Review: Beard Science by Penny Reid

Review: Beard Science by Penny ReidBeard Science by Penny Reid
Series: Winston Brothers #3
October 11, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: Copy for Honest Review
Also in this series: Grin & Beard it
Also by this author: Grin & Beard it
Amazon US
Goodreads

Make a deal with the devil and you might get what you want, but will it be what you need?

Jennifer Sylvester wants one thing, and that one thing is NOT to be Tennessee’s reigning Banana Cake Queen. Ever the perpetual good girl and obedient daughter, Jennifer is buckling under the weight of her social media celebrity, her mother’s ambitions, and her father’s puritanical mandates. Jennifer is officially desperate.

And desperate times call for Cletus Winston.

Cletus Winston is a puzzle wrapped in a mystery covered in conundrum sauce, and now he’s in a pickle. Despite being convinced of his own omniscience, extortion by the exalted Banana Cake Queen of Green Valley has taken him completely by surprise. So... what’s a maniacal mastermind to do?

Likely, the last thing you expect.

I can’t recall the last time I was so excited for a book. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all the Winston family goodness up to this title, but Cletus always held a special place in my heart. That spot has grown exponentially, after reading Beard Science (amazing title, by the way). 

Cletus and me…we have a thing. We have a connection. We would be friends if he were real or I was fictional. We’d go to each others birthday parties.

I don’t like to judge people. I love it.

I may or may not agree with that quote, but that is not relevant.

What is relevant is that Penny Reid nailed this story for me. First, she gave me Cletus in all his sneaky glory. He delivers some of the best quips I’ve ever read. He’s odd in the most endearing way but then she humanizes him with these beautifully quirky romantic moments. He was perfect and he will probably forever be towards the top of my favorite characters list. 

She needed distance, she needed space, and I needed her.

But Cletus is not the only character I fell for. I wasn’t really sure what to expect from Jennifer after reading the previous titles. Any ideas I did have….all wrong. I adored her. I adored her for her quiet intelligence, for her timid humor, for her resilience and for her ultimate bravery. She really is the perfect balance for Cletus, I could not imagine anyone being better suited.

The story flowed a little slower than the majority of romances these days but I never felt like I needed it to pick up the pace. It took a natural progression that I very much appreciated and I think is the only thing that would have worked for Cletus’ character.

It’s always so easy to fall into Reid’s stories, she writes with such harmony between her funny and her romantic. I could talk all day about how much I loved the people of this book, but I won’t, I’ll just say this – read this book. You’ll like it. It’s better than banana cake and I really like banana cake. 

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About Penny Reid

Penny Reid is a USA Today Best Selling Author of romantic fiction. When she’s not immersed in penning smart romances she works in the biotech industry as a researcher. She’s also a full time mom to three diminutive adults (boy-8, girl-6, and girl-4 months), wife, daughter, knitter, crocheter, sewer, general crafter, and thought ninja.


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Review: Black Swan Affair by K.L. Kreig

Review: Black Swan Affair by K.L. KreigBlack Swan Affair October 17, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 370
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Amazon US
Goodreads

I’ve loved him as long as I can remember.

The gangly boy with big brown eyes and unruly hair who grew up into an intoxicating man. He wears scruff like he invented it and ambles with a swagger that makes panties drop.

Killian Shepard.

Shep.

We grew up together. We played Ghost in the Graveyard. Had our own rock band. It didn’t matter that he was five years older than me. It didn’t matter that he looked at me as a kid sister even as I grew into woman. It didn’t even matter when he left me behind to go to college and start his adult life.

He’d be back.
He was always meant to be mine.

He came back, all right. But instead of smelling of promises, he stunk of betrayal. And he destroyed me—us—the day he married my sister instead of me.

So I did the only thing a girl like me in my position could do.

I got my revenge.
I married his brother, Kael.
Now we’re one big happy f*cking family.

I’m not sure I’ve ever read a more convoluted story. I’m absolutely sure I’ve never read one with more nicknames.

Maverick (Mavs, Mavericky, Small Fry, Swan) has always been in love with Killian (Shep). He’s in love with her too, they have plans together, until he leaves town to become his ‘own man’ and when he returns it’s with the announcement that he will be marrying Mav’s sister, Jillian (Jilly, half of the “Illians” – yes…she shipped her characters). Killian won’t say why he’s marrying Jillian and in her own childish, snitty, revengeful ways, Maverick decides to to accept a marriage proposal from Killian’s brother Kael, (one of the few characters in the book who is sans a nickname) who has been in love with her for forever. 

Got that? Settle in, we’re just getting started.

I think this was supposed to be a story about Maverick finding out what love really is. It was not that for me. What this was for me, was a story about a bunch of selfish and ridiculous people. So, let me break it down for you a little.

Maverick grew up with Kael and his older brother Killian. As said, she has been in love with Killian since she was a girl. However, Kael is her best friend. Always been there for her, no matter what.  Here lies my first problem with the story. You don’t marry your best friend, knowing you are in love with someone else. Especially, his own brother. In my opinion, that makes you a horrible person. Kreig writes the story in a way to try to make you see that Kael wooed her, which he did attempt to do. But Maverick is constantly reminding the reader that she still loves Killian. Horrible person. I can’t get past that.

Adding to this horrible person theory, the first time she interacts with her best girl friend, she’s not kind to her either. Thinks about MaryLou’s (ML) voice as being grating and saying she needs a makeover. I had immediate unkind feelings toward Maverick as a character, which makes it very difficult to sympathize with her.

Furthermore, Kael is amazing. Kael seems to be the kind of man everyone should wish for. He was kind and caring and sexy and would do anything for Maverick. This makes Maverick even less appealing.

As the story progresses, so do her feelings for Kael. Yet, she still continues to remind us that she loves Killian. Something I could never understand. There were no scenes in this book that gave me that ‘Aha!’ moment of understanding WHY she loved him.  Not one. Again, how am I supposed to sympathize with her?

Then, after a really long time and whole lot of nonsense nicknames, you get to the big reveal. The ultimate betrayal. The reason why Killian left her for her horrid human of a sister. If you asked me to pick one word to describe the big reveal, that would be easy. It’s a word in the first sentence of this review, it’s a word I will always associate with this book.  It’s convoluted. Incredibly convoluted.

The kicker for me though, is that after the big reveal, Maverick still doesn’t seem to get things. She was still concerned about picking a man and in my head, there was no choice there. One man did everything to protect her, one didn’t.

Aside from all the things I just listed that bothered me, there was something else I couldn’t get over. It’s the way I felt manipulated as a reader by some silly scenes. Scenes that didn’t need to be there, they had really nothing at all to do with the story. One is very early on in the book, one is very late in the book. I say manipulated because the one early on is only there to keep you wondering but later you realize it was not at all what you thought it was and was actually completely pointless.

Now, let’s get to the nickname thing. I have no problems with a nickname. A. One. This book is full of them. I’ve given you some already. We learn about a childhood friend, they call him “The Hole”. Sam is also Hamhock. The karaoke DJ in this small town of 5k people where everyone knows everyone is Johnny Littleton, let’s call him J Ton when he’s actually hosting karaoke though. The restaurant they eat at is The Red Rooster, aka The Bloody Cock – sounds appetizing, eh? There is a dude called One Nut. Patsy, a waitress, but we call her Pat. Sally, called Sal. Get the point? I sure don’t.

While I see the appeal of this story in the synopsis, it did not deliver for me what so ever. I’d like to give it a couple of stars just because I made it to the end, but I think I can contribute that to the manipulation. Kudos to the author for carefully plotting the chapters the way she did. I can concede that one thing.  I guess it can have a star for that and a star for ultimately picking the right guy, even if it was for the wrong reasons. 


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Review: Punk 57 by Penelope Douglas

Review: Punk 57 by Penelope DouglasPunk 57 by Penelope Douglas
October 21, 2016
Genres: New Adult, Young Adult
Pages: 371
Format: ARC
Source: Copy for Honest Review
Also by this author:
Amazon US
Goodreads

“We were perfect together. Until we met.”

Misha

I can’t help but smile at the words in her letter. She misses me.

In fifth grade, my teacher set us up with pen pals from a different school. Thinking I was a girl, with a name like Misha, the other teacher paired me up with her student, Ryen. My teacher, believing Ryen was a boy like me, agreed.

It didn’t take long for us to figure out the mistake. And in no time at all, we were arguing about everything. The best take-out pizza. Android vs. iPhone. Whether or not Eminem is the greatest rapper ever…

And that was the start. For the next seven years, it was us.

Her letters are always on black paper with silver writing. Sometimes there’s one a week or three in a day, but I need them. She’s the only one who keeps me on track, talks me down, and accepts everything I am.

We only had three rules. No social media, no phone numbers, no pictures. We had a good thing going. Why ruin it?

Until I run across a photo of a girl online. Name’s Ryen, loves Gallo’s pizza, and worships her iPhone. What are the chances?

F*ck it. I need to meet her.

I just don’t expect to hate what I find.

Ryen

He hasn’t written in three months. Something’s wrong. Did he die? Get arrested? Knowing Misha, neither would be a stretch.

Without him around, I’m going crazy. I need to know someone is listening. It’s my own fault. I should’ve gotten his number or picture or something.

He could be gone forever.

Or right under my nose, and I wouldn’t even know it.

Punk 57 delivers exactly what you’ve come to expect from Penelope Douglas. Amazing angst. An exciting and volatile love/hate/love romance. And characters that actually have depth and layers. If there is another author out there writing teenage angst as well as Douglas does, I’ve not found them.

Misha and Ryen are long time pen pals who purposefully never meet in real life. The friendship they’ve developed over the years an important part of each of their lives, for very different reasons. But a chance encounter and a tragic turn, inserts Misha into Ryen’s world and they find out that what they thought they knew of each other on paper might be vastly different than reality. 

The real heart of the story is not the push and pull romance between the two main characters, though. At least, not in my mind. There is quite a deep underlying message to Punk 57, it’s just wrapped up in an steamy romance. The message is one I loved. While I adored Misha and was very rapt by Ryen’s character development, I was in love with Douglas’ theme for this story.  Anyone who didn’t have a stellar high school experience will find something to relate to in this book. 

Punk 57 is very much in the same vein as Bully, but the message is more pronounced. It’s also maybe delivered in a bit of an over the top way. There were a few things I found to be a little too unbelievable and too harsh, that’s what drops my over all rating down a tad.  However, I never found myself focusing on those things while reading the story. Those feelings came later, after I finished the book and really started thinking about my overall feelings for it. There is something to be said about an author who can keep you turning the page like that. 

About Penelope Douglas

Penelope Douglas is a New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. She dresses for autumn year round, loves anything lemon flavored, and shops at Target almost daily.

Her books include the Fall Away Series (Bully, Until You, Rival, Falling Away, and Aflame), as well as, Corrupt and Misconduct. Please look for Punk 57, coming September 2016 and Next to Never (A Fall Away Novella), coming January 2017.

She lives in Las Vegas with her husband and their daughter.


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Review: Bedmates by Nichole Chase

Review: Bedmates by Nichole ChaseBedmates by Nichole Chase
Series: American Royalty #1
October 4, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: Copy for Honest Review
Amazon US | B&N
Goodreads

From the bestselling author of Suddenly Royal comes the first in a sparkling new series about America’s favorite royal—the First Daughter.

Everyone makes mistakes, especially in college. But when you’re the daughter of the President of the United States, any little slip up is a huge embarrassment. Maddie McGuire’s latest error in judgment lands her in police custody, giving the press a field day. Agreeing to do community service as penance and to restore her tattered reputation, Maddie never dreams incredibly good looking but extremely annoying vice president’s son, Jake Simmon, will be along for the ride.

Recently returning from Afghanistan with a life-altering injury, Jake is wrestling with his own demons. He doesn’t have the time or patience to deal with the likes of Maddie. They’re like oil and water and every time they’re together, it’s combustible. But there’s a thin line between love and hate, and it’s not long before their fiery arguments give way to infinitely sexier encounters.

When Jake receives devastating news about the last remaining member of his unit, the darkness he’s resisted for so long begins to overwhelm him. Scared to let anyone close, he pushes Maddie away. But she isn’t about to give up on Jake that easily. Maddie’s fallen for him, and she’ll do anything to keep him from the edge as they both discover that love is a battlefield and there are some fights you just can’t lose.

Bedmates is my first Nichole Chase book. It’s also the fourth “royalty” book I’ve read, in a row. Obviously, this theme is becoming quite a trend for 2016. One I won’t be complaining about!

Maddie is the president’s daughter, American Royalty by birth but free spirit and extremely empathetic by nature. She does not quite fit the political mold.  She’s slightly wild and one ill thought out plan lands her in legal hot water. As an attempt to save a little face, daddy and his vice president hatch a plan for Maddie to serve her community service sentence by helping disabled veterans.  Her babysitter throughout it all is the VP’s son, a disabled vet himself and a person Maddie has had a rough past with.

Growing up with Jake on their parents campaign trail was always a struggle for Maddie. She had a crush but Jake only saw her as an annoying obligation. Being forced to work together after years apart brings back Maddie’s younger insecurities but Jake dashes those fairly quickly by his endless attention and flirting. The flirting was a favorite aspect for me. It was cute but still sexy. I loved the banter and chemistry between these two.

Chase lets the relationship grow easily and naturally and I loved that. As Jake’s PTSD started to show itself to Maddie, I appreciated her calm approach to it all. Maddie is a very endearing character and Jake’s a heartbreaker…but not in the manwhore sense…in the sense that his history is sad and the guilt that guides his life is painful. Maddie will do anything to help Jake through his troubles but he pushes her away from that side of him and it honestly made me teary eyed at several points.

For all that I adored about Bedmates, the last 10% or so, had a fairly bid negative impact on my overall read. There was a point where it fell apart. Maddie became less grown up, less capable, less of the strong person she had grown to be throughout the story and I really could not get behind the idea she had planted in her head. The last chapter, where all the big important revelations and resolutions were written, was all too rushed.  Had a little more been added to this part of the book, it would have been a much stronger book, in my opinion.  It’s still a good read and I would absolutely pick up the next in the series, I just wished there had been more.

 
 

About Nichole Chase

Nichole Chase is a daydreamer. No, really, just ask any of the math teachers that had the misfortune of seeing her name appear on their class schedule. For years she has had story lines and characters begging for attention, but she resolutely pushed them aside to focus on more normal (read, boring) jobs. Well, no longer! She is currently heeding the voices in her head and frantically writing their stories. Nichole resides in South Georgia with her husband, energetic daughter, super hero dog, Sulcata tortoise, and two cats. When not devouring novels by the dozens, you may find her writing, painting, crafting, or chasing her daughter around the house while making monster noises.

Nichole is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of The Royal Series (Suddenly Royal, Recklessly Royal, and Reluctantly Royal). She has four other novels and several short stories published in different anthologies.


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Review: Porn Star by Zara Cox

Review: Porn Star by Zara CoxPorn Star (I #1) by Zara Cox
Series: I #1
September 13, 2016
Genres: Romance, Erotica
Pages: 414
Format: ARC
Source: Copy for Honest Review
Also by this author: Black Sheep
Amazon US
Goodreads

My name is Quinn Blackwood:

By day, I'm a billionaire CEO. Rich. Entitled.By night, I'm the exclusive porn star only known as Q.Why? Because I love women. If I believed in an almighty being, I'd thank him for creating them. They're by far his most perfect creation… especially when I'm fucking one of them.

Oh, did I mention I'm an asshole? Fuck yeah. According to my shrink, I'm one twisted motherfucker. And that's just the way I like it. Until she walks into my life…

My name is Elyse Gilbert, nicknamed ‘Lucky' because according to my dad, I'm the unluckiest person alive, and I'll die the same way I came into the world: naked, screaming, and dirt poor.

Yeah, my life is a twisted, seething mess. But that life changed the day I met HIM.He made me forget the cameras.He made me forget I was doing this for the money.He made me forget my shame.He made me forget everything. I was consumed by him. Only him.

But now my past has caught up with me

Let me start by saying the synopsis for Porn Star is a bit misleading, this is not a book full of some dude filming porn after porn after porn. A fact that I am most thankful for.

Not that I have a problem with a porn star making porns, I mean…if that’s your job, obviously it would be well covered. But Q isn’t your regular porn star. In fact, the title of this book is a bit misleading as well.  He does make porn, but it is not his career and it is with great purpose.  It’s also the catalyst for him meeting Lucky.

Quinn and Lucky are both extremely damaged people. Quinn more so, but they each carry more than enough baggage to fill a cargo train.  Cox did well at revealing their past dramas, just a little at a time. I rather enjoyed the element of suspense, there is quite a lot of it in Porn Star. Quinn is set on a path of ultimate revenge, dead set on tearing down all his enemies in one fail swoop – but it takes time to learn the how and the why.  On the flip side, Lucky is on the run and protecting a very important secret.

I would keep you, Lucky. If I didn’t need to do this. If my life wasn’t a fucked up wasteland, I would keep you. Make you mine forever.

That, along with the fragile trust and hint of love that grows between these characters, very much kept me invested in this story.

However, when the true conflict hit the pages and the subsequent resolution, the story lost it’s steam. The resolutions to all issues were far, far too easy. In my opinion. I needed it to be more difficult, most especially when rebuilding the lack of trust. I felt like issues were swept under the rug.  Furthermore, I’m not quite sure how or why Lucky was such an important part of Quinn’s revenge. He comments about how important it is, but in the end, it just seemed needless.

The thing is – I rather enjoyed Cox’s writing style. I loved the voice she gave to both main characters, Quinn especially.  So, even though the story is flawed and the plot line didn’t totally add to me, I’d absolutely pick up another of titles.  Oh, and…the sex is pretty hot.


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Review: Rushing In by Lexi Ryan

Review: Rushing In by Lexi RyanRushing In by Lexi Ryan
Series: The Blackhawk Boys #2
August 30, 2016
Genres: New Adult
Format: ARC
Source: Copy for Honest Review
Also by this author: All for This
Amazon US
Goodreads

The favor seemed simple: Keep my new stepsister out of trouble for one summer.

I’ve never met Grace Lee, but Mom tells me she’s a quiet and artsy college student with a troubled past. When I agreed to let her stay with me, I thought it was no big deal. I expected to share my apartment with a sullen girl who’d spend hours locked in her room.

I didn’t expect a walking fantasy determined to make me lose my cool.

I didn’t expect a woman with secrets so dark, so deep, I’d throw away everything if it would save her from the past.

Rushing in to do this favor is turning my life upside down—and not just because Grace needs her ass spanked. Keep her out of trouble? Grace is the trouble. And I want in.

RUSHING IN is a standalone novel and the second in The Blackhawk Boys series.

Football. Secrets. Lies. Passion. These boys don’t play fair. Which Blackhawk Boy will steal your heart?

I KNOW I’ve said this before, but there is just something about Ryan’s writing that pulls me in and always leaves me comfortably satisfied. Rushing In…no different.  I actually enjoyed it more than the first Blackhawk Boys book.  Why?

Grace.

In Spinning Out (first book of the series) I really liked the hero, but the lead female left me feeling a bit bored. So not the case with Rushing In. Grace had personality and even when I didn’t fully understand or agree with her decisions, I felt like they came from a place true to her insecurities as a young woman.  And Ryan writes insecurities well, whatever they may be.  In this case, Grace is a mess because of misguided attentions from boys when she was young and from a missing mother figure. 

Chris entering her life as her new stepbrother complicates the cage she’s built around her life.  He’s not sure why, but he’s determined to get close enough to her to break that cage open.  Chris is the ultimate good guy and he was pretty adorable.  Much less hard than any Ryan boy I’ve read in the past, and I quite liked what she did with him.

After I finished Rushing In, a book buddy asked me my thoughts and said ‘it doesn’t sound gritty enough for you’. Which is valid, I do tend to read more on a darker scale. But as we chatted she brought up a point. She basically said Lexi Ryan writes the innocence I like, when I typically hate innocence. And that is it exactly for me as well.  You can hand me virgin story after virgin story and I’ll probably be bored with 98% of them, but I bet if I got one from Ryan, I’d love it. She just has a style that speaks to me as a woman with issues and as a reader who likes real characters.


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Review: Reaper’s Fire by Joanna Wylde

Review: Reaper’s Fire by Joanna WyldeReaper's Fire by Joanna Wylde
Published by Berkley August 9, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: Copy for Honest Review
Also by this author: Reaper's Property
Amazon US
Goodreads

The club comes first.

I’ve lived by those words my whole life—assumed I’d die by them, too, and I never had a problem with that. My Reaper brothers took my back and I took theirs and it was enough. Then I met her. Tinker Garrett. She’s beautiful, she’s loyal, and she works so damned hard it scares me sometimes . . . She deserves a good man—one better than me. I can’t take her yet because the club still needs me. There’s another woman, another job, another fight just ahead.

Now she’ll learn I’ve been lying to her all along. None of it’s real. Not my name, not my job, not even the clothes I wear. She thinks I’m nice. She pretends we’re just friends, that I’ve still got a soul . . . Mine’s been dead for years. Now I’m on fire for this woman, and a man can only burn for so long before he destroys everything around him.

I’m coming for you, Tinker.

Soon.

Tinker just may be my favorite Wylde heroine yet!  She’s amazingly adorable and takes family and friendship very seriously.

Reaper’s Fire is the sixth book in the Reaper’s MC series. If you’ve made it this far, you know a few things.

1 – You should have a decent idea of where the story line heads.

2 – You already know Wylde has a wicked talent at balancing drama, humor, humanity and steamy romance.

3 – You’ll already be planning on one clicking this baby and you don’t really need me to try to sell it to you. So, I’ll widdle my thoughts down to these:

While Reaper’s Fire starts off fairly sad, Wylde eases it with cute and quirky humor. Especially between Gage and Tinker. Their flirting and growing attachment made me smile (I’m a huge sucker for some good flirting). As did the interactions between Tinker and her friends. They were very human and very fun.

My only issue with Reaper’s Fire is that some issues were left unresolved. I imagine it’s because they will play a role in future books, so I’m not all together bummed by this. It really makes me look forward to the next book, but at the same time…I was ready to see a certain someone go down.

So, maybe this isn’t my favorite of all the Reaper’s book, but it has my favorite heroine. I’ll take that as a huge win!

Previously_Sent_RFTEASER

 

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