The climax is a rather comprehensive combination of sad, sweet, and action-packed. For the first three quarters of the novel though? It’s primarily just Olivia and Seth laying the foundation for their relationship, without too much overt drama.

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Throwin’ Some Shade

For the most part I can pretty much say I am a fan of Seth. He’s definitely putting himself out there with Olivia by not only opening up about his past, but also even the fact that he’s pursuing a relationship with her in the first place. That’s not exactly his modus operandi, and he’s quite honest and adorable at times as he maneuvers how to enter into a serious and monogamous relationship for the first time.

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However, in spite of his cute side he does also have two brief flashes of darkness. These come out particularly when taunting other men who want Olivia. First was with her boss during a heated standoff in her office. While Olivia confronts her boss about her new relationship with Seth, he proceeds to come up behind her, smell her neck, and tease the boss by saying “she tastes as good as she smells.” Ummm….the shade has officially been thrown!

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Then there’s a moment with Olivia’s ex boyfriend, Blade, who wants her back after seeing her photographed in a dress which he purchased for her. Seth again taunts this potential foe by saying that after one of his match fights he and Olivia went back to his hotel and he proceeded to “ruin” that dress. Daaaaaaamn. If I were Olivia I must say I’d be kind of pissed. You’re kind of crossing the line there buddy. Why not just head somewhere more private if you wanna measure who has the biggest willa walla ding dong? c8fce312f321a767d12a4f0c2a01ef01433b312c22910cca0bcdd5ad9549aa01The Best “Friend”

There was another important character in this novel, and that would be Olivia’s best friend, Selena. Not gonna lie, she annoyed the ever loving shit outta me. Definitely using the term “friend” rather loosely here if you ask me. Look, I’ve definitely had friends who were pretty much the total opposite of me. They’ve succeeded in sometimes pushing me out of my comfort zone to try new things. But, unlike Selena, they have never berated me, or made me feel like an idiot if I didn’t want to try something that made me legitimately uncomfortable. Selena doesn’t seem to understand the meaning of “no”, and often offers up judgement when Olivia wants to play things safe. Severe judgement.

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At one moment she scoffs at Olivia for turning down the opportunity of having a threesome between her and a complete stranger. During another she begs Olivia to go on a blind date in her place, and when she then learns that Seth kicked the shit out of this date she immediately calls Seth an ass without even asking Olivia’s versions of events to find out what truly happened. Said blind date was actually a drunken ass who tried to force himself on Olivia, and Seth stepped in to protect her. If I had to describe Selena in a word, it would be selfish, as she’s a woman who only cares about having fun even if at the expense of Olivia’s comfort. Not a fan.

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Series: Consumed, book 1. I’m excited to see where this story goes, and how Olivia and Seth will develop their relationship even more.

Should you read it? It’s a sexy read that held my interest, even though not a whole lot happens story-wise. I’m starting to wonder if this first book is more of a build up to book 2 that might have more struggle and drama between our characters. However, in this book we understand the framework and starting off point to their relationship, so still a good read.

Smut Level: You just know fighters have an excess amount of testosterone that’s bursting for release. One of my favorite scenes involves our couple making a mess of things in the bathtub.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Limitless Publishing LLC. 422 Pages.

 

Tattered Love by Lola Stark

“Then I went and followed him out to the car like some kind of…Some kind of girl! I was starting to dislike myself. Something needed to change. Soon.” Well…that’s kind of disheartening.

What’s it About?

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When ex-Special Ops bad-ass Mace walks into Needle’s Kiss tattoo parlour, he never expected to find the girl who would turn his life upside down. Hard as nails Scarlett has been unlucky in love: she’s been burnt, chewed up and spat out. Reluctant to have another relationship, can she keep her wits about her when hot-as-sin Mace walks into her tattoo parlor? Or will he break her down and leave his mark within her ink? What starts out as a little fun, turns into something so much more. Can Scarlett look beyond Mace’s devastating past or will his demons come back to haunt them both?

First Impressions

Scarlett is our main female lead in this novel, and she is supposed to be this tough-as-nails, badass tattoo artist. She doesn’t take any sh*t from anybody. I’m also 100% convinced she has no idea what she wants in life. Case in point: her relationship with Mace. Ok, sidenote real quick, Mace? Mace?! I can honestly say I’ve never met a “Mace” in my entire life. Ok, sidenote over. So Scarlett is initially drawn to Mace because he is the ultimate manly-man alpha male. He doesn’t ask her on a first date, but instead basically orders her on one. And she openly admits she likes his take-charge alpha attitude. To each her own, no judgement.

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But then when they actually do go out he has the nerve, nay the audacity!, to go get her a drink without asking her what she wants. Never mind the fact it actually is the type of beer she would have ordered because, you know, he’s been watching her (creep factor of 10), but she was damn near ready to get up and leave at that move alone. Scarlett my dear, I hate to tell you this, but when it comes to alphas you can’t simply date “some” of an alpha. They are alpha in all things, whether it’s telling you he’ll pick you up on Friday, whispering dirty talk in your ear, or getting you a drink. You want an alpha? You’re gonna get one.

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Getting all Good Will Hunting Up in Here

When it comes to this novel, “It’s not your fault” is the clear, prevalent theme. I’ll admit, I did like Mace’s character significantly more than Scarlett’s. He has heart, passion, and unfortunately the tendency to blame himself for every possible bump in the road he’s every encountered in life. From getting his former girlfriend knocked up, to the dissolution of their relationship, and the most significant of which is the fact he blames himself for the tragic death of his daughter (none of which were actually his wrongdoing). One of the saddest story accounts I’ve ever listened to! I was practically crying on my walk to work. I seriously need to rethink my tendency to listen to audio books in public.

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Communication is Key

That being said, Mace isn’t exactly Mr. Goody Two Shoes perfect either. As a matter of fact, there were times where I found both characters to be a tad…childish? This novel features one of the most ridiculous jump to conclusions I’ve ever heard. Towards the mid-way point of the novel, Mace has already told Scarlett about his crappy and exploitative ex-girlfriend, as well as how his daughter died years before. Then he mentions how he’s going out of town for a few days.

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Lo and behold Scarlett comes across him having dinner with said sadistic ex-girlfriend, and she immediately jumps the gun thinking he’s cheating on her. In her mind, there is no other explanation, and she won’t even bother to hear what Mace has to say. When he finally does get the chance to explain the situation away, Mace gets pissed at Scarlett when she asks why he couldn’t have been honest with her. He proceeds to turn things around on Scarlett saying she hasn’t exactly been forthcoming about her own past, so why should he have to share everything with her. Uggggh, seriously? Not ok you guys. When did this turn into an episode of Jerry Springer?!?

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Love is Girly

To harken back to the quote at the top of this post, one of the things I didn’t particularly like about Scarlett was that she didn’t really seem to like herself when she was with Mace. Sure, she enjoyed the sexy fun times they had together, and cheese and monkeys were there a lot of them. However, she’s always been tough, and when she’s with Mace she finds herself sort of bending to his will with his alpha tendencies. In spite of this, Scarlett loves him.

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At one point she even says it’s sickening how much she loves him. The reason it’s so sickening? Because it makes her act like such a girl. Sooo…being in love with someone is girly? Wanting to spend time with someone is girly? Now, I get the sentiment that is trying to be conveyed here: she’s a badass and she’s suddenly experiencing moments of intimacy with someone else. I just didn’t really enjoy how it almost paints the concept of being in love as a negative thing. Almost like, love?, pff, who needs it? That’s just for squares. Aaaaaand, cue eye roll.

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Bette Midler in the Making

As I mentioned earlier, I listened to this as an audio book. I always enjoy when romance novels present us with the dual points of view of both the male and female leads. I will say the male narrator did a fabulous job, especially when relating his sad tale of how his daughter passed. As for the female narrator, she could come off a bit too obnoxious at times. Seeing as how Scarlett is already a rather hot headed character, this additional feature of a somewhat obnoxious voice bordered a fine line of annoyance. This line was even crossed at times, especially whenever Scarlett lamented over acting too “girly”, and the word was said with what can only be described as pure disgust. Also, no joke, this narrator sounded surprisingly similar to Bette Midler. Although I love her to pieces (Hocus Pocus anyone?), it was almost too mature of a voice for a character who is supposed to be a 26 year old tattoo artist.

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Series: Needle’s Kiss, book 1. There’s an interesting side story with Scarlett’s best friend who is the feature of book 2. I might consider it.

Should you read it? Personally, I prefer romance novels where our two leads truly bring out the best in each other as they fall in love. I…can’t really say that happens in this novel. Eventually they are able to open up and communicate, but they are also wont to point fingers and place blame when they’re in a snippy mood. At times I really did enjoy how Scarlett refused to take any sh*t from anyone, but there were also quite a number of times where she wasn’t my favorite character to follow. Considering she’s the female lead? Somewhat problematic.

Smut Level: Scarlett and Mace do it in practically every classic sex locale: alleyway, hood of a car, shower, kitchen table…tattoo chair? Meh, why not?!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Amazon Digital Services LLC. 293 Pages.