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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Sugar Kisses by Addison Moore

The first thing we learn about the main character in this novel is that she hates people. Sounds like an utterly delightful person!

What’s it About? 

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Roxy Capwell couldn’t be more miserable. She just had her heart stomped on by her cheating boyfriend, and the last thing she’s looking for is love. She hates men. Cole Brighton couldn’t be happier. He’s a player of the highest order, there’s not a girl at Whitney Briggs University that he can’t tag and bag. He loves the ladies. Roxy’s dream is to own and operate her own bakery one day, but with no oven in her dorm, and a lucrative baking competition on the horizon, she agrees to move in with her best friend’s brother, the obnoxious, womanizing, Cole Brighton. Between the heavenly scent of baked goods, and Roxy’s perfect body strutting around the apartment, Cole can’t think straight. So when Roxy’s ex starts sniffing around again, Cole volunteers to play the part of her new boy-toy and things get heated both in and out of the kitchen. Roxy discovers she might not hate every man on the planet, and Cole discovers nothing tastes better than Roxy and her late night SUGAR KISSES.

Roxy is a ball of stress and anger.

Cole is all ego and sex.

Their attraction is unstoppable.

And when their bodies collide—its combustible.

First Impressions

The novel definitely starts off strong, as our main characters have a delightful love/hate flirtation going on which is just bursting with fabulous sexual tension. Unfortunately, as the book progresses things head pretty steadily downhill. Almost from the get-go you can tell how the story is building up for everything to eventually go wrong. I don’t know about you, but personally I find this kind of set-up unbelievably frustrating. Just waiting around for the shoe to drop always makes the story drag on and on. Combine that with some rather unlikable lead characters, and this just wasn’t my cup of tea.

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Don’t Blow It!

Roxy and Cole go to one of those ridiculously small college towns where it seems like everybody knows everybody. As someone who went to college in a big city with over 30,000 students, it was a feature of the novel I found a bit hard to relate to. The entire book is told from the dual alternating points of view of both Roxy and Cole. Again, it starts off well enough, but once we get to the half-way point I was about ready to pull my hair out. Each of Cole’s chapters ends with the same sentiment of, “oh she’s the love of my life”, while Roxy’s end with, “he’s so great, I love him so much, I hope nothing screws this up/I don’t ruin this/it ends”. It was a continual foreshadowing of dread, and the delay of the inevitable that I found particularly annoying.

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Small Town Means Big Drama

On top of the continual foreshadowing of an eventual clusterf*ck, I also felt like the characters were rather unrealistic. It seemed like so many of them would say or do things with absolutely zero filter. From her mother who demands that Roxy decide between cooking cupcakes for a high-end benefit or her relationship with Cole, to a famous singer who loves to be in the spotlight in college and is used in all of their advertising materials, and finally to multiple catty/stalkerish females who go to unbelievably crazy lengths to snag Cole and mess with Roxy. Each drama individually I can kind of get, but having so many present in one short book was too over the top.

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Series: 3:AM Kisses, book 3. Going into this I actually didn’t know I was dealing with the third book in the series. I think it could have been helpful to read the others beforehand, although at this point I can’t really say I have a desire to start from the beginning.

Should you read it? I will say I did crave cupcakes like a madwoman while reading this one. If you do attempt it, maybe have some mini ones on hand. That being said, we don’t have the most endearing or likable characters here. She hates everything and everyone except baking and, eventually, Cole. However, she also has a short fuse that causes her to have many an unnecessary tempter tantrum.

Smut Level: There is one particularly sexy scene involving a food fight with jam and powdered sugar that eventually needs to be washed off. Lather it up!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. CreateSpace Independent Publishing. 304 Pages.

Becoming Us by Amy Daws

How is it that every single time I read a book in this series I’m on an airplane, and end up looking like a fool? When I read A Broken Us I cried ugly tears, and with this book I was grinning and laughing out loud. I mean, how am I not supposed to giggle when someone is referred to as a snuggle snatcher? How I ask ya?!

What’s it About? 

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The dreaded friend-zone… The last place I ever want to be with college basketball God, Jake LaShae. I am losing my mind trying to figure out what this gorgeous and confident man wants from me. I need to break through his walls. What is it about me that makes him not go there? What am I lacking? When a mind-blowing betrayal knocks the wind out of me, and I think I can’t feel any lower…Brody stumbles into my path-barefoot no less, and sexy as hell. His direct and mouth-watering swagger is a breath of fresh air. The feelings this man gives me are like nothing I’ve ever experienced. But Brody has a past. A past that makes it nearly impossible for him to trust me and let us become us in whatever capacity that may be. Just when Brody and I truly connect, just when I think that finding my soul-mate in college isn’t a total joke, Jake comes back into my life…and messes things up…possibly for good.

First Impressions

This book takes us back to the beginning to see how Brody and Finley first met. It was definitely funnier, and a whole hell of a lot sexier than book 2, and that’s saying something. I mean my God! The sex scenes between Brody and Finley were so passionate and full of longing, it really showed that for them sex was so much more than physical pleasure. For these two it was all about the love. I gotta say though, Finley is a lucky girl that I wasn’t on that college campus too because we would have had some cat fights with massive amounts of hair pulling so that I could get Brody for myself. This man was freakin’ perfection, and so adorably romantic I practically swooned in my airline seat. Meh, I’ll just say it was due to a sudden change in altitude. 

swoonWhat College Did I Go To? 

Before Brody makes his not so graceful appearance into the novel, Finley has a total crush on star basketball player Jake. His behavior towards Finley is really confusing, going from suggestive one minute to “just friends” the next. When she catches him in bed with someone else, word spreads quickly over campus about Jake’s douche-holery, and Finley tries to move on to bigger and better things, aka Brody’s nether region. This made me realize that romance novels set in college have more gossip, drama and backstabbing than an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. Now, did I just go to an oddly prudish school, or does tomfoolery like this really happen on college campuses? Not only did I have absolutely no clue as to the extracurricular sexual activities of the basketball stud muffin, I didn’t even know his name.  

Oh…my…gooseberries!

pinned-wallI’ve already mentioned how the lovin’ between Brody and Finley was full of passionate feelings, but there was also a decent amount of angry sex in this book as well. It was just so wonderfully fabulous. Brody definitely knew how to hold her up against a wall, and there were quite a few instances of legs being wrapped around hips if you know what I mean. Phew, where’s that drink cart when you need it?! There was this one scene in particular where Brody ripped her tights to get at her, which is an OMG level of sexy. But then Finley mentions how happy she is that she doesn’t wear underwear with tights, and that sort of ruined the moment for me. Who the hell doesn’t wear underwear with tights? Ladies? Am I alone in thinking that just sounds like an uncomfortable way to spend your evening? 

What’s Next? 

This book ended on such an awww moment I couldn’t help but grin like an idiot. But then the epilogue came around which lead directly into how book 2 starts with Finley discovering she can’t have children, and deciding to end her relationship with Brody. Well, all the happy feelings I got from that awww moment were just washed away. Now I’ve already read book 2, but if I hadn’t this epilogue definitely would have spurred me on to read it as soon as possible. To read my review of A Broken Us, just click here, and be sure to check back in on Wednesday when I review the third book in the London Lovers series, London Bound.

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

Series: London Lovers, book 1. 

Should you read it? Uh, yeah! It’s a great look at distinguishing a crush from true love. Just be sure to have book 2 immediately on hand when you’re done!

Smut Level: It’s tights ripping sexy. 

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $0.99 Kindle Price. Stars Hollow Publishing. 308 Pages.

About the AuthorLondon Bound Amy Daws

Amy Daws lives in South Dakota with her husband, Kevin, and their miracle daughter, Lorelei. The long-awaited birth of Lorelei is what inspired Amy’s first book, Chasing Hope, and her passion for writing. On most nights, you can find Amy and her family dancing to Strawberry Shortcake’s theme song or stuffing themselves inside children’s-sized playhouses because there is nothing they wouldn’t do for their little miracle.

www.amydawsauthor.com Facebook | Amazon | Twitter | TSU | Goodreads