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Book Recommendations

Broken Knight by LJ Shen

Book ReviewA beautiful story with many layers. It’s rare that the love stories of secondary characters take a central role in a book. In Broken Knight, the love story that had my eyes welling up with tears was not of the hero and heroine, the football player and wallflower, but Knight’s adoptive mother and father.

Rosie, Knight’s adoptive mother, battles cystic fibrosis. Knight struggles, along with his family, as she bravely fights and eventually succumbs to the disease. Some of the most heartfelt and poignant chapters in the book are written from Rosie and Dean’s perspective. Dean is Rosie’s husband, and Knight’s adoptive father.

Knight and his childhood best friend Luna share a motto for life – Ride or Die. Dean and Rosie impart heartfelt meaning to the motto inscribed on the treehouse trunk. If I ever need to plan a funeral, I’m hunting LJ Shen down because girlfriend does it right. One of my favorite lines from the book: “She wanted you to remember that she had a good life and that she expects nothing less from you.”

Knight and Luna

Both Knight and Luna suffer emotional pain from their birth mothers not wanting them. Luna remembers her mother walking away, and I believe that would pack it’s own brand of pain. But both Luna and Knight found loving, supportive, amazing adoptive mothers. Nevertheless, they both struggle with a void.

I do recommend this book, and I did enjoy it. However, some aspects of Knight and Luna’s love story I found to be a stretch. For example, I can buy maybe one or two girls lying about a guy sleeping with them when he didn’t. But fifteen or twenty? That’s not highschool girl behavior. And at some point, some girl is gonna be honest with her BFF and at the very least, there would be some suspicion on campus regarding his claims. And why lie to Luna and throw it in her face? I had trouble understanding his logic if he really was holding out for her.

In general, I’m not a huge fan of teenagers falling in love for always, and that might be part of my skepticism. I think the case could be made these two grew a lot in the book, but still would benefit from a lot more growing. But, I guess if these two can buy a place in Venice Beach where they can hear the ocean when they’re both UCLA students……well, the world is their oyster.

I do love how Luna stands strong and forces Knight to face his alcohol and drug issues. The fact she was strong enough to stand up to him and to leave him if needed, well, that’s enough to make it believable these two will share a forever love as strong as Dean and Rosie’s.

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Book Recommendations Fave Authors

On Dublin Street by Samantha Young

Book ReviewTouching, emotional, heartfelt journey with all the feels. Don’t let the cartoon cover fool you – this is an erotic romance that won’t leave you disappointed.

Joss loses her family at a young age, and then her BFF one year later. The sudden loss of those that matter most leave her putting up walls. Samantha Young paints a realistic portrait of a young woman crippled by tremendous, sudden loss.

Braden, her Scottish hero, might be too perfect for words, but he’s exactly what Joss deserves and needs.

The secondary characters in this book are well developed and lead you into the next books in this series. I read through all of them quickly, and when I finished the series, I was sad. It had that feel of saying goodbye to friends you’ve grown to love.

There’s actually a novella that follows up with On Dublin Street. It shows Braden and Joss years later, and I love it. Joss is a writer, and in this novella, she dreams up what life would have been like had she never met Braden. It’s a little version of sliding doors, but it also shows these two eons later into their marriage. Once you read On Dublin Street, I definitely recommend this novella because it’s a phenomenal epilogue.

On Dublin Street had me crying at the end. Don’t worry, it does pack a happily ever after. But this is one of those books where the plot has surprises and watching the relive painful experiences and grow hits home in unexpected ways.

Another little thing about this series that I love is that it takes place in Edinburgh, Scotland. Edinburgh happens to be one of those cities I’d move to in a flash if I could get my head around visas. Samantha Young brings her hometown to life in this series.

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Book Recommendations

Teardrop Shot by Tijan

Teardrop Shot Teardrop Shot threw my emotions for a deep arch and delivered a satisfying swoosh of the net at the end. I originally picked this book as it seemed like a light-hearted friends to lovers sports rom com. Teardrop Shot is so much more than that.

I’ll be honest – I wasn’t sure I was going to finish this book at first. Charlie has this annoying habit of asking random questions when nervous or anxious.  So, she says things like, “Why do we set the toilet paper vertical instead of horizontal?”.

In real life, I’m the bitch who would probably walk away making a mental note to avoid ending up at a bar with this weird chick.   And I almost closed this book. But, I didn’t.  And I’m so glad. In this book, she has friends – warm, funny friends from “camp” – who help us see she has some endearing qualities.

And then she meets Reese Forster, who is an NBA player she has a massive crush on. Which of course triggers all kinds of anxiety. I love the way Tijan handles the celebrity crush and his reaction to her and her evolution from seeing him as a star to a guy to her everything. He’s a dream guy.  He’s the only character in the book to answer her questions.  He gets her.

Watching their friendship unfold and listening as they begin to share their pain makes their love feel real.  He has an alcoholic brother and parents who couldn’t cope.  She has an ex fiance who she took care of for five years before his dementia became so severe she had to walk away.  Tijan does an incredible job of letting us feel and understand the pain from their past.

This is the first Tijan book I’ve read, and I’ll definitely be reading more.

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Book Recommendations Series

If You Dare by Shantel Tessier

If You DareDark, tangled, mesmerizing romantic suspense. A modern day twist on Bret Easton Ellis’s “Less Than Zero”, “If You Dare” gives new meaning to the phrase ‘the ties that bind’.

The whole tale reminds us that the evils of a big city can also run rampant in a small town, especially when rich high school kids with uninvolved parents are let loose in Rovers and Beemers. “If You Dare”, the third and final book in the Dare series from Shantel Tessier, unmasks the secrets of this dark and sordid romantic suspense.

The Dare Series

“I Dare You,” the first book in the Dare series, introduces the Great White Sharks, a wealthy version of a dangerous powerful gang.  All are swim team members. All are wealthy. All are lethal.  The herd of eight dwindles to five.

The dark romance between Austin and Cole fills the first two books in the Dare series.   Dark mysteries unfold as the high school kids unleash their own brand of revenge on the evils in their town.

In “If You Dare,” the high school kids are now in college, in a new Texas town they don’t own.  And someone from their past has decided to change the rules of the game.

At the core of this book, another dark, twisted romance unfolds. However,suspense leads the herd in this tale of sharks.

Through a bountiful number of flashbacks we remember the sordid details of the past. The lies are so rampant, the flashbacks help.   I suspect the abundance of flashbacks means someone could read “If You Dare” and understand the depth of the story and be completely mesmerized and drawn in without reading the first two books.  However, I wouldn’t recommend it.

In order to fully understand the depravity of Cole and Austin’s relationship, I would strongly recommend reading “I Dare You” first.  “I Promise”, the second book, told from Cole’s POV, offers tantalizing insight into Cole’s tenebrious mind.   If you’re not up for the deep dive, you can skip it.  However, “I Dare You” is a must read prior to reading “If You Dare.”

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Book Recommendations

Underneath It All by Kate Canterbary

Book ReviewUnderneath It All by Kate Canterbary

A good friend told me the Walsh family series by Kate Canterbary is “really good”.   Talk about an understatement!

Matt and Lauren, the hero and heroine in Underneath It All, the first book of the series, sizzle right from the get go.  Canterbary has some of the most well-developed characters I’ve come across.  I now know Matt and Lauren better than I know some members of my family.

Speaking of family, the Walsh siblings illuminate Boston with their distinctive personalities and rip each other apart tight knit family style.  It’s easy to see how this is a series.  My friend just finished book 7 and I’m itching to start book 2.

He loves numbers and logic.  She’s the daughter of a Navy Seal and approaches her ambition of starting a new school with the discipline of a military strategist on a mission.  He’s a great guy with a mean alcoholic Dad but a strong set of siblings backing him up.  She’s on a mission, but beneath her layers she has a soft, insecure side.

Instant attraction sparks when the two first meet as architect and client.  Sex plays an enormous role in how they communicate with each other and neither have a wealth of relationship experience to pull from.  Both are workaholics attempting the elusive work life balance.  Eventually, sex doesn’t solve all communication needs and they have to find a way to talk honestly and expose what’s underneath.

This book might have my favorite epilogue – ever.  This book has it all.   Hot and sexy, strong characters, and an unforgettable love story.

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Book Recommendations

This Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

Book ReviewIt Ends With Us Book Review

A heart-rending, thought provoking, emotional journey you won’t want to end.

In one sitting I devoured It Ends With Us.  I fell in love with Lily. And Riley.  Issa and Atlas.   I wanted to know who does she end up with?   What does she choose?

I want to be careful to not give any spoilers.  This book deserves to not be spoiled.

Colleen Hoover shares with us one perspective on an abusive relationship.   One perspective on the choices a woman in such a relationship might make.

Naked Truth

My biological father was an alcoholic.  Verbally abusive.  A mean drunk.  These things I know on my own, not because my mother told me.  Because I witnessed these things later in life.   My mother left him when I was an infant.  I have a new appreciation for her choices and what she went through.

I discovered he was an alcoholic when I was sixteen.   I found him, on a sofa, passed out with an empty gallon of Jack.  So many pieces to my puzzle started to fit into place.  My mother never spoke badly about him.  I had to figure him out on my own.

I share this because it’s one of my naked truths.  Without spoiling This Ends With Us, I want to share with you the kinds of naked truths this journey will have you thinking about.  The kinds of places your mind may wander.   The kinds of understandings this novel may give you.

Recommendation

I didn’t want this book to end.  I wanted a second epilogue.  I sat up until 3am finishing this book and felt punch drunk the day after.  And I kind of want to read it again.   It’s a beautiful book and I can’t recommend it enough.

Yes, I do recommend this book.  But, I must add that I felt deeply sad for days after reading this book.   My heart ripped apart at the end, and I believe she ended the book in the best way possible, but that doesn’t mean I liked it or it’s what I wanted for the characters.  So, if you’re looking for a light, feel good read, this isn’t it.  It’s not going to leave you with the warm and fuzzies.  But, it’s a worthwhile book and an amazing romance, when you’re in the mood to take on all it entails.

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Book Recommendations

Just This Once by Mira Lyn Kelly

Just This OnceJust This Once Book Review

Friends to lovers romance of the very best kind.   And, can we take a moment to appreciate the cover?  It’s rare that a cover captures the likeness of the characters so well.  I can see the personalities of Sean and Molly.  I read this book back in 2018 and it’s stayed with me, and when someone reads as many romance books as I do, that’s saying something.

Molly’s older brother is Sean’s best friend.  They’ve known each other for ages.  Sean comes from an affluent family with high aspirations.  He dates women based on academic pedigree, hence the reason Molly’s never made it on his radar.  She’s crushed on him, but she’s the little kid sister who doesn’t AT ALL meet the criteria he’s formed for his ideal mate.  And they’re best buds, so she knows all about his criteria.

The chemistry between these two is off the charts.  When they end up living together, they can’t help but give in ‘just this once’.   Yeah, it’s a light hearted romance, but I just love these two.

This book is #3 in the Wedding Date Series.  I’ve read all of the books in this series and do recommend them.  But for me, Just This Once is the “empire of the series”.  I’ve read most of Mira Lyn Kelly‘s books and eagerly await her next release, The Dirty Secret, due out “mid-2019”.   That one is a part of the Back to You series, which I super enjoyed as well.

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The Obsession by Nikki Sloane

The Obsession Book ReviewThe Obsession Book Review

This gut-wrenching, page-turning sequel to the demented Filthy Rich Americans series by Nikki Sloane gripped me and had me twisting in anguish.

Rarely has an antagonist filled me with disgust and hate to the degree Macalister does.  Minotaur? Zeus?  Monster?  I go with monster.  Sick, twisted, depraved monster.

Marist plays the chess game on par with a naive, young guileless chess player joining the rank of seasoned experts.  Bountiful mistakes and missteps befall her, but through her struggles, she holds onto herself to some degree.  She recognizes the importance of not completely losing her soul.   Maybe she’s the young Medusa who hasn’t yet come into all of her powers?

The father son dynamic between Royce and Macalister roils the stomach.  The psychotic, unhealthy relationship borders disgusting.   But, I kept turning the pages because I had to see what happened.   Like a twisted reality TV show, I knew it was all kinds of wrong, but I couldn’t just turn it off.

About halfway through the book, I found myself thinking, “This is not a romance!”.  I mean, really, just what the fuck?   I read romance for joy and happiness, maybe to watch a character grow, but this??   Then I finally saw a more human side to Royce and I thought to myself, maybe.  Maybe there is a romance story here.  Maybe this is the ultimate fight against the all powerful ruthless heartless Gods.

And I guess we won’t know the answer to that – because The Obsession ends with a massive fucking cliffhanger.   I’d be lying if I said I’m okay with that.  I find massive cliffhangers to be painful – like physically PAINFUL.   If I realize in advance that it’s a trilogy with a series of cliffhangers, I wait until all three are released so I can, well, read all three.   That whole not knowing thing really doesn’t work for me.   THAT said (whine), I’ll be ordering the pre-order for The Deception because the DAY it comes out I’ll be reading it.

Nikki Sloane delivers in this series.  Yes, it’s twisted and demented.  But Sloane is a master storyteller and I can’t wait to see how this story ends.

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Book Recommendations

To Have and Hate by Donna Alam

To Have and Hate by Donna Alam

Book Review

Sexy, page-turning fake marriage romance done London style.   The chemistry between Beckett and Olivia sizzles right from the start.   I found myself wanting to beg them to just get on with the fornication already.

Olivia’s clumsy tendencies and some of her attitude remind me a tad of another British chick I adore, Bridget Jones.   Olivia, however, is way more buttoned up.  For one, she’s an entrepreneur and has launched a dating service (think eHarmony) called eVolve that leverages social networks to find the right match.   She’s a nonsmoker, bad vegetarian, and while she does wear leggings to lay on the sofa, she’s not weighing herself daily.   So, not a perfect match for Bridge.

Beckett’s a gazillionaire financier with a knack for making savvy investments and purchases.  An alpha with smoking abs, he goes after what he wants.

The fake marriage comes about as part of a win-win scenario.  He wants to be married to ensure he can buy a controlling share of a specific company and he needs to prove he’s reliable, and she needs funding to keep her start-up afloat.   The whole scenario unrolls in a believable fashion, but it’s after the temporarily binding marriage that the sparks fly and the slippery, heated ride commences.

Anglophile romance lovers will love this book.   Donna Alam‘s writing style is like a lesson on British speak.   Anyone who loves fake marriage tropes is gonna get a kick on this spin and be dreaming of Beckett.

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Book Recommendations Series

beneath this INK by Meghan March

beneath this INK book reviewBeneath this Ink Book Review and Recommendation

beneath this INK delivers a page turning romance starring a tattooed muscle man named Con. He’s a former foster kid with a murder to solve.   The romance between Con (Constantine, but come on now, how hot is that nickname?) and Vanessa hooks the reader.  Anger-inducing antagonists woven into this who done it plot are the cherry on top.

Vanessa, the gorgeous lady Con’s been lusting after since high school, struggles with food issues.  And I kind of love that about her.  For one, it makes her real and two, it’s a topic romance books filled with hot bodies don’t really broach enough (IMO).    She has some pretty serious hang-ups that never morphed into either anorexia or bulimia (that we know of).  But, she does mention years of therapy, so maybe that’s just a part of her past we don’t learn about in detail.

One of the antagonists, who comes across like a grade A asshole, has his own book in this series, Beneath These Scars.   All the books in the Beneath series are standalone. But I’m gonna have to read Beneath These Scars because we never find out what the fuck Titan’s deal is in INK.   And he’s sexy and tattooed too, so that doesn’t exactly hurt the appeal.

Meghan March delivers a fun sexy twisty romantic ride set in New Orleans with INK.  The New York Times called this series “deliciously addictive” and “binge worthy.”  I can see why.   Tattooed, muscle bound, sexy alphas – sign me up!

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