Review: Little Lies (H. Hunting)

Little Lies
Author: H. Hunting (Helena Hunting)
Publication Date: November 16, 2020
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Sports Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

I don’t want you.
You mean nothing to me.
I never loved you.

I turned my words into swords.
And I cut her down. Shoved the blade in and watched her fall.

I said I’d never hurt her, and I did.

Years later, I’m faced with all the little lies, the untruths, the false realities, the damage I inflicted, when all I wanted was to indulge my obsession.

Lavender Waters is the princess in the tower. Even her name is the thing fairy tales are made of.

I used to be the one who saved her.
Over and over again.

But I don’t want to save her anymore.
I just want to pretend the lies are still the truth.

A standalone angsty new adult romance.

 

Heroine: Lavender Waters (Alex and Violet Waters’ youngest daughter, PUCKED and FOREVER PUCKED couple origin, Pucked Series )

Hero: Kodiak (Kody) Bowman (Rook and Lainey Bowman’s son, A LIE FOR A LIE couple origin, All In Series )


Pucked/All In crossover romance? I know fans of Helena Hunting’s hockey romance series are going to be lining up for this book. I was super excited to read it myself. I’m happy to report that Little Lies didn’t disappoint.

Little Lies wasn’t a romantic comedy like those previous series. It was edgier. There was more angst and a darker vibe. I guess that’s why Hunting felt the need to go with “H. Hunting” instead of “Helena Hunting”. (I’m not sold on this being a great move since this book is combining two of Helena Hunting’s series, but whatever.) It still brought forth a few chuckles, though.  I loved both the writing, the story, and all the children of the couples I have loved over the years.

Lavender Waters was a character I was excited to learn more about. I really liked her character in this book. I could remember a few details from her childhood from the previous books, but I liked getting further into her backstory. It wasn’t exactly a troubled one, but it kind of was. Anxiety was a huge factor in this book, and I liked how it was dealt with.

Kodiak Bowman started out not being my favorite guy, but the more I got to learn about him, the more I understood him. Finding out how intertwined Lavender and Kodiak were as kids helped a lot. I have to admit loving the flashbacks of their childhood and trying to figure out how they got to being enemies the way they were currently. Plus, it made things even sweeter when enemies turned to more. I ended up finding the two of them perfect together and very adorable. I do have to admit that the physical aspect of their relationship sort of shocked me, but considering there’s a relation to both Alex & Violet Waters and Rook & Lainey Bowman maybe I shouldn’t have been?

One of my favorite things about this book were all the sibling/cousin/friend relationships. The Pucked and All In series created a bunch of children to throw into the mix. Seeing how those kids’ relationships morphed throughout the years was so much fun! I loved Lavender and River’s relationships. They all just added an extra layer to the drama that went down between Lavender and Kodiak. Plus, the parents make some cool cameos.

I’m really, really hoping Little Lies is a start to a new series by Hunting. I would LOVE for each and every one of the kids to get a book. There’s great potential for some great romances. I have a feeling I would enjoy them just as much as I enjoyed Lavender and Kodiak’s romance.

Little Lies, an all-new, angsty and emotional new adult romance from New York Times bestselling author Helena Hunting writing as H. Hunting is out now!

 

Download your copy today or read FREE in Kindle Unlimited!
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About Helena Hunting

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of PUCKED, Helena Hunting lives on the outskirts of Toronto with her incredibly tolerant family and two moderately intolerant cats. She writes contemporary romance ranging from new adult angst to romantic sports comedy.

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Review: Landon & Shay: Part 2 (Brittainy C. Cherry)

L&S pt 2 - BT banner.jpg

Landon & Shay: Part Two, the not to be missed conclusion of the Landon and Shay duet by Brittainy C. Cherry, is available now!

Landon & Shay: Part 2
Series: L&S Duet, #2
Author: Brittainy C. Cherry
Publication Date: December 4, 2019
Genre: Contemporary Romance, New Adult
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Once upon a time, I fell in love with a boy.
A beautiful, broken boy who had his own world of struggles.

People warned me against our love, but I didn’t listen.
We looked weak, young, and foolish.
Dangerously in love.
We didn’t care.

In order to keep our hearts protected from the opinions of others, we became each other’s secret.
We shared stolen moments. Tender touches. Secretive embraces.

It was our twisted love story, and it worked for us up until our lives changed forever.

The boy I loved became Hollywood’s newest golden boy.
His career blossomed as mine stalled.
He found massive success as I discovered multiple failures.
He made something of himself, while my dreams never came true.

We moved into different realms where our pieces no longer fit together.

In the fairy tales, love conquered all.
In reality, love was the main reason empires began to fall.

I always knew Landon belonged in my story.
He was my beginning, middle, and end.
The only problem? I wasn’t certain I still belonged in his.

*Book Two of the Landon & Shay Duet.*


I feel like I’ve been waiting forever for Landon & Shay: Part 2. First, because of seeing parts of their adult relationship in Eleanor & Grey. Second, because Landon & Shay: Part 1 ended in a way that me very curious about the time between Part 1 and Eleanor & Grey. There was so many possible situations and circumstances that I needed to know what went down.

I’m thrilled to have finally had the chance to read Landon & Shay: Part 2. I wasn’t sure where it was going to pick up Landon and Shay’s story, and I loved that there wasn’t a huge gap in time. I got to see their romance play out over the years and it was such a special experience. This is Brittainy C. Cherry, so there was heartbreaking moments woven in with the heartwarming moments. The way mental health was approached was realistic and raw. There were so many emotions to be felt. It was a lovely reading experience (even when I was tearing up). I loved every moment of Landon and Shay’s romance. Ugh. I’m just so sad it’s over, though. I could have read on and on and on about them. I loved them that much.

Obviously, I loved the conclusion to the L&S Duet. I wouldn’t have changed one thing about it. Bravo Ms. Cherry for writing such a special, time-spanning, epic second chance romance.

L&S duet - AN.jpg

Download your copy today!!

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Start the duet with Landon and Shay: Part One:
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About Brittainy

Author Brittainy C. Cherry is an Amazon #1 bestselling author. She has been in love with words since the day she took her first breath. She graduated from Carroll University with a Bachelor Degree in Theatre Arts and a minor in Creative Writing. Her novels have been published in 18+ countries around the world. Brittainy lives in Brookfield, Wisconsin with her fur babies.

Connect with Brittainy

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Review: The Reckless Oath We Made (Bryn Greenwood)

The Reckless Oath We Made
Author: Bryn Greenwood
Publication Date: August 20, 2019
Publisher: J.P. Putnam’s Sons
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

A provocative love story between a tough Kansas woman on a crooked path to redemption and the unlikeliest of champions, from the New York Times bestselling author of All the Ugly and Wonderful Things.

Zee is nobody’s fairy tale princess. Almost six-foot, with a redhead’s temper and a shattered hip, she has a long list of worries: never-ending bills, her beautiful, gullible sister, her five-year-old nephew, her housebound mother, and her drug-dealing boss.

Zee may not be a princess, but Gentry is an actual knight, complete with sword, armor, and a code of honor. Two years ago the voices he hears called him to be Zee’s champion. Both shy and autistic, he’s barely spoken to her since, but he has kept watch, ready to come to her aid.

When an abduction tears Zee’s family apart, she turns to the last person she ever imagined–Gentry–and sets in motion a chain of events that will not only change both of their lives, but bind them to one another forever.


I’ve been sitting here staring at the computer screen trying to figure out what to say about The Reckless Oath We Made. I keep thinking about the blurb and the “provocative romance” label. Those two words describe this book, but not in the way some might think. It was provocative in the causing a strong reaction way, not the deliberately sexy sort of way. It had a sweet but infuriating romance. I don’t know that I would place it firmly in the romance category, though. The Reckless Oath We made was more of a mystery in some ways. Zee’s sister LeReigne has gone missing. Zee is on a mission to find her without the help of the police. Instead, her stalker/self-appointed “champion” Gentry is going to help her. Despite being two incredibly different people, they fall in love along the way.

I was addicted to Bryn Greenwood’s writing from the moment I started The Reckless Oath We Made. There was such beauty in words that could be so ugly at times. The way she crafted and directed the story kept me on the edge of my seat wanting to know what was next. I loved the way she told this story through multiple points of view. Not only did we get Zee and Gentry’s POVs, but also several other characters’. All of those POVs gave a greater depth to this story and an even greater idea of who Zee and Gentry were and the things that happened.

Zee was a calculating, hard woman whose personal opinion of right and wrong is fluid. She’s willing to do whatever it takes to get her sister back. Some of the things she was willing to do did not sit right with me, but they made this book what it was. Gentry was an old soul with a strong sense of right and wrong who is determined to help his lady. He’s not only autistic, but schizophrenic. He speaks in Old English. (Even his POV is in Old English, which was a little frustrating at first.) Zee and Gentry were an odd combination that somehow worked in the most beautiful way. They saw each other in ways others missed. Their romance was inconceivable at first, yet totally understandable as things progressed.

The journey The Reckless Oath We Made took me on was not for the faint of heart. It was a beautifully ugly story. One that made both cringe and smile. It was weird and uncomfortable, yet totally enthralling. I really loved it. It reminded me of a Tarryn Fisher novel, which didn’t surprise me all that much since I decided to read this book based on Ms. Fisher’s recommendation of it on social media.

Review: Drummer Girl (Ginger Scott)

Drummer Girl
Author: Ginger Scott
Publication Date:
Genre: Mature Young Adult, New Adult, Contemporary Romance, Fiction
Note: This review is for an ARC from WordSmith Publicity and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

He was the words.
She was the rhythm.
Together, the told one hell of a story.

Drummer Girl is a mature YA/New Adult romance by Ginger Scott. This book
features garage bands, drug use, sexual situations, and honest talk
about mental health. Full blurb to come.


I like to read Ginger Scott’s books because I never know what she’s going to throw at me. Each book is something new and completely different. Her writing is always amazing, but it’s her stories that hit me hard.

Drummer Girl surprised me in more than one way. I knew it was going to be about music, but I didn’t realize it was going to deal with mental health. The combination of the two made for an explosive story. I liked the narrative Ginger Scott created around it. Some parts were brutally honest, while others almost secretive. There were things I didn’t see coming, but probably should have.

I have to admit that while I really liked Drummer Girl, I wasn’t 100% sold on Jesse and Arizona’s relationship. I wasn’t sure whether or not it was a healthy relationship for either of them. I was surprised by how accepting their parents were of it. That being said, I loved how they communicated. They didn’t hold back. Plus, they truly supported each other.

One of my favorite things about Drummer Girl were the friendships. Ari and her best friend reminded me a bit of the relationship I had with one of my closest growing up. We were different in some of the same ways, but had that same close connection. I also really liked Jesse’s friendship with Rag. Rag had Jesse’s back when others wouldn’t have.

Another great thing about this book was that both Jesse and Arizona’s parents were involved. Since this story was in Arizona’s POV, we mostly saw her parents. I didn’t like how they were at first. I understood their protectiveness, but thought they were a little too overbearing. By the end, they had won me over — especially her dad.

Drummer Girl is one of those books I like even more the longer I think about it. When I was wrapped up in the story, I felt a little off-balance and not sure what to think about it. Having finished it, I know that was the genius of Ginger Scott’s writing. She made me feel Arizona’s feelings and I didn’t always realize it right away.

EXCERPT:

Drummer Girl, Copyright Ginger Scott 2019

“That’s the first time I’ve played that song. I like it. We should add it to our set,” he says, pulling the strap from around his neck before setting his guitar at the foot of his bed. “What do you think?”

He twists so our knees are touching and our shoulders are squared.
“I think you’re a showoff, one. And two…I totally think we should close with that at our gig. People love retro shit like that at shows.” I don’t really know what people like at shows because the only kinds I’ve ever been to have been for high school marching nerds or jazz geeks. I probably don’t even deserve to utter the word gig yet. I’m a gig virgin. I do know movies, though, and if this life was a movie, our band would close with that.
Jesse’s eyes linger on my face, making me warm.
“Okay then,” he says, finally. “And I’m not a showoff.”
His lips pucker with his smirk and mine follow suit until a laugh seeps through.
“You so are!” I shove at him playfully, and his hands wrap around my wrists and shove back gently but don’t let go.
“No, I’m a great example. That’s a totally different thing,” he says, pulling me toward his chest until my fingertips meet the hard surface of his pecs under a well-worn white T-shirt.
“I’m pretty sure it’s just a synonym for showoff how you’re using it. In fact, now you’re just being arrogant!” I gripe back through laughter, a wry smile playing at one side of my mouth. Jesse remains quiet, though. His head leaned a tick to the right. My lips vibrate with this sudden change in atmosphere, and without even helping myself, I bite my bottom lip. There is just enough light in the room to see these small things we’re doing, these…signs. At least, I’m giving a sign. I hope I’m not imagining Jesse’s.
At least three full breaths pass between us without words. I count mine, and I guess how many he takes because really, I can’t see much beyond the dark centers of his eyes and the top curl of his lip. I wait for him. Even though I’m dizzy and happy and excited, I don’t want to be eager and desperate. I wait for him to move closer…to do something.
I wish for him.
“Would it be okay if I kissed you now?”

About the Author:

Ginger Scott is an Amazon-bestselling and Goodreads Choice Award-nominated author of several young and new adult romances, including Waiting on the Sidelines, Going Long, Blindness, How We Deal With Gravity, This Is Falling, You and Everything After, The Girl I Was Before, Wild Reckless, Wicked Restless, In Your Dreams, The Hard Count, Hold My Breath, and A Boy Like You.

A sucker for a good romance, Ginger’s other passion is sports, and she often blends the two in her stories. (She’s also a sucker for a hot quarterback, catcher, pitcher, point guard…the list goes on.) Ginger has been writing and editing for newspapers, magazines and blogs for more than 15 years. She has told the stories of Olympians, politicians, actors, scientists, cowboys, criminals and towns. For more on her and her work, visit her website at http://www.littlemisswrite.com.

When she’s not writing, the odds are high that she’s somewhere near a baseball diamond, either watching her son field pop flies like Bryce Harper or cheering on her favorite baseball team, the Arizona Diamondbacks. Ginger lives in Arizona and is married to her college sweetheart whom she met at ASU (fork ’em, Devils).

Social Media Links:
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Review: My Crazy (Sick) Love (Drica Pinotti)

My Crazy (Sick) Love
Author: Drica Pinotti
Publication Date: March 14, 2019
Publisher: Adriana Da Silva Gomes
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Amanda Loeb is a single, intelligent New York City attorney coming up on the eve of her thirtieth birthday. With a stable job, circle of supportive friends, and close relationships with her mother and sister one detail sets Amanda apart from others – she is a hypochondriac. Her medicine cabinet is home to a stock of medications sourced from an actively managed A-Z list of the best doctors in NYC. When Amanda meets Brian Marshall, a handsome and charismatic restaurant owner, her heart beats in undiagnosable somersaults. As their relationship develops Amanda learns the intricacies and complications love brings may be the cure-all ‘pill’ she needs to free herself from the affliction – for the rest of her life.


My Crazy (Sick) Love exhausted me. One of the reasons I read it was because I was curious about Amanda’s hypochondria. I know I have had moments where I was filled with anxiety and worried that something was wrong with me, so I thought it would be easy to relate to. I was also curious how this mental illness would work in a romance. Unfortunately, it didn’t work all that well for me in this case. Amanda’s suffering was completely overwhelming. Her thoughts took over the whole story and made it hard to focus on any other aspect of it. I didn’t find anything about it humorous.

That’s not to say that writing wasn’t good. I thought it was very good and felt like it was well researched. I also really liked Brian’s character. My Crazy (Sick) Love might just be one of those books that works better for others than it did for me.

Review: The Other Side (Kim Holden)

The Other Side
Author: Kim Holden
Publication Date: June 5, 2019
Publisher: Do Epic LLC
Genre: Young Adult, Fiction, Mental Health, Historical Fiction, Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Denver, Colorado
1987

There are two sides to every story.
The surface reality that’s presented to the world.
And then there’s the other side.
The real one.
The one that matters.

Seventeen-year-old, self-proclaimed asshole, Toby Page, is alone.
No friends.
No family.
He trades maintenance work in exchange for room and board.
Every day he fights demons no one else can see.
Every day he wants to give up.
But he can’t.
Not yet.

When Alice Eliot moves in downstairs, she offers Toby some light in his dark world.
At a crossroads and barely hanging on, it’s hard to have perspective.
It’s difficult to see your own worth when you’re the villain in your story.
Luckily for Toby, Alice brings things out in him that no one else ever has.

As the two sides of Toby’s story are revealed, and the full reality comes into view, truth is gained.
Improbable alliances prove that kindness is fundamentally human.
Unlikely heroes emerge.

The question is, Will it all be enough to save him?


When I have to answer the dreaded “What’s your favorite book?” question, I always respond with Bright Side by Kim Holden. There hasn’t been a book since I read Bright Side that has affected me as much. I’m telling you this for a couple of reasons. One, so you know how brilliant of a writer Kim Holden is. Two, because while The Other Side wasn’t exactly another Bright Side, it just as impactful and even more important.

The Other Side is a story about a young man living with suicidal thoughts. I am not going to go anymore into the plot because it’s one of those books you have to read for yourself. (There are some amazing surprises in store!) What I will say is that I was impressed with the story Kim Holden told and the way it was delivered. It definitely made me think about my daily actions, the people around me, and the people I come in contact with. It’s truly one of those stories that young adults (and adults) need to read. I loved what this book gave to me, and I want it to give even more to others.

Review: Ryan’s Bed by Tijan

Ryan’s Bed
Author: Tijan
Publication Date: January 22, 2018
Genre: (Mature) Young Adult , Contemporary, Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

I crawled into Ryan Jensen’s bed that first night by accident.

I barely knew him. I thought it was his sister’s bed—her room. It took seconds to realize my error, and I should’ve left…

I didn’t.
I didn’t jump out.
I didn’t get embarrassed.
I relaxed.
And that night, in that moment, it was the only thing I craved.

I asked to stay. He let me, and I slept.

The truth? I never wanted to leave his bed. If I could’ve stayed forever, I would have.
He became my sanctuary.

Because—four hours earlier—my twin sister killed herself.


WOAH. I cannot stop thinking about this book. I actually had a hard time falling asleep after finishing it I couldn’t get it out of my mind.

Ryan’s Bed was an interesting book. It definitely fit the Tijan YA mold. Girl who is deeply scarred from an emotional death/family event. She’s tortured by it, but finds comfort in a guy willing to go the distance for her and protect her at all cost. Mackenzie had a little bit of both Samantha (Fallen Crest High) and Alexandra (Broken and Screwed) in her, but that’s where the similarities end. I couldn’t help comparing her story to theirs, but this one was actually very different.

You see, Mackenzie didn’t just lose a sibling, she lost a twin. She lost what she considered to be half of herself to suicide. It sent her over the edge. Mackenzie no longer felt like herself. Her family no longer felt the same. The destruction in the wake her twin’s death felt catastrophic to her. Mackenzie’s grief and anger made Ryan’s Bed a very dark YA read.

I have to admit I had no idea where the story would go even at half way through. Mackenzie was so messed up mentally that I feared there wouldn’t be a good ending. Everything about it was heartbreaking. The sadness of it all consumed me. I didn’t like feeling the way it made me feel…and then there was a subtle reprieve. Slowly, things started coming together in a way I could see some relief.

And then the end came. I have to say I wasn’t expecting it. I wasn’t prepared.

Ryan’s Bed isn’t a joy to read, but it’s a very well crafted book. If I’m going to be honest, I probably would have given Ryan’s Bed three stars if it wasn’t for that ending. I couldn’t tell where this book was going for the first several chapters. I didn’t know if I wanted to know where it was going at that time. But the progression to the end was good, and then that damn ending was spectacular. So, four stars it is.

You’ll notice I didn’t say anything about the romance in this novel. Ryan’s Bed has a romance, but it’s not the front and center star of the show. Mackenzie’s journey is, and I think it needs to stay that way. All I will say is that I loved Ryan and his support of her.

I can’t end this review without saying that the Author’s Note at the end was worth reading. It helped me process what I had read, and I loved how Tijan’s thoughts about the beginning of this book reflected how I felt. I applaud her for her courage in writing this book.

TIJAN’S ULTIMATE RYAN’S BED GIVEAWAY:

https://tinyurl.com/ryansbedgiveaway

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Blog Tour REVIEW & Excerpt: Beard in Mind by Penny Reid

BEARD IN MIND BT BANNER.jpg

Beard in Mind, an all new standalone in the bestselling, romantic comedy Winston Brothers Series by Penny Reid, is available NOW!

BIM-cover (2)

All is fair in love and auto maintenance.

Beau Winston is the nicest, most accommodating guy in the world. Usually.

Handsome as the devil and twice as charismatic, Beau lives a charmed life as everyone’s favorite Winston Brother. But since his twin decided to leave town, and his other brother hired a stunning human-porcupine hybrid as a replacement mechanic for their auto shop, Beau Winston’s charmed life has gone to hell in a handbasket.

Shelly Sullivan is not nice and is never accommodating. Ever.

She mumbles to herself, but won’t respond when asked a question. She glares at everyone, especially babies. She won’t shake hands with or touch another person, but has no problems cuddling with a dog. And her damn parrot speaks only in curse words.

Beau wants her gone. He wants her out of his auto shop, out of Tennessee, and out of his life.

The only problem is, learning why this porcupine wears her coat of spikes opens a Pandora’s box of complexity—exquisite, tempting, heartbreaking complexity—and Beau Winston soon discovers being nice and accommodating might mean losing what matters most.

Review:

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Note: I received an ARC from Social Butterfly PR in exchange for an unbiased review.

If you’ve been following my blog the past week, you’ve probably noticed I’ve been on a fun-filled journey reading The Winston Brothers series to prepare for the release of Beard in Mind. I’ve had such a good time getting to know all of the Winston brothers. They’re an always entertaining and almost always mischievous bunch. Each of them is individually interesting and lovable, but Beau has been portrayed as the charismatic flirt and most liked brother. I couldn’t wait to read his story.

In Beard Science, the reader is introduced to Shelly Sullivan. Cletus hires her as a mechanic in their shop. She’s an awkward, straightforward person and Beau is not her biggest fan. Beard in Mind shines a light on what was happening between Shelley and Beau in Beard Science and takes the reader on a special hate to love story.

Beard in Mind had a different feel than all of the Winston Brothers books. It was humorous, but there was a seriousness that overshadowed the humor. All of these books have dealt with a different issue or life choice, but this one was much deeper. Shelly was dealing with a disorder that affected her daily life. She was struggling but working to get herself in a better place. Her story was presented in a brave and inspiring way. I really appreciated that.

The seriousness of Shelly’s condition brought a seriousness to Beau’s story. In the past, we’ve only seen the happy-go-lucky side of him. I was impressed with how Beau dealt with Shelly and her needs. It made me respect him in a way I wasn’t expecting to. Everyone needs a Beau in his or her life.

One of my favorite things about this book and series is the Winston family dynamic. They’re always looking out for and trying to keep each other safe. I especially loved the twin dynamic between Beau and Duane in this one. We got Duane’s side in Truth or Beard, and it was fun getting Beau’s side. Their personalities and strengths complimented each other so perfectly.

Overall, I enjoyed Beard in Mind. It was an inspirational love story. I do have to admit that I missed the constant humor that I felt during the other books, but I was okay with that. Beard in Mind was a special story that needed to be told.

Now, I just need Roscoe’s and Billy’s story…

Excerpt:

She’d taken the sofa, in her own house, and given me the bed. That didn’t make a lick of sense.

I crouched next to her, threading my fingers into the silky hair at her temples. “Honey.”

“Mmm.”

I bent to whisper, “Shelly.”

“Hmm?”

“I’m going to carry you to your bed. I’ll take the sofa.”

“Mmm.”

I grinned at her soft noises, at the untroubled expression on her face, and how her brow—even in sleep—still looked regal and stern.

Sliding my arms under her legs and shoulder, I picked her up. And, unfortunately, that woke her up.

She jerked in my arms. “What are you doing?”

“I’m taking you to the bed.”

“Don’t do that.”

“I don’t mind, I’ll take the sofa.” Our mouths were just inches apart, and hers was distracting.

She squirmed. “Put me down.”

Sighing unhappily, I did. I set her on her feet next to the couch. The blanket pooled at her feet and I stepped back to give her some space. It was dark, but I could see her just fine, and that meant I had to force my eyes to remain above her neck. The woman was wearing two pathetic scraps of fabric as pajamas. A thin little tank top and shorts. That’s it.

I set my jaw and turned to the side, waiting for her to walk past.

“Where are you?”

I glanced at her and realized she couldn’t see at all. She didn’t have a hand out, but the way her eyes were moving about the room gave away her blindness.

“I’m here.” I didn’t touch her, because if I did, I wouldn’t want to stop.

Shelly turned her head in my direction and took a deep breath. Still she didn’t reach for me. I didn’t know the specifics of what to expect after her Friday session, but I recalled Dr. West saying something about Shelly doing self-guided ERP exercises over this week.

“Can you see?” She licked her lips, her voice sandpapery. “Because I can’t see at all. It’s so dark.”

“I can see.” Unbidden, my eyes dropped to her body, to the swell of her breasts, the panel of bare stomach, the curve of her hips. Pinpricks of heat raised over my skin and I curled my hands into fists.

She shuffled forward and I caught her before she bumped into me, setting my hands gently at her waist.

“Let me take you to your room.” My voice was rough, for obvious reasons.

Saying nothing, she brought her hand to my forearm, her body gently colliding with mine. And then her hand on my arm slid up my bicep to my shoulder.

“Shelly.” I was running out of breath.

“I like this.”

“What?”

“Touching you.”

Oh fuck.

I held still and endured her hands moving over my body, down the front of my shirt, stopping at the hem, then pushing it up.

“Take this off.”

I did. I pulled the T-shirt over my head and let it drop to the floor.

We stood there, facing each other in the dark, not touching. Despite the session on Friday and the progress that had been made, I realized she wasn’t quite there yet. Dr. West was right, Friday was just a step, the first step. Shelly wasn’t able to initiate contact. Not yet.

Her hands balled into fists and she swayed forward, her breath struggling little puffs.

If anything was going to happen tonight, I had to initiate it. I had to be the one to touch first.

God, how I wanted her. How I wanted her above me, beneath me, surrounding me. But how could I?

“I know why I hesitate,” her voice was breathless, “but why do you hesitate?”

“Lots of reasons.”

“Give me one.”

“I don’t want to you use you.”

“I wish you would.”

That pulled a laugh from me, just a small relief from the mounting tension. My eyes moved over her body, an undeniable impulse to devour the sight of her, her legs, stomach, chest, then up her neck to her lips.

“You asked me on Saturday if sex was a big deal for me, or if it was you. The answer is both.”

She held very still, and I got the sense she was holding her breath, straining to listen.

“You are a big deal to me. I don’t want a fling. I don’t want a flirtation. I want promises.”

“What can I promise you?”

That you’ll love me. That I’ll be your priority.

She shifted her weight from foot to foot. A spike of anxiety that she might leave me like this had me acting without forethought. I lifted my hands to her waist again and immediately, her fingertips skimmed over skin of my lower stomach in response, making my muscles tense in hot anticipation. She grew more assertive as she caressed my sides, abdomen, ribs, chest, shoulders, and then back down.

Shelly stepped closer, a hint of thrilling contact between her breasts and my torso, and all the words and worries melted from my mind, died on my tongue, suffocated by the feel of her body, and the possibility of this moment.

Her finger hooked in the waistband of my jeans. “Take these off.” Her hand turned, her fingers and palm cupping me over my zipper.

Instinctively, I pressed myself into her touch even as I grabbed her wrist.

“Beau, I promise—”

She didn’t get to speak, because I kissed her, hard and wild, unbuttoning and unzipping my fly with one hand and bringing her palm inside my boxers with the other.

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Review: In Pieces by Danielle Pearl

In Pieces
Series: Something More, #2
Author: Danielle Pearl
Publication Date: October 10, 2017
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, New Adult
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopsis:

Three years ago she was left in pieces . . . Most college freshmen love the newfound freedom of living on campus, but none of them craves it like Beth Caplan. One ill-fated night when she was fifteen left her locked in a posh prison of private tutors. It’s for the best, everyone said, and maybe it was. But after years of hard work and healing, the one person who never thought of her as broken could be the one to break her all over again. And Beth can’t seem to stay away now any more than she could all those years ago. As soon as David March learned his best friend’s little sister was enrolling at his school, he promised to look after her, and promised himself he’d keep a safe distance. But the sweet little girl he’d grown up with has transformed into a gorgeous young woman, and she’s attracting attention from people she shouldn’t-like the ex who nearly destroyed her and a strange new student with a disturbing habit of showing up wherever Beth goes. But for David, the most troubling discovery is realizing that he doesn’t just want Beth to be safe. He wants her to be his.


In Pieces is the first book I’ve read by Danielle Pearl. I really enjoyed her writing style. She told the story in first person dual points of view. That’s my favorite type of narration because it allows me to connect deeply with the characters. She also threw in some chapters set in the past that helped show how the characters had matured over the years.

My favorite thing about In Pieces was Beth and David’s relationship. David was Beth’s older brother’s best friend. He was supposed to be her protector at college due to her weaknesses, but Beth was constantly pushing his boundaries. She didn’t want to be seen as a little girl any longer. They both were harboring secret feelings for each other. I loved the way their relationship progressed from friendship to lovers.

The only problem I had with this book was that there was almost too much going on in it. Both characters had secrets in their pasts. That probably would have been enough to keep the story going on its own, but there was also a ton of other drama. There was the new stranger, David’s frat friends, and a surprise twist toward the end. It was entertaining for sure, but just too much at times. I just wanted to focus on the love birds.

Overall, In Pieces was a fun, quick read. It had everything I would expect from a new adult romance and more. I liked Danielle Pearl’s writing style so much that I would definitely pick up another of her novels. I would like to read the first book in this series.

Review: Aftercare Instructions by Bonnie Pipkin

Aftercare Instructions
Author: Bonnie Pipkin
Publication Date: June 27, 2017
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Genre: Young Adult, Fiction, Contemporary
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher via Goodreads in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopsis:

In the tradition of Jandy Nelson and Rainbow Rowell, a big-hearted journey of furious friendship, crazy love, and unexpected hope after a teen’s decision to end an unwanted pregnancy

“Troubled.” That’s seventeen-year-old Genesis according to her small New Jersey town. She finds refuge and stability in her relationship with her boyfriend, Peter—until he abandons her at a Planned Parenthood clinic during their appointment to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. The betrayal causes Gen to question everything.

As Gen pushes herself forward to find her new identity without Peter, she must also confront her most painful memories. Through the lens of an ongoing four act play within the novel, the fantasy of their undying love unravels line by line, scene by scene. Digging deeper into her past while exploring the underground theater world of New York City, she rediscovers a long-forgotten dream. But it’s when Gen lets go of her history, the one she thinks she knows, that she’s finally able to embrace the complicated, chaotic true story of her life, and take center stage.

This powerfully immersive and format-crushing début follows Gen from dorm rooms to diners to house parties to auditions—and ultimately, right into readers’ hearts.


Reading Aftercare Instructions was a bit of a weird experience for me. I entered a Goodreads giveaway for it without having read the blurb. I know that’s a little weird, but I do it sometimes. When I won and received the book, I still didn’t read the blurb. So when I started reading it, I had no idea what I was in store for. Aftercare Instructions was a really sad story. It wasn’t a bawling my eyes out sad, but more of a depressing sad.

Aftercare Instructions, as the blurb statesis about an almost eighteen-year-old girl who finds herself in the tough position of having an abortion. Gen knows having one is the right decision for herself and her boyfriend, Peter. But when Gen walks out into the waiting room after the procedure and finds Peter gone, she’s not so sure about anything anymore.

I’m going to jump right into my impression of Peter. I don’t care what his reasons for leaving Gen at the clinic by herself were, they weren’t good enough. No one should have to go through what Gen did, and then be left to suffer alone. I hated Peter and wished someone would have kicked the crap out of that kid. For someone who was supposed to be so good, he was pretty horrible. I understand his reasoning and beliefs, but Gen deserved better.

As for Gen, I understood her emotions and rationale. I didn’t always agree with the decisions she was making, but I didn’t fault her for them. She made a very tough, adult decision and the ramifications of it hurt. Gen had every right to be as broken as she was. She had every right to do anything she could to feel better.

One truly great thing about Aftercare Instructions was the bond between friends. Gen had a few people on her side that were willing to do everything they could to make sure Gen was in a safe emotional and physical state. They showed up when she wasn’t expecting and took charge. I applaud the author for showing how friends can support each other when a character can’t reach for a parent.

Another really great thing about this book was the way the title, chapter headings, chapters and story all meshed together. Obviously, the title Aftercare Instructions refers to the guidelines Gen needed to follow after her abortion. Each chapter is headed with one of those instructions. That instruction fit what Gen was going through physically and emotionally at the time. By the end of the book, we can see the way all of these instructions and Gen’s actions led to her moment(s) of healing. This was genius. I also really enjoyed the way the author used a play script as the method of delivering Gen and Peter’s past. That was so unique and cool.

Aftercare Instructions is an important book. Never before have I read a young adult novel that so honestly deals with the topic of abortion. Not only does it cover the emotional aspects of having one, but it details the physical. I’m not just talking what happens the moment of the procedure, but also in the week to come. It’s not romanticized. It’s not over and done. This is a good thing. It gives teenagers (and adults) down and dirty look at life after. I think that’s important. It gives girls/women who have gone through it a book they can identify with. Maybe it will give someone who might be making a similar decision peace or make them re-examine the decision they’re making. I don’t know. Like I said, I think it’s an important book.

I do have to admit I had some problems rating Aftercare Instructions — no matter how important I thought it was. I almost didn’t give it a rating at all. How do you rate a book that’s written so well, but wasn’t a fun experience? Honestly, this book depressed the hell out of me and made me so angry at Peter. Those aren’t fun emotions. I ended up giving it 4 stars because I think it deserves to be read.