Sparrow by L.J. Shen

Book Description:

Published:

Format: Audio/Audible

Stars: 5

Troy Brennan

Every southie in Boston knows that name. The son of a dead mobster. The heart throb with steel blue eyes. “The Fixer” who can make or break you in this city.

Oh, and my new husband.

Sparrow Raynes

That’s me. No one seemed to remember my name up until he barged into my life.
But then he caged me.
Kidnapped me.
And killed every chance I had to runaway from the place where we grew up.
Put simply, Troy Brennan clipped my wings.

I have dreams, big ones, but I doubt he’d ever let me chase them. I have no idea why he’d decided to take me as his wife. But I do know this: pissing off this man will not do me any good. At all.

Sparrow is a standalone, full-length novel. It contains graphic violence and adult situations some may find offensive.

Review –

Sparrow Raynes is a survivor. She can’t be caged or caught or forced unless she wants to.  Abandoned by her mother at an early age and caretaker for her alcoholic father, she has learned that life is never going to be easy.  She was never going to have free and easy. She had to work for everything she has. That’s fine. She doesn’t mind working hard for what she loves.  She’s going to cooking school with dreams of owning a food truck one day. Until, everything gets taken from her… yet again.

Troy Brennan knows death. He knows blood and loss and pain.  The son of a murdered mobster. When he was nineteen and Sparrow only nine, his father made him make another promise –to marry and take care of Sparrow.  Another burden that his father heaped on him. He is stuck with her, but he won’t ever love her and she better get used to it.

Troy Brennan is on a mission to avenge his murdered father.  But before he can finish his mission he has to full fill  a promise to his father first.  Marry Sparrow Raynes. Yes, he’ll be stuck with her, but that’s beside the point.  He doesn’t have to like her. He is just full-filling the promise he made to the father the loved. He informed her of their impending marriage by take her from her home, installing her into his apartment, supplying her with take out menus and leaving her to it.  Have a good week.

Marriage is new for him. Feeling are new to him. Her spark of fire and take-no-shit attitude attract Troy. She reminds him of… well, him. He doesn’t really see the point in caring about her. He know their relationship is doomed from the beginning.But he does like to see her occupied and maybe a little happy. (It would get her out of the house and allow him to see his mistress without having the worry about her) So when he finds out that she likes to cook he installs her into his high end restaurant where she meets Brock, right hand man of Troy and restaurant manager.

Sparrow tries to finds her way in the new world that she is trust into.  Working, jogging, meeting with friends.  Living with her awful husband as best she can, but it’s more that difficult.  He cheats on her openly and living with him is a chore.  She tries to connect with him but he takes joy in trying to make her feel small.  Well, good luck with that.  She can’t be taken down by a man like her husband.

As the days go on, Troy watches Sparrow take all of his challenges and rise above them. All of them. She is strong. She proves that daily.  He stops looking at his mistress as the ideal beauty and starts to really see this small, red haired, girl-woman as the true beauty and warrior that she really is.  As he learns more about her life, he finds she has survived much more than he knew.

When she is taken on the street on morning, Troy must finally come to feel and acknowledge the feeling that he hasn’t been dealing with for a few weeks. He has to find her.  He finally sees what his hate has been blinding him to for too many years.  He has to save his wife. He does and fast forward and he frees her from their marriage and eventually she realizes she can not live without him and there is a very HEA.

I loved this book.  I loved the story and the characters, although, Troy at first, not so much!   The pace of the plot is good.  You get to see the couple first hate each other, then slowly find things they liked about each other and then come to love each other in the ways that they can, but so much of this book is about Troy’s mission and Sparrow’s past.  Troy isn’t ever going to be anything but who he is, but once he figures out that he loves her, Troy loves her wholeheartedly.

Loved this book and the narration was great, although might have been plus five stars with the addition of a female narrator.

 

The Silent Waters (Elements #3) by Brittiany C. Cherry

Book Description:

Published: September 22, 2016

Format: Audio/Audible

Moments.

Our lives are a collection of moments. Some utterly painful and full of yesterday’s hurts. Some beautifully hopeful and full of tomorrow’s promises.

I’ve had many moments in my lifetime, moments that changed me, challenged me. Moments that scared me and engulfed me. However, the biggest ones—the most heartbreaking and breathtaking ones—all included him.

I was ten years old when I lost my voice. A piece of me was stolen away, and the only person who could truly hear my silence was Brooks Griffin. He was the light during my dark days, the promise of tomorrow, until tragedy found him. Tragedy that eventually drowned him in a sea of memories.

This is the story of a boy and girl who loved each other, but didn’t love themselves. A story of life and death. Of love and broken promises.

Of moments.

Review –

This book was simply amazing  These characters were so raw and real, and so amazingly developed, you can’t help but fall in love with them.

The Silent Waters tells the story of Maggie May and Brooks, neighbors, childhood best friends, and eventually lovers as they go through the best and worst experiences of their lives. From the prologue through the epilogue the story spans a few decades. Now, I’m not sure how much I want to say, sometimes you need to go into some books blind and discover them by yourself. And I definitely think this is one of those. So, I will try not to spoil major plot points.

Maggie May is a beautiful, smart and lively child that experiences a traumatic event that marks her forever. She is such a beautiful and amazingly developed character, I dare you not to fall in love with her. I felt so much for her and her struggles. She was truly remarkable.

And Brooks, what can I say about Brooks. He’s amazing and beautiful, patient and understanding. He was Maggie’s anchor, her beacon of light through the darkness. He was hers, completely. I loved everything about Brooks. He also went through a dark time and was able to overcome everything life threw at him. 

The love between them was definitely my favorite part of the book, it was so pure, so real, so powerful. It’s what kept them both going in difficult times and what kept me hopeful that they totally deserved a happy ending.

This book will hook you from the prologue all the way to the author’s note at the end. I felt a lot while reading this book, happiness, sadness, fear, frustration, love, and anger. It was truly a journey. It was also so moving and inspirational. And beautiful, just beautiful.

So, needless to say, I absolutely, 100% recommend The Silent Waters. It’s one of my favorite books this year. It has all the feels and you will not be disappointed! 

Five stars.

Cake (Cake #1) by J. Bengtsson

Book Description:

Published: May 14, 2016

Format: Audio/Audible

Jake McKallister might have been a rock star, but he was no ordinary one. Surviving an unspeakable crime as a young teen had shaped him into a guarded workaholic, and he now lived his life trying to forget. If it hadn’t been for music and the redemption he found through it, he might not have survived. Career success came easily for him. Personal connections did not.

When outspoken, vivacious college student Casey Caldwell was paired with the famously reserved rockstar for a friend’s wedding, she was prepared for the worst. What could they possibly have in common? She was a bubbly talker; he was a reclusive loner. His life was filled with music; she couldn’t carry a tune. She’d enjoyed a happy childhood; his was a well-publicized nightmare.

Yet despite their obvious differences, Jake and Casey found each other, and her light balanced out his darkness. Would their love be strong enough to survive the weight of his tragic past?

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is a *full-length* standalone romance. Cake is a love story at heart but does deal with a sensitive topic and may not be for all.
Due to strong language and sexual content, this book is not intended for readers under the age of eighteen.

Review –

I’ve had this book in my Audible library for a very long time but never got around to listening to it until now.

I thought ‘what in the world does CAKE have to do with a Rock Star themed contemporary romance?’ Is that the name of the band? But, no, CAKE is an acronym of the names of the two main characters.

I don’t  read rock star romances too often,(they are my favorite) but this book was delightful. Now it might not be for everyone especially if you are expecting a steamy read. Because this book has only one or two bedroom scenes and they aren’t too detailed (the sex is mostly implied) but I found the chemistry between these two just wonderful. And their fun bantering from the beginning just draws you in immediately. Seeing Casey go on tour with Jake for the summer and then seeing their relationship take on a great test with facing Jake’s past and seeing that these two work together and that they don’t give up on each other was heart-warming and heart wrenching at the same time. There is conflicts of course, but NOT in the relationship. I love that the minute that they are “together”, they never stop fighting for each other and keep working on their relationship and making sure it’s as strong as ever.

There are some hints of darkness though when dealing with Jake’s past and seeing him work through this was really hard to see because Jake is so talented and kind and down to earth and he has really gone through hell and back and is still fighting for his sanity and his past does haunt his intimate relationship with Casey. But Casey….she is a fighter, she never stops loving him or standing by him. She is very true to Jake and is willing to stay by his side through the good and the bad times and I LOVE this aspect to the romance. They go on an incredible journey and it definitely was written so well and tugged at my heartstrings.

Fantastic read!

 

The Fire Between High & Lo (Elements #2) by Brittainy C. Cherry

Book Description:

Published: March  25, 2016

Format: Audio/Audible

There once was a boy, and I loved him.

Logan Francis Silverstone was the complete opposite of me. I danced while he stood still. He was quiet, and I was always running my mouth. He struggled to find a smile while I refused to frown.

The night I saw the darkness that truly lived inside of him, I couldn’t look away.

We were broken together, yet somehow whole. We were wrong together, but always right. We were the stars that burned across the night sky, searching for a wish, praying for better tomorrows.

Until the day I lost him. He threw us away with one hasty decision—a decision that changed us forever.

There once was a boy, and I loved him.

And for a few breaths, a few whispers, a few moments, I think he loved me, too.

Review –

This is the second book in the Elements series by Brittainy C. Cherry and boy oh boy can she write the Hell out of angst!

The Fire Between High & Low is not an easy book for me to read. There was so much angst. I had to take breaks. I even knew at 4% that this book was going to wreck me, and it did. The author is like a puppeteer who pulls at your heartstrings until you have no choice but to feel. I sniffled, I cried, I bawled big, fat, ugly tears. It wasn’t within my power to NOT feel empathy for these characters and their situation. This made their HEA so much more powerful, too.

Alyssa (High) and Logan (Lo) came from opposite sides of the track. Each had different interests. Each lived very different lives. They were opposite in most every way that should have mattered. But their spirits were the same. Each was damaged from their parents — whom I hated with every fiber of my parental being! Each was lonely and desired to be loved.

What started out as childhood friendship eventually turned into teenage love. They depended on each other for their mental well-being. Spending time with one another, laughing with and supporting each other, they were inseparable. High needed Lo as much as she needed him. And then due to lies and manipulation, Lo left. Leaving High to figure out how to live without him.

Fortunately, this is written in dual POV. I don’t think this would have worked any other way. Because when Lo acted like an ass, we eventually found out why.

This story shows the power of how people can endure so much hurt, but overcome it. They couldn’t catch a break. Bad things kept getting between them until they didn’t.

Their story is a train wreck happening in slow motion and I couldn’t look away!!!!!

Five stars!

 

The Air He Breathes (Elements #1) by Brittainy C. Cherry

Book Description:

Published: September 25, 2015

Format: Audio/Audible

I was warned about Tristan Cole.

“Stay away from him,” people said.
“He’s cruel.”
“He’s cold.”
“He’s damaged.”

It’s easy to judge a man because of his past. To look at Tristan and see a monster.

But I couldn’t do that. I had to accept the wreckage that lived inside of him because it also lived inside of me.

We were both empty.
We were both looking for something else. Something more. We both wanted to put together the shattered pieces of our yesterdays.

Then perhaps we could finally remember how to breathe.

Review –

The Air He Breathes had all the makings of a rich, romantic and beautifully told  “second chance at love “story between two wretchedly broken characters seeking solace with, and in each other following the loss of their loved ones.

The slow to smolder relationship was superbly and sensitively handled by the author,Brittainy C Cherry, the romance was emotional and yet encompassed a swoon factor that took my breath away.

The slow burn relationship was superbly and sensitively handled by Brittainy C Cherry, the romance was emotional and yet encompassed a swoon factor that took our breath away. She also showed us that the previous relationships were just as important as the new one.

The sex scenes are HOT  but low-key so I place this book in the “soft smut” category, meaning they are there for a purpose and not just to take up space.

It’s a sad but beautiful love story with a shocking event near the end and I gave it five stars!

 

 

Say I’m Yours by Corrine Michaels

Book Description:

Published: March 25, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

I spent twenty years waiting for Trent Hennington to open his eyes and see me. But it was all for nothing. He chose to keep himself guarded and let me walk away, proving that my time and efforts were wasted.

I’m done being invisible.
It’s time to move on.

A single dance sets my new reality into motion, and I welcome it. After all, Cooper Townsend is perfect. He’s kind, sexy, and attentive—everything a girl could want.

I thought I got it right this time.
That my heart could mend, and I would be happy.
Apparently, some things really are just too hard to walk away from.

Review –

Say I’m Yours  is a heartbreaking story about not giving up on your own dreams. Grace and Trent have been together for a long time, but Grace wants more than Trent is willing to give her. Choosing her own happiness breaks Grace’s heart, but in the end she’s living her dream.

For the past twenty years Grace and Trent have been “together”, but Grace is ready for more; marriage and her own family. Trent has proven over and over again he won’t give her that so Grace does the hardest thing in her life; walking away from the man she so deeply loves. Dating Cooper is sweet, but also weird. She knows him and his family so well, and Trent sudden change of heart doesn’t make it easy for her. Choosing between the two men seems impossible, but in her heart Grace already has the answer.

My heart breaks for Grace and I feel so sorry for her. She didn’t ask Trent for outrageous things, all she wanted was to build a normal, happy life with him. I felt her hurt when she told Trent it was over for real this time, and like her I was stunned when he did his 180. I know I’m probably in the minority, but I think Trent is a arrogant SOB. Yes, in the story told in this book he’s the standup guy who realizes his mistake and fights for his woman. But he and Grace also have a twenty-year history and during those years he wasn’t always that standup guy. He hurt her time and time again by refusing her into his heart, by making her believe she wasn’t loved. And a few lovely words and romantic promises doesn’t make it okay in my book right away. But I believe Trent is serious with Grace this time, and that he doesn’t just say the words to win her back.

Second Chance Romances are really not my thing but It was free on Audible Escape and so I thought I’d give it a try.

 

Anti-Stepbrother by Tijan

Book Description:

Published: August 22, 2016

Format: Audio/Audible

He told me to ‘settle, girl.’
He asked if ‘something was wrong with me?’
He said I was an ‘easy target.’
That was within minutes when I first met Caden Banks.
I labeled him an *sshole, but he was more than that. Arrogant. Smug. Alpha.

He was also to-die-for gorgeous, and my stepbrother’s fraternity brother.

Okay, yes I was a little naive, a tad bit socially awkward, and the smallest amount of stalker-ish, but if Caden Banks thought he could tell me what to do, he had another thing coming.

I came to college with daydreams about being with my stepbrother, but what if I fell for the anti-stepbrother instead?

Review –

I just finished listening to my first “read” by Tijan. I saw it recommended on an Instagram feed and saw it was available in the Audible Romance Package so I gave it a try. I’m so glad I did!

Summer had a one night stand with her step brother Kevin. Kevin is a GIANT douche. (I wanted to strangler his most of the time)I was more than a little irritated with Summer because she watched him parade girls in and out of his life, cheating on them and using them. But, she was somehow convinced she would be different. You can guess how that turned out…

Kevin’s fraternity brother Caden runs into Summer a few times and they strike up an odd friendship. I liked this aspect of the story. Weeks go by of them just hanging out and doing normal stuff-watching TV, studying, going bowling. To me, THIS is how a real relationship begins. Caden is not a fan of Kevin (WOOHOO!!!) and the 2 have come to blows before.

Because the story is told only from Summer’s point of view, you never really know whats up with Caden. He has a bit of a reputation at the school for being standoffish and ‘above’ everyone else. I was always curious about what was going on in his head. I think it adds to the tension of the story. As Summer is starting to have feelings for him, you really have no idea how he feels. And, as we already established, Summer doesn’t exactly have good skills at reading people.

I loved that Summer didn’t change who she was either. She is kind of weird and a bit scattered at times. She didn’t want to change her appearance or be a person she wasn’t. She kind of just embraced her personality. She admitted to being dull in high school and she didn’t want to be that any more; However, she didn’t have to change her personality or who she was in order to be ‘not dull’. It was refreshing to read a college aged character who wasn’t so debilitatingly self-conscious and desperate to be someone she isn’t.

I did get a bit irritated at the back and forth romance. She has feelings for Kevin, then she doesn’t, then she does. Then she loves Caden, he tells her she doesn’t love him. It’s so NA but it really gets kind of old after a while. You just want to say “enough already”!

It’s classified as NA (New Adult) and I would also say it is “soft smut” because of the sexual situations and the implied sex happenings. Just goes to show that an author doesn’t have to use explicit sex to make a scene hot and steamy!

Loved the story and will be reading more from this author.

 

 

A Thousand Boy Kisses by Tillie Cole

Book Description:

Published: March 15, 2016

Format: Audio/Audible

One kiss lasts a moment. But a thousand kisses can last a lifetime. One boy. One girl. A bond that is forged in an instant and cherished for a decade. A bond that neither time nor distance can break. A bond that will last forever. Or so they believe.

When seventeen-year-old Rune Kristiansen returns from his native Norway to the sleepy town of Blossom Grove, Georgia, where he befriended Poppy Litchfield as a child, he has just one thing on his mind. Why did the girl who was one half of his soul, who promised to wait faithfully for his return, cut him off without a word of explanation? Rune’s heart was broken two years ago when Poppy fell silent. When he discovers the truth, he finds that the greatest heartache is yet to come.

A stand-alone young adult tear-jerker romance, recommended for ages fourteen and up.

Review –

Five FREAKING stars!!!!!

This book has just been given the honor of being on the  top of my list of books that made me cry (sob, blubber) the most.

I’ve enjoyed books, I’ve been moved by books and I’ve cried over books but never and I mean NEVER have we been left so emotionally wrought yet so completely satisfied after finishing a story. 

Poppy Litchfield and Rune Kristiansen created a bond of friendship at five years old that would blossom into a love story to rival the greats. They truly were two parts of one heart in every sense of the word. Despite their tender years, their love was extraordinary and it was epic and there is no doubt this came across in the author’s story as we lived and breathed the enormity of their feelings.

From the innocence and exuberance of childhood to the confusion and pain of youth, we lived it all. I fought their battles and lived through joy and heartbreak with them yet, haven’t even scratched the surface of their story, you couldn’t imagine for one minute how this story plays out. I know I didn’t.

I will not included spoilers because to totally FEEL this book, you must go in blind. Suffice it to say that, childhood love gives into young adult love and though apart for a while, neither, deep down in the hearts, gave up on the other and this would take them through to the bitter end.

I did have a problem with the very end, in that I thought it was too cliché, but the writer knows best and so this book is five stars or ten if that was an option!

 

 

 

Birthday Girl by Penelope Douglas

Book Description:

Published: April 17, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

From New York Times Bestselling author Penelope Douglascomes a new forbidden love story…

JORDAN

He took me in when I had nowhere else to go.

He doesn’t use me, hurt me, or forget about me. He doesn’t treat me like I’m nothing, take me for granted, or make me feel unsafe.

He remembers me, laughs with me, and looks at me. He listens to me, protects me, and sees me. I can feel his eyes on me over the breakfast table, and my heart pumps so hard when I hear him pull in the driveway after work.

I have to stop this. It can’t happen.

My sister once told me there are no good men, and if you find one, he’s probably unavailable.

Only Pike Lawson isn’t the unavailable one.

I am.

PIKE

I took her in, because I thought I was helping.

She’d cook a few meals and clean up a little. It was an easy arrangement.

As the days go by, though, it’s becoming anything but easy. I have to stop my mind from drifting to her and stop holding my breath every time I bump into her in the house. I can’t touch her, and I shouldn’t want to.

The more I find my path crossing hers, though, the more she’s becoming a part of me.

But we’re not free to give into this. She’s nineteen, and I’m thirty-eight.

And her boyfriend’s father.

Unfortunately, they both just moved into my house.

*BIRTHDAY GIRL is a stand-alone, contemporary romance suitable for ages 18+.

Review –

I’ve been saving this book to read this month because I am a Birthday Girl too. Oh, not like Jordan, I was just lucky enough to be born on the 17th of this month.

Anyway, I LOVED this book. It is a taboo, forbidden romance with a large age gap. It involved Jordan, nineteen, her boyfriend Cole, also nineteen and his father Pike, who is thirty-eight. Because of circumstances the teens have to move into Pike’s house while they save money to get another place of their own. There is immediate sexual chemistry between Pike and Jordan and the story is told in their dual POV.

Pike fights hard against the attraction and temptation of Jordan because of what people will think but more importantly of how it would affect his son. Jordan fights too but when Cole cheats on her, she sees it as the perfect chance to see what would happen if she gave in.

Eventually they both give in and start sleeping together and Cole finds out and there is a separation. I’m not going to give away the ending but know that I cried a bucket load of tears. AND, the epilogue …!

This book is Five Stars and if you love a good forbidden romance, this one should be on the top of your TBR list.

 

Repeat by Kylie Scott

Book Description:

Published:

Format: Audio/Audible

From Audie Award winning, New York Times best-selling author Kylie Scott comes an irresistible new romance – available in audio first!

When a vicious attack leaves 25-year-old Clementine Johns with no memory, she’s forced to start over. Now she has to figure out who she was and why she made the choices she did – which includes leaving the supposed love of her life, tattoo artist Ed Larsen, only a month before.

Ed can hardly believe it when his ex shows up at his tattoo parlor with no memory of their past, asking about the breakup that nearly destroyed him. The last thing he needs is more heartache, but he can’t seem to let her go again.

Should they walk away for good, or does their love deserve a repeat performance?

Review –

The book begins with Clementine walking in to a tattoo studio to ask about the tattoo on her shoulder, and she is confronted by what is essentially an angry mob who are not happy to see her – led by a gorgeous tattoo artist who turns out to be her ex-boyfriend, Ed. Clem left him shattered only months earlier, and though she has no recollection of him or their time together, she shares her situation with him seeing him as an obviously good source of information on her life

But when Clementine left Ed shattered, we’re talking an explosive break up that saw her not only lose him, but also their group of friends. We initially don’t know why or how, but we know that he was devastated and he still carries a lot of pain and anger towards her. But as he begrudgingly answers her questions, things begin to change. His protectiveness comes out, they have a genuinely good time together, and even though she is changed, they begin to fall for each other all over again.

This is such a fantastic set-up for a story, and what makes it even more interesting is that not only has Clementine been left with retrograde amnesia, with no memories, but her injury has left her changed. Whereas before she was into florals and soft colours, and a little bit withdrawn, now she is edgier, and a lot more matter-of-fact, not seeing the point in lying or game playing, she just says it like it is, and she has a lack of filter which leads to her just blurting out whatever is in her mind. It’s both highly entertaining and refreshing as we (and those around her) get to see the real Clementine, and everything that she is experiencing.

I love that the story starts after Clementine’s injury, so we get to know her just as she’s getting to know herself, understanding who she is now and figuring herself out. It’s a fantastic journey that we get to go on with her, and it really enhances the feels. And she handles it brilliantly! As part of her new ‘take no crap’ attitude, she just gets up and gets on with it, doing what feels right and natural and not worrying about the expectations of others, making her a fantastic character to read.

And as Clem comes to understand herself, she also learns who she used to be, showing us just how changed she is, and the two parts of Clementine appear almost as two different characters as she reflects back on her life ‘before’. It’s really well done.

Of course, a big part of her journey is Ed. Getting to know him, and how they were before, letting him get to know who she is now, and I loved seeing their dynamic shift as they grew close once again. Their love story is sweet, fun, and seriously hot, and absolutely gorgeous.

But what tore them apart in the first place? And can all of the broken fences ever be mended? And it appears that her attack may not have been a one-off, as continued incidents continue to put her in danger, adding another new edge to Clem’s recovery.

It’s a great read that I couldn’t put down, and I finished this audiobook in a day. The story set up is intriguing, and though the story is predictable, it didn’t diminish my enjoyment and I loved watching Clementine rediscover herself and fall in love with an absolutely incredible hero – I defy any reader not to fall in mad love with this man! 

This was my first reading/listening to anything by Kylie Scott but it won’t be the last.

Five stars !!!!!!