Craving My Costar by Maura Rose

There’s nothing quite like simulated sex with your co-star to awaken the true desires lying just underneath the surface.

What’s it About?

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Robin’s a big star in Hollywood, and with his handsome face, hot body, and lengthy resume of blockbusters, he’s going nowhere but up. He’s cocky for a good reason, and he lives by the code “it’s not bragging if it’s true.” He’s made a name for himself, and he feels like he deserves every ounce of fame and fortune he’s got. The women chasing after him are just icing on the cake.

Lindsay’s a woman with daring dreams, high hopes, and a mouth that sometimes gets her into trouble. She’s got a heap of acting talent, but there’s just one problem: she’s a no-name. When she gets an audition for the film that’s destined to be the next big hit, her hopes and dreams finally become a reality when she nails it and lands the role.

When Lindsay and Robin first meet on set, she can’t stand his arrogance and he can’t believe her insolence. The two hate each other—but now that they’ve both been cast in the lead roles in the film, they have to work together…as lovers.

First Impressions

This is a sweet, quick read, with some definite sexiness thrown in there as well. It has a delightfully strong start, with a premise to die for. Who doesn’t love a tale of romance that starts out with enemies who become friends, and eventually even something more? At the start, you’d assume that Lindsay and Robin would get along fairly well, as they both have a clear passion for acting. They live for it, and are clearly dedicated to their craft. But it’s really more about their journey to this film they’re shooting together which causes the tension between them. For Robin, he’s always been a committed student, going to the finest drama and film schools in the world. It may have taken money for him to enroll in these places, but his raw talent is what helped him excel into a star of screen and stage. It may have also boosted his ego a bit to where he has too much pep in his step.

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As for Lindsay, this film is her first big break. She’s fought hard to get where she is, and has scrimped, saved, and clawed her way through countless failed auditions to finally be given the role of a lifetime. You can’t help but admire Lindsay’s tenacity and spunk. When she first meets Robin on set and he mistakes her for a lowly assistant, demanding she fetch him some coffee, she has no problem standing up for herself with a good ole oh hell to the no! Unlike her cast-mates, she refuses to be star-struck by the leading man on set, and what results is a delightfully entertaining clash of talent. Lindsay’s vulnerability and inexperience also shines through though, and this makes her an even more endearing character. The fact she tries to help the stagehands with the set setup? Love her!

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A Quick, Yet Slow Development

As I mentioned earlier, this is a nice quick read. However, I almost wonder if it was too quick, especially considering we were dealing with the huge production of a full-length, Oscar-buzz film here. I wouldn’t necessarily say it felt rushed, but instead we got more of a surface glimpse of things. And who knows? Maybe it really doesn’t take as long as you’d think to put together a high-budget film, but as a movie buff I would have loved if we were privy to some more of the behind the scenes elements involved in making a movie.

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What wasn’t rushed though was the development of Robin and Lindsay’s relationship from enemies to friends. Due to the initial clash between our lead actors, Lindsay is feeling rather isolated on set, as everyone else stands behind Robin considering he’s the big star. She can’t help but feel depressed, as she’s finally made it to where she’s always wanted to be, yet has discovered the reality of it might not be as wonderful as she’d predicted. Sure, she loves working with the director, and engrossing herself in her character, but the frustration of working with such an annoying co-star, not to mention being ostracized by her other co-stars has her in tears.

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When Robin catches a true glimpse of the sadness which was lying underneath all the anger she directed his way, Robin vows to turn things around. A friendship slowly starts to develop between them, and he even takes her under his wing by showing her the ropes of acting. He keeps an eye out for her, and pulls her into his circle of friends and cast-mates. Hell, the man even helps her shop. Umm, where can I get me a man like this?? I just loved how we got to see a true closeness develop between them, and show that sometimes initial bad impressions can eventually be remedied.

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No Hiding the Passion

While they start as enemies, one thing is for certain. The passion of the scenes they film together is undeniable! They dive right in by filming the most awkward scenes first: sexxx. Lindsay and Robin start out hating each other, but once the director calls action on their kissing scenes, they feel an incomparable draw to one another. Their scenes are no longer scripted, and they can’t help but explore each other. What’s funny is that while our lead couple never actually has sex, they certainly simulate it pretty damn well for the cameras. In those moments they put their hatred aside and give in to the passion, and even start to look forward to their amorous scenes. After they start to develop a friendship with each other, the scenes take on a whole other level of complexity.

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They don’t want the other to know how much they desire the other, as it straddles the line of professionalism. It could also compromise their friendship. Then the studio demands they ramp things up even more, and unfortunately that’s when we see both of them cross that line. This was my one and only disappointment with the story, but you can tell the characters regretted it too. Let’s just say things get a bit out of control when Robin realizes whilst filming how real Lindsay’s moans actually are. They start to indulge in their desires, and it results in both of them coming for real in front of a room full of people. I wish their first and only real romp in the whole book could have played out a bit differently. Perhaps they could have put their lust on hold for just a few minutes more until they could let it out in their trailer, away from watchful eyes.

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

Series: Stand-alone. I almost wish this was a series. I’d love a sequel where we see Lindsay and Robin dealing with their celebrity romance with the paparazzi, obsessed fans, and the stresses of filming. In this book we see the lengths Robin goes to in order to avoid having Lindsay deal with the paparazzi, and while it was refreshing to not have it be a main focus at all in this novel, it seems like an inevitable reality which could impact their relationship.

Final Impression: This novel definitely starts strong, but did not have my favorite…climax, if you know what I mean 😉 We wait so long for Lindsay and Robin to come together, and when they finally do it’s pretty unprofessional. I did enjoy the scenes of them really getting into their characters, and the friendship which blossomed between them. Some details could have been fine-tuned, but overall an enjoyable read. I liked that it was a quick read, but I think if it’d been a smidge longer some more details could have been fleshed out further, perhaps having the lovable supporting characters play a more prominent role in the story.  We do get an adorable final scene though which will make you go “awwww”.

Smut Level: These two may have hated each other at the start, but they couldn’t deny the pleasure they both felt at filming scenes of passionate kissing, foreplay, and intimacy. Hell, even I started looking forward to the moments they’d have to film one.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. TNA Publishing. 252 Pages.

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Inescapable by Amy A. Bartol

You shouldn’t confuse the angels featured in this paranormal romance with your stereotypical greeting card angels. These are warriors, fighters, soldiers. Aka, they badass.

What’s it About?

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My name is Evie Claremont and this was to be the making of me–my freshman year of college. I’d been hoping that once I’d arrived on Crestwood’s campus, the nightmare that I’ve been having would go away. It hasn’t. I may be an inexperienced seventeen-year-old, but I’m grounded…sane. I look for rational explanations to even the strangest circumstances. Since meeting sophomore Reed Wellington, however, nothing makes any sense. Whenever he’s near, I feel an attraction to him–a magnetic kind of force pulling me towards him.

I know what you’re thinking…that sounds fairly awesome. Yeah, it would be…if he liked me, but Reed acts as if I’m the worst thing that has ever happened to Crestwood…or him. But get this, for some reason every time I turn around he’s there, barging into my life. What is the secret that he’s keeping from me? I’m hoping that it’s anything but what I suspect: that he’s not exactly normal…and neither am I. So, maybe Crestwood won’t be the making of me, but it could be the breaking of me. I’ve been left to wonder if the dark future my dream is foretelling is…inescapable.

First Impressions

College can be a difficult time for most people. Oftentimes far away from home, having to make new friends, learn new things. It can be tricky to navigate. Well, Evie has the added burden of discovering that she’s only half-human, and she’s slowly starting to acquire some strange abilities as her half-angel side comes to the forefront. I must say I really enjoyed learning about the particularities of this world of divine and fallen angels. Evie is an anomaly in this world in that by being half-human she still retains a soul even though she’s an angel. She also has the ability to heal quickly, gains supernatural speed, and eventually even gets a pair of wings. I know they say you shouldn’t compare difficulties in life, but yeah I’d say Evie has me beat when it comes to having a stressful life. Not only does she have to deal with moving to college and becoming an angel, but she’s also encountering the unfortunate stress that so many young women get to deal with in college: men.

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Love Triangle

Come on now folks, you just know this wouldn’t be an official young adult college romance without a little love triangle. And this one has an additional complication added to the mix considering that of the two men fighting for Evie’s affections, one is human, and the other is an angel. Reed is our angel, and Evie finds that the butterflies fluttering around in her stomach every time he draws near is more than just puppy love. It’s some kind of paranormal link drawing the two of them together. He too experiences the same fluttering every time she’s around. Reed has lived on this Earth since life began, and this is the first time he’s every experienced feelings of love for someone else. Seems like their love would be pretty cut and dry, right?

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Nooope! Because then there’s Russell. He’s a human, which compared to Reed might not sound as exciting. But lo and behold, not only is he adorable and attentive to Evie, he just so happens to be her soulmate. As in…her actual soulmate. Reed believes that both Evie and Russell have consistently fallen in love throughout multiple lifetimes. Funnily enough, Evie has more trouble believing that she and Russell have loved each other in past lives than believing in a world of angels. This love triangle was initially extremely interesting, as it’s really hard to be “team” anyone. Both men have such great qualities, and both do actually seem like the right choice. Evie especially struggles with this, as her human soul is constantly seeking out its soulmate in Russell, but at the same time her angel side wants to reject this concept of the soulmate in favor of the drawing force linking her to Reed. Such an interesting predicament.

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Here’s the problem though. This struggle stretches on foreverrrrrrr. There’s a constant back and forth, back and forth, like a never ending tennis match that you just…can’t…leave. I’ll admit, I did like the concept in the beginning. There’s no clear front-runner in the race for Evie’s heart, and you find yourself simultaneously rooting for both Reed and Russell to succeed. But the fact that this becomes the major story line for like 3/4 of the book? Can’t we get back to the fallen angels and discovery of new abilities already? I mean, we start off with Evie preferring Russell when she’s not quite sure what Reed is. After the big reveal she embraces her own angel side which is reaching out to him. But then he pulls away to keep her safe, making her run back to Russell. But then Reed just can’t stay away. My goodness it got to the point where I just wanted them to set up an Evie time share. Have her alternate weekends with each guy or something. Hell, I’d even take a threesome at this point!

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Tales of Convenience

I’m always wary of college romances for one very big reason. They always tend to brush aside the whole “being in college” thing. You know, going to class, taking tests, studying. But what this novel conveniently does is utilize Evie’s new abilities as a reason for why her course work isn’t a prominent feature in the story. As she develops as an angel her cognitive thinking improves, meaning she can brood away in class just vaguely listening to lectures in the background, yet be able to repeat things word for word later on. She says it even makes midterms fun. Well, that would have been a nice ability to have with my own college lectures, thank you very much!! This isn’t the only time we get a convenient explanation for something that’s out of the ordinary.

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I just love how in most paranormal romances featuring an immortal like Reed, we always seem to hear an account of how they stop aging in their prime. How convenient. It also makes it considerably less creepy when picturing a dude who is multi-thousands of years old getting intimate with a 17-year-old. Another rather perplexing feature which was explained away pretty quickly was the fact that it didn’t take that much for Evie to guess that Reed was an angel. Basically she could tell he was mysteriously different, and then after seeing a block panel painting in art class about fallen angels driven out of heaven she quickly surmises that Reed must be a divine angel. Quite a big leap of a guess right there! However, it’s clever how they brush this aside by Reed attributing it to her impressive new intuitive abilities. Sure, why not?

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A Climactic Conclusion

If I had to find a silver lining to the seemingly endless love triangle debate which carried on throughout this book, it would be that it certainly lets your guard down. The majority of the novel has a very teen, young adult, non-dramatic feel to it. And then BAM! In the final act we are presented with an unexpectedly dark and gruesome twist to the story. By the end you have a floor slippery with blood and chunks of flesh. Angels gnawing on a human hand with the skin of their victim getting stuck in their teeth. Never before have I felt the need to floss so much in my entire life. It was such a shocking twist that I honestly did not see coming, and it has definitely piqued my interest to see what might be in store for our characters in the next book.

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Series: The Premonition, book 1.  I’m excited to see where the story will lead. Hopefully away from college life, and with more focus on the paranormal aspect than the love triangle side of things.

Should you read it? This first book is clearly laying the groundwork for the series. Gathering the characters together, introducing Evie’s struggle between Reed and Russell, etc. I really did enjoy learning about the particulars and unique dynamics involving angels. While at times Evie’s inner struggle between Russell and Reed was interesting, it didn’t take too long before it became tiresome and repetitive. If the second book continues with this back and forth of Reed vs Russell, it’s gonna get very old, very fast. I’m hoping we’ll see even more regarding Evie’s transition to becoming an angel, and all the possible repercussions that might entail. Maybe even some info about who her angel father is.

Smut Level: Just a few kisses. No hanky panky. Reed basically implies that if they had sex the probability of him hurting her was high because he had a certain strength as an angel she might not be ready for as a human. Aka, that’s one powerful penis.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. CreateSpace Independent Publishing. 393 Pages.

Rock Addiction by Nalini Singh

From New Zealand to Los Angeles, sometimes you have to take a chance and go the distance for true love. Even when it involves a world famous rock star.

What’s it About?

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A bad boy wrapped in a sexy, muscled, grown-up package might be worth a little risk… Molly Webster has always followed the rules. After an ugly scandal tore apart her childhood and made her the focus of the media’s harsh spotlight, she vowed to live an ordinary life. No fame. No impropriety. No pain. Then she meets Zachary Fox, a tattooed bad boy rocker with a voice like whiskey and sin, and a touch that could become an addiction.

A one-night stand with the hottest rock star on the planet, that’s all it was meant to be… Fox promises scorching heat and dangerous pleasure, coaxing Molly to extend their one-night stand into a one-month fling. After that, he’ll be gone forever, his life never again intersecting with her own. Sex and sin and sensual indulgence, all with an expiration date. No ties, no regrets. Too late, Molly realizes it isn’t only her body that’s become addicted to Fox, but her heart…

First Impressions

The meet cute is everything in a romance novel. When Molly first sets her eyes on Fox, in person, for the first time she is immediately smitten. She’s aware of his rock-star status, and is undeniably drawn to his sex appeal and dark persona. As someone who’s always played by the rules, Molly admits to herself that she could see herself taking a chance with this one. Even if it’s just for one night. Fox on the other hand? He’s been eyeing her from across the room all night long. He knows that Molly isn’t just someone he wants to take to bed, but rather is someone he wants to have a future with. She’s different than other women, and he’s dead set on convincing her that he’s different than other men. That they have a connection which is worth more than one night.

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Now, why was it that Fox’s commitment beam was focused so specifically on Molly? Honestly, I have…no…idea. And it bugs me! Throughout the whole novel I kept waiting around for some sort of explanation, or window into what Fox was feeling that night. How, considering his life in the limelight, he knew that this woman was so different than any other woman who had come before. Sure, we could say that it’s because she just wanted one night with him when other women had always demanded more. We could perhaps theorize that it’s because Molly’s sister is his PR rep, and maybe she had shared with him the details of how amazing and special her sister was. But we never hear that from Fox directly, and it’s kind of killing me to wonder how he knew before even speaking to her that she was worth pursuing so vehemently. Perhaps we’re dealing with a rock star with a bad case of love at first sight.

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From Part 1 to 2

While I didn’t really understand the logistics of their initial meet-cute, I must say the progression of their relationship was addicting to behold. A note to all the romance authors out there, this book is the perfect example of how to divide a novel into multiple parts. Part 1 of the book is set entirely in New Zealand, and is mainly focused on laying the foundation of Molly and Fox’s relationship. They’re getting to know each other, both physically and emotionally, and Fox is trying his damnedest to convince Molly to take a chance on him. She’s hesitant to enter into a long-term romantic relationship with him because she knows that if the paparazzi catch wind of their affair, then the sordid details of her family’s past will come to light. She’ll have to relive it all. But with Fox by her side, she realizes it just might be worth the risk. Cue Part 2.

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About halfway through the book we get a “Part 2” heading, and we immediately switch gears to Fox’s home turf in Los Angeles. The focus changes to living life in the fast lane, and wondering if their relationship is strong enough to face the pressures of reality and celebrity. And I must say, it’s unbelievable how important that little “Part 2” heading was. If it hadn’t been indicated, I think the book would have felt ridiculously disconnected, almost as though we were dealing with two books smashed together into one. But just by having that little heading, I was able to mentally prepare myself for the story to veer off into another direction. This is when Molly and Fox’s relationship is truly put to the test.

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Testing the Waters

There are bound to be disagreements and arguments in every relationship, especially when a couple moves in together. Considering this particular couple is moving in together after only knowing each other for a month, he’s a famous rock star, and she left behind all she knew in New Zealand to be with him? Yeah, you can prepare yourself for a spat or two. Now, I must say at times I found their dynamics during these arguments to be somewhat problematic. It seemed like Molly was always the one apologizing to Fox for whatever disagreement they seemed to be having. For example, at one point after the move to Los Angeles they get into a fight because she decides to buy groceries for them,  considering he’s always the one to purchase things.

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Fox kind of goes off the rails and says she needs to get used to the fact that he’ll want to spoil her a bit and pay for things. Mkay, I must say this kind of upset me. This woman just quit her job, said goodbye to all of her friends, packed up, and moved all the way to the other side of the world to be with him. She’s getting situated into a new life where she’s trying to feel needed, helpful, useful, and instead she feels guilty for always accepting his money. Let her pay for the damn groceries! If this is a way that she feels she can contribute to the relationship while she’s trying to get her life in order as he creates music all day, why use it as a source for an argument? Just have kitchen sex or something and get over it. It’s just one example, but there were a few times in the novel where it seemed like Fox would kind of snip at Molly for trying to acclimate to his world.

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The Truth Comes Out

Throughout the entire novel we are waiting for two major reveals. The first is the truth surrounding Molly’s family, specifically her father. The details are hinted at here and there, but we really have to wait a while before Molly has an honest and open discussion with Fox about the particulars. And I must say it is an utterly heartbreaking reveal. It finally makes sense why Molly was so hesitant to enter into a relationship with Fox. She didn’t want the paparazzi to start digging into her past, and drudge up all the horrific memories she’s tried to put behind her for so long. However, this sad past also highlights the beauty of her present relationship with Fox. She’s finally living her life for herself, taking chances and making decisions based on what she thinks will bring her true happiness. And for her that means Fox. He helps her learn how to live in the moment, and understand that a future with him can bring even more joy and love. Quite touching!

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The other big moment that we’re waiting around for is the discovery of Molly and Fox’s relationship by the paparazzi. And of course something else which goes hand-in-hand with that: the insinuation by the paparazzi of infidelity. There was no way it could be avoided, but there’s the constant wonder of when and how it will happen. And when it finally does I must say I was pleasantly surprised with the aftermath. At first Molly is devastated, and her flight response kicks in. But then lo and behold she does something that most romance novel leading ladies in a similar situation always seem incapable of. She takes a moment to breathe, calm down, and think things through logically. Molly reminds herself of not only how much she loves Fox, but all the different ways he’s convinced her of how dedicated he is to her. She then proceeds to talk to him about her fears and doubts, and together they are able to find their way through the mishaps and misunderstandings. Who knew they could be such cool-headed adults!! Did it make for a somewhat uneventful read when dramatic reveals were handled in such a mindful way? Sure, in a way, but it was also unbelievably refreshing to not once again see a female lead who could be so easily dismayed and swindled by gossip rags.

Series: Rock Kiss, book 1. I’m excited to see the romance stories of our other bad boy members of the band who played such crucial supplemental roles in this first story. Each musician appears to have a distinct personality, and I’m looking forward to getting to know them more.

Should you read it? Definitely an interesting story arch as we see our couple build their relationship from the coast of New Zealand to the fast pace of LA. They have their ups and downs along the way, with both of their pasts coming back to test them. However, they also find strength in each other, which helps them through the inevitable challenges of fame and romance. I do wish we learned a bit more of the impetus for Fox’s initial link to Molly, and why he was so willing to fight for her considering the start of their relationship was primarily based around sex. They eventually develop a heartwarming emotional connection that has you crossing your fingers in the hope that they’ll succeed through all the paparazzi mayhem. Personally I really enjoyed their ability to not give into the artificial drama which was being created around them, but instead they could focus on the importance of their own relationship and that with their closest friends and band mates.

Smut Level: This romance definitely has an interesting balance of scenes which are kind of glossed over, and then others which are provided in explicit detail. You never quite know what you’re gonna get!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $5.99 Kindle Price. TKA Distribution. 406 Pages.

White Roses in Winter by Barbara Meyers

Will one night of romance on the beach turn into a lifetime of happiness?

What’s it About?

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The princess. The pauper. And a shotgun…The only thing Jason is focused on is getting through his last year of college. But the instant attraction between him and Kerrie leads to one unforgettable night together. When Kerrie’s wealthy, overly-protective father learns she is pregnant, he arranges a temporary marriage to teach her a lesson about choices and consequences. Jason reluctantly agrees to keep his participation in the plan a secret, because it’s the only way he can safeguard his future and his family. Kerrie is blinded by her romantic fantasy and doesn’t suspect she’s been set up. Meanwhile, Jason guards his heart and vows that when Kerrie leaves with their baby, he won’t beg her to stay. Just when it seems a future together is possible, lies, betrayal and deceit threaten to separate Kerrie and Jason forever. Faced with losing each other and their baby, will their fragile bond be strong enough?

First Impressions

Based on the synopsis, I was surprised to see how this novel actually started. I figured we’d witness the initial attraction between Jason and Kerrie which ultimately lead to her ending up pregnant before the two get married. Imagine my surprise when instead we open on a pill-popping woman named Tiffany who watches on in pure disdain as Jason and Kerrie wander back to her birthday house party after a tumble on a sandy beach. She wants Jason for herself, and although Kerrie is her “friend”, she is filled with an overwhelming amount of hatred towards her for stealing her crush out from under her. Switch to the next scene, and Tiffany is pushed to the background to instead focus on Kerrie discovering her pregnancy, and the progression of her marriage to Jason.

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A unique start to be sure considering our meet-cute is introduced through the eyes of a troubled and hate-filled character. Although I must admit this was an interesting way to start off our romantic tale, I couldn’t help but feel that I missed some of the initial connection between Kerrie and Jason seeing as we never really witnessed it directly. The evening’s activities do sort of come together piecemeal throughout the rest of the novel, as we see things from both Kerrie and Jason’s point of view. However, considering this is the very first crucial introduction to their relationship, and we see it through Tiffany’s jealousy and contempt, it seems we lost some of the magic which could have helped explain why these two characters felt a connection in the first place. I guess in my humble opinion the moment didn’t receive the proper attention that it deserved considering it’s the foundation and impetus for their entire future together.

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An Unnecessary Marriage?

I found myself asking a lot of questions throughout Jason and Kerrie’s relationship, and ultimately I’m not sure they were all answered. Or at least, they left me a bit confused. The first I sort of brushed upon in my intro, which was why exactly these two came together in the first place. Neither are “beach sex” kind of people, so they must have seen something in the other which pushed them to throw their inhibitions to the wind, but again this moment never really had the focus and attention I think it deserved. Especially considering what comes next. Their marriage.

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Honestly, I’m still sort of scratching my head over this one. I understand why Kerrie wanted to keep the baby, but I don’t really understand why she felt the need to marry Jason. Couldn’t they try dating for a while? Was a ceremony really necessary? It is sort of implied the marriage was a result of family pressure, specifically from Kerrie’s father, but when he goes to speak with Jason about the prospect of marrying his daughter he openly admits he doesn’t want them to marry. After they do marry her father tries to show Kerrie how unfit Jason is as a husband, and takes some rather drastic steps in an attempt to keep them apart. The whole situation just seemed to constantly contradict itself.

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As for Jason, he acknowledges to himself that he wants to be a part of his child’s life, whether his marriage to Kerrie succeeds or fails. Yet when Kerrie first moves in after their wedding Jason actively ignores her, and tries to limit their interaction whenever possible. I just had trouble understanding the dynamic in the beginning. Wouldn’t he want to be somewhat agreeable if he plans to stay in his child’s life forever, and this is his child’s mother? That being said, I’m happy to say that eventually their tale of romance all comes together for a fantastic conclusion. You really come to root for these two to succeed as a couple, and when they finally learn how to talk to each other and open up about their feelings? Well you just wanna cheer for their success. We see how they find strength when they’re together as a unit. As a family. And nothing could possibly keep them apart.

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The Disapproving Parents

That being said, Kerrie’s mother and father certainly go to some extreme lengths to try and keep these two apart. On the one hand, I found it really difficult to understand how her parents could be so cruel in their attempt to keep Jason away from Kerrie. She’s pregnant for crying out loud, you really wanna risk upsetting her because you don’t approve of the lad? When they do manage to separate the two of them at one point in the story it’s clear how distraught Kerrie is at the separation, and yet they continue to keep her locked away from him like a defenseless animal in a cage. I feel like my parents would be too fearful of my wrath to ever pull this kind of stunt if I were to catch on to their antics.

870307_029Although I had such trouble picturing this scenario with any sense of reality to it, I must say on the other hand I could totally understand it, 100%! It really wasn’t until the very end though that it all came together for me. Throughout the whole thing I kept thinking, what kind of dick parents are these?! To keep their daughter miserable. To be so unnecessarily over-protective. But then, when father and daughter finally have their heart-to-heart conversation at the end? Man, it got to me! As a daddy’s girl, and as the baby of my own family, it finally made sense. To see the lengths two parents would go to in the hopes of protecting their baby from harm. For them to eventually go through the sad realization that she’s not a baby anymore. They have to let her go and live her life. I must say, it was a frustrating road to travel, but in the end it had the most touching and heartfelt of conclusions.

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The Intermittent Villain

Every once in a while throughout this tale of pregnancy, family drama and romance we would see an unexpected reappearance of Tiffany. Don’t tell me you forgot about her already! Our troubled “friend” of Kerrie’s who first witnessed the connection of our lovebirds, and was filled with overwhelming hatred for Kerrie at the sight of it. With every reappearance of Tiffany throughout the book we see that her feelings of ill-will and increased pill-popping is building up to something momentous. While our tale does start and end with Tiffany, thereby coming completely full-circle, I couldn’t help but feel that her villainous story-line was slightly out of place, or maybe unnecessary.

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Kerrie and Jason are dealing with enough drama for crying out loud. They’re trying to figure out how to live with each other, not to mention they have a baby on the way, and her disapproving parental units are acting up. This element of a covetous ex-friend took things slightly over the top for me. Her character definitely brought some high-level suspense to the story, but I think the story also would have felt more realistic without this component to it. Especially considering it was really hard to comprehend why Kerrie and Tiffany would have been friends for so long. Let’s just say her bouts of crazy go back quite a long time!

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

Series: Stand-alone romance

Should you read it? It did take a while for Kerrie and Jason to form an emotional bond.  The scenes of them getting to know each other and playing house after their wedding drag on for a bit of an awkward pace. I also wish Kerrie’s pregnancy had been featured more prominently. While it was what brought them together at the start, the details of her being pregnant were pushed to the side that I sort of forgot she was even pregnant at times! If only they could have gone to some doctor’s appointments together, experienced some emotion at seeing that first sonogram photo, go through strange cravings, changing dress sizes, or morning sickness! While we don’t really see any of this, it’s definitely worth sticking around for the end, as this is when the magic of their relationship and Kerrie’s interactions with her parents come to the forefront.

Smut Level: Nothing too overly graphic. There is one kind of awkward scene as they get intimate while Kerrie’s breastfeeding. I feel like having a baby staring at you with big bright eyes while your lover kisses down your throat would sort of kill the mood. But hey, whatever does it for ya!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. Barbara Meyers LLC. 375 Pages.

A Sense of Belonging by Laura Branchflower

This book practically takes place in my backyard. It would have been a crime not to read it!

What’s it About? 

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Casey Jansen is celebrating her twenty-first birthday when she catches a glimpse of the older man she’s been secretly obsessing over since passing him on a running trail. When her sister identifies him as Tony Prossi, a well-known Washington, D.C. attorney, Casey instantly wishes she was older. There is no way he is going to be interested in a college student. At least that’s what she believes until their eyes meet. As a partner in a top D.C. law firm and son of a powerful U.S. senator, Tony Prossi understands the importance of image. There is certainly no place in his life for a woman as young as Casey Jansen, especially not when he’s considering running for his father’s Senate seat. But one night with the Georgetown University student ignites a hunger he can’t seem to quench. And Tony will have to decide whether being with Casey is worth the risk to his reputation and family.

First Impressions

I visit Georgetown at least two times a week. My best friend lives there, and it’s about a 15 minute walk from my apartment. Now, on the whole, I must admit it’s probably my least favorite part of DC. The sidewalks are too narrow, it’s too crowded, and everyone walks at a snail’s pace. It tries my patience which then explodes in a ball of fury. That being said, it was fun to read a novel that is set so close to home, and for the most part has a pretty accurate description of DC and Georgetown living! From the running paths through Rock Creek Park, to the high-priced homes of the wealthy. However, I must say there was one aspect of this story which made me pause. Our female lead, who is also a college senior, owns a car? Seriously?! In gtown?!?! Where the hell does she park it? How can she afford parking? Why doesn’t she walk, take the bus, or metro?! Ok granted Georgetown doesn’t have a metro, but I don’t even own a car in this town and I’ve lived here for 6 years. You wanna get rid of an unnecessary expense, don’t have a car in DC. Believe me!! Sorry, silly and unnecessary thing to get riled up about 🙂

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Prince Charming? 

So this was an interesting romance, because for about the first 50% of the novel I honestly didn’t know if our lead couple was going to end up together. Scratch that, I didn’t even know if I wanted them to end up together! At times I felt like Tony was just a closed off guy who would be a tough nut to crack before admitting his true feelings of love and affection for Casey. But then there were other times where I couldn’t help but wonder, wait is this guy going to end up being a villainous douche-bag or something? Casey is so unbelievably smitten with him from the get-go, but he remains entirely closed off to entertaining the idea of anything but physical with her. He doesn’t even want to introduce her to his son. Combine this with the fact that she’s a graduating senior and he’s about 15 years older than her and I wondered, is this guy really just in it for the sex, and eventually Casey will end up heartbroken yet also having learned a valuable life lesson of some kind????

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Ok so the answer to that is no. Eventually Tony does come around, and they’re all happy lovey dovey couple. But I almost wonder if it came “too late” to the story. Not necessarily “too little” too late, as you really do get the sense by the end that Tony is all in when it comes to their relationship, but it definitely made it harder to trust him in the beginning. Or maybe Casey’s full love and devotion for this guy was just too fast and intense up front. The fact that their first date consists of them exchanging about two sentences of pleasantries before she leads him to her room and she gives him her virginity, followed by Casey admitting her love for him about a week later? Ummm…yeah it kind of made me wonder if Casey was a bit too young and naive to enter into this relationship.

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From Questionable to Happily Ever After
 
There were times when Casey’s best friend would try to warn her that her feelings for Tony were so strong simply because he was the first man she ever slept with, and that he was just interested in her because she was a hot and sexy young co-ed. I feel like normally when we’re presented with this kind of outside friendly advice in a romance novel we usually push back on behalf of our loving couple and insist, “no you just don’t understand their love!!! Leave them alone.” However, in this book I was kind of like, girl I get where you’re coming from, there’s just something that doesn’t feel right about this guy. Honestly it was like a mind game!! It seemed like we either could have had a nice and sweet romantic ending (like we did), but I also wouldn’t have been too surprised if we’d gone full out in the other direction with a stalker-suspense tale where Casey goes crazy over Tony’s lack of affection and insist he love her after breaking into his house, or something.

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I know…my mind is a scary place. Imagine having to live with it every day. The last 1/3 or so of this novel really came together for me though. This is when we finally see Tony admit his true feelings for Casey, and while he initially wanted to hide her away we now see him fight for their relationship. This is also when Casey finally graduates from college, and I don’t know why but it just sort of made the age difference seem less apparent. As though she were finally a woman of the world once she had the diploma in hand! We also see some intrigue surrounding Tony’s relationship with his parents, and there were a few twists and turns I didn’t necessarily see coming. A strong finish for sure!

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

Series: Stand-alone

Should you read it? While the start of the novel and development of Casey and Tony’s relationship wasn’t my favorite, the book definitely ended strong. I eventually found myself rooting for their love to succeed, but it took a while. Unfortunately I can’t say that Casey was my favorite character. She came across as rather immature at times, and some of her actions and decisions relating to Tony made me cringe. Like when she sits in her car waiting outside his house. However, you can’t help but feel sorry for her family’s treatment of her, and in the end you’re glad she manages to find a happily ever after. I also would have preferred if Tony had showed a bit more warmth towards her in the beginning, rather than it just being a physical connection which brought them together.

Smut Level: Things start off rather slow seeing as this is Casey’s first sexual experience, but after a bit of persuading she manages to convince Tony that she’s more than willing to learn what comes next. And he’s quite the teacher. Wink wink 😉

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Amazon Digital Services, LLC. 365 Pages.

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.

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.