Review: Preppy: The Life & Death of Samuel Clearwater, Part 3 (King, #7), by T. M. Frazier

Preppy: The Life & Death of Samuel Clearwater, Part Three (King, #7)Preppy: The Life & Death of Samuel Clearwater, Part Three by T.M. Frazier
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As much as I have enjoyed the ‘King’ series, I have mixed feelings about this book. Preppy is a favorite character of mine, but I was left feeling somewhat underwhelmed with this final book in his story. At the same time, I was glad that everything was tied up and that the series drew to a close. I think it was time. It is kind of bittersweet for me.

Like earlier books in the series, Preppy, Bear and King team up to take on those that would do them harm. This time around, Dre is a target. Picking up right where the last book left off, Dre is in a dire situation and has to fight for her life. That isn’t the last time that they’ll find themselves in a life or death struggle though.

Despite the action and danger that fills the pages, I was left feeling somewhat bored. Maybe I’ve just grown tired of the constant danger and implausibility of this series, but I just wasn’t surprised or even anxious while reading this one. It felt kind of flat for me.

That being said, it was nice to see these characters all “grown up” and settled down. Each of them managed to find their happy place, going on to have children and live out their HEAs. These rough and tumble, drug-dealing guys have become the picture of domestic bliss. It is kind of sweet, in a bizarre way.

Overall, I thought that this ended up being a pretty good book. It didn’t hold my attention like the earlier books in the series, but I was also glad to see everything wind down and come to a close. It was a great ride while it lasted, but it was time.

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Review: The Iron Knight (The Iron Fey, #4), by Julie Kagawa

The Iron Knight (Iron Fey, #4)The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From the time I started listening to this series, I have been unable to pull myself away from it. Over the course of a week or so, I have read the entire series from start to finish. I have enjoyed every minute. (Okay, maybe not all of the time spent discussing Ariella.) Gladly, I can say that this series did not fizzle out at the end like many series do. This story was action-packed and engaging right to the very end.

Picking up where ‘The Iron Queen’ and ‘Summer’s Crossing’ left off, Ash and Meghan are separated for most of this book. He’s working diligently to find a way to get back to Meghan’s side, even if it means becoming human so that he can survive the Iron Realm. He’ll stop at nothing to get back to her.

In some ways it was kind of fitting that now that Ash has finally figured out that he loves Meghan that he would be kept apart from her. After all, Meghan endured his cold shoulder treatment repeatedly. So, I kind of felt like most of this book was Ash’s dose of karma for how he rebuffed Meghan in ‘The Iron Daughter’. (I’m blood-thirsty that way.)

I don’t want to say too much, but I will say that there were some pretty big twists along the way. I can’t say I was completely surprised, but there were definitely some wrenches thrown in the plans. One of my biggest pet peeves – the perfect, dead ex-girlfriend – continued to be an issue in a huge way. (Why can’t this dead girl just GO AWAY???)

Maybe I should be more sensitive and try to like Ariella, but I just can’t. Ash’s wishy-washy feelings also got on my nerves where the dead ex was concerned. It made me question the genuineness of his feelings for Meghan.

Meanwhile, Puck started looking better and better. The poor guy’s loyalty was infallible, but he was destined to forever remain in the “friend-zone”. My heart broke for him.

As Ash endures multiple trials on his quest to gain a soul and become human, Puck, Grimalkin and the great Wolf hunter are right by his side. Like ‘Summer’s Crossing’, Meghan was absent for a large part of this book. However, the robust cast of characters in ‘The Iron Knight’ did not leave me wanting the way that the earlier novella did. There was never a dull moment.

More so than any of the books that preceded this one, ‘The Iron Knight’ provided insight into Ash’s character. I felt like I really got to know him in this book. I won’t lie, he definitely had some pretty big skeletons in his closet. However, in my opinion, he had a soul all along. He clearly had a conscience, even if he was taught to ignore it from the time he was young.

I really felt for Ash, especially as a child. His world was so cruel and cold. Never was he nurtured like a child should be. It is a wonder that he didn’t turn into a total psychopath.

At long last, things worked out the way that they should have. I was left feeling relieved and contented at the end of this book. A part of me was even a little sad that I had reached the end of this series.

Overall, this was a fantastic book. It was the perfect finale to this series. I’m glad that I read it and I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a “clean” fantasy/adventure/paranormal type of story. It has romance, as well as plenty of action.

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Review: Here to Stay (The Fish Tales, #3), by Suanne Laqueur

Here to Stay (The Fish Tales, #3)Here to Stay by Suanne Laqueur
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The third book in ‘The Fish Tales’ series, ‘Here to Stay’ chronicles Erik and Daisy’s new beginning. After everything that they’ve been through and all the pain that they’ve inflicted on themselves and each other, they are finally trying to work things out. However, a past like theirs is not easily forgotten. It will take a lot of understanding and forgiveness to move past the hurt that they’ve hung onto for so long.

As happy as I was to see one of my new favorite couples find their way back to one another, they still had a lot of healing ahead of them. There was no way that they could ever pick up where they left off. Too much had happened. I’ve never seen a couple that caused each other so much pain, even as they loved each other so much.

Aside from repairing his relationship with Daisy, Erik also has to make amends with Will. For me, the disintegration of their friendship was just as heartbreaking. I was so glad to see them reunited and to have Erik acknowledge his mistreatment of Will.

While Erik and Daisy are navigating the new terms of their long-distance relationship, there are some expected insecurities on both of their parts. Understandably, Daisy fears abandonment. Erik has his own worries about his fertility and what that will mean for their future.

Along the way, Erik finally faces his past. He has allowed the actions of his father to model his future for too long. When a long lost relative reaches out to Erik, he and Daisy go on a journey of self-discovery. He uncovers family secrets that shed light on his father’s sudden disappearance. While he doesn’t get all of the answers that he was looking for, he gains a better understanding of the demons that haunted his father.

Of course, nothing comes easy for Daisy and Erik. Just when you think that they’re going to ride off into the sunset and live their happily ever after, tragedy strikes. I swear, they just can’t catch a break.

Old habits die hard and the couple must overcome the desire to slip back into old coping strategies. This time around, they are more mature and better able to help each other heal. I was very glad to see that they were able to work through this upset together and come out stronger as a couple because of it.

‘Here to Stay’ was a wonderful finale to Erik and Daisy’s story. I have loved every minute of this series and the vibrant characters that Ms. Laqueur has brought to life. I highly recommend this series. I listened to the Audible version and the narration was fabulous as well.

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Review: Last Call (Cocktail, #4.5), by Alice Clayton

Last Call (Cocktail, #4.5)Last Call by Alice Clayton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It has been a long time since I read ‘Wallbanger’, but I was looking forward to seeing what the future held in store for Caroline and Simon. They stood out in my memory as being one of my favorite couples for their witty banter and humorous antics. Unfortunately, I think that I let too much time pass and the novelty has worn off.

Admittedly, I did skip ahead in this series. I never took the time to read the second, third or fourth books in the series, which were the spin-off stories of their friends. That proved to be somewhat important to fully enjoy this book. I thought that I could just skip the friends’ stories to get back to Simon and Caroline, I was wrong. Their friends and their relationships proved to me a significant part of this story.

Despite feeling lost for the first quarter or so of the book – totally my fault – I did enjoy this book as a whole. Once the focus shifted from the friends to Caroline and Simon, I found myself enjoying the tamer version of the couple that I remembered. The dynamics of their relationship were greatly changed, from adversarial to blissfully happy, but it was sweet.

All in all, it was a nice, sweet book. It had the feel of an extended epilogue for Simon, Caroline and their friends, providing closure and the HEAs that readers crave. There was nothing that ripped my heart out or made me feel intense emotions, but it was nice. Sometimes, you just need a nice, predictable read with a HEA. This book delivered on that account.

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Review: Six (Men by Numbers, #2), by Ker Dukey

Six (Men by Numbers, #2)Six by Ker Dukey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The second book in the ‘Men by Numbers’ series, ‘Six’ had many of the characteristics of a terrific, dark story. There was plenty of danger and Ker Dukey certainly doesn’t shy away from graphic, disturbing content like many authors do. I applaud her for that. If you’re going to write a dark story, I think you need to take that dive and not toe the line.

This is the story of Taylor Jake, aka “Six”. As a teenager, Six was bounced between foster homes before eventually ending up on the streets. His only family consisted of the gang he belonged to and Hayley, another kid on the streets that Six took under his wing.

Hayley was the “good” in Six’s life. They lived together and had a non-exclusive sexual relationship. However, more than anything, they were the closest of friends.

When Six falls in love with the member of a rival gang, it is Hayley that ends up paying the price for Six’s actions. She is brutally gang-raped and tortured. No longer is she the bright-eyed girl that Six strived to shelter. Her life is forever changed.

Six makes it his mission to seek vengeance for Hayley. Out of prison after killing some of the men involved in Hayley’s attack, he has set up a life for himself in a new town. He owns a bar and tattoo shop, biding his time until he can finish what he started.

When Misty first sets foot inside of Six’s bar, he wants to have sex with her as much as he wants to rescue her. She is clearly down on her luck and in need of some help. He gives her a job and the sexual tension is thick between the two.

Despite Six’s initial resistance, the two eventually end up getting romantically involved. Things only get more complicated when Hayley makes a reappearance in Six’s life, with a suspicious new friend in-tow. Shortly thereafter, things hit the fan.

There were many things that I really loved about this book. I love the fact that the author is not afraid to tell a dark story and embrace the shocking elements that many others dance around. I also thought that the story itself was entertaining and emotional. I enjoyed the story and felt connected to the characters.

The reason that this story got a 3-star rating, instead of a 4-star rating, is because there were some pretty big editing oversights. Maybe I’m being snobby, but I kind of feel like the author should know how they want to spell the names of their main characters and then stick to it. One of the major players in this book had two different spellings of their name. On one page it was spelled “Jordon”, only to be spelled “Jordan” further in. It was distracting and I found myself flipping back to be sure that this wasn’t a different “Jordon/Jordan” and to double-check the spelling. I’m OCD that way.

Another thing that irked me was that there were several instances of incorrect word usage. It wasn’t the worst I’ve encountered, but it was noticeable and distracting. The example that stands out with me is the usage of the word “mount” when the author clearly was referring to a woman’s “mound”. I don’t even want to think of what must be going on in her undies if her mound can be quantified as a “mount”, but I’d get a plastic surgeon on that problem. Not sexy!

Lastly, M/M isn’t really my thing. I don’t absolutely hate it and I did enjoy this story. However, Six flipping back and forth between male and female partners didn’t really appeal to me. This is just a reflection of my personal preferences, so this may not be an issue at all for others.

Overall, I give this one 3 stars. If the editing oversights were corrected, it’d be a 4-star read for me. If you can overlook those types of mistakes, I’d say that this is a great choice if you’re looking for a dark read. If not, it might drive you crazy.

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Review: Undo Me (The Good Ol’ Boys, #3), by M. Robinson

Undo Me (The Good Ol' Boys, #3)Undo Me by M. Robinson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The third book in ‘The Good Ol’ Boys’ series, ‘Undo Me’ is the story of Dylan and Aubrey. These two had one of the most tragic and complicated stories that I’ve ever read. Never have I wanted a couple to get their HEA so badly. As I listened to their story, I hurt for them. They deserved some happiness after everything they went through.

While reading ‘Complicate Me’, I was sure that I had figured things out between Dylan and Aubrey. In fact, I wasn’t even sure that I wanted to read this book because I was so sure that I already knew how things would play out. I was so wrong. ‘Undo Me’ was so much more than I expected.

Of all the “Good Ol’ Boys”, Dylan was the one that I felt least connected to at the onset of this book. He was kind of just the player in the background in the first two books. He was dating Aubrey…then he wasn’t. He went from the dedicated boyfriend to a manwhore, seemingly overnight, without any explanation. I didn’t know why, but it was off-putting to me.

My questions were answered in this third book. Finally, I know what events led up to the downfall of Dylan and Aubrey. Now that I know, I can say that my perception was completely inaccurate.

I had expected this book to be the “shallowest” of the series. However, I was greatly mistaken. This book was the most emotional and dealt with the “heaviest” content in the series to this point. I don’t want to give too much away, but if you’ve read the first two books in the series, you already know that abuse is going to be addressed. It doesn’t stop there. This book will gut you.

This book would’ve been a 5-star book for me, if it weren’t for the fact that it got so far-fetched toward the end. Don’t get me wrong. It was a great story. However, some of the events toward the very end were a bit too convenient and far-fetched for me.

Overall, it was a deeply emotional read. I would recommend this book if you’re looking for something angsty and touching. Keep your tissues handy, but rest assured that things will work out eventually. It doesn’t come easy for this couple, but they get there in the end.

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Review: Maid for Love (The McCarthys of Gansett Island, #1), by Marie Force

Maid for Love (The McCarthys of Gansett Island, #1)Maid for Love by Marie Force
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have seen this book around for quite some time and I picked up the audiobook on sale recently for $1.99. At just under 7 hours, it was a great choice to finish out my weekly commute. It was sweet, straightforward and easy to follow. Sometimes, you just need something “light” and this was just that kind of story.

Mac McCarthy has only just arrived back in his hometown when he knocks Maddie Chester off of her bicycle. He is immediately taken aback by Maddie’s beauty and wants to make amends for his lapse in judgment. He is determined to win over this feisty lady and get to know her better.

Poor Maddie gets roughed up pretty badly from the accident and is unable to exert herself physically for a few days. For a single-mother that lives paycheck to paycheck, this is a nightmare. She won’t be able to take care of her infant son or go to her housekeeping job. If she misses work, she knows that she’ll get fired by her nasty employer.

When Mac offers to help Maddie out, doing her work for her until she recuperates, she is suspicious of his motives. No man has ever done anything nice for her without expecting something sexual in return. Ever since puberty, she’s had to fend off the unwelcome advances of lewd men and the contempt of jealous women…not to mention the rumors that circulate around town.

As it ends up, Mac’s parents own the hotel where Maddie works. He’s able to use his pull to ensure that Maddie doesn’t lose her position and he fills in doing her work in the meantime. Sadly, he discovers that Maddie was not exaggerating about the horrible way that she has been treated as an employee of his family’s business.

Although this was a nice story as a whole, I did have some pretty big issues with it right from the start. First of all, with the exception of Mac, most of the characters made a terrible first impression. I kept thinking, “Where did they find these wretched people?”. Nearly all of them were off-putting.

Maddie’s nasty treatment of Mac was absolutely deplorable right from the start. He was bending over backwards to try and be nice to her and she was just being a straight-up bitch. Her sister wasn’t any better, once she was introduced. If I were Mac, I would’ve told her where she could stick it and been glad to be rid of her.

Then, we meet the women in Mac’s family. His sister immediately tells Mac what a bad reputation Maddie has when Mac first mentions that he is helping her out. It was done in a manner that made her seem like a shallow, malicious, gossip-monger.

While I eventually warmed to her, I can’t say the same for Mac’s mother. She was vicious in her treatment of Maddie, all because of her bad reputation. Talk about a slut-shaming old bitty! I couldn’t stand that woman!

Needless to say, my initial impressions of most of these characters left much to be desired. If it hadn’t been for Mac’s kindness and good sense of humor, I would’ve hung it up there. I felt like I stuck it out for him, as weird as that sounds.

Luckily, most of the characters did redeem themselves. I can’t say that I ever came to terms with Mac’s mother’s atrocious behavior, but the others did grow on me. While I don’t excuse her initial mistreatment of Mac, I did come to understand why Maddie treated him the way she did at first.

No big surprise, Mac and Maddie fall in love while he’s taking care of her. He works his way into her heart pretty quickly. Of course, there are some minor conflicts and drama along the way to keep things interesting. However, there was nothing that was especially surprising or mind-blowing in this book.

This was a nice, straightforward, sweet romance. It isn’t the type of story that I’ll re-read or that will stay on my mind for any length of time. It was just a nice way to pass a few hours. Nothing earth-shattering here, but good entertainment.

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Review: Punk 57, by Penelope Douglas

Punk 57Punk 57 by Penelope Douglas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was one of those over-the-top high school stories that I could not put down. ‘Punk 57’ is my latest guilty pleasure. I enjoyed every implausible, melodramatic moment!

Misha Lare and Ryen Trevarrow have been pen-pals for years, ever since their teachers mistakenly thought they were the same gender in elementary school and assigned them as pen-pals for a class project. They’ve been writing to one another ever since. Over the years, the two have become best friends, even though they’ve never met in person. Now in high school, things are about to get impossibly complicated.

Misha’s band is close to getting their big break. He spots Ryen at a promotional event being held for his band and initiates a conversation. Never, does he tell her who he is. Unbeknownst to them at the time, that night will change everything.

Ryen is the type of girl you love to hate. She makes hating her easy. Popular, beautiful and nasty as hell, she is the type of “mean girl” that are the source of high school nightmares. She is a bully, but she doesn’t hate anyone nearly as much as she hates herself. The only person she’s ever allowed to glimpse the person that she really wants to be is Misha, the pen-pal that she’s never even met in person.

When Masen Laurent starts attending Ryen’s school, she is immediately caught off-guard by the hot new guy that gives her a taste of her own medicine. He isn’t afraid of her and he makes it a point to call her out on all of her horrible ways. In fact, he seems to be on a personal mission to bring her down a few rungs.

As Ryen’s rivalry with Masen heats up, she is forced to face the person that she’s become. Misha has stopped writing to her without explanation and Ryen is feeling lower than she’s ever felt before. Her walls seem to be closing in on her, as she is forced to choose between the person she has become and the person she wants to be.

While there is a “secret” in this story, it isn’t really a surprise to readers. In fact, you know the big twist all along and it is just a matter of waiting for the characters to figure everything out. That being said, it doesn’t make the big reveal any less explosive.

From start to finish, I could not put this book down. It was full of high school melodrama and a pretty unrealistic storyline, but I loved every minute. After all, who wants to read something that sounds like your daily routine? Not me. This book was emotional and addictive. I loved it!

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Where Was This Guy When I Was In College?

Overwhelm Me (Callahan, #1)Overwhelm Me by A.C. Marchman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I had this book sitting on my Kindle shelf for what must have been years. I was between audiobooks and saw that it was being offered for a special price of $1.99 on Audible, so I figured I’d finally give it a shot. It had been so long since I’d read the blurb, that I wasn’t even sure what I was in store for.

At just over 5 hrs long, it is a relatively short audiobook. That being said, the story held my attention and kept me entertained. With so little time to cover so much ground, there was never a dull moment. Sometimes I felt like I needed to stop to catch my breath, as there was very little “filler”. Everything happened so fast that it was kind of a blur.

Allie Marshall is a studious college-aged girl. She’s the stereotypical “smart girl”. She’s got straight A’s. She’s also beautiful, but conveniently oblivious to her appeal. We all know the type.

Allie meets Donovan Callahan when she literally runs into him on campus one day. After their sidewalk collision, they see each other again at a club. He’s older, rich, incredibly handsome and more “worldly” than Allie.

The attraction between the two is immediate. I thought it worked well for this story. However, if insta-love is a turn-off for you, this one won’t hold much appeal. They go from strangers to practically attached at the hip overnight.

It doesn’t take long for the cracks to show up though. Both of them have things, or people, in their past that may be problematic. While Donovan’s past mistakes were very public and impossible for him to hide from, Allie’s past is far more secretive.

Eventually, everything is brought to light. I have to say that I was not surprised by one of Allie’s secrets, but completely taken aback by another one. It isn’t very often that an author will write something like that into the past of a character that they’ve cast as the “good girl”. Hats off to the author for that! (Sorry to be so vague, but I don’t want to spoil it for those that haven’t read it yet.)

Overall, I thought ‘Overwhelm Me’ was a great read. The narration was well-done and engaging. I liked both of the main characters and found their love story to be sweet and entertaining. This is a good choice for a day when you’re looking for something rather straightforward and cheerful. It is a perfect choice for those days when you’re suffering from a book hangover and aren’t quite ready to dive into anything too deep yet.

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