Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Review: Blow - Tracy Ewens

Blow: A Love Story
(Love Story)
by Tracy Ewens
Published: June 18, 2019
Genre: Contemporary Romance

If only life were as simple as breathing in and letting go.

Millie Hart has made a career writing happy endings. While her real life is often less than enchanting, at least she has her stories, featuring strong, vibrant women ready for any challenge and men who stand in support of their dreams. Millie makes millions of readers swoon, but despite her agent’s deep objections, her new project is fueled by her intense drive to prove something. All she needs is four months in Bodega Bay. No meet-cutes, no kissing, just blissful silence.

Drake Branch is happy to be alive. He’s healed, opened BP Glass Works with his best friend, and appreciates the value of his hometown. It’s been six years since the accident, and Drake has tackled every hurdle—mental and physical—to stand on his own. So, when he lets a struggling metalworks shop move in next door to his studio and the noise triggers old issues, Drake needs to crank the music—as loud as it will go.

Millie rents the cottage mere steps from Drake’s studio to write a literary novel she hopes will finally gain her father’s approval and soon learns that away from her laptop, there are men who refuse to be edited out. Despite her neighbor’s insistence that she is an entitled tourist, Millie has been blown off most of her life and she’s not going anywhere this time.

It is going to be one long summer unless Millie and Drake can learn that some books are more than their covers, one breath can change the shape of everything, and true family often shows up in unlikely places.
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Check out my other A Love Story series reviews HERE!

5 Stars

Millie Hart writes romance, the happy endings that readers want for themselves, but she knows she can do more. In one last attempt to impress her scholarly father Millie sets out to write the complete opposite of romance, but first she'll need to get somewhere secluded, somewhere moody, somewhere not filled with a lawn of gnomes. Unfortunately, a lawn of gnomes and a cheery cottage is what she's got, so she's going to make the most of it, at least until the hears the 80's music blaring from next door. Drake is all bark no bite, but he needs the music to work and something about his temporary neighbor and her insane pajamas has him growling a bit more often. She refuses to let her neighbor stop her from literary success, but she doesn't plan on their chemistry, their witty banter, the charm of the town, or her brain's natural tendency to write a meet cute into a happily ever after starring herself.

Another instant hint from Tracy Ewens filled with heat and heart! Blow is the realistic love story told from the alternative perspective of Millie and Drake. It's a classic case of small town locals meets big shot out of towner, no one wants to let her in, but Millie seems to be holding the key to Bodega Bay's missing pieces and soon it's just Drake having a hard time opening up. Millie was not my favorite at first, she's all talk and money, but then she opens up and we get to see she's wearing the same armor we all have on, the one we made out of our parent's opinions, our past hurts, our dreams and the struggles we've gone through to get them. Drake is handsome, intimidating, and a bit entitled, but he's got a story behind him too and getting to know it made me fall for him hard. Millie and Drake don't seem to be a pair of puzzle pieces meant to be together, but somehow they fit even if it takes them an entire novel to figure it out. They annoy one another, they bicker, but they understand one another and it makes for such a charming love story.

Like all Tracy Ewens novels, I laughed, I cried, and I fell in love with the characters and town that she brings to life on the pages. The A Love Story series consists of several standalone novels that take place in cute northern California towns. They feature relatable characters going through real life situations and finding love along the way. The characters are quirky, the dialogue feels natural, and the writing is just stellar. I am forever a fan of this series and Blow is at the top of that list now.

ARC provided.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Release Day Review: Gilded Lily - Staci Hart

Gilded Lily (Bennet Brothers #2)
by Staci Hart
Published: December 4, 2019
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Retelling

They say there’s no such thing as perfect.
But I’ve built my life to perfection—the perfect boyfriend, the perfect apartment, the perfect career planning celebrity weddings. My job—my only job—is to make sure every event is absolutely and completely perfect.
What’s not perfect? Kash Bennet.
And I wish I didn’t find that so appealing.
I could have told you every perfectly imperfect thing about the gardener at Longbourne. Like his hair, lush and black and far too long. Or his nose, the flat bridge of a Greek god, bent a little like it’s been broken. Or his size. Beastly. Roped and corded with muscles, gleaming with sweat and peppered with dirt.
There’s no escaping him, not if I’m going to use his family’s flower shop for my events.
But nothing is what it seems. And in the span of a heartbeat, my perfect life is turned inside out.
They say the best way to get over somebody is to get under somebody new. When Kash offers his services to the cause, it sounds like the perfect plan.
What’s not part of the plan? Falling in love with the gardener.
But they were right—there’s no such thing as perfect.
And I’m the fool who finds out the hard way.

Available Now
5 Stars

Lila knows she wants to use the Bennet families business, Longbourne, for flowers for the wedding she is working on. Not only is it for THE celebrity family you see on TV nightly, it's her chance to prove that she is ready to be on top in the wedding planning biz. Too bad her boss and the youngest celeb sister are out to get her and she doesn't need daily interactions with Kash and his stupid t-shirts on top of that. Everything seems to be going great until her perfectly curated life comes tumbling down. The only stress relief she really needs is a good rebound and Kash is there with his easy charm and offer of no-strings fun. She never realized how good looking he is, how smooth, how complicated this could make things.

Kash is the easy brother, the one who likes his greenhouse work and feels more connection with the flowers and dirt than with the sassy Lila and her white suits. Nevermind that he's pictured her all mussed up, relaxed, and beneath him. Working together is one thing, even being her rebound is alright, but when his feelings just can't be buried anymore he challenges Lila for more. What he isn't ready for is just how different their lives are and just how much he doesn't fit in. With wedding season underway and a family crisis bubbling to the surface, Kash and Lila must decide whether opposites truly do attract or if the blossoming romance is destined to wilt.

"And I had to admit it was nice to be handled just a little."

Talk about not only an incredible retelling, but just an incredibly well-written, magical book. Staci Hart absolutely knocked it out of the park with Gilded Lily, it's just beautiful to read. Like a bouquet, this is a romance that blossoms with time; Kash and Lila's story is an opposites attract story line filled with character growth and emotions that reach out and touch you. It's filled with chemistry, heart, and life. Kash and Lila are easy to like, their goals, dreams, and struggles are so relatable and the added elements of the Bennet business just bring it all together. Plus, somehow Staci Hart managed to write the most beautiful smut scenes I have ever had the pleasure of reading. Seriously, they are works of art.

"The longing and quiet envy I felt struck me in the softest of places."

Gilded Lily is a story of passion, both for one's dreams and for another human. Kash and Lila are both so intense, but in such different ways. Despite their differences they fit together very well. Their coming together is certainly a choice made of convenience, but in time their intensity overflows and along with it their emotions. It's a chaotic time though and Staci Hart brought the wild ride that is a celebrity wedding to life, I even had anxiety. The dialogue in this book felt natural, the settings so easy to picture, and the characters are just so perfect. I love how the characters, including the secondary characters, band together to tackle issues. There is no issue too big for the Bennet clan to tackle and those friends and loves they've added along the way are just as much a part of the family.

"It was anything but casual. And I didn't know just what to do about that."

With the Bennet Brothers series, a Pride & Prejudice retelling, Staci Hart has given us characters with family values, realistic issues, and love stories that play before your eyes like a movie. Gilded Lily had just enough heat, heart, and quirk to keep me turning the pages long after I should have been asleep. I even cried, yes, that's right I cried and no one is surprised at all. I was that attached to this book, it's not even angsty, but it sure did feel like I was physically ther

e! I absolutely recommend this book, this series, and always, always this author.


Everyone hates parts of their job. Maybe it’s the paperwork. Maybe it’s the day-to-day grind. Maybe it’s that client who never knows what they want, or the guy who always cooks fish in the microwave. But not me. I love every corner of the Longbourne Flower Shop, every flower, every petal, every stem. I love the greenhouse, and I love Mrs. Bennet, my boss. I love creating, and I love being a florist. I don’t hate anything at all. Except for Luke Bennet. The Bennet brothers have come home to help their mom save the flower shop, and Luke is at the helm. His smile tells a tale of lust, loose and easy. He moves with the grace of a predator, feral and wild. A thing unbridled, without rules or constraint. When he comes home to save Longbourne, I almost can’t be mad at him. Almost. He doesn’t remember that night I’ll never forget. That kiss, touched with whiskey and fire. It branded me like a red-hot iron. But it meant nothing to him. Everyone hates part of their job, and I hate Luke Bennet. Because if I don’t, I’ll fall in love with him.

AuthorPicsAbout the Author
Staci has been a lot of things up to this point in her life -- a graphic designer, an entrepreneur, a seamstress, a clothing and handbag designer, a waitress. Can't forget that. She's also been a mom, with three little girls who are sure to grow up to break a number of hearts. She's been a wife, though she's certainly not the cleanest, or the best cook. She's also super, duper fun at a party, especially if she's been drinking whiskey.
From roots in Houston to a seven year stint in Southern California, Staci and her family ended up settling somewhere in between and equally north, in Denver. They are new enough that snow is still magical. When she's not writing, she's reading, sleeping, gaming, or designing graphics.

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Monday, November 25, 2019

Review: Violent Triumphs - Jessica Hawkins

Violent Triumphs (White Monarch #3)
by Jessica Hawkins
Genre: Contemporary Romance, organized crime
Release Date: November 12th, 2019

The highly anticipated conclusion to the “emotional, steamy, and dangerous” USA Today bestselling White Monarch series.

I’ve become a queen to the forsaken, a leader to thieves, and the wife of a man who instills fear in all who cross his path. He was the husband I didn’t want. Now, I can’t fathom life without my king.

I should’ve been ready for anything. Like the caterpillar that feeds on poison during metamorphosis, I was raised in the dangerous world of cartel crime. But nothing could’ve prepared me for Cristiano de la Rosa, his brother’s poison, or the Calavera cartel.

This is still a story about a love strong enough to topple households, unite enemies, and divide brothers. Resilient enough to bring down those who would try to destroy it . . . and selfless enough to make the ultimate sacrifice.

But I was warned, and so were you. Death’s day always comes. This time, it will find what was once a caterpillar is now a butterfly—and hell hath no fury like the White Monarch.
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4 Stars
Natalia de la Rosa has embraced her role as Calavera cartel royalty, as the wife of Cristiano de la Rosa she is expected to be able to rule and care for the people just as Cristiano does. Cristiano is set on proving his innocence though and has put himself, his team, and Natalia in danger's way. It is only the training that Natalia and the others have received that saves them, but it reveals to everyone in the Calavera that they are not as impenetrable as they once thought. The danger pushes Natalia and Cristiano together and through their relationship they are able to uncover the secrets once buried in order to end things once and for all.

"It was, finally, the first indication that she could find a way to love me."

Violent Triumphs is the final novel in the White Monarch trilogy and it packs a punch. Filled with action and passion, Violent Triumphs takes readers just a bit into the future and presents to us a changed Natalia. She is uncovering the Cristiano we've always known and rooted for, giving readers the relationship we've long waited for. It isn't all romance though, the passion they share burns like fire, it's a push and pull, a testing of strengths and wills. I loved watching them each pull their walls down, revealing to one another their truths and the emotions they've long held onto. It made the entire series worth it. Cristiano is as cocky and alpha as ever and Natalia is finally the strong woman we've wanted her to be.

"If there'd been any question about whether I could learn to follow the devil . . . I had my answer."

More than the relationship development, I enjoyed the action and story line closure in Violent Triumphs the most. Jessica Hawkins has taken us on a roller-coaster in this trilogy, filling the pages with bloodshed, half truths, and deceit. Violent Triumphs not only closes out a difficult chapter in Natalia's life, it answers every question readers have had with great detail and imaginative scenes. It isn't a short, quick read, it takes us all over Mexico with surprises at every turn. It is a fantastic conclusion to the trilogy; filled with character development, danger, and plenty of heat.

Author Bio

Jessica Hawkins is a USA Today bestselling author known for her "emotionally gripping" and "off-the-charts hot" romance. Dubbed "queen of angst" by both peers and readers for her smart and provocative work, she's garnered a cult-like following of fans who love to be torn apart...and put back together.

She writes romance both at home in New York and around the world, a coffee shop traveler who bounces from café to café with just a laptop, headphones, and coffee cup.
She loves to keep in close touch with her readers, mostly via Facebook,
Instagram, and her mailing list.

Author Links

Blog Tour: In the Unlikely Event - L.J. Shen

ITUE - BT banner
In the Unlikely Event AMAZON
"Romance masterpiece" - Kylie Scott, New York Times bestselling author
From USA Today and #1 Amazon bestselling author L.J. Shen comes a new, contemporary romance with heart-wrenching twists and laugh-out-loud moments.
In The Unlikely Event is available now!

Sometimes you meet people who are out of this world, so you make them a part of yours.
A one-night stand born from vengeance in a foreign land.
An explosive chemistry neither of us could deny.
We signed a contract on the back of a Boar’s Head Pub napkin that said if we ever met again, we would drop everything and be together.
Eight years and thousands of miles later, he’s here.
In New York.
And he’s America’s music obsession.
The intangible Irish poet who brings record executives to their knees.
The blizzard in my perfect, unshaken snow globe.
Last time we spoke, he was a beggar with no intention of becoming a king.
But a king he became, and now I’m his servant.
I’m not the same broken princess Malachy Doherty put back together with his callused hands.
I have a career I love.
A boyfriend I adore.
An apartment, a roommate, a life.
I changed. He changed, too.
But Mal kept the napkin.
Question is, will I keep my word?
ITUEavailablenowfbDownload your copy today or read FREE in Kindle Unlimited!
In The Unlikely Event is also available in audio!
Narrated by: Shane East, Muffy Newton and Savannah Peachwood
4 Stars
Aurora "Rory" just wants to know who her father really was, beyond the cards, gifts, and her mother's side. She knows she won't discover it all, but a trip to Ireland should help, right? Except all Ireland brings her is Malachy "Mal," a one night stand, an angry half sister, and a broken heart. One night of passion and allowing hopeless romantic feelings to win leads Rory and Malachy down different paths, ones possibly not destined to cross though they ultimately do. When Rory must take a job spending time both in Ireland and with Mal, she thinks it could be the chance to make their contract a reality, but Mal has other plans in mind, plans that include hiding the truth and taking his revenge.

"I don't want her to be a willing participant in the game. I just want her to partake in it. It will make everything so much messier, and messy is fun."

In the Unlikely Event is one of those books you pick up and the author takes you on an unexpected journey. I knew ITUE was going to be different, L.J. Shen had told readers that, but nothing could've prepared me for Rory, Mal, the laughter, the tears, and some moments of suspended reality. It's got a little bit of everything, but somehow still solidly sits in the rom-com category. It's got highs and lows, pure love and dark, ugly revenge, it's got heat and heart and characters that will stay on your mind until you reach the last page. Rory and Mal are complicated, they are not your typical romance hero and heroine, they've got sharp edges. Their love is even more complicated; a connection, a feeling, a passion they cannot deny and yet their lives are not formed to allow one another in. ITUE takes you on a journey, one that I refuse to spoil for you.

I really think this is a three-star read, but I enjoyed it so much that it became a 3.5, rounded up to 4. It was nonsense and silly and, just as she planned, totally out of left field for L.J. Shen, but I still couldn't put it down. The unique story line and the unbelievable situations the characters are in, it all just made me want to know more. If you're looking for something refreshing, something different, something still a bit romantic, and you can put aside expectations completely, then this one is it for you.

About LJ Shen
LJShenL.J. Shen is a USA Today, Washington Post and Amazon #1 best-selling author of contemporary, New Adult and YA romance. Her books have been sold to nineteen different countries.
She lives in California with her husband, son, cat and eccentric fashion choices, and enjoys good wine, bad reality TV shows and catching sun rays with her lazy cat.

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Sunday, November 24, 2019

Release Blitz & Review: The Mighty Anchor - Carrie Aarons

 The Mighty Anchor (Rogue Academy #3)
by Carrie Aarons
Genre: Sports Romance, New Adult
Published: November 24, 2019

A stoic force to be reckoned with.
The steady rock on which England is destined to lean.
Everyone’s reliable mate, at the ready to defend when called upon.

To the world, Vance Morley is the next great keeper for the Rogue Football Club, biding his time at the academy. The definition of tall, dark and handsome, his quiet confidence and mysterious persona only draw the public in. He’s their mighty anchor, both on and off the pitch.

But when it comes to the one woman he claims to love, he conveniently vanishes at the exact moment I need him. The first time I saw Vance, he was a ten-year-old standing on his lawn across the street. The first time he kissed me, we were sixteen and sitting on the very shores we grew up on. We crashed into each other like waves in a storm, fated to destroy everything in our paths. Including each other.

The first time Vance saw our son, by serendipitous accident, my little boy had already lived the first year of his life. And instantly, the man who chose football over me wants to have it all. There is no way I can trust his declarations of love and fatherhood, especially when I’m set to marry another man.

We’re a new game, one to occupy him until the world stage beckons. But the more I try to tell myself he’s not the one, the more Vance’s efforts to win us back increase.

How can I guard my heart against seeing my son with his father?
Can Vance really sacrifice his dreams in the name of love and family?
Is there a way that everyone else’s safe harbor can finally become mine too?

5 Stars
Unexpectedly my favorite of the series! With an incredible opening scene, set to the song This Year's Love by David Gray, The Mighty Anchor follows keeper Vance Morley as he discovers he has a son. All his life he's been predicted to be the next Keeper for Rogue Football Club, he's just waiting for his turn, but a son, with the woman he's always loved, will change everything for him. Vance and Lara had a relationship that was under wraps, when he leaves her behind she does everything she can to pick up her life. She provides her son a good life, other than hiding his father from him. When Vance comes back into their lives she expects him to run the moment the club comes calling, but Vance is set on proving otherwise.

"We fought hard; we loved harder."

Lara and Vance are both headstrong individuals, they view their previous relationship differently and certainly have different expectations for their future, but they share immense love for their children. I so loved how Carrie Aarons tackled the hidden child story line, this felt more realistic than any I have read before. Vance is a stand up father, he wants to be there for Lara and their son, but he also recognizes why she did what she did. I love how the relationship is formed anew, with just the right amount of drama, angst, and passion. The complications of youth weigh heavy on them, but they tackle them maturely, sometimes with a lot of humor, and in a way that is believable.

"Love is swift and lethal, it has no regard for the emotions of its victims."

The Mighty Anchor is such a fantastic closure to a great sports-romance series. Vance would not have previously been my favorite, but he certainly is now. I loved him, I loved revisiting the friendships he has with Jude and Kingston, and I loved how this book follows a different path than the previous two. I was so caught up in this book, devouring it in just a few hours, and I highly recommend it and the previous novels to all sports-romance fans.

About the Author
Author of romance novels such as The Tenth Girl and Privileged, Carrie Aarons writes books that are just as swoon-worthy as they are sarcastic. A former journalist, she prefers the love stories of her imagination, and the athleisure dress code, much better.

When she isn't writing, Carrie is busy binging reality TV, having a love/hate relationship with cardio, and trying not to burn dinner. She lives in the suburbs of New Jersey with her husband, daughter and Lab/Great Dane rescue.
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