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Monday, May 25, 2015

ARC Review: Bad Romeo by Leisa Rayven

Bad Romeo is the first book in Leisa Rayven's Starcrossed Series and is the first part of Cassie and Ethan's story. Readers should be aware that it does end with a cliffhanger, with their story continuing in the next book, Broken Juliet. I will admit I was a bit skeptical going into this one after finding out that this story originally started off as Twilight fan fiction. I figured that we had been down that road before several times, and was worried that there wouldn't be anything new this time around. That was not the case here though. I really loved Leisa's writing style and I thought that this one was really refreshing. That isn't to say that I didn't have issues with this one, because I did. But I really thought that this was a good start to their story, and I will definitely be reading the next book. 

Cassie Taylor and Ethan Holt met when auditioning for acting school. Their chemistry was instant so when they both wind up getting in, Cassie is ready to see what is between them. They get cast opposite one another as Romeo and Juliet, and their chemistry is stronger than ever. But Ethan pushes Cassie away, though she can tell that he is fighting what he is really feeling. Now six years later, life seems to be repeating for these two when they are cast as the leads opposite one another once again. But Ethan broke Cassie's heart twice in the past and she isn't sure that she can handle acting as though they are in love. Ethan knows that he hurt Cassie, and he has been suffering ever since. He is ready to show her that he has changed though, and will do whatever it takes to win her back. Will Ethan and Cassie be able to put the past behind them and take another chance together, or will they finally get the closure they need to be over once and for all? 

These two both really annoyed me at times, and yet I couldn't get enough of them! Ethan kept pushing Cassie away saying how much he would hurt her and that she shouldn't be anywhere near him. He felt like her heart wasn't safe with him, and so he hurt her before he could be in a relationship with her and hurt her? It didn't make much sense to me, but boy logic is usually like that. I didn't really think that it stood up though considering that once his past was revealed, it wasn't as big of a deal as I would have expected. Yes he had been hurt and I can get being a bit skeptical and unwilling to just offer trust right away, but Cassie was nothing like his ex and would never have done what she did to him. Cassie was pretty relentless when it came to pursuing Ethan, and while I admired her ability to never give up, it also came across as a bit pathetic as well. Here is this guy that keeps pushing you away, and she did not get a clue. She just kept going after him and laying it all out on the line for him. I kept waiting for her to walk away and make him come back groveling, but each time she gave in and it came off as though she was a doormat willing to take whatever Ethan would dish out. They had great chemistry, and their connection was really strong as well. The more they got to know one another, the more I could see a bond forming. It was really frustrating to see that and then to see them continue to fight the same things over and over. I really do believe that these two are meant to be together, which is why I was able to put up with the drama and angst and continue reading this one. If you are a reader that can't handle a lot of back and forth and angst, this one probably isn't for you.

The other thing that I had an issue with was the way this story began to unfold. While I really liked Leisa's writing, I found the transition between past and present to be jarring and at times very confusing. The story was similar enough in past and present that it was hard to tell at times when and where we were. I also felt like this book brought a lot of things up, but didn't really explain them. I am hoping that these will be dealt with in the second book, as we don't even really get to see what happened between these two to cause them to breakup twice. The fact that Ethan broke her twice is stated on more that one occasion, but we only get to see one time in this book, and even that is very brief and the circumstances surrounding the why and what happened following it were left unexplored. I will say that I couldn't put this book down though, and I really loved how funny and refreshing the dialogue was. There were a few times that Cassie's immaturity and age showed though, but I loved seeing these two interact and liked the banter between them. I really loved the secondary characters in this story, and I thought that they added so much. Besides the interaction between Cassie and Ethan, I really loved seeing them with their friends. I am looking forward to reading the next book, and I really can't wait to see what happens next for these two as well as hopefully getting more of their past explained.

**ARC Provided by St. Martin's Press**

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ARC Review: A Life of Inches by Douglas Esper

I occasionally like to torture myself with love triangles and I love sports romance stories, so I was pretty excited to be given the chance to read A Life of Inches by Douglas Esper. This book is his debut novel, so I really had no idea what to expect. I have to say that I did have some issues with this book, but there were also a lot of things that I liked as well. As much as I had issues with, I will also say that I had to keep reading to see what would happen. I am very interested to see what Douglas Esper writes in the future, and I think that this was a good debut for him. 

Ryan and Woodie have been best friends since they were kids, and they have always been competitive. When a race between them ends with Woodie being hit by a car, it appears that Ryan has finally won. But the girl that crashes into Woodie immediately draws both of their attention and they set out to be the one to claim her for their own. Over the years the three of them grow closer and things become more complicated. As Ryan and Woodie's lives begin to change with their determination to have successful careers in baseball though, they also fight harder than ever to win Molly once and for all. But will Molly be able to choose between them, or will they both wind up losing her forever? 

This story is told from Ryan's POV, so I felt like we really got to know him the best out of these three characters. I had moments where I genuinely disliked each of these characters. Ryan to me was the easiest to like, and I think part of that was the fact that we got his POV. The reader got to be inside his head to see what he was thinking and feeling, and we didn't get that with the other characters which I think hurt my opinions of both Woodie and Molly to some extent. Ryan was more of a family man, close to his parents and a good guy through and through. He was nice and funny, and seemed to really care about those in his life. He had a lot of bad luck though, and unfortunately seemed to always get the short end of the stick. I felt so badly for him at times, and I honestly didn't understand why he wanted to be with Molly at times or why he continued to be Woodie's friend. Woodie seemed to be a nice guy at times, but then you would see a completely different side come out and frankly it wasn't a good one. He turned angry and prone to violence at the drop of a hat, and I never really understood why he got away with as much as he did. He wasn't a great friend, and he seemed very selfish. Molly's interest in him didn't make sense to me at all, and it almost seemed like she was interested in him because he was lucky and successful. Molly was driven and I loved that she was into sports and politics. She was determined to be successful and to not be the housewife waiting at home while her man was out living his life. I completely understood that side of her, but I also felt like she took it too far. She refused to compromise and put her needs above everyone else's. She was selfish just like Woodie, and I honestly felt like she played more mind games than anyone. 

I really had a tough time with all the mind games and competition going on throughout this story. This book was supposed to be a love triangle with a woman stuck between two best friends, but honestly it didn't really seem like that to me. Ryan and Woodie seemed to be more rivals than friends, and they often took things to extremes. Molly lied and hid things from these guys, especially Ryan, and then would get mad at them for doing exactly what she had done. I really wanted these characters to grow up as the story progressed, and unfortunately I didn't see that happen until the very end. At that point the payoff was a bit too little too late for me, as I really didn't like any of the characters at that point. They all made rash and ridiculous decisions, and I didn't even understand why they did any of what they did. I also feel like calling this book a romance is pretty inaccurate considering there is little to no romance in this book at all. Yes it is clear there are feelings there, but there is virtually no sex or dating to speak of throughout this entire book. Most of what happens is either not seen because it is not with Ryan, or doesn't happen until the very end. This book was more about Ryan's challenges throughout life and how he handled them. I think if you are looking for a romance story, this probably isn't what you are looking for. However if you are looking for a story about perseverance and overcoming obstacles, this might be one that you want to give a shot. Ryan had a lot thrown his way and he easily could have given up, but he kept going and it was interesting to see how he always found a way to keep working towards an ever changing future.

**ARC Provided by IndieSage PR**

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Feature and Giveaway: The Lady Hellion by Joanna Shupe

A Marquess’ daughter, Lady Sophia Barnes doesn’t take no for an answer. Especially when she’s roaming London’s seedy underground…dressed as a man.

A rabble rouser for justice, Sophie’s latest mission is to fight for the rights of the poor, the wretched—and the employees at Madame Hartley’s brothel. She’s not concerned about the criminals who will cross her path, for Sophie has mastered the art of deception—including the art of wearing trousers. Now her fate is in her own hands, along with a loaded gun. All she needs is instruction on how to shoot it. But only one person can help her: Lord Quint, the man who broke her heart years ago. The man she won’t let destroy her again…

The last thing Damien Beecham, Viscount Quint, needs is an intrusion on his privacy, especially from the beautiful, exasperating woman he’s never stopped wanting. A woman with a perilously absurd request, no less! For Damien is fighting a battle of his own, one he wishes to keep hidden—along with his feelings for Lady Sophia. Yet that fight is as hopeless as stopping her outlandish plan. Soon all Quint knows for certain is that he will die trying to protect her…

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Review: The Dreamspinner by Lynn Kurland

Dreamspinner starts the third subtrilogy of the Nine Kingdoms series. Our hero is Rùnach, a man who suffered a terrible tragedy twenty or so years in the past. It left him without his family, crippled, and drained of magic. Aisling is our heroine, and she hails from Bruadair where she's been a worker for a Weaver's Guild since she was eight. Her parents exchanged her labor for wealth.

Soon before Aisling's 28th birthday (which is when she will be considered an adult and be able to leave the Weaver's Guild), she sees her parents on the street in town. She panics, knowing that her parents' appearance can only mean they wish to exchange seven more years of labor for money, when she is so close to being free. Surprisingly, some acquaintances in town quickly spirit her out away and set her upon a quest to bring back a mercenary to free Bruadair. Aisling is given a timeline to do this, or a curse will kill her.

Rùnach has set out to go to Gobhann, in order to earn Weger's prestigious mark so that he can become a simple swordsman and live out the rest of his life in obscurity. Upon boarding the ship that will take him towards his destination he meets a young lad who has been robbed and is trying to acquire passage on the same ship. Rùnach generously pays the boy's fare. He is shocked to find out this boy is also en route to Godhann, then even more shocked to discover that the boy is actually a woman in disguise.

The two then begin a journey. Aisling is trying to fulfill her quest and learns the world and who she is were not as she'd thought. Rùnach is becoming more and more curious about this young woman and a desire to assist and protect her. In their journey to discover the mysteries surrounding them, they develop a friendship that scares them a bit as it seems to become more.

I really liked this book. Aisling is such an innocent girl who doesn't want to be lied to and taken advantage of. Rùnach is so troubled with his past and is such a chivalrous gentleman. The romance is PG, and as shown in the series' previous books, it will continue on for two more installments. Lynn Kurland has created such an enchanting world that you will want to to dive right in and live with her characters. It isn't necessary to read the previous six books to appreciate Dreamspinner. They mention the events from the previous books with enough information to understand how it affects this tale. This book was absolutely magical!

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Sunday, May 24, 2015

ARC Review: Under the Spotlight by Angie Stanton

Under the Spotlight is the third book in Angie Stanton's Jamieson Series. Each book can be read as a standalone story though, so it isn't necessary to read them before reading this book. There will be some things spoiled though as this book picks up after those two, with everything that has happened to the band. These books are sweet and easy to read, and if you are looking for a clean romance this series is one you will want to give a shot. 

After the band broke up, Garrett Jamieson finds himself angry and lost. He knows that he can't make it with a solo career, but he doesn't know what he wants to do. He spends his time drinking and hooking up with girls, and getting into trouble. When he gets arrested for again, his dad finally steps in and suggests a new direction that will hopefully occupy Garrett's time and keep him out of jail. He shows up at Sound Sync set to work behind the scenes this time, and become a music producer. There he meets the feisty Riley Parks. Garrett finds out that Riley was once a contestant on a reality show, and after hearing her sing he knows that he needs to produce her album. The only problem is that Riley vowed she would never sing again, and refuses to agree. What happens when Garrett refuses to give up, and Riley finds herself in an impossible situation? 

Garrett and Riley were both good characters that were likable but also had issues. I had to keep reminding myself of their ages, and I think that had a lot to do with some of the dumb things that they each did. Riley was 18 and Garrett was 22, so it made sense that they were still figuring things out but at times there were things that really had me shaking my head. Garrett was pretty oblivious at times and seemed to be very selfish. He often times would do whatever he wanted without informing others of his actions, which wouldn't have been such a problem if it didn't affect them more that him. It got pretty old, and he didn't really seem to grasp that it wasn't okay. Riley was feisty and fun, but she was also pretty naive considering how mature she seemed at other times. She was working at Sound Sync at a young age and knew about how her mother was, and yet she was constantly giving in to whatever her mother asked for even knowing that her mother would use her. She never put up a fight when it came to her mom, and then she was shocked and angry when her mother took advantage of her again. The main reason this really bothered me was the fact that she had no problem telling Garrett no, and I wish some of the fight she had with him would have been there with her mother. Her mother was a piece of work and while I felt badly for Riley, I also felt like it got way out of hand with too many bad things happening and part of that was Riley's fault.

The thing about this series for me is that there is very little romance in each of these books. They are clean with not much romance actually taking place and it usually doesn't happen until the end. The first time (and it only happens a few times total) that Garrett and Riley even kissed was at about 70% in, and even then not much of a relationship progressed from there. I didn't like that things seemed to be over before they ever really got started for these two, with them only reuniting at the very end of the book. I had the same problem with this book as the previous ones when it came to the ending. While I liked how things ended, I feel like they are pretty abrupt and would liked to have seen more. An epilogue or a look down the line for these characters would have been really nice for readers since things are just barely resolved when the book is over. I think if you want something quick and easy to read that is clean and doesn't have a ton of romance in it that you might give this one a shot.

**ARC Provided by Publisher**

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