Review: After (After, #1), by Anna Todd

After (After, #1)After by Anna Todd
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you thought the ‘Fallen Crest High’ series was full of angst and teenage melodrama, you haven’t seen anything yet! ‘After’ is like many other teenage/college-aged romances, with all the “end of the world” dramatics…on steroids. I found this book to be equal parts irritating and addicting.

The “adult” part of me has to acknowledge the truth in much of the criticism I’ve seen regarding this story. Hardin and Tessa’s relationship was a train wreck. I spent a lot of time rolling my eyes and thinking “hang it up already”. However, I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t enjoy this story. It was a total guilty pleasure. Even though I was often annoyed, or even infuriated, by the goings on in this book, I couldn’t turn away. I really enjoyed this book, despite the responsible adult in me saying I should run far in the other direction.

The story centers on Theresa “Tessa” Young and her relationship with Hardin Scott. Tessa is portrayed as the quintessential sheltered prude. She is a sweet virgin, who dresses conservatively and arrives at her dorm with her over-bearing mother and high school sweetheart in-tow. Immediately, Tessa stands out and becomes a target for her roommate’s hard-partying group of friends.

More so than anyone else, Hardin seems to take extreme pleasure in tormenting Tessa. He is constantly toying with her and trying to humiliate her. He goes out of his way to put her down, but he’s always there. Despite all of his insults, he is constantly showing up in her daily life.

Little by little, Tessa and Hardin form a tenuous friendship. Eventually, it grows into more. There are plenty of obstacles along the way — none larger than Hardin’s broody, closed-off, and often volatile nature. Time and time again, Tessa forgives Hardin for his reprehensible behavior.

These two might take the prize for the number of times a single couple can go back and forth, breaking up and making up, in a single book. It did start to wear on my nerves, even as I couldn’t turn away. They were the perfect example of everything that only works in fiction. In real life, these two needed some serious counselling and intervention. They were toxic, to an extreme degree. No way would I ever want to be any where near a couple like this in real life. However, for a smutty romance, they definitely kept things interesting.

While I don’t want to give anything away, I will say that the ending of this book gutted me. I actually cried. I was so furious, I think I might have felt the betrayal as acutely as Tessa did!

So many times, I told myself that when this book was over that I wouldn’t be diving back in for another round of their melodramatic, childish antics. I was kidding myself. There was no way that I was going to skip the next book after that ending. It’s on to the next book for me.

As an aside, this book was apparently written as fan-fiction originally. It is supposed to be based on the lives of the boy band “One Direction”. Since I’m not very familiar with this group, I don’t have anything to offer in terms of how closely this book follows any of those band members. If it does closely follow one of the bandmate’s lives, God help the poor girls that are his prey.

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Review: Ruckus (Sinners of Saint, #2), by L. J. Shen

Ruckus (Sinners of Saint, #2)Ruckus by L.J. Shen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The second book in the ‘Sinners of Saint’ series, ‘Ruckus’ tells the story of Dean Cole and Rosie LeBlanc. I was a little weary going into this book because of Dean’s history with Rosie’s older sister. I wasn’t sure that was something that I was going to be able to get past. Fortunately, I did.

Dean Cole is a hard-partying, manwhore. He is one of the hotholes and is used to getting everything he wants. If he was a spoiled rich kid in high school, he has only gotten worse as a grown man. His life is one of excess to the extreme.

Yet, the one thing that he wants most is the one thing that continues to allude him — Rosie, aka “little LeBlanc”. Dean knows that he irreparably damaged his chances with Rosie when he dated her sister in high school. He knew all along that he was with the wrong sister, but didn’t do anything about it before it was too late. Now, he’s hell-bent on proving himself to Rosie.

No matter how hard Rosie tries to live a “normal” life, she cannot forget that she is seriously ill. Growing up with Cystic Fibrosis, her entire life revolves around her medical care, as do the lives of everyone in her family. It has been a long time since she felt like she was a real person and not just her diagnosis.

As much as Rosie wants to be “normal”, she is perfectly aware of her prognosis. She will die young and will most likely never bear children. For these reasons, she pushes others away before they get too close. She doesn’t want to begin a relationship that is doomed from the start, leaving heartache in her wake.

Rosie has perfected the art of shutting others out. She tells herself it is for their own good and she’s never regretted it. The only exception is Dean Cole, the guy she has always fantasized about but could never have.

Rosie and Dean have a long history of taboo flirtation and stolen moments. She loves her sister, but she felt like Dean was hers from the first time she laid eyes on him. When he chose her sister, it broke her heart. Even though her sister has moved on, marrying one of Dean’s best friends, Rosie feels like crossing that line would be a betrayal.

Now, Rosie and Dean are both grown and living in New York City. To make matters more complicated, Rosie lives in Dean’s building and witnesses his sexual exploits first-hand. Of course, he plans to use his position as her landlord to bend Rosie to his will.

When the two travel home for Vicious and Emilia’s wedding, the sexual frustration is at an all-time high between these two. Over the course of a few weeks, their relationship grows far more intimate and they become inseparable. Despite everything working against them, they decide to give a relationship a shot.

However, their relationship is anything but smooth sailing. Dean has some major demons that he’s fighting. Rosie’s health poses it’s own set of risks. Both of them have a lot of work to do on themselves before they can make a relationship work.

All in all, I thought that this was a great read. Rosie and Dean were perfect for one another, despite his past with her sister. I expected it to be a much bigger deal in this book than it ended up being. Although that seemed to be a little inconsistent with his reaction to Emilia and Vicious’ relationship in the first book, I just went with it. This story was hot and with just enough angst to keep me emotionally engaged.

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Pre-Review: Tailspin, by Jaimie Roberts (Expected Release Date: 06/20/17)

TAILSPINTAILSPIN by Jaimie Roberts
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book has wrecked me! I can’t even begin to make sense of all my emotions right now. I’m angry, devastated, completely gutted and heartbroken. I’m so damn conflicted! This story…argh! It really hit me in the “feels”.

Full review to come once I’m able to get a grip. Seriously! I devoured this book and I’m a total mess right now.

**I received an ARC from the author.**

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Review: Dirty Filthy Rich Boys (Dirty Duet, #0.5), by Laurelin Paige

Dirty Filthy Rich Boys (Dirty Duet,  #0.5)Dirty Filthy Rich Boys by Laurelin Paige
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow! Laurelin Paige has definitely got my attention with this freebie prequel. I am completely and totally hooked on this twisted story. No doubt about it, I will be jumping right into the full-length book immediately!

‘Dirty Filthy Rich Boys’ tells the story of Sabrina Lind, Weston King and Donovan Kincaid, all students at Harvard. Unlike Weston and Donovan, Sabrina does not come from a wealthy family. She is attending on a scholarship and in awe of the extreme wealth of the students that surround her. No one has her attention more than the extremely handsome and rich playboy, Weston King.

Something about Weston caught her eye the first time that he waltzed into class late like he owned the world. Although she hasn’t worked up the courage to approach him, she attends every party at the house that he shares with some of his friends. She watches from the shadows as he chooses a different girl every night to share his bed, never even noticing her.

Sabrina has her mind set on Weston, even though she realizes that one night with him is all she’d get. He never does repeats. Nonetheless, she wants him.

Then one night, Weston’s best friend and roommate, Donovan, comes to her rescue. Suddenly, she is feeling conflicted. Donovan is older, and the Teacher’s Assistant for her Business Ethics class. His hot and cold behavior only serves to make matters more confusing. Suddenly, Weston is not the only guy that Sabrina is fixated on.

I don’t want to give too much away, so I’ll just say that this was one hot little prequel. Holy hell! I was completely sucked into this story. This story was addicting and sexy. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. Oh…and that ending! I am definitely diving right into the full-length book immediately! I am hooked!

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Review: Slade (Walk of Shame, #1), by Victoria Ashley

Slade (Walk of Shame, #1)Slade by Victoria Ashley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Hmm…Where do I even start with this one? It definitely wasn’t what I expected. Totally my fault, by the way. For some unknown reason, I had it in my head that this was a biker romance. Clearly, I didn’t read the blurb. Again, totally my fault. Instead, ‘Slade’ tells the story of a male stripper that is super-slutty. I didn’t see that coming! LOL.

Although I was able to adjust to the unexpected storyline pretty quickly, I found this short read to be mediocre at best. There was a huge dose of insta-lust and not enough time to actually make the supposed emotional attachment between the two main characters seem genuine.

Essentially, Slade is a manwhore that “falls in love” with his new roommate, Aspen. The attraction is instantaneous, followed by some roommate rivalry. He wants in her pants. She wants to deny her attraction because he is such a slut. His sluttiness is really the result of ineffective coping, using sex to avoid dealing with his tragic past. She has her own secret reasons for not wanting to get involved with the sex machine under the same roof. Eventually, he reforms himself for her.

As you can see, this is similar to a thousand others in this trope. However, the short length of ‘Slade’ resulted in this story being unbelievable and having a rushed feel. It takes time to make readers feel a real connection to the characters. That never happened with this one.

I love a steamy love story as much as the next girl, but I need to have some “meat” in my stories. This one was a little smutty for my taste. The sex was plentiful, even gratuitous, but it lacked appeal because I felt no connection to the characters at all.

Overall, ‘Slade’ is a 2 1/2 star read for me. If you’re in the mood for something quick and very smutty, then you might enjoy this one. I needed more of an actual story and I didn’t find it with this one.

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Review: Addicted to Sin (Hard Love Romance, #1), by Monica James

Addicted to Sin (Hard Love Romance, #1)Addicted to Sin by Monica James
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

***I was provided with a complimentary ARC of this book by the publisher, through netgalley.com, in exchange for honest feedback.***

Wow! This book blew me away! It was a little slow to get started for me, but once it picked up, I couldn’t tear myself away from it. I’m still trying to pinpoint how I feel about it. I haven’t read a book that left me feeling so conflicted in quite some time. I’m dying to get my hands on the next book.

I guess I’ll start out by telling you a little about Dixon. He’s got that all-male hotness that draws you in and leaves you wanting more. As a Psychiatrist, it’s a miracle he hasn’t had his medical license revoked for sleeping with his patients. However, that unsavory tidbit just seems to up his forbidden, bad-boy appeal. He makes no apologies for who he is…and he knows he’s an ass.

Although, we get glimpses of his softer side as well. His manwhoring ways were triggered by his ex-fiancées betrayal with his then best friend. It was all downhill for him after that. He literally threw caution to the wind and lost himself between as many female thighs as he could get to spread for him. It wasn’t pretty.

He soon finds himself drawn to two women that are polar opposites. One appeals to his baser needs only, while the other consumes him wholly. A man with serious trust issues, he doesn’t always make the logical, or wise, choice. He’s afraid to lose himself in love again, only to be crushed.

He keeps the sexually aggressive Juliet around as a repeat booty-call. She’s always interested and always available. He doesn’t care to know much about her, beyond the fact that she is highly skilled in the sack, but she’s easy and keeping her around saves him the effort of having to hunt for other willing women.

Meanwhile, he just can’t seem to shake his feelings for the captivating Madison. He knows that she’s the kind of girl that he could get lost in and he’s afraid to go there again. Yet, no matter how many times he screws up, fate seems to keep throwing these two back together again.

All the while, Dixon has his two friends trying to steer him in the right direction. At least, their hearts were in the right place even when they steered him wrong. Together, these three were absolutely hilarious. I laughed so hard at their banter that I had tears in my eyes. It really helped to keep the story from getting too emotional or sad at times.

Eventually, Dixon seems to get his head on straight and things with him and Madison are finally coming together. Nothing is ever that easy though, so don’t think you’ll get to bask in those warm fuzzier for long. Juliet really is a super-bitch of epic proportions and she’s not ready to take her claws out of Dixon just yet.

Although I had guessed one of the twists fairly early on, it in no way prepared me for everything that transpired in the last 5 – 10% of this book. Holy hell! Ms. James turned my world upside down! I feel completely gutted and I am dying to see where this story will go from here.

The only negative point, was that there were a fair amount of typos, misplaced words, etc. However, I did read an ARC, so many of these errors will likely be corrected in the published editions. Otherwise, I have nothing but positive things to say about this book. It was awesome!

As an aside, this book has now been published under the title ‘Dirty Dix’. I am currently reading an ARC for the second part of this story, but almost missed it due to the new title.

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Review: Jake Undone (Jake, #1), by Penelope Ward

Jake Undone (Jake, #1)Jake Undone by Penelope Ward
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

‘Jake Undone’ is one of those books that I’ve had sitting on my Audible shelf for quite some time, but never got around to listening to. After finishing a couple of great dark books, I was looking for something a little “lighter”. While this book ended up having some pretty emotional twists, it certainly was uplifting enough to balance out some of my recent dark, gory reads.

Admittedly, I was a little worried that I wouldn’t like it since my tastes have changed a bit. Lately, I’m finding that many of the college-aged, YA-type books just aren’t doing it for me. I was worried that this book would be one of those irritatingly immature romances that have started to lose their appeal for me. Luckily, ‘Jake Undone’ ended up being just right.

Nina Kennedy meets Jake Green when she moves into the apartment that he shares with a childhood friend of hers. Only, when Nina shows up she gets more than she bargained for. What better way to meet your new roommate for the first time than to eavesdrop on his steamy one night stand, right? Talk about awkward.

As Nina struggles to adjust to life in a new city, Jake becomes her primary source of support and comfort. The two become fast friends and the sexual tension is thick between the two. Jake becomes her math tutor and a life coach of sorts, helping Nina conquer the irrational fears that plague her daily life.

Little by little, Nina comes out of her shell. Jake helps her to face her fears and she is able to make it through her days without suffering from crippling anxiety. The two are practically inseparable, with the exception of the weekends when Jake has to return back to his hometown of Boston.

Jake is standoffish at times and avoids taking his relationship with Nina to the next level. They want each other, but his repeated brush-offs leave Nina feeling unwanted. That couldn’t be farther from the truth where Jake is concerned.

There is a huge part of Jake’s life that he hasn’t been upfront with Nina about. He doesn’t know how to tell her everything. The longer he waits, the more he fears losing her and the harder it gets to explain why he hasn’t already told her everything. Eventually, it all comes crashing down.

Even though I guessed the twist before it was revealed, it didn’t make it any less emotional or upsetting. I felt Nina’s pain. All the while, I felt Jake’s also. It was so easy to understand and to relate to each of their viewpoints. I was angry. I was heartbroken. Yet, I also felt compassion for Jake while admiring his loyalty and strength.

This was not a couple that came across their HEA easily. They had to fight for it, but eventually persevered. Although this story was heartbreaking at times, it was beautiful and worth the pain. I am glad that I finally made it a point to listen to this one. Overall, it was a great choice.

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Review: The Room Mate (Roommates, #1), by Kendall Ryan

The Room MateThe Room Mate by Kendall Ryan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

***I was provided an ARC of this book in exchange for honest feedback.***

If you’re in the mood for something heartwarming and fun, ‘The Room Mate’ is a fantastic choice. It was just the kind of light-hearted, sweet story that I needed to balance out all of the darker stories that I usually gravitate toward. It was a sentimental, feel-good romance that was highly enjoyable.

I have to admit that I was a little skeptical after reading the blurb. The idea of Cannon being some sex-god that women became obsessed with after getting a taste of what he could do between the sheets was a little far-fetched for me. My response was something along the lines of “Oh, please!”

That being said, I’m glad that I didn’t let that initial impression scare me away. This ended up being a great book. I found myself laughing at the sexually-charged banter between Cannon and Paige. It was just such a fun read.

The story begins with Cannon being evicted from his apartment after an incident with his crazy ex-girlfriend. A busy medical student, he doesn’t have the time to find another apartment. Since he’ll likely be moving in two short months to begin a residency, he can’t commit to a new lease either.

Paige is the best friend of Cannon’s sister. When she is contacted by her best friend, who asks her to let Cannon stay with her for awhile, Paige reluctantly agrees. She has known Cannon since they were children and is willing to sacrifice a couple of months of comfort to help out her bestie.

Only, Cannon is no longer the nerdy boy that Paige remembers from her childhood. He has grown into a sexy, successful man that she can’t keep her eyes off of. The sexual chemistry between the two is off the charts right from the start. A few chance encounters only serve to heighten the sexual tension between the two.

It doesn’t take long for their curiosity and lust to win out. It was bound to happen and it did. If they thought that their attraction was something that would wane once they got a taste, they were wrong.

Despite their intense chemistry and the “rightness” of them together, there is plenty of reasons whey these two should not be together. Paige’s friendship with Cannon’s sister is a huge deterrent. Cannon’s career is another. The two decide to keep their relationship casual and hidden.

When a series of tragic events unfold, their relationship is put to the test. Emotions run high and the poor decisions pile up. In no time at all, whatever they had been building seems to have disintegrated.

This book is a standalone that is part of the ‘Roommates’ series. All in all, I thought that this was a fantastic read. It was fun and light-hearted. This is one to save for a day when you need a unicorns and rainbows kind of story. Ms. Ryan delivers the emotional connection and angst that you need, as well as a HEA that will leave you feeling satisfied.

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Review: Smoldering, by Tiffany Aleman

SmolderingSmoldering by Tiffany Aleman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I had this audiobook sitting on my Audible shelf for a long time. Finally, I decided to give it a shot as a way to recuperate from the book hangover I was suffering from after finishing K. A. Linde’s ‘Avoiding’ series. ‘Smoldering’ ended up being a good choice for that purpose.

The heroine, Kelsey, is a young lady from a very wealthy family. The daughter of a prominent politician, she is little more than a prop for her parents’ social image. Always yearning to please them, she has allowed herself to be controlled by her parents.

On the day of her wedding, she finally has a long overdue epiphany. She’s standing at the altar, in the midst of marrying a man that she hates, when she realizes that her parents will never truly love her. Trying to please them or make them proud is a pointless endeavor.

For once, she decides to make a decision based upon her happiness. Knowing the fallout will be tremendous, she musters up the courage to take a stand. She leaves her groom standing at the altar and doesn’t look back.

Despite being disowned by her parents, she knows that she has done the right thing. Cut off completely, she moves with her best friend and makes ends meet by working as a waitress. Her life is a far cry from the opulence of her past, but she is happy for the first time in her life.

When she meets Riley Jackson, a local military man, things are finally going right for her. The two have a whirlwind romance and fall in love quickly. Theirs was definitely a case of insta-love.

Just as their relationship begins to get more serious, Kelsey’s past and present collide. What ensues is a clusterf*ck of epic proportions. Betrayal. Hurt. More betrayal. It gets really ugly, really quick.

While I love angst and usually live for the emotional pain a great story can evoke, this story left me feeling a little irritated. With the way Riley was so quick to dismiss Kelsey, and the way he acted almost immediately afterwards, I just couldn’t believe that he really cared all that much for her in the first place. I just didn’t buy it.

Then, after all of Riley’s insensitive actions, he barely even mutters an apology before Kelsey takes him back. Seriously? To make matters worse, she actually assumes a large part of the blame because she had never told him about her ex…even though she didn’t lie and it never really came up.

I absolutely hate it when the heroine turns into some sort of weak, pushover that takes on the blame for the hero’s bad behavior. Ugh! Kelsey needed to grow a damn spine and send Riley packing for good. He didn’t even grovel. Nope. I was not happy at all.

Overall, it ended up being just an “okay” book for me. It started out strong, but then everything hit the fan and there was no coming back for me. Once everything was kind of “resolved” and the characters got their HEA, it seemed to drag on and on also. Maybe I was just irritated because their HEA was not a HEA for me…but the last 45 minutes of this audiobook seemed unnecessary to me.

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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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