Review: Always Been You by Sadie Allen

Always Been You  
by Sadie Allen
Cedar Lake Series, Book 1
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Design: Oh So Novel
Release Date: July 19, 2018
Synopsis
Emma Taylor ran away from home in a cloud of dust, taking the pieces of her broken heart with her. Fifteen years later, she is back to care for her grieving father and to face the boy who once broke her heart. 
Brazos Huntswell was dealt a bad hand. Life hasn’t turned out the way he envisioned it in high school. He’s a single father to a moody teenage girl and trying to make a go of the cattle ranch his father left him.
Trouble is brewing in the town of Cedar Lake, and people are turning up dead. Will Braz and Emma be able to weather the coming storm and take a chance on forever? Or will a ghost from the past destroy that chance… permanently?
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Buy Links:
 

Review:

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

My thoughts are a little jumbled for Always Been You. I really enjoyed Sadie Allen’s writing, but there was something that didn’t work for me. I’m not sure how to explain it, but I’ll do my best.

I would categorize Always Been You as a romantic suspense novel. There was a second chance love story between the main characters, Emma and Braz. There was also a murder mystery happening in their small town of Cedar Creek. I liked both aspects, but they also distracted from each other.

Emma and Braz were great characters. I liked them individually. They each had a lot going on in their own lives. Emma was a teacher and was encouraging her father to live again after losing her mother. Braz was a rancher and single father. I loved their relationships with their families. It was the best part of the book. I especially loved Braz’s relationship with sky.

As for Emma and Braz together… I didn’t connect with their relationship. I have a hard time believing second chance love stories where the characters pined for each other for years and years without seeing each other. It doesn’t feel natural to me. I understand having that regret or person in the back of the mind at times, but I don’t get not moving on. Emma more so in this aspect than Braz. What made it even harder for me was their reconnection felt like instant love. I didn’t feel like I ever really got to see them get to know each other as adults with the amount of time they spent together. I wasn’t sold on their love. I think I could have been if their relationship was the main focus of the book.

As for the murder mystery, I liked that. I am not always a big fan of romantic suspense, but the suspense part worked for me. I could kind of see what was coming, but it was still exciting. My only complaint with this part was that there wasn’t a complete conclusion — probably because there is already a book two in the works.

I hate that this review sounds negative. I actually did enjoy reading Always Been You. I wanted to know what was going on with the murders and how things would work out for Emma and Braz. I still do. I will definitely read the second book to find out what else is to come in Cedar Creek.

 
About the Author
 
 
Sadie Allen lives in Texas with her husband and three young children. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, catching up on her favorite shows, or chasing her family around the house.
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Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Novellas

Welcome to Top Ten Tuesday!

Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly feature created by The Broke and the Bookish and is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s is Favorite Novellas/Short Stories.


1. Undone by You by Kate

2. Mason by Tijan

3. Logan Kade by Tijan

4. Tapping Her by Max Monroe

5. Banking Her by Max Monroe

6. Scoring Her by Max Monroe

7. Mother Fluffer by Max Monroe

8. Sleighed It by Max Monroe

9. So Much More by J. Daniels

10. Blonde Date by Sarina Bowen

Blog Tour: Broken Love Story by Natasha Madison

Title: Broken Love Story
Series: Love Series #3
Author: Natasha Madison
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: July 10, 2018
Kindle Unlimited

 

Samantha: 
 
I had the perfect life; a husband who loved me, and two kids who were my world. 
 
Until someone else answered his phone and my perfect life shattered. 
 
When he died, I was left with answers he couldn’t give me and a box full of lies. 
 
He left me broken. 
 
 
Blake: 
 
I fell in love when I was fifteen, knowing she was the one. 
 
For five years, she was my everything—my every breath, every heartbeat, every thought. 
 
She made me promise to move on, promise to find love again, but I broke those promises because I can’t move on. 
 
Two broken souls brought together by tragedy and heartbreak. 
Can a broken love story be fixed?

Review:

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

I am a fan of Natasha Madison’s writing, but the Love Story series hasn’t been my favorite of hers. I’m not sure exactly why. It’s filled with great characters, interesting plots, and big emotions. There’s just something I haven’t connected with — until now. Broken Love Story was my favorite of the three books.

What was it about Broken Love Story that made it so good? For starters, there was the fact that the first two books set this one up beautifully. Some of the same events occurred as in the first book, but from a completely different perspective. I didn’t feel like I was re-reading the same book. Samantha and Blake’s story felt fresh and new.

Then, there was the way I connected with the characters in Broken Love Story. I felt a deeper connection to Samantha than I did to Hailey. Her anger made more sense to me than the way Hailey reacted, I guess. I also loved how Samantha’s relationship with Blake came about. It felt natural. Blake was a good guy from the start who wanted to help. There wasn’t any real tension or jerky moments. That was refreshing. I liked how supportive he was. Blake had his own troubles in the past, but they didn’t encroach on the present really, and that made his quick fall for Samantha easier to believe. He was ready for a relationship.

All of the supporting characters were very well written. I adored Samantha’s daughters and Blake’s parents. I hated Eric’s family. The way they all interacted was perfect.

The only thing that kept me from giving this book 5 stars was a shocker near the end. I wasn’t expecting it, and it went a little overboard in my opinion. It was entertaining, though!

Overall, Broken Love Story was a great read. It was an emotional story of healing and fining love again.

Samantha

Standing in front of the full-length mirror in my room, I smooth down my black skirt. My blond hair is tied up in a ponytail, my cheeks are sunken in more than normal, and the blackness around my eyes indicates I haven’t slept well since this whole thing happened. Since I found out that not only did my husband die, but that he also married someone else. 

I sit on the made bed and look down at my wedding band. My thumb of my right hand touches it, and the lone tear that falls out of my eye lands straight on it. “Mommy.” I look back at Lizzie, who is standing in the doorway wearing a black one-piece dress similar to mine with ballerina flats. 
My mother-in-law went shopping yesterday and bought us all new outfits for today. “We need to put our best foot forward,” she said as I watched her walk in with the six bags. “We can’t let people talk.”

I turned around and walked out of the room, going upstairs. Shutting myself in my bathroom with my back against the door, I cried quietly, trying to hide my sobs. “We can’t let people talk,” I whispered to myself. The hatred I had begun feeling when I remembered my husband.

Lizzie walks to the side of my bed and sits next to me. “I hate this dress,” she says when I put my hand around her shoulder and bring her to me, kissing her head.
“I know, baby,” I whisper, “but after today, it’s going to be all over.”

“That’s what Grandpa A said.” She mentions the name she calls my father-in-law. Grandpa A because you can’t get better than an A. 

“Is everyone ready?” I hear Ethan yell from downstairs. “The limo is picking us up in twenty.”

“Let’s go, baby,” I tell her, getting up and holding her hand while we walk downstairs. My in-laws are both sitting in the kitchen. My mother-in-law in a black skirt and top while my father-in-law has on a black suit. “Where is Daisy?” I ask them.

“Elliot is upstairs changing her. She spilled milk on her dress,” Judy tells me, looking at Lizzie. “You look like such a big girl.” She blinks her tears away.

Elliot comes down the stairs with Daisy on his hip, smiling at me when he walks in. “Okay, you girls go sit in the living room while us grown-ups talk,” my father-in-law says, and the girls both know to leave the room. When he knows they are both out of earshot, he starts. “Today is going to be tough, tough for us all, but we have to stand together. We have to be the family that we are.” I lean against the counter while he talks. “The situation with the other one has been taken care of, and she has been served papers.” I look at him and then at Elliot and Ethan, both of them looking down when our eyes meet. It’s almost as if they feel guilty for meeting this woman. My father-in-law continues, “After all this is done today, we are meeting with the lawyers in person, so we can go over the will, start the paperwork for the insurance, and make sure she doesn’t touch a thing that belongs to him.” I stop listening at this point, turning to look out the window at the backyard.

The swing set that he built in one day to make sure the kids could use it when he left the next day. The patio set he had delivered to us, so I could have somewhere to sit while I watched the girls while he was living with another woman. I shake my head, walking out of the room. I sit on the couch, and the girls come to sit next to me, one on each side. “Today is going to be really hard,” I whisper to them, “but we have to be strong for Daddy.” They both look at me, their eyes exactly like their father’s. “But, if at any time, you need to leave or you need me… I don’t care who is talking to me or who is around; you come and get me.”
“Grandpa A said we had to sit and wait,” Daisy whispers just as Elliot comes into the room and kneels in front of us.

“What is this meeting about?” he asks, smiling at us. The circles around his eyes are just as black as ours. He hasn’t left our house since this happened. 

“Mommy said if we need her that we can go to her,” Daisy says, looking at him and then me, “even if Grandpa A said no.”

He leans in, whispering, “You can come to me too, and I’ll make sure that you get Mommy.” 

“Okay,” Lizzie and Daisy both whisper at the same time, and then the doorbell rings.
We get up, put our jackets on, and one by one file into the black limo that has come to take us to the funeral home. We arrive before everyone else. “We get an hour with him, and then they will open the door,” Adrian says as Judy grabs her tissue and dabs her eyes. 

I look around the funeral home. I’m not sure what I’m looking for, not sure where he is. I haven’t seen him since he kissed me goodbye four days earlier. His last words to me were, “Call you when I can.” That phone call never came.

I follow my in-laws to the big brown door that is closed. “I want to go in before the girls.” Everyone turns to look at me.

“We can keep them in the lobby,” says the lady who greeted us at the door. She told me her name, but I just didn’t listen. 

I nod at her as she turns to ask the girls if they want hot chocolate. Daisy’s eyes get big as Lizzie turns to look at me. I nod my head, giving her permission, so she can go with the woman.
The doors open, and I don’t even know what to expect. I’ve never been to a funeral. Never known anyone well enough to pay my last respects. Judy and Adrian walk in first, followed by Ethan, and Elliot waits with me. I step foot into the room, and it’s so cold that I shiver. The smell of flowers hits me right away, making me turn my head. The number of flowers and wreaths shocks me; the whole room is almost full. Some wreaths blocking others. Rows and rows of brown chairs line the room, all facing toward the front of the room. My eyes land on the brown wooden casket at the front of the room. The open half showing you the white satin inside. I walk down the aisle toward him, and then my eyes land on him. Eric. I can’t take another step forward because my knees give out, and I fall. Elliot isn’t fast enough to hold me up, and my knee lands with a thud. But the pain doesn’t matter because nothing could take the place of the pain in my heart. The sound of wailing fills the room as I look up at my dead husband. 

I feel arms around me; I feel myself lifted; I feel myself almost floating. He isn’t the Eric who kissed me goodbye; he isn’t the Eric who I made promises to; he isn’t the Eric who made all my dreams come true. This isn’t him.

The man with makeup caked on his face isn’t my Eric. My sobs overtake my body as I look at him, expecting him to open his eyes. Expecting something, anything but this. “I want the casket closed,” I say, my voice soft. “I want it closed.”

“Samantha,” my father-in-law starts, “it’s—”

I shake my head. “I don’t want the kids to see him like that,” I say softly. I know that for me they wouldn’t even consider it, but for the girls, they would move heaven and earth. “They need to remember him alive and smiling, not like that,” I say, pointing at the casket.

“Dad,” Ethan says after me, “I agree.” 

“Me too,” Elliot says from beside me. “Close it.”

He just nods at us, then walks to the man standing in the corner. The man looks at him as they have a hushed conversation and then just nods his head. “Do you need some water?” Ethan says to me, and I nod. I don’t bother listening to what else he says; instead, I get up and go to the casket. Standing before the brown box, I look at him, really look at him. You see some bruising under the makeup, and his nose is a little swollen. His hands are folded over his stomach, resting on his black suit. The suit he wore when we got married. Why? I ask him in my own head. Why did you do it? I ask him, hoping I can hear him whisper something to me, whisper anything back. To answer my questions, to give me something; anything to make me understand why he did what he did. Why he left me with so many fucking questions and not one answer. 

The man comes over to close the casket. Eric’s face disappears slowly, the shadow filling his face till the casket finally shuts. “I’m sorry for your loss,” the man says, nodding at me. “If at any time you want it open, we can open it back up.” I turn around now, looking at the chairs that will fill up as soon as the people start coming in. Ethan consoles my mother-in-law, and Elliot stands where we were just sitting, his hands in his pockets. 

“I’m getting the girls,” I tell them and then walk out with my head held high but my shoulders slumped. Defeated is a word that you use so many times not really understanding what can actually defeat you. I know now, my husband dying, him cheating on me, my kids without a father, my dreams of growing old with him gone. Beaten straight down to my core, straight down to my bones. 

I walk over to them as they look up. “Let’s go, girls,” I tell them as they both get up and walk to me. Lizzie takes one hand, Daisy takes the other, and we walk back into the room that holds a piece of our hearts. The room where their father lies, with no answers and no tomorrow.

We stand in that room for four hours while people come up to me and give me their condolences. I nod my head and play the part of the grieving wife. I am the grieving wife, but I’m also the wife whose husband didn’t love her enough to just be with her. The wife who knew her husband was slipping away but couldn’t catch it in time. The wife he said he would love and protect. The wife who stands here between his girls wishing that for one second he suffered horribly. The wife who has to pick up the fucking pieces and lie to her girls about what a great guy he was. The wife who, at the end of the day, just wasn’t good enough. 

We listen as people tell us how amazing he was, how much he loved his family, and how much he loved his girls. The whole time, I’m yelling on the inside, ready to stand in the middle of the room, throw my head back, and yell at the top of my lungs. But I don’t do what I want. I don’t tell them what a fraud my husband was. I don’t tell them that it was almost all lies. I don’t tell them that the day he died, they called his other wife and not me. I don’t tell them that I wasn’t the one with him when he died.

I stand here thinking about this other person—his other wife—and wonder how she would handle this. How she would be with my in-laws. Would she just let them control her and do everything for her? Would she want it to be open and weep for him beside the casket instead of standing next to it? 

I look around the room at all the people who came to pay their respects, and my eyes find someone I’ve never met before. Someone I’ve never seen before, and our eyes connect. His green eyes stare into mine as I watch him nod to me and turn to walk out. As he walks out of the crowded room, I strain my neck to watch his back. I don’t have long to think because Elliot comes up and whispers, “It’s time.”
When her nose isn’t buried in a book, or her fingers flying across a keyboard writing, she’s in the kitchen creating gourmet meals. You can find her, in four inch heels no less, in the car chauffeuring kids, or possibly with her husband scheduling his business trips. It’s a good thing her characters do what she says, because even her Labrador doesn’t listen to her…
HOSTED BY:

Review: Jackal by Tarryn Fisher & Willow Aster

Jackal
Series: End of Men, #2
Authors: Tarryn Fisher, Willow Aster
Publication Date: June 29, 2018
Genre: Romance, Fantasy

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Jackal Emerson has never taken himself seriously. Dubbed the “orgy king,” he’s renowned for his reputation as the wild End Man. But with the uprising on the horizon and his best friend missing, Jackal is having a hard time living the same carefree existence.

And then he meets a thief and everything changes.

Phoenix Moyo, principal dancer of a notorious ballet company, lives a life of rigidity. When her world collides with Jackal’s, their chemistry is evident to everyone except her. Forced to work with him to steal the most precious commodity of the Regions, she realizes too late that there is no escaping Jackal’s charisma.

When unimaginable crimes come to light, the Regions begin to crumble. No one is safe. Families divide and secrets are exposed, danger running rampant on every side. For some, sacrifice costs everything.


Jackal is one of those books that’s hard for me to review. I enjoyed reading it, but I wasn’t captivated by it the way I was with Folsom. The problem is that Folsom left me needing more of Gwen and Folsom’s story. I got to see a little bit of it through Jackal and Phoenix’s eyes, but not nearly enough. I found myself wanting to rush through the beginning of Jackal and Phoenix’s relationship to get to the information I wanted.

It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy Jackal and Phoenix. I did. Their stories actually really interested me. The problem was it all felt surface level to me. I wanted to get deeper into their family situations, their friendships, why they did what they did, etc. They were the main characters, and yet they felt almost like supporting characters because their actions were there to help move along the revolution. I wanted to know them better and connect with them on deeper emotional level.

I can say that I am still VERY interested to keep reading the End of Men series. I really want to see where it’s going. There are still so many unknowns.

Oh! I have to add that one of my favorite parts of reading this book were all the animal facts! Those were so interesting. The things I never knew…

Review: In Harmony by Emma Scott

In Harmony
Author: Emma Scott
Publication Date: February 13, 2018
Genre: New Adult, Young Adult, Contemporary Romance
Note: I received this book from NetGalley. This review is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

In Harmony…gives a voice to the voiceless…”

The root of all madness is an unbearable truth…

At seventeen, Willow Holloway’s life was torn apart. The happy, driven girl is gone, and she is left wracked by post-traumatic stress her body remembers even if she does not. When her father suddenly uproots the family from their posh penthouse in New York City to the tiny town of Harmony, Indiana, Willow becomes more untethered and lost under the weight of her secret. On a whim, she auditions for a part in the community theater’s production of Hamlet and unexpectedly wins the role of Ophelia—the girl who is undone by madness, and her love of Hamlet…

Isaac Pearce is from the ‘wrong side of the tracks.’ The town bad boy. Girls pine for his attention and guys are in awe of him. That he’s an acting prodigy only adds to his charisma. Isaac utterly disappears into his characters; the stage is the only place he feels safe from his own traumatic home life. He wants nothing more than to escape to Broadway or Hollywood and leave Harmony behind for good.

No one can play Hamlet but Isaac, and when the director pairs him with Willow in acting class, they clash again and again—neither willing to open their hearts to anyone. But clashing leads to breaking, breaking leads to the spilling of terrible secrets, and soon Isaac and Willow find Shakespeare’s words mirroring their lives. When they are cruelly torn apart, neither know how this play will end—with madness and heartache? Or healing, love, and the discovery of who they are truly meant to be.

In Harmony is a standalone YOUNG ADULT/NEW ADULT love story, and is intended for readers 18 and up. PLEASE NOTE, this book contains sensitive material such as physical abuse, and the aftermath of sexual assault (off the page). Reader discretion is advised.


It’s been a while since I’ve read a book by Emma Scott. I have to admit that I had to wait until I was ready to pick up a book that I knew would be emotionally taxing. Emma Scott’s books always hit me hard. She makes me feel so much, and I knew that In Harmony was going to be one of those books that would bring tears to my eyes. It totally did.

In Harmony is a story about two broken young adults. Willow is not herself. She hasn’t been since her world was changed over a year ago. Willow hopes that moving to Harmony, Indiana will make things easier. Maybe she can get back to the girl she was before. Isaac is the town’s bad boy. He doesn’t mind the title. It keeps people from bothering him while he’s working on getting out-of-town. His one chance to leave his horrible existence behind is his acting. When Willow and Isaac are cast in a play together, they find a comfort in each other and a chance to heal.

This book was so beautiful. I can’t really even come up with the words to explain it. Willow and Isaac had been through some horrid things. I hated that they had been through so much. It made my heart hurt. I loved the comfort and trust they found in each other, and how meeting each other changed their lives for the better. It was just such an incredibly important story.

I know this review is short, but I’m so overwhelmed with the feelings this book gave me. In Harmony was truly a special book. I highly recommend reading it.

Reviews: Kings of Rittenhouse & Shameless King by Maya Hughes

Kings of Rittenhouse – A Shameless King Prequel
Series: Kings of Rittenhouse, #0.5
Author: Maya Hughes
Publication Date: June 11, 2018
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance, Sports

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Declan and Mak have been at each other’s throats since sophomore year and now it’s time for the party to end all parties for the seniors of Rittenhouse Prep.
What’s the worst that could happen?

Long live the Kings…

Review:

A new college hockey romance? Yes, please. As far as prequels go, this one was epic. It snagged my attention and never let go. It made me pre-order the first full length book in the series, Shameless King. I loved the drama and the introduction to all of the characters. I know I’m in for a fun ride with Mak and Declan. Funny thing, though, I’m almost more interested in finding out what Emmett and Avery’s story is! I have a feeling I’m going to be waiting a few books for that epic saga.


Shameless King
Series: Kings of Rittenhouse, #1
Author: Maya Hughes
Publication Date: June 11, 2018
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance, Sports

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Declan McAvoy. Voted Biggest Flirt. Highest goal scorer in Kings of Rittenhouse Prep history.
Everyone’s impressed, well except one person…

After a blow out in high school, Makenna Halstead and I were happy to never have to cross paths again. Except life has a way of knocking you straight in the teeth with a puck when you least expect it. She hasn’t just returned to my life, she crashed into it like a wrecking ball…into my college kingdom, into my class, and smack dab into the seat next to mine. My new lab partner to be exact.

For years we hated each other… I may be King on the ice, but she is the Ice Queen. She has no problem calling me out, doesn’t back down, and her piercing blue eyes have me picturing more than than just my arms wrapped around her.

Now we’re stuck with each other and there’s no getting around that fact that we have to work together. My hockey career hangs in the balance. Problem? Oh, yeah.

I can’t deny it. I want her. More than I ever thought I could want a woman. I’ve got one semester–only four months–to convince her everything she thought about me was wrong.

Will my queen let me prove to her I’m the King she can’t live without?

Only one way to find out…

Review:

With the strong start set up in the prequel, it was easy to jump right into Mak and Declan’s book. It was an incredibly fun and addicting enemies to lovers romance. Their bickering and obvious attraction to each other was so entertaining. Once they took the step toward being something more than frenemies, the story took on a sweet and sexy tone. I liked that. I also liked both of their back stories and the emotion they brought to the story line.

I loved everything about this book except for one thing. Mak and Declan were college seniors. I feel like I missed out on three years of fun with them. I was hoping all the books would be set in the college atmosphere, but I know they won’t be. That makes me sad.

Overall, Shameless King (with its prequel) was a great beginning to what’s shaping up to be a fun new adult series. I’m looking forward to reading more about these kings.

Blog Tour Review: Broken Love Story by Natasha Madison

Samantha:

I had the perfect life; a husband who loved me, and two kids who were my world.

Until someone else answered his phone and my perfect life shattered.

When he died, I was left with answers he couldn’t give me and a box full of lies.

He left me broken.

 

Blake:

I fell in love when I was fifteen, knowing she was the one.

For five years, she was my everything—my every breath, every heartbeat, every thought.

She made me promise to move on, promise to find love again, but I broke those promises because I can’t move on.

 

Two broken souls brought together by tragedy and heartbreak.

Can a broken love story be fixed?

Amazon | iBooks | B&N | Kobo

Review:

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

I am a fan of Natasha Madison’s writing, but the Love Story series hasn’t been my favorite of hers. I’m not sure exactly why. It’s filled with great characters, interesting plots, and big emotions. There’s just something I haven’t connected with — until now. Broken Love Story was my favorite of the three books.

What was it about Broken Love Story that made it so good? For starters, there was the fact that the first two books set this one up beautifully. Some of the same events occurred as in the first book, but from a completely different perspective. I didn’t feel like I was re-reading the same book. Samantha and Blake’s story felt fresh and new.

Then, there was the way I connected with the characters in Broken Love Story. I felt a deeper connection to Samantha than I did to Hailey. Her anger made more sense to me than the way Hailey reacted, I guess. I also loved how Samantha’s relationship with Blake came about. It felt natural. Blake was a good guy from the start who wanted to help. There wasn’t any real tension or jerky moments. That was refreshing. I liked how supportive he was. Blake had his own troubles in the past, but they didn’t encroach on the present really, and that made his quick fall for Samantha easier to believe. He was ready for a relationship.

All of the supporting characters were very well written. I adored Samantha’s daughters and Blake’s parents. I hated Eric’s family. The way they all interacted was perfect.

The only thing that kept me from giving this book 5 stars was a shocker near the end. I wasn’t expecting it, and it went a little overboard in my opinion. It was entertaining, though!

Overall, Broken Love Story was a great read. It was an emotional story of healing and fining love again.

Excerpt:

Samantha

Standing in front of the full-length mirror in my room, I smooth down my black skirt. My blond hair is tied up in a ponytail, my cheeks are sunken in more than normal, and the blackness around my eyes indicates I haven’t slept well since this whole thing happened. Since I found out that not only did my husband die, but that he also married someone else.

I sit on the made bed and look down at my wedding band. My thumb of my right hand touches it, and the lone tear that falls out of my eye lands straight on it. “Mommy.” I look back at Lizzie, who is standing in the doorway wearing a black one-piece dress similar to mine with ballerina flats.

My mother-in-law went shopping yesterday and bought us all new outfits for today. “We need to put our best foot forward,” she said as I watched her walk in with the six bags. “We can’t let people talk.”

I turned around and walked out of the room, going upstairs. Shutting myself in my bathroom with my back against the door, I cried quietly, trying to hide my sobs. “We can’t let people talk,” I whispered to myself. The hatred I had begun feeling when I remembered my husband.

Lizzie walks to the side of my bed and sits next to me. “I hate this dress,” she says when I put my hand around her shoulder and bring her to me, kissing her head.

“I know, baby,” I whisper, “but after today, it’s going to be all over.”

“That’s what Grandpa A said.” She mentions the name she calls my father-in-law. Grandpa A because you can’t get better than an A.

“Is everyone ready?” I hear Ethan yell from downstairs. “The limo is picking us up in twenty.”

“Let’s go, baby,” I tell her, getting up and holding her hand while we walk downstairs. My in-laws are both sitting in the kitchen. My mother-in-law in a black skirt and top while my father-in-law has on a black suit. “Where is Daisy?” I ask them.

“Elliot is upstairs changing her. She spilled milk on her dress,” Judy tells me, looking at Lizzie. “You look like such a big girl.” She blinks her tears away.

Elliot comes down the stairs with Daisy on his hip, smiling at me when he walks in. “Okay, you girls go sit in the living room while us grown-ups talk,” my father-in-law says, and the girls both know to leave the room. When he knows they are both out of earshot, he starts. “Today is going to be tough, tough for us all, but we have to stand together. We have to be the family that we are.” I lean against the counter while he talks. “The situation with the other one has been taken care of, and she has been served papers.” I look at him and then at Elliot and Ethan, both of them looking down when our eyes meet. It’s almost as if they feel guilty for meeting this woman. My father-in-law continues, “After all this is done today, we are meeting with the lawyers in person, so we can go over the will, start the paperwork for the insurance, and make sure she doesn’t touch a thing that belongs to him.” I stop listening at this point, turning to look out the window at the backyard.

The swing set that he built in one day to make sure the kids could use it when he left the next day. The patio set he had delivered to us, so I could have somewhere to sit while I watched the girls while he was living with another woman. I shake my head, walking out of the room. I sit on the couch, and the girls come to sit next to me, one on each side. “Today is going to be really hard,” I whisper to them, “but we have to be strong for Daddy.” They both look at me, their eyes exactly like their father’s. “But, if at any time, you need to leave or you need me… I don’t care who is talking to me or who is around; you come and get me.”

“Grandpa A said we had to sit and wait,” Daisy whispers just as Elliot comes into the room and kneels in front of us.

“What is this meeting about?” he asks, smiling at us. The circles around his eyes are just as black as ours. He hasn’t left our house since this happened.

“Mommy said if we need her that we can go to her,” Daisy says, looking at him and then me, “even if Grandpa A said no.”

He leans in, whispering, “You can come to me too, and I’ll make sure that you get Mommy.”

“Okay,” Lizzie and Daisy both whisper at the same time, and then the doorbell rings.

We get up, put our jackets on, and one by one file into the black limo that has come to take us to the funeral home. We arrive before everyone else. “We get an hour with him, and then they will open the door,” Adrian says as Judy grabs her tissue and dabs her eyes.

I look around the funeral home. I’m not sure what I’m looking for, not sure where he is. I haven’t seen him since he kissed me goodbye four days earlier. His last words to me were, “Call you when I can.” That phone call never came.

I follow my in-laws to the big brown door that is closed. “I want to go in before the girls.” Everyone turns to look at me.

“We can keep them in the lobby,” says the lady who greeted us at the door. She told me her name, but I just didn’t listen.

I nod at her as she turns to ask the girls if they want hot chocolate. Daisy’s eyes get big as Lizzie turns to look at me. I nod my head, giving her permission, so she can go with the woman.

The doors open, and I don’t even know what to expect. I’ve never been to a funeral. Never known anyone well enough to pay my last respects. Judy and Adrian walk in first, followed by Ethan, and Elliot waits with me. I step foot into the room, and it’s so cold that I shiver. The smell of flowers hits me right away, making me turn my head. The number of flowers and wreaths shocks me; the whole room is almost full. Some wreaths blocking others. Rows and rows of brown chairs line the room, all facing toward the front of the room. My eyes land on the brown wooden casket at the front of the room. The open half showing you the white satin inside. I walk down the aisle toward him, and then my eyes land on him. Eric. I can’t take another step forward because my knees give out, and I fall. Elliot isn’t fast enough to hold me up, and my knee lands with a thud. But the pain doesn’t matter because nothing could take the place of the pain in my heart. The sound of wailing fills the room as I look up at my dead husband.

I feel arms around me; I feel myself lifted; I feel myself almost floating. He isn’t the Eric who kissed me goodbye; he isn’t the Eric who I made promises to; he isn’t the Eric who made all my dreams come true. This isn’t him.

The man with makeup caked on his face isn’t my Eric. My sobs overtake my body as I look at him, expecting him to open his eyes. Expecting something, anything but this. “I want the casket closed,” I say, my voice soft. “I want it closed.”

“Samantha,” my father-in-law starts, “it’s—”

I shake my head. “I don’t want the kids to see him like that,” I say softly. I know that for me they wouldn’t even consider it, but for the girls, they would move heaven and earth. “They need to remember him alive and smiling, not like that,” I say, pointing at the casket.

“Dad,” Ethan says after me, “I agree.”

“Me too,” Elliot says from beside me. “Close it.”

He just nods at us, then walks to the man standing in the corner. The man looks at him as they have a hushed conversation and then just nods his head. “Do you need some water?” Ethan says to me, and I nod. I don’t bother listening to what else he says; instead, I get up and go to the casket. Standing before the brown box, I look at him, really look at him. You see some bruising under the makeup, and his nose is a little swollen. His hands are folded over his stomach, resting on his black suit. The suit he wore when we got married. Why? I ask him in my own head. Why did you do it? I ask him, hoping I can hear him whisper something to me, whisper anything back. To answer my questions, to give me something; anything to make me understand why he did what he did. Why he left me with so many fucking questions and not one answer.

The man comes over to close the casket. Eric’s face disappears slowly, the shadow filling his face till the casket finally shuts. “I’m sorry for your loss,” the man says, nodding at me. “If at any time you want it open, we can open it back up.” I turn around now, looking at the chairs that will fill up as soon as the people start coming in. Ethan consoles my mother-in-law, and Elliot stands where we were just sitting, his hands in his pockets.

“I’m getting the girls,” I tell them and then walk out with my head held high but my shoulders slumped. Defeated is a word that you use so many times not really understanding what can actually defeat you. I know now, my husband dying, him cheating on me, my kids without a father, my dreams of growing old with him gone. Beaten straight down to my core, straight down to my bones.

I walk over to them as they look up. “Let’s go, girls,” I tell them as they both get up and walk to me. Lizzie takes one hand, Daisy takes the other, and we walk back into the room that holds a piece of our hearts. The room where their father lies, with no answers and no tomorrow.

We stand in that room for four hours while people come up to me and give me their condolences. I nod my head and play the part of the grieving wife. I am the grieving wife, but I’m also the wife whose husband didn’t love her enough to just be with her. The wife who knew her husband was slipping away but couldn’t catch it in time. The wife he said he would love and protect. The wife who stands here between his girls wishing that for one second he suffered horribly. The wife who has to pick up the fucking pieces and lie to her girls about what a great guy he was. The wife who, at the end of the day, just wasn’t good enough.

We listen as people tell us how amazing he was, how much he loved his family, and how much he loved his girls. The whole time, I’m yelling on the inside, ready to stand in the middle of the room, throw my head back, and yell at the top of my lungs. But I don’t do what I want. I don’t tell them what a fraud my husband was. I don’t tell them that it was almost all lies. I don’t tell them that the day he died, they called his other wife and not me. I don’t tell them that I wasn’t the one with him when he died.

I stand here thinking about this other person—his other wife—and wonder how she would handle this. How she would be with my in-laws. Would she just let them control her and do everything for her? Would she want it to be open and weep for him beside the casket instead of standing next to it?

I look around the room at all the people who came to pay their respects, and my eyes find someone I’ve never met before. Someone I’ve never seen before, and our eyes connect. His green eyes stare into mine as I watch him nod to me and turn to walk out. As he walks out of the crowded room, I strain my neck to watch his back. I don’t have long to think because Elliot comes up and whispers, “It’s time.”

When her nose isn’t buried in a book, or her fingers flying across a keyboard writing, she’s in the kitchen creating gourmet meals. You can find her, in four inch heels no less, in the car chauffeuring kids, or possibly with her husband scheduling his business trips. It’s a good thing her characters do what she says, because even her Labrador doesn’t listen to her…
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Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books I’d Give A Theme Song To

Welcome to Top Ten Tuesday!

Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly feature created by The Broke and the Bookish and is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s is a FREEBIE. I’m going with Top Ten Books I’d Give A Theme Song To.

Note: This week’s theme was changed after I already created this post. Look for my Top Ten Books Read So Far This Year in August.


1. Sweet Home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynyrd

Where I Belong
Alabama Summer, #1
J. Daniels

When Mia Corelli returns to Alabama for a summer of fun with her childhood best friend, Tessa, there’s only one thing keeping her on edge. One person that she’d do anything to avoid.

Benjamin Kelly. World’s biggest dickhead.

Mia hates him with a fury and has no desire to ever see him again. When she decides to start her summer off with a bang and finally give away her v-card, she unknowingly hands it over to the one guy that excelled at making her life miserable, learning a valuable lesson in the process.

Always get the name of the guy you’re going home with.

Ben can’t get the girl he spent one night with out of his head. When she leaves him the next morning, he thinks he’ll never see her again. Until he sees her lounging by the pool with his sister.

Mia is determined to hate Ben, even though she can’t forget him.

Ben is determined to prove he’s not the same guy he used to be.

What happens when the one person you wish never existed becomes the one person you can’t imagine being without?

2. Sk&ter Boi – Avril Lavigne

Kick, Push
Kick, Push, #1
Jay McLean

There’s a single defining moment within every skater.
It lasts only a second. Two if you’re good.
Three if you’re really good.
It’s the moment you’re in the air, your board somewhere
beneath you, and nothing but wind surrounds you.
It’s the feeling of being airborne.

The sixteen-year-old version of me would’ve said it was the
greatest feeling in the world.
Then at seventeen, I had my son.
And every single second became a defining moment. Even the ones that consisted of heartbreak when his mother left us.

Seventeen. Single. Dad.
That’s what my life became.
Yet, every day, I managed to find that feeling of being
airborne.
Or at least I convinced myself I did.
But I lied—to myself and to everyone around me.
Until she showed up; Tanned skin, raven dark hair, and eyes the color of emeralds.

You know what sucks about being in the air?
Coming down from the high.
Sometimes you land on the board and nail the trick.
Then kick, push, and coast away.
Other times you fall.
You fall hard.
And those are the times when it’s not as easy to get back up, dust off your pads and try again.
Especially when the girl with the emerald eyes becomes your drug…
And you become her poison.

3. Like a Virgin – Madonna

Sacked
Gridiron, #1
Jen Frederick

What he wants he gets…

Knox Masters is a quarterback’s worst nightmare. Warrior. Champion. And…virgin. Knox knows what he wants–and he gets it. All American Football player? Check. NFL pros scouting him? Check. Now, he’s set his sight on two things. The national title. And Ellie Campbell. Sure, she’s the sister of his fellow teammate, but that’s not going to stop him. Especially not when he’s convinced Ellie is the one.

…but he’s never met her before.

But Ellie isn’t as sure. She’s trying to start a new life and she’s not interested in a relationship…with anyone. Beside it’s not just her cardinal rule of never dating her brother’s teammates that keeps her away, but Ellie has a dark secret that would jeopardize everything Knox is pursuing.

Knox has no intention of losing. Ellie has no intention of giving in.

4. Jesse’s Girl – Rick Springfield

When You Are Mine
The Bennetts, #1
Kennedy Ryan

Forever is a heartbeat away . . .

Kerris Moreton knows how to make things work. Bounced from foster home to foster home as a kid, she adapted; when opportunity arose, she thrived. Now, about to open her own business and accept a marriage proposal, Kerris is ready to build the life she’s always wanted. The only thing missing? A passionate connection with her would-be fiancé, Cam. Kerris wants to believe that sparks are overrated-until Walsh Bennett lights her up like the Fourth of July.

. . . but what about love?

As one of the East Coast’s most eligible bachelors, Walsh enjoys financial independence, fulfilling work with his family’s nonprofit, and plenty of female attention. But lately he’s been distracted by the one woman he can’t have. Lovely to look at and even sweeter to know, Kerris is the soul mate Walsh never thought he would find. The problem is, his best friend found her first . . .

5. Don’t Let Go (Love)  En Vogue

Shooting for the Stars
The Gravity Series, #3
Sarina Bowen

For one night she had everything.

Pro snowboarder Stella Lazarus has always loved her brother’s best friend. But the one time she tried to show him, she was shot down faster than you can say “competitor disqualified.”

Until one blissful night in Tahoe, when Stella finally gets her man.

Or does she? In the morning, Stella and Bear wake up to horrible news. The sort that sends them racing back to Vermont, and straight into the arms of guilt and family obligations.

For all of Bryan “Bear” Barry’s life, three natural laws held true: his best friend Hank was destined for greatness, Hank’s sister Stella was off-limits, and Bear would always manage to negotiate the rocky paths that life threw his way. In the space of two days, that’s all shattered.

Bear can’t believe he slipped up so badly with Stella. Even if his best friend wasn’t lying broken in a hospital bed, it would still be unforgivable. Determined to do better, he devotes himself to his friend’s recovery, denying himself the very person he loves. And the very thing he needs.

6. Dive – Ed Sheeran

Autoboyography
Christina Lauren

Three years ago, Tanner Scott’s family relocated from California to Utah, a move that nudged the bisexual teen temporarily back into the closet. Now, with one semester of high school to go, and no obstacles between him and out-of-state college freedom, Tanner plans to coast through his remaining classes and clear out of Utah.

But when his best friend Autumn dares him to take Provo High’s prestigious Seminar—where honor roll students diligently toil to draft a book in a semester—Tanner can’t resist going against his better judgment and having a go, if only to prove to Autumn how silly the whole thing is. Writing a book in four months sounds simple. Four months is an eternity.

It turns out, Tanner is only partly right: four months is a long time. After all, it takes only one second for him to notice Sebastian Brother, the Mormon prodigy who sold his own Seminar novel the year before and who now mentors the class. And it takes less than a month for Tanner to fall completely in love with him.

7. Faithfully – Journey

Kiro’s Emily
Rosemary Beach, #9.5
Abbi Glines

The year is 1992, and no one on the rock music scene is hotter than Kiro Manning, the lead singer of Slacker Demon. With a multi-platinum record, total ownership of the Billboard charts, sold-out concerts, and sinful amounts of money, Kiro can have anything—and anyone—he wants.

So when a dark-haired, conservative beauty rebuffs him at a concert after-party, his first thought is, “Who the hell does she think she is?” His second thought: “How do I make her mine?” Kiro has always loved a good challenge, but not every girl wants to get involved with a rock god. Especially this girl.

He let her go that night, but he never forgot her. And when they met again, he vowed not to give up again so easily.

As the world worshipped Kiro, he came to worship the girl, who became everything he never knew he needed. The only girl he would ever love. His Emily.

8. Time After Time – Cyndi Lauper

The There Was You
Second Chances Duet, #1
Claire Contreras

Love and the right timing were two things I didn’t believe in.

Love is about walking to the edge of the cliff and taking the leap together.
Timing was never on our side.
My first mistake was hooking up with my best friend.
My second came years later, when we met again, and I fell for her.
My third was letting her go, because I had to. Because a love like this wasn’t built to withstand the winds coming in our direction.

Love and timing.
I didn’t believe in either.
Then there was you . . .

9. Bright Side – Rebelution

Bright Side
Bright Side, #2
Kim Holden

Secrets.
Everyone has one.
Some are bigger than others.
And when secrets are revealed,
Some will heal you …
And some will end you.

Kate Sedgwick’s life has been anything but typical. She’s endured hardship and tragedy, but throughout it all she remains happy and optimistic (there’s a reason her best friend Gus calls her Bright Side). Kate is strong-willed, funny, smart, and musically gifted. She’s also never believed in love. So when Kate leaves San Diego to attend college in the small town of Grant, Minnesota, the last thing she expects is to fall in love with Keller Banks.

They both feel it.
But they each have a reason to fight it.
They each have a secret.

And when secrets are revealed,
Some will heal you …
And some will end you.

10. Without You – Dixie Chicks

Gus
Bright Side, #2
Kim Holden

The journey that began in top-rated, best-selling Bright Side, continues …

This is the story of Gus.
Losing himself.
Finding himself.
And healing along the way.

“ … but the honest-to-God truth is I don’t even know how to function anymore. Bright Side wasn’t only my best friend; she was like my other half … the other half of my brain, the other half of my conscience, the other half of my sense of humor, the other half of my creativity, the other half of my heart. How do you go back to doing what you did before, when half of you is gone forever?”

 

Blog Tour Review: The Real Deal by Lauren Blakely

Sometimes you need to find a boyfriend-for-hire in the most unusual of places…

What do you get when you mix a bad boy with a heart of gold and a smart & sassy heroine with a desperate need for a fake relationship? THE REAL DEAL, a brand new, standalone romantic comedy from #1 New York Times bestseller Lauren Blakely! Get a copy of your next favorite feel good rom-com now!

✮✮✮THE REAL DEAL is here! Grab your copy today! ✮✮✮

April Hamilton wants you to know she hasn’t been on GigsForHire since that time she sold her futon after college. She doesn’t even spend that much time online. And even if she did, she would not be looking up personal ads. But going home alone for her family’s summer reunion is an invitation for every single relative to butt into her personal life. She simply can’t handle another blind date with the butcher, the baker or the candlestick maker from her hometown. So when she finds the GigsforHire ad for a boyfriend-for-hire, she’s ready to pay to play.

Heading Home and Need a Buffer? I’m the REAL DEAL.

Theo Banks has been running from the past for years. He’s this close to finally settling all his debts, and one more job as a boyfriend-for-hire will do the trick. He’s no gigolo. Please. He’s something of an actor, and he knows how to slip into any role, including pretending to be April’s new beau — the bad boy with the heart of gold.

Even if it means sleeping in close quarters in that tiny little bed in her parents’ inn. Even if it means spinning tales of a romance that starts to feel all too true. What neither one of them counts on is that amid the egg toss, the arm wrestling, and a fierce game of Lawn Twister that has them tangled up together, they might be feeling the real deal.

She only wanted to show her family once and for all that she had no need to settle down.

He didn’t expect to have the time of his life at her parent’s home.

They didn’t plan on loving every single second of the game.

But can a masterful game of pretend result in true love?

ORDER YOUR COPIES HERE!

Amazon Kindle Amazon Paperback Books-a-Million

IndieBound iBooks Kobo B&N Google Play

 

Review:

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

The Real Deal was adorable. I don’t think I’ve read a Lauren Blakely book quite like it before. It had her sassy humor, witty dialog, and amazing characters, but it felt much sweeter. I liked how surprisingly low drama it was.

The fake relationship in The Real Deal stood out from others I’ve read. Theo was hired through a Craigslist ad. He wasn’t someone April already knew. Normally, fake relationships tend to fall in the friends to lovers category and I liked that this one was different. I didn’t feel like I was re-reading a book I’ve already read. (I hate to say it, but that happens sometimes!)

Theo and April were fun characters. Theo was a reformed bad boy with a shady past who was trying to stay afloat. April was a sweet, almost innocent, woman trying to avoid her family’s meddling. Their agreement to pose as boyfriend and girlfriend helped them each reach a certain goal. They wanted to keep their relationship professional, but their attraction to each other took over.

I absolutely adored the getting to know each other part of this book. Theo and April’s real and fake stories of how they met and fell in love were perfect! They made me laugh and smile so much! I couldn’t get enough of how they fed off each other and bonded. It made their falling for each other seem destined and utterly perfect.

Another thing I loved about this book were all the side characters. There were so many of them with the whole family reunion thing going on. It gave the book such a fun, loving feel to have all of these family members play a part in Theo and April’s love story. Plus, they added a ton of entertainment.

Obviously, I couldn’t get enough of this book. It was just so dang sweet and fun to read. It’s the perfect summer romance to escape in. I hope Lauren Blakely will write more books set in the town of Wistful. I would not mind returning to it.


✦The audiobook is narrated by Zachary Webber and Erin Mallon! ✦
✦ Audio ➜ http://blkly.pub/RealDeal-Aud


ADD IT TO YOUR GOODREADS TODAY!

“This book was yet another true LB masterpiece, romcom meet fake relationship meet romantic af = perfection!

~Elsa Gomes, Bookish Aurora~

“I loved every word on every page of this story. I can’t stop thinking about it and smiling like a dork. If you were to say #JustBecause or #DoYouRemember? I might just melt into a puddle on the floor, because I do remember…sigh. I want more Lauren Blakely, I’m addicted. The line forms here…”

~Rosa Sharon, iScream Books Blog~

“The Real Deal was a sweet, sexy, hilarious, and entertaining standalone romantic comedy, and I absolutely loved it!”

~Julia, The Romance Bibliophile~

Excerpt:

~THEO~

I can be anyone you want.

I can transform into the boss you’re banging, your hot nerdy coworker who’s only a friend, your best friend’s brother you’ve had it bad for since he danced with you at prom way back when, the guy next door everyone adores since he mows your lawn, fixes your car, and repairs the sink. I can also pull off a fireman, a soldier, a cop, a billionaire, a rogue, an athlete, a pirate—yes, some women like to play with buried treasure—and the bad boy who will drive your family bananas.

How would you reach me if you needed me?

It’s not that hard. You just have to know what you’re looking for and plug the right terms into that trusty old search engine. You might even find me the next time you’re hawking a Cuisinart or hunting for a used exercise bike on GigsforHire. There, you’ll discover a menagerie of roles I can take on, characters I can play for you. The assignments rotate depending on the season, the needs, and what’s in demand for weddings, reunions, Christmas parties, barbecues, and any other occasion where you might need a date.

I’m not an escort, a gigolo, or a stripper. This isn’t about fluid exchange. My job is to become your arm candy, and you can pick the flavor you want. I’ve played them all.

And there’s one role that outsells all the others. By far, the most popular part has been the bad boy.

Trust me when I say I wasn’t your average bod boy. I was the goddamn dictionary definition, and this ad was my golden ticket:

Heading Home and Need a Buffer? I’m Your Man

I’m a good-looking 28-year-old ex-con. But I swear the time I got nabbed, it wasn’t my fault. I was framed. I can play anywhere from 19 to 31, depending on if I shave or act like I love Ed Sheeran music. My most valuable possession is a scratched-up motorcycle one year younger than me that’s painted like a snarling leopard. I’m a bartender and work till 2 a.m. at a dive bar. If you’d like to have me as your date for a wedding, reunion, or work soiree, I can pretend you picked me up when my shift ended and I banged you in the bathroom or that we’re in a serious and committed relationship. Your choice.

✮✮✮Reader’s Choice Giveaway!✮✮✮

Everything you need for Date Night except the date:). Find the perfect date in the Real Deal! $100 gift card to the restaurant of your choice, $50 gift card to the movie theater of your choice, and $50 gift card to the retailer of your choice. ($200 value)

https://laurenblakely.com/readers-choice-giveaway/

About Lauren Blakely:

A #1 New York Times Bestselling author, and #1 Wall Street Journal Bestselling author, Lauren Blakely is known for her contemporary romance style that’s hot, sweet and sexy. She lives in California with her family and has plotted entire novels while walking her dogs. With fourteen New York Times bestsellers, her titles have appeared on the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestseller Lists more than 100 times, and she’s sold more than 2.5 million books. In August she’ll release UNBREAK MY HEART, an emotional second chance romance. To receive an email when Lauren releases a new book, sign up for her newsletter! laurenblakely.com/newsletter

Website ** Facebook ** Twitter ** Newsletter ** Goodreads

Review: The Accidentals by Sarina Bowen

The Accidentals
Author: Sarina Bowen
Publication Date: July 10, 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Never ask a question unless you’re sure you want the truth.

I’ve been listening to my father sing for my whole life. I carry him in my pocket on my mp3 player. It’s just that we’ve never met face to face.

My mother would never tell me how I came to be, or why my rock star father and I have never met. I thought it was her only secret. I was wrong.

When she dies, he finally appears. Suddenly I have a first class ticket into my father’s exclusive world. A world I don’t want any part of – not at this cost.
Only three things keep me going: my a cappella singing group, a swoony blue-eyed boy named Jake, and the burning questions in my soul. There’s a secret shame that comes from being an unwanted child. It drags me down, and puts distance between me and the boy I love.

My father is the only one alive who knows my history. I need the truth, even if it scares me.


Welcome to YA, Sarina Bowen!

Sarina Bowen is one of my most favorite NA/Adult contemporary romance writers. When I learned she was going to be writing her first YA novel, I was really excited. Based on what she’s done in NA/Adult, I could only imagine what type of YA novel she would write. I knew it was going to be amazing, and I was right!

The Accidentals is the story of a teenager who finally gets to meet the father she’s only known through the press after her mother dies. It’s a bittersweet pill for Rachel to swallow. She can’t help but feel guilty over the joy of meeting the man her mother wanted to keep her away from. As Rachel gets to know her father, she meets Jake. Jake is perfect for Rachel, if she doesn’t let her past ruin her present.

I was immediately impressed with The Accidentals. It had me hooked from page one. The story was so emotional. Being in Rachel’s shoes would have been so hard. I can’t imagine having my biggest dream fulfilled while losing the most important person in my life. It would have been devastating, and it was to her. Her sense of guilt and loss radiated off the pages.

The rest of the characters were just as well written as Rachel. Frederick was the perfectly flawed musician. Rachel’s relationship with him developed in a guarded way that I really enjoyed. I also liked how her friendships went through ups and downs. The one with Haze was especially interesting to me.

What was surprising to me was the romance in The Accidentals. It took a backseat to everything else going on in the book. I was expecting the story to revolve more around it, but was glad that it didn’t. I liked Rachel’s romance with Jake, but the relationship with her mother and father were more important. I loved that was the focus.

As far as I’m concerned, Sarina Bowen’s first step into the world of YA was perfection. I absolutely adored The Accidentals. I hope this was just the first of many YA books to come from Bowen.