Review – Beard with Me by Penny Reid

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“This is Penny Reid at her finest.” — L.B. Dunbar, author

Beard With Me, an epic and breathtaking story from New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author Penny Reid, is available now!

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No one is better at surviving than Scarlet St. Claire and making the best out of circumstances beyond her control is Scarlet’s specialty. In an apocalyptic situation, she’d be the last person on earth, hermitting like a pro, singing along to her CD Walkman, and dancing like no one is watching.

Scarlet is clever, Scarlet is careful, and Scarlet is smart . . . except when it comes to Billy Winston.

No one is better at fighting than Billy Winston and raging against his circumstances—because nothing is beyond his control—is Billy’s specialty. In an apocalyptic situation, he’d be the first person on earth to lead others to safety, overcome catastrophe, or die trying.

Billy is fearless, Billy is disciplined, and Billy is honorable . . . except when it comes to Scarlet St. Claire.

‘Beard With Me’ is the origin story of Billy Winston and Scarlet St. Claire (aka Claire McClure) and is just the beginning of their epic love story.

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Enter the giveaway for a signed paperback set of The Winston Brothers Series!

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BFF K’s Review of Beard with Me

I don’t mean to skip ahead but….Beard Necessities is the title of the next (and final) book in the Winston Brothers Series. And, I don’t think there’s ever been a more appropriate title. After reading Beard with Me, I’m in desperate need of the next book. Now! Stat! Please put me out of my heart-broken misery!!! 💔

I’ve been waiting the entire series to know and understand Billy Winston. And, the backstory is even more endearing and tragic than I imagined. Billy and Scarlet are star-crossed lovers for sure. Beard with Me is the beginning of their relationship and explains all the ins and outs of their broken journey.

Bill Winston has always struck me as being wiser than his years and carrying more responsibility than someone his age and all of his siblings. I had NO idea. My intuition didn’t even scratch the surface of what was really happening in his life, his heart and his brain. And, if Billy is an old soul, then he’s a perfect match for Scarlet. This book is a tale of young love, misunderstanding, and sacrifice that exceeds maturity.

This story was at times hard to read due to the gut-wrenching challenges and vulnerabilities that the characters displayed, but it was such a glimpse into what circumstances built the Winston family. And, it was the perfect story I didn’t know I needed in the series.

All of the praise for this angst-filled, tear-jerker aside, I don’t remember the last time I was this anxious to end a cliffhanger and put a beautiful bow on the Winston Brothers Series!

 

 

 

An advance copy of this book was received. The reviewer purchased the audiobook copy. Receipt of the advance copy did not impact the content or independence of this review.

Excerpt from Beard with Me

*Scarlet*

“Do you want me to leave?”

Yes. That would be best, a wise voice said between my ears.

So of course I inhaled deeply and said as calmly as I could manage, “I thought we were going to go get firewood.”

“Okay. Good.”

“But then,” I blurted, flustered and irritated with myself for not speaking wisdom, “You should go. You can’t tell me carting firewood back and forth between your house and here is how you want to spend the last of your Thanksgiving weekend.”

“I didn’t say it was.” He began making his way up the incline.

“But you just said—”

“How about we make a deal.” Billy dropped the kindling next to my little woodpile, dusting his hands off on his pants. “I’ll cart the firewood, and you sing.”

“You want me to serenade you while we carry firewood?”

He smiled, slow and easy as he walked to me and reached out his hand. On autopilot, I accepted it and allowed him to help me up.

As soon as I was standing, his gaze moved from my hairline down to my nose, lips, and then chin, saying quietly, “I’ll take a serenade from you anytime.”

Thunk ka-thunk. That was my heart. It had been doing the thunk ka-thunk quite a lot around him. I ignored it, because what else could I do?

“And you’re not carrying the wood.” He tugged on my hand, pulling me out of my daze and past my tent.

“I will too carry wood.” Struggling to find my bearings, I stumbled after him. “I can carry logs just fine.”

“You’ll carry a log.” Billy fit his fingers between mine, pressing our palms together and grinning at me like he was waiting for me to argue and he couldn’t wait.

Snapping my mouth shut, I glared at him.

“Nothing to say?”

Maintaining my glare, I walked next to him. I wasn’t being led anywhere I didn’t wish to go. Not anymore. He wasn’t talking me into anything else.

“That’s an awfully mean look, Scarlet.” His grin grew, his brutally attractive eyes glowing happily as he peered down at me.

“Well, you deserve it. Always trying to tell me what I can and can’t do. I’m not arguing with you about this. I’m carrying as much wood as I want and you can take your stupid, chauvinistic opinions and shove them up your pretty-boy ass.”

Goodness. Where had that come from?

Billy’s steps faltered and his mouth fell open, his eyebrows rising high on his forehead. He stared at me, looking shocked as hell. And then in the next moment, he threw his head back and laughed. But he did not let go of me, instead bringing my knuckles to his chest as his deep, rumbly laughter filled the empty spaces between the trees, surrounding us.

Crushing me.

Yes. I was well and truly crushed as I could only watch Billy Winston laugh, desperately basking in the image of him so delighted and relaxed. I had the odd sense that his laughter also filled the empty spaces inside of me, the neglected, vacant rooms, and even a few places that felt brand-new, like he’d created them.

All that noble honesty he carried around like a boulder abruptly lifted, revealing him. Just him. Carefree and young and happy. Someone he might’ve been if his burdens hadn’t been so heavy, his responsibilities so broad.

It lasted only a minute, maybe two, maybe less, but I had the sense of being caught afterward. Billy’s laughter had receded, but he’d spun a web while I’d been staring at him, holding his hand.

His grin became smaller and he bit his bottom lip, his gaze dropped to my mouth. “You think I’m pretty?”

“You know you’re pretty,” I said, bizarrely out of breath, rattled, needing to anchor my focus to a tree beyond him and waging war against the heat climbing up my neck to my cheeks. Oddly, my eyes stung. I blinked.

His attention was still on me. I felt it, but I didn’t dare look at him. I couldn’t handle one of Billy Winston’s intense stares right now. He’d probably use my scattered wits to his advantage, talk me into something I shouldn’t want to do, and then I’d be kicking myself later.

“What’s wrong?” he asked, his voice deep with concern, all trace of his earlier humor gone.

I huffed, trying half-heartedly to steal my hand back from him. He didn’t let it go, instead taking my tugging as a signal to step closer, filling my vision.

“Scarlet—”

“Are you ever going to teach me how to play the guitar?” I closed my eyes.

He didn’t answer right away, and I felt him hesitate, his mind work before he muttered, “It’s only been a week.”

A quality to his voice made me think he wasn’t answering the question I’d asked, but rather he was reminding himself that it had only been a week since we’d struck the deal.

Was that only last week? Why does it feel like so much has changed?

Then he said, “Don’t be angry.”

“I’m not angry.” I was muddled, my head and heart hurt, I was incredibly confused, but I wasn’t angry.

The air shifted and I felt him move closer. A second later, the fingers of his free hand were at my ear, tucking my hair behind it, his fingertips lingering at my neck, sending wave after wave of goose bumps every which way. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t swallow. I couldn’t think. Every nerve in my body strained toward him and I didn’t understand it. What is happening?

“Have you ever been kissed, Scarlet?”

 

About the Author

Penny Reid is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today Best Selling Author of the Winston Brothers, Knitting in the City, Rugby, and Hypothesis series. She used to spend her days writing federal grant proposals as a biomedical researcher, but now she just writes books. She’s also a full time mom to three diminutive adults, wife, daughter, knitter, crocheter, sewer, general crafter, and thought ninja.

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Connect with Penny:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PennyReidWriter/

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Twitter: @ReidRomance

Mailing List: http://pennyreid.ninja/newsletter/

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Review – Black Sheep by Meghan March

Black Sheep: From New York Times bestselling author Meghan March comes a story of untold truths and one man’s redemption in the Dirty Mafia Duet.

Every family has a black sheep.

In the infamous Casso crime family, that black sheep is me—Cannon Freeman.

Except I’m not a free man. I’ve never been free. Not since the day I was born.

I owe my loyalty to my father, Dominic Casso, even if he won’t publicly acknowledge me as his blood.

I’ve never had a reason to go against his wishes…until I met her.

Drew Carson turned my world upside down when she walked into my club looking for a job.

Now, my honor and my life are on the line.

Going against my father’s wishes might buy me a bullet straight from his gun, but black sheep or not, it’s time to make my stand.

She’s worth the fallout.

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BFF K’s Review of Black Sheep

Black Sheep is a dark, foreboding, mind-twisting, delicious, angsty, steamy, suspenseful romance! Meghan March builds the most amazing worlds and this one is centered in the mafia. There’s more to Drew than she is revealing and Cannon doesn’t know why buy he’s absolutely willing to risk everything to discover all her secrets!

As with any Meghan March masterpiece, I can’t say much without spoiling all the delicious goodness! Both the audiobook and the book are incredible. Sometimes you just need a little mysterious mob drama and this book is the boss!

An advance copy of this book was received. The reviewer listened to the audiobook via the Audible Escapes package. Receipt of the advance copy did not impact the content or independence of this review.

 

 

 

About the Author

 

Making the jump from corporate lawyer to romance author was a leap of faith that New York Times, #1 Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author Meghan March will never regret. With over thirty titles published, she has sold millions of books in nearly a dozen languages to fellow romance-lovers around the world. A nomad at heart, she can currently be found in the woods of the Pacific Northwest, living her happily ever after with her real-life alpha hero.

Sign up for Meghan’s newsletter and receive exclusive content that she saves for her subscribers: http://meghanmarch.com/subscribe

To get the inside scoop on a daily basis, search Meghan March’s Runaway Readers on Facebook and join the fun!

 

 

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Review – Never Fall in Love with a Rockstar by Rachel Higginson

My name is Clover Calloway and I’ve lived two separate lives.

The first, I like to call “my past.” I never talk about it. I try not to think about it. My rockstar days of playing in one of the hottest bands on the planet are over. Along with the most volatile, beautiful, tragic love story of all time.

Over the past five years, I’ve settled into my second life. My “normal life.” The one where I work a normal job, hang out with normal people and fall in love with a normal, but wonderful guy. The life where I’m admittedly a little bored, but also safe.

My past wasn’t boring. But my past broke my heart into a million, unfixable pieces. So, I’m determined to keep it where it belongs—behind me.

And the man responsible for the shattering of me? Malachi Porter, lead singer and mastermind of Bright Tragedy, should stay there too. Far away from me and this idyllic life I’ve carved out for myself.

But what happens when my two lives collide?

When Malachi comes crashing into my perfectly normal world, he threatens to destroy it, promises to annihilate everything I’ve replaced him with.

He upends everything I thought I wanted and forces me to question the reasons I left Bright Tragedy all those years ago.

But I didn’t walk away five years ago, I ran. As fast as I could go. And while my heart is whispering that it’s different this time—that he’s different—my brain is screaming for me to run again.

Malachi Porter isn’t a normal guy. And he doesn’t belong in my “normal life.” But, nevertheless, he’s bound and determined to make a place for himself here.

I just hope my heart can survive him, that we don’t burn into another bright tragedy.

 

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Review Never Fall in Love with a Rockstar

Never fall in love with a rockstar; even if you are one yourself! This is an interesting twist on the rockstar trope. Clover was on top of the music world, a household name, playing sold-out stadiums and doing what she loved with her brother, her friends and her boyfriend-since-childhood. But, eventually it was all too much and she left it all behind. She did everything to start a new life. A simple life. A normal life. But, when her old life crashes headfirst into her new life, she has to examine if this “new her” is who she really wants.

And, things are different than they used to be. But, will those changes last? And are those changes enough to cancel out some of the rough memories and replace them with new ones? Clover has to decide if she can trust this new Kai and figure out where she fits into this new life.

Clover and Kai are well-written characters with so many attributes that are both likeable and relatable. It’s easy to become invested in their love story and truly root for their happily ever after! The hero and heroine are surrounded by a terrific cast of supporting characters that have their own personalities and add depth and liveliness to the tale. How I wish Bright Tragedy was a real band! I’m really hoping that we’ll at least get a series so each of the members of the band can find their own loves!

This story is heartfelt, emotional and full of angst. It’s a story of love, fame, success, addiction, recovery and forgiveness. Woven through these themes is a romance for the ages. Never Fall in Love with a Rockstar is a gripping, emotional, page-turner and I definitely recommend adding it to your TBR!

 

An advance copy of this book was received. Receipt of this copy did not impact the content or independence of this review.

 

About the Author

Rachel Higginson is the best-selling author of The Opposite of You, The Five Stages of Falling in Love, Every Wrong Reason, Bet on Us and The Star-Crossed Series.

She was born and raised in Nebraska, and spent her college years traveling the world. She fell in love with Eastern Europe, Paris, Indian Food and the beautiful beaches of Sri Lanka, but came back home to marry her high school sweetheart. Now she spends her days writing stories and raising five amazing kids.

 

 

You can visit Rachel:
Instagram @mywritesdntbite
rachelhigginson.com
facebook.com/rachelhigginsonauthor
Twitter @mywritesdntbite

Review – Trailer Park Heart by Rachel Higginson

Trailer park born and raised. It’s my legacy. That’s how my mama lived. And that’s how her mama lived. It’s the life I was born into and it’s the life I swore I would leave the second I was old enough to make it out.

Only legacies have a funny way of sneaking up on you. An innocent decision the night of high school graduation led to a series of complications in my plans to escape.

Seven years later, I’ve resigned myself to this small town and the roots I’m tied to. Nothing could make me leave. And nothing could make me spill the secrets that keep me here.

Until he walks back into town with a chip on his shoulder and a stupid hunch nobody else in town has been smart enough to follow.

Levi Cole is my opposite. Born on the right side of the tracks with family money to spare, he’s the kind of black sheep that can afford to be rebellious—because his family will always pay for his mistakes. He’s also the only living heir to Cole Family Farms, after his brother Logan was killed in duty seven years ago.

He sees something in my life that he thinks he has a right to. But he’s wrong. And obnoxious. And he needs to take his stubborn good looks and that intense way he looks at me and go back to wherever it was he came from.

I know better than to trust men like him. I was born and raised in a trailer park, I know nothing good happens to girls like me—girls with trailer park lives and trailer park hearts. Especially from gorgeous, kind, pigheaded men like him.

 

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BFF K’s Review of Trailer Park Heart

Last night I finished a book that won’t stop bouncing around in my brain. It is the best book I’ve read in 2018 and that’s saying something….I’ve read 90+ books this year. This book is sweet and tender, full of angst and emotion, heartbreaking and soul affirming, complex and beautifully written. I want everyone to read this book.

Part of the reason that I’m so in love with this story is that it is set in Nebraska. I understand the critical role that small-town-Nebraska plays in this story. There is a level of poverty that exists alongside material wealth that is staggering. There can be a tremendous sense of hometown pride mixed with a clear desire to move beyond what you’ve always known. Nebraska is its own character in this book and I love it!

Ruby is a perplexing character. She is strong and fierce at the same time that she is insecure and withdrawn. She can’t shake the aura of trailer park that follows her everywhere. Ruby knows that no one looks past her former-stripper-mother and the poverty in which she was raised. She believes that her upbringing defines her in the eyes of the small town residents and busy bodies. Her only goal is to get out, go to college, move on. But her plans are derailed on graduation night. The emotional barriers she has built continue to rise.

Levi was Ruby’s nemesis in high school. Constantly in her orbit. Prodding and poking and urging her on. He was both friend and foe. And now he’s back. And he’s even more than he was before. He’s smarter and more persistent, more handsome, more clever and more irresistible. Levi has his sights set on Ruby and showing her that there is more to life and Clark City than she believes. Until he learns her most closely guarded secret. Will it destroy the way that he looks at her?

Perhaps Ruby didn’t understand Levi and his motivations as much as she thought. Or, perhaps she was attempting to protect herself. Maybe, just maybe, Ruby’s walls and defenses extend beyond just Levi. His return makes her question everything she’s believed about her life. Maybe someone can love her because of her trailer park heart and not in spite of it?

This book is just everything. Like Levi, it is just MORE. It is a stunning, emotional, fulfilling story that you need to read. It will make you think and force you to feel and in the end it will just live in a corner of your brain with a piece of your heart, trailer park included.

An advance copy of this book was received. Receipt of this copy did not impact the content or independence of this review.

 

Excerpt from Trailer Park Heart

He stared at me, unspeaking, unmoving. The hurt in his eyes and the frown on his face devastated my already broken spirit.

“And I don’t even know what to tell you,” I cried some more. “Because my mistake led me to Max and for that reason I can never really regret it. But I hate how I hurt you. I hate that my mistakes meant pushing you away. I hate that I finally know how I feel about you and it’s too late.”

His eyes flashed with something so intense I gasped for breath. “How do you feel about me?” How could he ask me that now? How did he not know? How had he not always known? “Don’t make me say it,” I whispered, my voice dragged over gravel. “It hurts too much.” “Ruby,” he pleaded, his voice just as fragmented. “Say it. Please.”

I didn’t bother brushing away the tears, there were too many of them, my grief was too heavy. “I love you,” I whispered. “I’ve always loved you. I’ve just been too afraid to say it.”

To admit it.

 

About the Author

Rachel Higginson is the best-selling author of The Opposite of You, The Five Stages of Falling in Love, Every Wrong Reason, Bet on Us and The Star-Crossed Series.

She was born and raised in Nebraska, and spent her college years traveling the world. She fell in love with Eastern Europe, Paris, Indian Food and the beautiful beaches of Sri Lanka, but came back home to marry her high school sweetheart. Now she spends her days writing stories and raising five amazing kids.

 

 

You can visit Rachel:
Instagram @mywritesdntbite
rachelhigginson.com
facebook.com/rachelhigginsonauthor
Twitter @mywritesdntbite

 

Review – The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker

City girl Calla Fletcher attempts to reconnect with her estranged father, and unwittingly finds herself torn between her desire to return to the bustle of Toronto and a budding relationship with a rugged Alaskan pilot in this masterful new romance from acclaimed author K.A. Tucker.

Calla Fletcher was two when her mother took her and fled the Alaskan wild, unable to handle the isolation of the extreme, rural lifestyle, leaving behind Calla’s father, Wren Fletcher, in the process. Calla never looked back, and at twenty-six, a busy life in Toronto is all she knows. But when her father reaches out to inform her that his days are numbered, Calla knows that it’s time to make the long trip back to the remote frontier town where she was born.

She braves the roaming wildlife, the odd daylight hours, the exorbitant prices, and even the occasional—dear God—outhouse, all for the chance to connect with her father: a man who, despite his many faults, she can’t help but care for. While she struggles to adjust to this new subarctic environment, Jonah—the quiet, brooding, and proud Alaskan pilot who keeps her father’s charter plane company operational—can’t imagine calling anywhere else home. And he’s clearly waiting with one hand on the throttle to fly this city girl back to where she belongs, convinced that she’s too pampered to handle the wild.

Jonah is probably right, but Calla is determined to prove him wrong. As time passes, she unexpectedly finds herself forming a bond with the burly pilot. As his undercurrent of disapproval dwindles, it’s replaced by friendship—or perhaps something deeper? But Calla is not in Alaska to stay and Jonah will never leave. It would be foolish of her to kindle a romance, to take the same path her parents tried—and failed at—years ago.

It’s a simple truth that turns out to be not so simple after all.

 

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BFF K’s Review of The Simple Wild

Here’s a little something different for my review of The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker! I was invited to appear on an episode of All About Books on our local public radio station! How much fun is that? The interview included a review of one of my favorite books of 2018! If you have a few minutes, take a listen and learn all about The Simple Wild and why I absolutely LOVE this story!

I began by listening to this book on Audible, but loved it so much I also purchased the Kindle copy so I could finish reading it and highlighting my favorite parts. The story is beautiful and you’ll love it no matter how you read it.

Listen to it here on the blog or go directly to the NET All About Books Archives!

 

 

 

 

 

About the Author

K.A. Tucker writes captivating stories with an edge.

She is the USA Today bestselling author of 17 books, including the Causal Enchantment, Ten Tiny Breaths and Burying Water series, He Will Be My Ruin, Until It Fades, Keep Her Safe, and The Simple Wild. Her books have been featured in national publications including USA Today, Globe & Mail, Suspense Magazine, First for Women, and Publisher’s Weekly. She has been nominated for the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Romance 2013 for TEN TINY BREATHS and Best Romance 2018 for THE SIMPLE WILD. KEEP HER SAFE made Suspense Magazine’s Best of 2018 list for Romantic Suspense. Her novels have been translated into 16 languages.

K.A. Tucker currently resides in a quaint town outside of Toronto with her family.

Keep up with K.A. on all platforms:

Website ➜ http://www.katuckerbooks.com/
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Review – Royally Yours by Emma Chase

 

Princess Lenora Celeste Beatrice Arabella Pembrook had an unusual childhood. She was raised to be a Queen—the first Queen of Wessco.

It’s a big deal.

When she’s crowned at just nineteen, the beautiful young monarch is prepared to rule. She’s charming, clever, confident and cunning.

What she isn’t…is married.

It’s her advising council’s first priority. It’s what Parliament is demanding, and what her people want.

Lenora has no desire to tie herself to a man—particularly one who only wants her for her crown. But compromises must be made and royals must do their duty.

Even Queens. Especially them.

**

Years ago, Edward Langdon Richard Dorian Rourke, walked away from his title and country. Now he’s an adventurer—climbing mountains, exploring jungles, going wherever he wants, when he wants—until family devotion brings him home.

And a sacred promise keeps him there.

To Edward, the haughty, guarded little Queen is intriguing, infuriating…and utterly captivating. Wanting her just might drive him mad—or become his greatest adventure.

**

Within the cold, stone walls of the royal palace—mistrust threatens, wills clash, and an undeniable, passionate love will change the future of the monarchy forever.

Every dynasty has a beginning. Every legend starts with a story.

This is theirs.

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BFF K’s Review of Royally Yours

This is the book that I didn’t know I needed until I read the first chapter. I was sucked in from the very beginning and fell in love with Edward right alongside Lenora.

I am a HUGE fan of this Royally Series from Emma Chase. Every book in the series has been stellar and utterly swoon-worthy. I was excited to learn there would be another book in the series, but somewhat surprised when I learned the book would be Queen Lenora’s story. I didn’t really know if it would be a storyline that interested me. I couldn’t understand how the pieces would fit together or what a lover of this series would gain from understanding Queen Lenora’s backstory. But, wow, I was blown away by this story. I’ve never been so happy to read a story I wasn’t really looking for!

Queen Lenora and Prince Edward have a remarkable, heart warming, epic love story! They’re brought together in difficult circumstances and aren’t really sure they even like one another. But, attraction and mutual respect grow into the most amazing tale of love and devotion. Their story is beautifully written and compliments the other books so completely that now I can’t imagine the series without this missing piece. And, I’ve even gone back to the other books in the series searching for key words to put even more pieces of the Lenora and Edward puzzle together.

You do not need to read the rest of the Royally Series to love Royally Yours, but you absolutely should! This series is nothing short of magical and I know it’s a series I will be thinking about, reading and recommending long into the future! For lovers of a great Royal Romance, I can’t think of any better than these! Emma Chase’s Royally Series is a crown jewel!

An advance copy of this book was received. Receipt of this copy did not impact the content or independence of this review.

 

 

 

About the Author

Emma Chase is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the hot and hilarious Tangled series and The Legal Briefs series. Emma lives in New Jersey with her husband, two children and two naughty (but really cute) dogs. She has a long-standing love/hate relationship with caffeine.

 

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Review – The Day I Stopped Falling for Jerks by Max Monroe

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Everyone calls me Lucky, but when it comes to love, I’m anything but.

The Day I Stopped Falling for Jerks, the first in the fun and flirty Jerk Duet from New York Times bestselling author Max Monroe is LIVE!

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I have a long history of dating the wrong men.

You know the ones I’m talking about.

The beautiful, charming guys who are quite literally too good to be true.

The ones who are impulsive in love and prefer short flings over long-term relationships.

I’m talking about the jerks.

The guys who taste so good, but are so very bad.

After going through the most ridiculous breakup in the history of breakups, I thought I’d learned my lesson. I officially put myself into jerk rehab and committed to changing my ways.

But, let’s be real here, love is never that easy.

Especially when an arrogant, charming, he-devil of a sexy alpha man gets involved.

Aussie accent.

Tanned skin.

Muscular, surfer bod.

Gorgeous brown eyes.

And the kind of sexy smile that brings women to their knees.

Oh, did I mention that he’s also my best friend’s brother?

Yeah. This story, my story, it’s a real doozy you guys.

The day I stopped falling for jerks, I met Oliver Arsen—the biggest jerk of all.

 

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BFF K’s Review for The Day I Stopped Falling for Jerks

 

I have listened to a TON of Max Monroe books this year and I love this writing duo’s great characters and clever stories. They’re usually super swoony and lol-funny. I was excited about the premise of this duet. And for the most part, I really liked the story and the characters.

Lucky is plucky. (Sorry, I didn’t mean to rhyme.) She’s hard-working and determined. But, unlucky in love. She takes a work trip that really begins to look a little like an early mid-life crisis/exploration of self-discovery. I think I really like Ollie as a character, but the one-sided delivery of the story only from Lucky’s point of view makes it hard to know for sure.

Here’s my issue and the things I didn’t like. The book is set up to be delivered like a podcast. And, honestly, I don’t know why. I was so distracted by the fact that the way a great author builds scenes is by adding details, but those details are very seldom things that you would actually say out loud. So, it just seemed awkward to think of this as a podcast. And, don’t even get me started on the sex scene. They tried to address it head on, but I was bothered by an explicit description of intimate sex by one of the participants in a pod cast. It just didn’t seem to fit with the story or Lucky’s character.

Lucky writes a series of Dear Ex-Boyfriend letters that really move the plot along and help with her character development. I love them and I feel like they would have been plot device enough without the podcast. Combine those two issues with the exotic travel and there was just a little too much going on.

Even with the things that bothered me about the story, I’m still invested in the characters. I want to know what happens next and I will definitely be buying book #2 in this duet. I’m hoping for a little more humor and a little less angst from Ollie’s perspective when it releases tomorrow. And, I will be one-clicking it now so it arrives soon!

I’m anxious to know how the story ends and I think that’s the highest praise I can give to a two-part story! Bring on the hunky Aussie bloke!

 

 

An advance copy of this book was received. Receipt of this copy did not impact the content or independence of this review.

 

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About the Author

A secret duo of romance authors team up under the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling pseudonym Max Monroe to bring you sexy, laugh-out-loud reads.

Max Monroe is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of more than ten contemporary romance titles. Favorite writing partners and long time friends, Max and Monroe strive to live and write all the fun, sexy swoon so often missing from their Facebook newsfeed. Sarcastic by nature, their two writing souls feel like they’ve found their other half. This is their most favorite adventure thus far.

Connect with Max Monroe

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Review – Blind Kiss by Renée Carlino

 

From the national bestselling author of Before We Were Strangers, Swear on this Life, and Wish You Were Here comes a powerful story of two people who spend years denying their scientifically-proven chemistry.

Penny spends her afternoons sitting outside a sandwich shop, surrounded by ghosts. Fourteen years ago, this shop was her childhood dance studio—and she was a dancer on the rise. Now she’s a suburban housewife, dreading the moment her son departs for MIT, leaving her with an impeccably-decorated McMansion and a failing marriage. She had her chance at wild, stars-in-her-eyes happiness, but that was a lifetime ago. After The Kiss. Before The Decision.

The Kiss was soulful. Magical. Earth-shattering, And it was all for a free gift card. Asked to participate in a psych study that posed the question, “Can you have sexual chemistry without knowing what the other person looks like?” Penny agreed to be blindfolded, make polite conversation with a total stranger, and kiss him. She never expected The Kiss to change her life forever and introduce her to Gavin: tattooed, gorgeous, and spontaneous enough to ask her out seconds after the blindfolds came off.

For a year, they danced between friendship and romance—until Penny made The Decision that forced them to settle for friendship. Now, fourteen years later, both of their lives are about to radically change—and it’s his turn to decide what will become of their once-in-a-lifetime connection.

 

Renée Carlino is a screenwriter and the bestselling author of Sweet Thing, Nowhere But Here, After the Rain, Before We Were Strangers, Swear on This Life, and Wish You Were Here. She grew up in Southern California and lives in the San Diego area with her husband and two sons. To learn more, visit ReneeCarlino.

 

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BFF K’s Review of Blind Kiss

Several years ago I remember seeing an article online about people doing a blind kiss study and I was so intrigued. It was a fascinating experiment to judge raw chemistry. So when I saw the premise of Renee Carlino’s new book, I knew I wanted to read it. Perhaps I should have read the synopsis more objectively.

Let me be really honest. There is a reason I stick primarily to romantic comedies. I am an emotional reader. And the angst and sadness is just too overwhelming for me most of the time. Reading rom-com helps to keep my head and my mood in a much happier place. But, every once in a while a book that makes you feel and breaks your heart just a little bit is a reminder of the power of great stories.
Penny is a beautiful, talented and dedicated dancer when she meets Gavin in college during the Blind Kiss experiment. Their chemistry is instantaneous and explosive. Their youth and other issues keep them apart romantically but they determine to be best friends. That relationship proves distressing for many other people in their lives and themselves.
Penny is complicated. But, she is also passionate, creative, nurturing and fiercely loyal. Gavin is a lost soul and Penny is the center of his world that keeps him grounded. Their convoluted and intricate relationship is fascinating. Together they weather some of the most difficult of life’s circumstances, depend on and love one another in ways they love no one else.
Again, I am an emotional reader and it has been quite some time since I have read a heartbreaking book. I cried through more than half of this book. While it is a romance and the ending brought satisfaction and closure, it wasn’t enough. I needed more positive to heal the negative and I’m not sure the good was sufficient enough to make up for the bad.
If you are a fan of angst and heartache, this is a book for you! The storyline is unique and captivating and you will care deeply about the characters. The book is exceptionally well written. But be fully and completely prepared that this emotional story will take its toll on your heart and your tear ducts.
An advance copy of this book was received via Net Galley. Receipt of this copy did not impact the content or independence of this review.

It was really this bad….

 

Excerpt from Blind Kiss

WE SAT AT the bar of the pub as I continued to stare at him, a mixture of curiosity and fear boiling in my gut. He ordered a beer, and I ordered Chardonnay with beer-cheese pretzels.

“That’s different for you.”

I usually stuck to salads, an old habit from my dancing days, but I had lost a lot of weight in the past few weeks. “Don’t think you can distract me so easily. Tell me what’s going on. Did you break up with Briel?”

He took a long pull from his beer and stared straight ahead. “Don’t be mad, okay?”

I stared at him, wordlessly, the fear fully boiling over. And then he dropped the bomb on me.

The next few minutes were hazy as Gavin, the bar, and my glass of Chardonnay swam together before my eyes. I tried to reach for the glass but found it suddenly empty. That’s weird. It was full a minute ago. I motioned to the bartender for another, then poured it down my throat in a steady stream.

I was breathing fast when I slammed the glass on the bar, shattering my fugue state—and bringing Gavin into sharp relief. I was reeling.

“Shit, Penny! Be careful. You almost shattered your glass!” He practically yelled.

“You’re moving to fucking France?!” I yelled back.

The bartender jerked his head toward the door, and within minutes Gavin was forcibly dragging me out of the bar by the arm. I slipped out of his grip and stood in the middle of the parking lot, seething, very much drunk, and fully freaking out. “So, do you love her?”

“Briel? What kind of question is that?”

“Just answer me.”

“Fuck, Penny. That’s not what this is about. I don’t really have a choice here, though, do I?”

“You always have a choice.”

He glared at me. “That’s fucking rich, coming from you.”

I shook my head vigorously. “Totally different situation.”

“Like hell it was.”

“When do you leave?”

“In two days.”

“WHAT?!”

He ran up and shook me by the shoulders. “Jesus, if I knew you were gonna take it like this, I wouldn’t have told you in public. Pull yourself together.”

I screamed at the top of my lungs and then made a guttural sound as I hunched over and held my stomach.

“First Milo, now you?”

“Don’t you put that on me. I’m not the reason why you’re about to be alone and unhappy.”

“Fuck you, Gavin!”

“Fuck you, Penny!”

He didn’t turn around—he just stormed off in typical Gavin fashion: petulant, recalcitrant, and a total shithead. People in the parking lot were gawking, appalled, covering their children’s ears. But no one made a move to leave. When Gavin and I got like this, we were like a car wreck by the side of the road, impossible to look away from.

Gavin slid into his ’67 Chevelle and fired up the engine. I hated that car because he loved it so much. It had a black leather interior, a flawless paint job, and tinted windows, like it belonged to some kind of celebrity—which Gavin definitely wasn’t. It was his only possession worth a dime, besides his garage, a few guitars, and a Zippo lighter he swore River Phoenix had given to him at the Viper Room the night of his death.

I ran to the exit and stood in the middle of the lane, daring him to run me over as he ripped out of his parking spot and raced around the corner toward the exit. “We’re not done talking, you coward!”

He slowed but let the car idle while he revved the engine. “I dare you!” I yelled.

He stuck his head out the window, leaned his tattooed arm against the door, and actually grinned at me.

So smug. What a dick.

“You look ridiculous standing there. Get out of the way!”

I walked toward his window and noticed that his demeanor had completely softened. There was even humor in his expression. He wanted me to block him, and he knew I would.

“Can’t you have a proper fight without running away?”

“You were lecturing me, yet again. I have a mother, thank you. You have a child you can order around . . . and a husband you can control. I don’t need your shit, okay? Don’t you realize that I’m freaking out, too? I’m going through the hardest time of my life, and you’re making this all about you.”

“You’ve been going through the hardest time of your life for the whole fourteen years I’ve known you.”

“And as my friend, do you think you’re helping my situation right now?” he spat back, his mood shifting once again. “Don’t even. Don’t you dare act like I haven’t been a good friend to you. You’ve put me in the most awkward situations, you’ve bolted on me, you’ve stopped speaking to me for weeks at a time, but still . . . I make myself available to you. I’ve been here for you, always. And now you’re moving thousands of miles away when I need you most?”

He shook his head slowly. “That’s right, Penny. You have been here. You’ve been right by my side, lecturing me, rolling your eyes at me, pressuring me to get serious about Briel, all so I could go and fuck up my life even more while you sit in your nice house, with your KitchenAid mixer, your Oracle espresso machine, and your fucking yellow Lab.”

“Don’t talk about Buckley that way! He’s a good dog. And you love our espresso machine.”

Gavin’s lips turned up at the corners. “You’re so messed up, Penny. You definitely have a chemical imbalance.”

I pointed to my chest, shocked. “Me? Look who’s talking? Please, pull into a parking space. I don’t want to stand here anymore, making a spectacle of myself. Some parent from Milo’s school is probably watching this whole thing. There’ll be whispers at the next PTA meeting. Is that what

you want for me?”

“Don’t pretend like you go to PTA meetings. And look around; everyone’s gone. It’s just us.”

He was right. The parking lot had cleared out. Gavin was sitting in his idling car while I was standing outside his window like a moron.

“I resent you for saying I pushed Briel on you. And yes, for your information, I do go to PTA meetings.”

“You encouraged me to go out with her, then you needled me about it until I finally did.”

“You were horribly depressed! I thought you were gonna jump off a bridge. I told you to go out with her and to have some fun. She’s a nice girl. I didn’t say turn your life upside down, pack up, and run away with a foreigner! You’re thirty-six-years old, Gavin. I think it’s time you grew up.” I shook my head. “God, I can’t believe you.”

He jerked his head back and squinted. “Great band but not totally PC to call someone a foreigner, Penny.” His voice was low.

“Are you going to become a French citizen now, too? You better brush up on your French.”

“Everyone speaks English there.”

“No, they don’t! People always say that, but you’ll see. They might be able to communicate to a degree, but it’s not conversational English.”

Why am I still standing here, screaming about French people?

I needed to tie this conversation up in a pretty little bow. I needed closure. I couldn’t say good-bye to my best friend without it. He was leaving, going to France to chase a girlfriend

I knew he didn’t love. I was losing him. And it was my fault. We couldn’t leave each other angry.

“I’ll figure it out,” he said. “Try not to make me feel worse about my situation, though I know that’s hard for you.” “Your situation? It’s always your situation. What about my situation?” He just stared at me. He was hurting; I could tell. But I was hurting, too. “Listen—”

“What?”

“Don’t interrupt me.” I cleared my throat. “Gavin . . . it’s just . . . I’m going to fucking miss you, okay? I’m having a hard time right now, and life is about to get a whole lot harder the second you leave.” I started to cry.

He hated it when I cried, but he didn’t ask me, “Why are you crying?” He never had to ask. He took a deep breath in through his nose, then released it forcefully in a burst of frustration. A second later his car stalled. He put it in gear, got out, and swooped me up in a bear hug. “Penny, Penny, Penny . . . my crazy girl,” he said as he rubbed my back. I was wiping my snot-covered nose on his black T-shirt and he didn’t care one bit.

He held me for a long time. When he started to release me, I said, “It’s not enough.”

He picked me up again and squeezed me harder. Tucking his face into my neck, he said, “It’ll never be enough.”

“Why?” I said, fully bawling against his shoulder. He brushed a strand of my hair, damp with tears, behind my ear. “I have to go, and so do you. You need to be with your family now.”

I felt the lump in my throat growing. “You don’t have to constantly remind me that I have a family. I love my family. But you’re a part of it, too, and that’s why I’m here. That’s why I’m fucking crying in the parking lot in front of Bank of America.”

He pulled away and we stood there, two feet apart, staring at each other, as if we were committing each other to memory. Allowing one another to really look at and take the other person in, stripped down to our bones, without scrutiny.

“Is this it?” I asked.

“This is it, P.”

I shook my head, leaned up on my toes, and wrapped my arms around him. We hugged again for a long time before he got into his car. I tried to hold on to the feeling of having him in my arms, or maybe I was trying to hold on to the feeling of being held in his.

He started the engine as I stood there, waiting for him to leave.

“We’ll talk on the phone or email or something, okay?”

“Okay,” I told him.

He swallowed nervously. Looking up at me from the car window, he said, “I wish it were you, Penny.”

That was my bow. He knew I needed it, good or bad—no matter what feelings it shook loose from our long and complicated history together.

 

 

About the Author

Renée Carlino is a screenwriter and bestselling author of contemporary women’s novels and new adult fiction. Her books have been featured in national publications, including USA TODAY, Huffington Post, Latina magazine, and Publisher’s Weekly. She lives in Southern California with her husband, two sons, and their sweet dog June. When she’s not at the beach with her boys or working on her next project, she likes to spend her time reading, going to concerts, and eating dark chocolate. Learn more at www.reneecarlino.com

 

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Review – Rebel Heart by Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward

 

Rush and Gia’s story continues in the gripping conclusion to Rebel Heir…

How to screw up a great summer in the Hamptons:

Sleep with your boss. Check.

Blow all your money on a rental you can’t afford. Check.

How to walk away from a man you fall in love with at the end of a summer:

…I’ll let you know when I figure it out.

Rebel Heir is the second book in the Rush Series Duet. Book One, Rebel Heir, is available for sale now.

 

REBEL HEART AVAILABLE NOW

Amazon ➜ Rebel Heart (Book Two) | iBooks ➜ Rebel Heart (Book Two) | B&N ➜ Rebel Heart (Book Two) | Kobo ➜ Rebel Heart (Book Two) | Google Play ➜ Rebel Heart (Book Two)

 

BFF K’s Review of Rebel Heart

 

 

I have been very excited for the conclusion of this duet. I really liked Rebel Heir and I was anxious to know the conclusion of Rush and Gia’s story. All in all I was very pleased with the finale.
Rush and Gia are really in an impossible situation. The conclusion of book one reveals a twist that blows their already fragile love story apart. Rebel Heart picks up immediately where Rebel Heir left off. Rush is a special kind of Hero. He is rough on the outside but it doesn’t match his sweet and a tender heart on the inside. Gia is independent and strong, but her world is on a shaky foundation. This story is filled with angst and a few tears but it is truly an epic romance and solid story.
There were some inconsistencies in the final chapters that bothered me a little bit. It felt like the story could have use one more round of beta reading or editing. But even with those issues I enjoyed the characters and the story and I am glad that I was able to spend some time reading this duet. If you’re looking for a summer read that has a few clouds mix in with the sunshine then this is a duet you’ll definitely want to throw in your beach bag!

 

An advance copy of this book was received. Receipt of this copy did not impact the content or independence of this review.

 

 

 

 

How to kick off a great summer in the Hamptons:

Snag a gorgeous rental on the beach. Check.

Get a job at a trendy summer haunt. Check.

How to screw up a great summer in the Hamptons:

Fall for the one guy with a dark leather jacket, scruff on his face, and intense eyes that doesn’t fit in with the rest of the tony looking crowd. A guy you can’t have when you’ll be leaving at the end of the season.

Check. Check. Check.

I should add—especially when the guy is your sexy, tattooed God of a boss.

Especially when he not only owns your place of employment but inherited half of the town.

Especially when he’s mean to you.

Or so I thought.

Until one night when he demanded I get in his car so he could drive me home because he didn’t want me walking in the dark.

That was sort of how it all started with Rush.

And then little by little, some of the walls of this hardass man started to come down.

I never expected that the two of us, seemingly opposites from the outside, would grow so close.

I wasn’t supposed to fall for the rebel heir, especially when he made it clear he didn’t want to cross the line with me.

As the temperature turned cooler, the nights became hotter. My summer became a lot more interesting—and complicated.

All good things must come to an end, right?

Except our ending was one I didn’t see coming.

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About the Authors

Penelope Ward is a New York Times, USA Today and #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling author.

She grew up in Boston with five older brothers and spent most of her twenties as a television news anchor. Penelope resides in Rhode Island with her husband, son and beautiful daughter with autism.

With over a million books sold, she is a seventeen-time New York Times bestseller and the author of over fifteen novels, including RoomHate which hit #2 on the New York Times bestseller list and #1 on the Wall Street Journal bestseller list. Other New York Times bestsellers include Stepbrother Dearest, Neighbor Dearest, Drunk Dial, Cocky Bastard, Stuck-Up Suit, Playboy Pilot and Mister Moneybags (the latter four co-written with Vi Keeland).

Connect with Penelope Ward

Facebook Fan Group | Facebook | Website |Twitter | Instagram

 

 

Vi Keeland is a #1 New York Times, #1 Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author. With millions of books sold, her titles have appeared in over ninety Bestseller lists and are currently translated in twenty languages. She resides in New York with her husband and their three children where she is living out her own happily ever after with the boy she met at age six.

Website | Facebook Fan Group | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review – Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren


Love, loss, friendship, and the betrayals of the past all collide in this first women’s fiction novel from New York Times and #1 international bestselling author Christina Lauren (Autoboyography, Dating You / Hating You).

The story of the heart can never be unwritten.

Macy Sorensen is settling into an ambitious if emotionally tepid routine: work hard as a new pediatrics resident, plan her wedding to an older, financially secure man, keep her head down and heart tucked away.

But when she runs into Elliot Petropoulos—the first and only love of her life—the careful bubble she’s constructed begins to dissolve. Once upon a time, Elliot was Macy’s entire world—growing from her gangly bookish friend into the man who coaxed her heart open again after the loss of her mother…only to break it on the very night he declared his love for her.

Told in alternating timelines between Then and Now, teenage Elliot and Macy grow from friends to much more—spending weekends and lazy summers together in a house outside of San Francisco devouring books, sharing favorite words, and talking through their growing pains and triumphs. As adults, they have become strangers to one another until their chance reunion. Although their memories are obscured by the agony of what happened that night so many years ago, Elliot will come to understand the truth behind Macy’s decade-long silence, and will have to overcome the past and himself to revive her faith in the possibility of an all-consuming love.

 

Buy Love and Other Words Today

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BFF K’s Review of Love and Other Words

What to say about another impeccably written, unique, emotional, heart-felt story from two romance masters? Buy it! Read it! Listen to it! Love it! That pretty much sums it up!

Love and Other Words is a deeply moving story of innocent, bone-deep-love, heartbreaking loss and the wondrous gift of a second chance. The story is a rich and stirring account of first love broken up by misunderstandings, poor decisions, youth, and loss and mended together by devotion, time, and intention.

Macy and Elliot are meant to be and there is really nothing that can completely sever their bond and commitment to one another. Their story is told in chapters alternating between past and present. But, each is gripping and impactful.

I did a combo read and listen of Love and Other Words. Many of the most emotional bits were listened to in the car during my commute. I think that’s the only thing that saved me from body-wracking-sobs during parts of the book. Just thinking about it makes my heart both heavy and full of hope. I don’t think it’s possible to read this story and come away unscathed. It will mark your heart, leaving you stunned and pondering the characters, their love and their second chance for days and weeks to come.

Buy it! Read it! Listen to it! Love it!

An advance copy of this book was received. The reviewer purchased the audiobook copy. Receipt of the advance copy did not impact the content or independence of this review.

 

About the Authors

NEW YORK TIMES, USA TODAY AND #1 INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLING AUTHORS
Christina Lauren is the combined pen name of long-time writing partners/besties/soulmates/brain-twins Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings. The coauthor duo writes both Young Adult and Adult Fiction, and together has produced fourteen New York Times bestselling novels. Their books have been translated into 30+ languages.

You can find them online at ChristinaLaurenBooks.com or at @seeCwrite (Christina), @LolaShoes (Lauren), or @ChristinaLauren on Twitter.