New Release Review and Giveaway! ANY BOY BUT YOU by Julie Hammerle (North Pole, MN #1)

Any Boy but You
North Pole, Minnesota #1
by Julie Hammerle
Publication Date: February 13, 2017
Publisher:  Entangled: Crush

 

Elena Chestnut has been chatting with an anonymous boy late into the night. It’s a very You’ve Got Mail situation, and she has no idea who he is. He can’t be Oliver Prince, hot-and-bashful son of the family running the rival sporting goods store. Their fancy sales strategies are driving Elena’s family out of business. Elena’s mystery boy has teamed up with her in their latest sales strategy, an augmented reality game, to help her win the grand-prize plane tickets. Money’s so tight Elena’s going to miss senior year spring break with her friends if she can’t win this game.

The girl Oliver’s fallen head-over-heels for online had better not be Elena Chestnut. She’s his angry, vindictive Latin tutor, the daughter of his dad’s business rival, and the one girl he’d never even think of kissing. She’s definitely not his online crush, because that girl is funny, sweet, and perfect.

When Oliver asks to reveal their names at the Valentine’s Day dance, their IRL relationship will either ruin what they have online, or they’ll discover just how thin the line between love and hate really is.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains swearing, snowball fights, and sexual tension that could melt the North Pole. Read at your own risk.

Review:

A super-cute modern YA version of You’ve Got Mail (or technically, of the original–The Shop Around the Corner) with a bit of Romeo and Juliet feuding families-style drama added in, I really liked Any Boy But You. Both Oliver and Elena had their less-than-sympathetic moments–he was pretty judgmental at first on nothing more than his dad’s say-so, and she was over-the-top nasty at times, but that just made everything all the more sweet when they realized the errors of their ways, got a clue, and went above and beyond to make things better.

The ending was a bit rushed–we don’t get a whole lot of satisfactory Oliver and Elena time before the final page–but it’s pegged as the first in a new series, so fingers crossed that we’ll see plenty of them together and being cute in the books that are to come.

(Is it wrong to say I was about ready to cheer for the Chinese restaurant that insisted on calling itself “The Chinese Restaurant” instead of “Away in a Lo Mein-ger”, though? Because those Christmas-themed business names got to be a bit much at times…)

Rating: 4 stars / B+

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

 

Purchase Links:

Google Play | BAM | Amazon | Indies | B&N| Kobo | TBD | iBooks

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About the Author:

Julie Hammerle is the author of The Sound of Us, which was published by Entangled Teen in 2016. Before settling down to write “for real,” she studied opera, taught Latin, and held her real estate license for one hot minute. Currently, she writes about TV on her blog Hammervision, ropes people into conversations about Game of Thrones, and makes excuses to avoid the gym. Her favorite YA-centric TV shows include 90210 (original spice), Felicity, and Freaks and Geeks. Her iPod reads like a 1997 Lilith Fair set list.

She lives in Chicago with her husband, two kids, and a dog. They named the dog Indiana.

 

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New Release Review and Giveaway! GUARDIAN OF SECRETS by Brenda Drake (Library Jumpers #2)

Guardian of Secrets (Library Jumpers #2)
by Brenda Drake
Publication Date: February 7, 2017
Publisher:  Entangled Teen

 

Being a Sentinel isn’t all fairytales and secret gardens.

Sure, jumping through books into the world’s most beautiful libraries to protect humans from mystical creatures is awesome. No one knows that better than Gia Kearns, but she could do without the part where people are always trying to kill her. Oh, and the fact that Pop and her had to move away from her friends and life as she knew it.

And if that isn’t enough, her boyfriend, Arik, is acting strangely. Like, maybe she should be calling him “ex,” since he’s so into another girl. But she doesn’t have time to be mad or even jealous, because someone has to save the world from the upcoming apocalypse, and it looks like that’s going to be Gia.

Maybe. If she survives.

Link to Goodreads:

Purchase Links:

Google Play
BAM
Chapters
Indies
Amazon
B&N
Kobo
TBD
iBooks

Review:

Books acting as portals to libraries around the world, transporting magical knights through them in order to save the world?

Yes, please!

Guardian of Secrets is the second book in the Library Jumpers series, and definitely not the one to start with. There’s too much going on, too many characters and plot threads already happening at that point–and book 2 takes everything to an all new level. A major character’s going to be under a spell, other characters aren’t going to make it into book 3, and Gia’s going to be involved in a significant love triangle–so. Much. Going. On. I feel like I need another week to process it all…and I should probably re-read before book 3 comes out…

Rating: 4 stars / B+

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

Also in the series:

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17669243-thief-of-lies

Gia Kearns would rather fight with boys than kiss them. That is, until Arik, a leather clad hottie in the Boston Athenaeum, suddenly disappears. While examining the book of world libraries he abandoned, Gia unwittingly speaks the key that sucks her and her friends into a photograph and transports them into a Paris library, where Arik and his Sentinels—magical knights charged with protecting humans from the creatures traveling across the gateway books—rescue them from a demonic hound.

Jumping into some of the world’s most beautiful libraries would be a dream come true for Gia, if she weren’t busy resisting her heart or dodging an exiled wizard seeking revenge on both the Mystik and human worlds. Add a French flirt obsessed with Arik and a fling with a young wizard, and Gia must choose between her heart and her head, between Arik’s world and her own, before both are destroyed.

 

About the Author:

Brenda Drake is a New York Times bestselling author of Thief of Lies (Library Jumpers #1), Guardian of Secrets (Library Jumpers #2), Touching Fate (Fated Series #1), and Cursing Fate (Fated Series #2). She grew up the youngest of three children, an Air Force brat, and the continual new kid at school. She hosts workshops and contests for writers such as Pitch Wars and Pitch Madness on her blog, and holds Twitter pitch parties on the hashtag, #PitMad. When she’s not writing or hanging out with her family, she haunts libraries, bookstores, and coffee shops, or reads someplace quiet and not at all exotic (much to her disappointment).

Website – http://www.brenda-drake.com/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/brendadrake
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Brenda-Drake/171424269657164
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/brendadrakeauthor/
Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7012713.Brenda_Drake

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New Release Review and Giveaway! WORTH THE WAIT by AJ Pine (Kingston Ale House #4)


WORTH THE WAIT
by AJ Pine
Kingston Ale House #4
Publication Date: January 16, 2017
Genres: Adult, Entangled: Select, Contemporary Romance

 

Synopsis:

I like to think of myself as a man of pleasure…I enjoy a good pint of ale, being in the arms of a beautiful woman, and living by my own rules. The only thing I try to avoid? Commitment. And I’ve got a three-year success rate to prove it.

I wasn’t planning on Grace—the beautiful, funny, totally off-limits massage therapist who keeps popping up in my life. She’s on a six-month mission to rid her life of toxins. No alcohol. No red meat. And, yeah, no men. I’m talking full-on man cleanse.

I know I should walk away, but I can’t…and the only way to keep her in my life is to live by her rules. I’ll need to prove to a woman who’s lost all trust in men that I’m worthy of her love. And do it all without so much as a single kiss.

The only problem? If I win, I’ll lose the one thing I swore I’d never give up. My heart.

Excerpt:

“Grace, honey, I hope you haven’t been waiting long.”

Grace opened her mouth to respond, but the woman cut her off, turning to Jeremy.

“And who’s your tall drink of ginger ale? I thought you were off the man sauce for now. Or is that episode over? Because if it’s not, please tell me you’re keeping him around for when it is. And— Oh! Did you try the Pink Bullet we talked about last time, or are you still relying on the showerhead?”

Jeremy coughed while Grace maintained complete and utter composure despite the woman who must be her Realtor discussing, on the sidewalk, whether or not Grace masturbated.

“What?” the woman added. “Life is too short for mental filters. Say what you want or keep your mouth shut. You keep things bottled up inside, and you’re liable to explode.” She winked. “Yet another reason for the Pink Bullet.”

He raised a brow, intrigued by what his new friend might say in response.

Grace simply let out a long breath. “Lisa,” she said, nodding toward him. “This is my friend, Jeremy. Jeremy, Lisa’s the Realtor who, thankfully, has not leased this place out to anyone else, yet. We’ve known each other as long as I’ve been eyeing it, so she’s kind of privy to the whole cleanse situation.”

Lisa crossed her arms and gave Jeremy the once-over. “God, you two would make fantastic-looking children.” She shook her head. “What a waste. And no, for all the condos I sell, I cannot unload this property. It’s like it’s waiting for our Gracie here.”

He grinned at the sound of the nickname. He bet other people got to call her that, people who knew the real her—all of her. People with whom she spoke freely about her sex life—or lack thereof—and whether or not she pleasured herself.

His dick twitched inside his jeans. Traitor. But how could he blame it? He was conjuring images of Grace touching herself in places that were off-limits to the entirety of the male species, and it was enough to drive him mad.

Friends, he reminded himself, then tried to drum up an antidote.

Nana bringing him cookies when he had the chicken pox as a child.

Nope. That just made him realize he was hungry for something other than kale and that he was still horny.

His ninth-grade English teacher, Mrs. Field. Shit. No. Wrong choice. She was actually kind of hot.

Nurse Elsa, the one who always gave him the flu shot at his old pediatrician’s office. She had that mole above her lip with that one lone hair growing out of it…Yes!

He glanced down at his pants, feeling himself soften.

At ease, soldier.

Review:

Worth the Wait was a sweet story about two people who have been badly burned in relationships finding love again.

Jeremy and Grace have no interest in relationships when they first meet, or when they meet again, or once again. Wait, is the universe trying to tell them something, perhaps? 😉

I really liked the two of them together–so cute!–and loved that Grace’s “cleanse” meant that for 90% of the book their relationship had nothing more physical than the occasional kiss on a forehead or hand. (And some phone calls…but they don’t technically count as getting “physical”, right? ;)) It made for some very sweet moments and meant that the two of them really got to know each other without all of the physical stuff muddying the waters.

Or…did it? There was a bit more confusion/questioning of feelings toward the end than I’d expected–though some of that was each of them doubting themselves, rather than doubting the other one–and I’m still not 100% why Jeremy and Grace didn’t take care of what needed to be taken care of before the hospital visit took place (since we learn about the ER visit and non-kiss in the prologue, I’m not really spoiling anything here–it’ll drive you crazy for most of the book anyway) though I do admit that the circumstances came together to make a pretty memorable resolution overall. It was–wait for it–Worth the Wait. 😉

The Kingston Ale House books all work pretty well as standalones–ironically, the only one in the series that I have yet to read is Jeremy’s sister’s book ( Three Simple Words), but you’d better believe I’ll remedy that as soon as I can. Since this is the last in the series, all of the other couples make appearances here; if you haven’t read their books yet, no worries, but I can’t guarantee you won’t want to read them before you get to the last page.

But that’s what TBR lists are for, right? 😉

Rating: 4 stars / B+

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

DON’T MISS THE OTHER BOOKS IN THE KINGSTON ALE HOUSE SERIES!
three-simple-words-cover
Synopsis:
She’s holding out for a happy ever after.
Annie
I know where to find my happily ever after—between the pages of a romance novel. It’s why I sell books, why I blog about them, and why I’ll never get disappointed by love.So what if my brother’s best friend from high school is now a bestselling author? Or that he just blew back into town on a Harley, filling out a pair of jeans like he never did before? Or that he’s agreed to do a signing at my bookstore on such short notice? Because despite all his adoring female fans, I kind of hated his book.
Wes
The last time I saw Annie Denning, she was a senior in high school, three years older than me and way out of my league.
Now I’m her last-minute date to a wedding, and what started as a night of pure fun has turned into something more real than either of us anticipated.Annie is my muse. When I’m with her, my writer’s block fades away, and the words finally flow.The only problem? She wants the fairy tale—her very own happily ever after—and anyone who’s read my book knows the truth. I just don’t believe they exist.

 

Six Month Rule New Cover

Synopsis:

She created the game, but the rules are about to change.

The second I met Will Evans in his three-piece suit with that hot as hell British accent, I wanted him.

That is…until he insulted my shoes and stole my corner office.

Now I have to work side-by-side with the surly British arsehole who just set my career back six months.

It’s fine. That accent won’t get to me, no matter how sexy it sounds when he asks permission to do things professionals shouldn’t do. On the couch. In the corner office I still wish was mine.

Maybe we can’t keep our hands off each other, but I’m sure as hell not falling for a guy who lives an ocean away. Because in six months, he’s leaving for good.

I don’t do broken hearts, but you know what they say…

There’s a first time for everything.

Each book in the Kingston Ale House series is a standalone, full-length story that can be enjoyed out of order.

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the-one-that-got-away-1-cover

 

Synopsis:

How far will one man go for the woman he’s loved since high school?

Jamie Kingston has been Brynn Chandler’s best friend since middle school. Only once was their friendship tested—when Brynn gave Jamie a single kiss. Since then, they’ve had an unspoken agreement never to cross that line again, and she’s ready to let go of the past and move on.

But Jamie has loved Brynn for as long as he can remember, and now that he’s ready to tell her, she has her sights set on someone else. Knowing this is his last chance, he asks Brynn to go on a two-week road trip. But their time alone brings old hurts to the surface, and Brynn has to decide if the one that got away lies at the end of the journey or if he’s been by her side all along.

BUY:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/29Z6agE
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Amazon CA: http://amzn.to/29SpV7N
B&N: http://bit.ly/1SSq2xv
Kobo: http://bit.ly/1QeR2VO
iBooks: http://apple.co/1SdYliQ

ABOUT AJ PINE:

aj-pine

AJ Pine writes stories to break readers’ hearts, but don’t worry—she’ll mend them with a happily ever after. As an English teacher and a librarian, AJ has always surrounded herself with books. All her favorites have one big commonality–romance. Naturally, her books have the same. When she’s not writing, she’s of course reading. Then there’s online shopping (everything from groceries to shoes) and, of course, a tiny bit of TV where she nourishes her undying love of vampires and superheroes. And in the midst of all of this, you’ll also find her hanging with her family in the Chicago burbs.

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New Release Review and Giveaway! THE TATTERED GLOVES by J.L. Berg

ttg-amazonAbout THE TATTERED GLOVES:

Head down.
Don’t look up. 
Never make eye contact.

Those were the words I lived by growing up, the words that protected me in an unsafe home. But words are only letters and eventually even they couldn’t keep his hands off me.

Hoping to leave behind the shattered life of my past, I find myself in a boring, small town, with an aunt I’ve never met and at a school I loathe.

But soon I learn, not everything in this world is as black and white as I’ve determined. Sometimes those we are so quick to judge often need a second, third or even fourth time to make a first impression.

And often, there are friendships and even love waiting just around the corner, if we are brave enough to take the first step.

Am I brave? Or will I hide behind these tattered gloves of mine forever?

Add THE TATTERED GLOVES to your to be read shelf on Goodreads!

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Review:

The Tattered Gloves is a sweet story about bravery, overcoming your past, and finding a family. It deals with some very heavy and adult subjects–especially the reasons behind Willow’s wearing the titular accessories–but doesn’t go into a whole lot of detail about them for the most part.

Overall I was okay with this–if you’re looking for a grittier, more “real” story, though, this isn’t it–the only glossing over that really gave me pause was how quickly everything was wrapped up in the end. It seemed almost too painless and easy, not that I wanted things to be harder for Willow, her aunt, and her friends, but it lost a bit of its realism at that point, I thought.

On the whole, though, I did enjoy this book. Willow, Sam, Addy, and Allison are great characters, and people I could definitely see myself getting along with in real life. I mean, Willow’s named after a Buffy character, and Sam’s trying to save his family’s bookstore–what’s not to love there? It was easy to root for them to have a happy ending in the end.

Rating: 4 stars / B+

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

About J.L. Berg

J.L. Berg is the USA Today bestselling author of the Ready Series, The Walls Duet, and the Lost & Found Duet. She is a California native living in the beautiful state of historic Virginia. Married to her high school sweetheart, they have two beautiful girls that drive them batty on a daily basis. When she’s not writing, you will find her with her nose stuck in a romance novel, in a yoga studio or devouring anything chocolate. J.L. Berg is represented by Jill Marsal of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency, LLC.

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Release Day Review and Giveaway! FALLING FOR THE PLAYER by Jessica Lee

Falling For the Player
by Jessica Lee

Genre: New Adult – M/M Romance
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Release Date: January 16, 2017

Bad boy and former NFL running back Patrick Guinness is tired of meaningless sex. Ever since his scorching hot one-night stand three years ago, no one has interested him. So when Max Segreti wanders into his mechanic shop—and his life again—Patrick can’t stop thinking about the totally-out-of-his-league law student and the possibility of getting him out of his system once and for all…

Max Segreti has spent his entire life doing what his father wants. But when he runs into the hotter-than-hell player he’s never been able to forget, he’s not thinking about studying for the bar. A distraction is the last thing he needs, but after an encounter leaves him wanting more, Max embraces the chaos that Patrick brings…even as he knows it can’t last. They’re too different to ever have a future together.

 

 

Jumping up, Patrick yanked his soaked shirt over his head.

Damn, that shit is hot!

“Oh, fuck!” Max grabbed the wet shirt and tried to soak up the remaining coffee dripping off Patrick’s skin. “God, this is my fault. I should have been more careful.” Then Max jerked his own T-shirt off and blotted Patrick’s chest with it, his expression twisted with concern. “Are you okay?”

He was fine. Not that Max would stand still and listen long enough to find out. Fuck, the guy was too adorable. Patrick was lucky the coffee had been Max’s heavily creamed version and so not hot enough to do any damage.

Patrick braced his hands on the other guy’s shoulders, trying to hold him in place, but it wasn’t working.

“Max,” he called out to him.

“Do we need to get you to the ER?”

“I’m fine.”

“Shit, Patrick, I—”

Seizing one of Max’s wrists, Patrick hauled him against his chest, bringing a halt to whatever else he’d been about to say. Max looked up, his eyes wide, stunned.

“I’m okay,” Patrick whispered. He couldn’t stop drinking in the other man’s features. Strands of Max’s dark hair had fallen forward onto his forehead. The guy had the most expressive dark blue eyes, with small flecks of amber around the pupil he hadn’t noticed until now. Patrick followed the bridge of the man’s perfectly straight nose lower to where it ended above the carved V of his mouth. Outside of his looks, Max was everything Patrick never went for, smart and obviously rich, judging by the expensive car and his big-ass condo. Back home, the only way he and Max’s type would have mixed would have been when he worked on their cars. Funny how his popularity as a football star placed him, for once, on the other side of the tracks. Someone who would soon be rolling in the big bucks. The pink tip of Max’s tongue appeared, momentarily short-circuiting Patrick’s train of thought as Max licked his full lower lip.

Fuck.

Patrick wasn’t sure who moved first, but the next thing he knew, he had his fist clenched in Max’s short, thick hair and his lips sealed against Max’s. A hard shudder of pleasure raced over him, and Patrick’s cock bucked against the confines of his zipper. Max groaned, his mouth roaming every inch of Patrick’s mouth, as if he couldn’t get enough. But Patrick matched his every move, unsure who needed the contact, the pleasure, more.

 

I enjoyed Max and Patrick’s story–though you should be warned, it’s not really a “sports” romance, even though the title and cover make it look like it is. By the time the book really gets going (the very beginning takes place three years earlier than the rest of the book) Patrick’s already retired from pro football due to an injury. It’s still a good story, but the sports involvement is minimal.

This is a second chance romance of sorts, since Max and Patrick had a one night stand back in college. Things have definitely changed, though–Max is about to take the bar and working for his dad, and Patrick has taken over both the family business and responsibility for his younger brother Liam. Patrick and Max seem right together from the start, even though they’re from different backgrounds and going in different directions in life–neither really thinks they’ll be together…until they do.

I liked the secondary characters here–Liam, and Max’s BFF and coworker Abbie–even Max’s sister Theresa, though we don’t see her much, has potential. If Ms. Lee is going to turn this into a series and give any or all of these three a book, sign me up for sure.

Falling for the Player isn’t without its issues–we miss much of their early relationship goodness when one chapter ends and the next fast forwards us in time, and the drama with Max’s dad ends up being settled pretty darn quickly, considering–but still, I found more to like here than not.

My first book by Ms. Lee, but definitely not my last 🙂

Rating: 4 stars / B+

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

 

Visit Entangled Publishing for links to all available retailers

 


Jessica Lee is an EPIC eBook Award winner and international bestselling author of paranormal romance. She lives in the southeastern United States with her husband and son. In her former life, Jessica was a science geek and spent over twenty-five years as a nurse. But after the birth of her son, she left her medical career behind. During that transition, she discovered her passion for writing romance and has never looked back. Jessica Lee is currently published with Entangled Publishing and Resplendence Publishing. Plus she has several self published titles available.

 

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Pre-Release Review: A SHOT WITH YOU by Teri Anne Stanley (Bourbon Brothers #2)

A Shot with You
by Teri Anne Stanley

 

Synopsis:

Bourbon is in Brandon Morgan’s blood. His family owns the best bourbon brand in the country—or it will be with his marketing genius. And after meeting the fiery daughter of a tequila distillery owner, he’s never been more sure.

His barrels, her tequila. It’s a match made in heaven. But only if he can keep his hands off the owner’s daughter…and his secrets to himself.

Lesa Ruiz will do anything to keep Little Possum afloat, but one look at Brandon’s gorgeous dimples and Lesa knows two things for sure: forever is not in the cards with this man and he’s way too sexy to resist for long.

Well, three things… Brandon is hiding something, and she’ll need to get a lot closer to figure it out and save her family’s legacy. Shots, anyone?

 

Review:

Cute story! It didn’t quite have the impact that the first one in the series did (Drunk on You), but it was still a worthy follow-up. Brandon and Lesa make a nice couple, even if some of the drama isn’t quite there–the family dynamics and chemistry makes up for a lot, though.

This is one I would have liked to have heard in audio, if only to hear Lesa’s accent and occasional Spanish dialogue.

An entertaining way to start the new year!

Rating: 4 stars / B+

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

 

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Shannyn Shroeder, Author of IN YOUR ARMS (For Your Love #2), Introduces Us to its Hero, Sean O’Malley (with a new release review and giveaway!)

 

Meet the Hero of In Your Arms – Sean O’Malley
By: Shannyn Schroeder

 

I love the O’Malleys. From the first moment I wrote about them in my O’Learys series, I fell for them. And Sean is one of my favorites. Everyone describes him as a live-and-let-live kind of guy who happens to be quick with his fists. And that really sums up who he is.

Sean is all about enjoying life. He works as a mechanic because he likes working on cars. It’s not a stepping-stone to some other career. He plays hockey every chance he gets and rides his motorcycle until the weather prohibits it. He does whatever he wants, pretty much no matter what. When he has a chance to enjoy a long motorcycle ride due to some unexpected awesome weather, he goes, even though it costs him his job. He knows he won’t have a problem getting a new one.

Sean loves his family and likes having them around. It’s part of why he continues to live at home. He can afford to live in his own place, but he chooses not to. He’s very protective of everyone he cares about, and that’s the reason he’s usually so quick to use his fists.

Part of why Sean refuses to be more than an “overgrown boy” is because he grew up watching his older brother Jimmy take care of everyone. Jimmy is ultra-responsible and Sean doesn’t want to live with that kind of burden.

When he meets Emma, he starts to want a relationship with her and doesn’t understand how he could fall for a woman who is a female version of Jimmy. She expects him to be something he can’t be, but for her he’s willing to try.

Shannyn Schroeder is the author of the O’Leary series, contemporary  romances centered around a large Irish-American family in Chicago and the Hot & Nerdy series about 3 nerdy friends finding love. Her new series (For Your Love) will release this summer with the first title Under Your Skin. When she’s not wrangling her three kids or writing, she watches a ton of TV and loves to bake cookies.
IN YOUR ARMS
For Your Love #2
Shannyn Schroeder
Releasing Dec 27th, 2016
Zebra Shout

 

A KNIGHT IN SHINING LEATHER…
 
Sean O’Malley has never tried to hide who he is. He shows it in the motorcycle thrumming between the legs of his tight jeans…the shaggy hair that falls in his gorgeous eyes…the wicked gleam in his smile when he asks Emma out for a drink. Sean is a rebel, a bad boy, and a ton of fun: exactly the kind of guy she’s sworn off forever.
Emma isn’t just the prim kindergarten teacher she appears to be. And somehow Sean can tell. As soon as he pulls up to her overheated car he knows that a fast bike and a cold beer will fix her rotten day better than compliments or a bubble bath. Her straitlaced exterior and her wild heart light him up. But Emma wants to escape her past and settle down—and if her desk jockey dates don’t understand where she comes from, at least she doesn’t worry about them bringing her back.
One weekend of intense connection can’t change the paths Sean and Emma have chosen. But with a little space to be themselves together, maybe the rest of the world can wait…


The blast of air-conditioning hit them as the automatic door swung open. Emma paused, looked up and around, and turned toward the bakery. Sean followed. She kept walking, and he stopped by the coffee cakes. A chocolate-chip cake sounded good.

“What about this?” He held up the plastic container.

“Uh-uh. It needs to be birthday cake.”

Sean held on to the coffee cake but followed her to the refrigerated section. She looked at the display for a minute before choosing one. As great as Emma seemed, she sure had some weird quirks. She picked out a round cake with Happy Birthday written in blue handwriting. Red, yellow, and blue icing balloons decorated the edge.

Emma said nothing. With the cake in hand, she turned toward the register. Although she quickly offered answers to his questions, she wasn’t like other girls he knew, who would fill silence with any kind of pointless chatter.

“You okay?” he asked when they got to the self-checkout.

“I will be.” She scanned her cake, and he jumped in to scan his too before she could finish the transaction. Then he swiped his card to pay.

“You didn’t have to buy my cake.”

“I know I didn’t have to, but if I have a crappy day and someone buys me a beer, that beer tastes even better going down.”

His answer got the reaction he’d hoped for. A smile. Emboldened by her smile, he pushed on. “So why does it have to be birthday cake?”

She sighed and he thought she might not answer. “Birthday cake was the one thing my mom got right when I was a kid.”

He waited, hoping she’d explain, because how could anyone mess up store-bought birthday cake? They walked through the automatic door, and the heat of the afternoon swamped him.

“You met her. Even with that brief encounter, you can probably tell Brandi is far from a stellar mom. A lot of things were uncertain when I was little. But birthday cake was something we could always count on. It didn’t matter where we were living or even if she had a job, Mom made sure we had birthday cake on our birthdays.”

“It’s weird now that you mention it. I guess I always took birthday cake for granted. In my family, we’re all adults and we still make a trip to Blackstone’s to get a birthday cake.”

“For me, birthday cake is comfort.” She leaned over and bumped his shoulder as they walked. “I keep some in my freezer because you never know when you’re going to have a bad day.”

“Seriously?”

“Well, it’s not like I buy a cake and eat it all by myself in one sitting. It would be a waste to throw it out, so I cut it into pieces and freeze it.”

The walk back to his house was too quick. Sean liked Emma talking about herself. He didn’t know how he’d even managed not to realize how much he missed having a girlfriend. Then he remembered that every girl at some point pushed for something more than he wanted to give. He wasn’t about to put a ring on anyone’s finger. That kind of commitment would ruin his easygoing lifestyle.

I’ve been craving birthday cake for two days straight now…I wonder why? 😉

I really liked Sean and Emma together–they had good chemistry, and clearly brought out good qualities in one another, even though they couldn’t always see it. I wasn’t crazy about how Emma wrote Sean off from the very beginning, though I did understand her instincts there–yeah, a guy who lives in his parent’s basement and thinks nothing of having three different jobs in one year doesn’t exactly scream “stable grownup”. She was a bit out of line not wanting to date a mechanic, though (seriously, with how much I have a tendency to shell out to gentlemen of that profession each year, they’d be on my short list), and the whole dating other guys to find “the one” while keeping up a friends(? up for debate–even they weren’t sure how to label them) with benefits thing she had going on with Sean was not cool. Even though he freely admitted he wasn’t looking for anything permanent, I had trouble believing he’d be okay with that aspect.

And yeah, Sean definitely needed to do some growing up, but overall he was a really good guy…though that could be my partiality for bar league hockey players doing some of the talking there. 😉 Still, he was easy to root for, and it was clear from the start that the two of them had something that was going to be worth the work in the end–if they’d let it get to that point, that is.

It was also nice to see a realistically-written teacher for a change! Yes, lesson planning, grading, and getting up early Monday through Friday are very real facts of life for teachers, even in kindergarten. So many authors over-romanticize their characters, having it be all sunshine and rainbows and I-adore-my-student-y with dedicated teachers who hardly seem to do much more than show up for class every morning. Emma loved her job and seemed good at it, but she also worked for it, which was refreshing.

Though both the hero and heroine were frustrating at times, ultimately this book was more satisfying than the previous one in the series, Under Your Skin , where the heroine (Sean’s younger sister Norah) being pregnant with another guy’s baby for 2/3 of the book made it more than a little bit disconcerting. The entertaining O’Malley family dynamic was here again, making me look forward to the last two siblings (Kevin and Tommy) finally getting their HEAs.

In Your Arms should work fine as a standalone if you haven’t read book one or the original series this is connected to (oldest brother Jimmy’s story is part of the O’Learys series–Catch Your Breath ).

Rating: 4 stars / B+

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

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New Release Review! BAD NEIGHBOR by M. O’Keefe

Bad Neighbor
by Molly O’Keefe

Synopsis:

He’s sexy… He’s dangerous… He’s right next door.

I gave up everything to save my sister from a monster, and now I’m lying low in this rundown apartment so I can stay out of danger. Hiding from everyone.
Except for the guy in apartment 1A.
He’s rude. Silent. Muscled, mysterious, and hot as hell. I don’t know if he likes me or hates me, but the more time I spend with him, the less it matters.
I want him.
And for the first time in my life I’m going to go after what I want.

She doesn’t belong in my world.

From the second 1B moves in, I know she’s keeping secrets. She doesn’t belong here, much less with a street fighter like me.
But that doesn’t stop me from craving her. Her softness and sweetness. She’s a drug, and suddenly I’m addicted.
I know someone is going to try and hurt her and I can’t let that happen. But unless I push her away and get her out of my world, that someone could be me…

 

Review:

I really love Molly O’Keefe’s writing, and when she puts on her “M. O’Keefe” hat? She ramps up the intensity.

I. Like.

A lot.

Bad Neighbor does not disappoint. Charlotte, a graphic artist (she’s creating a Where’s Waldo-style Jane Austen book–is it wrong that I really, really, really want this book to exist?) has just moved into an apartment in a pretty dodgy neighborhood because she just gave all of her cash and disposable assets to her twin sister, who’s on the run from her potentially-dangerous ex. Charlotte’s pretty anti-people anyway (again, a heroine after my own heart) so lying low shouldn’t be a major hardship. She just needs to keep her head down, finish her book, and make enough money to move somewhere, well…safer.

Except there’s that neighbor…

Jesse’s got his own toxic past, plus the potential of an equally dangerous future. He needs to stay away from his new neighbor–for her own good, he’s convinced. But she makes it difficult to stay away, and their walls are awfully thin…

I really enjoyed the push and pull between Jesse and Charlotte. They had great chemistry together and the reasons for them not to be together are good, though solved a bit quickly and abruptly in the end (I’d just started to wonder if this was going to be more of a
Everything I Left Unsaid
-type ending when it suddenly came to an end). It did leave me all kinds of anxious for the next book, though (
The Bad Boy’s Secret Baby
) because yeah, I’ve got to see where she’s going to take those two.

Plus, seeing more Charlotte and Jesse could never be a bad thing. And bonus–there’s a teaser at the end for Tiffany and Blake’s (Everything I Left Unsaid series) book, which has been a loooong time coming. 2017 is looking promising!

Rating: 4 stars / B+

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

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New Release Review! FALLING FOR THE GIRL NEXT DOOR by Tera Lynn Childs (Creative HeArts #5, Sloane and Tru #2)

Falling for the Girl Next Door
by Tera Lynn Childs

Synopsis:

Sloane Whitaker never expected to like living in Texas, but after a few months in the Lone Star State, she has to admit she likes the food, the school, and the boy next door. What she doesn’t like is the fact that half her family is still back in New York. Convincing her dad to relocate to Texas requires making their upcoming visit as perfect as possible. The perfect dinner, the perfect daughter…with the perfect boyfriend.

But when her not-so-perfect boyfriend Tru Dorsey is suddenly not-so-available, Sloane has to find another dad-impressing guy to show off at dinner. Tru himself suggests enlisting the help of a fake boyfriend, but the reality of another guy with Sloane on his arm might be more than Tru can manage. Add in a mysterious blackmailer and a divided family, and Sloane and Tru’s relationship might not be able to handle the heat.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains a bad boy next door, the good girl who snags his heart, and one epically disastrous ruse-gone-wrong. Join the fun at your own risk.

 

Review:

 

Tru and Sloane are back!

I really enjoyed their second installment, even though I couldn’t get behind one (okay, two) of the big decisions they made in the book. They saw the error of their ways eventually, and really, who hasn’t made dumb decisions while in their teens and beyond? Far be it from me to be pointing fingers!

FFTGND starts out with Sloane and Tru in a happy place–Sloane’s actually liking Austin now (though she’s counting the days until she’s back in NYC for Christmas), and she and Tru are all kinds of cute together. You know that’s not going to last, though, otherwise what would be the point of having another book? 😉

And yep, soon the drama starts (I swear, half the reason I read YA is so I can be grateful I’m no longer a teen)–one problem is a carryover from book one: it gets worse, and thankfully the person most involved decides to do something about it (yay, Tru!); another problem develops more slowly, though the reader could really see it coming way before Sloane ever does (denial. Not just a river in Egypt.) And then there’s the cyber threat to out Sloane’s identity as the creator of Graphic Grrl

All in all we end up in a pretty good place again by the last page, though not everything is resolved and I’m still anxious to see how it’ll all end up (though at this point, I’m more anxious for Willa and Finn’s #2. When will it be released? When?? When??? Finn….)

FFTGND could probably be read as a standalone, though I’d really recommend reading book one first (Ten Things Sloane Hates About Tru) because there’s definitely some elements of the story that carry over, and you’ll know the characters better. Both of the Sloane and Tru books can be read independently of the other Creative Hearts series books, but why would you want to do that? Do yourself a favor and read them all! 😉

Rating: 4 stars / B+

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

View all my reviews

 

New Release Review! CATCH A FALLEN STAR by Amy Vastine (Grace Note Records #2)


On Tour with Prism Book Tours.

Catch a Fallen Star
(Grace Note Records #2)
by Amy Vastine
Adult Contemporary Romance
Mass Market Paperback & ebook, 384 pages
December 1st 2016 by Harlequin Heartwarming

He’s got to save his career—and himself

Hitting rock bottom has landed country star Boone Williams in the middle of his worst nightmare: a recording studio on a horse therapy farm hours away from Nashville. He has no interest in dealing with his problems or writing a new album. And he’s definitely not interested in the gorgeous, feisty mom of one of Helping Hooves’s young clients. She doesn’t even know who he is! But his record label is one tabloid story from cutting him loose, and Boone can’t seem to turn around without bumping into Ruby and her daughter, Violet. Clearly, Boone’s not going to get what he wants. Could Ruby be just what he needs?

 

Review:

A sweet romance!

Boone’s managed to dry out, but he’s afraid he’ll never be able to make music again. He’s estranged from his daughter, and can’t believe that the place his manager’s brought him to recharge is an Airstream trailer on a horse farm in the middle of nowhere. Could things possibly get worse?

Ruby’s got her own hands full with her teenaged daughter Violet and the ex that keeps blowing off the time he’s supposed to be spending with their daughter. As the custodial parent, naturally she’s the one taking the brunt of her daughter’s frustration. And now the place where her daughter goes for riding therapy has the most annoying, conceited <i>country</i> singer living there…and of course she’s a rock fan. 😉

I really liked Boone and Ruby together, and Boone and Violet? So. Cute. Seeing her giving him grief for being old and famous and a bit full of himself at times was just too cute and kept him from growing too big a head. The romance of the story was sweet, and the healing that the families managed to do was inspiring. You’ll leave this one with warm fuzzy feelings for sure!

Rating: 4 stars / B+

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

Catch a Fallen Star

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Other Books in the Series:

The Girl He Used to Love
(Grace Note Records #1)
by Amy Vastine
Adult Contemporary Romance
Mass Market Paperback & ebook, 368 pages
July 1st 2016 by Harlequin Heartwarming

The past will always be between them

He swore he’d never return home. Then a flat tire lands Dean Presley back in Grass Lake, Tennessee, and he’s forced to confront the woman he left behind. Faith Stratton was once the love of his life. Now her gifted brother could be the rising Nashville star Dean needs for his struggling music label. But it means taking Sawyer away from the horse therapy farm that Faith’s so proud of. That won’t be easy, especially since those old feelings that started all the trouble… Well, let’s just say he can’t go back there, because he doesn’t want to relive the memories of the terrible accident that drove them apart.

The Girl He Used to Love

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Amy Vastine has been plotting stories in her head for as long as she can remember. An eternal optimist, she studied social work, hoping to teach others how to find their silver lining. Now, she enjoys creating happily ever afters for all to read. Amy lives outside Chicago with her high school sweetheart-turned-husband, three fun-loving children, and their sweet but mischievous puppy dog.

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Tour Giveaway

1 winner will win a grand prize of The Girl He Used to Love, A Heartwarming Holiday anthology, winner’s choice of CD or MP3 of Tim McGraw’s album Damn Country Music, and a guitar Christmas ornament (US only)
5 winners will win an ebook of A Heartwarming Holiday anthology and a 20% off coupon for a Heartwarming novel of their choice from Harlequin.com (open internationally)
5 winners will win The Girl He Used to Love (paperbacks US, ebook international)
– Ends December 23rd

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Tour Schedule:

December 12th: Launch
December 13th:
Harlie’s Books
Books, Dreams, Life
I Am A Reader
Nicole’s Book Musings
December 14th:
fuonlyknew
Zerina Blossom’s Books
Becky on Books
Book Lover in Florida
December 15th:
Reading Is My SuperPower
Christy’s Cozy Corners
Falling Leaves
The Silver Dagger Scriptorium
December 16th:
Thoughts of a Blonde
Rockin’ Book Reviews
Katie’s Clean Book Collection
Getting Your Read On
December 18th:
underneath the covers
Heidi Reads…
i blog 4 books
December 19th: Grand Finale

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