RELEASE DAY BLITZ & GIVEAWAY – 90s Playlist: A Romance Rewind Anthology

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Title: 90s Playlist
Authors: Amy Jo Cousins, Audra North, Brighton Walsh,
Jennifer Blackwood, Lorelie Brown, Rebecca Grace Allen
Publication date: October 13th 2015
Genres: New Adult, Romance

90s Playlist Anthology

Synopsis

Six stories of sex, love, and being young in the ‘90s, inspired by songs of the decade…

My Strongest Weakness by Brighton Walsh
It was supposed to be a one-time thing. No one would find out; no one would have to know. And then once turned into twice, and twice turned into several times a week, and now pierced, punk-loving, rebellious Tia Lanning is banging Mason Brooks, the big man on campus and Mr. All American. But banging him isn’t the problem. Falling for him is. Especially when he’s content to let her remain his dirty little secret.

Creep by Lorelie Brown
Roni lives for the raves in Oakland’s warehouse district. Dancing till dawn in white gloves under black lights breathes life into her soul. Nothing will get her kicked out of her underground world faster than turning over Skittles, her dealer. She refuses to provide info about the underage runaway to his big brother Tom. But Tom is going to find Skittles with or without Roni’s cooperation. But Tom is special. He’s rich, handsome and bold. Roni wishes she was special. And like the rave scene she loves, nothing lasts forever.

The Belle vs. the BDOC by Amy Jo Cousins
Shelby Summerfield is a gold star lesbian, even if she doesn’t look like one. Florence Truong is the only other dyke at Carlisle College in 1993 not wearing plaid flannel, and Shelby sets her sights on seduction. But instead of a delightful tumble in the sheets, Florence calls her out for being a straight girl. With seduction off the table, Shelby settles for revenge for her humiliation. But if all she wants is to show up her campus rival, how come Shelby can’t stop herself from saving Florence instead of annihilating her?

Worthwhile by Audra North
Jill didn’t expect her semester in Leeds to start with getting dumped by her boyfriend. Especially since she only came to England to be with him. Two weeks in, all she wants to do is go home. Finding love with someone new is definitely not an option. But when she literally stumbles into grad student Stuart’s arms, her experience abroad becomes a lot more worthwhile.

Smells Like Teen Spirit by Rebecca Grace Allen
Rory Stone’s days of grunge and poetry are behind her, her reality now in bags of Arabian brew, and counting the change in the tip jar. Can indie singer James Griffith rock her muse back into the present?

Little Red Thong by Jennifer Blackwood
Emily Jones is ready to embark on the most epic spring break trip of her college career with her bestie, twin brother, and her brother’s best friend, Chase. Chase has been in love with Emily since the eighth grade when she kicked his ass in laser tag. He’s not going to piss away his last chance to tell her how he feels. When the group decides to play a game of Spring Break BINGO that involves body shots, a red thong, and secret hookups, this is the perfect catalyst to get him out of the friend zone. But as things get heated, they have to decide if twenty years of friendship is worth putting in jeopardy because of a game, and what will happen when they hit dry land.

Bs Review

My Strongest Weakness by Brighton Walsh

Brighton Walsh has once again managed to amaze me with her fantastic storytelling in My Strongest Weakness. This talented author packs some great character growth and genuine emotion into these few pages, leaving me desperate for more. Brighton had me effortlessly falling in love with Mason and Tia and I’d gladly take a full length novel and then some of this fun, sexy couple. Tia and Mason couldn’t be more opposite, yet their chemistry is undeniable. From the second this story began, their connection was absolutely electric, pulling me into their world and getting me hooked on them. Brighton Walsh has crafted something fierce and palpable between them that made my heart race and ache as I experienced the ups and downs of their journey. My Strongest Weakness is a perfect taste of what this author has to offer and a great reminder of what the new adult genre really is.

“All thoughts and preconceived notions about how this might go flee my head, because it’s Mason Brooks, and he kisses me like I’m the very air he needs to breathe.”

Despite its limited length, My Strongest Weakness made me feel deeply. I laughed at Tia’s feisty and sarcastic nature, swooned over Mason’s character-revealing internal conflict, and melted at the toe curling heat this couple generated. Both characters evolve over the course of this story, a combination of self-realization and emotional honesty driving their mutual growth. I adored seeing them grow into their own and mature beyond their years, allowing themselves to see the true value and rare honesty in their relationship. I was pleasantly surprised by the poignancy of Tia and Mason’s story. Not only does Brighton Walsh entertain with My Strongest Weakness, but she broaches social issues that anyone can relate to, imploring her readers to root for this couple to defy societal norms and find their happily ever after. Brighton’s writing maintains its enchanting quality, making this love come to life with her vibrant imagery and evocation of emotions while revealing the surprising depth that makes this author so brilliant. Rating — 5 Stars

90s Playlist_Strongest Weakness_1

Creep by Lorelie Brown

Creep is a quirky short story about opposites attracting. Roni and Tom made for some great chemistry. Their seemingly incompatible lifestyles only served to fuel the sparks they were generating. I enjoyed the build up of tension between them, despite the short timespan of the storyline. Lorelie Brown wrote with vibrant detail that brought Creep to life. Her words pulled me into the rave with Roni where I could practically feel the pulse of the music and the stifling heat of the dance floor. She did a great job setting the scene in this short story. I needed a little bit more character development with Tom in order to better understand his strained relationship with his brother and his abrupt decision to help him and Roni, but all in all this story was full of life and a lot of fun. Rating — 3.5 Stars

90s Playlist Anthology_Creep_1

The Belle vs. the BDOC by Amy Jo Cousins

The Belle vs. the BDOC is one of those stories that was just fun to read! When Shelby realizes that the only way to get the super competitive Florence to pay attention to her is to become her biggest competitor, all hell breaks loose. I loved the friendly (and sometimes not-so-friendly) competition that took these girls on a crazy adventure. It proved to be the perfect way for them to get to know one another. Amy Jo Cousins did a great job capturing college life without over stereotyping. She created a relaxed, accepting, and funny storyline that kept me grinning from start to finish. I loved the tension she generated with Shelby and Florence and the palpable push and pull between them. Amy Jo Cousins developed these characters well, despite the limited length of the story. She even managed to acknowledge some deeper fears and feelings that influenced the characters’ relationship. The Belle vs. the BDOC made me laugh and struck me with its sweetness, definitely peaking my interest in this author! Rating — 4 Stars

Worthwhile by Audra North

For a short story, Worthwhile certainly gave me all the feels! There was so much substance to Jill’s journey that I couldn’t help but be impressed by Audra North’s writing. Jill and Stuart were both great characters, who proved to have significant depth as their story progressed. Not only did these two have great chemistry, but they also had an emotional connection that made their journey absolutely shine. I loved the character growth Audra North managed to orchestrate in Jill. As she came into her own, I found myself becoming truly invested in her happily ever. Stuart was sweet, intelligent, and downright swoon-worthy, making him total book boyfriend material. Worthwhile definitely stirred up a multitude of emotions and Audra North proved she knows how to write a short story, making me laugh and giving me that thrill that only comes from the excitement of new love. Rating — 5 Stars

90s Playlist_Worthwhile

Smells Like Teen Spirit by Rebecca Grace Allen

Rory and James are one of those couples that just made my heart soar. They are so unconventionally adorable that I couldn’t help but grin through most of this book. Rory’s closed off and stubborn nature was well balanced by James’ giving and sweet personality. While they were definitely different in so many ways, they connected through their art; their mutual love of music adding fuel to the already burning fire. Rebecca Grace Allen has written a great chemistry with this couple. I loved their banter, their raw honesty, and of course their naughty trysts. In the short length of this story, the author not only managed to make me care about both of these characters, but she had me wanting to continue on their journey. I’m hoping there will be more of Rory and James at some point in the future because I’d love to see Rory’s continued character growth as she works through her issues and learns to accept and trust in love again. Smells Like Teen Spirit was a sweet, fun, and steamy read that has me wanting more from Rebecca Grace Allen. Rating — 4.5 Stars

Little Red Thong by Jennifer Blackwood

Jennifer Blackwood had me absolutely grinning from beginning to end with Little Red Thong! First of all, there was so much win in this story. I was truly taken for a ride back to the 90s with all of the pop culture references, my mind invaded by memories of warheads, butterfly clips, and of course, the Thong Song. Chase and Emily were such a fun couple. They had a connection that really felt rooted in their lifelong friendship. There was a chemistry there from the beginning that sizzled under the surface, waiting to explode. Jennifer Blackwood kept me on the edge of my seat wishing for the moment when these two would just give in. Little Red Thong was fun, carefree, and full of life, but the best part was the genuine emotion fused throughout the story unexpectedly. Melissa and Drew were great additions to the cast, making me laugh at their ridiculous antics and helping me fall in love with the main characters even harder. I’d honestly love to see more of Emily and Chase in the future. Even with just this short story, Jennifer Blackwood already has me hooked on them. Little Red Thong was an enchanting beginning for a vibrant, quirky, and totally lovable couple. Rating — 5 Stars

90s Playlist_Little Red Thong

Cs Review

My Strongest Weakness by Brighton Walsh

My Strongest Weakness by Brighton Walsh ended up translating to a love that embodied the expression ‘opposites attract’. What I really enjoyed the most was that I think everyone, at one point in their lives, could relate to Mason and Tia. Mason was the perfect jock that everyone wanted to be or to date. Tia was the complete opposite, the girl who looked different, acted different, and just gave a standoffish vibe. While they never thought they could work together, Mason and Tia were insanely attracted to each other and that passion and heat could be felt through every single page. As the book went on, I loved how each of their insecurities really became prevalent. As a society in general, I think we’re so often seeking approval and crave that acceptance from those we surround ourselves with. In some ways, these characters were like mirrors into people, myself included.

“She’s the last thing he needs, but she’s the only thing he wants…as long as it’s behind closed doors.”

My biggest complaint is that I wanted more from the lovely Brighton Walsh! No matter the genre she is writing, she always sucks me in and makes me want to know absolutely everything. I’d love to get a glimpse of where these characters are sitting now. Everything from the writing, to the flow, and the plot all came together to work incredibly well. I could see hints of the Janet Jackson song lyrics shining through, while also maintaining Walsh’s own voice – which I can’t imagine is an easy feat. Overall, I truly adored My Strongest Weakness, and can’t wait to see how the other authors transform songs into stories as well! Rating — 5 Stars

90s Playlist_Brighton

Creep by Lorelie Brown

I’m crazy for these stories in the 90’s Anthology, so I do go and listen to the songs and look up lyrics before diving in so that I can get a sense of the direction and tone. Creep was exciting in a very different way for me. Rather than this one being all about the characters, I think it highlighted the culture and mindset for many in the 90s. The raves, the fashion, the CD stores…it all brought back iconic images from the time period which naturally lends to an authenticity and general nostalgic feeling. Tom was a surprise for me, if I’m being honest. I expected him to be this pompous jerk who had something up his sleeve. However, I love the way he was attracted to Roni. He played the big brother role very well and you could tell that he was a protective, dominating personality. I also admired Roni’s independence and could relate to her on some levels. Because of that, I took an immediate liking to her – despite the trouble she may have gotten herself into. That being said, I felt like the story ended a little abruptly and there just wasn’t enough follow through. I was expecting some sort of closure but I didn’t get that at all. I’d definitely be interested in seeing more of their story. Lorelie Brown hooked me, kept me interested, but also left me feeling incomplete. Rating – 3.5 stars

90s Playlist_Lorelie

The Belle vs. the BDOC by Amy Jo Cousins

The Belle vs. the BDOC was definitely a cute, fun way to translate the theme of hate to love in a relationship. In the beginning, I never guessed that the story would take a spin into a game of Assassins – but it was innovative and kept the novella action packed. Shelby and Florence were such a quirky couple to get to know. I loved their competitive nature, but especially Shelby’s inner one-liners. I was cracking up watching these two characters develop and forge an unlikely friendship. However, while I did enjoy these two, I did have a little bit of a hard time getting into The Belle vs. the BDOC. I enjoyed the female/female aspect – because it made the story stand out from the other novellas. My issue lied in the fact that Shelby kept referring to how much she hated Florence, but the only emotions that I felt were lust and infatuation. There was just a mismatch to what was felt on the pages, and what was described in the words. Furthermore, the story did feel a tad jumpy to me, up until the end when the ball started to get rolling. Amy Jo Cousins has created two characters that were great to get to know and left me wanting to see more into their future. I appreciated the female/female dynamic of the story and am interested to see other works by this author. Rating — 4 stars

90s Playlist_Amy Jo Cousins

Worthwhile by Audra North

I’m not going to lie, Anthologies and short stories always sound great to me, but then as soon as I start reading them, I remember why I’m hesitant to go into them to begin with. However, Worthwhile by Audra North was executed so perfectly that it completely renewed my faith in these little snippet stories. This short story was packed with so much emotion and feeling; I just loved the journey that North took us on. Worthwhile epitomizes everything that college students go through – losing a first love, learning who you are, how to be independent, and figuring out a direction in life. The way she writes Jill’s story stirred up memories within me, therefore pulling me into this storyline deeply. I could relate because I was there – not too long ago. Furthermore, the pacing was spot on-and that’s normally where my biggest issue lies. Worthwhile never felt flat or rushed; it was believable and heartfelt and I really appreciated that. It was my first taste of North’s writing, but if she can pack that much punch in an Anthology story, I’m excited to see how she writes a full-length novel! Rating — 5 Stars

Worthwhile

Smells Like Teen Spirit by Rebecca Grace Allen

Smells Like Teen Spirit by Rebecca Grace Allen is a short story that caused me to have a myriad of emotions, probably more so than any of the other stories in the Anthology. Rory and James seemed to be almost from opposite ends of the track, but each had a lot of depth which allowed their similarities to shine. They provided such a perfect balance to break the walls or boundaries that the other had. Together, I just couldn’t help but root for them. Further, I just love that the story so intently focused on music and poetry. As a child of the ‘90s, I remember how much music of the time lent to the creative process. I could relate to how much the lyrics of so many different songs spoke to the generation as a whole, making intent listeners feel like they weren’t alone. That feeling that Rory got when she listened to words and was able to pour her heart on to a page – I was that girl. I would definitely LOVE to get the opportunity to see an expanded story of Smells Like Teen Spirit, which I don’t often say about short stories. However, Rory and James made me yearn for more in every sense of the word! Rating — 4.5 Stars

Smells Like Teen Spirit

Little Red Thong by Jennifer Blackwood

Oh my goodness – I think Little Red Thong by Jennifer Blackwood might just be my favorite short story of this entire Anthology. It was flirty and fun, and had so much nostalgia packed into it that I couldn’t get enough. I’m a sucker for a forbidden romance so the whole brother’s best friend angle had me hooked the moment I knew what was going down. The fact that the brother was so passionate about it made it that much sweeter. Blackwood approached the whole story in the perfect way that I couldn’t help but become addicted. Furthermore, everything was done in such a fun twist with the Spring Break bingo card. I can easily say that it’s not something I had previously seen, but it definitely kept me intrigued. Finally, the author brought the ‘90s time period to life for me as a reader. There was so much of the stuff I grew up with (hellooooo Freddie Prinze, Jr.), that I found myself smiling the entire time I was reading. She really excelled at setting the scene for her readers, which I felt was somewhat missing in the other books of the Anthology. I’m super excited that I got to read this one, and kind of wish that there will be an expansion or a book that chronicles what happens to Emily and Chase after they got back from their cruise. In the meantime, I’ll go curl up listening to Genie in a Bottle after watching She’s All That 😉 Little Red Thong was an excellent addition to the Anthology and a banging way to end it! Rating — 5 stars

Little Red Thong

Excerpt

from My Strongest Weakness by Brighton Walsh

This is so not my scene. It’s not that I hate parties…just these parties. Snooty sorority girls with their Heathers cliques, whispering and pointing at anyone who looks different from them. Jocks who are obnoxious and irritating, doing keg stands or groping chicks in the corners or on the couches. I’d rather be just about anywhere. But when Stacy, my roommate from Freshman year, cornered me in the quad after my foreign film class and begged me to come along, saying all her other friends bailed on her and the guy she was trying to catch the eye of was going to be here, I figured why the hell not?

Plus, I thought it would be a good opportunity to fuck with him.

Him being Mason Brooks. Starting quarterback, a legacy and vice president of Zeta Alpha Tau, and Mister All-American. He’s perfection personified. Perfect hair, perfect body…straight white teeth anchoring the perfect smile. Perfect clothes. Perfect life. His parents, both lawyers, are still married. They attend every football game, or so I’ve heard, and live about an hour upstate in a suburb I can’t even afford to drive through, let alone live in. Perfect.

We’re like water and oil, never mixing well. As different as night and day. I hate him on principle alone.

A game of Quarters is going on in the corner, and he’s there, standing almost a head taller than everyone else he’s with. He looks stupid in his backward baseball cap, No Fear shirt, and jeans, just a lemming talking to his lemmings. Everything about him should turn me off, from his neatly cropped hair, to his cocky stance, to his booming voice, to all those muscles hidden beneath his clothes.

Sadly, it doesn’t, which is what got me into this situation in the first place.

He’s talking with some guys I’ve seen him with around campus. Two girls hang off each of his arms—one of whom I overheard in the dining hall say she was going to hook up with him tonight. Since overhearing that, there’s been a fissure of…something…that started low in my belly and worked its way up, and now it’s nearly overwhelming. Must be anticipation. Excitement at the shit that’s about to hit the fan. Mason hasn’t noticed me yet, and I’m kind of looking forward to when he does. The Fourth of July will have nothing on the fireworks between us when he sees I’ve broken our code and shown up on his home turf.

There aren’t a lot of rules between us. In fact, there are only three: No interacting in public, no unscheduled hookups, and no home turf invasions.

I’m planning to break all three tonight, just for the hell of it.

“Tia!” Stacy grabs my arm and spins me around, pointing toward the far end of the house. “I see Brad over there, so I’m gonna try and catch his eye. You okay?”

“Yeah, yeah,” I say, waving her off. “I’ll find you when I want to leave.”

“Okay, an hour, tops!”

Without another word, she takes off in that direction, her long hair flying behind her, and I’m left without a buffer. There’s no denying Stacy fits in here with the rest of the crowd in the house. She’s everything I’m not. Styled blonde hair and trendy clothes, bubble gum personality to my black licorice. When we were assigned the same dorm Freshman year, I thought it’d be a disaster. Turned out we clicked despite our differences and managed to keep in touch even when we moved on to other living arrangements.

Head held high, I ignore the thinly veiled looks of judgment tossed in my direction as I make my way through the crowd. God forbid I not be here in a schoolgirl skirt and a baby tee clinging to my tits, all my goodies on display for everyone to see. The chains of my necklace jangle as I walk through the party, not really sure where I’m going. But moving is better than standing still, waiting for the vultures to strike.

Even though I’m on my third year here, I’ve managed to make it my entire college career thus far having yet to actually step foot into a frat house. Until tonight. It’s bigger than I thought it would be. Cleaner, too, even with all the people around. I was picturing a slum, basically. Bug infested, maybe, with garbage lying all over the place, beer-stained carpets and cigarette burns on the couches. How could it not be, with a horde of guys living under the same roof and multiple parties here every week? They must have someone in to clean, because there’s no way any males from the ages of eighteen to twenty-two could keep this shit up.

There’s a wall to my right showcasing dozens and dozens of photographs. I don’t know a lot about fraternities, but I know enough to realize they’re pictures of members of Zeta Alpha Tau, going back several years. Mason is in those photos, somewhere, though I don’t allow myself to stop and look.

I’m on a mission, and reminding Mason our agreement is tenuous is priority number one.

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Brighton Walsh

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Lorelie Brown

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Amy Jo Cousins

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Audra North

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Rebecca Grace Allen

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Jennifer Blackwood

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