Thursday, October 17, 2019

Review: Where She Went - Kelly Simmons

Where She Went
by Kelly Simmons
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Published October 1, 2019 by Sourcebooks Landmark

What happens when your worst fear comes true?

Her only daughter has just gone away to college, and Maggie O'Farrell knows she's turning into one of those helicopter parents she used to mock. Worrying constantly, texting more than she should, even occasionally dropping by the campus "just to say hi." But Maggie can't shake the feeling that something terrible is about to happen to Emma. And then, just as Maggie starts to relax, her daughter disappears.

The clues are disturbing. An empty dorm room where Emma was supposedly living. A mysterious boy described as Future Husband in her phone. Dormmates who seem more sinister than friendly. As Maggie combs over the campus looking for signs of her daughter, she learns more about Emma's life than she ever thought possible.

Kelly Simmons delivers another gripping novel in Where She Went, an unforgettable story of letting go and the secrets that surface when the person keeping them is gone.

3.5 Stars
Maggie O'Farrell knows the moment she answers the door that something is wrong, you can't be the wife, or widow, of a cop without recognizing right away when a cop is at the door for something bad. She knows something has happened to Emma. As she is escorted to Emma's college she begins to pick apart the things she knows herself, like how Emma couldn't have been staying in the dorm and that something sinister must be lurking in the small college town. As she walks in her daughters footsteps, desperate for answers, she learns she didn't really know Emma at all anymore.

Gripping and fast paced, Where She Went by Kelly Simmons follows Maggie as she pushes for answers in her daughters disappearance. With alternating perspectives, Simmons gives readers a glimpse into Emma's college experiencing leading up to her disappearance and finds Maggie pushing the cops to try harder as she tries to place herself into Emma's shoes. Maggie is the classic, overprotective mom, Emma is the friendly, but naive new college student. They are two peas in a pod, so similar to one another, which I found lent itself to the story. I could see them in one another and believed in Maggie as she followed the few clues she could find. I loved the alternating chapters, it made the book more suspenseful and the anxiety I felt pushed me to keep reading. While I wouldn't call it a thriller, it certainly had all the right elements of a mysterious suspense read.

Where She Went isn't predictable, I really was quite surprised in the end, but it does lack some of the thriller aspects I usually enjoy in my suspense reads. The events leading up to Emma's disappearance feel mundane in comparison to Maggie's encounters as she hunts for clues. The twists are fairly mild and the conclusion felt more like a blanket laid down to soothe fears rather than that feeling of needing a deep breathe after having ran for one's life. It's all a matter of perspective and what you're looking for in your read though. If women's suspense/thriller is what you need for your Autumn cozy read, then I recommend Where She Went for sure.

A quick read that kept me glued to the pages, Where She Went is an intriguing mystery novel with characters that are realistic and relatable. I enjoyed the unraveling of secrets, complicated relationships, and the characters that made this story feel like a true crime read.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Review: The Summer of Secrets - Christina Hart, Cynthia A. Rodriguez, J.R. Rogue

When the Bordeau sisters are reunited for the summer, secrets are born as they each come to terms with small-town living and their familial bonds.

One sister revisits the past.

Another engages with the enemy.

And the last flirts with the forbidden.

The sisters quickly learn that some secrets can bury you, while others can save you.

Ruin Me
◦ a second-chance romance ◦
3.5 Stars

The youngest Bordeau sister has been plagued by her role and nickname of Baby Bordeau for too long, she's using this summer to face everything she left behind and stand up to her sisters. Christina Hart's Ruin Me follows poetry writer Kitty Bordeau as she faces old love, struggles through heartbreak, and fights against the secrets her sisters have kept in the name of love.

"This all feels too familiar. This searching for him. My heart is always searching for him."

A second chance novella in the Summer of Secrets collection, Ruin Me is a fast paced love story set in the heat of summer. With gorgeous, emotional poems kicking off each chapter, Christina Hart takes readers on an angsty journey with 19 year-old Kitty and her ex-beau, Joey. Kitty is such a relatable character, her creativity is her pride and her mental health battle is the driving force. She uses words to battle her demons, especially as her former flame re-enters her life and reignites the flame inside her. It's a summer of push and pull for the young couple, each trying to overcome a past of ugly secrets and lies, each chasing after a love that they don't want to give up.

"For a moment we slipped and said what we meant. The truth has a way of escaping the things we say when the earth falls away."

Ruin Me was a solid introduction to the Bordeau sisters, I loved that it started with Kitty and gave us her youthful perspective on the challenges she and her sisters have faced since the loss of their parents. I do wish it had been longer, the close of Kitty's story comes far too quickly and deserved more fanfare. This was my first Christina Hart read and I can already say, after reading Kitty's perspective and the gorgeous poetry, I will be reading more.
The Summer of Secrets collection starts with an angsty bang and I am already turning the pages to start part two, Hate Me.

Hate Me
◦ a hate-to-love romance ◦
5 Stars
Eloise "Lucy" Bordeau has done everything to keep her parent's bookstore alive, even as her sister's ran from their hometown. She's given up everything, including herself, unable to let go, to chase her dreams too. A handsome stranger, like those in her books, seems like the perfect distraction, until she discovers who he really is. Ezra James holds the money she needs, but the contract he asks her to sign asks for more than interest in return.

"I’ve always heard the saying that there’s a thin line between love and hate. Those people never straddled the line between lust and disdain."

I devoured Hate Me and then I had to live in this uncomfortable feeling of knowing exactly what Eloise was feeling. She's been the rock, the foundation of her sister's lives, and yet she so desperately desires something more, something she won't speak of. One night with a handsome stranger turns into an arrangement she can't refuse, even if it leaves her questioning everything. Filled with secrets and shame, Eloise begins an affair with a man she knows she shouldn't, but she doesn't know the secret he too is keeping. The chemistry between these two is off the charts, I was not prepared for it, but I absolutely loved it.

“God, it’s so fucked up, but I want to be the first man to break your heart,” he murmurs.

Hate Me is novella two in the Summer of Secrets collection and, without hurting anyone's feelings, I will say it's my favorite. It's a sexy, quick read that somehow still made me cry. How is that even a thing? Cynthia brings to life the bookworm, her bookshop, and the take-control man that flips her world upside down. It's a story filled with the pushes and pulls of life, with lust, control, and independence. Eloise was such an interesting character, so perfectly middle sister, and these pages are her truths being revealed, just as Ezra takes the time to reveal her heart and soul.

Teach Me
◦ an age-gap romance ◦
5 Stars
Teach Me, the final novella in the Summer of Secrets series, follows eldest sister Elizabeth Sophie as she navigates the small town of Cherry Cove that she had left behind in search of healing and herself. She wants to help at Bordeau Books, she wants to heal her relationships with her sisters, and she wants younger Sloane Callahan, she just doesn't know how to achieve any of it. With a teaching job and a pile of secrets held close to her chest, Sophie finally allows the great loss of her and her sisters' life to guide her in the direction she must go.

"I think I'm in love with a fleeting moment. Wishing on this stolen thing we have."

Oh my word, J.R. Rogue, you dirty, smutty writer! I mean, with a cover like this I knew I was going to get some naughty out of one of my fave angst queens, but Teach Me was downright the best way possible. A little bit taboo, a lot a bit emotional, Teach Me is the perfect conclusion to the series. Not only do we get closure on the other sisters' stories, but we get the older sister perspective and it brings things full circle. Sloane and Sophie have a shared responsibility, brought about by similar losses. In one another they see a friend, a companion, someone who understands. Through the fog of lust they navigate the difficult waters of grown up responsibility brought on long before it's time. It's heart-wrenching, romantic, and somehow still smutty; J.R. Rogue has talent.

"I want to call him my future. I want to call him mine. I want to crawl into his bed every night. But how can that happen?"

Teach Me is another hit from J.R. Rogue, her lyrical prose weaving a story about love and loss, she takes readers on an emotional journey. As a whole, the Summer of Secrets series was just an incredible reading experience. The three authors, Christina Hart, Cynthia A. Rodriguez, and J.R. Rogue, bring to life the Bordeau sisters, their small town, and their fierce, sometimes difficult love for one another. Together these authors tackle the difficult subject of loss and the painful, beautiful experience of life. I highly recommend these novels and all three authors.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Release Blitz & Review: Neat - Kandi Steiner

Neat - RB banner.jpg
"Rival families. Deep secrets. Exact opposites who can't help but cross all the lines. Neat will leave you thirsty for more Becker Brothers!" -- bestselling author Staci Hart
Neat Cover FINAL.png Neat, an all-new standalone contemporary romance by Kandi Steiner is LIVE!
My life is over.
I swore I would never work at the whiskey distillery with my last name on it, that I would never be a part of my father’s legacy. But when I graduated with my art degree and realized there were no jobs, the devil appeared, and I sold my soul, agreeing to work in the family business if he’d give me the art studio I’d always dreamed of.
It can’t be that bad, I thought.
Until I realized my new boss was Logan Becker.
The Becker brothers have a reputation for being trouble, and since I love trouble, it’s no surprise to me that I’m infatuated by that forbidden fruit the first day I walk into the distillery. That lean, whiskey-eyed, too-hot-for-his-own-good man hates me — and I can’t blame him. His family has been at war with mine for decades, and for good reason.
The Beckers and the Scooters are the Montagues and Capulets of Stratford, Tennessee.
But if he’s Romeo, and I’m Juliet? Well… we all know how that story ends — and for that reason, I tell myself to steer clear.
Because if my father finds out I’m falling for Logan Becker, my life actually will be over.
And Logan’s will be, too.
Neat is a stand-alone book in the Becker Brothers Series.
➔ Small town
➔ Country
➔ Romeo & Juliet vibes
➔ Angst paradise
➔ Holiday romance
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Download your copy today or read FREE in Kindle Unlimited!
Add to GoodReads
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4.5 Stars
Logan Becker: Middle child, whiskey distillery tour guide, and hopelessly crushing on Mallory Scooter, daughter of the sworn enemy, all Scooters.
Mallory Scooter: Outspoken, vibrant, artistic, not your average Scooter.
What starts as a crash course on being the best distillery tour guide becomes a romantic, fast-paced novel with just the right amount of tragedy. Like Romeo and Juliet, the Becker and Scooter families have long feuded over the distillery and its history, and no amount of love between Logan and Mallory will clear it up. A dream of more is all they have to go on, but over whiskey and secret rendezvous the two find love, despite their destinies.

"We were the son and daughter of a bitter rival sparked to life decades ago and still burning hot today."

Opposites attract in Kandi Steiner's latest, Neat. Logan and Mallory are from two different worlds, with Logan's being neat and organized and Mallory's as bright and sharp as whiskey on the tongue. The rivalry runs deep, but just like they are opposites from one another, the two are not like their families either. As they challenge history and fate Logan and Mallory find in one another a love that neither believed they'd ever find. From books to art, and their shared love of the family whiskey, the two find love despite what the stars say. I loved their crash course in romance, how Mallory gave Logan this wild side he'd never have otherwise and how Logan became like gravity for Mallory. They're so suited for one another, but unlike the title of this book there is nothing neat about it and readers get to follow along for the crash, for the comments, the stars, the whispers, and the ever-meddling families.

"That kiss was an answer.
That kiss was a lie.
And distantly, I realized that kiss might be the biggest mistake of my life."

Neat was such a nice little escape, released just in time for the changing season and my desperate need for a romance lighter on the angst. Kandi Steiner gives readers a romance you can cuddle up with, that makes you laugh, smile, and feel just a bit. I so enjoyed this happily ever after and this new perspective from a member of the famous Becker clan. I can't wait for whats next, especially with this book taking us another step closer to the answers we've been seeking since On the Rocks.

About Kandi:
Kandi Steiner is a bestselling author and whiskey connoisseur living in Tampa, FL. Best known for writing “emotional rollercoaster” stories, she loves bringing flawed characters to life and writing about real, raw romance — in all its forms. No two Kandi Steiner books are the same, and if you’re a lover of angsty, emotional, and inspirational reads, she’s your gal.
An alumna of the University of Central Florida, Kandi graduated with a double major in Creative Writing and Advertising/PR with a minor in Women’s Studies. She started writing back in the 4th grade after reading the first Harry Potter installment. In 6th grade, she wrote and edited her own newspaper and distributed to her classmates. Eventually, the principal caught on and the newspaper was quickly halted, though Kandi tried fighting for her “freedom of press.” She took particular interest in writing romance after college, as she has always been a diehard hopeless romantic, and likes to highlight all the challenges of love as well as the triumphs.
When Kandi isn’t writing, you can find her reading books of all kinds, talking with her extremely vocal cat, and spending time with her friends and family. She enjoys live music, traveling, anything heavy in carbs, beach days, movie marathons, craft beer, and sweet wine — not necessarily in that order.
Connect with Kandi
Kandi Steiner may be coming to a city near you! Check out her “events” tab to see all the signings she’s attending in the near future:

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Release Blitz & Review: The Lion Heart - Carrie Aarons

 The Lion Heart (Rogue Academy, Book Two)
Author: Carrie Aarons
Genre: Sports Romance, New Adult
Date: September 15, 2019

He’s supposed to be the ruler of this kingdom.
The prince poised to take his rightful place on the pitch.
Instead, he plays the jester, shunning his legacy.
Only I am privy to his lion heart.

Kingston Phillips is the heir to England’s football dynasty. The offspring of two of the world’s greatest players, the expectations set on his shoulders could crush the universe. But the golden-haired Adonis chooses to live his life as a game; a series of nightclubs, brawls, pranks and different kit chasers parading through his sheets.

I’m the last woman he should chase, and I’ve told him so. My cheeky mouth and icy demeanor guard the secret no one can learn. But when the Casanova I’ve been avoiding becomes the bloke next door, he quickly begins to thaw the frost around my heart. Kingston shows me the ferocious, loyal, protective side of himself that no one else gets to witness.

I begin to realize that he’s just as damaged as I am.
That as much as I try to deny it, we’re the same.
And ... that might just be our undoing.

One-click The Lion Heart now!
4 stars
Kingston Phillips has only ever been shot down by one woman, Poppy Raymond, and he's finally done what she said he had to do to get her attention. He's finally made it to the elites, as part of Rogue Football Club's team Kingston should be able to do anything, but just as Poppy shoots him down he shoots himself down too. Poppy makes Kingston question what it is about football, and being on top, that he loves so much and he's put to the test to prove he belongs there. Along the way he discovers a little challenge never hurt anybody and Poppy, the ice queen, is the best prize he could ask for. As Poppy and Kingston see in one another the darkness they keep within themselves, sparks could fly or they could go up in flames.

"If you believe you're untouchable, you take risks. Risk that the public can see, and ones you're not afraid of answering for."

We first met Kingston Phillips in The Second Coming, a certain scene in that novel with a certain model actually is the kick off to his own story. Kingston is all good looks, charm, and sexual appetite, he's never wanted or needed more. He's the bad boy with an attitude and in The Lion Heart we learn why. It's hard not to like Kingston's swagger and antics, but Poppy Reynolds putting him in his place and then proceeding to draw out a side of him no one has ever seen before is what makes this book so good. The growth they experience and the impact these two characters make on one another is unexpected. It's lust and sexual tension and a heaping pile of humility for Kingston. In The Lion Heart we learn about the dark side to wealth and notoriety. We learn about the secrets, lies, and ugly truths the two swallow to remain on top and what an expensive price it is to pay. I loved reading about them peeling back their layers for one another, each hiding behind beautiful masks and finding love despite it.

"Oh, you'll see. This girl is going to be the end of Kingston Phillips. I can see it already."

It was so nice to visit the Rogue Academy boys, this trio of men have so much to give and their unique stories make the series really stand out. Yes, they're romance novels, but beyond that they aren't predictable. In The Second Coming the sports aspect really led the story, in The Lion Heart we dive into the deep end of fame and fortune, and now we wait for the next. I personally cannot wait to see where Vance's story will take him. The ladies of this series don't take anything lying down and the transformation from the trio of single men to taken men is so entertaining. Carrie Aarons has created a sports romance series with heart.

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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Thursday, September 12, 2019

Review: The Liar's Daughter - Megan Cooley Peterson

The Liar's Daughter
by Megan Cooley Peterson
Published: September 10, 2019 by Holiday House
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Fiction, Cult

Piper was raised in a cult.
She just doesn't know it.

Seventeen-year-old Piper knows that Father is a Prophet. Infallible. The chosen one.

She would do anything for Father. That's why she takes care of all her little sisters. That's why she runs end-of-the-world drills. That's why she never asks questions. Because Father knows best.

Until the day he doesn't. Until the day the government raids the compound and separates Piper from her siblings, from Mother, from the Aunts, from all of Father's followers--even from Caspian, the boy she loves.

Now Piper is living Outside. Among Them.

With a woman They claim is her real mother--a woman They say Father stole her from.

But Piper knows better. And Piper is going to escape.

4 Stars
Piper knows her father is the Chosen One. He is a Prophet that is hoping to protect the people from the Government, from the poisonous food, from the radiation of cell phones. Living with the other children far from the community, Piper helps manage the other children and run end-of-the-world drills, preparing herself and the others for the day when they will be called upon. Only, that day doesn't come and Piper's father might not be telling the truth, because the Government has broken apart the community and Piper finds herself in a strange house, with a strange woman they say is her real mother, and with no idea what has happened to her siblings or the boy she loves. Ripped from the life she knows, Piper grapples with what she believes is the truth and the story she is being told, that she had been kidnapped and that everything she once knew was a lie.

Told from Piper's perspective, The Liar's Daughter alternates between past and present, giving readers a glimpse into life before and after the cult. Rather than focusing on the cult itself, something many authors do, Megan Cooley Peterson gives us only the perspective of one teen, Piper. We understand the beliefs as she understands them, we know her terror and concern about being separated from her family, and we feel just as she does when the kidnapping blow is delivered to her. Piper isn't the most likable character, her childhood upbringing and her family's manipulative beliefs have shaped her and she lacks the childlike, scared quality we expect of a kidnap victim. She instead plans, provokes, or dissociates, bringing a fierceness to her that felt realistic to me. She is a steadfast believer in her father, it is only through time that Piper begins to face the real truth. Jeannine, the woman who has taken her in for the Government as Piper believes, is really her mother and the interactions she has with Piper are so powerful. It is an incredible testament of the love and devotion a mother has for a child.

Megan Cooley Peterson does an incredible job of telling the harrowing story of Piper as she transitions into a life post-cult. The conditioning, the adjustment to life outside the community, and the frightening moments of Piper grappling with what is real and what is not, all bring a touch of realism to this emotional story. A tad on the predictable side, at least for this cult-book fan, The Liar's Daughter is a suspenseful and fascinating young adult read.

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