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Review for Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott

By Elizabeth Scott Heartbeat (Harlequin Teen) [Hardcover] - Elizabeth Scott

This review is also available on my blog, Bows & Bullets Reviews

 

A heartbeat is the only thing keeping Emma's mom alive. She's brain dead with no chance of recovery. She's only being kept "alive" to support the life of the infant growing within her. This was Dan, Emma's stepdad's decision, and Emma is beyond angry at him and the rest of the world for this. She just wants to talk to her mother. She knows her mom could help her sort out her emotions, but that's never going to happen. Then she notices Caleb Harrison. He's the town bad boy and the old Emma never would have cared. The new Emma notices something familiar in his eyes, a grief that no one else seems to understand. And being with Caleb makes her feel alive again, finally. She doesn't spend every second with him consumed by the longing to discuss her issues with her mom again. As they days tick by and the countdown to her dead mother's c-section continues, Emma has some hard decisions to make and some terrible realities to come to terms with. Can she make the best of it or will she continue on her downward spiral?

 

I don't know that I could handle Emma's situation as well as she does. She is incredibly close to her mom and her step-dad and then her mom dies and suddenly all Dan (her step-dad) cares about is his unborn child. Emma is no longer a consideration where her baby brother is concerned and her opinion is unwanted and unnecessary. And she's forced to go and see her dead mother every single day. Every day she has to look at her dead mother's corpse as she incubates a tiny life inside her. A life that Emma can't help but resent. This little thing is responsible for her mother's death. Her mother was a high risk pregnancy because of her age. Her mother only got pregnant again because Dan wanted a baby and it killed her. So how is she taking it? Not well, as you can imagine. This former straight-A, goodie two shoes suddenly doesn't care about anything. She doesn't do her school work or even pay attention in class and she spends her afternoons staring at her ceiling grieving the loss of her mother and Dan's betrayal. She flat-out ignores Dan and his attempts to fix the situation. This irritated me at first. It seems childish. But the further in you get, the more you can't help but side with her. Dan is doing his best, that is true, but sometimes you're best isn't enough, is it? The further in you get, the more you realize that he doesn't chase after her when she walks away. He doesn't beat down the door she locks him is face. He tries, but he isn't giving it his all and Emma knows that more than anyone.

 

I loved Caleb almost instantly. He completely understands Emma's plight and his own might be worse. His little sister died a few years back and his parents credit it as his fault. It isn't really. She got hit by a car while riding a bike and she wasn't wearing a helmet so she was gone instantly. How they believe it was his fault is beyond me. He wasn't driving the car that hit her and he certainly didn't encourage her to ride in the road with no helmet, but they act like pushed her in front of the car. They are downright cruel to him. He lashes out in the only way he knows how, drugs and crime sprees. That's how he got that bad boy reputation. He's incredibly sweet to Emma and they connect in a way that neither of them expect. He is there for her in a way that no one else is. Even Emma's best friend, who sticks by her despite the drastic personality change, doesn't quite understand what she's going through. But Caleb does and he makes a point to be there for her when she needs him.

 

This heartbreaking story had me from minute one. It's written in short chapters that I flew through to find out what happened next. You want to see that confrontation between Emma and Dan. When you get there, trust me, it's better and worse than you imagined. You just want things to work out for her and we know they want. I know we are all secretly thinking that this is fiction and her mom can wake up, right? But she can't. She won't. Her mom is truly dead and the baby is the only reason she is on life support. This little baby, the one Emma was so excited for, is suddenly the enemy. Emma can't see how this could possibly be what her mom would want. Dan can't see how Emma would believe her mom would want them to do anything less. And their perspectives can't seem to mesh. Emma is steadfast in her beliefs and so is Dan, but something has to give. The ending is bittersweet and fits the novel perfectly.

 

This is my first Elizabeth Scott novel. I can honestly say I'll be grabbing any and all of her books that I come across for cheap. This was heartbreakingly amazing. While you see all the reasons she should get over it and move on and love her baby brother, you can't help but sympathize with Emma. This poor girl just can't seem to go back to who she was before. If you are looking for a happy, snarky novel, this isn't it. What you get here is so much deeper and more raw. It's a captivating story and one I'm glad I got the chance to read!

 

****Thank you to Harlequin Teen for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review****

 

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Review for The Liberator by Victoria Scott

The Liberator - Victoria Scott

This review is also available on my blog, Bows & Bullets Reviews

 

Dante Walker has officially jumped sides. He is no longer a badass collector of souls for Lucifer. Instead, he liberates souls for God. He's first assignment? Liberate Aspen's soul. Aspen is exactly like he was before he jump sides and it is hard to fight the desire to lapse into his old ways of partying and sinning. He has to stay strong because if he fails this assignment, he'll have to say good-bye to his liberator cuff and Charlie AKA the love of his life. Can he keep his cool or will he blow his chances to stay on Team Heaven?

 

Dante is still a character that irritates me. Actually Dante may irritate me more here than he did in The Collector. Everything about him bugs me. As a Collector, I kept hoping I would see him actually be the "man" he claimed to be. You know, the bad guy? Swearing and being a general jackass. Once he became a Liberator, I knew that wouldn't happen. Call me crazy, but I hate censored swearing. When something happens, all the real words help and anything else sounds stupid. Either commit or don't do it at all. I obviously curse like a fucking sailor and I hate moments when I have to reel that in for work or other reasons. I like colorful language and, in the end, they are just words. Either way, Dante drove me up a damn wall. He's so fucking cocky and annoying and I really began to hate him here.

 

Charlie wasn't much better. She goes all stupid in the beginning, doing things that are so far out of character that I had a very difficult time believing she would do them. Charlie is the "good girl" and that mentality is ingrained. It's not something that you can just shrug off. I was never a huge Charlie fan, but I liked her well enough in The Collector and I wanted that to continue here.

 

Then we have Aspen, the soul Dante is meant to Liberate. I don't have an opinion on her. I don't feel like we know enough about her by the end to really form an opinion. All we get is what Dante sees and thinks and I feel like there is much much more to her than that. She is hiding things and I wanted to slap her and tell her to let go. She also jumps onto the Charlie bandwagon very quickly in my opinion. Chick is basically a heathen. She shows no religious affiliations, but I'm supposed to believe that she just trusts Dante enough to believe his and Charlie's story and the existence of deities? Okay, this may have been more a problem for me and my atheist ways than the average reader, but I felt like she needed more convincing.

 

The whole God/Devil thing is actually a bit difficult for me. The fact that Dante rarely ever calls them by their names, instead referring to God as Big Guy and Lucifer as Lucille, drove me fucking nuts. Dude, you are agent of God now, at least say his damn name properly. I've read angel and demon books before and I have no problems with them, so I can't say exactly why this irritated me, but it did. Dante also plays that whole tortured, I don't deserve to be saved because I'm a "bad" guy card here that made me want to scream.

 

Really, I should have never requested the eARC of book 3 of this series, The Warrior. While I enjoyed The Collector, I didn't love it like everyone else did. I did love Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott (and I'm desperate for the sequel), but this series just irks me. I did give in, however, and was approved for it, so I had to muddle through this one first. I figured it would be the same 4 star level The Collector was, but it irritated me a lot more. Or maybe I was just more forgiving when I read The Collector? I really don't know, but either way, this got on my nerves.

 

It gets 3 stars because it wasn't horrible and it had it's good moments. The writing is pretty good. It just wasn't for me. I took me almost a month to finish it and that speaks volumes. Basically, if you liked The Collector and Dante in it, you'll like this. If Dante irritated the fuck out of you in The Collector, then that is only going to continue here.

 

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Review for Shattered Ties by K A Robinson

Shattered Ties - K.A. Robinson

This review is also available on my blog, Bows & Bullets Reviews

 

WARNING: THIS REVIEW WILL CONTAINER SPOILERS.

Emma Preston has always had the best life could offer. Her mom is a former supermodel and her dad is a rock star and she has never wanted for anything money could buy. But that doesn't mean her life is perfect. Her dad is always off touring with his band and her mother cares more about becoming the biggest socialite than she does about being a parent. Jesse is Emma's opposite in every way. He has lived his entire life in a trailer park with a single mother and works part time after school at a tattoo parlor to help make ends meet. He gets a scholarship to the snooty rich kids school and his mom forces him to go. Suddenly his world and Emma's world collide and things will never be the same for either of them. Emma knows that her mother would never accept Jesse in their lives and Jesse knows that he has no place with Emma, but they can't seem to fight their attraction to each other. Can they find a way to make it work or is their relationship doomed to fail before it even starts?

 

Emma is a character that I liked in the beginning. I'm not normally one to sympathize with the poor little rich girl plight. Sorry, I spent too much of my childhood worrying how my parents would make sure the bills got paid to believe that money can't truly buy happiness. But Emma quickly won me over with her sweet disposition and the way she treated Jesse. Despite her upbringing, she isn't snotty or uppity or of that I'm better than you because I have money attitude. She actually seems relatively normal. She doesn't flaunt her money. In fact, we don't see her spent any throughout the entire novel. There is nary a shopping trip to be found. I become slightly irritated with her as we get deeper into the novel. She seems a bit naive, which is probably to be expected in a household with that much money, but it was irritating none the less. There is a scene towards the end where she is talking about moving out from her mother's house after she turns 18 and flat out expecting her father to pay rent for a place for her to live. Basically, I was jealous. Insanely jealous. I want that life. The one where bills aren't a worry. The one where you know if you fail at life, Mommy and Daddy can easily pick up the pieces and pay your debts. She was also a bit...quick? Emotionally, she does everything quickly. She's quick to fall for Jesse. The minute Jesse suggests a tattoo, she instantly wants it (and then they go do it). She puts no real thought into the consequences of those actions. The tattoo especially bugged me. You are going to let this boy you've only known for a few weeks put a permanent mark on your skin? He's not even legally authorized to do that. If he fucks you, well sucks to be you! They literally discuss the idea of a tattoo and then immediately leave to go do it.

 

As for Jesse, well, I'm still not sure how I feel about him. On one hand, his situation is much easier for me to relate to. Though I didn't come from a single mother household, I know the trailer park life. I lived in a trailer park until right before I turned 18, so I see through his eyes pretty clearly. But the boy was cocky and it bugged me. He was too sure of himself for a 17 year old. Really, both characters felt a bit older. If there weren't multiple scenes in a high school, I would never have realize that this was about teenagers. Well, except the uber immature moments. Like when Jesse's mom falls in love and wants to move away with him and Jesse flat out refuses to acknowledge that she might just feel the same way about her beau that he feels about Emma. That's not possible, right? Or maybe his refusal to even treat the guy with an ounce of respect. He's whole attitude felt a bit off.

 

Then there was Ally, Jesse's friend and the sister to Alan. She was the point in the semi love triangle. It's apparent from minute one that the reason she hates Emma is because she wants Jesse for herself. There is no other reason for her to possible hate Emma so much so quickly. Besides, the sister falling for her brother's best friend is the oldest story in the book. Of course she has a thing for him. But idiot Jesse has no idea. And no one feels the need to clue him in. Not Emma once she figures it out, not Alan who has to fucking know that his sister is crushing on his best friend, and definitely not Ally herself. But Ally creates that triangle that we all know I hate so much. From the synopsis of book 2, the triangle is worse there.

 

Starting off, I was hooked on this pretty quickly. I'm a sucker for contemporary romances lately, regardless of what genre they adhere to. Romance, young adult, new adult, erotica, I'll read it all. I'll devour it so quickly that even I'm a little shocked when it's over. Rich girl meets poor boy and romance ensues? GIMME! This will be perfect. BUT, it wasn't. The closer I got to the end, the more I knew it wasn't going to end well. There wasn't enough time to wrap this up in a positive way. Oh boy, was I right on the money there. This does not end well. This ends pretty terribly. Had it ended better, it probably would have gotten 3 stars instead of 2. But it does not. At the end, Jesse and Emma are broken up and Jesse is moving away with his mother. All because they fought it then Ally made it look like he slept with her. To top that off, Jesse loses Alan as a friend because Ally runs home and tells him they slept together and then he kicked her out. That tells you what kind of friend Alan is pretty quickly, if he won't even hear Jesse out.

My other comment is that this was written pretty graphically for a young adult novel. It was probably the most explicit YA I've ever read. DI like smut as much as the next girl, but I feel a bit weird listening to it about teenagers. It's not really a bad thing, just very unexpected. Especially when I'm listening to parts of it with my husband when the naughty bits start. That was kinda funny. He ran from the room and kept screaming so he couldn't hear anything. He said reading it was one thing, but listening to someone read it to you was just too weird.

 

Even though this ended terribly, I'm not sure I want to read the next one. The summary makes it seem like there is a lot more love triangle drama ahead and I don't know if I want to subject myself to that when I'm not swoony over Jesse as I assume I was supposed to. He just seems like a weird juxtaposition of mature and immature and I can't say I'm a huge fan of him. Emma can't hold the story up on her own, so I'm undecided if I'll give the next book a try yet or not. Time will tell!

 

Audio notes:
This was my first Kirsten Leigh and I'm not unhappy with her performance. She actually does a pretty awesome job narrating the two separate points of view. Her Jesse voice is noticeably different than her Emma voice. She even does special accents for the parent characters, adding a slight southern twang to Jesse's mom and a more extreme accent for Emma's mom. She reads at a nice pace, giving you just the right amount of time to absorb her words before moving on. She enunciates pretty clearly as well. Trust me, there is nothing worse than a narrator who doesn't enunciate properly and you don't understand them. Or better yet, the ones who completely mispronounce words.
Dean eye roll gif
You'd think that they would know how to properly pronounce the words since it is part of their job, but it isn't always the case. There is none of that here though! Kirsten does an excellent job and I will definitely make sure to check out some of her other work.

 

****Thank you to Esther Bochner at Audible for providing me with an audio copy in exchange for an honest review****

 

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Review for Edge by Tiffinie Helmer

Edge  - Tiffinie Helmer

This review is also available on my blog, Bows & Bullets Reviews

 

Cache Calder's life will never be the same. He is still trying to get his bearings after a suicide bomber left him injured and his friends dead. It was his fault they were there, chasing a story for his photojournalism career. So when his boss shows up demanding he travel to Alaska for a new story, he tells him to shove it. That is, until he learns that his subject is Amelia Bennett, the girl who gave him the acclaim to chase the stories he wanted. Mel Bennett has left her old life as far behind as possible. No one in her new life knows that she was the kidnap victim of a religious fanatic 20 years ago. But when strange things start happening at the Edge just after Cache's arrival, her control and her grip on reality start to falter and suddenly, she has much bigger problems than the people at the lodge discovering her past.

 

Mel was a stubborn character! She was determined to have everything her way, regardless of the cost to her. She's smart and strong and completely enviable in some ways. After all, this woman is fully capable of looking after herself in Alaska, where the dangers range from hypothermia in the winter to bear attacks to angry poachers to just making sure you have enough food. She does everything. She hunts, she fishes, she flies a damn plane. The woman can take on almost any challenge. But it also makes you wonder how important that control over her world is. I cannot imagine the horrors of her kidnapping and the torment of being held captive for as long as she was, but I can imagine that after an ordeal like that, control is paramount. I can also imagine that she's still suffering lingering effects of PTSD. Either way, watching her fight her attraction to Cache was very amusing.

 

Then we have Cache himself, a character I was instantly rooting for. Once he boards his plane to Alaska, he learns that not only has Mel not granted permission to do her story, but his superiors have booked him under a false name so they can be surreptitious about obtaining her story. Being a man of incredible honor, he refuses to do this job. He'll take Mel's picture, but he won't turn them over or print a word of her story unless he receives written permission to do so. Then, once he arrives on the Edge, he sees how wonderful Alaska (and Mel) can be. He's too caught up in the world to come clean with her and then he is scared of the consequences. Things get heated, and fast and suddenly, all he wants to do is quit his job and stay on the Edge for the rest of his life. There is something about this isolated part of Alaska that has captured him. The wildlife is fascinating and the scenery is gorgeous. It's land made for a photographers eyes and he cannot get enough.

 

What was really great about this was the entire cast has their own story. Helmer gave you the standard perspectives of Mel and Cache, but you also got a bit of Lynette and Emily and Nicole wrapped in. The side characters each got their own mini story that was equally as interesting as Mel's. I'll admit there were times when I just wanted to get back to the main story line, but each additional perspective gave me a bigger picture of the story and that made it better.

 

There was nothing about this story that bothered me. It gets 4 stars because I don't adore it the way I adore my 5 star books. It was interesting and fascinating, but that magical, OMFG, this is AMAZING quality was missing. Don't misunderstand me, this book was great and I highly recommend it to romance fans, but it isn't something that I think I'll ever re-read. The mystery, I have to say, was entirely captivating. Who the hell was messing with Mel? Was it all in her head? Who is fucking with the canoes and stealing the food? What the hell is going on at this lodge?!?

 

The story is engrossing, the writing is great, and the tension between Mel & Cache is palpable. This has everything you could want in a romance.

 

Audio notes:

This is my first Mia Chiarmonte novel. I have to say, she does a pretty spectacular job. I'm relatively picking about narrators. They can't have an over-nasal-y voice or a whiny voice. They must be able to show inflection and create different voices. I've came across some I loved (Emily Bauer) and some I hated (Justine Eyre), and some in the middle. A good narrator can make or break how I feel about a novel. The mark of a good narrator, for me, is when I forget that there is just one person reading this story because each voice takes on a different character for me. That definitely happened with Mia. She reads at a great pace with varied voices for each character. Pacing is another thing that's super important with audios. Too slow and you are bored. Too fast and you feel like you've missed something. I know Audible gives you the option of speeding up or slowing down, but I don't like doing that. I like listening to the narrator's natural pace. Mia does a perfect job. I don't have a single complaint and that is really saying something.

 

****Thank you to Esther Bochner at Audible for providing me with an audio copy in exchange for an honest review****

 

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Review for Exile by Kevin Emerson

Exile - Kevin Emerson

This review is also available on my blog, Bows & Bullets Reviews

 

Catherine Summer Carlson lives her life as two separate people. At home, with the parents, she's Catherine. Catherine is the bright straight-A student on track to be the next big shot lawyer in her family. But elsewhere, she's Summer. Summer is a music junkie who excels at managing bands and has no interest in being a lawyer. She's recently been dumped by her band, Postcards From Ariel, due to an actual record label picking them up. She's on a mission to find a new group to manage and she knows she's hit gold when she finds Caleb Daniels singing and convinces him to start a new one. Falling for Caleb is the number one wrong thing to do as a manager but she can't help herself. Then Caleb reveals a secret about his long-lost father and things get really interesting. Suddenly she's right in the middle of some else's mystery. She knows that she needs to be on her professional best, but sometimes ignoring your heart is difficult to do and you're head will just have to live with the consequences. Can Summer sort out her life (as well as the band's) or is everyone doomed to failure?

 

I'll be completely honest. A big reason I downloaded this was because of the pretty cover. I read the synopsis and it sounded great (I love books about music), but it was that gorgeous, simplistic cover that really grabbed me. I also loved the idea of a male author writing a female perspective. In YA, it's mostly girls. Female authors writing mostly female characters. Female authors sometimes writing male characters, which is always a crapshoot because some female authors can't capture that male voice. It's always fascinating to read a male writing as a female because it's like "so, this is what they think of us, huh?" kinda vibes. I have to say that Emerson did a great job capturing the female voice. Many times when authors write outside their gender, it feels like a female trying to do a male voice or vice versa, but Emerson is not guilty of this.

 

Summer is a complex character. It's easy to sympathize with her because her band literally abandoned her after they signed with a record label and that includes her boyfriend, the frontman. Her love for music was something I could instantly relate to. I'll never be in the music business, but I totally get that need to disappear into the perfect song. She's smart and driven and completely determined to live out her dreams in the music industry, even if she can't bring herself to tell her parents that piece of information. She's also unfailingly human, making judgement errors and having insane moments of jealousy when other girls come on to Caleb. It really rooted her down to Earth.

 

I liked Caleb a lot, but sometimes I wasn't exactly a huge fan. He does some stupid things and treats Summer badly at moments when she really doesn't deserve it. I get that the guy is going through a lot and he's having a difficult time, but there are moments when other girls are blatantly flirting with him in front of Summer and he does nothing to reassure this girl who has already been dumped by one rocker boy who gained fame. He also shuts her out sometimes and that bugged me too. It was clear that he was a good guy, but his inner asshole shone through more often than I would like and the older I get, the more anti-asshole I become.

 

This was a compulsive read, with that just-one-more chapter addictive quality that we all look for in a book. I only had a few issues with it. The first one being that the dynamic between Summer & Caleb was very insta-lovey. They meet and then they are dating and serious almost immediately afterwards. It kinda throws you off. I do think that attraction happens immediately, but there was no dating period, just an immediate this is my girlfriend and the manager of the band I'm going to create thing. Then there was the fact that Summer feel into a similar situation that she has already been in. She was already the girlfriend/manager of a band and that didn't end well. Why would she jump back into the same situation? She has a few reservations, but she didn't really even hesitate before dating Caleb.

 

All things considered, this novel is pretty awesome, and I am impatiently awaiting it's sequel. Summer is a pretty awesome heroine, especially because of her imperfections. The plot and writing keep you going and wondering how exactly the light mystery will play out and if Caleb's band will be successful. If you love contemporary YA, books centered around music, or even just YA fiction, this is for you. Give it a try and you won't regret it!

 

****Thank you to Katherine Tegen Books for providing me with an eARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review****

 

 

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Review for Perfect Couple by Jennifer Echols

Perfect Couple - Jennifer Echols

This review is also available on my blog, Bows & Bullets Reviews

 

When Harper and Brody are voted Perfect Couple That Never Was they are both shocked. The two couldn't be more different. Harper is the photography nerd and Brody is the star quarterback. But since that day, she finds herself noticing him more and more. Since that day, her friends have been pushing her to ask him out. Even though she has a boyfriend, she finds herself thinking about Brody more and more. She finds herself wondering if maybe the school knows what they are talking about and she should give this budding attraction wtih Brody a chance.

 

Harper is that geeky girl who is hiding a rocking body. She's smart and hard-working, with a desperate drive to get the best photographs. She dresses pretty conservatively for a high school girl and she swears it's because she likes it that way. But is it really? The further into this we get, the more we see her question those decisions. I both loved and hated this. I loved that she wanted to experiment. I loved that she was brave enough to try something new. I loved that the new looks work well. What I didn't love was how it was all inspired by Brody. I'm very big on the be yourself schtick. Changing solely to impress a guy is something I feel like very girl does and something that we shouldn't. We should all put our best face forward, but there is a difference between that and drastically altering your wardrobe to get a guy. What happens when you get tired of wearing those tight tops and mini-skirts? What happens when you just want to roam around comfortably in jeans and a tee, but he expects full-on glamor all the time? That isn't what happens here, but it bugged me that her change was Brody inspired. She ends up liking it for herself, but it could have easily went a different direction.

 

Brody was a character I wanted to love immediately, but he took time to grow on me. He's cocky and hot and completely sure of himself. He has a bit of that player vibe going on that I tend to find slimy rather than sexy. He has enough charm to keep me from being completely weary of him, but he also has a sorta girlfriend when he starts fooling around with Harper, when gives me the skeezy vibe. Beyond that, though, he was pretty loveable. It was clear that he was sincere under all the bravado.

 

What I really enjoyed about this, about all Echols work really, is the relationships. It's not just about boy meets girl, it's about friends and family and self. It's goes deeper than just a flirty YA contemporary romance. Both characters are realistically flawed and relatable. I didn't always agree with their actions, but they always felt authentic and true to life. That's not to say that some of their actions weren't downright stupid because they were. That whole "make Brody jealous" bit sent me into a mini-rage because we all know that was not the right move. How is that the right thing for the moment? Those moments always anger me in books. You know, the ones where the character finds out something they don't like and instead of thinking things through, they do something rash and stupid. I'm not a fan of stupid. I actively try to avoid stupid.

 

What I didn't like was they was this skirted around the cheating issue. Harper is dating Kennedy. No matter how much of a jerk Kennedy is, they are still in a relationship. Nothing should happen with Brody until after that has ended. Brody is sorta dating Grace, but that's a bit more vague. Either way, lust doesn't excuse a lack of common curtsey. I hate how some novels portray cheating as acceptable because it's "true love" and the characters "couldn't help themselves." I'd just like to call bullshit on that particular concept. Be man (or woman) enough to admit want and go after it, but don't deceive people to get it. I'm a bit more forgiving here because they are teenagers and hormones do run high at that age. Plus, you know, teenagers aren't as much of an adult as they'd like to believe. Also, shit happens.

 

I think I may have liked this a bit more than Biggest Flirt. Even though I am still a bigger Will fangirl than I will ever be for Brody. Will is that nice, boy next door type and I love seeing those. That's beyond the point. This is a perfect contemporary YA written with Echols trademark style and wit. It's addictive and I tore threw it needing to know if Harper and Brody finally worked out their shit. If you like Echols previous work or contemporary romances, then you'll love this!

 

****Thank you to Simon Pulse for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review****

 

 

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Review for The Secrets Of Sir Richard Kenworthy

The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy - Julia Quinn

This review is also available on my blog, Bows & Bullets Reviews

 

Sir Richard Kenworthy must find a wife and he must do so quickly. This fact limits his options severely. Anyone who agrees to be wed within only a week or two of acquaintance is probably not going to be what he originally wanted in a wife, but there is nothing to be done about it. He needs a bride. Then he comes across Iris Smythe-Smith at her families musical and thinks maybe she'll fit the bill rather nicely. She's intelligent and values family and not difficult to look at or hold a conversation with. Iris has always been overlooked. Her pale coloring and quiet nature makes it easy to blend in with the background. What most people don't realize is that behind that quiet facade lies a quick wit and more intellect than the average society male can imagine a female to have. So when Sir Richard Kenworthy starts flirting with her and acting as a man falling in love, she wonders how true it is. Then a compromising position forces her hand and she can't help but wonder if he is hiding something. Is Sir Richard Kenworthy keeping secrets from his new bride or is Iris being paranoid? You'll have to read to find out!

 

I must say that "overjoyed" does not even begin to describe my feelings for when I got approved for this. I think I went a bit happiness crazy.
Toothless excited gif
Julia Quinn is one of my all time favorite authors. I love all of her work. I think if you read my The Sum Of All Kisses review, you know that I more than a little fangirl-y over her work. Hell, my username on many a website is JuliaQuinnFan07! If I had to limit myself to only reading books by one author for the rest of my life, it would be her. That's how much of a fangirl I am. Her work never disappoints me. So, as you can imagine, when I got approved for this, I went a little crazy. I was literally bouncing for joy because I knew it would be awesome....and I wasn't wrong. Enough fangirling though, let's get on with the review!

 

Iris was a character I immediately loved. She's smart, she's sassy, she's perfectly sarcastic. Basically, she's everything you could want in a historical romance heroine. She's accepted her lot in life. She knows she'll never be the belle of the ball, but she's content with that. She actually likes being a wallflower because it gives her a chance to observe the people around her. This is one of her favorite past-times, just watching people. Seeing them interact with each other is utterly fascinating to her. Her quiet wit and biting sarcasm had me smirking the entire novel and is what really won Richard over.

 

Speaking of Richard, I liked him pretty quickly. He's so entirely devoted to his family that it's hard not to love him. He may go about solving it the wrong way, but he is determined to help his family, whether they want it or not. I can both understand him and hate him at the same time. By the time his secret was revealed, I knew what it was, but I didn't catch on until just moments before. Up until that point, he was charming and sweet and it was difficult not to fall for him even though you knew he was hiding something big. After the doozy, it was still hard not to fall for him. You couldn't argue with his logic. It made perfect sense and it was heart-breaking to watch. All he wants to do is help and to him, this crazy option, is the only option. He sees no other path. What he wants, what he expects Iris to do, is insane. And yet, he goes about it in such a way that you just want to hug him.

 

This story has quite a bit more mystery than I'm used to in historical romance. JQ keeps us on the end of our seats trying to figure out what Richard is hiding. We know that it's bad because he is sure that Iris will never forgive him for it. I'll admit that I had many theories floating around my head and the one that ended up being right was not the one I was expecting. But the closer you get to finding out, the more I didn't want to know. I wanted Richard and Iris to live happily ever after. That needed to happen and I began to believe Richard's side, that Iris would never forgive him. It was a heart-breaking ride, one that does end happily, for all those who will wonder. JQ wouldn't do any less than a happily ever after.

 

This is exactly what I look for in a historical romance novel. Julia Quinn is the standard I hold all others in the genre up to and this novel is a prime example of why. She does it all flawlessly. She gives us the perfect story, the one that has just the right amount of conflict to keep it moving and still manages to pull together a believable happily ever after. We always get lovable characters and enough wit and repartee to keep up snorting with laughter (even while reading in public). You get it all and you don't have to compromise on anything. This novel is perfection and any historical romance fan (or just romance fan in general) will love it as much as I did!

 

****Thank you to Avon for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review****

 

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Review for After Us by Amber Hart

After Us (Before & After series, #2) - Amber Hart

This review is also available on my blog, Bows & Bullets Reviews

 

Melissa is a flirt. The entire world is aware of this. What the entire world is not aware of is what she hides behind that flirty persona. They don't know how broken and scarred she is. They don't know the pain she's suffered and what it'll take to recover from the blow the world has dealt her. Javier is also scarred. He escaped from a life in Cuba without being forced into a gang, but that is exactly what he'll do now. It's been 8 months since MS-13 ratted Diego out and got him killed. In that time, Javier has made a decision. He'll do whatever is necessary to find Wink, the asshole who is responsible for Diego's death and take him out. Nothing else matters. To do this, he'll need to talk to Diego's girl, Faith, who witnessed his death. To get to Faith, he'll need to befriend Melissa. What he doesn't expect is his attraction to flair up so quickly and with such force. Can they make it work?

 

Melissa was a character I loved in Before You. She was always watching out for Faith and supporting her when she needed it. That made this so much harder because Faith has ran off. She left because she couldn't take Diego's death and now she's not answering Melissa's calls. Right when Melissa needs her, Faith has shut her off. Leaving Melissa to deal with her problems alone. It's not that she blames Faith, but she needs her best friend. Those of us who read Before You, we know why Faith is avoiding Melissa. We know the truth Faith is hiding, but that doesn't make this any less heartbreaking. Melissa is hard not to sympathize with. What she is going through is traumatizing and she just carries on like nothing is wrong. She gets up and goes to work and tries to take care of her debts.

 

Javier was a character I was on the fence about. On one hand, he has lost his best friend and that is hard to take. On the other, he is a damned moron. How is taking out Wink going to solve anything? Diego will still be dead. It won't bring him back and it won't bring you closure. It'll just get you enlisted in a gang with the naive assumption you can get out with no consequences. His one shining point is his loyalty to his family.

 

His family, by the way, astounded me. The idea that any one woman would willing submit herself to the trauma of giving birth to 12 children is just crazy. Not to mention how much it costs to raise that many children. 12 mouths to feed plus Mom and Dad? How do you do that? The thought of the extra expense of a single child sends me into a mini-panic attack, much less 12. Beyond that, the pure racism and sexist nature of the household infuriated me. Javier's mom flat out refuses to allow any of her children to date anyone who is not Latina. She will not accept a white girl or a black girl or a Native American or anyone but a Hispanic girl for her sons. Period. That is appalling. People have the right to love who they love, period. Love doesn't know age (though relationships with a big age gap do kinda weird me out) or race or gender. The other thing is the fact that the girls are all pushed into the role of care-giver. It is the daughters responsibility to take care of the boys. Excuse me? Do we not live in the 21st century? Javier's mom needs a serious reality check. Though the girls don't seem to complain, I was floored by the role they were pushed into. What if the girls don't want to cook and clean and serve the food? What if the girls want to play soccer instead? What if one of the boys wants to learn to cook? What is wrong with that?!?!?

 

This novel a great sequel to the first, though it doesn't quite live up to the awesomeness that was Faith and Diego. I think that may have been because I wasn't as big of a Javier fan as I was a Diego fan. It might also be because I know that everything Javier was doing was in vain. There is no reason to do these things. Plus, I think it's incredibly stupid to believe there will be no consequences for joining a gang. To truly believe that you can join a gang and expect to get out without putting your family and friends at risk is fucking idiotic.

 

Besides being appalled with his family and not loving Javier quiet as much as I did Diego, this was a wonderful novel. Melissa and Javier have just enough tension to keep you begging for more. It's a novel that is hard to put down, even when you are disagreeing with what the characters are doing. I recommend it to anyone who likes contemporary YA or fans of Simon Elkekes Perfect Chemistry series.

 

****Thank you to K Teen for providing me with an eARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review****

 

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Review for Lila & Ethan: Forever And Always

Lila and Ethan: Forever and Always - Jessica Sorensen

This review is also available on my blog, Bows & Bullets Reviews

 

Lila wants Ethan to be with her forever. Everything is better with him next to her. But Ethan has serious commitment issues and though she knows he loves her, she's not sure he's in this for the long haul with her. Ethan loves Lila more than anyone else in his life, but he's terrified that they'll end up like his parents, screaming at each other for not wanting the same things. He loves Lila too much to put her through that, but it's clear that she needs some reassurance and he's not so sure he knows how to give it to her. Can they figure out what their future holds or are they more short-term than either of them ever anticipated?

 

Lila and Ethan are the same characters we know and love from the first four novels. There isn't really anything new added to them here that we didn't already know. Lila has issues with her parents and a past drug addiction. Ethan has serious issues with commitment. Here we get a glimpse of that road trip they've been planning and it's priceless. Preppy, perfect Lila on a road trip where the next bathroom break is questionable, much less the next opportunity to shower? Like I said, priceless. She copes better than you'd expect, but it's still amusing to watch. For Ethan's part, well, he's just as fascinating as ever. He's no Micha...in fact, he's Micha's opposite in a lot of ways, but he's still a Sorensen male and, therefore, incredibly swoon-worthy.

 

As with most novellas, this is fast-paced and too the point. Somehow, though, Sorensen manages to completely draw you in for a mere 85 page novella. For those 85 pages, all you care about is how Ethan and Lila are going to solve their problems. It usually takes a bit longer for me to become enraptured in a novel. I may be biased because I adore this series and all it's characters, but still, it's addictive. You have to know what Ethan is going to do to reassure Lila that he isn't going anywhere.

 

What you really need to know is that if you loved The Temptation Of Lila & Ethan, you'll love this additional glimpse into their heads. If you haven't read The Temptation yet, I suggest you do that first. I don't know how much sense this makes going in blind. Either way, I'm always floored by Sorensen's ability to never let me down. I've yet to read a book by her that I didn't love and this is no exception!

 

****Thank you to Forever Yours for providing me with an eARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review****

 

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Review for Before We Fall by Courtney Cole

Before We Fall  - Courtney Cole

This review is also available on my blog, Bows & Bullets Reviews

 

Dominic Kinkaide is a world famous actor. He's very good and it's mostly due to the fact that he likes to bury himself in his roles. A tragic accident in high school has haunted him for his entire adult life and acting helps him forget. Acting and fulfilling his dark fantasies. Jacey Vincent is just trying to make it by until she can finish her business degree. After that, she'll be home free, but until then, she's stuck working as a waitress for a catering company in a skimpy outfit. That is until she and Dominic are thrown together for a possession charge even though both claim the weed wasn't theirs. Regardless of their guilt, they are both stuck with community service hours at Joe's. The two hate each other and then respect each other and then something more. But can Dom escape his demons enough to make things work with Jacey or is his life as doomed as he believes?

 

I'll go ahead and get this out of the way now. SPOILERS AHEAD. I REPEAT, THIS REVIEW WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS. I've been trying to do spoiler free reviews, but I can't do that with books that severely irritate me and, sadly, this book did just that. So, knowing that there are SPOILERS AHEAD, you may proceed.

 

Dominic was a character that didn't annoy me instantly, but the more I learned, the more I disliked him. To be fair, I'm not a huge fan of the Alpha Male character. He's a dick and his logic over why he won't fornicate is stupid. I just wanted to shake him. Then, we finally learn about his past and what happened with Emma and I wanted to fucking shot him.
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I get the undeniable rage that comes with the knowledge that you're girlfriend and best friend got drunk and got it on. That's fine and they both deserve to be shunned for such behavior. That reaction I was fine with. The next one, not so much. Emma realizes that she is pregnant as a result of that night and Dom flips shit and demands an abortion. The first issue I have with that is a very controversial one. I don't believe in abortions. The whole right to choose thing is bullshit. You had a choice, to have sex or not. Period. You chose to have sex, knowing that no method of birth control is 100% effective. That was your choice. Now that is done and a human being is growing within you. I know there are extenuating circumstances sometimes and that's fine, but that is how I feel regardless. Even with that, you are so sure that there is no possibility this child is yours? Condoms are not 100%. That baby could very well be yours and you are demanding it be murdered. I would have been sympathetic towards him due to his situation, but that it is too much. You were right, jackass, you are partly to blame for Emma's suicide. There is a good possibility that she would have done it anyway because she couldn't live with her mistake, but we'll never know.

 

I wasn't anymore in love with Jacey. She's better than Dom, but not so much so that I can see her as a role model for him to emulate. Then there was the whole Brand thing. It's obvious he's in love with her and she knows it, but she just doesn't feel that way about him.
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That's all I really need for her, one massive eye roll gif. Everything she does gets that reaction from me. Her comments on her job and how she needs it.
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Her knowledge that there is more to Dom and her need to "help" him.
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Every single thing about her just rubbed me the wrong way.

 

Brand is probably the only character I liked out of the whole novel. He was nice and normal and went out of his way to help Jacey. She doesn't really deserve it, but he's dedication is admirable all the same. I generally like the nice guys who never win. I want them to win, even if I like the asshole or two on occasion.

 

This has a love triangle and characters I hate. I'll have to emphasis again how important characters are to me. If I don't like them, the probability of me enjoying the novel are slim. And these characters were not for me. It just wasn't the novel for me. I do, however, plan to read the others in this series. This series is about Jacey's family/friends and the next novel is about Brand, so I'm all for that! I am really disappointed in this. I really enjoyed Cole's Dante's Girl and had high hopes for getting to read this, but, as I keep saying, it just wasn't for me. Dominic's character irritated the fuck out of me and there was no getting around that.

 

AUDIO NOTES:
I really enjoyed Shannon's voice, but Bunny irked me. This is probably because of the source material as I know a narrator can only work with what they are given, but still, she bugged me. They had good pacing, though, and brought me through the story well enough. I'm not overly talented at commenting on audio yet, but I'm working on it! Shannon did a decent job of differentiating between characters, but Bunny didn't. It's obvious she tries, but I still had a difficult time determining who was talking.

 

****Thank you to Forever (Grand Central Publishing) for providing me with an eARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review****

 

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Review for The Sum Of All Kisses by Julia Quinn

The Sum of All Kisses - Julia Quinn

This review is also available on my blog, Bows & Bullets Reviews

 

Lady Sarah Pleinsworth will always hate Hugh Prentice. He has never done anything to her directly but his actions caused her beloved cousin Daniel to be exiled from England for several years. Now that Hugh has fixed that and Daniel is home at last, everyone wants to forgive and forget. Not Sarah, though. Sarah isn't the forgive and forget type. Sarah is determined to hate him for all eternity. So when Honoria assigns Sarah to make Hugh feel welcome at the weddings, she's beyond irritated. Doesn't Honoria know she hates this man? Forced to make nice, she makes it known to Hugh that she doesn't not enjoy this arrangement, but will suffer through it because Honoria asked it of her. The more time she spends with him, though, the more she realizes that maybe she doesn't hate him after all. For his part, Hugh is just as irritated at Lady Sarah. She's loud and dramatic and down right annoying. But the more time he spends in her company, the more he comes to appreciate her hidden wit and think that maybe she isn't as bad as he originally thought. Are these two destined for all head over heels, or will they soon learn that all of their original impressions were spot-on?

 

Sarah is a character I could clearly understand Hugh's irritation at. She is, in fact, very dramatic. It's even more annoying because she doesn't seem to realize that she's dramatic. She's also highly opinionated. I can relate to her more than I'd like because I'm also very opinionated. Hopefully I'm less dramatic because I tend to hate drama, but I'll never see myself through someone else's eyes, so I guess I'll never know! But back to Sarah. I admire how loyal she is to her family. The Smythe-Smith brood is intimidatingly large, so it's no wonder she always has someone hanging about. It must be nice to have such a close-knit family. I must admit that I love her sisters. All of them, but especially Harriet and Frances. They are so terribly darling that I cannot express my love completely. It was so very much fun to watch Sarah discover more about herself. The realization that she is indeed dramatic was a priceless moment.

 

Hugh was someone I loved immediately. I must confess that I swoon easily for the heroes of historical romances. They are always so dashing, with just the right amount of rakish-ness. Hugh is no exception to that, but he's a bit different than your average HR male. He's handsome and charming and witty, as you'd expect, but he's also went threw a great deal with his leg and then with convincing his father to allow Daniel to live his life in England unscathed. The length he went to to assure that would happen is astounding. You want to both congratulate him on his genius and slap him for being an imbecile. His penchant for maths is astounding as well. I can't do basic addition without a pencil and paper (or a calculator preferably), but this guy can do them in his head in a matter of seconds. He's relationship with his father is heart-breaking. Parents are supposed to love you, period.

 

What can I really say about a JQ novel? She's brilliant. My favorite thing about her collective works is the humor. She always incorporates wit and humor. Humor is very important to me. Reading is an escape that should make me happy and laughter is the best way to show that happiness. I fear she has spoiled me for all other historical romances. I go into them all expecting JQ levels of awesome and am usually disappointed. How to do you go back to loving mediocre once you've had perfection? Beyond my fanatic level of love for all things Julia Quinn, this is also one of my favorite types of stories. That whole I hate you, I like you, I love you dance is always entertaining to watch. It promises epic disputes, witty repartee, and the perfect sigh worthy moments.

Basically, what I'm saying is that this is a novel for everyone. As with most historical romances, even though this is the middle book of a series, it can be read as a stand-alone. It might enhance the experience if you know some of the backstory, but it is by no means necessary. I think anyone who enjoys romance novels of any kind would love this. It's everything you could want in a novel. :)

 

 

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The Ever After Of Ella And Micha by Jessica Sorensen

The Ever After of Ella and Micha - Jessica Sorensen

This review is also available on my blog, Bows & Bullets Reviews

 

Ella's life is finally going well. She has moved past most of her issues and has learned how to breathe through her problems. Then a box shows up containing her mom's old journal and suddenly she isn't so sure she can have her happily ever after. How can she live out that reality if she's never seen what it looks like? Micha will always be there for Ella, but he's been offered an opportunity to go on tour that he isn't sure he can say no to. He can't leave Ella behind and he isn't sure she'd want to pack up and hit the road for three months. Faced with the reality of balancing their dreams with their fears, can Ella & Micha make things work or will their relationship finally fall to pieces?

 

There isn't much new to say about either Ella or Micha. They are both the same characters we remember and love. Ella is the same sweet, fiesty girl. She just has a better handle on her issues. She's moved on enough to not spend every waking hour thinking about her past, even though things do pop up occasionally. And then there's Micha. He just might be my favorite male character, ever. He's so fucking devoted to Ella that you can't help but love the guy. He's sweet and caring and determined to help Ella through whatever she is going through. I really don't have words for him. He's perfect. He is the perfect book boyfriend. He's hot, he sings, he plays guitar, he is so fucking in love with Ella that it hurts. He's just perfect, okay?

 

This lives up to Sorensen's previous works. It's just the right level of heartbreaking and uplifting. Ella & Micha have been through quite enough, so I was a little nervous to start this because I didn't want to see them put through anymore drama. They've had enough problems. For all of you worried about that particular problem, fear not! This is Sorensen's least traumatic novel (at least that I've read thus far). No epic breakups or terrible revelations or spirals in unimaginable depression. Just Ella & Micha working towards making their wedding happen. And it was absolutely perfect. This is exactly what you want to see for Ella & Micha, a future with just enough imperfections to make it believable, but still perfect.

 

All you really need to know is that this is the novel for Ella & Micha you have been waiting for. Sorensen manages to write a novel that is even better than it's predecessors, which is a feat because I love The Secret Of Ella & Micha. Even though you thought the pair got their happily ever afters at the end of The Secret and The Forever, here they really do get that picturesque ending that we all dream about. I hope their future is filled with many happy days.

 

****Thank you to Forever for providing me with an eARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review****

 

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Review by Untouched by Jus Accardo

Untouched (A Denazen Novel Book 3) - Jus Accardo

This review is also available on my blog, Bows & Bullets Reviews

 

Kale is going cross country with Dez to find and warn other Sixes about Denazen. He's learning a lot about the outside world on this trip and he gets to spend more time with Dez, which is always a plus. But when contacting the last Six Kale is sure they are being watched and when Samsen shows up and Dez sacrifices herself to save Kale, he knows he must find away to get her back. The problem? Samsen is the most powerful Six he has ever met and he might just be powerful enough to overcome Kale. Can he find a way to save Dez? You'll have to read to find out.

 

Holy shit. That's pretty much my entire response to this book. In Touch, Kale was adorable and perfect and we all fell in love with him. Here, we get into his head and holy alien babies! I didn't think it was possible to swoon anymore than I already had, but I was wrong. He reminds me a bit of Kyle XY, but deadly-er. He's so smart and has the whole fight thing master, but at the same time, he's got this worldly innocence. He doesn't understand much of the slang and he doesn't like how no one says what they really mean. Geez people, English is hard enough to master on it's own, without adding crazy connotations to everything. But watching him misunderstand everything had me cracking up. I wanted to hug him...except that I'm not Dez and that impulse would probably get me killed. It might be worth it!

 

Dez is the same badass she was in Touch. It's fun seeing her through Kale's eyes instead of her own.

 

Samsen, the new baddie, is terrifying. Someone who can control you with the power of their voice? ::shudders:: Can we not? That is one scary ass power. We all know that Kale will defeat him, but it's nerve-racking to read about.

 

This novella may be tiny, but it's action-packed. The only thing it was missing was a good make-out scene from Kale's perspective. It wouldn't have hurt to add a few pages for that, right? Oh well, I'll keep dreaming about that and hopefully we'll get there one day. Regardless, if you enjoyed Touch, you'll love this!

 

 

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Review for The Last Best Kiss

The Last Best Kiss - Claire LaZebnik

This review is also available on my blog, Bows & Bullets Reviews

 

Anna Elliot let worries about what people would think ruin her first real relationship. Since then, she's never really been attracted to anyone. She never really got over Finn Westbrook. And now, he's back. Over the missing three years, he's grow taller and cooler and her friends suddenly can't get enough of him. Now, though, Finn wants nothing to do with Anna and all she can think of is finding a way to win him back over or finding a way to convince herself she's over him. Either way, she must do something because this situation is driving her insane. Can she get Finn to forgive her past transgressions or will she be doomed to watch him date her friends for the rest of her high school career?

 

Anna was a girl I was unsure of initially. In the beginning, when she liked Finn but was worried about what her friends would think, I wanted to shake her. If these girls are really her friends, they'd be happy she found someone she liked and who was nice to her, not judge-y about his reputation. At least, that's how it'd work in a perfect world, but I get that these are issues that girls really go through. Having to choose between your friends and you're boyfriend is never an easy choice. She choose her friends, or rather she choose to not give her friends the option to know. At her age, that kind of decision is understandable, but as an adult watching her, I just shake my head at her immaturity. She doesn't even give her friends even the option to mull it over and get behind it. She just decides that her friends would never understand and her hurt poor Finn, a lot. Now, in the present, when he returns, she has spent years regretting that. It's not something she just starts to regret upon seeing he's new, prettier face. No, she's spent the years of their separation wonder how he is and missing him. Despite the fear of what her friends would think, she actually like him as he was. She liked the geeky, science obsessed boy who so always so enthusiastic about the things he loves. She can see that boy peeking out from the new Finn's eyes. She wants him back, even though she knows she doesn't deserve the chance. I loved that part. I loved that she knew that she'd fucked up and she was honestly trying to right a wrong.

 

Finn was completely lovable from moment one. He's so dorky and adorable, how can you not love him? I'll confess that I have a soft spot for geeks, so I knew immediately he would be a character I'd fall for. Then, upon his reappearance, with the added height and confidence, I was even more of a goner. Like Anna, I missed the enthusiastic geeking out over pretty photographs, but there was something appealing about the new facets of his personality. It really made me wonder how he spent those years apart. What did we miss, adorable Finn? Obviously, we missed a growth spurt, but beyond that, what happened? It was hard not to be on his side even when it was hurting Anna because he had be shunned and that type of thing isn't easy to get over.

 

Plot-wise, this went places I didn't exactly expect. Something happens about mid-way through that I didn't see coming, but it moves the novel along perfectly. I could instantly see why LaZebnik decided to take it there because it was exactly what the story needed. This novel really should have annoyed me because I generally hate love triangles of all kinds. I hate the angst of what will happen. I especially hate cheating, which inevitable happens in those. But here, watching Anna almost reap what she sowed, it was a touch satisfying to see it. She put herself into this situation by rejecting Finn even when she knew she liked him and now she has to deal with the fact that maybe he's moving on. Maybe he's moving on with one of her best friends and she'll have to watch.

 

I also really enjoyed watching Anna grow. It's clear that she's changed a bit since their first interlude and she's older and a bit wiser now. She's matured enough to know when to stand up for the people around her and to find the most effective way to do so. I think I just really liked Anna. It's not often that we get a book where the main character has genuinely wronged someone and now must live with the consequences.

 

The Last Best Kiss is written with Claire LaZebnik's classic wit and style. If you are a fan of her previous work, then you'll love this. I actually liked it more than Epic Fail. This is an amazing little contemporary romance about owning up to your mistakes and finding a way to work it out. And a happily ever after, naturally. I recommend it to all contemporary YA fans!

 

****Thank you to Harper Teen for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review****

 

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Review for Mr Kiss & Tell by Rob Thomas

Mr. Kiss and Tell - Jennifer Graham, Rob Thomas

This review is also available on my blog, Bows & Bullets Reviews

 

Veronica's back with another difficult case. The Neptune Grand has always been a touch on the shady side. Though it is an upscale hotel, it's obvious illicit deeds go down there. When a woman who is brutally raped and beaten claims that the Grand was the last place she could remember being, the hotel knows that this could turn out disastrous. Veronica is hired to prove or disprove the story. But something isn't adding up. The victim had severe head injuries and can't remember all the details, the other witnesses won't talk, and it's clear someone, somewhere, is hiding something. Can Veronica figure out the mystery? Or is the perp going to continue to go free?

 

Okay, I think I got most of the fangirl gushing out of my system in my last VMars review and hopefully this one will be a bit more coherent. Veronica is the same character she's always been. She's smart, resourceful, resilient, and snarky as hell. Veronica's snark is what initially drew me to her in the show and her character has stayed true to that. It's not all positives for VMars though, because she has some negative qualities as well. We get to see the best of her here and she's dogged in figuring this thing out. It's not long before she disproves the victim's initial statement, but she can tell there is more to this. This girl was raped and beaten nearly to death and someone needs to pay for that crime.

 

Logan is actually home (for most of this, anyway) and I couldn't be happier about his presence in the story. He's relationship with Veronica is proof that just because something is right doesn't mean it's easy. Life with her is always going to be a give and take. She has a tendency to hide her feelings when she knows they aren't what he wants to hear. She would rather bury it and enjoy their time together. He understands her fears and worries, but there are just some things that he must do. Regardless, his appearance makes things better. I'm a big Logan fan (as if you didn't get that from my last review) and I'm always happy when he's in the picture.

 

The rest of the family all make an appearance. Once again, I feel like we don't get quite as much Wallace as we should. He was a big part of the crime solving team in the show and I miss his help. I was also a bit disappointed in Weevil. I won't say more than that, but it wasn't cool man. I can see his reasoning, but still not cool. As for everyone else important, we get just the right amount. I must admit I'm a sucker for Cliff McCormack and I love seeing him. Him and Keith have their own side project going on, suing the Balboa County Sheriff's department for damages to Eli Navaro during their criminal investigation after planting evidence on him. That added to the race for Sheriff election with a brand new candidate and things get just a bit heated. We all wanna see Dan Lamb out of office, regardless of what that takes.

 

This novel has that big mystery feel. The plot has so many twists and turns that it's impossible to know who the bad guy is from the very beginning. There is no way you can tell how this will turn out. One thing I loved about reading this one as opposed to listening to the audiobook as I did with book one, is that I could hear each character in my head. Don't get me wrong, Kristen Bell does an amazing job narrating the first one and there is no one better for the task, but there is a slight difference between hearing her do it, mimicking everyone else's voices and actually hearing the proper voice in your head. I don't know if that makes sense to anyone other than my fellow marshmallows, but trust me, it was awesome.

 

What you really need to know is that: it's Veronica Mars! You need no other incentive to pick this novel up and read away. Beyond that, it is a well written story with a nail-biting plot. I think it's written in a way that it could be read as a stand-alone. Previous knowledge of this world is not required, but I think it enhances the experience. Now, Rob, Jennifer, are we gonna get another? 'Cuz, you know, I really want one!

 

****Thank you to Vintage for providing me with an eARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review****

 

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Review for The Devil In Denim by Melanie Scott

The Devil in Denim - Melanie Scott

This review is also available on my blog, Bows & Bullets Reviews

 

Maggie Jameson grew up knowing that she would run the New York Saints one day. She's been preparing for that since childhood and has just finished up a degree tailored towards that goal. The she gets thrown for a loop when she learns that her dad has sold the Saints. She's furious and has no problem telling Alex Winters, the new owner, that in person. How could this happen? The Saints are her life, baseball is her life, and she's a bit lost without it. Alex, on the other hand, knows he needs Maggie's help. He bought the Saints knowing he'd need her help to win the guys on the team over. No one can say no to the great Saint Maggie. But instead of a complacent girl, he finds a fiery spirit who is determined to show Alex just how angry she is. The big problem, besides the obvious? They are both hot as hell for each other and fighting it gets continually harder. But dating is a bad idea, right? The longer they spend in each other's company, the more they question that. Can they make this crazy thing work? Or will the baseball deal and Maggie's ire get in the way?

 

Maggie was that character you sympathize with instantly. How can you not? Her dream is literally taken right out from under her with no warning what-so-ever. She has just gotten finished with her college degree and her dreams are set, then just like that, the team is gone. Alex offers her a job, but she's in no mood to tolerate him. He actually makes a good offer, but she was supposed to be CEO, the shot-caller and that's not going to happen now. This sends her in a bit of a tail-spin. What's she going to do now? All she ever wanted was to work for the Saints. That's it. There was no back-burner plan or other forgotten dreams. I think she takes it a damn sight better than I would have. I would have spent a month hiding in my apartment, not just a day or two. I'd have cried and cried and cried some more and buried my problems in great ice cream and even better fictional worlds. Not Maggie, though, she bravely faces the world and tries to figure out what to do next. That decision would have been a bit easier if Alex wasn't so damned <s>pretty</s> attractive. He is smart and charming and he gets to Maggie no matter how hard she tries to fight it. After she agrees to work for him, she is even more certain that sleeping with the boss is a bad idea. It is, right? There is no way they could make that work....no matter how much she wants to, right?

 

Alex was a character I was unsure about to start out with. This is the man that ruthlessly yanks Maggie's dreams away. We have to hate him, right? But he quickly wins you over. He's witty and charming and just plain fun. Not to mention he's smart as hell. You don't get to where he is without a hell of a lot of brain power. Plus, he's head-over-heels for Maggie and it's obvious before even he knows it. I love a guy who is totally smitten with the heroine. That guy who'll go far out of his way to make sure she's cared for, but who doesn't compromise on what he needs. I also can't help but love a guy who tells it like it is. There is more than one scene where he says something that he knows Maggie won't want to hear, but he says it anyway. Cold hard truth over candy-coated lies.

 

I'll admit that I love the story line that starts off as hate and then turns into love. It's a fine line or so they say. Watching Maggie become so irritated at Alex was amusing as hell and a bit endearing. Watching that morph into unwilling attraction and then possibly more? Even better. It's the type of story you can't help falling in love with. The writing is great. The smut is just the right level of smutty, if that makes sense. It's not over the top like in erotica or some of the worse new adults, but it's not quite as understated as in young adult. I think most contemporary romances are, but it's been so long since I read one that I honestly don't remember. Either way, I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. I used any possible excuse to fire up my Audible app just to get a few more minutes in. Just one more hour....two....three....damn, am I done already?

 

Audio Notes:
This was narrated by Eileen Stevens, who I wasn't the biggest fan of. She also does the narration of Wilde's Army and Wilde's Meadow by Krystal Wade and I didn't particularly care for her when I listened to those. Here, however, she is excellent. I think this is proof that sometimes even a skilled reader can't improve a poor story. So, not to self, make sure to never judge the narrator of a poor story too harshly because there is only so much they can do. ANYWAY, she handles this perfectly, seamlessly switching between the male and female perspectives and always making it obvious which character is speaking. She makes a point to differentiate speakers and, trust me, that makes all the difference in the world. When you read a book, it's always obvious who is speaking, but when you lose the punctuation marks, it because tricky sometimes to know when a sentence ends and things can run together with bad narrators. None of that here! Eileen does a wonderful job and I'll keep my eyes open for more of her work.

 

****Thank you to Esther Bochner at Audible for providing me with an audio in exchange for an honest review****

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