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Sunday, February 14, 2016

ARC Review: '80s Mix Tape by Karen Booth, Gwen Hayes, Autumn Jones Lake, Jenny Holiday, A.J. Pine, Bobbi Ruggiero, and Rachel Cowell

'80's Mix Tape is the second Romance Rewind Anthology and features short stories from Karen Booth, Gwen Hayes, Autumn Jones Lake, Jenny Holiday, A.J. Pine, Bobbi Ruggiero, and Rachel Cowell. Each story can be read as a standalone. 

Save a Prayer-Karen Booth
Save a Prayer by Karen Booth was actually the first story I have ever read from her. I really liked the characters and they had a ton of history and a solid connection. Angie and Graham were together until his band made it big and she caught him cheating on her. She dumped him and has been trying to move on with her life ever since. Ten months later she gets a huge career opportunity to photograph his band for a magazine. Graham realizes his mistake and knows that he needs to do whatever it takes to get her back. But can he convince Angie to give him another shot, or will she view it as the opportunity to have a one night stand with her ex? 

While I did like these two and I felt like their connection was still there, this one just didn't fully work for me. Things seemed to be smoothed over far too easily considering that Graham had cheated on Angie and hadn't really made an effort to make things right before she just appeared again. It seemed to work out more because of the circumstances, rather than him actually making it happen. I also felt like Graham was a bit all over the place. One minute he was full steam ahead with making Angie his again and never letting her go, even going so far as to randomly propose, the next minute he was freaking out about a future with her and what that meant. There were some enjoyable moments, but this one just seemed to be a bit rushed and convenient. 

Need You Tonight-Gwen Hayes

Gwen Hayes is another new to me author, so I had no idea what to expect with her story Need You Tonight. I really enjoyed this one! I will definitely be looking for more from Gwen Hayes in the future. Becky McDonald and Jacob Stone have had feelings for one another since they were kids. They always planned on ending up together until one night changed everything. Having been on the run for a crime he didn't commit, Jacob is shocked when he runs into Becky in an airport. Knowing that it is dangerous for them to be together, Jacob finds that he needs one more night with Becky if that is all he can get. But Becky has a secret that she has been keeping as well, and it could change everything. With the feelings they have always had for one another, both of them know that one more night will never be enough. 

I really liked these two. They had so much between them, and I couldn't get enough. It was obvious that their feelings ran deep and that it had only ever been each other. I really loved that they had always only felt that way about the other, despite everything that had happened. Becky and Jacob clearly belonged together, but life had other plans for them. I did think that the ending was a bit abrupt, but this was one of my favorites from the anthology. 

Kickstart My Heart-Autumn Jones Lake

Autumn Jones Lake's Kickstart My Heart is also another first for me. This story had some great moments, but honestly it was just okay for me. It wasn't anything really memorable or special. After Mallory's father is sent to prison, she heads to LA to start over. She is excited to score her first job as an actress in an up and coming band's new music video. Chaser is hoping to make it big with his band and pursue music while he can since he knows that his dad has expectations for him down the road. While at first Mallory and Chaser don't appear to have anything in common, they quickly realize their lives are more alike than they thought. 

I liked both Mallory and Chaser. My biggest issue here though was that I just didn't really feel their connection. These two definitely had heat and their lives were actually very similar, but I just wasn't really seeing any emotional connection form. The story felt rushed and a bit forced, and I think that left me feeling as though I just wasn't invested and couldn't really get into this one. 

867-5309- Jenny Holiday

867-5309 by Jenny Holiday was my least favorite of the anthology. As much as I wanted to like it, I just didn't connect at all and I was never able to feel invested in the story. Jenny Fields is the editor of her school's newspaper and is a crusader at heart. When the administration announces that they are going to be tearing down a historic art building, she sets out to save it. Knowing she needs an in with the art department and someone to back her, she sets her sights on the school's most talented art student Matthew Townsend. But Matthew has no interest in anything but his senior portfolio. 

I wasn't able to connect with these characters at all. It wasn't that I disliked them, yet there wasn't really much that I liked either. I couldn't relate to them, and I found myself bored and wanting to skim their story. There just wasn't any real spark here and I wasn't seeing much of a connection with these two either.

Drummer Girl-A.J. Pine

I was really excited to read Drummer Girl by A.J. Pine. I have read and loved several books from her, so I couldn't wait to get her story. I really loved Ben and Sam! Sam is set to graduate when her best friend talks her into going out for one last epic night before real life starts. She locks eyes with the sexy drummer of the live band and things between them heat up. But Ben is set to leave for London the next day with his band and they know that one night is all they have. But as the night continues and their connection grows, they find themselves wondering what if? 

I loved Ben and Sam together! These two were so perfect for one another and their connection was clear right away. I couldn't get enough of them together and despite how quick everything happened between them, it felt right. It was natural and their chemistry was off the charts. These two just understood one another, and I didn't want their story to end. 

There was one thing here that bothered me, and that was a mistake when it came to the timeline of this story. The day this story starts on is May 13, 1989 and Sam is set to graduate when she makes a reference to Kelly Kapowski from Saved by the Bell. (she also references Saved by the Bell later on) I am a huge Saved by the Bell fan, so this one stuck out pretty big to me because Saved by the Bell didn't air until August 20th, 1989. Most people probably wouldn't have picked up on that, but it did bother me since that information is really easy to research and find online. Since this anthology is set in a different time period, I expect facts to be checked ahead of time and to be consistent with the time frame, so to me that was something that definitely should have been caught. Even with that mistake though, I really loved this story and it was my favorite of the anthology. 

Young Teacher-Bobbi Ruggiero

Young Teacher is my first read from Bobbi Ruggiero, and I really liked it! This one was absolutely adorable and I can't wait to read more from Bobbi Ruggiero. Julia is used to having control and hates surprises. She is always working and has little time for anything else. But she has a crush on the cute younger man that makes her sandwiches at lunch time. Matthew Gordon wants nothing more than for his band to make it big. But while he waits, he works making sandwiches and giving private guitar lessons on the side. So when Julia's friends give her a surprise birthday gift of guitar lessons, she is shocked to find none other than her sandwich making crush. But when Julia isn't great at the guitar and struggles with something she can't control, it threatens to ruin everything that she has been building with Matthew. 

I really liked these two. Their story was so cute, and I loved how different they were. They worked perfectly together, and I couldn't get enough of them. I don't usually go for the older woman/younger guy stories, but this one really worked. These two had such a great connection and I just really enjoyed it from start to finish. Definitely one of my favorites from the anthology. 

Just Like Heaven-Rachel Cowell

Rachel Cowell is another new to me author, and her story was Just Like Heaven. This one had some cute moments, but it was just okay for me. Josh Chapman and Sarah Lattimore find themselves attracted to one another from the first moment they meet. Unfortunately for both of them, he is her TA and though there isn't a formal rule, it is known that TA's shouldn't have relationships with their students. But when it becomes impossible for them to avoid what is happening between them, they both quickly realize how much they both stand to lose if anyone finds out. 

While I did like parts of this story and the characters, it wasn't my favorite. Josh and Sarah were cute together at times, but they were also super awkward. If I had to describe this story as a whole, awkward is the word I would use. It was even mentioned several times throughout the story as things were happening, and it couldn't have been more accurate. I also had a tough time with how young and immature the characters seemed at times, even for their ages. Both Josh and Sarah both seemed to act younger than what they should have, and it went beyond them just being shy or anything. There was a sex scene in which Sarah starts giggling about what is happening and then can hardly even use the word penis, and it was seriously a huge turn off for me. It just made me cringe and lost all interest in what was happening. 


Overall, this anthology was fun to read and I mostly enjoyed each of these. There were a few that I had some issues with, but I think that if you are a fan of NA stories and anthologies or love the '80s this is one worth checking out.

**ARC Provided by Author**

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