The Goal by Elle Kennedy

TheGoal iBooks

Title: The Goal

Author: Elle Kennedy

Rating: 5 Stars

Heat Rating: 5 Stars

All The Feels Rating: 5 Stars

Genre: New Adult Romance, Sports Romance

Release Date: September 26th, 2016

ARC received in exchange for an honest review

 

blurb

She’s good at achieving her goals…

College senior Sabrina James has her whole future planned out: graduate from college, kick butt in law school, and land a high-paying job at a cutthroat firm. Her path to escaping her shameful past certainly doesn’t include a gorgeous hockey player who believes in love at first sight. One night of sizzling heat and surprising tenderness is all she’s willing to give John Tucker, but sometimes, one night is all it takes for your entire life to change.

But the game just got a whole lot more complicated

Tucker believes being a team player is as important as being the star. On the ice, he’s fine staying out of the spotlight, but when it comes to becoming a daddy at the age of twenty-two, he refuses to be a bench warmer. It doesn’t hurt that the soon-to-be mother of his child is beautiful, whip-smart, and keeps him on his toes. The problem is, Sabrina’s heart is locked up tight, and the fiery brunette is too stubborn to accept his help. If he wants a life with the woman of his dreams, he’ll have to convince her that some goals can only be made with an assist.

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Ever since I first found out that Tucker was getting his own books, I’ve been highly anticipating getting my greedy little hands on it. The wait was worth it- Elle Kennedy blew me away with this one. Sexy, sweet, hilarious, and heartwarming, The Goal was one emotional roller-coaster, and I didn’t want the ride to end.

You get to know Tucker throughout the first three books in the Off-Campus series, (The Deal, The Mistake, The Score) but this is the first time we get a really good feel for who Tucker is. Let me tell you, if you haven’t already fallen in love with his character, that will change pretty quickly. [John] Tucker is charming, genuine, a loyal friend and true gentleman that happens to have a dirty mind and mouth. He’s the type of person that always tries to do the right thing, even if it’s not always what he wants to do. Then one night he sees Sabrina James and it pretty much changes his life.

Sabrina James isn’t the typical heroine, looking for and open to love. She didn’t have the best upbringing, and it’s her goal to change her life. Determined to go to Law school, Sabrina is focused on her school. Needless to say, she has her heart pretty guarded. So when Tucker appears in her life, she is only willing to give him a night. Well, at least that is the plan at first, because soon one night leads to another and another and another. Soon, she can’t get Tucker off her mind and out of her heart, as much as she’d like to. Then, everything changes when Sabrina takes the biggest test of her life- the results confirming she is pregnant.

I love both these characters. Tucker is just completely swoon worthy. I don’t know how Elle creates such amazing male characters, but I hope she never stops. We get to know Sabrina a bit in The Score, and we don’t get the best first impression of her, being the enemy of Dean and all. However, we see a different picture of her in The Goal. I love that she is independent and doesn’t need a man in her life. I love that she is equally beautiful and intelligent, something we don’t always see in female characters.

The relationship between the two is a slow burn, but in an opposite way than we normally see. Things get steamy between them pretty quickly, but their friendship/relationship is more of a slow incline, and it feels SO authentic. It’s perfection. Though I’ll be real, there were a few times I was yelling at Sabrina to just go for it with Tuck. 😛 The news of the pregnancy brings out a lot of emotions and does add some complications. I don’t want to go too much into details, because y0u need to experience it yourself, but I will just say I wish I could have Tuckers babies. Lol!

The Goal is truly incredible. It is everything, and more, that you want in a book. Great characters, amazing writing, and a plot that pulls you in from page one. I might have even teared up at times. I also love seeing the rest of the gang- Garrett, Hannah, Logan, Grace, Dean and Allie. It also has some other secondary characters that were lovely as well.

Do yourself a favor and read this book. You will have no regrets. Also, while this book is the 4th in the Off-Campus series, it can be read as a standalone. However, you will want to read the others, I assure you. Sigh, Garrett Graham. 🙂

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Just Friends by Monica Murphy

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Title: Just Friends

Author: Monica Murphy

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Heat Rating: 3 Stars

All The Feels Rating: 3 Stars

Genre: New Adult Romance

Release Date: September 13th, 2016

ARC received in exchange for an honest review

 

blurb

It’s the end of summer. Just before I start senior year with my two best friends in the whole world. Dustin and Emily are everything to me. We’ve been inseparable since middle school, and when we’re together, nothing can go wrong.

But things aren’t always what they seem. Em’s turned into a drunken mess who parties too much. Dustin and I have hooked up a few times―and now he’s ready to take our relationship to the next level. Yet I’m not sure I want things to change. I’m scared if I take it any further with Dustin, our friendship will be ruined forever. Then there’s Ryan. The new guy. He’s hot. He flirts way too much. And Em has totally set her sights on him.

So when my best friend betrays me in the worst possible way, guess who’s there to help me pick up the pieces of my broken heart? Ryan. But he’s so confusing. Annoying. Sweet. Sexy. I want to trust him, yet he makes it so hard. What I really want is for everything to go back to the way it was before.

Before I found out that best friends make the worst kind of enemies.

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What do you get when you add three best friends, one new boy, a ton of hormones, and some little things called feelings? A whole lot of drama.

The story is told from the POV of Olivia. She had just spent the summer before her senior year at her dad’s house in another state, and misses her best friends Dustin and Em (Emily) like crazy. There are already some complications: Dustin and Olivia have been hooking up, and Dustin wants more, while Olivia is unsure of what she wants. When she meets up with her friends, she finds that Em has changed slightly. She is partying harder than normal, has some weird tension with Dustin and has been hooking up with the new boy, Ryan.

Against her best attempts, Olivia finds herself attracted to Ryan, even though she isn’t sure if she can stand the guy. He’s overly flirtatious with her, while at the same time hooking up with her friend. Plus, she sound only be thinking about Dustin, who wants to be with her more than ever. So while Olivia tries to focus on Dustin and their kinda, maybe relationship, she finds herself enjoying being around Ryan. A little too much.

Then after Olivia finds out that Dustin and Em have betrayed her, she only has two people to turn to: Her new friend Amanda and Ryan. The more time she spends with Ryan, things go from friendly to more. But he doesn’t always show the best colors, and Olivia finds herself thinking of Dustin. If she could ever forgive him.

We get to know Olivia the best, since it’s her POV. I thought she was a good character, I got annoyed at how she kept being there for Em when clearly she didn’t deserve that. I don’t mind that she has mixed feelings between Ryan and Dustin, because it felt real and natural, and with their age, isn’t uncommon.

I’m honestly not sure if I’m team Dustin or team Ryan. They both got on my nerves and had their high and low points. I hope they both are better in the second book, or at least the one she ends up with.

Dustin has been her friend for so long. He is caring and sweet, and you can tell how much he cares about her. They have chemistry, but it’s hard to tell if it would last. I also can’t forget how he betrayed her. It’s super low for him, especially since he claims he loves her so much. I get he’s a young dude, but it was hard for me to forgive him, so I couldn’t picture how it would be for Olivia’s character.

Ryan is hot. He’s charming, flirty and is used to getting what he wants. He and Olivia have this instant attraction to each other. He also proves to be a good friend to her in her time of need. However, I’m not sure if he is always 100% honest with her. I hope for the best with him, but I’m not sure if I can fully trust him. He also says a few mean things to Olivia, and I’m slightly annoyed at how easily she forgives him, but then again, it does fit their ages.

Em…. I did not like her at all- I don’t think you are supposed to. She’s rich, spoiled and doesn’t seem to have a genuine bone in her body. I think she takes pleasure in watching others suffer, maybe to make herself feel better. It’s pretty obvious she is jealous of Dustin and Olivia and has feelings for Dustin.

There are a few minor characters I enjoy- Tuttle and Amanda. I enjoyed the fact that Olivia had a real friend in Amanda.

This is a two part book, so it does end with a cliff hanger.

This book made me laugh and smile, swoon, and also had my stomach in knots. It features high school characters, but reads as NA.

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ATAs

Monica Murphy is the New York Times, USA Today and #1 international bestselling author of the One Week Girlfriend series, the Billionaire Bachelors and The Rules series. Her books have been translated in almost a dozen languages and has sold over one million copies worldwide. She is both self-published and published by Random House/Bantam and Harper Collins/Avon. She writes new adult, young adult and contemporary romance.

She is a wife and a mother of three who lives in central California on fourteen acres in the middle of nowhere along with their one dog and too many cats. A self-confessed workaholic, when she’s not writing, she’s reading or hanging out with her husband and kids. She’s a firm believer in happy endings, though she will admit to putting her characters through angst-filled moments before they finally get that hard won HEA.

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My Song For You by Stina Lindenblatt

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Title: My Song For You (Pushing Limits #2)

Author: Stina Lindenblatt

Rating: 4 Stars

Heat Rating: 3.5 Stars

All The Feels Rating: 4.5 Stars

Genre: Romance

Release Date: September 6th, 2016

ARC received in exchange for an honest review

 

blurb

At twenty-one, Jared Leigh had been prepared to give up the life of a touring musician to be a father after getting his girlfriend pregnant. When she told him that she’d gotten an abortion, Jared was devastated. Now at least he has the groupies to keep him company—until a blast from the past rocks his world.

Callie Talbert hasn’t seen her sister’s ex since high school. But after Callie bumps into Jared while she’s grocery shopping with four-year-old Logan, there’s a spark that wasn’t there before. Jared quickly realizes that her deaf “son” is the same age his own child would have been. When Jared demands to know more about Logan, Callie panics. There are things she just can’t tell him. Besides, Jared’s a bad-boy rocker, not a dependable father figure. He’ll move on to his next gig soon enough . . . right?

Trouble is, Jared refuses to be pushed away, and the more quality time he spends with Logan, the more he’s captivated by the woman Callie has become. When the truth is revealed, Jared only hopes that the three of them have what it takes to become a real family.

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This was my first time reading a book by Stina Lindenblatt, and it’s safe to say she has a new fan. My Song For You is the kind of book that sneaks up on you. Based on the blurb, I was knew this was going to be a cute read, but I had no idea I was in for something so sweet, touching and swoon worthy. It truly takes you through all kinds of emotions as you read it, and is one of my favorite feel good reads.

For Jared Leigh, music and his band, is his life. Thanks to a bad breakup, he has no interest in dating, but he does take advantage of a major perk of being a famous musician: Groupies. When he runs into Callie Talbert, the little sister of the source of the bad break up, he is shocked at how much she’s grown. And how attracted he is to her. But she’s a mom now, and doesn’t seem too happy to see Jared.

Callie also has no interest in dating, but for completely different reasons. Between raising a four year old, working as a waitress, and trying to finish school, there is little time to think about men. When Callie bumps into Jared, her inner teenager self is thrilled to see her long term crush, but grown up Callie knows him entering her life is too complicated. Jared is Logan’s father, and it would be all too easy for him to hurt Logan- or worse- try to take him away.

The more time Jared spends with Callie and Logan, the more she can’t deny the bond that is starting between Jared and his son. And against her will, she also can’t deny the chemistry that her and Jared have. The temptation to stop holding back is so strong, but Callie knows if the truth comes out it could all fall apart.

One thing that makes My Song For You so great is there isn’t just one relationship to fall in love with. You have Jared and Callie’s relationship, of course, but there is also the one between Callie and Logan, Jared and Logan, and the three of them together. Each relationship had it’s own journey, struggles, and moments that make you smile. The way that Callie and Logan love each other unconditionally is so touching. Seeing Jared bond with Logan- even learning sign language on his own-will warm your heart. As for Jared and Callie, well they have so much chemistry you could almost feel the sizzling hot tension between them.

This book is so well written, Stina Lindenblatt really did such a great job. The pacing was perfect, the characters had strong voices, and went through real growth as the book went along. I think Logan might have stole the show for me. He was so adorable, he really gets to you. Reading a book with a young child is always hit or miss with me. I find a lot of the time authors try too hard to make the kids cute that it doesn’t feel real. It was quite the opposite with Logan, I loved everything about him and his story. He had me laughing out loud quite a bit.

While the book was predictable at times, it’s not a negative in anyway. There are some twists and turns in there as well, so the plot doesn’t go exactly how you think it will. You get to know Jared’s band, and I hope we get to see more of them in the future!

It is the second book in the Pushing Limits series, but can be read as a standalone. You can find more about the first book, This One Moment, here. (It is now waiting for me on my kindle).

If you love rock star books, read this book. If you love heartwarming books, read this book. If you love sexy, slightly forbidden love books, you don’t want to miss this book. Releasing September 6th!

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Anti-Stepbrother by Tijan

anti stepbrother ad

Title: Anti-StepBrother

Author: Tijan

Rating: 4 Stars

Heat Rating: 3 Stars

All The Feels Rating: 3.5 Stars

Genre: New Adult Romance

Release Date: August 22nd, 2016

ARC received in exchange for an honest review

blurb

He told me to ‘settle, girl.’
He asked if ‘something was wrong with me?’
He said I was an ‘easy target.’
That was within minutes when I first met Caden Banks.
I labeled him an *sshole, but he was more than that. Arrogant. Smug. Alpha.

He was also to-die-for gorgeous, and my stepbrother’s fraternity brother.

Okay, yes I was a little naive, a tad bit socially awkward, and the smallest amount of stalker-ish, but if Caden Banks thought he could tell me what to do, he had another thing coming.

I came to college with daydreams about being with my stepbrother, but what would happen if I fell for the anti-stepbrother instead?

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The first thing that comes to mind while trying to sum up Anti-Stepbrother is ‘dramalicious’. Is that a word? If not, it really should be. It’s also angsty, funny, sexy, and romantic. It’s one of those books that make it hard to review, since you don’t want to give too much information. You don’t want to miss this book.

When Summer Stoltz arrives at college, she has one mission: getting her step-brother Kevin’s heart.  Arriving at a party unannounced seemed like a good idea, until all too quickly Summer realized it wasn’t. Not only was her mission temporarily aborted, she ended up meeting Caden Banks, the biggest asshole she had ever met. Otherwise known as Kevin’s frat brother.

It’s easy to say that Summer and Caden don’t get off on the right foot, though after several random run in’s with each other, they start to becomes friends.  It’s not so easy, since Caden and Kevin can’t stand each other. Eventually, those friendly feelings that Summer has for Caden’s changes into something completely different, something much more intense. But they are just friends. Caden doesn’t seem like the boyfriend type, and if he was, it wouldn’t be with a girl like Summer. Right?

I have to say my favorite thing about this book is how freaking natural and realistic Caden and Summer’s relationship felt. The progression was amazing, it wasn’t rush and didn’t feel forced- you honestly could feel the connection growing between them. You could also feel the sexual tension, which was a delicious torture, since this book was a bit more on the slow burn side. I loved Caden. He was the perfect mixture of alpha male and sweet guy. There were layers to him, he wasn’t just a character that goes around punching other guys that look at his girlfriend. Summer was naive but insightful. Funny, but a tad awkward. At times she was immature, but that is true to her character’s age, being a freshman in college.

I loved getting to know Marcus, Caden’s brother, and the rest of Caden’s family. That story line was unexpected and tugged on the heartstrings. I also enjoyed Avery, who starts off as Summer’s RA and quickly becomes one of her best friends. I didn’t like Kevin, but then again, I don’t think we are suppose to. 😉

Being as they are in college, there is often talk of parties/drinking, relationship issues, and as I mentioned before, it is dramalicious.

The only issue I had was that while Caden and Summer’s relationship was the perfect pace, other aspects in the book seemed to drag on or go too quickly. It wasn’t a huge deal though, and all in all, I really enjoyed it.

excerpt

He wasn’t looking at me any more. I wasn’t even sure he was really in the room.

I needed to leave this alone. He had given me the clues—looking away, his jaw clenching, pain like I’d never heard from him sounding loud and clear. My instincts were telling me to shut up, but I couldn’t. I had this burning need to know more about Caden. I needed to get in there, past his walls, and I wanted to understand him.

I wanted to help him.

Caden was hurting, and I wanted to take that away.

“What happened?”

Caden turned his gaze to me now, and I felt branded by the pain I saw. His eyes were stricken. “Does it matter?”

“No.” My breath caught and held in my chest. I wanted to go to him, but I also wanted to slink away. I was stirring up his pain, but I had to know. “What happened, Caden?”

“Why do you have to know?”

“Because it’s hurting you.”

I made a decision, though I had no idea what the ramifications were going to be. I stood, my legs going numb and my stomach clenching, and I moved to his side. He leaned back, his head falling to the couch, and he watched me.

The need to ease some of his hurt outweighed the fear of what would happen next. Swallowing tightly, I stepped over to straddle him and sat down.

“What are you doing?”

He asked that softly, still holding his beer. I took it from his hands and put it on the stand next to the couch. Then I just sat there. He had to do the rest. I’d already made the first move.

I glanced down at his hands, feeling like an idiot. “What happened?”

“Why are you pushing this?”

I looked back up to find confusion warring with need in his eyes. He wasn’t pushing me away, so I sank further into his lap.

“You haven’t told anyone else about this.” It wasn’t really a question, but I saw the confirmation in his eyes. My chest tightened, thinking about whatever secret he held. “Please tell me.”

“No.” He shifted forward, and I braced myself, expecting him to push me away. He didn’t. His hands grasped the backs of my legs and lifted me so I was more fully on his lap.

I could feel him between my legs, and my breasts almost pressed against his chest. I waited. I wanted to see what else he’d say

“But not because I don’t want you to know,” he added. “Because it’s not my secret to tell.”

I nodded, my stomach doing somersaults now. “That makes sense. I can respect that.”

And there we were. His hands cupped my ass, and the pain in his gaze became something darker, something I felt too, something that began to turn off all rational thought.

“What are we doing here?” he questioned, his voice like a caress in itself.

I leaned forward, my gaze lingering on his lips. “I didn’t really think it through.”

“And now?”

“Still not thinking it through.”

“You’re okay with that?”

In that moment, the truth exploded in me. I wanted him. I wanted this—but it was more. I needed this.

I didn’t answer.

I closed the distance between us.

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ATAs

I didn’t begin writing until after undergraduate college. There’d been storylines and characters in my head all my life, but it came to a boiling point one day and I HAD to get them out of me. So the computer was booted up and I FINALLY felt it click. Writing is what I needed to do. After that, I had to teach myself how to write. I can’t blame my teachers for not teaching me all those years in school. It was my fault. I was one of the students that was wishing I was anywhere but at school! So after that day, it took me lots of work until I was able to put together something that resembled a novel. I’m hoping I got it right since someone must be reading this profile! And I hope you keep enjoying my future stories.

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Blind Landing by Carrie Aarons

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Title: Blind Landing (Series: Flipped #1)

Author: Carrie Aarons

Rating: 4 Stars

Heat Rating: 3.5 Stars

All The Feels Rating: 3.5 Stars

Genre: Sports Romance

Release Date: August 4, 2016

ARC received in exchange for an honest review

 

blurb

Fear stops dreams in their tracks before they even have a chance. Then again, so do injuries.

Natalia Grekov was born to win Olympic gold. As the USA’s top gymnast, she’s calm, confident and ready to make her country proud in just two short months. And her elite athlete lifestyle includes no time for distractions—especially men. When a disastrous fall in practice puts her dreams at risk, it seems the only person who can help her is the one person she wants nothing from.

Spencer Russell is gymnastics’ bad boy. A cocky, laid-back charmer with abs of steel and a witty mouth, he waltzes around the U.S. Gymnastics Training Camp like he owns the place—even though he doesn’t anymore. After an injury sidelined his career and any chance at Olympic glory, he’s now just a coach, helping other gymnasts reach their goals. Serious is not a word in Spencer’s vocabulary. But when Natalia tumbles into his
life, he’s suddenly sincerely interested in helping the blonde beauty in any way he can.

Can they vault over the obstacles standing in their way? Or will Spencer be the distraction that causes Natalia’s chance at gold to crash and burn?

excerpt

Novak claps again and I look over in his direction. “Thank you for being able to join us this morning, Spencer.”

Turning towards the gym’s front doors, I watch Spence, as he told me to call him last night, stroll in clad in his typical wardrobe of sandals and workout shorts.

And nothing else.

Jesus, he’s sexy. With all of those carved-out- of-stone muscles and short brown buzz cut, it’s like he should be in a Marines uniform instead of in a chalk-covered gym. He looks like he just rolled out of bed three seconds ago, and I squirm in my split. Which only adds to my building frustration as the carpet and my leotard create friction below my waistline.

“Oh, no problem, boss. Anything for you guys.” He gives a lopsided grin and jumps onto a stack of mats, lounging with one elbow propping him up. It’s as if he’s constantly posing for a non-existent camera, like he’s the star model for a shoot in Gymnastics Monthly.

Actually, I think he did have a five-page spread a couple years back and I have it somewhere in my desk at home.

“Grace, Julia, Natalia, Peyton, Quinn and Lila … you are headed to the bars gym for the first part of practice today. Spencer, I will be assessing the men on pommel horse for the first part of the day, so you will be helping with the girl’s bar workout.”

My stomach flips. Bars is my best event, I’m not nervous about that. I could do my routine, which is one of the hardest of anyone at Filipek’s, in my sleep.

But having Spence watching me with those green eyes? Tracking my body as it spins and flies through the air?

It makes the butterflies in my stomach explode.

I know he likes me, genuinely likes me. I know because he told me. And I genuinely like him too. We also find each other hot, or else we wouldn’t have gotten naked together in the Atlantic Ocean last night. That’s obvious.

But I don’t do boyfriends. Especially not boyfriends who are gymnasts. And don’t even get me started on the gymnast turned coach thing. Even if he isn’t my coach. Point is, I don’t even do hookups. Sure, I have in the past, but most of the time I find that the sex isn’t worth it and things just get awkward. Most would call me more adult than my years in this thought-process, but being an elite athlete means having to grow up fast. My biography might read nineteen, but I’ve been told I have the maturity and life view of a thirty-year- old. Talk about being jaded.

The whole relationship thing, no matter what form it’s in, is just too messy. And as much as I hate Filipek and everything he stands for, I need to focus to achieve my goals. I’m not here to fulfill anyone else’s dreams, just my own. And partially my families.

I don’t have time for Spencer Russell. And what’s more, I have a feeling Spencer Russell does not have time or interest for girlfriends either.

Spence salutes Novak, taunting him and crossing the line just a little more than anyone would dare where he’s concerned.

Then he turns to our group. “All right chicas, let’s get moving. Someone remind me again, what’s this low bar for?”

The rest of our group giggles and bats their eyes at Spencer, but I just roll mine. His humor about the difference between the men’s high bar and the women’s uneven bars is the oldest joke in the book.

“Why don’t you watch and learn? We’ll show you what real gymnastics looks like.”

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With the 2016 summer Olympics approaching, this is a great book to really get you in the spirit. It’s also a great book even if you could careless about the games, and just want a romantic book to read. Blind Landing is a quick read, funny, sweet and sexy- with a hero you can’t help but fall for.

Natalia Grekov is training to make her dream come true- compete, and win, in the Olympics. However, she is experiencing an emotion she isn’t used to, fear. It’s in the back of her mind, reminding her of what could go wrong. With her every move being watched to see if she makes the team, she tries to push it away. Determined and focused, gymnastics are the only thing on her mind. Well, sort of.

Spencer Russell is the play boy of gymnastics, even if he can’t compete anymore. An injury has crushed his dreams of the Olympics, and now he spends his time coaching others to get to theirs. He’s too charming, too attractive, and too cocky for his own good. But he also has a softer side, that starts to show when he helps Natalia get over her fear. There is also the sizzling sexual tension between them but they would both rather ignore it. At least, for a while.

One thing I really enjoyed about Blind Landing was that even though I have a very limited knowledge of gymnastics, I never felt lost with the details. You can tell Aaron’s knows her stuff when it comes to the sport, however it doesn’t feel too heavy or complicated. You can follow along easily and it isn’t overbearing.

Spencer is the best thing about this book. He is the typical bad boy that trips over a girl, turning him to a romantic sap. Even though that type of hero has been done a lot, I felt that Spencer had a strong, unique voice. I love how hilarious and sarcastic he is, mixed along with his romantic moments. If you enjoy banter between love interests, you will enjoy some of that in this book. Natalia and Spencer really go back and fourth, pushing each other.

I’m not sure why, but I didn’t connect as well to Natalia. There is nothing I can pin point about her that makes her that way though, I just felt like something was missing with her. The extra oomph so to speak.

I thought the writing was great and it flowed nicely. I loved some of the secondary characters and would be interested in their stories. At times the plot was predictable and corny, but I don’t mind that. There were just a few instances that felt a little dramatic to me, but all in all I really enjoyed it.

Trust me, you want to meet Spencer!

Blind Landing

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ATAs

Author of romance novels such as Red Card and the Captive Heart Duet, Carrie Aarons writes sexy, swoony and sarcastic characters who won’t get out of her head until she puts them down on a page.

Carrie has wanted to be an author since the first time she opened a book. She loves spinning tales that include dapper men, women with attitude, and the occasional hunky athlete.

When she isn’t in what her husband calls a “writing coma”, Carrie is freeing up her jam-packed DVR, starting

her latest DIY project, or planning her next travel adventure. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, who is more than happy to watch sports while his wife plots love stories.

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Steadfast by Sarina Bowen

steadfast

Author: Sarina Bowen

Release Date: July 12th, 2016

Rating: 5 Stars

Heat Rating: 4.5 Stars

All The Feels Rating: 5++++ Stars

Series: True North #2- Can be read as a standalone!

ARC received in exchange for an honest review.

 

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Jude lost everything one spring day when he crashed his car into an apple tree on the side of the road. A man is dead, and there’s no way he can ever right that wrong. He’d steer clear of Colebury, Vermont forever if he could. But an ex-con in recovery for his drug addiction can’t find a job just anywhere.

For Sophie Haines, coming face to face with the man who broke her heart is gut-wrenching. Suddenly, he’s everywhere she turns. It’s hard not to stare at how much he’s changed. The bad boy who used to love her didn’t have big biceps and sun-kissed hair. And he’d never turn up volunteer in the church kitchen.

She knows it’s foolish to yearn for the man who returned all the heartsick letters she wrote him in prison. But the looks he sends her now speak volumes.

No one wants to see Sophie and Jude back together, least of all Sophie’s police chief father. But it’s a small town. And forbidden love is a law unto itself.

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Normally I’m so indecisive when it comes to my favorite Sarina Bowen book. It often changes with my mood and there is never a wrong answer. However, after reading Steadfast I can say it is now, hands down, my favorite one. This book is one emotional roller-coaster and I never wanted the ride to end. So hold on tight, because this one has drops, loops, and twists and turns that will leave your head spinning and your heart pounding. In the best possible way.

When Jude’s job at the Shipley‘s farm is over, he finds himself back in his hometown, one of the last places he wants to be. For an ex-con and recovering drug addict, being back in Colebury, Vermont means the memories are too strong and the drug offers are right around the corner. Not to mention Sophie Haines is also in Colebury, which is equally awesome and awful to Jude.

Jude has always been in the back of Sophie’s mind, no matter if she wants him there or not. There are so many reasons why Sophie shouldn’t spare Jude a single thought, let alone miss him but you can’t always control your mind. Or your broken heart.

Small towns aren’t usually on your side when attempting to avoid someone, and it’s only a matter of time before Jude and Sophie run into each other. The more time they spend together, the more the spark grows between the two of them- the spark that never really faded out. However, it’s not that easy or simple. No one wants the two of them to be together, even Jude and Sophie themselves at times. There are struggles to overcome. Mistakes to forgive. Bridges to rebuild. But sometimes, just sometimes, love does really conquer all.

Sarina Bowen truly deserves a round of applause for Steadfast, particularly with Jude’s character. He was so raw, so genuine, that at times I had to remind myself he wasn’t a real person. I felt his heartache and his regret. I felt his shame and his pride. I felt his desire to change and grow. I felt his cravings for the drugs he wants nothing to do with. Jude’s recovery journey wasn’t always easy to read. My heart broke for him and admittedly, I shed a lot of tears. His character was a reminder that we shouldn’t write off people struggling with addiction, or judge their journey with it. That even good people make stupid mistakes, and those stupid mistakes shouldn’t completely define what kind of person they are. I can’t enough how much I ❤ Jude.

Jude doesn’t completely steal the show, because Sophie is a great character as well. The struggles Sophie feels with her feelings for Jude are believable and at times heartbreaking. She had a battle to get through between what is right and wrong, though she finds it isn’t always so black and white. Her family life isn’t the best, yet she remains a positive, selfless person. I loved the little side story featuring Sophie’s job, it was very sweet and touching.

You also got to see some familar faces in this book, featuring Audrey and the whole Shipley gang. In addiction to Sophie, they are a positive light in Jude’s life, and I loved seeing his bond with them grow even more in this book.

Steadfast is truly an incredible read, that you don’t want to miss. Yes, it’s dark at times. Yes, it keeps you on the edge of your seat- or in my case, turning my stomach into butterfly conservatory. But it’s also touching, heartwarming and when it’s all said and done, is a true feel good read.

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Find Steadfast

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ATAs

Sarina Bowen is the USA Today bestselling author of steamy, angsty Contemporary Romance and New Adult fiction. She lives in the wilds of Vermont.

She is the author of The Ivy Years, an award-winning series set amid the hockey team at an elite Connecticut college. Also, the The Gravity series.

With Elle Kennedy, Sarina is the author of HIM and US.

COMING IN 2016: Two New Series!

Stay tuned for a new Vermont contemporary romance series, True North, and hockey novels from Penguin Berkley including Rookie Move.

Sarina enjoys skiing, espresso drinks and the occasional margarita. She lives with her family, eight chickens and more ski gear and hockey equipment than seems necessary.

Find Her:

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Bittersweet by Sarina Bowen

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Author: Sarina Bowen

Release Date: June 14th, 2016

Genre: Romance

Rating: 5 Stars

Heat Rating: 4 Stars

All The Feels Rating: 5 Stars

ARC received in exchange for honest review.

 

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If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the orchard.

The last person Griffin Shipley expects to find stuck in a ditch on his Vermont country road is his ex-hookup. Five years ago they’d shared a couple of steamy nights together. But that was a lifetime ago.

At twenty-seven, Griff is now the accidental patriarch of his family farm. Even his enormous shoulders feel the strain of supporting his mother, three siblings and a dotty grandfather. He doesn’t have time for the sorority girl who’s shown up expecting to buy his harvest at half price.

Vermont was never in Audrey Kidder’s travel plans. Neither was Griff Shipley. But she needs a second chance with the restaurant conglomerate employing her. Okay—a fifth chance. And no self-righteous lumbersexual farmer will stand in her way.

They’re adversaries. They want entirely different things from life. Too bad their sexual chemistry is as hot as Audrey’s top secret enchilada sauce, and then some.

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I love Sarina Bowen. With each book she writes, she has the uncanny ability to bring to life these amazing characters and places. Bittersweet is clever, fun, delivers the feels, and is a bit dirty-this is one trip to the farm you don’t want to miss.

Griffin Shipley (Griff) has a lot on his plate. Not only is he trying to run a farm- which he wasn’t planning on doing- he also has to take care of his family. Griff has a tough otter shell, complete with a scrawl, muscles, flannel shirts, and a sexy beard. And even though Griff knows you can expect the unexpected in life, he still isn’t prepared to come face to face with Audrey Kidder again.

Audrey Kidder has it rough. She is on the last straw with her job and is trying to prove to her mother she can make it on her own. So when she is given a difficult task, she is in no position to turn it down. Now she has to try to get farmers to sell produce and cider to her at a decent price. Well, decent to the eyes of her boss. And unfortunately for Audrey, she has to start with the grumpy, bearded farmer first.

I love the relationship between Audrey and Griff. They have an awkward past, and certainly do not get off on the right foot when Audrey shows up on his farm. Even though they get on each other nerves, there is this sexual tension between the two of them that they can’t fight off for long. Which means some STEAMY scenes- yes please! Audrey’s light, easy, energetic personality brings some of that out in Griff. I love that Griff encourages Audrey to stand up for herself and to have more of a backbone. I also love how they believe in each others dreams- Audrey with becoming a chef and Griff with his cider making.

In addition to their relationship together, I also love both of their relationships with Griff’s family. Partially his mother, who is the exact opposite of Audrey’s. Not to mention two of the guys that help work on the farm, Zach and Jude. There was SO much personality in this book, and no two characters sounded the same.

Now, since this book does revolve around a farmer and his farm, there is a lot of detail surrounding that. I can’t express how perfectly Sarina pulled this off. The information she gives paints vivid pictures in my mind, but doesn’t come off as boring or a Farming for Dummies book.

There are some twists and turns in this book, and oh my gosh, you will get flutters at times. You don’t want to miss this book!

Purchase Bittersweet:

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Check out my Q&A with Sarina Here!

Her One And Only by Becky Wade

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Author: Becky Wade

Genre: Contemporary Romance, Christian Romance , Romantic Suspense

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Heat Rating: 1

All the feels Rating: 4

Release Date: May 3rd

Copy kindly provided by Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.

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After ten years in the NFL, superstar Gray Fowler is accustomed to obsessive fans. But when Gray starts receiving death threats from a stalker, his team hires an executive protection agency to guard him until the culprit is caught. Dealing with bodyguards 24/7 is a headache, especially when one of them is a young, beautiful woman. How can a female half his size possibly protect him better than he can protect himself?

Dru Porter is a former Marine, an expert markswoman, and a black belt–none of which saved her from disaster on her last assignment. In order to rebuild her tarnished reputation, she’s determined to find Gray’s stalker and, since relationships between agents and clients are forbidden, avoid a romantic attachment between herself and the rugged football player with the mysterious past.

Yet every secret that leads Dru closer to the stalker also draws her closer to Gray. As the danger escalates, they’ll survive only if they can learn to trust their lives–and their hearts–to one another

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Gray Fowler, famous tight end for the Dallas Mustangs, is pretty surprised when he discovers one of his new (unwanted) body guards is an attractive female. Unfortunately, Dru Porter isn’t too surprised to see the reaction Gray has to her being a woman. As a former Marine and current executive protection agent, Dru is more than qualified, but knows she has to prove herself more than any man would. Since she loves what she does, she is willing to put up with her clients egos. Even Gray’s massive one, no matter how much he protests he doesn’t need her help.

They are quick to judge each other- Dru thinks of Gray as a stubborn womanizer, who doesn’t take anything seriously besides football. Gray thinks of Dru as a cold, uptight woman, who may be more stubborn than he is. But as Gray’s stalker becomes more and more aggressive, the two of them grow closer, and an unlikely friendship forms between them. A friendship that starts to feel like it could be more.

Her One And Only is touching, sweet, and filled with a splash of suspense. It’s a great enemies to lovers tale, that feels real and honest. It’s the kind of book that will make you smile as you read it, but also reflect on your own life.

I loved Dru. I thought Becky Wade did a perfect job with her. She is tough, independent, comfortable with her faith- basically the type of person you can’t help but root for. She also has some insecurities, like the rest of us, and at times is vulnerable behind her hard outer shell. Clearly she is selfless, since she puts herself on the line for another person for her career.

I also loved the character of Gray, even though at first he is almost the complete opposite of Dru. He is cocky, arrogant, doesn’t take anything besides football seriously, and is charming- using that fully to his advantage. However, Wade added more dept to him, giving him a rough back story, that makes you feel for the guy. Gray is actually a pretty good guy, a great friend, and even, dare I say, romantic at times? He defiantly grows on you. I love that he starts to accept his flaws, and works to change them. Not only for Dru, but for himself. To be a better man.

Becky Wade did a fabulous job with Her One And Only. Not everyone can create characters you connect with right away, but she manage to pull it off. Besides the romance of the book, I also liked the twists and turns with Gray’s stalker. It gave the book a little extra oomph. If you are looking for sweet romance, a book with a big heart, talk of faith, some sports talk and suspense, you need to check out Her One And Only. It is part of a series, though can be read as a standalone!

Purchance Her One And Only

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ATAs

During her childhood in California, Becky frequently produced homemade plays starring her sisters, friends, and cousins. These plays almost always featured a heroine, a prince, and a love story with a happy ending. She’s been a fan of all things romantic ever since.

Becky and her husband lived overseas in the Caribbean and Australia before settling in Dallas, Texas. It was during her years abroad that Becky’s passion for reading turned into a passion for writing. She published three historical romances with Avon Books, then put her career on hold for several years to care for her three kids, then recently returned to writing sheerly for the love of it. She felt led to move to the genre of contemporary Christian romance and couldn’t be more thrilled with it.

These days Becky can be found failing but trying to keep up with her housework, sweating at the gym, carting her kids around town, playing tennis, hunched over her computer, eating chocolate, or collapsed on the sofa watching TV with her husband.

Visit Becky’s Website!

Somewhere In Between by Shirl Rickman

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Author: Shirl Rickman

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Release Date: April 26th, 2016

ARC received in exchange for an honest review.

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The art of romance is dead…

Tessa Collins loves people. She loves her job, loves her family—and on most days, loves her crazy best friend, Chad. Determined and independent, Tessa believes in love; she just doesn’t believe romantic love really exists anymore. Real love is for fools.

Jaded and closed off: That’s what they say about Lenox Malone…

He believed in love once; loved his girl, loved writing—Lenox loved romance when the whole world believed it was dead. But then he was scarred by it, and alone. Finally moving past the pain love ignited inside him, he never wants to risk being jaded again.

A journal and a chance encounter…

When the handwritten words of a lovesick stranger find their way into her hands, Tessa’s heart begins to… open. To flutter. To grow. To invite inside her weary heart the possibility that perhaps romance and true love really do exist. But can it exist for her? Can a chance connection and fate’s design unlock one of the greatest love stories of all?

Their own.

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Romance is not dead, and I’m thankful to Shirl Rickman for writing a book that proves it. Somewhere In Between is a sweet, touching tale that tugs on the heartstrings. It’s pretty impossible to read this without a silly grin on your face or an ‘aww’ escaping out. This book is an insta-feel good read, reminding me of how I feel after I watch classics like You Got Mail and While You Were Sleeping.

Tessa Collins spends the majority of her time working- which consists of helping others in need. When she has a free moment, she is usually with her best friend Chad, or going on blind dates that Chad has set up for her. Dates that Tessa finds lackluster at best- and while some of the guys are perfectly nice- she is looking for something more than just nice. Like most women out there, Tessa starts to believe that the life changing, time stopping, earth moving type of love doesn’t exist in the real world. Then she finds a journal. A journal filled with the words of a man, that are romantic enough to soften even the most critical person. She makes it her mission to find the person that wrote those entries.

Lenox Malone is the man behind the words, but he isn’t who Tessa expects to find. Once a man head over heals, he freely wrote down his feelings and emotions, positive that true love overcomes everything. Thanks to a bad break up, Lenox doesn’t feel the same about love. He also has zero interest in receiving the journal that holds the foolish words he once wrote and worse, believed. Now, if only he could convince the crazy woman that found his journal of that.

Through a series of bantering E-mails, Lenox feels this explainable connection to Tessa, a girl who doesn’t believe in romance or true love. And even though Lenox himself has no interest in going down that path again, he finds himself wanting to prove to Tessa that she is wrong. And perhaps, that he is wrong too.

Their relationship is one filled with romantic gestures, soft kisses, intense chemistry and pink post it notes. Not to mention, there may or may not be love letters involved. Yes, love letters. Talk about swooning! I can’t say I ever received a love letter before, though I did get a love (strongly over-exaggerating there) video once, which consisted mainly of this guy calling me a “cool chick”. Which is why the world needs more guys like Lenox, who is the perfect book boyfriend.

I love how Rickman wrote both Tessa and Lenox. Tessa reminded me a lot of myself, and I was instantly connected to her and rooting for her happy ending. I loved that even though she didn’t believe in romancing, she was willing to give it a try. Then there is Lenox, the guy who is guarded but still soft as butter. Who has a huge heart, and even though it may have a crack in it, he still tries to listen to it.

In addition to Tessa and Lenox, I thought the supporting characters were really fun and lovely as well. First of all, Chad, who is Tessa’s best friend. I found myself wishing he would get his own book the more I got to know him. You also meet Sammy, Chad’s friend, who is kind of clueless yet surprisingly insightful. Perhaps the best part is getting to see both of the main character’s relationships with their moms.

You guys seriously have to read Somewhere In Between- Shirl Rickman has created this super sweet, super special book that you won’t want to miss. She completely captivated my attention with her words and details- leaving me with the feeling that I was the star in a rom-com. There are a few twists and turns along the way, but I won’t get into those, since I believe they will be much more enjoyable with no warning. 🙂

 Be sure to check out  Shirl’s Facebook page (link at the top of the page) for more information on her books and any upcoming projects. Which I hope is soon!

Find Somewhere In Between on Amazon– free with kindle unlimited.

Can’t You See by Dawn L. Chiletz

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Author: Dawn L. Chiletz

Rating: 4 Stars

Genres: Mystery, Crime, Psychological Thriller and Romantic Suspense.

Release date: April 1st, 2016

ARC provided in exchange for an honest review.

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Her Truth: Meredith O’Neal is a book editor who just moved into town. She doesn’t believe in happily ever afters.

His Truth: Devin Stone is an insurance adjuster who’s bad with people and doesn’t have any real friends. He’s tired of his boring day to day existence and is searching for a little excitement in his life.

Two stories – Two people. Nothing is what it seems.
Someone is a liar. Someone is wicked and deceitful but this time they might have gone too far.
Nothing is fair in love and revenge. Hearts will be broken. Lives will be ruined. But that’s all just a part of the game.
The cruelest burns don’t leave scars. Can’t you see? The truth is right in front of you. Just keep reading.

*Warning* This book contains graphic content that is both violent and sexual in nature and is not suitable for all ages.

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Can’t You See takes you through a total mind trip, filled with twists and turns and blurred lines between what is real and what isn’t. This book is thrilling, consuming, and each turn of the page leaves you doubting what you just thought to be true. The ultimate story of he said/she said- I was completely addicted, unable to put it down until I had the answers.

Devin Stone keeps mostly to himself, is socially awkward, and isn’t exactly a ladies man. So when he meets a beautiful girl that seems out of his league, and she starts flirting with him he can hardly believe it. And while nothing with Meredith O’Neal is smooth sailing, he finds that he can’t walk away from her. She is equal parts charming and unbalanced. Sweet and manipulative. Then suddenly, Devin finds himself being accused of a horrendous crime- one he would never commit. Or would he?

Meredith O’Neal is new to the area, and is down on her luck. When Devin Stone enters her life, she thinks she may have found a new friend. But Devin seems to want more than friendship from her, and soon he goes from being nice to being utterly intimidating. Obsessed even. Before she knows it, Meredith becomes traps in a nightmare when the unthinkable happens to her. Or did it?

Can’t You See is uniquely set up, with the first portion of the book being from Devin’s POV, then on Meredith’s POV. There is also a third POV, Detective Riggs, the poor guy trying to figure out who is telling the truth. I really felt for the guy, since I was in the same situation. 😉

I have to applaud Chiletz for her incredible writing. To write a book that keeps readers on their toes, that has them thinking and rethinking about what they are reading, is not an easy thing to do. It’s well thought out, engaging, and was on my mind hours after I finished it. Her ability to make me believe and distrust both characters was pretty remarkable. I love when you can feel the author’s passion in their words and this is one of those instances. This was my first book by Chiletz and I think it’s safe to say she has a new fan.

So- who is deceitful? Who is the victim? Who is calculating their every move? Do you think you can decipher fact from fiction? Well, if you are in the mood to find out, pick up your copy of Can’t You See live on April 1st!

Find it on Goodreads!

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