arc · contemporary · insta love · romance · suspense

Hidden by Kelli Clare

♥♥ 2.5 Obsessive Stars ♥♥


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

contemporary · hollywood · romance · suspense

One True Pairing by Cathy Yardley

♥♥ 2 Fandom Stars ♥♥

Reading the synopsis, I was completely sold on this. There’s fandoms, geeks, and Hollywood stars — what’s not to like?! Unfortunately, it just didn’t live up to what I was hoping for.

Jake Reese, a hot and sweet actor, literally runs into Hailey in a coffee shop while running away from some overzealous fans. Hailey, independent, blunt, and struggling for money, helps hide him and they make a connection. When Hailey has a family crisis and cuts their date short, they think they’ll never see each other again. But when Hailey needs a favor from him to save her sisters’ bookstore and Jake needs someone to pose as his girlfriend, they strike a bargain. In essence, I love this trope and always enjoy it. But I found both the hero and heroine naive and kind of annoying. Hailey doesn’t do relationships; she does one-night-stands. I’m all for women having the sexual freedom they desire, but it was annoying that in order for Hailey to not want commitment, Jake had to be weak and borderline emasculated. Why can’t they both be strong and independent? This just took the gender role reversal too far for me and made it difficult for me to connect to the characters.

Additionally, the tension in the plot was a tad over-contrived. I won’t give anything away, but I felt like the characters didn’t adequately address the threat, and Jake was pretty oblivious to the people messing with his life. The climax was…anticlimactic. I found myself rolling my eyes a little too often and almost marked it as DNF. Overall I was disappointed; I think the tension could have been developed better and the characters could have used their heads a little more.

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

contemporary · dark · erotic · haters to lovers · mob/mafia · romance · suspense

Consent by Charmaine Pauls

♥♥ 5 Nail-Biting Stars ♥♥

Different reactions while reading…

I feel like it’s been forever since I’ve fangirled over a series like this. This dark romance is amazing and brings so many different factors to the table. For one, it’s hella sexy and has a lot of kinky sex, and who doesn’t like that? It deals with forced seduction and how two people can build a real relationship after having such a rocky start, and how far they’ll go to protect each other.

The last book left us hanging with Valentina running from Gabriel. She takes her brother with her and tries to start over, but she’s dealing with conflicting emotions. She thought she’d be happy to have escaped his manipulations, but finds that she still misses him and cares for him even as she’s accepting her new future without him. Of course, Gabriel won’t let her leave him and does everything in his power to find her. I won’t spoil anything, but Gabriel’s plan for saving Val in the last book backfires, leaving a mess of miscommunication and angst on both sides.

When Gabriel finds Val, they try to start their life over, moving out of his mother’s house. Val’s past is intricately tied with Gabriel’s family, and we get a lot of answers as to why Gabriel’s mom hates her so much. As they fall in love, they both struggle with accepting that they can have something real, and it leads them to both make some stupid decisions. Gabriel killed me and I couldn’t decide if I wanted to smack him for being so dumb or if I wanted to wrap him in a bear hug for being so selfless. Either way, Val’s response to Gabriel’s actions had me tearing up for basically half the book and let’s just say that their connection is the only thing that keeps her going for a while.

I was so pleased with this series for so many reasons. I’ve found it so hard to find dark romances that have solid character development and plot arcs, and this had it all. Great plot, packed with action and sexual tension, and a sizzling connection between the hero/heroine that went beyond the physical. A must read!


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

kindle unlimited · new adult · romance · suspense

Caveman by Jo Raven

♥♥ 2.5 Rugged Stars ♥♥

And yet another book that left me wanting recently. Matt, a hot single dad hires Tati to nanny for his kids. Tati is straight out of high school and barely legal. She’s naive, loving, and selfless. Matt lost his wife a few years before this story takes place, and he still hasn’t really dealt with losing her. He’s angry and gruff, and everyone in the town he just moved to thinks he’s a total dick.

After Tati starts working for him, however, Matt starts coming home to threatening messages stabbed onto his front door. He doesn’t know what they mean or who’s sending them, and the local police are less than helpful. One thing that bothered me with this was how neither Tati nor the kids heard anything; if someone rammed a knife through a solid door, I’d like to think that I’d notice that. It also felt like these messages kept getting brushed under the rug by everyone involved — Matt, Tati, even the police. How is it that a knife in someone’s door isn’t seen as a serious threat? Especially when other things start happening, no one thinks to connect the occurrences, and it drove me crazy.

I also struggled with Matt and Tati’s relationship. I’m all for age gaps, but this one was hard for me to swallow; Tati literally just graduated high school. How does she know what she wants to do with her life yet? How does Matt see her as mature enough to be equally paired with him? Sure, she’s good with kids and grew up taking care of her siblings, but that’s only one aspect of her development. I just don’t like that she would be willing to limit her future for someone she’s only known a couple months. Also, this could just be me, but I think 18-year-olds still look like babies, so idk how I feel about that.

contemporary · erotic · romance · suspense

Alone Before You by Claire Scott

♥♥ 4 Tense Stars ♥♥

This is the first installment of a series, so be ready to invest yourself when you pick this up! I haven’t dived into a series in a while, and I’m definitely glad I read this one. Gwen is twenty-five years old and on the run from her past. Her home life was a little less than stellar, to put it mildly, and she’s constantly afraid that it’ll catch up to her. Needless to say, she has trust issues and has never stayed in one location long enough to make connections with people until now.

I thought the first part of the book moved a little slowly, with it consisting mostly of Gwen’s inner dialogue and commentary. However, once she meets Colt, things start picking up in pace and the writing flows much better. Colt is really fucking hot if you’re into a subtle dominant male. Contradictory, I know, but Colt doesn’t have to make big power plays for Gwen to see he means business. He’s ready to claim Gwen as his, but given her past, she’s skittish and scared. She doesn’t want to put any trust in anyone besides herself and this is something she has to work through in this book.

The sex scenes are smoking hot, and almost make the read worth it for that alone. I loved the tension between these two, and the secondary characters actually had some depth that you don’t always see. And Colt is basically my wet dream, so there’s that.

I’m excited to see where the plot goes with Gwen’s relationship with Colt, as well as with everything going on from her past. I kind of felt like the ending was a little abrupt, and I thought that there could’ve been a little more suspense than what was there, but overall I really enjoyed this book and will definitely continue reading the rest of the series.

**ARC generously provided by author in exchange for honest review**