Saturday, April 25, 2015

Review: Aflame by Penelope Douglas

A bittersweet ending to a great series from Penelope Douglas. I'm not sure what it is about Jared and Tate but they are definitely my favorite couple from the Fall Away series. I was pretty much glued to my Kindle while reading this and I just couldn't put it down. I've been anxious to get my hands on this story for months and it was everything I was wanting and more.

Jared Trent is one of my all-time favorite heroes and what I love about him is that he's flawed. He's not a cookie cutter hero. He's special and I just can't get enough of him. In Aflame you can defintiely see the growth in him. Gah I just freaking love him.

As for Tate I felt like with Jared that she matured a lot. She grew into a strong and independent woman who knows what she wants and isn't afraid to go after it.

As with all of Penelope Douglas's books Aflame was chocked full of heat, tension, witty banter, sizzling chemistry and hot alphas. And let me tell you, it's hot between Jared and Tate. As with Bully, in Aflame you get a real sense of the connection between these two. There is more than heat and sexual tension between these two. You see and feel the love between these two.

Aflame for me, was bittersweet. I loved it and didn't want it to end all at the same time. Honestly, it was a winner in my book and even though the series has ended I feel okay to let these characters go. Penelope Douglas wrote it in such a way and tied things up in a way that left me perfectly happy and content. I LOVED this book.

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ARC Review: The Phoenix Campaign by Heidi Joy Tretheway

OMG I am loving this series! Heidi Joy Tretheway has done it again with The Phoenix Campaign, and I am already dying for the next book. These books have to be read in order, so make sure that you start with The Phoenix Candidate before reading Campaign. I really loved this book, though I will admit that I was also really frustrated throughout it as well. But I absolutely devoured it, and I cannot wait for more Grace and Jared. 

Grace Colton has been named the running mate for Senator Shep Conover, and her life is more complicated than ever. As they begin their campaign, Grace prepares for what it means to be the VP candidate. Her relationship with political consultant Jared Rankin is also complicated, and they find themselves on shakier ground than ever before despite their feelings from one another. As Jared and Grace try to keep their relationship secret from the public, Grace finds out that she has a secret of her own that she can't tell even Jared. Grace knows that she needs to tell Jared the truth, but she also feels like she needs to tell Shep first. Soon there are so many secrets being kept on all sides, that it is only a matter of time before they start to come out. What happens when the truth is revealed?

Grace and Jared are so hot together. These two have so much passion and chemistry. But what I love about them most is that their connection is stronger than just the physical. They understand one another. They push each other to be better. They also support one another, even when they are fighting and arguing. These two tend to run hot, but you can tell that it is because they are passionate about not only each other, but also their careers and beliefs. As much as I love these two and seeing them together, they both really frustrate me at times. Grace has a tendency to talk back and push when she shouldn't, and Jared has a tendency to run when he should stop and listen. Both of them had their issues, but they genuinely care for one another and you could tell that neither one of them really knows how to handle what they are building together. They are in unfamiliar territory and unfortunately for them they have so many more concerns than the average couple first starting a relationship. 

I will say that that I couldn't put this book down, even with how they would make me angry at times. I had to keep reading to see what would happen next, and I read this in pretty much one sitting. Jared and Grace's relationship is just one of those that draws you in and you can't help but all in love with them. I really love how this series is about their relationship and the love that they are finding, but that it is so much more than that. There were so many things happening in this book as far as the campaign and what lies ahead for each of these characters, and I am really excited to see how things play out after all the truths that came out. I cannot wait for the next book, and I just hope that Heidi Joy Tretheway doesn't make us wait long for it! If you haven't read anything by her yet, you definitely should give her a shot. I have really enjoyed everything that I have read by her, but I think this series is my absolute favorite by her and to me these books are must reads!

**ARC Provided by Inkslinger PR**

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RFTC Hall Pass Event with Layla Hagen

My name is Layla Hagen and I am a Contemporary Romance author.

I fell in love with books when I was nine years old, and my love affair with stories continues even now, many years later. I write romantic stories and can't wait to share them with the world. And I drink coffee. Lots of it :-D

Friday, April 24, 2015

ARC Review: Closer by Kaia Bennett

I have been dying to get my hands on Closer by Kaia Bennett since I finished #1 Crush. I needed more of Gabe and Nic, and couldn't wait to see what happened next for these two! If you haven't read #1 Crush, you are definitely going to need to start there since these aren't standalones. Closer picks up after where we were left with Gabe and Nic and continues their story. I will warn you that these books leave things up in the air as there are three books in this series. I am now waiting for the third book in this series, Mind Over Matter, which is tentatively scheduled for a July 2015 release. 

After spending a week exploring the passion between them, Gabe and Nic went their separate ways. Gabe was pursuing a career in music, and Nic had just graduated from college. Though the time they spent together was great, they knew they weren't in a place for anything serious with one another. But when Gabe and Nic are suddenly back in the same city, they quickly pick up where they left off. Gabe's career is starting to take off, and his band has just been signed. But with things heating up between him and Nic, he wants to give a relationship a chance. Nic agrees, and things are better than ever. But the band's popularity isn't the only new obstacle these two have to face, and suddenly Gabe's past is doing everything it can to wreck his future with Nic. 

I had loved Gabe and Nic in the first book, and that didn't change here. I will say these two frustrated me more in this one though, and there were a few times I wanted to shake both of them. I loved that these two had been able to be so open and honest about things between them. They knew they had a connection and chemistry, but they were also able to see that they weren't in a position for anything serious. While they might have been jealous that there were others, they understood and it didn't destroy their friendship. I was glad that they had remained close and didn't hold that against one another. I thought that their communication in this book was absolutely horrible though. Gabe was the worst when it came to this, and he held a ton back from Nic. I thought his reasons were flimsy at best, and I think that it was a lot of his fault for most of the problems that they encountered. That being said, towards the end of this book Nic really screwed up in my opinion. She acted really immature and handled things very poorly. Though part of the blame was on Gabe, I really felt that she was more to blame for their big blow-up. He should have talked to her, but she acted pretty ridiculous to me. 

These two still had great chemistry and I liked seeing their bond strengthen as their feelings for each other grew deeper. But I felt like they needed to learn to talk to each other. I think part of this was an age thing, but that only takes it so far. I think that they could have solved so much just by being honest. Gabe's ex Meredith was also a huge issue, and I absolutely hated her! She is such a manipulator, and you could tell that she gets off on it. I don't know why they let her have so much power over them, but a lot of that blame goes to Gabe for not talking to Nic about his past. I really hope that this is the last we see of her and that karma gets her. I am looking forward to the next book and need to know what happens next. I think that these two are made for each other, but the journey is far from over. I am a little bit scared if I am honest, having been given a preview of the third book at the end of Closer. I am trying to have faith that Kaia Bennett will get these two where they need to be, but it is going to be a long few months. I think that this series is great though, and these two have so much passion between them. If you are looking for a seriously sexy story, then you have to give this series a shot. I know I will be anxiously awaiting the next book from Kaia Bennett, and can't wait for more!

**ARC Provided by IndieSage PR**

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ARC Review: Blue Streak by Jules Barnard

Blue Streak is the newest addition to the Blue series by Jules Barnard. This story is a novella, so it is pretty short. I enjoyed it though and I thought that it was sweet and funny while also sexy. This is one of those quick and easy reads that most NA readers will be able to lose a bit of time reading. Nessa has liked her friend Zach since she moved and started working at the casino. Though they are good friends, Zach has always kept her at arms length. Nessa sees him eyeing her and at times believes that he wants more, but he always manages to shut it down and continues to sleep with other women. But Nessa is determined to change his mind and get him to act on the feelings he believes he has. Soon Zach finds it hard to continue to fight his feelings as Nessa fights to show him what they could have together. 

I liked Nessa and Zach. I didn't feel overly connected to them, but they were decent enough characters. Nessa was in love with Zach and yet she never really said anything to him. She never talked to him about what she wanted or tried to make a move. She sat back and let him continue to be with others while she pined away for him, and that was a bit irritating to me. But she also was able to show him that they had something worth taking a chance on and I liked that she wouldn't settle for being just another hookup to him. Zach should have talked to Nessa and figured things out earlier. He knew his situation needed to change and that it wasn't right, yet he didn't do anything to change it until Nessa started to really pursue him. It seemed pretty sudden for him to have a change of heart and seemed to be a reaction to something that happened with Nessa. (Can't really get into much of that without spoiling anything, but it wasn't handled the best in my opinion.) I thought that Nessa and Zach had great chemistry and I liked seeing them get to know one another. It boggled my mind a bit that they had been friends for awhile and were both attracted to each other, and yet they really didn't know each other that well. I think that was a bit weird to me, and it seemed like these two were almost acquaintances rather than friends. 

I think that this was a short and sweet read though, and I think part of my issues were because of the length of the story. If we had been given more of these two I might have felt differently. It just seemed as though with it being a novella that we never really dug deep with these two and pretty much everything was on the surface. I think I would have believed it more had I seen their friendship strengthen a bit before they decided to go the relationship route. I do like this series though, and it was good to see some familiar faces. I thought that Jules Barnard did a great job of setting up the next book in this series, and I am looking forward to reading that one.

**ARC Provided by IndieSage PR**

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RFTC Hall Pass Event with Megan Erickson

Megan worked as a journalist covering real-life dramas before she decided she liked writing her own endings better and switched to fiction.

She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, two kids and two cats. When she's not tapping away on her laptop, she's probably listening to the characters in her head who won't stop talking.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

ARC Review: Spark by Erin Noelle

Spark is the first book in the Fire on the Mountain series by Erin Noelle. I have to say that I was instantly intrigued with this book because it is so different from anything I have read before. If you have read any kind of dark romance or MC book, then the use of drugs won't be a shock to you. Drugs seem to play a part in plenty of romance books at this point, especially if the characters like to party. But I have never seen it approached in a medicinal way before, and that really got me curious about this story. This book was different than anything else I have read, and I did enjoy that. I had a few issues as well, but for most of this story I really enjoyed what I was reading. 

Having tried almost every medical option available to them, Crew's family heads to Colorado in order to try one they haven't yet. His little brother is getting worse everyday, and he and his mom will do whatever they can to change that. They arrive at Fire on the Mountain, a holistic resort known for their laid back ways. They plan to get medicinal marijuana to see if that can help Caleb's symptoms and provide a better life for him. But upon arrival Crew meets one of the owner's daughters, and the connection between them is instant. They both feel a spark unlike anything they've ever experienced. Crew knows that he has enough on his plate to worry about, and yet he finds himself unable to stay away from Hudson. But with everything that he has going on and his brother's condition, can he and Hudson explore what is between them or will everything go up in flames? 

I have to say that I had my moments with pretty much every character in this story. I liked Hudson most of the time, but she was a bit weak as well. She was a giver and a fixer, always looking out for others. She would do whatever it took to help those in need, and didn't focus much on her self. I really loved those things about her. But she also let others kind of dictate her life and I felt like she needed a bit more backbone when a few things happened in this story. I loved her friendship with Caleb and how instant they had a connection. It was great to see her get along so well with Crew's brother. Crew unfortunately really pissed me off a few times. For the most part I liked him and I was glad that he was a bit cocky at times with Hudson. He had more experience than she did, and I liked that he sort of took the reins. I thought that these two had great chemistry, and I enjoyed how their relationship progressed and watching as they got to know one another.

Without spoiling anything, Crew did a few things that I found hard to forgive. He was going through some really tough things, and I got that he was in a bad way. But it was no excuse some of his actions and how he treated Hudson. She was doing everything that she could to be there for him in whatever way he needed her, and what he did was so awful. My biggest problem wasn't with what he did though (which was bad enough!), but how easily it was moved past. Hudson was a wreck after it all, and it was so quickly forgiven and forgotten. I wouldn't have been near as understanding as she was, and the fact that she didn't make him completely grovel for long periods of time tells me that either she has doormat tendencies or she is a much better person than I am. This book would have been a five star for me had it not been for Crew's actions with on a couple of occasions. I just wasn't able to get over it like Hudson was. I think that this is a really good book though, and I really loved that it was different. The approach to drugs being helpful and having a purpose was a new one for me, and I really liked seeing it from another side. I think that Erin Noelle is a great writer, and she always manages to pull me in straightaway. I will read more from her in the future, and I am looking forward to getting to know some of Hudson's sisters better as this series continues.

**ARC Provided by Love Affair With Fiction**

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ARC Review: Third Debt by Pepper Winters

Third Debt is the fourth book in the Indebted Series, and these absolutely have to be read in order. If you haven't read any of the previous books in this series make sure that you start there before reading this book or review. This series gets better with every single book, and I honestly have no idea how Pepper Winters does it! She weaves everything together perfectly, giving us just enough to drive us mad and keep us reading! This installment was honestly the best yet, and it absolutely brought out all the emotions! I have no idea what will happen next, but I can't wait to find out! 

Nila Weaver and Jethro Hawk are no longer the same people they once were. The debts have changed them, and they find themselves torn between what they have known all their lives, and what has happened since finding one another. With so much on the line, they find themselves facing dangers and punishments far worse than they have ever experienced. Now they must try and prepare themselves for the next debt, and it will test them more than any of the previous debts have. 

I love these characters so much, and we have honestly seen so much change in them over the course of these four books. Jethro struggles so much with what he is and how Nila affects him, but he also still craves approval from his family. We really see a lot more to him in this book, and finally begin to get some answers about what makes him the way he is. Nila is strong and yet she has also figured out that she has no control over her feelings for Jethro. She loves him and wants to be there for him, but she also struggles with everything that is surrounding them and what he must do. But for me, this book was an eye opener when it came to Kestrel. I have always liked him, but I absolutely fell in love with him in this installment. He is so much more than we have ever seen, and I found myself hoping for more and more of him as the story continued. 

To me, this installment was the most intense one yet. Things started off a bit slow with the aftermath of the previous book and where we were left after the second debt. But then things started to change and as the third debt approached, I knew we were in for something shocking. I felt so bad for Nila and all that she was going through, because she was completely blindsided by the third debt. She had no idea it was coming, and it was heartbreaking to watch. I have no idea what awaits these characters as they still have the fourth and ultimate debts left, but I know that the ride is far from over. I think that this cliffhanger is by far the worst of the series, and it really might kill me to wait. That ending left me reeling, and I have so many questions. As much as I had hated Cut before, I absolutely loathed him after this installment and I really hope he gets everything he deserves. I need the next book in the worst way, and I know that things are not even close to over. Knowing Pepper Winters, we still have many more dark and twisted things to come before we get to the end. I am still hoping for some kind of HEA, but I know that whatever the ending is it won't come easy and the journey is far from over.

**ARC Provided by TRSOR Promotions**

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RFTC Hall Pass Event with Rebecca Zanetti

Rebecca Zanetti is the author of over twenty-five dark paranormals, romantic suspense, and contemporary romances, and her books have appeared multiple times on the New York Times, USA Today, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iBooks bestseller lists.  She lives in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest with her own Alpha hero, two kids, a couple of dogs, a crazy cat…and a huge extended family.  She believes strongly in luck, karma, and working her butt off…and she thinks one of the best things about being an author, unlike the lawyer she used to be, is that she can let the crazy out.  Her current series are: The Dark Protectors, The Maverick Montana Cowboys, and the Sin Brothers series.  Upcoming series are: The Realm Enforcers and The Scorpius Syndrome.

ARC Review: Taking the Fall: Vol 2 by Alexa Riley

Taking the Fall Vol. 2 picks up where the first installment left off. These need to be read in order, so make sure you have read Vol 1 before starting this part. Carter has claimed Layla, but he left her behind in order to finish his business. As he goes about setting things up so that he can protect and keep her, old demons begin to resurface. Carter returns to Layla to keep her safe and finds things more complicated than ever. Can he keep her safe while also taking care of making sure that they never have to look over their shoulders again? 

In this installment we get more of Carter's background and find out what put him in the position he was in to have been sent to prison. It was good to get more of him, and I think it helped the reader and Layla to understand more about what makes Carter the way he is. He would do absolutely anything for his Cherry, but he was so worried that once she knew everything that she would run from him. I liked that Layla was so supportive though, and she showed him that what they had was worth fighting for. She wasn't afraid of what she found out, but was afraid for Carter. She loved him just as fiercely as he loved her, and she was ready to fight right along side him. Carter and Cherry have so much chemistry, but I really liked seeing their connection continue to strengthen in this part of their story. They really opened up to one another, and it was good to see them being honest and laying everything out on the table. 

Overall, another great one from Alexa Riley. I am really enjoying this story, and I can't wait to find out what happens next. With the way things were left in this part, I need to know how things will play out. Alexa Riley continued to bring the heat, and I am convinced that she writes some of the hottest scenes ever. If you are looking for something straight up sexy, you have to give her books a shot! I am looking forward to the next installment to see the conclusion of Carter and Layla's story, but I also can't wait to get more of Saint and Jeanette.

**ARC Provided by Flirty Subs PR**

Purchase: | Amazon

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Review: The Deal by Elle Kennedy

The Deal is one of those books that I had heard so many good things about that I was kind of afraid to start reading it. I get a little worried when a book has so much hype, because I am always scared that it won't live up to it. That was absolutely not the case with Elle Kennedy's The Deal though, and it is one of my top reads for 2015 as well as one of my favorite New Adult books ever! There was not a single thing that I didn't love about this book. If you read NA, you absolutely have to read The Deal. 

Hannah Wells is surprised to finally have found a guy that makes her hot after a horrible incident in her past. The only problem is that he has no idea she's alive. When the star of the hockey team Garrett Graham asks for her help, at first she says no. But when he figures out that she is hot for a football player, he proposes a deal where in exchange for tutoring he will pretend date her to get her crush to notice her. Hannah finally agrees, and she begins spending more time with Garrett in order to help him pass their midterm. But soon they are both starting to feel the lines blur between pretend and real, and Garrett starts to realize that he needs to convince her that what she really wants is him. 

I loved Garrett so much. This guy is sexy and charming, and just cocky enough to make him likable without being an arrogant jerk. He might be the star of the hockey team, but he isn't some dumb jock. Garrett is super smart and I really liked that he got really good grades with the exception of a few of his classes that he struggled with. He showed that he was more than just a pretty face that could handle himself on the ice. But what I loved most about Garrett was how he was with Hannah. He was persistent, patient, and super supportive of her. He realized that she had some issues and he really helped her to face them and move forward. Hannah was great also. She was smart and witty, and I loved how quick she was. She made Garrett work for it and was able to keep up with everything he threw her way. These two were so much fun to read about, because their banter was amazing and the tension between them was off the charts. You just knew that things were bound to explode sooner or later with the crazy chemistry they had going on. 

Overall, this book was amazing and I can't say enough good things about it. It really had everything that you could possibly want in an entertaining romance story and I could not put it down. I loved Hannah and Garrett, and I don't think I will ever be over these two. I didn't want the book to end because I was having such a good time reading about them. I am super excited to read more in this series though, and I can't wait to get to know some of the other hockey guys better. Garrett's best friend Logan is up next, and I am definitely looking forward to seeing more of him. This book is a must read to me if you are a fan of romance, the new adult genre, or sexy hockey players. It is a great story and I think this one will appeal to anyone who wants a book that they can laugh out loud with and that has unique characters. Trust me you will not be disappointed with this one.

**Review Copy Provided by Author**

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ARC Review: Remind Me by Ann Marie Walker and Amy K. Rogers

There is a lot of promise here but the fat needs to be trimmed. I’m excited about these authors and I will be back for part 2.

This is a well written beginning to a star crossed lovers-ish story. The plot is that Hudson from “the wrong side of the tracks” has a summer teen romance with Alessandra from the decidedly “right side of the tracks.” Hudson is scorned by Alessandra who is too young/chicken to tell her parents she has the super hots for a poor boy. Hudson goes on to become a billionaire, Alessandra goes on to become older/still chicken and engaged to a duke or some sh*t. Hudson wants Alessandra but his money is too new to impress “Alli’s” people and Alli is still too scared to stand up for what she wants, or is she? And there you have it.

There’s lots of good stuff here: The relationship between Allie and Hudson is believable, passionate and compelling. The authors are very good at making you feel like Allie and Hudson had some seriously unfinished business from their teens. That depiction avoids the “insta-love” thing that some readers don’t like (I personally don’t have a problem with insta-love since I often fall in insta-hate with people). For the first 50-60% of this book I was in love with Allie and Hudson’s lust…love…whatever it was, I was here for it and thoroughly enjoyed it.

These authors are also master world builders. I hate when I read a book and I can’t get a clear picture of what is being described. I didn’t have that problem with this book because Ms. Walker and Ms. Rogers are fantastic at including rich descriptions of events and locations which allow you to place yourself inside the story. My only criticism in this regard is that sometimes there is too much description of locations which can distract from the actual story of the romance.

The book has a good supporting cast. Harper is the best friend who is appropriately inappropriate. Allie’s mother is predictably shrewd and lacking in fu-ks for someone who is an old money socialite. Nick, Hudson’s younger brother, also provides a good subplot that moves us toward discovering more about Hudson and his background.

During the first 50% of this book, I found myself thinking “wow this is really good” around the 60% mark I found myself falling out of love into more of a “like.” I can’t believe I’m saying this but I actually think this book might be too long. After a certain point there is a lot of sex which takes up a lot of pages. Please don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the extra sex, the problem is that the descriptions aren't as good as you would think they would be from reading the rest of the book. From the build up, I thought it was going to be some seriously hot, knock your socks off, lock the kids out type of stuff but it was just ok and kind of vague. This works for me in a book that doesn't include a lot of sex but after I read these long vague references 12 times, I’m ready to start doing some serious skimming.

The other problem is that there isn't enough conflict throughout the story so the story line starts to go a little flat for awhile between the 50% and 70% mark. It kind of picks back up again after that with the drama over Nick and Allie’s choice but you have to be able to maintain your interest to get there.

The biggest issue, for me, is the actual story line regarding Allie. Allie’s reluctance to thwart her parent’s will for her life is palatable at first but as the book progresses and Allie doesn’t, it gets a little less tolerable. In related news, Hudson’s tolerance of Allie’s weakness diminishes him as a character. I like my alphas really….alpha-ey and Hudson waiting on the sidelines for Allie is just ugh (technical reviewer term there). I especially hated the beginning of the symphony scene for this reason. Now, this is a personal taste issue for me so I don’t think it’s fair to downgrade my rating on that basis and I didn't. But for readers with similar personal preferences, you've been warned.

Overall, this book is going on my recommended reading list and these authors are going on my follow list.

**ARC provided by Publisher**

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