The Way Back to Us (Jamie Howard)

Gavin MacCormack found the one. He fell in love. Hard. Until one night he ran out for some ice cream and came back to an empty dorm room, closets bare and nothing but a quick hand-written note saying, I’m sorry. Those two words taught Gavin the meaning of heartbreak. A feeling he never wants to encounter again. And as the lead singer of a Grammy award-winning band he’s had plenty of opportunities for casual, no-strings fun, which is just the way he likes it.

Dani Winters has had more names than birthdays. On the run with her father for nearly as long as she can remember, she’s lived her life by three rules — always plan for the worst, maintain a low profile at all costs, and never let anyone get too close. Except she broke that last rule once and her heart has never forgiven her.

One chance encounter changes everything. Seeing Dani resurrects feelings in Gavin he thought were long buried, and this time he’s not letting her disappear without getting some answers. But Dani’s life is the definition of complicated and she’s playing with fire by letting Gavin back in. When the time comes to run again, Dani needs to decide if a life without love is worth living, or if it’s time to stop running and fight.


Once again, I read this book as a buddy read with  Cátia @The Girl Who Read Too, so go to her blog in the next few days to read her take on this one.

I’ve loved all the books of this series so far, and this was another great installment. The writing was great once again, and I really liked that it was told in dual POV, because the story is so clouded with mystery.

About the characters, I’ll admit that I liked Gavin way way more than I did Dani. But again, this was because her character is not very transparent. Yeah, she kicks ass, but I wanted just more from her. While Gavin was always in, and I loved his openness regarding his feelings and his intentions. I also cannot get enough of the relationships within that group. I love them.

I really liked the connection between Dani and Gavin, but I felt like I was missing something. They met and fell in love in the past, and while the chemistry was very much there, I still didn’t know HOW it happened, and it bugged me a bit. Because I felt like Dani kept so much of her under lock and key, and I wondered how her first relationship with Gavin worked, if there was always so much of her that was hidden from him.

That’s what I wish I gotten more of, the development of the romance and the feelings, because I felt like I was coming in in the middle of their story without much context.

I did like the overall plot, though I thought it was a bit expected. But it was well done, and I really enjoyed the resolution.

I really recommend this book, and this series as a whole. So, if youhaven’t started Love Unplugged yet, please do!

ALL THE WAYS YOU SAVED ME | THE FEELING OF FOREVER

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Heartfall (J.B. McGee)

Claire Ross has never been good enough. Not for the girls in the elite group of dancers in her class and certainly not for the approval of her ballet teacher, Mr. Robins. She definitely doesn’t like what she sees in the mirror. Simply put, she doesn’t love herself, so how could she possibly love someone else?

After twelve years of friendship, Sebastian Reyes’ adoring gaze holds more. They soon find themselves unable to control their feelings for one another.

When tragedy strikes, Claire finds herself in a very unlikely and unfavorable position. Regardless of the weight of the emotion, she must make difficult decisions that impact the rest of her life.

Will Claire see that her true love has been right in front of her? Happily ever after isn’t just for fairy tales. To get hers, all she has to do is trust, open her heart and fall.


I’ve had this book on my Netgalley TBR for ages… and I mean ages, as in since May 2016, I just hadn’t had time to get to it until now… not the time, or the will. And every time I read one of these old ARCs I have, I always end up disappointed and somehow wish I had just left it alone.

I must let you know though, that I’m going to drop SPOILERS on this review, because there’s no other way for me to speak about some of the issues I had without going into detail about the story. So, guys, if you were intrigued by the BLURB and think that maybe you want to give this book a change, but you don’t want to be spoiled for it:

STOP NOW!

This book is divided in 2 parts, the first one takes place when Claire is 16, and are the events described on the blurb. The second part takes place 3 years later, while she’s in college. My issue with this divide is that it felt choppy, and neither of the parts felt sufficiently developed.


Part 1

But let me tell you about part 1 first. This is when teen Claire and teen Sebastian take their relationship from friendship to more. Sebastian helps her see the beauty within herself, and helps her with her dance. They’re in love. And I wasn’t completely sold. Sebastian felt too controlling, the way this book is written, it didn’t allow me to completely understand the characters, because they’re never truly fleshed out. They never have complete conversations, their actions are sort of implied but never confirmed, which made me feel like some things were coming out of nowhere.

I liked the plot for this first part, most of it at least. Claire was bullied by the other girls at the ballet class, but it’s never really said why. How. What did they use and do? Then there’s the matter of the ballet teacher who belittled her, who was stern and made her self esteem plummet, and my question was “where was her mother?“, because her mother was the one to take her to that studio, so how did she miss that her daughter was suffering like she was?

When Claire and Sebastian start to date, her mother warns her repeatedly about her time alone with her boyfriend, given that she was a teen mom and didn’t want the same to happen to Claire. Sebastian starts to fight Claire’s fights, and stands up to her bullies and the teacher. But he’s also controlling and extremely hot and cold with her. She starts to train a lot, and she looses a lot of weight, so much so that for a moment I thought she was going to have an eating disorder, and so much so that she loses her period. She doesn’t have much money, given that her mom is a single mom, and suddenly her mom gets her a $700 dress for a school dance, because Sebastian has been buying her new ballet shoes, so suddenly she has enough money for a super expensive ball gown?!

Guess what happens next? Out of the blue, Claire tells Sebastian she’s pregnant! Yep, pregnant. Did I even realize they had moved that fast in their relationship already? NOPE, not really, I mean, heavy making out was implied, third base and so on, but nothing that would lead me to think that she was going to end up with a bun in the oven. But what bothered me? There was not a direct correlation between her missing periods and her pregnancy, a long time passes between those situations. It bothered me that those 2 never seemed to use protection, even though she had a good example on how something like that might turn out, and given that they were both so focused on their dancing.

Here’s when tragedy strikes, of course. Sebastian goes into the water to save one of the mean ballet girls, because she jumped in there with the intention of killing herself. Everyone gets out okay, except Sebastian, who ends up brain dead. His death was predictable, the way it happened was weird as hell.

I hated this part, because it made absolutely no sense to me. There’s no explanation as to why the mean girl warned Sebastian BY LETTER that she wanted to commit suicide. Then he goes to her and takes his girlfriend, PREGNANT, with him. He jumps into the water without asking for assistance. None of them do. It was just a mess.

Afterwards, Claire balls her eyes off, she doesn’t tell her mom she’s expecting, Sebastian’s mom finds out and promises to always be there for her. Her mom ends up finding out in a very bad way, and their relationship becomes strained after that.

She ends up having a baby girl, deferring one year in school so she can train and get a scholarship, has a great relationship with Sebastian’s parents, but not with her own mother, and she starts communicating with the family/recipients of Sebastian’s organs… Are you ready for part 2?


Part 2

So, 3 years later Claire is attending college on a scholarship, and she is reunited with a guy she saw when she went to the school for her auditions, Liam. Yes, Liam is the romantic interest of this second part.

I didn’t exactly like Liam anymore than I liked Sebastian. He works as a security guard in the college Claire attends, and he has no issue at all with pursuing a sexual relationship with a 19 y.o. freshman student. Liam’s age is also never revealed, which freaked me out a bit, mostly because it’s sad that he’s been working security for years! Also, he’s way too insistent and domineering at times, which I didn’t feel was well balanced. This contrasted way too much with how childish Claire felt most of the time.

Where’s her baby girl you ask? Well, obviously her grandparents (Sebastian’s parents) adopted her, so Claire could live her life. She’s plagued by guilt, which I understood, but I also agreed that she made the right decision.

It upsetted me how often she kept bringing Sebastian up. I mean, I get it, he was her only love, the father of her child, his death was dramatic, but I hated that she kept comparing both men in her life, and how she kept saying that Liam was exactly like Sebastian.  It made me think that he was some sort of replacement, and I hated that.

I also didn’t quite see their connection. Much like the first part, the writing informed us that something happened, instead of showing us, and the characters say they’re in love with each other, but I missed the whole process, and I felt very disconnected from their relationship.

Predictably, the drama comes, and it’s related to Sebastian. Liam feels like her whole life is still around her dead lover, which is kind of true, but he also feels like she’s somehow taking advantage of him, because she found out that he was the son of the organ recipient she was communicating with anonymously?! And he’s also super rich?! o_O This was weird as shit, because he was the one pursuing her, and not the other way around… but whatever…

They sort it out, she has a brilliant idea on how to make money and they live happily ever after. No kidding. It happens. With 2 kids and 1 on the way.


Random Thoughts

I need to talk about a character though, Audrina. She’s the main mean girl from the first part, the one who wants to commit suicide, and who Sebastian is trying to save when he has the accident that causes his death. She’s the most pointless character ever, she’s only there to create stupid conflicts that are never truly explained. She keeps doing it in college too, trying to create wedges between Liam and Claire. She’s pointless, and she’s flat, she’s not developed at all. She makes no sense.

But what makes even less sense is how the author tried to create a link between Audrina, Sebastian and Mr. Robins (the ballet teacher) at the end. In the epilogue it’s explained how Mr. Robins is Sebastian’s biological father, but he gave him up for adoption after he was born (which is hinted at several times during the book). But then, AFTERWARDS, he had an affair which resulted in Audrina. This makes no sense, because it implies that these 2 character have at least 1 year difference, but during the book I always felt like the teens had all exactly the same age. But I could have misinterpreted it. Either way, this whole thing doesn’t bring a thing to the story, because it doesn’t excuse Audrina’s behaviour, or Robins. It’s just a massive WTF at the end, that doesn’t even make much sense.

Robins was a character that I felt deserved much more time, and deserved to tell his story, but that never happens.

Claire doesn’t ever bother to understand her teacher, or confront him for his treatment of her, so that relationship is never settled. She also never actually talks to her mother, saying until the end that their relationship is strained for something her mother did because she was worried sick about her daughter. Even her relationships with other characters like Sebastian’s parents, are never fully developed.

While I liked some of the themes of this book, it was overall a disappointment for me. I couldn’t connect with the writing or the characters, and a lot of the book didn’t make much sense to me. I wanted more development, I think there was just too much going on, so a lot fell through the cracks.

Personally, I don’t recommend this book. But I’ll also admit that it had its moments of brilliancy, and those were the moments that made me shed a tear, and rate this book a little higher. 

Bad Princess (Julianna Keyes)

Notorious for leaping off roofs, maiming foreign royals, and that twerking incident, Brinley Cantrella of Estau is nobody’s definition of a good princess. She’s fearless and bold, not good and gracious. And after a lifetime of being told she’s unfit to be queen, wearing the crown and helping to usher Estau into a new era is the one dream she’s never dared chase.

But when her older sister abdicates the throne, all Brinley has to do to inherit the role is not twerk, not maim anybody, and definitely not get caught fooling around topless with Prince Finn, her childhood crush, the only man she’s ever loved…and her sister’s former future husband.

Finn embodies the definition of good. Tall and handsome, serious and honorable, he always does the right thing — including agreeing to marry his ex’s sister to cover up this latest scandal. Brinley has fallen down stairs, broken teeth and broken bones, but this is the first time her heart has ever been broken. She now has the crown and the prince, and on the surface, life is good — but is being married to a man everyone swears could never love her back good enough?


I read this book as a buddy read with Cátia @The Girl Who Read Too, go to her blog on the next few days to read her review of this book.

THE POSITIVE:

  The writing. I read a few books by Julianna Keys, and I really enjoy her writing. This one was great. The book is told through Brinley’s point of view, in the third person.

  I really enjoyed the premise and the plot.

  I liked the characters too, I loved Brinley, and I enjoyed reading about Finn too.

THE NEGATIVE:

  The lack of depth. This was way too short, and it needed more pages to actually develop everything appropriately. It needed more character development, it needed more relationship development.

  With that said, it also needed something more at the end. This book somehow didn’t feel like it told the whole story.

  I needed to have a glimpse into Finn’s mind, because by the end, he was still a bit of a mystery.

Blog Tour: The Other Brother (Meghan Quinn)

THE OTHER BROTHER by Meghan Quinn is finally here!


Review:

Goodreads | Amazon US | Print |
Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

I got the call. The dreaded call every child fears. My dad wasn’t well, and the man who had always been my everything needed me.

There was only one thing to do; pack up and head back to my hometown. I had finally made my dream life in the city with the great job and loving boyfriend. But was there really a choice not to go?

I found a wonderful job, a quaint house to rent, my boyfriend was working on joining me in Binghamton, and my favorite pizza place was only miles away. Life was good.

Until I met my neighbor.

It’s been three years since I’d seen Aaron Walters, and my God is he all kinds of sexy gorgeous. Figures. He was supposed to be my forever, the man I grew old with, but he had different plans. How can a man who ripped my heart apart still trip me up? How can he make me still want him now more than ever?

I’m tempted, I’m drawn toward him, I’m completely and utterly unaware that I’m dating his biological brother.

Now two men own my heart. The question is, which brother will I choose?


I’ve had a lot of fun with this series so far, and The Other Brother was yet another fantastic book by Meghan Quinn and the Binghamton gang. Again, let me tell you some things I absolutely loved, and what I wished was a little better.

THE POSITIVE:

  Aaron a.k.a. “Smalls”. Definitely the highlight of this book for me. He’s such a great character, and such a good guy too. He’s an awesome friend, great boyfriend, great person. I loved him!!!

  The romance. Look, I know the blurb points to a love triangle, and it kind of his. But it’s very well done, respectful, and no boundaries are crossed. Also, Aaron and Amelia belonged together, there was no doubt about that. (Also, I’m very glad with how Meghan Quinn wrote Trey).

  The writing, of course, this one is pretty obvious. But I really liked how Meghan gave us glimpses into Aaron and Amelia’s past together, because this amazing book is a second chance romance!!!

  AMANDA!!! Can we get a book about Amelia’s BFF?

  The conflict, and the depth of the feelings involved.

THE NEGATIVE:

  I wanted more of the gang in this book. While Tucker makes some appearances, it bothered me a bit how absent he and Racer were from Aaron’s life. I wanted more interaction between the guys, their significant others and Aaron and Amelia. I felt like she could have used friends, and the girls would have been great for her.

  I loved this book in general, but I will admit that the plot was not exactly my cup of tea. I love second chance romances, and I’m very glad that the triangle was well written. But, this was a love triangle nonetheless, and with brothers to boot, so that makes me feel weird about it a tiny bit. Still, I loved this book…


Excerpt:

Why? Why does he have to magically appear in my life? Moving back to Binghamton, I thought about the possibility of maybe running into him, but I thought it unlikely, something that would never really happen.

Boy, was I wrong.

What a sick joke life is playing on me.

Aaron Walters, the boy who broke me into pieces is my neighbor.

I can’t fathom the impact I feel already.

Seeing him in hip-hugging jeans and a tight, plain shirt did a number on me. It kept me up all night as memories of what we used to have flooded my mind.

His voice.

His stature.

The way he used to kiss my neck.

The way I felt so protected in his arms.

Too bad his arms couldn’t protect me from his devastating, heart-breaking self.

And hell, he looked good. Too good.

He’s always been tall with handsome features and a chiseled jaw, but now he’s bulked up to the point that I could see his abs flexing under his shirt, the same shirt that stretched over his biceps.

But it wasn’t his muscles or handsome features that once again made my heart ache, it was those eyes. So bright, so blue, so kind, but still so sad. It reminded me of the first day I met him, of the day he stole my heart from every other man on the market.

Broken, unsure, yet yearning for love. It was all there, and like experiencing a moment of déjà vu, I was transported back into a time when I felt invisible, like I could conquer anything with him at my side.

Once again, I was wrong.

Co-Wrecker | My Best Friend’s Ex | Twisted Twosome


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Born in New York and raised in Southern California, Meghan has grown into a sassy, peanut butter eating, blonde haired swearing, animal hoarding lady. She is known to bust out and dance if “It’s Raining Men” starts beating through the air and heaven forbid you get a margarita in her, protect your legs because they may be humped.

Once she started commuting for an hour and twenty minutes every day to work for three years, she began to have conversations play in her head, real life, deep male voices and dainty lady coos kind of conversations. Perturbed and confused, she decided to either see a therapist about the hot and steamy voices running through her head or start writing them down. She decided to go with the cheaper option and started writing… enter her first novel, Caught Looking.

Now you can find the spicy, most definitely on the border of lunacy, kind of crazy lady residing in Colorado with the love of her life and her five, furry four legged children, hiking a trail or hiding behind shelves at grocery stores, wondering what kind of lube the nervous stranger will bring home to his wife. Oh and she loves a good boob squeeze!

WEBSITE | GOODREADS | TWITTER | FACEBOOK


The Shameless Hour (Sarina Bowen)

The girl who’s had everyone meets the boy who has no one.

For Bella, the sweet-talking, free-loving, hip-checking student manager of the Harkness men’s hockey team, sex is a second language. She’s used to being fluent where others stutter, and the things people say behind her back don’t (often) bother her. So she can’t understand why her smoking hot downstairs neighbor has so much trouble staying friends after their spontaneous night together. She knows better than to worry about it, but there’s something in those espresso eyes that makes her second guess herself.

Rafe is appalled with himself for losing his virginity in a drunken hookup. His strict Catholic upbringing always emphasized loving thy neighbor — but not with a bottle of wine and a box of condoms. The result is an Ivy League bout of awkwardness. But when Bella is leveled by a little bad luck and a downright sinister fraternity stunt, it’s Rafe who is there to pick up the pieces.

Bella doesn’t want Rafe’s help, and she’s through with men. Too bad the undeniable spark that crackles between the two of them just can’t be extinguished.


You guys know that Sarina Bowen is one of my alltime favorite authors, so I’ve been wanting to finish this series for awhile. I finally got some time to read book 4, and I hope to read book 5 in the next few weeks too. This book felt very different from the others in this series, but I really enjoyed it.

THE POSITIVE:

  I really liked Bella. I loved how she was so sex positive, how she did what she wanted and was unapologetic about the stuff she wanted and liked.

  Rafe was a great friend and a great guy in general, and I really liked his friendship with Bella. Obviously, their relationship was really great, and I liked how it developed slowly and surely.

♥  There is some great friendships here, and I really liked how supportive the hockey team was to Bella.

  I really like the fact that Bella is older than Rafe, eheh, it’s rare in romance books. Also, there is some big character development here.

THE NEGATIVE:

  Even though I really liked Rafe, and I get that he tried not to judge Bella, I still think that he did, if not the person, the actions, and I wasn’t a very big fan of that.

  I’m gonna drop a SPOILER here, so advert your eyes… I hated that Bella caught an STD, I know it’s something that happens, but it led her to blame herself, and I hated that point in the  storyline.

  I didn’t like what the event did to my precious Bella. I wanted more for her, and I expected more FROM her, if that makes any sense. I didn’t want her shamed by what happened, even before the fraternity thing. Bella being ashamed of herself by her sexuality didn’t sit well with me.

NSFW (Piper Lawson)

Being bad never felt so good…

The office is full of rules. Everything is off-limits. Making a charity calendar of the sexy guys on your floor? Not allowed. Shrinking your boss’ underwear when he sends it for dry-cleaning? Can’t do that either.

But those things keep the natural balance. See, Avery Banks, our resident rising star, is a shark. The tall, blond, and gorgeous kind with zero patience and even less forgiveness.

Good thing I’m the Mae West of executive assistants. I live to put grown men in their place.

He wasn’t supposed to find out…

Now he’s made it his personal vendetta to screw me the way I screwed him. I’m at his beck and call, 24/7, for every humiliating, meaningless request.

Until we stumble on a new game. One we both want to play. One we both need to win.

And once we start…I’m not sure Avery wants to replace me.

I’m not sure I want him to.

All I want is more of this. The fire under the ice. What happens behind closed doors.

It’s twisted, and so damn hot. But he’s my boss. And with the company coming off a scandal even I couldn’t engineer? What we’re doing is strictly NSFW.

Lucky for me, Avery and I have one thing in common…

We both suck at following the rules.


Have you guys read Play, from Piper Lawson? This book is sort of a sequel, and it features 2 characters from that book. Once again, the writing is great, and NSFW is told through Charlie’s POV, and I loved her sassy and smartass voice. The girl sure is fun.

I really liked the main characters. Like I said, Charlie was a lot of fun, I liked that she was a bit lost, but she still had a very strong character and personality. And Avery was a bit of the same, he had to grow up very fast, so he was missing some major things in his life, which made his pairing with Charlie kind of perfect.

Their chemistry was off the charts, and I really liked how the author worked the enemies to lovers trope. These two were always bickering, but it was so clear that they were perfect for each other.

There’s a lot of character growth during this book, and I really appreciated that.

I have to say that I felt like the beginning of the book was way too fast, as in, there was so much going on and I was utterly lost, and I had read Play. But after I got my bearings, everything made sense and I really enjoyed the pacing of this novel.

Overall, a very funny and heartfelt romance. I highly recommend it.

Beautiful Mistake (Vi Keeland)

The first time I met Caine West was in a bar.

He noticed me looking his way and mistakenly read my scowling as checking him out.

When he attempted to talk to me, I set him straight — telling him what I thought of his lying, cheating, egomaniacal ass.

You see, the gorgeous jerk had wined and dined my best friend — smooth talking her into his bed, all along failing to mention that he was married.

He deserved every bit of my tongue-lashing and more for what he’d done.

Especially when that lazy smile graced his perfect face in response to my rant.

Only it turned out, the man I’d just told off wasn’t the right guy.

Oops. My mistake.

Embarrassed, I slunk out without an apology.

I was never going to see the handsome stranger again anyway, right?

That’s what I thought…until I walked into class the next morning.

Well, hello Professor West, I’m your new teaching assistant.

I’ll be working under you…figuratively speaking.

Although the literal interpretation might not be such a bad thing — working under Professor West.

This was going to be interesting…


For the past year or so, I’ve been steadily enjoying Vi Keeland’s books, and her collaborations with Penelope Ward, so I was expecting another hit from Beautiful Mistake. Unfortunately, this book turned out to be my least favorite romance by this great author.

I was enjoying this book at first, but then something felt off for me. The main thing that bothered me was Rachel, the main character herself, because while she is a great girl most of the times, when Caine calls her feisty, I would call her a first class bitchy brat.

I’m gonna put stuff into context here. Rachel meets Caine, she then realizes she’ll be his teaching assitant, they’re clearly attracted to each other and they are never really the epitome of professional. But I have to give it to the guy, he tries to keep away, badly, but he tries. He also has a lot to lose if it gets out that he’s interested in a student, even if she’s 25 and a graduate student at that. But everytime things don’t go Rachel’s way, or Caine tries to act a little more cold, she calls him off, she shouts at him, she tries to make him jealous on purpose, she dresses provocative… but the thing is, she does all this at his place of employment! While I could ride the train of a student/teacher relationship, her behaviour inside their class room was a huge NO for me.

Another thing I could not get on board with was the fact that after it was clear that they felt something for each other – though nothing had happened yet – Caine offered to be Rachel’s thesis advisor. And she accepted. While the TA/Teacher relationship I could get on board with, because it was like a boss/employee thing, the advisor/advisee didn’t sit well with me. As a graduate student myself, I know the power flow of that position. And in my opinion is even worse than a student/professor relationship, because that class would only last a semester, while a thesis can last a lot longer. I didn’t like that at all. Mostly because when they got into that arrangement, they already knew how they felt.

I also had a lot of issues with the past stories of the characters. Rachel says at one point that she had very wild teen years, and yet, while the reason can be inferred, the story is never developed. The same with Caine’s past… we have a lot of elements, but nothing is ever tied together. Some things are never explained. I was expecting a better constructed storyline, and to be honest, I was severely disappointed by the lack of the development of the back story.

I’m sorry to say that I wasn’t sold on the romance either. While the chemistry was awesome and there’s no doubt that Keeland can write some fantastic intimate scenes, the romance felt a bit weak, and more based on the attraction than anything else. Another thing I felt needed a bit MORE.

Now, not everything is a negative, I did like the writing style, like always, and I did enjoy the fact that we got dual POV, even though Caine’s POV was more limited than Rachel’s, which was a shame because I felt like he had a stronger voice. And because I listened to the audio version, I have to say again that  Andi Arndt and Sebastian York are the most amazing narrators

I’m really sorry to write such a review today, I love most of Vi Keeland’s books, and I’m so sad I didn’t enjoy this one too. Either way, I’m sure I’ll continue to scarf down anything she writes 😉 .

Have you read Beautiful Mistake? What are your thoughts on it?