Coldhearted Boss by R. S. Grey

Book Description:

Published: June 6, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

 

I’m desperate and destitute when Lockwood Construction rolls into my small town with an offer too good to pass up: high wages to any able-bodied man willing to join their crew.

Say no more. I throw on baggy clothes, tuck my long hair under a baseball hat, and apply for a job. Unfortunately, my half-baked idea of disguising myself as a guy is flawed from the beginning. As Shakira says, these hips don’t lie.

Still, I like to think I might have pulled the whole thing off save for one thing:

I know my boss.

Last month, we met at a bar, and after a fiery first encounter, it seems we’re destined to be sworn enemies.

Ethan Stone is ruthless and arrogant, a man I never would have crossed had I known how much he likes to toy with his prey.

He should just fire me and be done with it. Instead, he decides to make me his personal slave. Oh right, I think they’re calling it personal “assistant” these days.

It’s torture, all of it—his bad attitude, his ruggedly chiseled face, his desire to grind me into dust.

Every one of our friction-filled battles burns hotter than the last.

A girl can only hold out for so long. Soon, I’m bound to go up in flames.

My objective? Survive the heat long enough to send home a paycheck.

My real objective? Stop having X-rated fantasies about my coldhearted boss.

Review –

This was my first read/listen by R. S Grey and I loved it. Taylor’s character was my favorite.  I loved how determined and driven she was. If you want a strong willed, fierce heroine – look no further than Taylor. Her character was the strongest part of this book for me.

I also gotta give Coldhearted Boss it’s props because this one really delivers on enemies-to-lovers (a favorite genre of mine)and slow-burn romance. I mean this is ~SLOW~ burn  The banter was great for enemies-to-lovers, and the tension between Taylor and Ethan was amazing.

I loved how they were forced into a “live together” situation and they tried their best to out do one another by causing tension and heat between them. The “enemy” part of the story seemed to go on and on but finally they gave in to their desires and started a relationship and the epilogue was fantastic, almost tears worthy.

If you enjoy “enemies to lovers” contemporary romances with humor thrown in, add this one to your TBR list. You won’t regret it.

 

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Crew (Crew #1) by Tijan

Book Description:

Published: August 26, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible

 

To survive where I live, you have two options.

You can be a Normal–a cheerleader, jock, member of the debate team, or on the yearbook committee. You pretend everything is normal.

Or you can be crew.
You insult us? We hurt you.
You hurt us? We really hurt you.
And if you screw with us, we will end you.

My name is Bren.
I’m the only female in the Wolf Crew–the best, fiercest, and most dangerous crew there is–and we have a rule: There’s no falling in love.

Well… too late.

*This book contains mature young adult situations.

Review –

Crew is centered around four teen-agers and they aren’t a gang but they have each other’s back at all times. In this book we are introduced to Bren, a very complex person, with many layers. Bren is  cold, closed off, a bad ass, and volatile but there is a vulnerable, sad and scared side to her as well.

Throughout the story we get glimpses and pieces as to why Bren is the way she is and it really breaks your heart. Bren was a very interesting character to read about and some of the stuff she did in the book had me stunned. She was a legit badass at times and I loved it! Bren also did some growing in this book and that warmed my heart as well.

Cross is also apart of the crew and I’ve added him to my list of Book Boyfriends.  He was very protective of Bren. He was silent but lethal and always had Bren’s back and was there for her and could reach her in ways no body else could at times.

The other two members of the Crew are Jordan and Z. Each of them plays an important part in this story.

This book was  addictive from start to finish. I’ve read a few books by Tijan and this one is a lot darker and grittier  than her others and it was great. It’s a best friends to lover romance and those are some of my favorite reads. It was a delicious slow burn between the two characters and I loved seeing their relationship played out. 

I have not read Tijan’s series, Fallen Crest, but Heather and Channing are integral in this new series. I may have to go back and read the series later.

This isn’t your typical YA story. Yes, there’s a romance, but this series starter really is about love, family, and friendship, and how there are times that family isn’t limited to just the ones who share your DNA. This also has quite a few supporting characters, but majority of them have marked appearances. Warning:  Crew does end in a cliffhanger.

Loved this book.

Five stars !!!!

 

Finale (Caraval #3) by Stephanie Gerber

Book Description:

Published: May 7, 2019

Format: Audio/OverDrive

A love worth fighting for. A dream worth dying for. An ending worth waiting for.

It’s been two months since the Fates were freed from a deck of cards, two months since Legend claimed the throne for his own, and two months since Tella discovered the boy she fell in love with doesn’t really exist.

With lives, empires, and hearts hanging in the balance, Tella must decide if she’s going to trust Legend or a former enemy. After uncovering a secret that upends her life, Scarlett will need to do the impossible. And Legend has a choice to make that will forever change and define him.

Caraval is over, but perhaps the greatest game of all has begun. There are no spectators this time—only those who will win, and those who will lose everything.

Welcome, welcome to Finale. All games must come to an end…

Review –

“Picking up just after the end of Legendary (2018), Garber continues to build the world of Caraval with a final installment, this time focusing equally on both Dragna sisters’ perspectives.

After they released their long-missing mother from the Deck of Destiny, Scarlett and Donatella hoped to rebuild their relationship and gain a new sense of family. However, Legend also released the rest of the Fates, and, much to their dismay, the Fallen Star—essentially the ur-Fate—is only gaining in power. As the Fates begin to throw Valenda into chaos and disarray, the sisters must decide whom him to trust, whom to love, and how to set themselves free. Scar’s and Tella’s passionate will-they-or-won’t-they relationships with love interests are still (at times, inexplicably) compelling, taking up a good half of the plot and balancing out the large-scale power games with more domestic ones. Much like the previous two, this third book in the series is overwritten, with overly convenient worldbuilding that struggles nearly as much as the overwrought prose and convoluted plot. While those who aren’t Garber’s fans are unlikely to pick up this volume, new (or forgetful) readers will find the text repetitious enough to be able to follow along.” Kirkus Review

I was disappointed with this final book of the Caraval series. I loved the other two, but for me, this one fell flat. It’s true that the sisters had their hands full with fighting the Fates, keeping their romances alive and surviving to love another day, so I don’t know why I felt like there should have been more.

The thing I COULDN’T get enough of was the vivid imagery and the lush fantasy with which the author filled all three books in the series. Her descriptions are colorful and majestic.

 

 

 

 

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!

 

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

Book Description:

Published: September 26, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

A skilled painter must stand up to the ancient power of the faerie courts—even as she falls in love with a faerie prince—in this gorgeous debut novel.

Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes—a weakness that could cost him his life.

Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love—and that love violates the fair folks’ ruthless laws. Now both of their lives are forfeit, unless Isobel can use her skill as an artist to fight the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel.

Review –

Beautiful and bewitching, An Enchantment of Ravens ,weaves together a story like no other. Combining loveable characters, beautiful descriptions and an ever-changing plot. The author’s book and the world she created entranced me from the first account of Isobel’s art. This world was wonderfully constructed, including tiny bits, like Isobel’s once-goat-now-human sisters, that made this world so much more complete and immersive. Every action or choice made complete sense based on this world that was developed, so I was able to understand and sympathize with everything Isobel was going through.

Beyond Isobel, Rook was the kind of love interest you can’t help but fall in love with, and by the end of his initial introduction scene, I knew he was going to be wonderful. Isobel’s intelligent and courageous attitude combined with Rook’s protective and kind yet vain personality brought dialogue that made me laugh out loud and heart-wrenching moments that brought tears to my eyes. Even supporting characters like Isobel’s loyal customer Gadfly, or her scoundrel sisters, May and March, added a crazy  unique sense of life to the novel.

Beyond my love for the characters, I was consistently impressed by how well developed this world was. Most fantasy novels, similar to this one, are built into a series, and take several books before the world and conflict is fully understood. This novel did an amazing job of creating an in-depth and captivating plot, without seeming rushed. Similarly, each court — Autumn, Winter, Summer and Spring — were introduced in various parts in the novel, and each description was mesmerizing in its own way.

To sum up, An Enchantment of Ravens, is a fascinating  novel, with entrancing characters and a fast-paced plot. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys fantasy, especially fans of A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas.

Five stars and  I  love  the  cover.

 

The Hookup (Moonlight and Motor Oil #1) by Kristen Ashley

Book Description:

Published: December 19, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

When the new girl in town, Eliza “Izzy” Forrester decides to hit the local drinking hole, she’s not ready to meet the town’s good, solid guy. She’s definitely not prepared to engage in her very first hookup with him.

Then Izzy wakes up the next morning in Johnny Gamble’s bed and good girl Izzy finds she likes being bad for Johnny.

Even so, Izzy feels Johnny holding her at arm’s length. But Johnny makes it clear he wants more and Izzy already knows she wants as much of hot-in-bed, sweet-out-of-it Johnny Gamble.

Floating on air thinking this is going somewhere, Izzy quickly learns why Johnny holds distant.

He’s in love with someone else. Someone who left him and did it leaving him broken. Whoever was up next would be runner up, second best. Knowing the stakes, Izzy will take what she can get from the gentleman that’s Johnny Gamble. And even knowing his heart might never mend, Johnny can’t seem to stay away from Izzy.

Until out of nowhere, his lost love comes back to town. He’s not going back, but Johnny still knows the right thing to do is let Izzy go.

And Izzy knew the stakes, so she makes it easy and slips through his fingers.

But that’s before Johnny realizes Eliza moved to town to escape danger that’s been swirling around her.

And that’s why Johnny decides to wade in.

That and the fact Eliza Forrester makes breakfast with a canary singing on her shoulder and fills out tight dresses in a way Johnny Gamble cannot get out of his head.

Review –

I fell in love with Izzy and Johnny almost instantly. Their chemistry together was the kind that would take up all the air in a room.

The Hookup is the first in a new series, Moonlight and Motor Oil, based on a pair of wealthy alphas and the women who tame them. Set in the small town of Matlock, KY, the premise is classic. An overprotective quiet alpha whose heart was trampled meets and reluctantly falls for a sweet and sassy woman whose innocence and joy of life helps to glue his broken heart back together. Family, redemption, loyalty, and second chances are the themes on which this story is built as Johnny learns to love again while Izzy learns she is worth loving.

The Hookup is very low key (until the end) and exceptionally chatty.The  majority of the book is spent  watching our couple have sex (great hot sex) and get to know one another. The secondary cast is introduced, giving Izzy and Johnny a personable posse of friends and family who pop in and out as the author uses them to introduce the conflicts to come and to create some mild drama and background to this couple’s journey.

Fantastic read and the start of a wonderful series, and I LOVE the look of the cover.

Verity by Colleen Hoover

Book Description:

Published: December 7, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible

Lowen Ashleigh is a struggling writer on the brink of financial ruin when she accepts the job offer of a lifetime. Jeremy Crawford, husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, has hired Lowen to complete the remaining books in a successful series his injured wife is unable to finish.

Lowen arrives at the Crawford home, ready to sort through years of Verity’s notes and outlines, hoping to find enough material to get her started. What Lowen doesn’t expect to uncover in the chaotic office is an unfinished autobiography Verity never intended for anyone to read. Page after page of bone-chilling admissions, including Verity’s recollection of what really happened the day her daughter died.

Lowen decides to keep the manuscript hidden from Jeremy, knowing its contents would devastate the already grieving father. But as Lowen’s feelings for Jeremy begin to intensify, she recognizes all the ways she could benefit if he were to read his wife’s words. After all, no matter how devoted Jeremy is to his injured wife, a truth this horrifying would make it impossible for him to continue to love her.

A standalone romantic thriller from #1 New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover.

Review –

It’s interesting (and amazing) when an author explores writing something that is completely different from what we are used to seeing from them.  And it also helps that I love reading thrillers as well.  Keep in mind if you are here for the romance, although there is one in this book, it’s definitely darker and grittier and I don’t think it’s really intended to be “romantic”.

There’s a deep, dark secret that Verity Crawford has been hiding.  She’s been in a serious accident and her publisher hired author Lowen Ashleigh to finish writing the three books left in Verity’s hugely popular series.  But when Lowen moves into the Crawford home to go through series notes she discovers some sinister secrets about Verity and her family life.  And she can’t help but feel an undeniable attraction to Verity’s husband, Jeremy.

The great thing about this is that the whole book seemed pretty straight forward.  I mean, awful in some parts, but straight forward.  It had some creepy, nail biting moments but I didn’t feel the need to solve the mystery at any point.  I thought I had it figured out.  I should’ve known better and kept my mind engaged in gathering clues if there were any. I have to give the author credit for making me so wrapped up in the story that first off, I didn’t want to stop listening and second, I just experienced it as it came. The shocker will come at the very end of the story and yes, I didn’t see it coming, (love when that happens)  Also, I think that’s the morally grey point of the book.  Where you question the characters actions and think back on the what’s right and what’s wrong.  There is an HEA but it may feel like a questionable one for people that fall on one side of that moral spectrum than others.

Nevertheless, Verity was a thrilling and exciting ride.  It’s dark and horrific at times but I couldn’t not continue listening.  I really hope that Ms. Hoover writes more in this genre because I’m definitely here for that side of her.

Five HUGE stars!

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.

 

 

Restore Me (Shatter Me #4) by Tahereh Mafi

Book Description:

Published: March 6, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Juliette Ferrars thought she’d won. She took over Sector 45, was named the new Supreme Commander, and now has Warner by her side. But she’s still the girl with the ability to kill with a single touch—and now she’s got the whole world in the palm of her hand. When tragedy hits, who will she become? Will she be able to control the power she wields and use it for good?

Review –

The book picks off immediately off the last novel, and though the first seventy-five percent of the novel moves at a slow, turtle crawl, I actually understood the importance of the slow pace. Through the first seventy-five percent of the novel, Juliette scrambles around helplessly in confusion, adjusting to her new authority and workload. It would be awfully weird if Juliette seamlessly transitioned to an insane girl from the asylum that somehow managed to destroy the Supreme Commander of North America to a serious, responsible leader. She is so incredibly new to this crazy, tangled world that’s overflowing with treachery, politics, and issues. Being Supreme Commander is more than just fighting against rebellious forces constantly. It involves the intriguing, dark relationships between the most powerful leaders around the world. You can’t just waltz into one of the world’s most powerful positions and expect everything to be blood and glory. Instead, it’s a slow, sweet burn of painful deception and lies—-a wicked game played between the world’s most significant leaders.

Another thing that I particularly enjoyed about this novel was the reality check. In the first three books, Warner and Juliette have undeniable chemistry and quickly become infatuated with each other, but once that infatuation burns out, it’s time for the two sides of the relationship to truly understand each other. Finally, we get to see a more realistic side of Warner and Juliette’s relationship. They realize that besides the events that occurred in the pats month, they really don’t know much about each other. At times, it was indescribably painful to witness their conflicts, but at the same time, I relished them. After all the lustrous flirtations between the two of them in the past few novels, it was nice to see the other side of things. Love isn’t always going to be a smooth ride of infatuation and flirtations; you’re going to have to make an effort to know who this person is and what they stand for.

Finally, I loved the plot twist at the end. Even though I almost guessed it in the first few pages, the anticipation is slowly but steadily built up until the climax where everything comes crashing down. I LOVED it. Honestly, the cliffhanger puts all other cliffhangers to shame. I don’t want to say much, but reading the ending was probably one of those moments where everything that happened in the novel earlier is tied together beautifully into one giant package of astonishment.

Overall, this novel was fantastic, and I’m excited to see what the next two novels have in store for Juliette!

This series has mesmerizing covers and I love them all.

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Book Description:

Published: November 8, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Long before she was the terror of Wonderland—the infamous Queen of Hearts—she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.

Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the king and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

In her first stand-alone teen novel, the New York Times-bestselling author dazzles us with a prequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Review –

Heartless is a prequel to Lewis Carroll’s 1863 classic Alice in Wonderland, being the history of one of the most recognizable characters in fiction; The Queen of Hearts. Set in the kingdom of Hearts, a world of talking animals, animate furniture and occasional bouts of unpredictable magic, the story follows Lady Catherine Pinkerton, the seventeen year old daughter of the Marquess of Rockturtle Cove.

Cath begins the book as sweet, naïve and rather overly sheltered, not to mention very much under her parent’s’ thumb (one reason for my lady’s initial exasperation), however seeing her change, grow and evolve through circumstances is truly a pleasure. Meyer seems to have a gift for character depiction since this is a book where even the minor players turn out to be more than they appear, and as for Catherine rarely have I seen an author write character development in such a pure sense, i.e. taking a character from one place at the start of the book, and showing how they journey to a very different place at the end of it.

I liked how the King of Hearts, despite being cast almost immediately in the role of an unwanted potential husband is neither sadistic nor lecherous. He is simply good natured, foolish, ineffective and not overly endowed in the brain department. While this makes him of course completely out of the question as a match for Catherine, it also makes her position a more unique one than a lot of characters facing forced marriages in modern fiction, since it’s one thing to wish to avoid a vile suitor at all costs, quite another to have to reject an innocent but dim-witted one.

The  character I did feel slightly short-changed by was Jest, the court joker and very obvious love interest. Dashing, clever, accomplished at everything from magic tricks to music and of course hopelessly smitten with Catherine (he even has golden eyes). While Meyer does undoubtedly reveal enough hidden truths about Jest to make him play an interesting part in the plot, I did feel that he was a bit too idealised. 

The final conclusion is a very apt end to the story, employing prophecy, destiny and character revelations. If you know the story of the Queen of Hearts then you know that this story will not end well, BUT you keeping hoping …

Despite its at times slow pace and its rather too obvious Joker I did very much enjoy Heartless. Take a large serving of Lewis Carroll, add a table-spoon of Jane Austin, season with a bit of Gaiman like twisted fairy tales and a likable, if rather sheltered protagonist and you have something sweet, fluffy and delicious on the outside, but with a dark, and troubled centre within.

Loved it!