REVIEW – Worth the Chance by Vi Keeland

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Title: Worth the Chance
Author: Vi Keeland
Series: MMA Fighter #2
Release Date: February 17, 2014

Worth the Chance

Synopsis

Meet Liv Michaels
It may have been seven years, but I’d know him anywhere. Sure, he’s grown, filled out in all the right places, but his captivating blue eyes and cocky grin are exactly the way I remember. Even though I’d much rather forget.

Liv Michaels is almost there. She’s smart, determined and weeks away from landing the job she’s dreamed about for years. Time healed old wounds, even her broken heart from the devastation of being crushed by her first love.

Meet Vince Stone
Women love a fighter, especially a good one. Lucky for me, I’m damn good. But there’s one woman that isn’t interested. Not again, anyway.

Vince ‘The Invincible’ Stone is every woman’s fantasy…strong, sexy, confident and completely in control. Growing up surrounded by chaos, he’s learned never to get too attached. Love will drag you down. He adores women, treats them well, puts their own needs before his own…for the night anyway. With the biggest fight of his life coming up, his focus should be on training.

When fate brings Vince & Liv back together again, there’s no denying the chemistry is still there. But can Vince erase the old scars their past left behind? Or will Liv hurt him instead?

Review

Vi Keeland delivers an emotional second chance romance with Liv and Vince’s story in Worth the Chance. Having met Vince as a teenager in Worth the Fight, I was curious to see where the author would take this obviously troubled boy and the result certainly exceeded my expectations. All grown up and just as angsty as ever, Vince is MMA fighter perfection. When fate reunites Liv with her first love Vince, sparks fly and an unshakeable connection is forged. I absolutely adored the chemistry that Vi Keeland has created between these two. At times it was understated, a slow burn that moved throughout the story, and at others it was a fierce flame that demanded to be felt in all of its intensity. This couple had plenty of sizzle that, when paired with their emotional history and easily rekindled friendship, made them absolutely addictive.

“It’s defiant and socially improper, but it’s also raw and honest. And everything that attracted me to him so many years ago.”

Liv was the kind of heroine that you just love from the beginning. She was smart, sassy and unafraid of hard work. She was down to earth, friendly and perfectly sweet – a combination that had me wishing we were friends. As we got to know Liv over the course of the story, the depth that Vi Keeland gave this character became apparent and I found myself connecting to the heartache and hesitancy that kept Liv from going all in with Vince. Her feelings, fears and insecurities were genuine through and through and it was these raw and vulnerable qualities that touched something in me. Before I knew it, I found myself completely invested in Liv and rooting for her to find her happily ever after.

“The ability to live your own life, truly for yourself, is such an easy thing to say, but such a difficult thing to do.”

Vince also surprised me with his complexity of character in Worth the Chance. While we met him as a troubled boy in need of an outlet, he had become a man very much in control of his demons. However, as he spent time with Liv, his evolving emotions and her role in his personal history opened him up to everything he’d tried to put behind him. Vi Keeland did an incredible job capturing the intensity of both the war Vince was waging with himself in regards to his past and the freedom to feel he was trying to unleash with Liv. I found myself experiencing Vince’s angst, uncertainty and overwhelming need to be loved as my own while his journey progressed and ultimately, I was wholly impressed by the beautiful transformation this character underwent during this novel.

“We protect each other. That’s how it works.”

While some of Worth the Chance was fairly predictable, there were some cool twists and turns that Vi Keeland had in store that kept me captivated and it was these unexpected plot points that made this book stand out as more than just your typical MMA fighter romance. There were also plenty of intriguing new characters who, along with the familiar faces that made me grin, balanced out all of Liv and Vince’s angst and intense passion with just the right amount of heart and humor. Overall, the storyline was fun, sweet and delightfully steamy, making this well-paced novel a memorable reading experience. The icing on the cake was Vi Keeland’s fantastic writing which effortlessly brought the storyline to life. I adored the authentic feelings, witty banter, vibrant imagery and brilliant prose that painted the pages of this book and will definitely be on the lookout for more from this talented author.

Rating
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Worth the Fight (MMA Fighter #1)

Worth the Fight

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Worth Forgiving (MMA Fighter #3)

Worth Forgiving

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REVIEW – Becoming Calder by Mia Sheridan

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Title: Becoming Calder
Author: Mia Sheridan
Series: Sign of Love #5
Release Date: October 5, 2014

Becoming Calder by Mia Sheridan

Synopsis

There is a place in modern day America with no electricity, no plumbing, and no modern conveniences. In this place, there is no room for dreams, no space for self-expression, and no tolerance for ambition.

In this place, there is a boy with the body of a god and the heart of a warrior. He is strong and faithful and serves his family honorably. But he dares to dream of more.

In this place, there is a girl with the face of an angel and a heart full of courage. To her family, she is the vision of obedient perfection. But she dares to want that which she has been told can never be hers.

Becoming Calder is the story of good versus evil, fear versus bravery, and the truth that the light of love has always found its way into even the darkest of places . . . From the beginning of time, to the end of the world.

THIS IS THE FIRST PART IN A TWO-PART SIGN OF LOVE SERIES INSPIRED BY AQUARIUS. THE SECOND PART, FINDING EDEN, RELEASES SIMULTANEOUSLY.

Bs Review

Mia Sheridan has done it again. Becoming Calder is unlike anything I’ve ever read, delivering both breathtaking love and heartbreaking agony in one fell swoop. Calder and Eden’s journey was captivating, unexpected and overflowing with raw emotion – the kind of story that sticks with you long after the final page has been turned. From the very beginning, the pull between our hero and heroine was something special. They shared an untouchable connection that transcended the confusion and loss of control that surround them, easily enchanting readers with their pure and inimitable feelings for one another. As Calder and Eden fell in love for the very first time, I was right there beside them losing my heart with each stolen moment and whispered truth. I waited in anxious anticipation for each meeting of these two incredible souls and adored every sweet and steamy interlude that imprinted this couple on me just a little bit more.

“As long as we’re both under the same moon, we’ll always find a way to each other.”

Eden and Calder may just be some of my favorite characters from this author. Both courageous and incredibly fierce, their emotional transparency allowed them to steal my heart without hesitation. Mia Sheridan expertly utilized Eden and Calder’s sheltered upbringing to lay her characters bare. Raised beyond the constraints of prideful thought and shielded from any understanding of “normality,” Eden and Calder were frank with their feelings and unapologetic in their exploration of them. The resultant vulnerability was absolutely stunning and I found myself deeply connected to both characters in no time at all. I loved watching Calder and Eden come to life with one another, venturing into the unknown and making promises for a world they couldn’t possibly understand. Their innocence was utterly beautiful and incredibly addictive, making it impossible not to fall in love with and wholly invest myself in Eden and Calder’s hopeful hearts and kind souls.

“I will protect your sweet and hopeful heart. I vow to shield you from any ugliness in this world, and always be your shelter in the storm.”

It should be noted that Becoming Calder reads more slowly than most of Mia Sheridan’s other novels. She has a lot of world-building to do in Becoming Calder and that takes some time and patience on the part of the reader. While I understood the importance of establishing Acadia and the roles both Eden and Calder played amongst their people, I did find it difficult at times to reconcile my need to get to the heart of the story with the lack of action and overall slow pace. When all was said and done, I definitely appreciated the detail with which Mia Sheridan crafted our couple’s world, knowing that I couldn’t truly appreciate all that the characters had been through without first understanding the world in which they had been raised. Overall, the slow start didn’t so much diminish my reading experience as it made me incredibly anxious to get to the second book in Calder and Eden’s story.

“My love for Calder would serve as a mighty sword against Hector. There was nothing he could do to fight that, nothing he could do to enslave that. It was true and untouchable. It was ours.”

Once again, Mia Sheridan demonstrates an exquisite command of the written word. Her prose is poetic, her imagery vibrant and the emotional impact of this story incredibly powerful. Her writing is as beautiful as ever, words flowing across the pages in a stunning dance that both challenges and mesmerizes the reader until you’re left with no choice but to surrender to the author’s fictional world. Becoming Calder took me by complete surprise. This story was nothing like I had expected and yet it was somehow so much more. Not to mention that ending! I’m pretty sure my heart threatened to pound right out of my chest as I devoured the words that brought this book to a close, only to be left wanting so much more. Mia Sheridan has carefully constructed this enthralling storyline to keep readers guessing and I can’t wait to see where she plans to take Eden, Calder and Xander next. A true testament to the power of blind faith, unconditional love and unwavering hope, Becoming Calder is another must read novel from Mia Sheridan!

Rating
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Cs Review

Mia Sheridan has proven time and time again that she can write just about anything and have it seep into your bones. The way she is able to consistently invoke such high levels of emotion is astounding, and even though I shouldn’t continue to be surprised, somehow I am. I’ve just finished Becoming Calder and I’m sitting here in a tangled mess of sensations, having the most difficult time forming words. This book was addicting, maddening, and above all, utterly consuming.

“The thing is, Calder, it’s not always a choice who you develop feelings for. You’re playing with fire in more ways than one. Any fool can see the way you two look at each other.”

This author has a knack for incredible world-building, sucking readers into an unforgettable story. Becoming Calder had quite a large scene to set, so the beginning was a bit slower paced than what readers have come to expect from Sheridan. However, Eden and Calder’s romance was a bright ball of light, and once those rays started to seep through, there was just no stopping the explosion. The juxtaposition of the sweet girl who questioned things with the devout boy who blindly followed his faith was eye-opening and made for such beautiful transformations. From the very moment we’re introduced to each of these personalities, there was just something special that drew you in, creating a compulsive need to see how it would all end.

“You had to live every minute of the hard part in order to get to the good. Maybe that made it all the sweeter though. If you could just skip over the bad parts in life, the good parts would start to feel bland and emotionless.”

One of the things I admire most about Sheridan is her ability to transport readers to different worlds. In each book of the Signs of Love series, I am taken to a new place with new characters and a fresh storyline. Too many times when I get to the later books in a series, I start to feel like they’re similar plots and the book feels stale. However, Sheridan keeps surprising me, drawing me in, and only leaves me wanting more with the stories she has to tell. Becoming Calder was no exception, particularly with how different the settings were from her previous novels.

“I feel your lips on me, Eden. When I close my eyes, when I’m awake. I taste you. You are my first breath, and my last. I feel you, and I hope you still feel me, too.”

I’ll be honest and say that the blurb of Becoming Calder made me a tad bit hesitant to read this in the first place; yet, it delivered with its butterflies and heart racing moments. The sweet, slow romance that blossomed between the characters drives the plot forward while simultaneously burrowing into your soul. Readers will not be disappointed in this angsty delicious read that delivers in spades. I’m definitely not ready to leave this one behind yet, and am certainly glad that there’s another book to continue on with. Mia Sheridan has done it again, and I can’t wait to see where she brings this story in its conclusion!

Rating
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Don’t miss the rest of the Sign of Love series:

Leo (Sign of Love #1)

Leo by Mia Sheridan

Read our Review HERE
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Leo’s Chance (Sign of Love #2)

Leos Chance by Mia Sheridan

Read our Review HERE
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Stinger (Sign of Love #3)

Stinger by Mia Sheridan

Read our Review HERE
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Archer’s Voice (Sign of Love #4)

Archers Voice by Mia Sheridan

Read our Review HERE
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Finding Eden (Sign of Love #6)

Finding Eden by Mia Sheridan

Read our Review HERE
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Kyland (Sign of Love #7)

Kyland by Mia Sheridan

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Grayson’s Vow (Sign of Love #8)

Graysons Vow by Mia Sheridan

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Midnight Lily (Sign of Love #9)

Midnight Lily by Mia Sheridan

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Ramsay (Sign of Love #10)

Ramsay

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Preston’s Honor (Sign of Love #11)

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REVIEW – Twisted by Elizabeth Montgomery

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Title: Twisted
Author: Elizabeth Montgomery
Release Date: February 27, 2016

twisted

Synopsis

Who could’ve known one pair of shoes could cause so much trouble.

Dee’s lost the sparkly red heels, and when she befriends a witch to help her find a way home, she finds herself down the rabbit hole. With the veil between Wonderland and Oz torn wide open, things go awry.

The flying monkeys are loose in the Kingdom, Hatter is lost on the sun-colored brick road, and betwixt a battle of the worlds, the Red Queen seeks power, but all Dee wants is to go home.

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Bs Review

An intriguing mash up of the magical worlds of Oz and Wonderland, Elizabeth Montgomery delivers a quick, fun read with Twisted. Picking up after our heroine has found the Wizard only to be left behind in Oz, Dee’s harrowing journey is only just beginning as she struggles to find a way home. From the moment I laid eyes on the gorgeous cover and read the intriguing synopsis, I was hooked. I adored the concept that Elizabeth Montgomery has created, enjoying the curious characters and the promise of two beloved novels coming together in unexpected ways. Dee was easily likable. In fact, her sass, smarts and curiosity was very reminiscent of classic Dorothy and I appreciated that Elizabeth Montgomery didn’t stray from the true heart of the character. I also enjoyed the relationship she had with Samuel and Aeris. Those friendships helped give Dee depth and personality through their interactions and dialogue.

“The best things are always under the surface, my dear.”

Unfortunately this novel didn’t quite live up to its stunning cover for me. Twisted felt like the beginning of a story, which was hard to reconcile since it was marketed as a standalone book. The majority of the novel took place in Oz so by the time Dee made it to Wonderland, the story was almost over. From then on it was a rush to the end and the relationships that developed in Wonderland and beyond suffered from this – especially Dee’s supposed relationship with the Hatter. It happened too quickly and, in conjunction with her strange feelings for Pox, just felt disingenuous and random. Since the synopsis focused on this crossing over of the two worlds, I was disappointed to find that it wasn’t the main focus of the novel. This isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy what I read. I did. I just needed more. Plus, there was so much potential in the world building and writing that I couldn’t help but want something more substantial from Twisted.

“There are monsters everywhere, my dear.” His eyes glazed over as he stared up into the sky. “Most of them are inside us.”

I adored the relationship that Elizabeth Montgomery hinted at between Aeris and Jasper. Honestly, this was probably one of the strongest parts of the book and I would gladly read an entire novel dedicated to their story based on what was revealed to us in Twisted. Jasper and Aeris’ connection (and the depth it gave both the characters) was a prime example of some of the potential I saw in this author. There was genuine emotion brewing and I would have loved to see more of that throughout the story. Elizabeth Montgomery’s writing was colorful, painting a vibrant picture of her fantastical world and allowing me to experience her words as I read. There is definitely a magical quality to her writing that just needs to be honed and polished. While Twisted didn’t wow me, if you’re interested in a short, intriguing read, this may just be the fun, fanciful book you’re looking for. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on this author and look forward to seeing what Elizabeth Montgomery comes up with next.

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Cs Review

Elizabeth Montgomery’s cover for Twisted is breathtakingly stunning, which definitely led to my need to dive into this story. The premise described in the blurb sounded unique and promising with beloved characters from my childhood. If that combination wouldn’t make you click, I’m not sure what would!

“I have faith that she will get you where you want to go.”

While I did find the story to have lots of potential, there were several things that left me a bit underwhelmed in regards to Twisted. The story felt very surface level, which resulted in my difficulty connecting to most of the characters and their emotions. There was quite a bit of conflict presented over the span of two worlds, and yet we never truly dove into any of those scenes. Given the breath and history that readers are familiar with in regards to “Dee”, I just expected more in terms of Montgomery’s take on it. Furthermore, the pacing seemed to be a bit off for my taste. I felt like we spent too much time getting to the bigger moments, to then rush through them. Montgomery certainly had all the pieces to the puzzle, but by the time I turned that last page, I felt like she just couldn’t arrange them together the correct way.

“It will be up to you as to where you end up.”

That being said, I did find the writing to be refreshing. The author truly breathed a new life into the land of Oz, while still maintaining the integrity of the world. The way that she is able to build up some of the scenes allowed me to imagine myself there and truly appreciate what she was trying to do. Oz and Wonderland were two perfect worlds to try and merge together, and it was nice to be transported back there for even a short bit of time in Twisted.

Rating
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RELEASE DAY REVIEW – Chased by Hazel James

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Title – Chased
Author – Hazel James
Publication Date – January 26, 2017

chased

Synopsis

Paige Landry
I finally made it. I graduated nursing school, and I found the perfect job. Things were great until a tornado blew through the emergency room, turning my life upside down. I don’t know if I can ever go back to the way things were before. Tornado survivors have a choice to rebuild, or pack up and move away. I’m twenty-two, and I know that one day I want the American dream: a husband, 2.5 kids and a white picket fence. But that’s the thing with rebuilding.

What happens when the next tornado hits? Will I be blown away again?

DH Rhoads
Adrenaline. It’s fueled me since I was thirteen. It’s what I discovered while I chased tornadoes across Oklahoma. It’s what I craved on combat missions in helicopters in Afghanistan. It’s what I lived for, until one day when everything changed. Now, adrenaline is my drug. It numbs me when the memories become too much to bear. It reminds me that I don’t deserve a wife, 2.5 kids and a white picket fence. I’ve seen what tornadoes do to white picket fences. It’s ugly.

I’m the tornado. I’ve already destroyed one family. Don’t chase me.

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Review

I picked up Chased from Hazel James because I loved that it seemed to be a hidden gem, unique within the romance genre. I had never read a story about a storm chaser so to say that my interests were piqued would be an understatement. Needless to say, I was incredibly blown away by the reality-based driven characters and a plot that flowed effortlessly.

“Twenty-two veterans die every day, but you weren’t one of them.”

Much like the people we meet in the everyday, DH was comprised of layers that I felt like I had to constantly peel back. I appreciated seeing how the different facets of his life made up certain personality characteristics. Furthermore, all of his military background and everything he had been through made me fall for him that much harder. It reflected things that real people go through every day and certainly raised an awareness that I think is important to shine a light on. His counterpart, Paige, was dazzling and effervescent. Sure, there were times that hardships fell upon her and she struggled, but for the most part, she was the perfect companion for DH; she was patient, kind, and understanding. She could also relate to him on some levels and that really showed through the connection they formed.

“The chapters that represent the last two years of my life are so full of nightmares and regret that I can’t even see the words. It’s just page after page or black.”

The writing from Hazel James was also an incredible component of Chased. The imagery that James creates is so strong at times that you’re whisked away to this fictional world. However, there were then times you felt so passionately (whether it be fear, excitement, nervousness, etc.) for these characters, that it very much felt like they were people I have met and become friends with. It was an incredibly interesting dynamic that resulted in a page-turning novel I could not put down. If you’re looking for a read that will help you escape your everyday life, yet with personalities that could be your neighbors down the road, Chased is an absolute must read. Their romance was raw and beautiful and left an indelible mark on my heart.

Rating
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RELEASE DAY BLITZ & GIVEAWAY – Dark Hearts by Micalea Smeltzer

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Title: Dark Hearts
Author: Micalea Smeltzer
Series: Light in the Dark #3
Release Date: January 24, 2017

dark-hearts

Synopsis

I’ve learned that not everything is what it seems. If you start to look too close, you uncover things people don’t want you to see. It’s why I hide. It’s why no one knows the real me. But he sees me. He sees the darkness in my heart but he’s not afraid, because he’s like me. They say opposites attract, but we’re proof that like-and-like are a far more potent combination.

Novalee Clarke is hiding from a past she wants to leave behind, and Jacen Kensington is running from his.

The thing about hiding and running is eventually the thing you’re trying to escape catches up to you.

And when it does?

It changes everything.

Review

Just when I think I couldn’t love the Light in the Dark series any more, Dark Hearts came along and proved me wrong. Micalea Smeltzer delivers something broken, raw and undeniably genuine with Jace and Nova’s story. Their journey is hesitant, unexpected and hits readers with all of the sassy sweetness and delicious sizzle I’ve come to love from this talented author. Jace and Nova are made for heartache and yet they create something real and untouchable together. I absolutely adored their deep friendship, easy banter and sparkling chemistry. Their insecurities and shared stubbornness led to a push a pull that was utterly addictive. Even beneath the obvious chemistry, something more significant built between Jace and Nova. It was this promising, inexplicable quality that had me so intrigued by this couple and kept me riveted to their story.

“But I think we both know we’re different … damaged … and that makes a relationship impossible. Nothing good can come from something so broken.”

Jace was nothing like I expected. While he certainly had his own personality in the previous books, Micalea Smeltzer completely unraveled this character in Dark Hearts. I absolutely loved seeing Jace in his element as he wrote and performed his music. Paired with his possessive and protective behavior towards Nova and his surprisingly easygoing nature when it came to his friends, I was completely smitten. Micalea Smeltzer did a fantastic job at exploring Jace’s family life, his past and what made him so resistant to a relationship. I loved how effortlessly Nova seemed to break through his walls. Together they grew confident in both their relationship and in who they were as individuals. I loved seeing Jace set in contrast to Cade and Xander. While he definitely seemed to fit within the group, his quirks, personality and distinctive voice made him every bit the individual.

“It’s easy to notice something when it’s like looking in a mirror.”

Nova was Jace’s perfect match in every way. For all of his delicious angst and broody behavior, she appeared mysterious and somewhat emotionally detached. However, this couple seemed to ignite something deep within one another that burned hot and quickly spread, engulfing every other aspect of their lives in its fiery grasp until they were both burning brightly. Nova gave as good as she got and the resultant banter was adorable, entertaining, and laced with sexual tension. Just like Jace, Nova had her own demons to deal with in this book and Micalea Smeltzer had some big surprises in store when it came to her history and personal heartbreak. Although I guessed pretty early on what Nova’s secret was, I still enjoyed watching as her past resurfaced and took both her and Jace on an emotional rollercoaster.

“He kisses me like I’m everything he’s ever wanted and hoped for. It’s a different kind of kiss. One full of fear, and longing, and regret, and passion. I never want it to end.”

Dark Hearts was well paced, exquisitely written and overflowing with emotion. Each addition to this series stands on its own but it also fits within the emotional context of the series as a whole and Dark Hearts was certainly no exception. Micalea Smeltzer expertly rekindles the feeling of family that makes this series so spectacular. We get to see the whole crazy crew together a lot in this novel and it made my heart incredibly happy. Their good-natured teasing, genuine concern, total acceptance and unconditional love for one another was absolutely breathtaking and I’m always a little sad to see it come to an end with the final page of the book. Jace, Nova and the rest of Micalea Smeltzer’s inimitable characters will be back as the series continues but until then, I’ll be holding onto Dark Hearts and all of the things it made me feel.

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Don’t miss the rest of the Light in the Dark series:

Rae of Sunshine (Light in the Dark #1)

Rae of Sunshine

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When Stars Collide (Light in the Dark #2)

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When Constellations Form (Light in the Dark #4)

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**RELEASING MARCH 31, 2017**

Author Bio

micalea-smeltzer

Hi. I’m Micalea. Ma-call-e-uh. Weird name, I know. My mom must’ve known I was going to be odd even in the womb. I’ve written a lot of books. Like a lot. Don’t ask me how many, I don’t remember at this point. I have an unhealthy addiction to Diet Coke but I can’t seem to break the habit. I listen to way too much music and hedgehogs have taken over my life. Crazy is the word that best sums up my life, but it’s the good kind of crazy and I wouldn’t change it for anything.

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BLOG TOUR & GIVEAWAY – The Tattered Gloves by J.L. Berg

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Title: The Tattered Gloves
Author: J.L. Berg
Release Date: January 24, 2017

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Synopsis

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?

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Review

J.L. Berg leaves her mark on Young Adult romance with The Tattered Gloves, her first foray into this genre. Written with all of this author’s signature emotion and brilliant imagery, Willow’s story is a sweet and poignant tale of strength, resilience and unexpected hope that will imprint itself on your heart long after the final page has been turned. From the colorful characters to the heartfelt message, the storyline is bold, beautiful and an absolutely breathtaking look at the power of friendship, family and love. Willow and Sam were a sweet, sassy and absolutely delightful match. They exuded a youthfulness that was full of promise and shared an utterly addictive chemistry. Their stubbornness leant itself to a fantastic push and pull that had sparks flying from the pages and me totally hooked. Alongside a cast of memorable secondary characters, Willow and Sam will take you on one heck of a rollercoaster ride and leave your heart bursting at the seams.

“Maybe it will be nothing more than a crush or a world-class friendship. But maybe… just maybe, it will become one of those epic adventures you read about when no one else is looking.”

Willow and Sam are everything I adore about J.L. Berg’s characters and then some. They possess all of the complexity and charming personality I’ve come to rely on from this author along with plenty of teenage angst to make these two impossible to ignore. Both characters were easy to relate to, bringing me back to my own high school days with their genuine insecurities and inability to escape the attentions of the high school gossipmongers. J.L. Berg also wrote these characters with a knowledge of the world and sense of self that transcended their years – a product of their complicated histories that only made me love them that much more. Willow’s strength absolutely astounded me. I loved the raw emotion we got to experience as her story unfolded and I especially enjoyed watching her come to life with the help of Allison and her Aunt Addy. I would have liked a bit more depth from Sam in terms of his own issues. His past was revealed so quickly and without enough detail to garner the kind of emotional impact I would have expected. It also felt like a lot was left unresolved in regards to his father and sister.

“But have you ever considered that you deserve more, Willow?”

I must applaud J.L. Berg for her simple and poignant storyline. It was refreshingly devoid of unnecessary drama and yet relevant in a deeply significant way. As much as pieces of Willow and Sam’s story broke my heart, an overwhelming sense of hope prevailed that ensured this was a feel good read from beginning to end. I loved that Sam and Willow seemed to exist outside of the high school social hierarchy. Despite a rather rocky start and the gossip that inevitably swirled around them, this couple appeared to have created their own little world in the form of Sam’s bookstore. J.L. Berg did a fantastic job at utilizing this safe place to draw out the true nature of her characters, expose their secrets and explore their greatest fears for the readers. When all was said and done, I felt incredibly protective of the bookstore and everything that is represented for Willow and Sam. The Tattered Gloves overflows with genuine emotion, vibrant imagery and heartbreaking honesty making it another hit novel from J.L. Berg and a must read for fans of YA romance.

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Author Bio

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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REVIEW – A Love Like Ours by Micalea Smeltzer

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Title: A Love Like Ours
Author: Micalea Smeltzer
Series: Us Series Novella
Release Date: October 15, 2016

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Synopsis

Ollie and Talia have always lived by two rules.

1.Live life to the fullest
2.Love each other with everything they have.

When the unthinkable happens Talia is left heartbroken and Ollie doesn’t know how to fix it. Suddenly this fun-loving couple finds themselves struggling to find the good in life that used to come so readily to the both of them.

A gift from a friend presents them with the chance to travel the world. Something they were both once eager to do.

Hopping on a plane.

Unknown destinations.

Anything can happen…but can they find their way back to themselves?

(It’s recommended that you read The Lies That Define Us before reading this book)

Review

Micalea Smeltzer delivers a sweet, heartfelt and fun addition to the Us Series with A Love Like Ours. From the moment we first met Talia and Ollie, I was intrigued. Their tried and true love had begun when they were just kids and together they’d already weathered so many storms. By the time I’d finished reading The Lies that Define Us, I knew I needed more of this hilariously adorable couple. Micalea Smeltzer did not disappoint, giving readers the glimpse into Talia and Ollie’s story that we so desperately craved and taking us further into their happily ever after with A Love Like Ours. Talia and Ollie were every bit the playful and exuberant couple I’d come to love, but there was also an emotional depth to their connection that caught me by surprise and took my breath away.

“What happened that night left a scar inside me, but the thing about scars is the spot becomes stronger than it was before.”

I absolutely adored Talia. She was everything I’d hoped she’d be and so much more. Her kindness, compassion and utter sweetness came through as she narrated this story. I enjoyed seeing Ollie through her eyes. She gave him a depth I hadn’t expected, making him so much more than the laidback goofball we’d come to know. There were in fact many moments where I absolutely swooned for the seemingly carefree surfer. Talia herself carried a heavy emotional burden going into this story, but Micalea Smeltzer was careful not to let it weigh her down. She still came across as likable and fun but her issues also gave her an authenticity that made her easily relatable. She owned her insecurities and fears, relaying them to the reader and painting a vibrant picture of a woman who was raw, vulnerable and incredibly brave. Together, Talia and Ollie brought out the best in one another. They were true partners in life, ready for adventure and impossible not to root for.

“I never believed in love at first sight. But in that moment, I believed him, and I knew without a doubt that boy was my everything.”

This story was definitely an emotional rollercoaster, but more than anything it was a beautiful, life-affirming journey of healing and love. Micalea Smeltzer’s writing was utterly enchanting, taking me along for the ride and ensuring my complete investment in Talia and Ollie’s happily ever after. Filled with humor, heartbreak and an overall sense of wanderlust, A Love Like Ours is the kind of story that captivates and charms and I was thrilled to have fallen under its spell. I devoured this book in one sitting, lost to the laughter and love that poured so effortlessly from the pages. Breathtaking imagery, lyrical prose and a delightful sense of humor brought this story to life and filled my heart with a sense of undeniable satisfaction and warmth. Micalea Smeltzer truly captured the spirit of this couple with A Love Like Ours and I can’t wait to see what she has up her sleeve next for the Us Series!

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Don’t miss the rest of the Us series:

The Road that Leads to Us (Us #1)

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The Lies That Define Us (Us #2)

The Lies That Define Us

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The Game that Breaks Us (Us #3)

The Game That Breaks Us

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RELEASE DAY REVIEW – Home Run by Heidi McLaughlin

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Title: Home Run
Author: Heidi McLaughlin
Series: Boys of Summer #2
Release Date: January 17, 2017

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Synopsis

Cooper Bailey finally has a shot at being a major league ballplayer, but it will take all his focus and energy during spring training to make it happen. Complicating things is his instantaneous connection with Ainsley Burke. He can’t get enough of her, and before he knows it, they’re spending every night together. But as happy as he is off the field, his focus on it is suffering, and he isn’t willing to risk his lifelong dream over a girl.

But without Ainsley, Cooper’s miserable, and his game is still off. No matter what he tries, he can’t get her out of his head, and he’s starting to realize that maybe he doesn’t want to. Baseball is just a game, but Ainsley might be the real thing. Now he just has to convince her of that.

Review

Heidi McLaughlin returns readers to the world of the Boston Renegades with Cooper and Ainsley’s story in Home Run. With the Renegades in Florida for Spring Training when they meet, Cooper and Ainsley’s journey begins with a feeling of impermanence that heightened everything. Their chemistry sizzled louder and their emotions ran hotter making Home Run one heck of a scorching read. I loved the push and pull between the main characters and the resultant flirtatious banter that kept me grinning. Despite their hesitance to start something, Cooper and Ainsley shared an obvious deeper connection that got me hooked and I adored watching these two unravel one another so completely over the course of the story.

“I have a feeling Ainsley Burke is going to be my doom. That is if I don’t destroy myself first.”

Ainsley was the kind of heroine who is impossible not to love. She was loyal, hardworking and incredibly self-sacrificing. Her relationship with her mother and the devotion she showed towards her care made my heart ache. In fact, it was this secondary storyline that probably stole the show for me as I found myself completely wrapped up in the emotional impact of her mother’s illness and the moments they were able to steal with one another. Even when Ainsley was being annoyingly indecisive about her feelings towards Cooper, I couldn’t help but feel for her and understand the struggle she faced. Heidi McLaughlin did a great job cultivating Ainsley’s insecurities and fears, allowing the reader to connect with her internal battle and fully appreciate the emotional position Ainsley’s mother put her in.

“Cooper chose me, and it feels really nice to be chased.”

Cooper, on the other hand, was harder to connect with for me. I never got a real read on his character and, between his diligent pursuit of Ainsley and his sometimes selfish attitude towards his role with the Renegades, I found myself at a loss as to how I was supposed to feel about him. While I most certainly liked Cooper by the end of the novel, his personality wasn’t terribly distinctive and I never felt like I knew what kind of man he really was. I think Cooper’s character would have benefited from further exploration of his past, his time in the minor leagues and his relationship with his father in order to give him the kind of depth I needed to really understand where he was coming from and allow myself to completely fall for him. To be fair, Cooper definitely had his swoon-worthy moments and I enjoyed exploring this character, especially at the end of the novel when he really started to come into his own.

“You’re a goner. He showed you the goods, and now you’re a cleat-chaser.”

This book had a few issues that kept me from losing myself completely in the story. There were a lot of huge moments that were quickly glossed over and I couldn’t help but feel a little bit cheated – the jumps in time and focus on less substantial events keeping me somewhat emotionally disconnected from the overall storyline. I also wanted more resolution in regards to the situation with Cooper’s father instead of the looming threat and slightly uncertain feeling we were left with. That’s not to say that this book was entirely enjoyable. Home Run had a decidedly different vibe than the first book in the series; however, Heidi McLaughlin manages to recreate that same feeling of camaraderie that made Third Base so special. I loved seeing more of Ethan and Daisy, as well as getting to know Ainsley’s best friend Stella and Cooper’s teammate Travis. The secondary characters brought tons of humor and heart to the story, giving Ainsley and Cooper’s journey some much needed laughter and levity. Home Run is a fun, sweet read and sports romance fans will enjoy getting to know Heidi McLaughlin’s newest Baseball player BBF!

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Third Base (Boys of Summer #1)

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Grand Slam (Boys of Summer #3)

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*RELEASING MAY 23, 2017*

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RELEASE DAY REVIEW – Dirty Secret by Chelle Bliss & Brenda Rothert

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Title: Dirty Secret
Author: Chelle Bliss & Brenda Rothert
Release Date: January 17, 2017

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Synopsis

Agent: Kennedy Barnes
Target: Phoenix ‘Nix’ Ash
Crimes: Hacker and Heartbreaker
Mission: Get Close and Survive

After living her life in the shadows as the daughter of a congressman’s secret affair, Kennedy Barnes joins ‘Project Greenlight’ – a clandestine intelligence organization. She’s out to prove she’s more than her father’s dirty secret.

One of her first assignments is simple. Get close to Phoenix Ash, collect enough evidence to put him away for life, and get out unscathed.

Phoenix Ash is a world renowned hacker. He’s pulled off some of the biggest heists in modern history, but never leaves a trace. He knows people are after him and that every day may be his last, but when he meets Kennedy Barnes everything changes.

Lines are blurred and secrets are exposed as Phoenix and Kennedy both discover they do have a weakness – for each other.

Review

Chelle Bliss and Brenda Rothert deliver a sexy, captivating read with Dirty Secret, a Dirty Work companion novel and their newest collaboration. Dirty Secret is Nix and Kennedy’s story and a spicy, secretive journey of lust, lies and love that will keep you flipping the pages. From the very beginning, Kennedy and Nix shared a palpable chemistry that alluded to something utterly combustible between them. Bliss and Rothert do not disappoint, serving up plenty of scorching encounters, innuendo-laden exchanges, and downright dirty flirtations over the course of the story. As Kennedy and Nix’s journey progressed, we got to see something deeper develop between these two memorable characters and it was this inexplicable pull that kept me so invested in the future of this great couple.

“We don’t walk through life like most people; we skate the law, living on the fringe and embracing the freedom that comes with it. Each of us knows that it can all end in an instant.”

I absolutely adored Kennedy. She was not only a total badass in all of her super spy glory, but she also came across as incredibly genuine. I loved exploring the dichotomy of this heroine – her insecurities and need to prove herself the perfect balance to the no-nonsense woman who could take down a man twice her size. Nix proved to be just as intriguing. While his unsavory business dealings were incredibly suspect, they seemed in direct contradiction to his overall character and that left me wondering who exactly the real Nix was. I definitely would have liked to explore his history a bit more. I didn’t feel like we got to know him as well as we did Kennedy and that made some of his choices a bit hard to swallow for me. Although the depth Nix’s relationship with Coco gave his overall character was certainly something I could appreciate. Together, Kennedy and Nix came completely unraveled, exposing the secret pieces of their lives to each other and the readers. Their push and pull was absolutely addictive and the growth they exhibited together was thrilling.

“I remind her that I know who she really is and not to fuck with me so easily. I’m soft, but at some point, I’ll fight fire with fire. We all have secrets. Even I do.”

Dirty Secret is the first book I’ve read from this writing duo and it won’t be the last. Bliss and Rothert have fantastic chemistry and they work together seamlessly. Kennedy and Nix’s journey was told with distinctive voices and fun personalities, flowing easily and bringing to life all of the emotions of this creative premise. I love storylines that keep you on the edge of your seat waiting for everything to fall apart and Chelle Bliss and Brenda Rothert definitely delivered that kind of suspense with this novel. I couldn’t wait to find out what would happen when the truth about Nix’s business was revealed and Kennedy’s lies came to light. When everything finally hit the fan, I wasn’t disappointed by the explosive emotions that poured from the pages. Spicy, enthralling and surprisingly sweet, Dirty Secret is a great read from two incredibly talented authors and every bit worth the one-click!

Rating
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Dirty Work

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RELEASE DAY BLITZ – Love in Lingerie by Alessandra Torre

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Title – Love in Lingerie
Author – Alessandra Torre
Publication Date – January 16, 2017

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Synopsis

I hired her to fix my company, to bring Marks Lingerie back to life. I didn’t expect her to become my friend. I didn’t expect to fall in love with her.

The first rule of business is to never touch your employees. I think there is another rule about not falling for your best friend—a rule against imagining the curves of her body, or the way her breathing would change if I pulled down her panties and unzipped my pants.

Now, I can’t wait any longer. I’m tossing out the rules.

Damn the company.
Damn our friendship.
Damn my fears.

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Review

Alessandra Torre has proven to be that sweet tooth item you crave, but didn’t think you needed. However, after it’s consumed, you realize that it hits the spot in the perfect way and maybe your body did require it. Once again, Torre has hit it out of the park and was just what I wanted to get lost in. Love in Lingerie was the perfect combination of sweet and sultry blended with sexy anticipation. Kate and Trey have such a unique relationship and it was so much fun to watch that come across the pages.

“It’s as simple as that. But nothing is ever simple, not when it involves the two of us.”

These two became fast friends and I honestly loved drowning in it. They were flirtatious, yet cautious given the business side of their relationship. However, it warmed my heart whenever they referred to each other as best friends. Though the sexual tension could be felt sizzling from the pages, there was such a sweet build of that angst that I couldn’t help but be on the edge of my seat, waiting for the explosion. Their banter always seemed to be on point – whether it was about relationships or the lingerie – and their voices took me on a ride that I never wanted to get off of.

“When a kiss waits for a thousand days, it erupts like a cyclone—a slow unfurling of lips, of tongues, hands ripping, clothes flying, hot swirls of breath met with a clash of frantic desire.”

Love in Lingerie is written in dual points of view from both of the main characters and I was SO beyond grateful. Those inner thoughts and feelings were so instrumental to my overall connection to the story. Given how much they were denying their feelings and not allowing themselves to give in, it was those moments that I found to be pivotal to see how Kate and Trey got from point A to point B.

“If our love was lingerie, it’d be a corset, one laced so tightly that it takes your breath.”

If there is one thing I have come to depend on, it’s the fact that Alessandra Torre doesn’t ever disappoint. Whether she is writing a book with insane twists or a sweet love story, she forces you to fall in love with her characters in the best way possible. Love in Lingerie may not surprise you around every corner, but the angst and relationship will keep you turning page after page. Torre excels in whatever she chooses to write, but the addictive romances like this one are most certainly not to miss!

Rating
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Alessandra Torre

Alessandra Torre is an award-winning New York Times bestselling author of fourteen novels. Her books focus on romance and suspense, all with a strong undercurrent of sexuality. Torre has been featured in such publications as Elle, Elle UK, Dirty Sexy Funny with Jenny McCarthy, as well as guest blogged for the Huffington Post and RT Book Reviews. She is also the Bedroom Blogger for Cosmopolitan.com.

You can learn more about Alessandra on her website at www.alessandratorre.com, or you can find her on Twitter (@ReadAlessandra) or Facebook.

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