Monday, June 18, 2018

Book Review: Order of Protection by Lexi Blake

Order of Protection (Courting Justice #1)
by Lexi Blake
Release Date: June 5, 2018
Source: Publisher
To high-end defense attorney Henry Garrison, Win Hughes is a woman he met during one of the most trying times of his life. She's soft and warm, and he finds solace in their brief relationship. But Win has a secret. She's actually Taylor Winston-Hughes—born to one of the wealthiest families in the country, orphaned as a child by a tragic accident. Win moves in the wealthiest circles, but her lavish lifestyle hides her pain.

When her best friend is murdered in the midst of a glittering New York gala, Win's charged with the crime, and the only person in the world she wants to see is Henry. 

Henry is shocked at the true identity of his lover, but he can't reject the case. This trial could take his new firm into the stratosphere. Still, he's not getting burned by Win again. And yet every turn brings them closer together. 

As the case takes a wild turn and Win's entire life is upended, she must look to the people she's closest to in order to find a killer. And Henry must decide between making his case and saving the woman he loves...



I love a good murder mystery mixed with a good romance, so I couldn't wait to pick this up when I read the synopsis. I also really enjoyed Lexi Blake's Lawless series, so I had high hopes going into this one! 

When attorney Henry Garrison and Win Hughes meet, there's instant chemistry that they both are determined to fight. Especially since Win is actually Taylor Winston-Hughes, an orphaned rich girl with not the best reputation. But the two spend an unforgettable two weeks together and go their separate ways. When Taylor is accused of the murder of her best friend, she has to turn to Henry to help her figure out who did it and how to get her out of trouble. Henry is shocked and hurt when he learns who Taylor really is, but he soon learns he needs to focus on the case at hand, ignoring his emotions, or else Taylor's life could be ruined forever. 

Right away, the pacing of this book was so weird to me. This book is marketed as the main character being accused of murder, but the actual murder doesn't even happen until almost halfway through the book. We spent over 100 pages watching Henry and Taylor circle each other. Then, their "two weeks" together happens in like two pages. I didn't even know what we spent the first half of the book on when we finally got to the action. I wanted so much more action, mystery, and intrigue than we got. 

I did enjoy the romance and how Taylor and Henry were so hurt by their pasts in romance. I really enjoyed Henry's character and how he was just trying to be a better person, but his character couldn't carry the story. When it came to the mystery of the murder, I felt like I should have been surprised at the end, but I wasn't really that shocked. I was just left off wanting more. 

While this one sounded like an amazing Law and Order type book with a romance, it fell flat to me. I think the main problem was the pacing. I really wanted to love these characters, but I didn't get the intensity and intrigue in the murder mystery that was occurring.



Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Book Review: More Than Words by Mia Sheridan

More Than Words
by Mia Sheridan 
Release Date: June 12, 2018
Source: Publisher
No one lays open the heart and soul quite like New York Timesbestselling author Mia Sheridan.

The moment she met Callen Hayes, eleven-year-old Jessica Creswell knew he was a broken prince. Her prince. They became each other's refuge, a safe and magical place far from their troubled lives. Until the day Callen kissed her--Jessica's first real, dreamy kiss—and then disappeared from her life without a word.

Years later, everyone knows who Callen Hayes is. Famous composer. Infamous bad boy. What no one knows is that Callen's music is now locked deep inside, trapped behind his own inner demons. It's only when he withdraws to France to drink his way through the darkness that Callen stumbles into the one person who makes the music return. Jessica. His Jessie. And she still tastes of fresh, sweet innocence . . . even as she sets his blood on fire.

But they don't belong in each other's worlds anymore. There are too many mistakes. Too many secrets. Too many lies. All they have is that instinctive longing, that need—and something that looks dangerously like love.


Mia Sheridan is one of my go-to authors for an emotional romance. Archer's Voice is such a unique book and I've been gobbling up all of her other books that I can get my hands on. I was so excited for this romance that was set in Paris and I couldn't wait to dive in! 

From the moment they met in an old train car, Callen and Jessica connected over their pain and desire to escape in the make believe. But when Callen stops coming to their secret meetings, Jessica is left with the memory of her broken prince. Years later, Callen is an award-winning composer and known for his womanizing ways. Jessica is finally living in Paris with the opportunity to translate lost diary pages of a woman who traveled with Joan of Arc when she runs into Callen. The two enter into a whirlwind romance where they truly discover if they've just become too different to ever fix each other. 

When this book started, I really enjoyed the premise of how these two met and how they ran into each other again in Paris. I was really intrigued by Jessica's job of translating old journal pages that were found. As Jessica's story progressed, the story of the woman writing in the journal was unraveled as well. I will say, though, that Jessica's character was very pure and innocent and I found it really hard to connect with her. She was so passionate about her work and that was pretty much it. She was a little too bland for my taste. 

When it came to the romance, I had a hard time buying into it. Callen seemed to like the cliche rock star and I wasn't a fan of him at all. His insecurities were not surprising and I had a really hard time buying his big secret. Then, things that happened with that secret were pretty predictable. I just didn't care for the story by that point and found myself dragging through the end. 

While I really wanted to love this book, it was lacking for me. I didn't care for Jessica, the main character, and I couldn't bring myself to love the romance. There were too many cliched parts and decisions that were made for the sake of the plot. I really love Mia's other books, this one just didn't do it for me.




Monday, June 11, 2018

Cover Reveal: Double Down by Alessandra Torre

Double Down
By Alessandra Torre
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Cover Design: Najla Qamber Designs
 

Synopsis

In Vegas, there was one man who was off limits. One man… and I fell for him. I knew there were risks. Still, I played the game. When Dario Capece called, I answered. When he beckoned, I came. When he broke all my rules, I looked the other way. I knew there were risks. I just never realized they included death.

Preorder Links



About Alessandra Torre


Alessandra Torre is an award-winning New York Times bestselling author of fourteen novels. Her books focus on romance and suspense. Torre has been featured in such publications as Elle and Elle UK, as well as guest blogged for the Huffington Post and RT Book Reviews. She is also the Bedroom Blogger for Cosmopolitan.com.

Connect with Alessandra
 
Facebook Reader Group: http://bit.ly/2s4U9NI
 

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Book Feature + Giveaway: All the Little Lights by Jamie McGuire



Message from Elliott 


My name is Elliott. You don’t know my story yet, but you will. I spent my summers with my aunt and uncle just down the street from Catherine. She lives in a looming, rickety bed and breakfast called the Juniper, and spends most of her time outside, away from the memories that live between the Juniper’s walls amidst more tangible dangers that I never knew existed until now.

It’s not so much that I fell in love or even that I fought for it, but that a war is waging inside Catherine’s home—one I can’t fight for her. It doesn’t matter how strong I am, or how determined I am to stay. I can only get close enough to observe her pain in detail. And, so I stay, and wait, and help her the only way I know how; to do what I couldn’t for her before.

I hope you’ll understand.

Excerpt

Elliott began to speak, but a small group of girls approached our table. 

“Aw,” Presley said, dramatically touching her chest. “Catherine got herself a boyfriend. I feel so bad that all this time we thought you were lying about him being from out of town.” 

Three carbon copies of Presley—Tara and Tatum Martin and Brie Burns—all giggled and tossed their bleached-blonde tresses. Tara and Tatum were identical twins, but they all strived to look like Presley. 

“Maybe just outside of town,” Brie said. “Like a reservation, maybe?” 

“Oklahoma doesn’t have reservations,” I said, appalled by her stupidity. 

“Yeah, they do,” Brie argued. 

“You’re thinking of tribal land,” Elliott said, unfazed.

“I’m Presley,” she said to Elliott, smug. 

I looked away, not wanting to witness their introduction, but Elliott didn’t move or speak, so I turned to see what was holding up their exchange. Elliott offered me a small grin, ignoring Presley’s outstretched hand. 

She made a face and crossed her arms. “Is Brie right? Do you live in White Eagle?” 

Elliott raised an eyebrow. “That’s the headquarters for the Ponca tribe.” 

“And?” Presley sniped. 

Elliott sighed, seeming bored. “I’m Cherokee.” 

“So that’s an Indian, right? Isn’t White Eagle for Indians?” she asked. 

“Just go away, Presley,” I pleaded, worried she would say something even more offensive. 

Excitement sparked in Presley’s eyes. “Wow, Kit-Cat. Are we getting a little big for our britches?” 

I looked up at her, anger blazing in my eyes. “It’s Catherine.” 

Presley led them to a booth across the room, continuing to tease Elliott and me from afar. 

“I’m so sorry,” I whispered. “They’re just doing it because you’re with me.” 

“Because I’m with you?” 

“They hate me,” I grumbled. 

He turned his spoon upside down and stuck it in his mouth, seeming unaffected. “It’s not hard to see why.” 

I wondered what about my outward appearance made it so obvious. Maybe that’s why the town hadn’t stopped blaming Mama and me for my grandparents’ mistakes. Maybe I looked like someone they should hate. 

“Why do you look embarrassed?” he asked. 

“I guess I was hoping you didn’t know about my family and the smelter.” 

“Oh. That. My aunt told me years ago. Is that what you think? That they’re mean to you because of your family history with the town?” 

“Why else?” 

“Catherine.” My name sounded like a soft laugh tumbling from his mouth. “They’re jealous of you.” 

I frowned and shook my head. “What could they possibly be jealous of me for? We barely have two pennies to rub together.” 

“Have you seen yourself?” he asked. 

I blushed and looked down. Only Dad had ever complimented my looks. 

“You’re all the things they’re not.” 

I crossed my arms on the table and watched the warm hue of the corner streetlight blink between the branches of a tree. It was a strange feeling, wanting to hear more and hoping he’d talk about anything else. “What they said doesn’t bother you?” I asked, surprised. 

“It use to.” 

“Now it doesn’t?” 

“My uncle John says people can only make us angry if we let them, and if we let them, we give them power.” 

“That’s pretty profound.” 

“I listen to him sometimes, even though he thinks I don’t.”

“What else does he say?” He didn’t hesitate. “That you either get good at rising above and meeting ignorance with education, or you get really good at being bitter.” 

I smiled. Elliott spoke his uncle’s words with respect. 

“So you just choose not to let what people say get to you?” 

“Pretty much.” 

How?” I said, leaning in. I was genuinely curious, hoping he would unveil some magical secret that would end the misery Presley and her friends loved invoking in me. 

“Oh, I get angry. It gets old when people feel the need to tell me their great-grandmother was a Cherokee princess, or that stupid joke about if I got my name from the first thing my parents saw after they walked out of a teepee. I can get heated when someone calls me chief, when I see people in headdresses outside of our ceremonies. But my uncle says we should either be compassionate and educate or leave them alone in their ignorance. Besides, there’s too much ignorance in the world to let it all get to me. If I did, all I’d ever feel is anger, and I don’t want to be like my mom.” 

“Is that why you were punching our tree?” 

He looked down, either unwilling or unable to answer the question. 

“A lot bothers me,” I grumbled, sitting back. I glanced at the clones, dressed in cutoff denim shorts and floral blouses, just variations of the same shirt from the same store. 

Dad tried to make sure I had the right clothes and the right backpack, but year after year Mama watched as more of my childhood friends faded away. She began to wonder what we’d done wrong, and then I began to wonder, too. 

The truth was, I hated Presley for hating me. I didn’t have the heart to tell Mama that I would never fit in. I wasn’t vile enough for those small-town, small-minded girls. It took me a long time to figure out that I didn’t really want to, but at fifteen, I sometimes wondered if it was better than being alone. Dad couldn’t be my best friend forever. I took a bite of my sherbet. 

“Stop,” Elliott said. 

“Stop what?” I asked, the cool orangey-goodness melting on my tongue. 

“Looking at them like you wish you were sitting over there. You’re better than that.” 

“We should probably, um . . . we should go.” 

Elliott stood, waiting for me to slide out of the booth. He followed me out, so I wasn’t sure if he noticed Presley and the clones covering their insults and giggles with their hands. 

When he stopped next to the trash can behind their booth, I knew he had. “What are you laughing at?” he asked. 

I tugged on his T-shirt, begging him with my eyes to keep walking. 

Presley rolled her shoulders and lifted her chin, thrilled to be acknowledged. “Just how cute is Kit-Cat with her new boyfriend? It’s precious how you don’t want to hurt her feelings. I mean . . . I have to assume that’s what”—she gestured to us—“this is.” 

Elliott walked over to their table, and the girls’ giggles quieted. He knocked on the wood and sighed. “You know why you’ll never outgrow the need to make others feel like shit so you can feel better, Presley?” 

She narrowed her eyes at him, watching him like a snake ready to strike. 

Elliott continued, “Because it’s a temporary high. It never lasts, and you’ll never stop because it’s the only happiness you’ll ever have in your sad, pathetic life that revolves around manicures and highlighting your hair. Your friends? They don’t like you. No one ever will because you don’t like yourself. So every time you give Catherine a hard time, she’ll know. She’ll know why you’re doing it, just like your friends will know. Just like you’ll know that you’re overcompensating. Every time you throw insults Catherine’s way, it’s that much less of a secret.” He made eye contact with each clone and then Presley. “Have the day you deserve.” 

He returned to the door and held it open, gesturing for me to walk through. We navigated the parked cars until we were on the other side of the lot, and headed back toward our neighborhood. The streetlamps were on, the gnats and mosquitoes buzzing beneath the bright bulbs. The quiet made the sounds of our shoes against the pavement more prominent. 

“That was,” I began, searching for the right word, “legendary. I could never tell someone off like that.” 

“Well, I don’t live here, so that makes it easier. And that wasn’t entirely mine.” 

“What do you mean?” “It’s from a scene in Detention Club Musical. Don’t tell me you didn’t watch it when you were little.” 

I stared at him in disbelief, and then laughter erupted from my throat. “The movie that came out when we were eight?” 

“I watched it every day for like a year and a half.” 

I giggled. “Wow. I can’t believe I didn’t catch it.” 

“I’m just glad Presley didn’t. That would have made my monologue much less intimidating.”

***

About The Book

Title: All The Little Lights
Author: Jamie McGuire
Release Date: May 29, 2018

Summary

The first time Elliott Youngblood spots Catherine Calhoun, he’s just a boy with a camera, and he’s never seen a sadder and more beautiful sight. Both Elliott and Catherine feel like outcasts, yet they find an easy friendship with each other. But when Catherine needs him most, Elliott is forced to leave town.

Elliott finally returns, but he and Catherine are now different people. He’s a star high school athlete, and she spends all her free time working at her mother’s mysterious bed-and-breakfast. Catherine hasn’t forgiven Elliott for abandoning her, but he’s determined to win back her friendship…and her heart.

Just when Catherine is ready to fully trust Elliott, he becomes the prime suspect in a local tragedy. Despite the town’s growing suspicions, Catherine clings to her love for Elliott. But a devastating secret that Catherine has buried could destroy whatever chance of happiness they have left.


About the Author


Jamie McGuire is the #1 New York TimesUSA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Walking Disaster, the Maddox Brothers series, the Providence trilogy, and the international bestseller Beautiful Disaster, which paved the way for the new-adult genre. She was the first independent author in history to strike a print deal with retail giant Walmart, and her work has been translated into fifty languages. She lives in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, with her husband, Jeff, and their three children. To learn more about Jamie, visit www.jamiemcguire.com, or follow her on Twitter @JamieMcGuire.

Social Media Links


Giveaway

Monday, June 4, 2018

Book Review: The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

The Kiss Quotient (The Kiss Quotient #1)
by Helen Hoang
Release Date: June 5, 2018
Source: Publisher
A heartwarming and refreshing debut novel that proves one thing: there's not enough data in the world to predict what will make your heart tick.

Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases--a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.

It doesn't help that Stella has Asperger's and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice--with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can't afford to turn down Stella's offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan--from foreplay to more-than-missionary position...

Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but to crave all the other things he's making her feel. Soon, their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic...
 


The moment that I heard about this book, I knew that I HAD to read it. Then I saw the cover and I couldn't get this book out of my head. All I can say is that this book was everything I wanted it to be and more. 

Stella Lane likes order and predictability. She's horrible in social situations and finds comfort in math. When it comes to intimacy, Stella freezes. Stella concludes that she just needs more practice at being intimate with a man in order to have a successful relationship, so she hires Michael, a half-vietnamese escort who happens to be gorgeous, to train her in the art of all things physical. Michael knows he needs Stella's money, but as things start becoming more and more real for the both of them, Michael feels he can never be good enough for Stella while Stella only wants someone to love her for her, quirks and all. 

From the moment this book started, I fell in love with Michael's character. Stella has autism, but Michael has no idea, and I loved how patient he was with Stella and how he found her personality and quirks endearing instead of annoying. As Michael spent more time with Stella, he found her personality just another part of Stella and I adored that about him. 

And can we talk about how relatable Stella was? I loved how honest and open she was about feeling super awkward when it came to intimacy. She was so straight with Michael and so open to learning from him. And when she started to develop feelings for him? Ugh, so cute. I loved how she got to know his family and how they were such a big part of the storyline. I wanted things to work out SO BADLY and I was hooked throughout this entire book. 

While I had high expectations for this book, I did not expect to fall head over heels in love with this story and its characters. I loved Stella and Michael and this is a book that will have you rooting SO HARD for the main couple to stop being so stubborn and just be together already. If you love a relatable heroine and a sweet, swoon-worthy hero, you HAVE to pick up The Kiss Quotient!




Friday, June 1, 2018

Book Review: The One You Can't Forget by Roni Loren

The One You Can't Forget (The Ones Who Got Away #2)
by Roni Loren 
Release Date: June 5, 2018
Source: Publisher
Most days Rebecca Lindt feels like an imposter...
The world admires her as a survivor. But that impression would crumble if people knew her secret. She didn't deserve to be the one who got away. But nothing can change the past, so she's thrown herself into her work. She can't dwell if she never slows down.

Wes Garrett is trying to get back on his feet after losing his dream restaurant, his money, and half his damn mind in a vicious divorce. But when he intervenes in a mugging and saves Rebecca―the attorney who helped his ex ruin him―his simple life gets complicated.

Their attraction is inconvenient and neither wants more than a fling. But when Rebecca's secret is put at risk, both discover they could lose everything, including what they never realized they needed: each other

She laughed and kissed him. This morning she'd melted down. But somehow this man had her laughing and turned on only a few hours later. Everything inside her felt buoyed.

She felt...light. 

She'd forgotten what that felt like.


The first book in this series was SO GOOD and I was in love with the romance between two high school shooting survivors. I really enjoyed Rebecca's character and couldn't wait to see her have her own happy ending in this book! 

Rebecca Lindt has always had a list of goals she had to accomplish to be the best. Now that she's a divorce attorney and working for her father, she's earned the job and the life she wanted. But it's been feeling a bit...lonely. Wes Garrett lost everything during his divorce, including his dream restaurant. Now, he's working as an instructor teaching cooking to kids in an underprivileged area. When he jumps in and saves Rebecca from getting mugged on the street, the two realize they are complete opposites, but that doesn't stop the feelings brewing between the two...

When this book started, I was all into this book. I really enjoyed Rebecca's character and how she was trying to remember what she loved so much about her job. I loved how she knew it was so wrong for her to like a guy like Wes, but how she couldn't help but be attracted to him. Watching Wes and Rebecca fall for each other was fun and I liked how Wes brought Rebecca out of her shell. 

Once we hit the halfway part of this book, I kind of lost interest in the story. This started to move very slowly and I felt like we were just waiting for the drama to happen that would cause conflict for our plot. Some parts felt predictable and I wasn't a fan of the plot line between Rebecca and her father that was played out at the end. I just found it hard to feel connected to the romance by that point. 

Overall, this book had a strong start but slowly began to lose my interest. I'm not sure if it's because Rebecca's character wasn't as engaging as I wanted her to be or the story focused less on the romance and more on what was going on in the characters lives, but I wasn't into the book in the end. While I loved the first book, this one was not everything I wanted it to be for Rebecca's story.



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