Cover Reveal: Roommate (Sarina Bowen)

 What happens when a man from Kieran Shipley’s past blows back into town? You’re about to find out.

Photo by Wander Aguiar
Cover design by Christine Coffey

ROOMMATE by Sarina Bowen
Coming January 12, 2021

Wanted: One roommate to share a 3-bedroom house, split the rent, and ideally not be the guy I can’t stop thinking about.  

I’m a man with too many secrets, so the last thing I need is a new roommate with a sexy smile and blue eyes that see right through me. Eight years ago, Roderick left town after high school. We’re not friends. I owe him nothing. But back then, I let one of my secrets slip, and he’s the only one who noticed.

Part of me knows I should run far, far away. But the other part wants him to come upstairs and spend the night. But if I let him in, I could lose everything.

Seeking: a room to rent in town. I’m tidy, have no pets, and I will feed you homemade bread. 

I should probably add: Gay AF, and has no filter. It’s no wonder my new landlord is so wary of me.

A smarter man would ignore those hot glances from the broody lumberjack. He may want more from me than another fresh-baked pretzel. But if I push my luck, I’ll end up back on the street.

Too bad I’ve never been smart with my heart…

Review: Sorrow (Tiffanie DeBartolo)

Sorrow
Author: Tiffanie DeBartolo
Publication Date: October 20, 2020
Publisher: Woodhall Press
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

From Tiffanie DeBartolo, author of God Shaped Hole, How to Kill a Rock Star, and Grace: The Jeff Buckley Story, comes Sorrow, a poignant story about friendship and love, art and music, and how these pursuits can save us from ourselves.

Joe Harper has backpedaled throughout his life. A once-promising guitar prodigy, he’s been living without direction since abandoning his musical dreams. Now into his thirties, having retreated from every opportunity he’s had to level up, he has lost his family, his best friend, and his self-respect.

But Joe finds an unlikely path to redemption when he starts working as a carpenter for the bohemian conceptual artist October Danko. The job returns him to his hometown, loaded with bittersweet reminders of his former life, in the shadows of his beloved redwood trees. As Joe’s relationship with October develops, he yearns to take a daring step toward a bold future but struggles to escape the craven decisions of his past.

Sorrow is a stunning, moving novel that explores masculinity and suspended adolescence, all the while begging the questions: Can courage be learned? And is it ever too late to follow your heart?


Um… I just finished this book and I have GOOSEBUMPS. Goosebumps. Reading this book was like listening to a singer who can emote like no other. Everything that Tiffanie DeBartolo wrote I felt. Deeply. This book’s title is Sorrow. That title encompasses so much more than just the feeling. Joe himself was basically one big sorrow. That probably makes no sense, but I have no idea how to explain what this book put me through! I had no idea where this story would end up going when I started it. I disliked the characters through much of it. I thought the book would depress me because I felt the sorrow, but somewhere along the way that sorrow combined with hope. Maybe that hope is what left me with goosebumps in the end. All I can say about this book in the end is that I loved it as much as I was expecting to while feeling rubbed the wrong way while reading much of it. It was such a weird thing. A fantastic, hopeful thing.

Mini Review: Together Apart Anthology

Together Apart
Author: Erin A. Craig, Auriane Desombre, Erin Hahn, Bill Konigsberg, Rachael Lippincott, Brittney Morris, Sajni Patel, Natasha Preston, Jennifer Yen
Publication Date: October 20, 2020
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

A collection of original contemporary love stories set during life in lockdown by some of today’s most popular YA authors.

Erin Craig “delivers” on a story about a new girl in town and the cute pizza delivery boy, Auriane Desombre captures our hearts with teens communicating through window signs, and Bill Konigsberg takes us along on daily walks with every step bringing us closer to love. There’s flirting and romance from Rachael Lippincott, a tale of a determined girl with a mask-making business from Erin Hahn, and a music-inspired love connection from Sajni Patel. Brittney Morris turns enemies to lovers with the help of a balcony herb garden, Jennifer Yen writes an unconventional romance that starts outside a hospital, and Natasha Preston’s teens discover each other–and their love story–in a storybook oak tree.

Romantic, realistic, sweet and uplifting, TOGETHER, APART is a collection of finding love in unexpected places during an unprecedented time . . . each with the one thing we all want: a guaranteed happy ending.


I don’t know that I was necessarily ready to read anything set in the age of COVID-19 yet, but these meet cute novellas were more fun than I was expecting. They were short but sweet stories of high schoolers meeting during this strange time. Like I said, they’re meet cutes, so not really an entire romance. I liked them all, but Erin Hahn’s Masked was my favorite. I’ve become a fan of Erin Hahn’s writing this year and I adored this meet cute. I would have loved to read an entire book about Gray and Jude.

Mini Reviews: I Promise You, The Bribe, & Take A Number

Today, I’m sharing with you three mini reviews for new releases I’ve read recently.

I Promise You
Author: Ilsa Madden-Mills
Publication Date: October 12, 2020
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Sports Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

This is the last book in Madden-Mills’ sports romances set at Waylon University. This time it’s newly starting quarterback Dillon McQueen’s turn to shine. His character was so much fun. He started off with a cocky flare, but I liked what was layered beneath. Dillon was a good dude who seemed to be a little misunderstood. I liked his pairing with Serena. She also had some great layers to unravel. She had an ex to move on from and insecurities to deal with. Their love story and characters might have felt a a little cliche at times, but it was the romance was entertaining. I especially loved that first scene. It was a good way to finish up the series.

The Bribe
Series: Calamity Montana, #1
Author: Willa Nash
Publication Date: October 15, 2020
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

I’ve been waiting for this book since I read a preview of it in the One More Step Anthology. It was just as good as I was expecting. I loved the small town vibe and all the characters. Lucy and Duke were adorable together. I even enjoyed the suspense aspect that managed to surprise me. The Bribe was everything I’ve come to expect from Devney Perry — or I guess I should say Willa Nash. I wish she would have kept it branded Devney Perry because it didn’t seem like a departure from her regular romance brand.

Take A Number
Series: Wait With Me, #4
Author: Amy Daws
Publication Date: October 15, 2020
Publisher: Stars Hollow Publishing
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

I binged the first three books in this series about a month ago. I was so excited to see this fourth book coming so soon. I have to admit that Dean has not been my favorite character in this series, but I looked forward to getting to know him better. He proved himself to be not as arrogantly disgusting as I expected. His romance with Norah was actually a really great fake relationship. It was everything I liked about the trope. The only thing I wasn’t a big fan of was Norah being described as OCD at the beginning. It sounded like she had some traits of OCD, but then it kind of just got put off as being controlling after that. I needed some clarification. Otherwise, this book was a lot of fun.

WWW Wednesday: October 21, 2020

WWW Wednesday is hosted by Taking on a World of Words.

My WWW Wednesday hiatus didn’t last as long as I thought it would. I missed interacting with everyone, so I’m starting them up again.

what did you recently finish reading?

The last book I read was one that has been sitting on my Kindle for a while now: Second Chance Charmer (Havenbrook, #1) by Brighton Walsh.

what are you currently reading?

I’m reading Tiffanie DeBartolo’s new release, Sorrow.

what do you think you’ll read next?

I’m going to go back to the Havenbrook series and read Hometown Troublemaker.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Read (and LOVED) Based on Blogger Recommendations

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 topic is:

Books I Read (and LOVED) Based on Blogger Recommendations

There are tons of bloggers who have given recommendations to me over the years that I have followed. It’s one of my favorite ways to find books. Here’s some of the books I’ve read (and loved) based on recent recommendations.

1. Work Song
Author: Danielle Allen

Recommended by: Nick of The Infinite Limits of Love

Nick had me at office romance + texts.

2. The Story Guy
Author: Mary Ann Rivers

Recommended by: Lenore of Celebrity Readers

Lenore recommended this book to me on Goodreads, and she was right. I loved it!

3. Filthy Forward
Author: Kelsey Cheyenne

Recommended by: Alecia of The Staircase Reader

This book wasn’t even on my radar until Alecia raved about it.

4. Follow
Authors: Tessa Bailey

Recommended by: Kayla of Books and Blends

I like Tessa Bailey’s writing, but her backlist is DEEP. I didn’t even know about this one until Kayla sang it’s praises.

5. Playing for Keeps
Author: Kendall Ryan

Recommended by: Jessica formerly of Reading with Jessica & Nicole of Boundless Bookaholic

I love a good sports romance and both Jessica and Nicole enjoyed this one. Plus, Kendall Ryan books are just fun.

6. Beartown
Author: Frederik Backman

Recommended by: Stephanie of Stephanie’s Book Reviews and Brandie of Running on Words and Wine

Not my normal read, but when Stephanie and Brandie said it’s a must read — it’s a must read.

7. The Sweet Gum Tree
Author: Katherine Allred

Recommended by: Stephanie of Stephanie’s Book Reviews and Brandie of Running on Words and Wine

I NEVER would have read this book without these two saying how good it was. I mean, that cover kind of screams old school.

8. The Guy on the Right
Author: Kate Stewart

Recommended by: Daisy Gal of DG Book Blog

I had read one Kate Stewart book before this and it was kind of meh. Daisy Gal swore this one was amazing, and I trust her judgement, so I gave it a try. It ended up being one of my favorites of last year.

9. Worth the Fall
Author: Claudia Connor

Recommended by: Corina of The Brown Eyed Bookworm

Corina has been lighting up her blog with recommendations lately, and it’s really working out for me. I ended up binging this entire series.

10. Cake
Author: J. Bengtsson

Recommended by: Tanya of Girl Plus Books

I saw this book on Tanya’s blog and was intrigued. She was loving it, so I decided to give it a try. Let’s just say I read the entire 5 book series.

Review: Secret Puck (Rebecca Jenshak)

Secret Puck
Series: Campus Nights, #1
Author: Rebecca Jenshak
Publication Date: October 19, 2020
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Sports Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Secretly hooking up with the team captain’s sister was a bad idea.
In my defense, the first time I saw her I didn’t know who she was.
Kind, gorgeous, a little naïve. Ginny brightened my world from day one.
I knew I was no good for her. She was just out of a relationship and I had a reputation for having a new girl in my bed every weekend.
I tried to do the right thing. Honest.
I’m the one who insisted we should be just friends.
That lasted about as long as you’d expect.
But Ginny? She’s the best – best friend, best everything.
So yeah, hooking up with the team captain’s sister wasn’t a great idea.
Would I do it again?
In a heartbeat.


You know how some books make your heart happy? That’s exactly what Secret Puck did for me. I loved it from the very start. I had no doubt I would, getting to return to the same college setting that hosted Jenshak’s Smart Jocks series, and getting to know Nathan’s little brother Heath better. It was more than that, though. Jenshak has become an author I know is going to make laugh, smile, and fall in love with her characters.

Ginny and Heath were so stinking adorable together. Their relationship had this natural progression that I really dug. It may have been a “secret” relationship at the start, but that didn’t weigh things down emotionally. Secret Puck was low on angst, even when dealing with the more complex issues Ginny and Heath faced. I loved how they truly enjoyed each other’s company. It was all just so swoony!

Another thing that made me incredibly happy were all the side characters. Heath’s teammates and roommates were perfect additions to this book, and make me excited to find out what’s coming next in the series. Ginny also had some great friends who I can’t wait to see find their significant others in the future. There are just so many possibilities for romances coming. I can’t stand waiting!

So, yeah. I loved this one. I loved it so much that I don’t know that I really have anything non-gushy to say about it. It was just one of those romances that I could sit back, read, lose myself, and enjoy. If you like college sports romances, this is definitely one I would recommend.

🏒🏒 #OɴᴇCʟɪᴄᴋ:

Amazon Universal: https://smarturl.it/6d6k5j

The author is doing a signed paperback/swag giveaway on her Facebook and Instagram pages. Stop by to enter!

www.facebook.com/rebeccajenshak
www.instagram.com/rebeccajenshak

Rebecca Jenshak is a self-proclaimed margarita addict, college basketball fanatic, and Hallmark channel devotee. A Midwest native transplanted to the desert, she likes being outdoors (drinking on patios) and singing (in the shower) when she isn’t writing books about hot guys and the girls who love them.

Stay up to date with all things Rebecca!

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Review: Blacklisted (Jay Crownover)

Blacklisted
Series: Loveless, Texas, #3
Author: Jay Crownover
Publication Date: October 27, 2020
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Marked Men series comes an irresistible and suspenseful romance between a doctor who plays by the rules and the outlaw who breaks them in order to protect her.

Dr. Presley Baskin has always lived a quiet, calm life. Unfortunately, nothing about her life in Loveless, Texas—especially not the wild, rowdy, and impossibly close-knit Lawton family who’ve claimed her—is quiet or calm. Which is how loner Presley finds herself roped into patching up local bad boy Shot Caldwell against her better judgment. Presley wants nothing to do with the dangerous, brooding leader of the local outlaw motorcycle club. But when someone starts stalking her, Shot is the only person she trusts to help. Plus he owes her one…

Palmer ‘Shot’ Caldwell has always known his life isn’t made for relationships. At least until shy, secretive, Presley reluctantly pulled a bullet out of him. He’s oddly protective of the pretty doctor, so when she comes to him for help, hard-hearted Shot suddenly realizes there’s nothing he wouldn’t do to keep her safe.


Blacklisted picked up right where Unforgiven left off in the Loveless, Texas series. I loved where things picked up with Presley and Shot. They were such an interesting couple. Plus, I was really excited to find out where everything was going since the entire series had been building up to this point.

I hate to say it, but this books had some ups and downs for me. I wanted to love it so badly, but ended up just liking it in the end. I’m normally a fan of Crownover’s writing style, but it didn’t work well for me in Blacklisted. It was too wordy. That might sound weird since books are made up of words and the book itself wasn’t too long. There was just too much description and not enough dialog. I was being told too many things instead of experiencing them. It bogged the book down for me. I thought it might have been my mood, so I put the book aside for a few days. Things were a little better when I picked it back up, but I am attributing that more to being at about 50% where the action finally started to pick up and I started enjoying the book a lot more.

What about the ups? Well, the ups were great. I loved Presley and Shot. They had such different personalities and jobs. It was truly a case of opposites attract for them. I loved their chemistry and the way their relationship built. I would have loved to spend more time with them as a couple with a lesser suspense plot. Which is feels funny to say because I actually enjoyed the suspense plot in this book.

Another thing I enjoyed was the Lawton family and how they supported Presley. They showed up for her not only when she needed it, but in general. It was fun to see where they were in life and how Presley fit in. I also liked Shot’s right hand man, Top. He was interesting. I can only imagine what a book with him as the main character would be like.

In the end I truly ended up liking this book. Like I said before, I started enjoying it more once it hit that 50% mark. The characters’ relationship went placed I loved. The suspense plot came together in a way that fit the series and made for a good ending to it. I’m sad to say goodbye to these characters, but I’m excited to find out what’s next from Jay Crownover.

Review: Snapped (Alexa Martin)

Snapped
Series: Playbook, #4
Author: Alexa Martin
Publication Date: October 20, 2020
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Women’s Fiction
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

With the stakes this high, it’s no longer just a game for the quarterback in this romance by the author of Blitzed.

Elliot Reed is living her best life—or pretending to. She owes it to her dad’s memory to be happy and make the most of her new job as Strategic Communications Manager for the Denver Mustangs. Things are going well until star quarterback Quinton Howard Jr. decides to use the field as his stage and becomes the first player to take a knee during the national anthem.

As the son of a former professional athlete, Quinton knows the good, the bad, and the ugly about football. He’s worked his entire life to gain recognition in the sport, and now that he has it, he’s not about to waste his chance to change the league for better. Not even the brilliant but infuriating Elliot, who the Mustangs assign to manage him, will get Quinton back in line.

A rocky initial meeting only leads to more tension between Quinton and Elliot. But as her new job forces them to spend time together, she realizes they may have more in common than she could’ve ever imagined. With her job and his integrity on the line, this is one coin toss that nobody can win.


I was a little nervous prior to starting Snapped. I’ve enjoyed the Playbook series up until this point, and the reviews I have seen for this fourth book are very mixed. People seemed to either love or dislike it, so I wasn’t sure how it would hit me. Snapped started out with a letter from Martin about how the book and she relates to Elliot, the NFL, and the racial injustices/inequalities in it. I appreciated this letter because it enhanced how I saw the character and what was going on. It made me forgot about the worry I had and just dive in.

I enjoyed the experience of reading Snapped more than I thought I would. It didn’t really feel like a romance, more like women’s fiction for the most part. That didn’t bother me because I was immediately pulled in with the writing and story. Based on the subject matter it covers, I was imagining it being a heavy read. It had its heavy moments, mostly at the climax of the story, but was overall not too angsty. The build up to the climax did make me uncomfortable, but it was supposed to. Martin did a great job making me feel the tension Elliot was feeling. Did I love feeling that tension? Not really, but I pushed through.

What I liked the most about this book was Elliot and the self-discovery she went through.  I could feel her fears, frustrations, sadness, and hope. I can’t comment on how true to life her experiences were as I’m not biracial, but I’m hoping maybe they mirror the author’s enough to be authentic to readers who are.

Quinton was a gem of a character. I loved how he stood up for his beliefs and didn’t back down. I only wish I would have gotten dual point of view because I would have loved to hear his thoughts straight from his own head. It would have made this book and its topics that much more powerful.

I feel like I need to warn readers who are fans of the series at this point. I know I mentioned how this didn’t read like true romance novel to me (and it’s definitely not a rom-com). There’s a lot of getting to know each other, working together, and building rapport between Elliot and Quinton through most of the book. Things don’t truly progress further until about 70% and then it feels like fast forward was hit. I do wish the romance was heavier at the beginning, but the progression to the start of a relationship did feel natural.

Overall, Snapped was a good addition to this series. Each book has gotten a little heavier in subject manner, and this one continued that trend. I wish there had been a little more romance throughout the book, but I wouldn’t want it to take anything away from the important, relevant issues touched on. It also set up what I’m guessing is going to be book #5, which I am very interested in reading.

Review: The Rules of Burken (Traci Finlay)

The Rules of Burken
Author: Traci Finlay
Publication Date: April 11, 2019
Genre: Thriller

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Twenty-four-year-old Charlotte Stahl would do anything for her older brother, Ian. After all, he’d done everything for her growing up.

He played Burken with her—a hide-and-seek game they made up as kids.

He comforted her when their mom deserted them.

He raised her when their dad went to prison for murder.

To Charlotte, Ian is the only reason she’s still alive—he’s her rock. So when Ian asks her to play Burken in the isolated woods of Cadillac, Michigan, Charlotte feels she could use the nostalgia and agrees. Besides, they haven’t played this game since childhood. Burken—it’s the one thing that never changes …

…until Ian threatens to kill her in the middle of the game.

More than the rules have changed as Brother turns to Predator, Sister turns to Prey, and she’s navigating the forests of Northern Michigan on foot with nothing but the clothes—and a target—on her back.

If Charlotte wants to stay alive, she knows she has to untangle the web of her haunting past to find out where things went wrong, and at what point she lost sight of reality. With no other choice but to reopen old wounds—and with Ian hot on her trail—Charlotte learns that sometimes evil has to manifest in order for good to succeed. Which makes her wonder…

Is Ian really a monster? Or her savior?


I came across The Rules of Burken when author Tarryn Fisher promoted it on her Instagram at release time. I was intrigued by it then and wanted to read it, so I downloaded it. I don’t have a good reason for taking so long to get to it. It sat on my Kindle for over a year before I picked it up, which I’m not proud of.

This psychological thriller was addictive from the start. I was constantly tense trying to figure things out. The game Charlotte and her brother Ian played was brutal. Their sibling bond fascinated me. I was desperate to understand it, so I could make guesses as to what was happening. There these great flashbacks throughout the story heightened my curiosity even more. Everything moved at such fast pace, I didn’t want to miss anything. I didn’t want to put the book down.

Honestly, I was impressed this was Traci Finlay’s debut novel. The writing was great, the plot moved quickly, and the end left me wanting more. Not only do I want to read another book by this author, but I would read a sequel. It wasn’t the most complex psychological thriller, but it was a good one and I would recommend it.