Category Archives: Contemporary Romance

Review: Falling for Her Fiancé by Cindi Madsen

Title: Falling for Her Fiancé

Author: Cindi Madsen

Published: January 14th, 2013

Length: 179 pages (eBook)

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Source: Free Nook book via Barnes and Noble

My Rating: ❤❤

(from Goodreads)

Danielle and Wes have been best friends since college, so when Wes needs a date for his sister’s wedding and Dani needs a partner for her company’s retreat, they devise the perfect plan: a fake engagement to get through both events unscathed. Adrenaline-junkie Wes can prove to both his ex and his family that he’s well and truly moved on, and serious-minded Dani can prove to her boss that she’s worthy of the promotion he seems to only want to give to a family-oriented employee.

But amid the fake swoons, fake kisses, and forced proximity, neither expects the very real feelings that develop. There’s nothing more dangerous than falling for your best friend…but what if the landing is worth the fall?

INITIAL THOUGHTS

So, I saw that this book was free on my Nook, so I downloaded it probably over a year ago. Then, I was trying to complete the Monthly Keyword Reading Challenge for January, so as I was looking through all my eBooks that I haven’t read, I noticed this one had one of January’s keywords in the title. And I’m a sucker for the whole friends-turn-into-more-than-friends thing. So I was excited to read this one.

WHAT I LIKED

Relatable characters. There were many times throughout the book that I felt like I completely understood what Dani was going through and thinking. I don’t want to give anything away, but her thoughts on relationships and moving on were spot on. I really liked that.

The relationship. I liked the little things about Dani and Wes’ relationship. For example, they bet $5.00 on just about everything. They’re always like, “Five bucks  I can do this” or “Five bucks I’ll win.” I thought that was super cute.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE

The lack of buildup. We know Dani and Wes are best friends, but I wanted their feelings for each other to gradually grow. They already wanted each other within the first 20 pages. What?! That kind of killed it for me. I wanted to see them as friends first. I wanted to see their relationship without the desire for each other. The instant-attraction thing needs to be saved for relationships where people first meet, not best friends who have known each other forever.

The POV. I have mixed feelings when books are written in the third person omniscient POV. If it is done right, it’s fine, but usually, I get frustrated. We are in Dani’s brain in one paragraph and then in Wes’ brain literally in the next paragraph. I don’t like that! Can we just stick to one person per section or chapter please?? I guess it’s just a personal preference. It gets confusing though!

Lack of connection. I just didn’t feel it. They’re best friends, they fake an engagement, they start to fall for each other…but I didn’t feel a connection. I was just like “okay, whatever, I don’t really care.” I have to care about these characters, and I didn’t. I will probably forget everything about this book within a couple months.

OVERALL THOUGHTS

I really wanted to like this one, but it was just okay for me. Nothing special. Forgettable, unfortunately. Ultimately, I just didn’t care enough about the characters. Therefore, I just couldn’t give it more than 2 hearts.

2 out of 5 Hearts!


(I could totally relate to this one, so I had to share it.)

“…as someone who was dumped by the guy I thought was the one, I do understand, you know. You hate the person and still want to get back together somehow, even though it makes no logical sense. It sucks and it hurts and you want to return the hurt right back.”


(from Goodreads)

Cindi Madsen is a USA Today Bestselling author of contemporary romance and young adult novels. She sits at her computer every chance she gets, plotting revising, and falling in love with her characters. Sometimes it makes her a crazy person. Without it, she’d be even crazier. She has way too many shoes, but can always find a reason to buy a new pretty pair, especially if they’re sparkly, colorful, or super tall. She loves music, dancing, and wishes summer lasted all year long. She lives in Colorado (where summer is most definitely NOT all year long) with her husband and three children.

If you’re interested in ARCs, interviews, and/or blog tour information please contact the publicity department at publicity@entangledpublishing.com

 

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Reading Challenges Met:

Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge

Bookish Bingo

Chapter Break Bookish Bingo

Contemporary Romance Reading Challenge

Full House Reading Challenge

Monthly Keyword Reading Challenge

Story Sprites

 

 

Blog Tour: Review & Giveaway – My Heart is Yours by Amanda Leigh

MyHeartisYoursTourBanner1

Welcome to the I Heart Fictional People’s My Heart is Yours blog tour stop! This tour is hosted by Xpresso Book Tours!

23567076-2

Title: My Heart is Yours

Author: Amanda Leigh

Published: June 10th, 2015

Length: 137 pages (eBook)

Genre: Contemporary Romance, New Adult

Source: Xpresso Book Tours (for honest review)

My Rating: ❤❤❤

book blurb

(from Goodreads)

Samantha Marie Ramsden has three brothers. Craig, John and Matt. When tragedy strikes their family, Craig takes on the task of becoming his siblings legal guardian. It’s hard enough being someone’s guardian, but when you’ve only recently entered adulthood yourself it’s almost impossible to know where to draw the line between sibling and ‘parent’.

This is made even harder on him when Sam starts to get close to a long time friend, Jason. It looks like their friendship could turn into something more. An idea that Craig has never been too happy with. Spanning six years, My Heart is Yours explores family, friendship, love and much more. As well as asking the question: Would you defy family for love?

my review

INITIAL THOUGHTS

I knew I had to read this book right when I saw it. I absolutely loved the cover. And I loved the idea of a brother struggling with being both a sibling and a parent. So I was excited about reading this one. And when I started reading it, I’ll admit that I was a little confused because it seemed to be Sam’s story, not Craig’s, like the synopsis implied. But I was definitely intrigued, so I kept reading.

WHAT I LIKED

The prologue. Wow. Now that is how you draw readers in and make them want to keep reading. That was INTENSE. My jaw dropped and stayed there until the next chapter. Very good first impression. I knew I picked a good book.

The plot. The book definitely kept me interested the whole way through. I wanted to know what happened every step of the way. There were just so many different aspects to the story. Family, romance, love, friendship, loss. It had it all. Plus, there were a couple moments where I thought, “WTF?” So, it had a little suspense too.

The family dynamics. I love that Sam has these older brothers who are very protective of her and would do anything for her. It’s so sweet how highly they think of her too. They know she’s going to do great things, even if she has doubts. She may have been adopted, but you completely forget all about that. They’re a family, blood or not.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE

The pace. It was just way too fast for me. A LOT happened in only 130 pages or so. This would’ve been an amazing full-length novel because everything could have been expanded on and described in more detail. It was just a lot to take in, and things moved along too quickly, in my opinion.

The sometimes-awkward dialogue. The dialogue bugged me every now and then. At times, it seemed unrealistic and just not the way people talk to each other. For example, people’s first names were used quite often. If you’re talking to someone one-on-one, how often do you use his/her first name? But again, it wasn’t the whole book. This just got to me a few times.

OVERALL THOUGHTS

This would’ve been a solid 4-heart or even 5-heart book if it was longer. I guess the length and the pace just affected my overall enjoyment of the book. That being said, I would still recommend it because it is a pretty good story. That prologue! Ahh! Loved it. It’ll hook you right from the beginning. And it is a cute love story.

three hearts

3 out of 5 Hearts!


buy links

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

iBooks


about the author

Amanda Leigh graduated with a BA in English and Communications and a double minor in Psychology and Creative Writing. During college, she worked on the literary magazine and loved every minute of it. She adores cats and has one named Sawyer – named after one of her favorite characters in Lost. Amanda enjoys reading, writing avidly in a journal, writing poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction, cooking, listening to music, singing, swimming and art – particularly photography. Amanda is a bit of a chocoholic and is slightly obsessed with office supplies. She has many ideas for stories so keep an eye out for more work from her.

author links

Website

Goodreads

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giveaway

Tour-wide giveaway
  • A signed paperback of My Heart is Yours + signed swag + a paperback of selected Emily Dickinson poetry (that’s the MC’s favorite poet) (US only)
  • An e-book copy of My Heart is yours (INT)

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Follow the rest of the tour here!


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Reading Challenges Met:

Bookish Bingo: Spring 2016

Chapter Break Bookish Bingo

Contemporary Romance Reading Challenge

Literary Pickers Challenge

The Mad Reviewer Reading Challenge

Review: How To Love by Katie Cotugno

17332564Title: How To Love

Author: Katie Cotugno

Published: October 1st, 2013 by Balzer + Bray

Length: 389 pages (hardcover)

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance

Source: Giveaway Win from Books of Love

My Rating: ❤❤❤❤

 

book blurb

(from Goodreads)

Before: 
Reena Montero has loved Sawyer LeGrande for as long as she can remember: as natural as breathing, as endless as time. But he’s never seemed to notice that Reena even exists until one day, impossibly, he does. Reena and Sawyer fall in messy, complicated love. But then Sawyer disappears from their humid Florida town without a word, leaving a devastated—and pregnant—Reena behind.

After: 
Almost three years have passed, and there’s a new love in Reena’s life: her daughter, Hannah. Reena’s gotten used to being without Sawyer, and she’s finally getting the hang of this strange, unexpected life. But just as swiftly and suddenly as he disappeared, Sawyer turns up again. Reena doesn’t want anything to do with him, though she’d be lying if she said Sawyer’s being back wasn’t stirring something in her. After everything that’s happened, can Reena really let herself love Sawyer LeGrande again?

In this breathtaking debut, Katie Cotugno weaves together the story of one couple falling in love—twice.


my review

INITIAL THOUGHTS

As soon as I won the Clean My Shelves giveaway at Books of Love, I knew I had to get this book. It was my first pick. And it’s a hardcover! I was beyond ecstatic. But life got in the way, and the book was just sitting, patiently waiting for me to read it. Six months later, I was browsing my new bookcase, noticed this beautiful cover, and read the back of the book. Ahh! Why didn’t I read this sooner?! It sounded like an amazingly romantic and heartbreaking book. So I jumped in…

WHAT I LIKED

The format. Initially, I had mixed feelings about the story going back and forth between the before (when Reena was a young teenager hopelessly in love with Sawyer) and the after (when Sawyer comes back after being away for a couple years, and Reena is raising their child). BUT, after just the first few chapters, I absolutely loved the way it was written. This could’ve been done a couple different ways, such as flashbacks or being written as a two-parter, first part in the before and second part a couple years later. And I think this was definitely the right way to go. The story unfolds in such a unique way. Yes, you know Reena gets pregnant and Sawyer leaves, but what happens before that? Why did he leave? How did they get to that point? Reading the before chapters will gradually make you understand their story while reading what is happening now. It was brilliantly written.

The very real characters. I can definitely understand why some people had an issue with Reena or Sawyer or both, but I really liked them. They were clearly flawed and often made stupid mistakes or just behaved in a way that made you want to scream at them, but that makes them all the more real. Was Reena weak and foolish when it came to Sawyer and his charming self? Was Sawyer an insensitive ass at times? Sure. But they’re also human. I’ll be the first to admit that I was a hopeless romantic when I was a teenager and have made plenty of mistakes when it comes to guys. And my husband will be the first to admit that he has had his asshole moments. But who hasn’t? We’re human! We’re not perfect. And neither are these characters. That’s why I loved them. They were relatable.

The romance. Don’t expect some fairy tale romance here. It’s complicated. People get hurt. Lives are changed forever. But it’s real. Why do we always have to read these romances that are so sweet and involve perfect men? Of course, I love those too, but that’s not always how it works! These two people fall in love, but there are issues that kind of tear them apart. It’s sad. But they have an undeniable connection, and I enjoyed seeing their story unfold.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE

Not addressing some things the way I would have liked. I don’t want to give anything away, but there are some issues that I would have liked to see addressed and discussed way more in depth. For example, Sawyer missed out on the first 14 months of his daughter’s life. And then he’s back and just kind of jumps into her life. I guess I wanted to see him more emotional about the whole thing. There is also a drug issue that just kind of exists. I wanted to see that dealt with more. And there are other issues too. I don’t know. This book could’ve been so much more if it addressed these problems on a deeper level. So, I was a little disappointed about that.

OVERALL THOUGHTS

I really enjoyed this book. The characters were completely relatable, even when they were irritating. The plot was written uniquely, and it worked so well. I was so invested in the story. I just had to know how it all ended. The ending was perfect by the way. Such a great conclusion to an already great book. I just wish it was more in-depth. Very enjoyable though. And this was the author’s debut novel! So, I’m very excited to read more from her.

four hearts

4 out of 5 Hearts!


 

(I HAD to share this one! It’s so damn cute. And hilarious.)

“I like your wrists,” he commented suddenly, glancing over at where my hands were resting in my lap. He traced the underside of my forearm with the tip of his finger.

I looked at him skeptically. “My wrists?”

“Yeah,” he said, half smiling as he switched lanes. “Relax. I don’t have, like, a weird wrist thing. I just like yours. They’re small. Like bird bones.”

“Bird bones,” I repeated.

“Yeah.” He paused. “See? Now you ruined the moment.”

“You were making a moment?”

“I was trying!”

I laughed. “Sorry. Do it again.”

“No!” he said. “The moment is over.” But he was laughing, too.


buy links

Amazon

Barnes & Noble


about the author

(from her website)

Katie Cotugno went to Catholic school for thirteen years which makes her, as an adult, both extremely superstitious and prone to crushes on boys wearing blazers. She routinely finds herself talking about the romantic endeavors of characters on TV shows as if they actually exist in the world.

Katie is a Pushcart Prize nominee whose work has appeared in The Iowa Review, The Broadkill Review, The Apalachee Review, and Argestes, as well as on Nerve.com. Her novels HOW TO LOVE and 99 DAYS are available now from Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins.

The great loves of Katie’s life include child’s pose, her little sister, and mozzarella and honey sandwiches. She lives in Boston with her husband, Tom.

author links

Website

Twitter

Goodreads

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Reading Challenges Met:

Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge

Around the World

Chapter Break Bookish Bingo

Contemporary Romance Reading Challenge

Full House Reading Challenge

Literary Pickers Challenge

The Mad Reviewer Reading Challenge

Monthly Keyword Reading Challenge

Shelf Love Challenge

Review: Like Candy by Debra Doxer

23976054Title: Like Candy (Candy #1)

Author: Debra Doxer

Published: July 28th, 2015

Length: 257 pages (eBook)

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance

Source: Author via NetGalley

My Rating: ❤❤❤❤

book blurb

Revenge is sweet, just like candy.

Candy Seaborne knows she’s badass. She takes after her father, an assassin and possibly a spy, although he won’t admit to either. She idolizes him. Her dream is to follow in his footsteps. But first, she has to finish high school.

Biding her time, waiting for real life to begin, Candy craves drama and isn’t above manufacturing some. If you’re a classmate who wronged her or a boyfriend who cheated, watch your back. She’s no pushover, and revenge may be her favorite pastime.

Jonah Bryson is the senior class heartthrob who breaks all the stereotypes. He’s a jock, but he isn’t the typical player. He’s moody and antisocial. No girl has gotten anywhere with him since his last girlfriend broke his heart.

Candy sees Jonah as a challenge and the perfect distraction. But she may be in over her head because unlike everyone else, Jonah isn’t buying her tough act. He sees the lost, lonely girl inside. He sees too much. When he looks at her that way, she wants to let her guard down and be vulnerable. But that’s the last thing she should do because her father’s world is spilling over into hers, and life is about to get real much sooner than Candy expected.

my review

INITIAL THOUGHTS

I saw this on Netgalley over six months ago, and I absolutely loved the cover. Love the chalkboard feel. Love the candy. Love the note with blood-like splatter. I just love the whole thing. And of course, the book blurb sounded interesting. I liked the possibility of Candy’s dad being an assassin. And I liked that Candy sounded like a tough girl who could take care of herself and didn’t let anyone mess with her.

WHAT I LIKED

Jonah. I really liked this guy. He was so mysterious. There was something about him that made you want to stay away from him because he was so antisocial but also made you want to get to know him on a deeper level because there was so little known about him. And then when we got to know him, you like him even more. There is this sweet side to him that slowly emerges and is so swoon-worthy.

Candy and Jonah’s relationship. They start off as sort-of-friends. They have both been hurt before, so they are both very guarded and don’t want to put their heart on the line. But there is an obvious connection between them. So I enjoyed seeing their relationship gradually grow. And when it finally turns into something more, it was done perfectly. Definitely made me smile.

The sarcasm. I loved how sarcastic Candy was. It wasn’t over-the-top. It was just right and had me laughing unexpectedly. Her friendship with Theo was awesome. Their jokes and insults were awesome. I wish there was more of their relationship.

The last third of the book. Wow. It was just an average story for me until you hit like the last 30% of the book. It was awesome! So many things started happening, secrets were being revealed, and you start questioning everything. It was so intense and suspenseful.

The end. AAHHH! Now that is what you call a cliffhanger! WTF?! Are you kidding me?! I cannot wait to read the next book and find out the truth about everything. I need to know. Like now.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE

The first two-thirds of the book. Honestly, I didn’t feel like there was much of a plot. I kept waiting for something to happen. It just took too long to get exciting. HOWEVER, when it did get there, it was definitely worth the wait.

OVERALL THOUGHTS

Okay, here’s the thing. While reading the book, I just kept thinking this is a 3-heart book. Not much going on but well-written. Then, that last third happened, and I was super ecstatic! That part was definitely 5-heart worthy! So I just went in between and gave it 4 hearts because that last part was amazing. I wish the whole book kept my attention like that. Now I need to somehow get my hands on the second book. I am DYING TO KNOW what happens!

four hearts

4 out of 5 Hearts!


Links

Amazon


about the author

(from Goodreads)

Debra Doxer was born in Boston, and other than a few lost years in the California sunshine, she has always resided in the Boston area. She writes fiction, technical software documents, illegible scribbles on sticky notes, and texts that get mangled by AutoCorrect. She writes for a living, and she writes for fun. When her daughter asks when she’ll run out of words, her response always is, “When I run out of time.”

author links

Twitter

Facebook

Goodreads


Reading Challenges Met:

Bookish Bingo: Holiday 2015

Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge

Around the World

Chapter Break Bookish Bingo

Contemporary Romance Reading Challenge

Full House Reading Challenge

Literary Pickers Challenge

The Mad Reviewer Reading Challenge

Review: Never Say Never by Emily Goodwin

25500532Title: Never Say Never

Author: Emily Goodwin

Published: September 2015 by Black Ink

Length: 250 pages (eBook)

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Source: Author via Giveaway at Blood Rose Books

My Rating: ❤❤❤❤❤

book blurb

My life was full of nevers.

It was never supposed to go this way. I was never supposed to lose Mom so soon. I was never supposed to worry about making ends meet, to worry about losing the farm. I never thought I’d be working a job I hate, with a boss who was more interested in what was under my shirt than in my head. Saving neglected and abused horses had been my whole life. It was my reprieve, my sanity, my last saving grace in a cruel world. I never thought I’d grow to resent it, but I guess there is a first for everything.

Then I met him.

The Hollywood playboy. The entitled, cocky asshole that I can’t get out of my head. I never thought there could be more to him than sex appeal and an infamous reputation of loving and leaving. I never thought I’d fall for him, put my heart on the line, and risk letting him completely destroy me.

But you know what they tell you…never say never.

my review

INITIAL THOUGHTS

I remember browsing on Blood Rose Books, and I saw an interview with an author named Emily Goodwin. I had never heard of her, but her books sounded so good. And she seems to be a huge fan of romance, so I knew I would love her. I entered the giveaway for her latest book, Never Say Never, and I actually ended up winning! I couldn’t explain how excited I was. I’m a sucker for contemporary romances, and this book sounded amazing, so I was ecstatic to get the chance to read it.

WHAT I LIKED

THE ROMANCE. Emily Goodwin definitely knows how to write romance. It was amazing. The pace was perfect. Usually, the pace of a story, and especially the pace of a romantic relationship, either makes or breaks a book for me. And so often, I read books where the romance is just unrealistic and too fast. That is not the case here. Haley and Aiden meet and they gradually get to know each other. And they eventually fall in love. It was PERFECT. I loved everything about it. I wouldn’t change a thing. And since the romance is my favorite part of a book and usually the part I am most critical of, that’s saying a lot. I was so impressed. Plus, I have a soft spot for two damaged people falling in love. And that is what happens here. It’s heartbreaking and heartwarming all at the same time.

The two POVs. I LOVED that this book is told from both Haley’s POV and Aiden’s POV. You really get to know both of these characters in a way that would be impossible if it wasn’t told this way. Plus, it was done perfectly. The chapters were clearly labeled with the character’s name. I hate when you have to guess whose viewpoint it is. And the points of view were so distinctive. It was clearly two very different characters with very different voices. So often, the two points of views are so similar that it sounds like one person. So, I thought this was done well.

Dialogue. The dialogue was so natural and flowed well. Nothing felt forced or awkward. The conversations felt completely real. They reminded me of conversations my husband and I had when we first started dating. Loved it.

Plot. Yes, it is about an actor and a small town girl falling in love. We’ve heard it before. BUT this one seemed fresh and unique. They are each struggling with life in very different ways. Plus, I loved that Haley’s life revolved around rescuing horses. I have never read about this, and it was truly interesting. And the author obviously knew what she was talking about. This subject matter seemed very near and dear to her heart.

Aiden. I know I say this a lot, but I have a new favorite book boyfriend. This guy may be a wealthy actor who seems to have it all, but he is not happy, and he’s suffering with something no one knows about. He comes off as this cocky jerk, but that isn’t the real him. And I love that he is such a dynamic character. He gradually changed throughout the book. He doesn’t just instantly change when he meets Haley. It takes time, which was realistic. Plus, he has this super sweet and romantic side to him that I absolutely loved.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE

Absolutely nothing. It was perfect.

OVERALL THOUGHTS

I LOVE THIS BOOK. It tugged at my heartstrings and had me feeling all the feels. It is such a beautiful story. I was hooked from the very beginning. I haven’t read a real contemporary romance in a couple months, so this was just what I needed. Perfectly written. Brilliant. I HAVE to read more Emily Goodwin books. Goodreads, here I come!

five hearts

5 out of 5 Hearts!


“I think every life is worth saving. It’s easy to give up when no one is fighting for you. When you have no one, when nobody cares about you or loves you, why keep going? That’s what I give these horses. Hope, someone who knows they are worth it. I give them a second chance.”

“In life, things can change, things can end, things can die in an instant. Maybe that’s the secret. Maybe that’s the key to being happy again. Take life for what it is, live in the moment, and enjoy something while it lasts.”

“Love is scary and crazy. It’s supposed to be. And it means having someone there to walk with you through the storm, picking you up when you can’t go on, carrying your baggage when you don’t have the strength to do so anymore.”


Links

Amazon


about the author

(from Goodreads)

Emily Goodwin is the author of the twice banned dark romance, STAY, as well as over a dozen other titles. Emily writes all types of romance, from love stories set in the zombie apocalypse to contemporary romances taking place on a western horse ranch. Emily lives in Indiana with her husband, children, and many pets, including a German Shepherd named Vader. When she isn’t writing, Emily can be found riding her horses, designing and making costumes, and sitting outside with a good book.

author links

Website

Facebook

Goodreads


Reading Challenges Met:

Bookish Bingo: Holiday 2015

Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge

Around the World

Chapter Break Bookish Bingo

Contemporary Romance Reading Challenge

Full House Reading Challenge

Literary Pickers Challenge

The Mad Reviewer Reading Challenge

Story Sprites

Review: Romancing the Dark in the City of Light by Ann Jacobus

21525983Title: Romancing the Dark in the City of Light

Author: Ann Jacobus

Published: October 6th, 2015 by Thomas Dunne Books

Length: 278 pages (paperback)

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance

Source: Publisher via Goodreads First Reads Giveaway program (is it still called that?)

My Rating: ❤❤❤❤❤

book blurb

A troubled teen, living in Paris, is torn between two boys, one of whom encourages her to embrace life, while the other—dark, dangerous, and attractive—urges her to embrace her fatal flaws.

Haunting and beautifully written, with a sharp and distinctive voice that could belong only to this character, Romancing the Dark in the City of Light is an unforgettable young adult novel.

Summer Barnes just moved to Paris to repeat her senior year of high school. After being kicked out of four boarding schools, she has to get on track or she risks losing her hefty inheritance. Summer is convinced that meeting the right guy will solve everything. She meets two. Moony, a classmate, is recovering against all odds from a serious car accident, and he encourages Summer to embrace life despite how hard it can be to make it through even one day. But when Summer meets Kurt, a hot, mysterious older man who she just can’t shake, he leads her through the creepy underbelly of the city-and way out of her depth.

When Summer’s behavior manages to alienate everyone, even Moony, she’s forced to decide if a life so difficult is worth living. With an ending that’ll surprise even the most seasoned reader, Romancing the Dark in the City of Light is an unputdownable and utterly compelling novel.

my review

INITIAL THOUGHTS

I absolutely LOVED the cover, which is what immediately got my attention. And then I saw that it seemed like a love triangle, which I’m a sucker for. And there’s a bad boy, which I can never resist. Plus, it’s in Paris! Come on, it had to be romantic, right?! So when I won a copy on Goodreads, I was super excited…and even more excited when I got it in the mail.

WHAT I LIKED

The plot. From the cover and the book blurb, I thought this would be some cute, typical contemporary romance. This couldn’t be further from the truth. This is a dark story, and it addresses serious issues. Yes, there is a girl. Yes, she is caught in the middle between two guys. BUT, I wouldn’t call it a love triangle. One guy represents life and hope. The other represents death and evil in a way. It really isn’t about which guy Summer should end up with. It’s about her journey through life, which she is struggling so much with, and whether or not she finds something to live for. And it is done brilliantly. Kudos to the author for such a creative, meaningful story.

The characters. Okay, you are either going to love or hate Summer. She can be irritating and come off as egotistical and selfish, but you have to understand that she is suffering tremendously. Personally, I loved her. I have been through depression, and I think her thoughts and behavior were completely realistic. And I adored Moony. He has been through so much but has this positive outlook on life that is admirable. He is just what Summer needs. And then we have Kurt. When I read the blurb and saw that there would be a hot, dangerous bad boy, I thought I would love him. Turns out, I kinda despised him. But, he’s intriguing and there’s a mystery behind him. You kinda learn to love to hate him.

The very real issues. This book tackles suicide, depression, and alcoholism. And it made the story so very real and authentic. It’s not just about a cute romance where the main problem is whether or not a boy will fall for the girl. This girl is dealing with a lot more than that. And it was heartbreaking but also so refreshing because not a lot of YA authors are brave enough to address these issues.

The end. Or I should say the last quarter of the book. I am not going to give anything away, but WOW. That is all I can say. Wow. Amazing. Just read it. You’ll see what I mean.

WHAT COULD’VE BEEN BETTER

Umm…I’ve been trying to think of something I didn’t like, but the things that bugged while reading it all made sense in the end. So I can honestly say that there was nothing I didn’t like.

OVERALL THOUGHTS

After I read this book, I immediately looked up Ann Jacobus, and I was shocked to find out that this is her debut novel. Are you kidding me?! The writing, the storytelling, the characters, everything was so well done. I couldn’t believe it! Okay. I have read very different reviews of this book, and I can understand the negative comments because this is a very different book than what you’ll expect. But it’s SO GOOD. I feel incredibly lucky to have won a copy and to have had the opportunity to read it. I am seriously a fan. I just want to read more from her. Trust me when I tell you to read it. Just do it. It’s beautifully written, has unforgettable characters, and an incredible, unpredictable plot. I can’t stop thinking about it.

five hearts

5 out of 5 Hearts!


Links

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Kobo


about the author

(from Goodreads)

Ann Jacobus writes children’s and YA fiction, blogs and tweets about it, and teaches writing. She has a B.S. from Dartmouth College and an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. In her spare time she volunteers on a suicide crisis line, attends her kids’ soccer games, and reads. Her debut YA thriller is Romancing the Dark in the City of Light, out from Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press October 6. 2015. San Francisco is home to her and her family.

author links

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads


Reading Challenges Met:

Bookish Bingo: Holiday 2015

Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge

Around the World

The Color Coded Reading Challenge

Contemporary Romance Reading Challenge

Full House Reading Challenge

Literary Pickers Challenge

The Mad Reviewer Reading Challenge

Shelf Love Challenge

Review: Blossoming Flower by Vivian Winslow

Title: Blossoming Flower (Wildflowers #1)

Author: Vivian Winslow

Published: October 19th, 2015

Length: 252 pages (eBook)

Genre: Contemporary Romance, New Adult

Source: Author (for honest review)

My Rating: ❤❤❤

book blurb

In the wake of the collapse of her father’s business empire, Flor, the gorgeous twenty-one year-old daughter of disgraced former Brazillionaire Gustavo de Lima, is forced to forge her own path in life. Flor decides that none of it—the private jets, the vacation homes and the luxury cars—were real. Or at least they really didn’t matter. The only thing that’s real for Flor is her love of horses and her desire to go to veterinary school. Heading into her final year of college, Flor seeks out the help of an unlikely benefactor to secure a summer internship working with horses. Arriving at the secluded Belo Horizonte ranch, Flor is awed not only by the majestic beauty of the place, but also by handsome cowboy and skilled horse trainer, Collin Taylor. Yet nothing is quite as it appears on the surface. When the hidden past is revealed, will love end up blossoming for Flor?

my review

INITIAL THOUGHTS

I really liked the cover! That is what initially got my attention. It has this girl-next-door/nature feel that just makes you want to dive into the story. And then I see that this girl meets a cute horse trainer. Yes, please!

WHAT I LIKED

The plot. I don’t want to give too much away here, but I LOVED the secrets and everyone’s hidden pasts. I loved finding out about how people and things were connected. It was written and done so well!

The characters. Flor, who is used to a lavish lifestyle because of her father’s wealth, decides to make her own path in life and chooses to go to school and start an internship at a horse ranch. And she meets Collin. They both have secrets in their pasts that they are afraid to let out because they may be looked at differently. I liked Flor’s independence and determination. And Collin has this sweet, admirable, gentleman-like quality about him that makes him oh-so-likable. The two of them made the story for me.

The romance. I really liked that both Flor and Collin were cautious and wanted to take things slow. There was obviously a connection and an attraction, but for different reasons, they didn’t want to rush into things. And the gradual growth of their relationship was so sweet and heartwarming. I loved it.

WHAT COULD’VE BEEN BETTER

The multiple viewpoints. This bugged me. On the same page, you would see the thoughts of one character, and in the next paragraph, it would be from the point of view of another character. It was confusing and distracting at times. In my opinion, if there are going to be multiple viewpoints, then it should be completely separated, such as different chapters or something like that. I think it works better that way.

The connection to the story and characters. Honestly, I just didn’t feel too connected to the story or characters. Yes, I liked them, but I didn’t get attached and feel like I just had to finish the book to see what happens to them. I was kind of in the middle. I was curious, but it wasn’t like my life depended on it, like I feel with other books. It may have been because of the confusing viewpoints or maybe there just wasn’t enough details or dialogue. I’m not sure. I just didn’t feel a connection as a reader.

The end. It just ended abruptly! Not a fan. I wanted some kind of conclusion. Maybe an epilogue. Something that gave me closure.

OVERALL THOUGHTS

Another tough one for me. I liked it. But I didn’t love it. So, I’m going to give it 3 hearts. This author is new to me, and I liked this book enough to definitely check out more from her. I may just have to get used to the different points of view.

“Romance is fantasy, you do know that, right?…It’s how you feel in the presence of your lover that matters the most. Your feelings won’t betray you, only your mind can do that. You have to know the difference.”

“My dear, fearing heartbreak is what keeps us from experiencing true love. We calculate too much, assessing risks and rewards. It may sound cliche, but being clear about who you are and allowing the feelings to follow suit will never set you up for failure, even if the one who loves you doesn’t love you back. You see, it isn’t about that.”

three hearts

3 out of 5 Hearts!


Links

Amazon


about the author

(from Goodreads)

 

Vivian Winslow was born and raised in Southern California. Before becoming a writer, she made a career out of moving around the world every couple of years thanks to her husband’s job and her incurable wanderlust. She currently lives in New York City with her husband and two elementary school age children, and is grateful to finally have a place to call home for more than two years.
New York is the perfect city to indulge her love of fashion, the arts and especially food. If she’s not at home writing or running around the city with her kids, you’ll most likely find her eating at the newest restaurant in her beloved Lower East Side or having a cocktail at her favorite bar in Alphabet City. That said, she’s still a California girl at heart and would gladly trade in her heels for a pair of flip-flops to catch a sunset on the beach.

author links

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Facebook

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Goodreads


Reading Challenges:

Bookish Bingo: Holiday 2015

Review: A Kindled Winter by Rachel L. Demeter

26221419Title: A Kindled Winter

Author: Rachel L. Demeter

Published by: Black Lyon Publishing on November 1st, 2015

Length: 130 pages (eBook)

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Source: Author (for honest review)

Reading Challenge: Bookish Bingo: Holiday 2015

My Rating: ❤❤❤

book blurb

(from Goodreads)

“Christmas, my child, is love in action. Every time we love, every time we give, it’s Christmas.” — Dale Evans

A week before Christmas, Jeseca Reed sets off for Blue River, Oregon—her childhood home and a vault of tender memories. However, fate takes an unexpected turn when she’s left stranded in the mountains’ vast, untamed wilderness. Desperate and alone, she seeks shelter at a cottage and finds herself in the arms of a mysterious stranger.

Dr. David Drake was once a renowned cardiovascular surgeon. But a devastating tragedy has left him scarred both inside and out, unable to use his hands to operate again. For the past five years, his Blue River cottage has been his sole escape—a safe haven where he can shut out the world, bury himself in his grief, and reunite with his son’s memory.

Together they are summer and winter. Fire and ice. And yet a poignant connection forms between them. Jeseca awakens David and thaws his heart with a romance hot enough to melt snow. But before David and Jeseca can fully embrace each other, they must wade through darkness and confront the ghosts of their pasts …

Equal parts steamy and heartfelt, A Kindled Winter brings the spirit of the holidays to life with a passionate story of second chances and healing love.

my review

INITIAL THOUGHTS

I enjoyed Rachel L. Demeter’s Finding Gabriel, so I jumped at the chance to read another of her books. And I’m all for Christmas romances. Since it’s that time of the year, I figured this would be perfect to read now.

WHAT I LIKED

The writing. I’m not surprised that the writing was so good. I was so impressed with her last book. The detailed and descriptive language was awesome. I always had a clear picture in my mind of the setting and everything that was happening in the book, which is great because that doesn’t always happen.

The story. The two characters have tragedies that they are clearly affected by, and I love that they were able to find comfort in each other. I also like the idea of a woman being stranded in the wilderness and having a handsome, mysterious man come to her rescue. It screamed romance. So, yes, I was a fan from the get-go.

The mystery. The pasts of both of the characters is gradually revealed throughout the story, which I loved! I had different guesses of what happened, and it kept me on the edge of my seat because I really just had to know. It definitely kept me reading!

WHAT COULD’VE BEEN BETTER

Needs more dialogue. The issue I had with Finding Gabriel is the same issue I have with this book. I really just wanted more dialogue. The book was so fixated on the details of the setting, the descriptions of what was happening, and the thoughts of the characters that I found myself getting sidetracked and losing focus. I like a lot of dialogue in my books because it makes me feel like the relationships are growing realistically and right in front of me. So, I think that would’ve helped in my opinion.

Connection between characters felt rushed/forced. I realize that this book was shorter than most, but I couldn’t help but feel that the relationship felt rushed and kind of forced. I would have really liked to get to know the characters as individuals first or even through flashbacks, but it was kind of like here are the characters, they meet, and then they fall in love. I guess I just wanted more of the background. And everything does happen in the span of a week or so, which bugged me a little.

Similar plot to Finding Gabriel. I won’t go into detail here, but there were too many similarities to the author’s last book. As a fan of hers, I wanted new ideas. I just felt like I was reminded too much of the other one, and it was hard to not compare the two.

OVERALL THOUGHTS

This one was a little tough for me in regards to rating it. The writing itself deserves five hearts, but then there’s the stuff I mentioned. So, I’m going to go smack dab in the middle and give it three hearts. I liked it. It was romantic and mysterious, but it also could use some improvements. I will definitely be reading more from this author though. I’m still a fan 🙂

three hearts

3 out of 5 Hearts!


Links

Amazon

Barnes & Noble


about the author

(from Goodreads)

I live in the beautiful hills of Anaheim, California with Teddy, my goofy lowland sheepdog, and high school sweetheart of eleven years. I enjoy writing poignant romances that challenge the reader’s emotions and explore the redeeming power of love.

Imagining dynamic worlds and characters has been my passion for longer than I can remember. Before learning how to read or write, I would dictate stories while my mom would jot them down for me. I hold a special affinity for the tortured hero and unconventional romances. Whether crafting the protagonist or antagonist, I ensure every character is given a soul.

I endeavor to defy conventions by blending elements of romance, suspense, and horror. Some themes my stories never stray too far from: forbidden romance, soul mates, the power of love to redeem, mend all wounds, and triumph over darkness.

My dream is to move readers and leave an emotional impact through my words. ♥

Don’t be a stranger! I absolutely love to connect and interact:

author links

Email: Rachel@RachelDemeter.net

Twitter

Facebook

Pinterest

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Amazon

Blog Tour: Review & Giveaway – Scrubs by Brooke Harris

ScrubsTourBanner2

Welcome to the I Heart Fictional People’s Scrubs blog tour stop! This tour is hosted by Xpresso Book Tours!

Scrubs

Title: Scrubs

Author: Brooke Harris

Published: December 4, 2015

Length: 109 pages (eBook)

Genre: Contemporary Romance, New Adult

Source: Author via Xpresso Book Tours (for honest review)

Reading Challenge: Bookish Bingo: Holiday 2015

My Rating: ❤❤❤

 

book blurb

I like fast cars, beautiful women and great sex.
I hate drugs. I can’t stand the idiots who take them and I loathe the bastards who supply them. Drugs cost me my whole world.
I wear many faces; right now I’m Doctor Lucas Callaghan and I’ll be him until I get my revenge.
My real name will be the last words to ever pass their lips.

I hate my name, Aoife Brennan, as soon as people hear it they treat me differently because of my father.
Medical school isn’t my dream, it’s his. But, it’s the least I owe him after everything I’ve done. I’m trying to be a good girl, but even good girls make mistakes.

He’s lying about who he is, she’s kidding herself about who she can be. They’re polar opposites with one very big secret in common.

my review

INITIAL THOUGHTS

This probably doesn’t need an explanation. I mean, look at that cover. Hot doctor…with a gun. What does a doctor need with a gun? I was definitely intrigued. And the synopsis really got me. I just had to know Lucas’ story and what has him needing revenge. I had to read this one. It sounded SO good.

WHAT I LIKED

The beginning. Wow. Now that is how you introduce a story. The prologue and first chapter had me in tears and on the edge of my seat at the same time. It’s not easy to make me cry within 3 pages. So, kudos to the author for that! Plus, there was no way that I was NOT going to read this after reading the prologue. I was committed and had to know what happened after that.

Lucas/Sean. I really liked him. I felt for him, and I wanted him to get his revenge so bad. He does a complete 180 after this tragedy that happens to him, and he turns into this angry, aggressive, cocky man with only one goal in mind: make them pay. But you get this glimpse of the real him sometimes. It’s sad! I got attached to this guy. He has obviously been suffering for so long. I just wanted him to be happy! And I wanted to give him a hug!

WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER

Aoife’s name. This may sound like a minor issue, but it irritated me every time I had to read it. I had absolutely no idea how to pronounce it. Eventually, about halfway in, I just had to Google it. I was so far off from the real pronunciation. And even after I knew how to say it, I would hesitate every time her name came up. It actually distracted me from enjoying the story.

Connection felt rushed/forced. I really didn’t feel the connection between Lucas and Aoife. Maybe it was because the book was only about 100 pages. Usually, 100 pages in is when the characters are just falling for each other. So, for me, it happened way too fast, and it wasn’t believable.

The end. Yes, I know it’s just the first part of a series and there is a clear warning at the opening of the book, but the end just came out of nowhere. There was zero closure. I’m a fan of cliffhangers, but this one just didn’t work for me.

OVERALL THOUGHTS

This is a tough one for me. I liked it. I loved the main character. A lot of it just felt rushed. I would’ve liked more in-depth stuff. More details. More background information. Just more! So, I’m kind of caught in the middle, which is why I gave it 3 hearts. But I’m curious as to where the story goes, so I will check out the next part.

three hearts

3 out of 5 Hearts!


buy links

Amazon


about the author

USA Today bestselling author Brooke Harris is a self diagnosed romance addict. Realising at the age of seven that being a real person and not a cartoon character may prove a hindrance when applying for a role as a Disney Princess, she decided to create her own stories. As a grown up Brooke tried swapping the heels and tiaras in her stories for sex and revenge and published her first book, Rules of Harte in 2014. The Harte Series went on to become a #1 international bestseller.

Brooke lives in Kildare, Ireland with her young family. She daydreams about a climate where it doesn’t rain every day, but secretly she loves the green fields and heritage of Ireland.

Brooke also writes Psych-thriller under the pseudonym Janelle Harris.

author links

Blog

Goodreads

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giveaway

Tour-wide giveaway (INTL)
$20 Amazon Gift Card

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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Blog Tour: Review & Giveaway – Come Back To Me by Mila Gray

come back to me

Welcome to the I Heart Fictional People’s Come Back To Me blog tour stop! This tour is hosted by The Fantastic Flying Book Club, and I’ve been waiting so long to be a part of it. You’ll notice that I gave this book the coveted 6 HEARTS! Read on to find out why!

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Title: Come Back To Me

Author: Mila Gray

Published by: Simon Pulse on December 8, 2015

Length: 373 pages (eBook)

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Source: Publisher via The Fantastic Flying Book Club (for honest review)

My Rating: ❤❤❤❤❤❤

book blurb

In this heart-wrenching tale of love and loss, a young Marine and his best friend’s sister plunge into a forbidden love affair while he’s home on leave.

 When a Marine Chaplain knocks on her door, Jessa’s heart breaks—someone she loves is dead. Killed in action, but is it Riley or Kit? Her brother or her boyfriend…

 Three months earlier, Marine Kit Ryan finds himself back home on leave and dangerously drawn to his best friend Riley’s sister, Jessa—the one girl he can’t have. Exhausted from fighting his feelings, Kit finally gives in, and Jessa isn’t strong enough to resist diving headfirst into a passionate relationship.

 But what was just supposed to be a summer romance develops into something far greater than either of them expected. Jessa’s finally found the man of her dreams and Kit’s finally discovered there’s someone he’d sacrifice everything for.

 When it’s time for Kit to redeploy, neither one is ready to say goodbye. Jessa vows to wait for him and Kit promises tocome home to her. No matter what.

 But as Jessa stands waiting for the Marine Chaplain to break her heart, she can’t help but feel that Kit has broken his promise…

 Riley or Kit? Kit or Riley? Her brother or her boyfriend? Who’s coming home to her?

my review

INITIAL THOUGHTS

So I added this book to my TBR list on Goodreads months ago. I can’t remember where I first saw it. Maybe it was on another blog or something. Anyway, I remember absolutely loving the description. This was one of those books that I was super excited to read but just didn’t get to it. Then I saw it available for a book tour. I practically started jumping up and down. I immediately sent a request to participate. But then I got anxiety about reading it. My hopes and expectations were SO high, so I was nervous that I would be disappointed. Thanksgiving break came, which means I had a week to read books uninterrupted. Anxiety be damned.

WHAT I LIKED

EVERYTHING! But here is my attempt to narrow it down into categories…

The characters. I was beyond attached to these characters. I got to the point where I didn’t care that I wasn’t getting any sleep. I refused to sleep. I HAD to know what happened to them. I especially liked Jessa, Kit, and Riley. Jessa is this innocent girl who has so many dreams but also needs to please her parents, so she puts those dreams aside and she puts on her good girl face and does what she is told, even though there is a part of her that wants to escape and just do what she wants for a change. Then, there’s Kit…dreamy, hot, delicious Kit. He has a reputation for being quite the player, but Jessa changes that. And now he’s faced with falling for his best friend’s sister, on top of dealing with their dad, who has always hated him for reasons he doesn’t understand. And of course, there is Riley, the overprotective brother. He has never felt good enough for his dad, so he became a Marine to get away from him. He also has a long-time girlfriend, but their relationship is tough because he’s gone so often, and he also has to deal with protecting his mom and sister from his dad. Plus, there’s Kit’s dad, Jessa and Riley’s parents, and Didi, who I also learned to love for very different reasons.

The plot. Wow. It’s hard to put into words how I felt about this story. Right off the bat, we know that Jessa may or may not have lost either her boyfriend or her brother, and you’re trying to guess throughout the whole book. I will not give anything away, but this story will pull on your heartstrings and give you the feels. It’s heartbreaking and emotional, yet real, romantic, and passionate. I cried throughout the last half of the book. I’m not even exaggerating. I was crying for over an hour. This one got to me like no other book has in a long time.

The romance. Jessa and Kit have to hide their relationship because they don’t want to hurt Riley, and they don’t want her dad to go ballistic. So, the secrecy was hot actually. You never knew if they would get caught or who would catch them and what their reaction would be. And I really liked the pace. It was perfect. They’ve known each other forever, but this attraction to each other and feelings for each other are fairly new, so it was nice to see them explore it. And reading how they fall for each other and how their relationship blossoms just gives you butterflies in your stomach and reminds you of how you first fell in love.

The family dynamics. Other than the romance, I really loved the other relationships in this book. Sister/brother, father/son, best friends. I loved them all. I even loved the dysfunctional relationships with Jessa’s dad. He may have come off as an asshole, but toward the end, it’s a little understandable. So, his relationship with his wife and his kids is interesting and intriguing, and I just had to know more. It was all just very real. It made the story real for me. Jessa’s family is not perfect. None of our families are. And it was refreshing to see that.

WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER

Absolutely nothing, hence the SIX OUT OF FIVE HEARTS!

OVERALL THOUGHTS

I completely fell head over heels with this book and the characters in it. Not a lot of books make me this emotional. When the book was over, it was bittersweet. I was heartbroken but also happy. It felt like I had just broken up with an amazing boyfriend and didn’t know how to move on. I just haven’t really been able to get into another book without thinking of this one. Anyway, it’s SO worth the heartache. I don’t know about you, but when a book makes me cry and gives me the feels, I KNOW it’s good. Mila Gray, you are incredible, and I must thank you for writing such a powerful and wonderful story. I can’t wait to read any other books written by you.

Unknown-3

6 out of 5 Hearts!


buy links

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Book Depository

iTunes

Kobo


about the author

Mila Gray is the pen name for Sarah Alderson, author of Hunting Lila, Losing Lila, The Sound, Fated and Out of Control.

 Originally from London she has lived in Bali for the last four years with her husband and daughter.

 As well as writing young adult fiction under the name Sarah Alderson and adult fiction under the name Mila Gray, she also writes screenplays.

 You can find out more at www.milagray.com and on facebook: www.facebook.com/sarahjalderson

author links

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Goodreads

Blog

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giveaway

This is an individual blog giveaway, so one of my followers will definitely win!

Win a hard copy of Come Back to Me!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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