Monday, June 18, 2018

Book Review: Only With You (Man Enough #4) by Nicole McLaughlin

Only With You

Author: Nicole McLaughlin
Series: Man Enough, Book 4
Publisher: Swerve
Publication Date: June 5, 2018
Amazon   Goodreads


Summary
The men in Nicole McLaughlin’s Man Enough series are tough Alphas devoted to serving their country and the women who love them.
National Guardsman Aiden King has been attracted to Hannah Walters for a while, but he never made a move because of her close relationship with his best friend. But when circumstances change, Aiden is surprised when his friend gives his blessing. Problem is, there’s a reason he’s still alone after all these years, and as much as he wants her, that secret keeps him from acting on his desires.
Hannah has finally decided to wait for the kind of love you read about in books and see in movies. After her failed engagement, Aiden’s unassuming support has become a touchstone for Hannah. It soon becomes apparent that he may be exactly the kind of man she’s been looking for. But the closer they become, the more he keeps her at arm’s length.
When Aiden suggests a road trip to take Hannah’s mind off her troubles, the two of them go on a journey neither one expected. She just hopes that the final destination is them together for good.
Rating: 4.5 stars
Review
TRIGGER WARNING!: sexual abuse

I'm also going to be talking a bit about how this topic was handled in my review, so if that's a trigger for you, perhaps stop reading now.

Still with me? Good.

This is definitely not a light-hearted fluff read. One of the characters is dealing with some major trauma in their past, and there are some situations that set off flashbacks (that don't go into detail) but the book does describe the character's thoughts and feelings about the past abuse while alluding to what happened without ever really spelling it out or going deep into detail. I really, REALLY appreciated that the character continues to deal with the fallout of this abuse even after meeting "the one." I feel like a lot of times books and stories about abuse and rape survivors have them magically move on once they find "the one," like their love instantly heals them. Only With You is not one of those books, and instead shows the struggle for an abuse survivor to connect in a physical way with a romantic partner, as well as how hard it can be for the partner/spouse of an abuse survivor to deal with everything happening (hurting for the person you love, the struggle to not feel rejected when they need some space, encouraging them to get help). McLaughlin addresses this really, REALLY tough issue in a way that's real - which means it's not very pretty, but REST ASSURED! This romance has a HEA, ok?

While this was definitely heavier than my usual romance reads, it was so well written that I couldn't put it down. I love Aiden and Hannah, and how he is so quiet and she's so chatty, and they click together like puzzle pieces instead of struggling with that. I also love me a man who can cook! It lost half a star for some of Hannah's creepy behavior ("You like girls, right? Are you bi?") which she immediately realizes is not OK but just didn't need to be there. The descriptions and relationships between Hannah and Aiden and their friends and families are so complex and multi-faceted, they all felt like real people to me. I found myself caring a lot about what happens to all the characters in this book, and definitely need to go back and read the first books in the series.

This is the fourth book in the Man Enough series, and it's got some spoilers for a previous book that deal with Hannah's best friend Jase and her sister Becca as the MCs. It can absolutely be read as a stand alone though, as it covers enough of that situation to catch the reader up.

Release Blitz: Mister Tonight by Kendall Ryan


MISTER TONIGHT
By Kendall Ryan
Release Day – June 18


From New York Times bestselling author Kendall Ryan comes a standalone romance about a swoony single dad and the new neighbor he falls for.

Last night was the most embarrassing night of my life.

I was THAT girl.

You know, the highly intoxicated chick celebrating her thirtieth with her two best friends—the ones who are happily married. And the more I drank, the more I wanted to do something reckless to celebrate. 

By reckless, I meant the sexy and alluring man dressed in a business suit standing near the bar. You know his type—tall, dark, and handsome. I was sure he was out of my league, but I'd had just enough alcohol that things like that no longer seemed to matter. I'm not fat, mind you, but you can tell I like French fries, so there's that.

He took me home and I enjoyed the hottest birthday sex of my life, well until it came to a screeching, and rather unwelcome halt. 

There's nothing quite like being interrupted mid-ride with a little voice asking: 

"What are you doing to my daddy?"

Just kill me now…... or so I thought.

Come to find out the man I rode like a bull at the rodeo is my new landlord. 


Kindle US  https://amzn.to/2sOaxUm
Kindle UK  https://amzn.to/2GaHxdb
iBooks  https://goo.gl/jgnMfa 
Nook  http://bit.ly/2JHnUfL 
GoodReads  https://goo.gl/y6tTZ4 
Google  http://bit.ly/2G6KhIE
Kobo http://bit.ly/2JIZLFQKobo
Audio  https://adbl.co/2rLAhzj


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
A New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author of more than two dozen titles, Kendall Ryan has sold over 1.5 million books and her books have been translated into several languages in countries around the world. She's a traditionally published author with Simon & Schuster and Harper Collins UK, as well as an independently published author. Since she first began self-publishing in 2012, she's appeared at #1 on Barnes & Noble and iBooks charts around the world. Her books have also appeared on the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists more than three dozen times. Ryan has been featured in such publications as USA Today, Newsweek, and InTouch Magazine.
Visit her at: www.kendallryanbooks.com for the latest book news, and fun extras

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Book Review: Like Cats and Dogs by Alexis Stanton

Like Cats and Dogs

Author: Alexis Stanton
Publisher: Hallmark Publishing
Publication Date: April 17, 2018
Kindle, 268 pages
Amazon   Goodreads

Summary
Laura is drifting through life.

Spencer has the next decade perfectly planned.

Laura loves her dog Frank.

Spencer pampers his cat Mozart.

Both humans have nothing in common, but when there's a mix-up with a vacation rental house, they're suddenly stuck together.

At first, they fight like cats and dogs. Yet they can't deny that opposites definitely attract. Can they find a way to share a roof without driving each other crazy...or falling in love?

This funny, feel-good romance contains a free Hallmark original recipe for S'mores Waffles.

Rating: 3.5 stars
Review
Like Cats and Dogs has a very Odd Couple vibe. Laura is the Oscar to Spencer's Felix; she is messy and he's neat, she's a dog person and he's a cat person, she likes loud pop music and pizza and he likes Vivaldi on vinyl and is doing a raw diet. I love the opposites-attract aspect of this book, and I'm tagging it at enemies to lovers even though they're not really ENEMIES, but sort of, but not...?

I love the Laura and Spencer are both on a bit of a personal growth journey, and there's a lot of give and take and learning, both about each other and learning to love oneself. I love that they end up lifting each other up (but it's based on a Hallmark Channel Original Movie, so is that surprising?) It's a little tropey/cliché. They both rent the same vacation house and NONE of the hotels nearby accept pets/have an opening? Really? OK, fine, willing suspension of disbelief engaged... That being said, I really loved the personal growth both Laura and Spencer went through as they realized things about themselves and their pasts that were keeping them trapped, and then they both work to break free of the things that are binding them.

The bad: The last quarter or so of the book gets kind of messy, with him being mad at her and then suddenly fine at the exact second she's suddenly mad at him, and vice versa, which is lame and I didn't appreciate it. It also lost a star for me because they're sharing this house for two weeks and suddenly they're super in love? OK... Except SPENCER YOU HAVE A GIRLFRIEND. I don't care if your relationship is luke warm, I just don't appreciate a hero that lies to his girlfriend and then falls in love with another girl while he's in a relationship. Uncool. Also the epilogue events happened stupidly suddenly, which was a turn off for me.

Added back half a star for this bit of inclusiveness: "People of all genders had been matched together." Love the non-binary inclusive language there. I think there was also mention of a man and his boyfriend/husband buying some art that was super casually thrown in there, which again, I appreciated. It was enough to round my Goodreads rating up to 4 stars instead of down to 3 for the 3.5 star rating on this book. Honestly, if the epilogue hadn't been included, it would have been a solid 4 star read for me.

That being said, it was a fun read and engaging and well-written. This is definitely a fun summer romance for a beach read or a quick read while on vacation. Like Cats and Dogs is fun and light-hearted with main characters I found myself rooting for.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Discussion: Summer Lovin' - Bookish Bingo and Camp NaNo


Well I guess I'm a bit of a glutton for punishment, because I just decided to take one two (big-ish?) projects for the summer. 

The first is The Ripped Bodice's 2nd Annual Summer Romance Bingo! It runs from June 1 to August 31, and you can enter to win ♥ prizes ♥ , and well who doesn't love prizes? Each square represents a book you've read this summer, and you fill in the square with the title & author once you've met the criteria. To get a bingo you need to get 5 in a row (vertical or horizontal) and for each row you complete you can enter to win prizes at https://www.therippedbodicela.com/bingo.

Here's bingo card so far, and I've listed out the categories and books I've completed so far.

  • Set at Summer Camp – Him by Sarina Bowen
  • Enemies to Lovers – Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
Are you a romance reader? Are you playing this version of Summer Romance Bingo by The Ripped Bodice, or another type of summer reading challenge?

Because that's not going to keep me busy enough this summer, I also decided to do Camp NaNoWriMo. Woo!

For those not in the know, NaNoWriMo (aka National Novel Writing Month) runs every November and is a whole thing. If you don't know about it, I encourage you to check out their website to learn more. 

Camp NaNo is like a mini, slightly more chill version of NaNoWriMo, and you set your own word count goals. Mine is set for 50k, and I plan to write a collection of short stories.

The PLAN (as such... so far...) is to write a collection of urban fantasy/paranormal romance fairy tale retellings. Some of them are fairly direct translations in a modern day urban setting, others mess around with the idea of who is the villain of the piece and flip the fairy tales on their heads (heads-over-tales... there's a title idea?), other's are gender-swapped/gender-bent/GLBTQIA versions. My focus for starters will be on some stories I have sort-of inklings of ideas for, and the glue that binds them all together is a nightclub owned by Rumpelstiltskin (name still TBD, which I suppose is fitting for a nightclub owned by Rumpelstiltskin?)

Some of my initial thoughts:

The Little Mermaid (M/F) (mermaids/sirens, selkies)
Rapunzel (F/F) (witches, villain MC, hero as villain)
Hansel & Gretel (M/F) (witches, villain MC, hero as villain)
12 Dancing Princess (M/F, faeries)
Puss in Boots (M/M?) (shifters)


I'll be posting more about it throughout July (probably a lot when I'm stuck... haha).

If you've got a good idea for a fairy tale that you'd like to see retold, I'd love to hear about it. Give me writing prompts please! Haha! Also, if you have a great idea for a name for Rumpelstiltskin's club, I will credit you in my acknowledgements in the infinitesimal chance I ever publish these stories. ;)

Friday, June 15, 2018

Blog Tour: Love Scene, Take Two by Alex Evansley (Review, Giveaway)



Love Scene, Take Two
Alex Evansley
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: June 12th 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Debut author Alex Evansley delivers a sweet summer romance in this inventive novel about a young heartthrob and teen author falling in love.
Teddy Sharpe is kind of famous. He might actually be on his way to being really famous, especially if he’d nailed an audition for the lead role in the movie adaption of the newest bestselling young adult book series. There’s just one problem: He totally blew the audition. And he’s stuck in a tiny North Carolina airport. And his maybe-ex- girlfriend kind of just broke up with him.
The weekend isn’t exactly looking good until Bennett Caldwell, author of the very book series he just auditioned for, takes pity on him and invites him to her family’s lake house. Away from the glitz and glam of Hollywood for a few days, Teddy starts to relax . . . and somehow he and Bennett just click. But dating is hard enough when you aren’t the subject of several dozen fanblogs, and the Internet is full of juicy gossip about Teddy and Bennett . . . gossip that Bennett might not be prepared to handle.
Chosen by readers like you for Macmillan’s young adult imprint Swoon Reads, Alex Evansley’s debut novel, written from both Bennett and Teddy’s perspectives, will have teens laughing, swooning, and falling in love along with these fantastically relatable characters.


Review
Love Scene, Take Two is a really cute contemporary YA romance. I love the premise - actor auditions for the role of the male co-lead in an upcoming movie adaption of a major YA bestseller meets girl on an airplane who just happens to be the (very cute) author of said YA novel. Actor gets stranded at airport and author invites him home with her.

OK, yes, there are a lot of cliches and convenient plot devices in this book. (Oh no! Your flight was canceled because storms at the other end of the connection. And there are no rooms available at the nice hotels because a nameless convention of some sort is in town!? Whaaaaaaat...) There is also some rather unnecessary drama thrown in (for plot reasons, I assume) that isn't very well explained or completed through the storyline. That being said, this book is still SO CUTE, and I was compelled to keep reading it. Binge read the whole thing in one sitting.

The dynamic between Teddy and Bennett is just SO compelling, and I love their witty banter. They're both quasi nerdy and I love the little bits of geekdom sprinkled throughout this book. Also, forget #Sharpwell, I'm all about shipping Emmy+Olivia. (Tell me I'm not the only one!!) I love Teddy so much, and would totally have torn his picture out of my Teen Beat magazine and taped it up in my locker. ;) Bennett's character was a little more confusing for me... Maybe because the first half of the book was told from a ... point of view that I don't actually know the word for. It's not Teddy's first person POV, but it follows Teddy and we only see what he sees and what he's thinking and whatnot. The second half then switches to following Bennett. On the one hand it was nice being able to get both their viewpoints, but on the other it was weird having half the story told just from Teddy's viewpoint and then suddenly switching to Bennett.

Another wonderful part of Love Scene, Take Two is the cast of side characters. I already mentioned I'm team #Emlivia 4ever, and Bennet's family is also really fun. They're so welcoming and warm, and just dripping with southern charm. Will was also really sweet, and I'm hoping there's a sequel that stars Will (and that also gives us some more Emmy & Olivia because I want confirmation that they're SO a couple!!) So if you're reading this, Alex, please please pretty please write an amazing book about Will and his rise to stardom, with lots of Olivia and Emmy gloriousness included as well. Kthxbye. :)

This is a relatively clean read as far as sexual explicitness goes, though there is quite a bit of cursing as well as underage drinking.


Author Bio
Alex Evansley is a twenty-something-year-old writer from North Carolina. Her specialized talents include putting on workout clothes and not working out, sleeping during the day, losing socks, and procrastinating stories she’d like to write. Love Scene, Take Two is her debut novel.





Thursday, June 14, 2018

Sneak Peak: Mister Tonight by Kendall Ryan (Excerpt reveal)


Mister Tonight by Kendall Ryan
Release Day – June 18
From New York Times bestselling author Kendall Ryan comes a standalone romance about a swoony single dad and the new neighbor he falls for.
Last night was the most embarrassing night of my life.
I was THAT girl.

You know, the highly intoxicated chick celebrating her thirtieth with her two best friends—the ones who are happily married. And the more I drank, the more I wanted to do something reckless to celebrate. 

By reckless, I meant the sexy and alluring man dressed in a business suit standing near the bar. You know his type—tall, dark, and handsome. I was sure he was out of my league, but I'd had just enough alcohol that things like that no longer seemed to matter. I'm not fat, mind you, but you can tell I like French fries, so there's that.

He took me home and I enjoyed the hottest birthday sex of my life, well until it came to a screeching, and rather unwelcome halt. 

There's nothing quite like being interrupted mid-ride with a little voice asking: 

"What are you doing to my daddy?"

Just kill me now…... or so I thought.

Come to find out the man I rode like a bull at the rodeo is my new landlord. 

Kindle US  https://amzn.to/2sOaxUm
Kindle UK  https://amzn.to/2GaHxdb
iBooks  https://goo.gl/jgnMfa 
Nook  http://bit.ly/2JHnUfL 
GoodReads  https://goo.gl/y6tTZ4 
Google  http://bit.ly/2G6KhIE

Excerpt
Casual flings didn’t tend to handle the whole single-dad thing well. Single moms, on the other hand, fucking loved it. The idea of a man devoted to his kid had them panting for days. But casual, no-strings hookups? To them, me being a dad screamed one of two things: I was either an irresponsible asshole who couldn’t properly wrap it up, or I was a total commitment addict trying to lure them in with my adorable four-year-old child in need of a new mama. Either way, it usually didn’t go over well. But so far, Kate was handling it fine.

Then she crossed the room toward me, and a single thought pervaded my brain.

Fuck, she’s sexy.

All those curves and her throaty laugh, coupled with her confidence? I was a total sucker for a confident woman who knew what she wanted.

“Happy birthday,” I whispered, placing my hands on her waist and drawing her in close.

Just because this would most likely be a one-time thing didn’t mean I wanted to rush through it. Quite the opposite, actually. I wanted to savor and enjoy every minute of this. Starting with the perfect kiss.

“It’s almost midnight,” she murmured, her lips just inches from mine.

Placing one hand on her cheek, I guided her mouth to mine, sealing my lips over hers in a slow, soft kiss.

She responded perfectly, opening her mouth in a silent invitation for my tongue to slide against hers. My hands found those curves wrapped under that black fuck-me dress I’d been admiring, and God, she felt even better under my palms than I could have imagined. Soft and warm and so inviting.

I pressed one more slow kiss to her lips and pulled back to study her reaction. I rarely did this kind of thing. Having her here was surreal . . . and really fucking turning me on, knowing what was probably about to happen.

“Can I get you something to drink?” I asked, slipping my hand around her waist. If she’d changed her mind or wanted to slow things down, I wanted her to know that was fine too.

“I can think of other things I’d rather be doing with my mouth,” she replied, her voice low and sultry as she ran her fingertips over my chest.

God, I love a woman who knows what she wants.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
A New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author of more than two dozen titles, Kendall Ryan has sold over 1.5 million books and her books have been translated into several languages in countries around the world. She's a traditionally published author with Simon & Schuster and Harper Collins UK, as well as an independently published author. Since she first began self-publishing in 2012, she's appeared at #1 on Barnes & Noble and iBooks charts around the world. Her books have also appeared on the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists more than three dozen times. Ryan has been featured in such publications as USA Today, Newsweek, and InTouch Magazine.
Visit her at: www.kendallryanbooks.com for the latest book news, and fun extras
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Book Review: Only With You (Man Enough #4) by Nicole McLaughlin

Only With You Author: Nicole McLaughlin Series: Man Enough, Book 4 Publisher: Swerve Publication Date: June 5, 2018 Amazon   Goodr...