arc · contemporary · paranormal · romance

A Wolf Apart by Maria Vale

♥♥ 4 Wild Stars ♥♥

Elijah Sorensson has been Offworld for the last thirty years working as a lawyer for the Great Northern Pack. His predecessor ended up dead after being separated from the Pack for too long, and Elijah isn’t sure how much longer he can hold onto his inner wolf. He’s tired of the facade of life in NYC: the easy women, the social and political hierarchy, and the meat. Meat should only been eaten when you’ve killed it.

And then he meets Thea, quite by chance. She’s nothing like the Offworld women he’s used to. One, she doesn’t have fake tits. Two, she doesn’t play coy and seductive, she just is. Her simplistic lifestyle and respect for nature draws Elijah in, and soon he’s making promises to himself that he’s not sure he can survive, much less keep.

Elijah and Thea’s story just feels so real. There aren’t any early onset declarations of love, and I just felt like Thea was so down to earth. This was the first paranormal romance I’ve read in a while that wasn’t incredibly fake and just about some alpha male claiming some unsuspecting mate. The prose is well-written and while the plot isn’t necessarily fast-paced, I never got bored or felt like the plot was dragging. A Wolf Apart was a pleasant surprise every step of the way!

**ARC generously provided via NetGalley

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arc · complicated · contemporary · romance · sports

Caught Up in a Cowboy by Jennie Marts

♥♥ 3.5 Second-Chance Stars ♥♥

 

Overall, this was a sweet, light read. Quinn is a single mother living at home with her father and brother raising her son, a product of a one-night-stand nine years ago. She’s been left behind by her childhood sweetheart, Rock, who left their hometown to pursue a career in hockey. Usually when Rock visits home, he gets the cold shoulder from Quinn; this time, however, he finds a way to weasel himself into her life for a bit. He’s been injured during a game and is forced home to recuperate. Theirs is a heartwarming story of second chances and learning to forgive old hurts.

I’m not exactly sure what I was expecting when I picked this up, but I was pleasantly surprised. There’s hardly any language in it, which, I have to admit, threw me off a little. If y’all know anything about me, it’s that I like my down and dirty romances, and this was definitely not that. There’s talk of church potlucks and blessing the food before a meal, so if that’s not your cup of tea then prepare yourself. Because of this, I was surprised that there were a couple real sex scenes, and they were actually written pretty well.

My main complaint with this book is the ending; I found it a little abrupt, considering how much time is spent on the characters waffling between what they want and what they think the other wants and what they think is the right thing to do; Rock and Quinn’s indecisiveness drove me a little crazy at times. So when Quinn finds herself in court and defending herself as a mother, I really wanted to see more of what that looked like. So when that only took up a small bit and the rest of the ending was her and Rock finding a way to be together, I was not very impressed. (This is why I had to mark down to 3.5 stars).

Overall, if you’re looking for something light, sweet, and family-friendly, then this is a great find!

**ARC generously provided via NetGalley

arc · contemporary · insta love · romance · suspense

Hidden by Kelli Clare

♥♥ 2.5 Obsessive Stars ♥♥

ALERT ALERT: RANT AHEAD

Soooo, let’s just talk about this cover. Along with the title and book description, I was all over this. I’m expecting an intense stalker-type thriller romance, very Killing Me Softly-esque. But, man, was I disappointed. Okay, it’s advertised as a “thriller”, and I was not thrilled. I felt maybe a couple moments of tension where I was wondering what was going to happen, but literally, it all felt like a means to make the characters’ relationship grow.

Let’s look at the main characters; hell, let’s look at all the characters. Ellie and Will confuse the shit out of me. Ellie is all, I’ve never loved anyone, I have a heart of ice, and Will is just like, I’ve loved you from afar for ten years, don’t you remember us making eye contact that one time when you didn’t know who I was? And I’m just sitting here like….

Like, this was insta-love to the max. Which is fine, I guess, if that’s your thing. Just don’t play the main character off as being incapable of love when she is basically ready to marry him after making eye contact with him through a crowd at a fair. The insta-love is the main thing that bothered me, and the commentary from the secondary characters was just annoying. Everyone is all, “Oh, no, you’re the most important thing ever and we have to save you or Will will literally kill me.” Like, I’m pretty sure if Will is beating guys up for just looking at Ellie (maybe a slight exaggeration), then perhaps their relationship is a little unhealthy? Like Will and Ellie are so obsessed with each other and so caught up in their little bubble that they become super codependent and just unstable.  And then at the climax, I was expecting more of a big fallout or threat and before I knew it everything was over.

So all in all, this looked like a promising book. If you’re a fan of insta-love and are in the mood for something a little mindless and light, then this is a fun read. Just don’t expect something actually suspenseful or thrilling.

** ARC generously provided via NetGalley

complicated · contemporary · haters to lovers · kindle unlimited · romance · slow burn

Look the Part by Jewel E. Ann

♥♥ 5 Heaven and Earth Stars ♥♥

Hey friends! It’s been forever since I’ve had any time to blog, and it feels so good to get back into this! I’ve missed all of my friends, and with summer here, I have so much more time on my hands. This book really got me out of a big reading slump; y’all know I love these slow-burn reads, and this was no exception. Usually I go to Mariana Zapata or L.J. Shen to get me out of my slump, but I’ve already read all of their stuff so this was a godsend for me.

Okay, so my first reaction to this book was, eh. I kept seeing it on my KU feed as a recommended read, and the cover really threw me off. It just looked like some business mogul alpha male romance that was a little Christian Grey-esque. Which, yeah, I’m all for when I’m in the mood, but with my kick for slow burn and all the feels kind of romance, I just wasn’t in the mood for. But. But! I decided to try it out. The reviews were awesome and it was just staring there every time I opened KU, so…yeah. You know how you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover? Yeah, I’m glad I gave this a go. And let me be clear, it’s not that I don’t like the cover or anything, it’s just that I was convinced it was something it wasn’t. And let me tell you, this book was a surprise.

I’m trying to describe the emotional ride this took me on and while it doesn’t quite reach this level of inner turmoil, the vibe it gives me reminds me of The Air He Breathes by Brittainy C. Cherry. Ellen, recently divorced, moves to Minneapolis to start over. She’s a music therapist, loves life, and doesn’t shy away from her emotions. She meets Flint when she applies to rent out the office space in his building for her sessions. Flint, however, doesn’t quite understand that being a music therapist involves, well, music. And instruments. As a lawyer and all-around control freak, he doesn’t deal well with the noise and keeps trying to evict her.

Enter Harrison, one of my favorite secondary characters ever. He’s Flint’s twelve year-old son with mild autism, and he instantly clicks with Ellen. He doesn’t deal well with change, and struggles with handling his emotions. He’s complicated, sweet, and melted my heart. Ellen and Harrison develop a relationship that doesn’t let Flint get her out of his office building — or out of his life.

Ellen is probably one of my favorite heroines that I’ve read in a long time. She’s so honest with what she’s feeling — both with herself and Flint. The way Ellen is always touching him and coming on to him is sweet on the surface, and tragic once her story comes out. Both Ellen and Flint have a ton of emotional baggage, and it was both amazingly sweet and heartrending reading their story. There were so many times that I was afraid they wouldn’t make it, that they’d give up on each other. Their story isn’t easy, but it was so worth it.

college · contemporary · romance · sports

Thin Love by Eden Butler

♥♥ 4.5 Addictive Stars ♥♥

Okay, let me start off by saying that while I am fangirling so hard about this book right now, there are some triggers. I have watched a couple of my best friends go through unhealthy, addictive relationships, and I by no means condone this kind of relationship. While the ending had me breathing easier about the H/h, most of the book had me worried that they’d push each other too far.

Kiera and Kona’s first meeting is a typical melt-my-heart moment; he’s a jock trying to skim through classes, she’s a straight-A control freak. Naturally, they get paired together to work on a group project, through which they fall in love (or lust…). As I read their story, I loved their dynamic (think college football player version of The Notebook). When they’re not screwing each other’s brains out, they’re screaming their heads off. Kona is jealous and gets into some stupid shit, while Kiera is constantly running away when things get hard (not that kind of hard, you perverts!).

I had hopes that everything would smooth over for these two, but it took a looooong time for that to happen, and I was seriously hurting as they ran in circles around each other. This book had me ripped to shreds and I stayed up way too late to finish it this weekend. The only reason this isn’t 5 stars for me is because I felt the start of their relationship was a little too unhealthy and for a few edits sprinkled throughout the book.

friends to lovers · high school · romance

Her Book Boyfriend by K.R. Grace

♥♥ 4 Sweetheart Stars ♥♥

Let’s take a minute to talk about this cover. Seriously, how cute is it?! Like, I actually see her as myself and I love it. You know that seen in Eclipse where Bella reads in the clearing? Stop judging, but this is totally her — the real Bella, not Kristen Stewart, thank you very much. Seriously, don’t judge me on that.

And the title! It calls to all those romance junkies out there who love to find love over and over and over again, amiright?? I mean, I’m happily married and I want a new book boyfriend every other day…

So yeah, this one surprised me. I don’t know if it was me or what but I didn’t catch that this was a high school romance. I haven’t read one of those since…well, since I was in high school. And you know what? It was really good. It was cute, and the characters stole my heart, and yes, it felt a little high school, but not in that unbearable God-why-am-I-reading-this-immature-drama-crap sense.

Macey takes a dare from her best friend, Cam, that if she doesn’t find a guy who fits “book boyfriend” material, then she has to go to prom with him. Yeah, this kind of gives away the fact that he likes her more than as a long-time best friend, and yeah, she’s a little dumb for not seeing this. But if you can get over this little tidbit, then you’re in for a cute ride. Macey finds herself going through a list of qualifications that a book boyfriend would fulfill, and the results are funny and cute. I thought the climax was a little overdone, but given how short the book is, this didn’t really bother me. I really liked Cam and Macey together. They have this comfort level that not many H/h pairings have because of how close they are, and it made my heart melt a little bit. This really only took me a couple hours to read (and for someone who reads so much, I really do read pretty slowly….), so all the little things that might have annoyed me much more had it been a normal length book didn’t bother me at all. I all can say is that this is a super cute read!

**ARC provided via NetGalley in exchange for honest review**

romance

Scored by Sloane Howell

♥♥ 3 Stars ♥♥

This is the second in a series by Sloane Howell (Bossed is the first), and can be read as a stand-alone romance. It centers on Matt, a pro-baseball player, and Kelsey, a music fanatic who works at an indie record store. They meet through mutual friends and Matt has his sights set on her from…before the start. The prologue opens with him pining over Kelsey and is basically already ready to make her his wifey. Kelsey’s been burned by love before, but there’s not too much drama that goes on with that. In fact, there’s not that much drama, period. The only tension in the book is Kelsey’s reluctance to give herself over to a relationship and Matt’s uncertainty with his career.

At about the 1/3 mark, I was already getting bored. Matt was cute with his interest in Kelsey, but Kelsey started to annoy me with how hot and cold she was. In addition, the sex scenes were hot, but also seemed kind of choppy, like they didn’t really match the characters. This was an easy read for the evening that didn’t require me to invest in the characters; I thought both the plot and characters were kind of flat, but I still read the whole thing, so there’s that. I always love the sports romance trope so that helped boost it in my sights as well.

**ARC provided via NetGalley in exchange for honest review**