psychological thriller

In a Dark, Dark, Wood by Ruth Ware

♥♥ 5 Dark Stars ♥♥

So I originally heard of this book from my sister, who passed it on to me after she finished it. As y’all know, I’m a romance junkie, so it wasn’t until I was in the depths of despair (read: romance slump) that I actually picked it up. Add that to the fact there’s no romantic development in the plot, color me hesitant. But boy, it was 100% what I needed. The plot development! The crazy characters! The narrator! Oh, my!

The book hangover was pretty immediate once I finished this, and I have so many emotions going on right now.

From this…

To this…

And finally to this:

The way this story is told does some amazing things to mess with your head. The fact that it’s told on two different timelines keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout the entire book. Yeah, the narrator is unstable and not exactly reliable for more than one reason, but essentially all of the other characters are, too.

I was left guessing for everything; guessing what exactly had happened, guessing who it happened to, guessing who did it.

And let me tell you, I was surprised. I thought my super sleuth self (courtesy of the great Agatha Christie) was prepared for a good crime thriller, but oh, how silly I was. The plot is so twisted and has so much depth that you won’t understand the stark truth in all its gory detail until the very end.

I literally scared myself a couple times while reading this (with the lights on!). It’s definitely portrayed more as a thriller/horror, but let me just leave it at this: it’s more of what’s going on in the house than what’s happening to the house.

 

 

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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!

contemporary · kindle unlimited · romance

The Opposite of You by Rachel Higginson

♥♥ 4 Fine-Dining Stars ♥♥

Okay, let me start with how hot Killian is. Imagine a bearded, tatted guy who can create a five-star orgasm dinner and rip you to shreds in one breath. Yeah, he’s sexy. When Vera opens a food truck across the street from Lilou, the restaurant where Killian’s the head chef at, they kind of butt heads. A little. Vera’s running from her past and Foodie is her way of making do with the remnants of her life. She’s innovative and passionate, but she needs a little boost of confidence. Enter Killian rip-you-to-shreds Quinn. He gets a taste of her cooking and tears it apart…in a sweet (?) way. Killian sees Vera’s talent and has a way of drawing out her best work, and the result is a culinary masterpiece.

While there was a lot of development for Vera, I thought the tension was a bit lacking, both sexual and otherwise. It takes a while for Vera and Killian to get romantic, and what’s there is…wholesome. Which is sweet, but it’s just a tad disappointing when you’re expecting some hot sex. The main things that made me like this were my huge crush on Killian and how much I wanted Vera to get everything she’s worked for. It made for a quick, cute read leaving me happy and warm inside.

romance

Wait For It by Mariana Zapata

♥♥ 5 Stars ♥♥

Seriously, everything I’ve read by this author so far has been amazing. Her writing style is so good and it just pulls you in. I love the slow burn of how she develops relationships; it’s so sweet and still so hot, and I have no clue how she does it but I love it.

Diana is raising her nephews after their parents died. They just moved into a new house and she meets her neighbor, Dallas, in a unique situation; in Zapata’s style, he’s pretty standoffish and they don’t have this instant love connection. But when Dallas starts coaching her nephew in baseball, they get to know each other and their relationship evolves into something more.

Both Dallas and Diana have so much depth to who they are and they have to fight to let each other into their lives. Dallas is struggling with his past and Diana isn’t sure she’s ready to let anyone into her and her nephews’ lives yet. I love that Diana and Dallas act like real people with real fears. Diana’s situation with the boys is so emotional and there were times where I’d tear up over their circumstances. This was emotional and well-developed, and another home run for Marana Zapata (see what I did there?).

chick-lit · contemporary · haters to lovers · kindle unlimited · romance

Anything You Can Do by R.S. Grey

♥♥ 5 Battle of the Sexes Stars ♥♥

This book is literally everything I love. Daisy and Lucas have hated each other since they were wee babies.

“Lucas Thatcher and I have been in competition with each other since day one. Yes, the actual day one, the day on which we were born, all of 58 minutes apart.”

“I am the Annie Oakley to his Frank Butler and I firmly believe that anything he can do, I can do better.”

Naturally, when Daisy returns home to work at a family practice after med school, she’s shocked to find that Lucas has returned to work at the same place. What ensues is a hilarious battle of wills to drive each other out of the practice. The sexual tension and chemistry is through the roof, and I had to set my kindle down a couple times to breathe deeply.

“His eyes narrow. ‘I didn’t realize you were a puppet now. If I stick my hand in you, will you do my bidding as well?'”

I don’t know what it is about books like this, but they make me feel so hard. Lucas is so sexy and Daisy is so blind and I basically relate to her on every level. I’m basically only capable of fangirling over this, so yeah, 5 stars for me.

contemporary · historical · romance · time travel

Sadie’s Highlander by Maeve Greyson

♥♥ 4 Hunky Highlander Stars ♥♥

Okay, so my classification of this is kind of confusing, and that’s because I don’t know where exactly it fits. Alec is a sexy highlander, and he wears sexy kilts and lives in a castle…in North Carolina. His family has been tasked by the goddesses to protect the heart stone, which is responsible for giving humans a reason to live. Kind of cheesy, but cute. They’ve been thrown from the tenth century into present time so the stone can be protected, and they’ve created this highland theme park. Enter Sadie, who is an aspiring screenwriter. She has a demon of a sister, who owns the motion picture company Sadie works for. She’s basically stomped all over by everyone except Alec and his family. Sadie and Alec

Sadie and Alec have some good chemistry, and I loved how much Alec supported her. What bothered me was how Sadie just took her sister’s shit and it took until the climax for her to stand up for herself. There was some insta-love going on too, and seriously the timeline of how their relationship developed was a little too much for me… My other issue was how Sadie learns about Alec’s origins. She was understandably skeptical when he tried explaining it to her, but then she just has this epiphany and blindly accepts everything he’s telling her.

Despite this, I still really enjoyed reading it. I love time travel in my books, and I really love sexy highlanders, so that was enough to keep me reading mostly happily. Sadie’s sister was a real bitch, had no work ethic, and basically had no respect for anyone but herself. There was enough going on in the plot that I never got bored and I loved watching Sadie come to accept herself. This was an easy and quick read; perfect for the summer!