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Monday, August 3, 2015

ARC Review: The Hotter You Burn by Gena Showalter

**Part of a series but a standalone, you don't have to read the other book first**

This book is kind of a variation on the Cinderella theme which I really enjoy. In this book, Harlow is cast as the flawed Cinderella and the entire town of Strawberry Valley plays the role of the evil step family. It turns out that Harlow was a notorious bully in high school and even though that was years ago, no one has forgotten it or forgiven her for the torture she visited on them and their loved ones, So unlike poor Cinderella, Harlow maaaaay have had something to do with her treatment by others. Similar to Cinderella, however, Harlow finds herself in some tough financial times which puts her at the mercy of the town that hates her. As she is struggling to recover without leaving the town that she (inexplicably) loves, Harlow meets Beck and he ain't no Prince Charming.

Beck is struggling with his own demons from the past. In fact, Beck's past experiences have given him the impression that true love and lasting relationships are a myth. Beck has lived his life on the 'one night' train that so many of our favorite book boyfriends can't seem to stay off of. Beck is immediately attracted to Harlow and recognizes that his feelings for her are unlike any he has had for other pump and dump chicks in his life but he spends most of the book not being able to overcome his past.

I love the relationship between Harlow and Beck as it develops. Beck was protective of Harlow and wanted to protect her from nearly day one. Despite his feelings he gets the idea that the way to get Harlow out of his mind is to hook her up with someone else. This leads to all sorts of predictable shenanigans. For Harlow's part, after she accepts the fact that she has feelings for Beck, she refuses to accept anything that is temporary. Beck thinks he can only give her temporary, they struggle with communication issues and Harlow struggles with her life of poverty and scorn.

The thing that really sets this book a part in my mind is Harlow's story. I don't think I've ever read a romance about a former bully. And it wasn't just Harlow being a former bully that drew me in, it was the way she valiantly tried to do penance despite the fact that the people of Strawberry Valley were petty as hell and couldn't let go of anything. I had moments where Harlow's attempts to win people over drove me a little crazy (especially the hotel scenes) but mostly I thought that it added a lot of depth to her character and made her an unforgettable heroine. I especially appreciated that Harlow refused to give up on what she wanted out of a relationship. There was a point at which she could have settled for less but sticking to her guns gave her and Beck a better chance at having something genuine.

There is great dialogue in this book with lots of witty banter. The supporting cast is also pretty good. Harlow makes friends with some of the women who previously hated her and they guide her through her romance with Beck since she doesn't know much about romance. There were moments that I found the girls group a bit high schoolish but for the most part they were just really funny and added a lot of entertainment to the book. Beck's friends also added entertainment value to the story and I'm really looking forward to reading the next installment in this series. There wasn't as much of the steamy stuff as I usually prefer but what was lacking in steam was made up for in the overall story. This is a true romance and it's well worth the read.

**ARC provided by RockStarLit PR**

Purchase: | Amazon | Kindle | B&N | iTunes |

Guest Post with Author Laura Marie Altom and Giveaway

Meet Laura Marie Altom author of The Escort.

Laura Marie Altom is the author of more than forty books in three different genres. Now that her kids are in college, Altom spends her days writing and chasing after a menagerie of pets: a mini long-haired dachshund named Cocoa, a Yorkie named Daisy, a mutt named Sweet Pea, and Domino—a black-and-white stealth cat she rarely sees. She’s happily married to her college sweetheart (go Hogs!), and when night falls, she steals a few romantic moments for herself with her own hunky cover stud.

Feature and Giveaway: The Lure of the Moonflower by Lauren Willig

In the final Pink Carnation novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla, Napoleon has occupied Lisbon, and Jane Wooliston, aka the Pink Carnation, teams up with a rogue agent to protect the escaped Queen of Portugal.

Portugal, December 1807. Jack Reid, the British agent known as the Moonflower (formerly the French agent known as the Moonflower), has been stationed in Portugal and is awaiting his new contact. He does not expect to be paired with a woman—especially not the legendary Pink Carnation.

All of Portugal believes that the royal family departed for Brazil just before the French troops marched into Lisbon. Only the English government knows that mad seventy-three-year-old Queen Maria was spirited away by a group of loyalists determined to rally a resistance. But as the French garrison scours the countryside, it’s only a matter of time before she’s found and taken.

It’s up to Jane to find her first and ensure her safety. But she has no knowledge of Portugal or the language. Though she is loath to admit it, she needs the Moonflower. Operating alone has taught her to respect her own limitations. But she knows better than to show weakness around the Moonflower—an agent with a reputation for brilliance, a tendency toward insubordination, and a history of going rogue.

Purchase: | Amazon | Kindle | B&N | iTunes | Kobo |

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Review: Where I Belong by J. Daniels

I really don't know what to think about this book. It was an okay read for me but at the same time I found it extremely difficult to put down. It was kind of like crack for me. I will say that I really enjoyed that authors voice and found that it was easy to get swept away in her world. I think what ruined this book for me was the characters and the plot. Honestly it was kind of a hot mess and it had me shaking my head no more than once.

*Some mild spoilers ahead.*

First let me just say that Ben was a bit much for me at times. I found that he was kind of one dimensional and didn't really do anything for me. He was a bit too caveman-like and I found him to be kind of irritating in his Alpha ways. Let me explain. He's constantly "claiming" Mia as his. While normally I don't mind this but for some reason it just irritated me in this book. Maybe because I felt like his feelings was a bit of insta-love like and I just never really got a true sense that he cared for Mia. Don't get me wrong, I get that he likes her but why? The author never really delves into that. They essentially have a hot one night stand (where they don't even exchange names) and yet the next day he's head over heels and done for. I just didn't buy it.

As for Mia I felt like she went from hating Ben and I mean HATING Ben to in love with him. It essentially feels like it's overnight and I just didn't buy it. I also didn't buy into the fact that she held on to her virginity until she was 23 just to lose it to some random hot guy in a bar just because she doesn't want her childhood best friend to make fun of her. I mean what!?! Who does that? Also, not only does she lose her virginity but it's like the best sex ever. Seriously?! I don't buy it.

Another thing that bothered me about this book is just how gross Tessa (Mia's bestie/Ben's sister) is when it comes to Mia and Ben's sex life. Some of the things she asks/says about her brothers anatomy left a bad taste in my mouth and just seemed bizarre. What sister wants to know the size of her brothers penis? Ugh.

All in all this book was just okay for me. Will I read another by J. Daniels, absolutely. In fact, I've got the next book ready to go on my Kindle. But do I recommend? That I'm not so sure about. Like I said before, for some reason I found this book to be like crack and even though I had a lot of issues with it I can't help but want to read more.

Purchase: | Amazon | B&N | iTunes |

ARC Review: Focus on Me by Megan Erickson

Focus on Me is the second book in the In Focus series by Megan Erickson. Each book is a standalone, but the characters are interconnected. I really enjoyed this sweet and emotional male/male story, and I thought that it was really well written. This book was filled with hope and love, and it really brought out all the emotions. 

Colin Hartman has failed everything he has ever tried, college being the latest. When he sets out on the cross country road trip from California back home to North Carolina, he never expects to meet a sexy stranger that will change his life. From his first glance at Riley at a gas station in Nevada, he knows that there is something more to this beautiful man. When Riley needs a ride, Colin offers to take him where he needs to go. Riley intends to keep his ride with Colin short, but soon one detour after another finds him growing close to Colin and questioning everything. For once, Riley finally begins to feel something thanks to Colin. But the shadows are still there, and he struggles with how to deal with them along with his new feelings. Colin knows that there is something going on that Riley isn't saying, and he is determined to do whatever it takes to help Riley. 

I loved these two. They were great together, and I really loved how sweet they were. They got along great and had a strong connection. Colin and Riley were so natural together, and I liked seeing them get to know one another. They had such a slow burn going on, and yet once things ignited it was explosive. Riley and Colin were super hot together and had a ton of chemistry, but it was the emotional connection that they were forming that I found so interesting. Riley had so much that he was dealing with, and I felt so badly for him. But Colin was able to get through to him and I was glad that he knew when to push Riley and when to back off. Colin was supportive and encouraging, and you could tell that the love between these two was undeniable. 

Overall, this was a great read. It was very emotional and tough to get through at times, and yet it was also filled with so much love and sweetness. Colin helped Riley to heal, and I loved that he never gave up on him. At times he had to make some tough decisions, and it was clear that he felt so badly for things he had to do. Yet his ultimate priority was Riley, and that was what made it impossible not to fall for these two. I highly recommend this book, especially if you are a fan of the male/male genre. Focus on Me was sexy and heartwarming, and a great emotional story.

**ARC Provided by Publisher**

Purchase: | Amazon | B&N | iTunes |