Book Review: Bittersweet by Sabrina Bowen

Bittersweet by Sabrina Bowen

Series: True North #1

Published: June 14, 2016

Rating: 3/5

Romanceopoly 2020: Farmers Market

Goodreads

If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the orchard.

The last person Griffin Shipley expects to find stuck in a ditch on his Vermont country road is his ex-hookup. Five years ago they’d shared a couple of steamy nights together. But that was a lifetime ago.

At twenty-seven, Griff is now the accidental patriarch of his family farm. Even his enormous shoulders feel the strain of supporting his mother, three siblings and a dotty grandfather. He doesn’t have time for the sorority girl who’s shown up expecting to buy his harvest at half price.

Vermont was never in Audrey Kidder’s travel plans. Neither was Griff Shipley. But she needs a second chance with the restaurant conglomerate employing her. Okay—a fifth chance. And no self-righteous lumbersexual farmer will stand in her way.

They’re adversaries. They want entirely different things from life. Too bad their sexual chemistry is as hot as Audrey’s top secret enchilada sauce, and then some.

I first came upon Sabrina Bowen last year when I fell in love with the Him series she cowrote with Elle Kennedy. Because Farmer romances aren’t my normal reading fare and I needed to meet the requirement for my romanceopoly pick, I felt that Bittersweet was the perfect introduction into her other works.

While there were aspects about this book that I really liked, the main character wasn’t one of them. Audrey seemed very out there (who goes to a farm dressed in heels and a mini skirt multiple times before trying to get more suited clothing?!?!) I appreciated that she was driven and wanted to achieve her goals of one day being a chef/owner of her own restaurant. However, we never get to see those goals come to fruition in this installment (it is a series, so perhaps there are glimpses later on when exploring the other characters). While Griff seemed very willing to support her and compromise on traveling etc. to see her, she didn’t seem as willing to compromise for him – but maybe I’m reading too far into it, because Griff isn’t a perfect decision maker either.

Griffin is definitely a hotty though, and one that is willing to do anything to put his family first, even put his own happiness on the line. He was the one that I felt the most for emotionally throughout the whole book, and was one hot farmer hero.

When reading the synopsis of the book, it can be assumed that a large part of the tension going into this relationship is a “love lost” kind of story, with the characters previously knowing each other from college. I felt that this was kind of underdeveloped as its only mentioned a handful of times, plus how can there be loads of tension when you only know a person in the biblical sense?

While most of the conflict was resolved by the end of the book, I still felt there was something lacking from giving me a satisfying ending. I’m not sure if I would like to continue the series, but I suppose that time will tell if I pick up the next one, following a side character in this novel.

Halfway to the Grave by Jeanine Frost

Halfway to the Grave by Jeanine Frost

Series: Night Huntress #1

Published: October 30, 2007

Rating: 3/5

Romanceopoly: Burger Joint

Goodreads

Half-vampire Catherine Crawfield is going after the undead with a vengeance, hoping that one of these deadbeats is her father – the one responsible for ruining her mother’s life. Then she’s captured by Bones, a vampire bounty hunter, and is forced into an unlikely partnership.

In exchange for help finding her father, Cat agrees to train with the sexy night stalker until her battle reflexes are as sharp as his fangs. She’s amazed she doesn’t end up as his dinner – are there actually good vampires? Pretty soon Bones will have her convinced that being half-dead doesn’t have to be all bad. But before she can enjoy her status as kick-ass demon hunter, Cat and Bones are pursued by a group of killers. Now Cat will have to choose a side … and Bones is turning out to be as tempting as any man with a heartbeat

In my search for a new PNR series to gobble down, I came across the work of Jeanine Frost (who came highly recommended by Ilona Andrews) and decided to give her first series a try.

This book was first published in the mid 2000’s, and it did show its age a little. Published in the midst of the Twilight vampire phase, the heroine seems to be a “Mary Sue” – a hard-headed and sometimes foolish girl who ultimately ends up winning out in the end. Admittedly, Cat is relatively young in this book and has a lot to explore in the world outside the sphere of her overbearing and vengeance-driven mother.

Bones (the vampire hero) was the best part of this book. Who doesn’t love a sexy, snarky, vampire boyfriend? For someone who was a few hundred years old, he was very much with the times with platinum died hair and lingo to keep up with all the college-aged kids. While I can understand his initial attraction to the heroine (she is, after all, a bad ass vampire hunter), the continuation of their relationship got a little stale throughout the book because she continues to act in childish ways. I find it hard to believe a vampire of multiple centuries would find such silly actions attractive – but I guess I’m not really in Bones’ head so I can’t say what his motivations are.

While the main focus (for me at least) is the romance, there is plenty of action and a decent plot to carry on the clear air between the steamy scenes. Having a vampire that is also a vampire bounty hunter is a somewhat unique trope to me which makes up for the vampire/vampire hunter relationship which has become a bit more common.

The book ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, so I did immediately have to pick up the next one in the series and that review will be coming soon! Overall this was an interesting start to a series, one that I am interested in continuing. However, I think that I will have to take this one book at a time because the heroine is one that could get on my nerves quite easily.

Book Review: Trickery by Jaymin Eve and Jane Washington

Trickery by Jaymin Eve and Jane Washington

Series: Curse of the Gods #1

Published: Febraury 28, 2017

Rating: 3/5

Willa Knight: Dweller. Slave. Non-magical being.

In Minatsol, being a dweller means that you are literally no better than dirt. In fact, dirt might actually be more useful than Willa. Her life will be one of servitude to the sols, the magic-blessed beings who could one day be chosen to become gods.

At least her outer village is far removed from the cities of the sols, and she won’t ever be forced to present herself to them… Until one small mistake changes everything, and Willa is awarded a position to serve at Blesswood, the top sol academy in the world—a position that she definitely did not earn.

Under the sudden, watchful eye of the gods, she will be tasked to serve the Abcurse brothers, five sols built of arrogance, perfection and power. They are almost gods themselves, and under their service she is either going to end up sentenced to death, or else they are going to ruin her so badly that she will wish for it.

Either way, she is in trouble.

My first thought upon finishing this book was: what the hell did I just read? It’s been a while since I had this feeling – probably not since I read a more copious amount of 0.99 kindle romances in high school, which makes sense considering this book was free with kindle unlimited. (Not that I am disparaging the quality of kindle unlimited books because some of them are NYT worthy in my opinion.)

I read this book because it popped up on my goodreads suggested and I was intrigued by the idea of a reverse harem. I feel like this is a bit mismarketed for that reason because while there is hints of the romance that may come in later books, it reads mainly like a young adult novel with a really ditzy heroine who is experiencing sexual urges.

The world of sols and gods and dwellers is something straight out of any fantasy novel I’d love to read, but the heroine kind of took away some of my interest in the world and in my novel.

Willa is a bit of a Mary Sue, constantly getting into strange predicaments and being obscenely “clumsy” (you know, the trip-over-a-flat surface type). Somehow, despite putting herself in constant danger she is able to draw the attention of the hottest brothers around who decide she is under their protection. This seems like the perfect romantic setup, but…nothing really happens in this book. Willa constantly finds herself in “naked situations” where she somehow ends up undressed and oh god she wants to kiss them, but nothing ever comes of it. In fact, in reading the reviews and synopses for the other books in the series, it seems nothing really begins to happen romantically until book 3.

While I did rate this book 3 stars – mainly for the Abcurse brothers who made this story actually interesting – I do need to note that I had to DNF the second book in this series because it is just. so. freaking. stupid. Willa makes some really, really idiotic decisions and has such a whiney voice I just could not force myself to continue. It was a shame because the world that the authors built was really interesting and had a lot of promise.

Normally this is where I’d add an addendum of “if I was younger I’d like this,” but I honestly don’t think I would have then either. The tone of the book is just such a strange mix of explicit sexuality and young foolishness. If you’re looking for a quick and addicting ya-feeling-(is it even a) romance read that is free with kindle unlimited, you may enjoy this, but I can’t say I recommend anyone spends money on this series.

Book Review: On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves

On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves

Published: June 7, 2012

Rating: 4/5

Anna Emerson is a thirty-year-old English teacher desperately in need of adventure. Worn down by the cold Chicago winters and a relationship that’s going nowhere, she jumps at the chance to spend the summer on a tropical island tutoring sixteen-year-old T.J.

T.J. Callahan has no desire to go anywhere. His cancer is in remission and he wants to get back to his normal life. But his parents are insisting he spend the summer in the Maldives catching up on all the school he missed last year.

Anna and T.J. board a private plane headed to the Callahan’s summer home, and as they fly over the Maldives’ twelve hundred islands, the unthinkable happens. Their plane crashes in shark-infested waters. They make it to shore, but soon discover that they’re stranded on an uninhabited island.

At first, their only thought is survival. But as the days turn to weeks, and then months, the castaways encounter plenty of other obstacles, including violent tropical storms, the many dangers lurking in the sea, and the possibility that T.J.’s cancer could return. As T.J. celebrates yet another birthday on the island, Anna begins to wonder if the biggest challenge of all might be living with a boy who is gradually becoming a man.

This book first came on my radar because of a post on bookstagram. Admittedly, its not one that I would typically pick up for myself as I’m not a huge fan of reading age gap romances, but I am glad I did. I felt that this romance was very well done, with a lot of the emphasis on survival at first and a romance that develops naturally.

I believed the development of both characters was believable, and that both of them were likeable and made understandable decisions. This may sound like I’m setting the bar pretty low, but I’ve had some…interesting last couple of reads.

The romance is sweet and takes time to develop, and the sex scenes aren’t overwhelming or over-the-top. The only thing that really had me raising my eyebrows in this book was the fact that they were able to survive so long on a tiny island with limited resources. The protagonists were a little more than lucky more than a few times, so if you’re looking for realistic survival tips mixed in with your romance look elsewhere.

This book was actually going to be my first read for #Romanceopoly 2020 (and still is going to be, I guess I just started a bit early lol). I picked it up to read the first few pages and see if its something I would actually enjoy, and ended up finishing it in one afternoon. So I would say it is definitely un-putdownable and would recommend it to anyone looking for a quick read!

Book Review: Soul in Darkness by Wendy Higgins

Soul in Darkness by Wendy Higgins

Published: February 12, 2019

Rating: 3/5

Goodreads

People travel from afar to the small isle in the Aegean Sea hoping for a single glimpse of Princess Psyche. Their adoration for the mortal woman is so all-consuming that citizens begin to shower her with the very gifts and offerings they once left at the alter of Venus, goddess of love and beauty.

But gods are known for their jealousy.

Cupid, the god of love, takes pleasure in causing strife and mischief in the lives of humans. He uses love as a weapon, humoring in the weakness of people at the whims of their feelings. When his mother Venus approaches him about punishing the human girl who dares to steal her offerings and affections from the people, Cupid gladly accepts.

Even though I consider myself a fan of Greek mythology, I was previously unaware of Cupid and Psyche’s myth or its relationship to the story East of the Sun and West of the Moon.

The author stated the book was initially meant as a YA crossover before she chose to make it an adult romance, and it was apparent throughout the novel. This was part of the reason that I ended up finding the explicit sex scenes throughout a bit jarring at times.

Pieces of it read very much YA, with Psyche acting like a typical 17/18 year old young adult novel protagonist which caused a bit of a clash with Cupid’s character. Cupid is often portrayed as overtly sexual, sometimes coercing affection out of Psyche at the beginning of their relationship. This makes the beginning of their “love” story seem a bit one sided, although they do reconcile and seem a good fit by the end.

The beginning half of the book is focused on the building relationship between Cupid and Psyche. This drags on for just a bit too long, causing a bit of a slump around the middle. I considered putting it down around this point, but am ultimately glad I continued because the pace picks up in the latter half of the book.

Review: Ravensong

Ravensong by T. J. Klune35114241

Series: Green Creek #2

Published: July 31, 2018

Rating:★★★★★ (5 Stars)

Goodreads

Gordo Livingstone never forgot the lessons carved into his skin. Hardened by the betrayal of a pack who left him behind, he sought solace in the garage in his tiny mountain town, vowing never again to involve himself in the affairs of wolves.
It should have been enough.

And it was, until the wolves came back, and with them, Mark Bennett. In the end, they faced the beast together as a pack… and won.

Now, a year later, Gordo has found himself once again the witch of the Bennett pack. Green Creek has settled after the death of Richard Collins, and Gordo constantly struggles to ignore Mark and the song that howls between them.
But time is running out. Something is coming. And this time, it’s crawling from within.

Some bonds, no matter how strong, were made to be broken.

Wolfsong was one of my top reads of last year, so I was super excited to read this continuation of the Green Creek series exploring one of the side characters, Gordo Livingstone!

The writing in this book was amazing because while keeping with the overall style of the first in the series, it gave Gordo a voice of his own. It did take a bit to get into because I was diving in expecting another book with a voice like Ox’s (Wolfsong’s protagonist), but I loved this book even more because of how different it was.

This storyline is epic and the romances feel so genuine. There were parts of the story where I felt that I could see the scene playing out as if in a movie. The scale of the action in this book definitely became a lot greater compared to Wolfsong which contributes to making this book more than just a romance. I will say that sometimes I felt the romance was suffering a bit because of all the action and I felt most of the connection that I felt with Mark was leftover because of what I knew of him from the first book.

Ravensong continues on what has become one of my favorite paranormal romance series – I mean, GAY WEREWOLVES (and witches). As much as the story is amazing though, the writing is again what truly brings it to life and makes this book five stars. I absolutely can’t wait for Kelly and Robbie’s book next year. So many questions are left unanswered at the end of this book!

 

Review: Alphas Like Us

Alphas Like Us by Krista and Becca Ritchie38316963

Series: Like Us #3

Published: March 13, 2017

Rating: ★★★★★ (5 Stars)

Goodreads

NOTE: Synopsis and review may contain spoilers for previous books in the series/in the original non-spin-off series. If you’re interested in an awesome M/M romance novel, check this series out!

Damaged Like Us (Like Us #1)     Goodreads      Amazon

His Bodyguard. His Love. 

Maverick, know-it-all bodyguard Farrow Keene knows publicly dating American royalty comes with a great cost. Everyone wants a piece of their relationship. And as a protective boyfriend, he’s not here for the malicious hands that grab at their love life and seek to rip them apart.

But Farrow is confident — he’s confident that he could’ve never prepared for the storm to come.

Keep him safe.

Maximoff Hale isn’t a big fan of change. And to regain the charity CEO position he lost, he agrees to a task that he’s always rejected. One that could uproot his unconventional world.

But Maximoff is afraid — he’s afraid of the consequences that could destroy his boyfriend and his family.

Keep him safe.

Changes are on the horizon. Big. Messy. Complicated. Changes.

Maximoff & Farrow will fight for their forever. And with every breath, they promise that their love story won’t end here.

​​The Like Us series is a true series, one continuous timeline, that follows a family of wealthy celebrities and the people that protect them. You must read Books 1 and 2 before reading Alphas Like Us.

I LOVE the romance novels by Krista and Becca Ritchie, and whenever one comes into my hands I absolutely DEVOUR it. The Like Us series is a spin off of the Addicted and Calloway Sisters series, focusing on the children of those featured in the previous books; however, you can enjoy this series without all of the background. The Hale family is my absolute favorite and I’m so grateful to have this Maximoff spin-off in my life.

This book had everything I love in a good romance. A sassy male lead (x2!), along with hard but realistic relationship choices and a good dose of drama. I 100% sobbed at certain times during this book (you’ll know when you read it). Marrow is my perfect ship! It’s obvious that these men complement each other in every way and are always sensitive to the other’s needs.

One of my favorite things about the Like Us series is the ability to “get inside the head” of a reality star (even if they are fictional), and I enjoyed how the Ritchie’s portrayed Farrow’s annoyance/struggle at having fame impede his ability to do the best work. Farrow’s ability to know what he wants and work towards it is so inspiring, and I love how this couple helps each other find their way.

The only reason this rating is a 4.5 instead of a 5 is because I liked Lovers Like Us (book #2 in the series) just a LITTLE bit more. The “trying to figure out how this relationship will work” trope is one of my favorite (and one of the main reasons that I love the Addicted series). This book is more focused on overcoming problems that arise in relationships, and Maximoff and Farrow are both so supportive of each other <3. This is definitely a book and series that I will revisit in the future because Marrow is GOALS!

I also can’t wait for the next book in this series, Tangled Like Us, which will focus on Maximoff’s best friend Jane as she finds her own romance!

Review: The Luck of the Bride

The Luck of the Bride by Janna MacGregor36048625

Series: The Cavensham Heiresses #3 (Read as a standalone)

Published: May 1, 2018 by St. Martin’s

Rating: 2/5

Family secrets, mistaken identities…love and money make people do crazy things in The Luck of the Bride, the third Cavensham Heiresses novel.

March Lawson has never had much luck, and in a desperate move to save her family, she’s been posing as the Marquess of McCalpin. But when she’s summoned to a meeting with the Marquess himself, March expects jail time…not to be bewitched by dark hair and sapphire eyes.

Michael Cavensham, the Marquess of McCalpin and heir to the Duke of Langham, finds himself drawn to March despite the judgments from his peers. He isn’t sure he can trust March, especially since Michael has a secret that could ruin him and his family.

But society conspires to keep March and Michael apart, and when March is accused of not being who she says she is, will Michael toss her aside or fight for the woman he’s come to love?

*I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley for an honest review*

I feel that I”m very forgiving of period romance novels, because as long as there is some drama, some court intrigue, and a loveable male lead, I will enjoy it. Unfortunately, this book lacked majorly in the “loveable male lead” department, to the point I started to feel a little skeeved out reading parts with Michael Cavensham.

The main thing that rubbed me the wrong way was his constantly bringing up kissing or touching March, the female lead, before also managing to mention that he was her guardian/she owed him money etc. This pattern happened a few too many times, to the point where I started to notice and expect it! I may be a little picky here, but the whole extortion trope is not my thing. *mild spoiler, highlight to see* There was also a point where he equates March’s guilt at not preventing her sister’s permanent injury to the worry he feels about being an unfit heir, which I thought was a bit of a selfish reach. *end spoiler*

While this was an uncorrected proof, more than a few areas read very clunkily and I found myself spacing out or skimming more than once which rarely happens with romance novels. Overall, it wasn’t the writing I had a problem with, it was the main male lead and his reaction to various situations (I’m not sure I can forgive him for some of the things he did).

I haven’t yet read any of Janna MacGregor’s other work, and may yet check it out. Again, the writing wasn’t horrible it was mainly the actions of the love interest that so thoroughly turned me off this book.

Review: Roomies by Christina Lauren

Roomies by Christina Lauren34466910

Published: December 5, 2017

Rating: 3/5

Goodreads

Rescued by Calvin McLoughlin from a would-be subway attacker, Holland Bakker pays the brilliant musician back by pulling some of her errand-girl strings and getting him an audition with a big-time musical director. When the tryout goes better than even Holland could have imagined, Calvin is set for a great entry into Broadway—until he admits his student visa has expired and he’s in the country illegally.

Holland impulsively offers to wed the Irishman to keep him in New York, her growing infatuation a secret only to him. As their relationship evolves from awkward roommates to besotted lovers, Calvin becomes the darling of Broadway. In the middle of the theatrics and the acting-not-acting, what will it take for Holland and Calvin to realize that they both stopped pretending a long time ago?

This book felt kind of ridiculous at times, which is just what I needed after finishing two very intense reads. However, some of the ridiculous drama which was a little *too* conveniently swept aside and detracted from the romance and story that was developing between Calvin and Holland. While I really enjoyed a lot of the build up in the beginning, the last third of the book felt rushed with random issues popping up as plot points.

One of the main redeeming factors in the book is Calvin himself, who is portrayed as being compassionate and caring. This description is thrown into contrast with his callousness towards Holland later on, as he seems unable to understand why she gets upset about important issues.

The story also ended quite abruptly, with a lot of questions remaining. I mean this literally, as in the last paragraph is almost completely rhetorical questions, with no real hope for a conclusion as this is currently a stand alone.

Overall an okay book for what it was. I thought it started off decently strong but towards the end the endless issues and misunderstandings started to drag a little bit. If there ever does end up being a sequel, I probably won’t pick it up. If you’re looking for a quick, mindless read with copious amounts of drama, this book is for you.

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Eliza and Her Monsters Review

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Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Published: May 30, 2017

Rating: 5/5

Goodreads

Her story is a phenomenon. Her life is a disaster.

In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, and friendless. Online, she’s LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves the online one, and she has no desire to try.

Then Wallace Warland, Monstrous Sea’s biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school. Wallace thinks Eliza is just another fan, and as he draws her out of her shell, she begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile.

But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart.

I picked up this book originally because it was all over instagram (before release) due to it being the Owlcrate monthly pick. I am sooo glad I took the time to preorder it because of all the awesome goodies the author gave out, because it is wonderful!

Eliza is a character I felt I related to, much like Cath in Fangirl (even though I am a perpetual reader, not a borderline-famous web writer). The struggles Eliza goes through with her family and her friends are ones that any young adult can relate to.

The romance is an interesting one because both parties are scarred or damaged in their own ways. The ability of Eliza and Wallace to simultaneously heal each other was a lovely thing to watch (or rather, read about).

The pictures of the web comic Eliza writes throughout the book (as well as snippets of the novel based on them) provides an intriguing background into the characters’ lives, and made me want to read the story! In fact, Zappia has made a teaser of it on Watt Pad in the hopes if enough viewers see it a publisher will pick it up (see it HERE)! It was also really cool that Eliza’s favorite book, Children of Hypnos, is actually a book that Zappia wrote and has on Watt Pad (see it HERE). I will definitely be checking that out soon.

If you’ve ever struggled with anxiety, or just like cute summer reads, go pickup this book!

Thank you for reading!

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