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.

contemporary · dark · haters to lovers · kindle unlimited · romance

Beautiful Beast by Aubrey Irons

♥♥ 3 Beastly Stars ♥♥

Bastien Crown is a real dick. He’s on house arrest for a crime he doesn’t remember committing and is angry with the world. He draws Anastasia home under false pretenses and forces her back into her old life, a life she hated. This reminded me so much of Vicious (one of my faves by L.J. Shen) and honestly, I kept thinking about how much this seems to reflect it. With that in mind, I couldn’t help but compare the two, and this fell a little flat. Bastien is a good bad guy, one you love to hate, and Ana doesn’t want anything to do with him. She’s got these love-to-hate, hate-to-love vibes going on, and the sexual tension is through the roof. They’re definitely compatible, but I just wasn’t very invested in the characters.

The twists in the plot were okay, the characters were alright, but the sex was good. One thing that weirded me out was how there wasn’t really any outside tension until like three-quarters through the book; like, Bastien doesn’t remember what happened and he’s dealing with the fallout from that, but there’s nothing else that points to what actually happened until way late into the story. So until then, it’s just sex and the H/h hating each other, which is both entertaining and boring. Apparently, my feelings are still conflicted on this one, and I can’t decide how much I liked it or not.

contemporary · kindle unlimited · romance

The Difference Between Us by Rachel Higginson

♥♥ 4 Stars ♥♥

This is the second of Ms. Higginson’s Opposites Attract series, and it doesn’t disappoint. Ezra owns multiple fine dining restaurants and doesn’t have the time or patience for a relationship. Molly is the designated single friend and is busy working her way up at work. If not for their mutual friends Vera and Killian, they would have never met. But Molly made an impact on Ezra and he’s not willing to let her go just yet.

This was another cute read. There’s more sexual tension in this book than there is in the first of the series, but still not enough for my tastes. I’ve found that yet again, the antagonist in this story is under-developed; it could have been built up so much more than what it was, and I found the climax almost underwhelming. Additionally, there’s a new fascination with strikethrough writing, and I just don’t understand it. At all. Isn’t the point of a 1st person POV the fact that we’re inside the speaker’s head? i.e. Why would we need a sugarcoated view of Molly’s thoughts? I get that it adds character and can be cute, but it felt overdone and unnecessary. I liked Molly’s thoughts better unedited; they made her more relatable and rounded out her character better.

But I digress. I thought Molly and Ezra were paired nicely; Molly brought Ezra’s crazy control freak-ness (yes, I just made that a word) down to a tolerable level, and Ezra gave Molly the confidence that she was good at what she does. Their relationship is sweet and cute and you basically know what you’re getting when you start reading it, so if that’s what you’re in the mood for then this is a winner!