Thursday, July 28, 2016

His Royal Secret by Lilah Pace

His Royal Secret (His Royal Secret, #1)* * * * 1/2

The first in an enchanting new male/male romantic duology from Lilah Pace, author of Asking for More and Begging for It ....

James, the handsome, cosmopolitan Prince of Wales, is used to being in the public eye. But he's keeping a king-sized secret...James, next in line for the throne, is gay.

He’s been able to hide his sexual orientation with the help of his best friend and beard, Lady Cassandra. Sometimes he feels like a coward for not coming out, but he daren’t risk losing the crown. If he did, the succession would fall on his deeply troubled younger sister, Princess Amelia. To protect her, James is willing to live a lie.

While on holiday, he meets Benjamin Dahan—a rugged international reporter with a globe-trotting, unattached life—who catches far more than James's eye. And when Ben is transferred to London, it seems fate may finally be smiling on James.

But what began as a torrid fling grows into something far more intimate and powerful. Soon James will have decide who he is, what he wants from life and love, and what he’s willing to sacrifice for the truth...




Review:

Sometimes I pick up a book thinking it will bring back the nostalgia of the romances I read in my late teens.  A book that may not propel me over the moon but still fills my need to for love, romance and a happy ever after.   Then I start reading and realize that am I not only getting to indulge like I hoped and planned but I get to experience some of the best story writing I’ve read in a quite a while.  His Royal Secret is one of those books.

This book includes more than a beautifully written love story.   James becomes Prince Regent in the beginning of the book and is essentially King until his grandfather recovers from a stroke.  The heightened responsibility highlights the intricacies of his life – family relationships, family politics, the monarchy’s relationship with the Church of England, etc.  Add to that a secret relationship with someone whose faith, nationality and career would be all be questioned if he were a woman let alone a man.  Ben’s life is complicated in different ways.   His growing attachment to James threatens a lifestyle and career path he has carefully constructed in order to avoid the trap that is commitment.   

I loved both of these men from the very start.  James’ private/human wants and needs contrast beautifully against the charming princely persona he wears for the public.  Meeting him as the man first and the prince second allows the reader to not only feel attached to him but also appreciate the complications of a life that, to an outsider, seems to be full of privilege and little else.  Ben’s dedication to honesty and doing what he believes in makes him a highly attractive character.  Add in the layers of vulnerability he periodically shows to James and the reader and he is downright swoon-worthy.  Together, James and Ben make a power couple that is impossible to ignore.

It’s obvious that I loved this one.  But it wasn’t just me.  This was the first book in a very long time that all three of us read.  And we ALL loved it.   We all had the same minor complaint.   It ends in a Happy For Now cliffhanger!  But…..the next one, His Royal Favorite, comes out August 16, 2016 (less than three weeks away!) so we don’t have to wait long for the conclusion of their story.  I’ll tell you a secret…..I read it already and it will wow you just as much His Royal Secret!   So don’t wait.  Read this one immediately!  And then pre-order the next because you will be on pins and needles wait for that HEA!


Nat

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Hell Breaks Loose (Devil's Rock #2) by Sophie Jordan

* * * 3/4



Hell hath no hunger like a man let out of a cage . . .

Shy and awkward, First Daughter Grace Reeves has always done what she’s told. Tired of taking orders, she escapes her security detail for a rare moment of peace. Except her worst nightmare comes to life when a ruthless gang of criminals abducts her. Her only choice is to place her trust in Reid Allister, an escaped convict whose piercing gaze awakens something deep inside her. Reid is nothing like her other captors.

He’s tougher, smarter…and one blistering look from him makes her hotter than any man ever has.

Reid spent years plotting escape and revenge . . .years without a woman in his bed. For this hardened felon, Grace Reeves isn’t just out of his league—she’s from another planet, but that doesn’t stop him from wanting her. Escaping Devil’s Rock was tough, but resisting this woman could be the end of him. For a man with nothing to lose, protecting her . . . claiming her as his own, becomes more necessary than his next breath.



Source: advance e-galley provided by Avon for an honest review



Sophie Jordan writes fun romances. Her Devil's Rock series featuring alpha males who are all about protecting what's theirs is no different though she always manages to soften them up a bit. Sheer pleasure and escapism is all the reason you need to read this!

Reid planned his escape from prison so that he could seek revenge on the man responsible for putting him there in the first place. He's forced to reassess his plans when he unwittingly gets involved in the kidnapping of the First Daughter. Now instead of just taking care of his business he has to worry about her safety and that of his brother who is one of the kidnappers. Grace wishes that she hadn't outsmarted her security detail because now she's hiding away in god knows where with some morally-challenged folk, frightened for her life. She senses that her kidnappers seem to be afraid of Reid and so she tries to appeal to his good side. Reid wants no part of this but he's ultimately a decent man and can't leave Grace to these thugs. The two of them must lie low while he figures out how to save them both.


I've already mentioned that Reid is a decent man. His humble backstory is sad and explains how he landed behind bars. Grace has lived her entire life in the public eye on the campaign trail with her parents. Constantly under pressure to present herself as a dutiful daughter who's part of a picture-perfect family has become tedious and not to mention a bitter experience. Everything she does is always up for scrutiny and heaven forbid she have a plan for her own life. She also comes off as a bit naive to me only because she hasn't ever had the chance to live normally. Despite the privileges she's had throughout her life, she's not elitist - something I appreciated about her. And though she has been kidnapped, the situation has its silver lining in that she gets to see what she's made of. I liked the connection that she and Reid made however difficult and dangerous it was to get there. The only thing that gave me pause was the ending. Grace and Reid falling in love has its own set of complications. It felt too easy for me but then again, I am reading this for the happily ever after and I expect them to get there some way, somehow. I guess it's up to our imaginations to fill in those blanks.

Hell Breaks Loose is another action-filled romance with some angst that's overall a fun, quick read. A criminal who turns things around. A young woman who unleashes her inner badass. Yeah, you need to spend some time with Reid and Grace!

~ Bel



Waiting on Wednesday (195)


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that highlights future releases that we are excitedly anticipating.



Worked Up (Made in Jersey, #3)By Tessa Bailey
Publication Date: August 1, 2016

Factory mechanic Duke Crawford just wants to watch SportsCenter in peace. Unfortunately, living with four divorcee sisters doesn’t provide much silence, nor does it change his stance on relationships. But when a fellow commitment-phobe stumbles into his life, getting him good and worked up, he can’t deny his protective instincts.

Samantha Waverly’s brother just put her in an impossible situation. The only way out? Marry huge, gruff, gladiator look-alike Duke—for show, of course. She doesn’t make promises—she knows too well how easily they can be broken—and this is no exception.

As the blistering attraction between them grows, the lines around the no-strings relationship blur. But Duke and Samantha’s marriage is only for show…or is it?
 





Results May Vary

By Bethany Chase
Publication Date: August 9 ,2016

She never saw it coming. Without even a shiver of suspicion to warn her, Caroline Hammond discovers that her husband is having an affair with a man—a revelation that forces her to question their entire history together, from their early days as high school sweethearts through their ten years as a happily married couple. In her now upside-down world, Caroline begins envisioning her life without the relationship that has defined it: the loneliness of being an “I” instead of a “we”; the rekindled yet tenuous closeness with her younger sister; and the unexpected—and potentially disastrous—attraction she can’t get off her mind. Caroline always thought she knew her own love story, but as her husband’s other secrets emerge, she must decide whether that story’s ending will mean forgiving the man she’s loved for half her life, or facing her future without him.



Adulting 101By Lisa Henry
Publication Date: August 15, 2016

The struggle is real.

Nick Stahlnecker is eighteen and not ready to grow up yet. He has a summer job, a case of existential panic, and a hopeless crush on the unattainable Jai Hazenbrook. Except how do you know that your coworker’s unattainable unless you ask to blow him in the porta-potty?

That’s probably not what Dad meant when he said Nick should act more like an adult.

Twenty-five-year-old Jai is back in his hometown of Franklin, Ohio, just long enough to earn the money to get the hell out again. His long-term goal of seeing more of the world is worth the short-term pain of living in his mother’s basement, but only barely.

Meeting Nick doesn’t fit in with Jai’s plans at all, but, as Jai soon learns, you don’t have to travel halfway around the world to have the adventure of a lifetime.

This is not a summer romance. This is a summer friendship-with-benefits. It’s got pizza with disgusting toppings, Netflix and chill, and accidental exhibitionism. That’s all. There are no feelings here. None. Shut up.
 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Belle vs. The BDOC: A Bend or Break Novella by Amy Jo cousins

The Belle vs. the BDOC (Bend or Break #0.5)
* * * 1/2

Love is a battlefield. 

Shelby Summerfield is a Southern belle at a northern college in 1993, which is a challenge to begin with. And yes, Florence Truong, the object of Shelby's lust and the only other woman on campus not wearing flannel, does catch her in what looks like a compromising position with a straight boy at pub trivia night.

But Shelby is a gold star lesbian and Florence's dapper fashion sense makes her weak in the knees, so her rejection stings hard. To exact her revenge, Shelby cheats a little when putting together her own trivia dream team, because nobody strategizes to win like a Southern girl on a mission. And if trivia can't settle their rivalry, then maybe the annual campus-wide game of assassin will do the trick.

Shelby's gonna come out on top of Florence—in bed or out, one way or another. Bless her heart. And her silk pocket squares.

Warning: Contains obscene pub trivia team names, paint guns, a Southern belle with an exquisite grasp of battlefield tactics, and one dapper dyke who's misjudged her. 

Source: e-galley received from author in exchange for an honest review





Review:

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Amy Jo Cousins and, in particular, her Bend or Break series.   She writes human characters that I love because of their imperfections, not in spite of them and her writing covers the vast spectrum of genders and orientations.  When I found that she had written a f/f novella that takes place in the Bend or Break Universe I was ecstatic. 

Shelby Summerfield is the kind of girl that grabs your attention immediately.  Unfortunately, she doesn’t attract the right kind of attention from Florence, the hottest lesbian on campus.  Shelby’s master plan to get Florence to look at her romantically is thwarted by a male friend’s unwanted advances.  So what does Shelby do?  She sets up a ruthless plan B to show Florence that Shelby is a girl worth looking at twice. 

I enjoyed both Shelby and Florence’s characters but it was the vibrant Shelby that kept me fixated.  She’s comfortable in her skin, confident in her style and she WILL get what she wants, whether that’s an A+ on a test or if it’s the hottest girl at Carlisle College.   Her all-out war to win Florence over is both focused, complicated and hilarious.   

This is a feel good love story that is both fun and manages to touch on the important topic of gender stereotypes.  If you are looking for a short love story or looking to cut your teeth on the world of f/f romance, I can’t recommend this story enough.



Nat

Monday, July 25, 2016

The Invoice by Jonas Karlsson

* * *

Hilarious, profound, and achingly true-to-life, Jonas Karlsson’s novel explores the true nature of happiness through the eyes of hero you won’t soon forget

A passionate film buff, our hero’s life revolves around his part-time job at a video store, the company of a few precious friends, and a daily routine that more often than not concludes with pizza and movie in his treasured small space in Stockholm. When he receives an astronomical invoice from a random national bureaucratic agency, everything will tumble into madness as he calls the hotline night and day to find out why he is the recipient of the largest bill in the entire country.

What is the price of a cherished memory? How much would you pay for a beautiful summer day? How will our carefree idealist, who is content with so little and has no chance of paying it back, find a way out of this mess? All these questions pull you through The Invoice and prove once again that Jonas Karlsson is simply a master of entertaining, intelligent, and life-affirming work.


Source: advance e-galley received from publisher in exchange for an honest review


The unnamed protagonist in this book has a rare quality. He's perfectly content with his life. He honestly has no real complaints. He leads a quiet life working part-time at a video store, has a few friends and is a big movie buff. There's nothing out of the ordinary about him which is what makes him so special. He receives an invoice one day that says he owes 5,700,00 Kronor (roughly US$662,594.00). His casual attitude about the invoice confused me so much that I thought that he was receiving that amount rather than being billed for it. Once I got that straightened out I went on to be baffled by his continued nonchalance about the whole thing. When he's finally curious enough to inquire about the invoice, he swiftly begins a most bizarre relationship with Maude, the customer service rep assigned to his case. I eventually gathered that the invoice is a bill for his life experiences thus far and the fact that he's so content and not wanting for much has made him some sort of anomaly. 

This is one peculiar story which I wasn't prepared for. It's off-beat tone is like an indie movie. It's sweet and funny; his relationship with Maude is touching, and it's amazing how after a while it all feels kind of normal. If you're up for an unusual storyline that'll challenge you a bit, The Invoice is right up your alley.

~ Bel



Sunday, July 24, 2016

A Peek In The BiblioBin #208


Welcome to our Stacking the Shelves post! Stacking the Shelves (or as we like to call it, A Peek in the BiblioBin) has been created by the folks at Tynga's ReviewsIt's a way for bloggers to share what books they've won, received for review, purchased, borrowed from the library or friend, received as a gift, grabbed off the bookshelf, etc.


For Review:


Results May Vary by Bethany Chase


Purchased:


Area 51: Pucked Series Deleted Scenes & Outtakes (Pucked #4.1) by Helena Hunting

Blue (novella) by Seth King

No Pants Required by Kim Karr


Borrowed:


The Glasgow Lads series by Avery Cockburn 
(Playing For Keeps, Playing to Win, Playing With Fire)


Filthy English (English #2) by Ilsa Madden-Mills

Off the Bookshelf:


Jackaby (Jackaby #1) by William Ritter

Friday, July 22, 2016

The Hard Count by Ginger Scott Review Tour & Giveaway


Welcome to THE HARD COUNT review tour with Ginger Scott, hosted by Wordsmith Publicity. Be sure to check out all the participating blogs, reviews and enter the tour giveaway!
 

THE HARD COUNT
Mature YA Contemporary Romance-Stand Alone


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+ + + BLURB + + +

Nico Medina’s world is eleven miles away from mine. During the day, it’s a place where doors are open—where homes are lived in, and neighbors love. But when the sun sets, it becomes a place where young boys are afraid, where eyes watch from idling cars that hide in the shadows and wicked smoke flows from pipes.

West End is the kind of place that people survive. It buries them—one at a time, one way or another. And when Nico was a little boy, his mom always told him to run.

I’m Reagan Prescott—coach’s daughter, sister to the prodigal son, daughter in the perfect family.
Life on top.
Lies.
My world is the ugly one. Private school politics and one of the best high school football programs in the country can break even the toughest souls. Our darkness plays out in whispers and rumors, and money and status trump all. I would know—I’ve watched it kill my family slowly, strangling us for years.

In our twisted world, a boy from West End is the only shining light.
Quarterback.
Hero.
Heart.
Good.
I hated him before I needed him.
I fell for him fast.
I loved him when it was almost too late.

When two ugly worlds collide, even the strongest fall. But my world…it hasn’t met the boy from West End.



+ + + Review + + +

* * * * *

It's impossible for me not to feel excitement about a forthcoming Ginger Scott novel when the author herself is all over social media sharing bits and pieces of her work, declaring how much of her heart is in her latest project. It's infectious and as a result I was beside myself waiting for the arc. 

For a senior in high school Reagan is a well-adjusted young woman with aspirations of going to film school. She's currently working on a documentary about her high school football team that's coached by her dad. It's an interesting look at the football program - the highs and lows, the politics surrounding it and the people involved. That aspect reminded me of Friday Night Lights. Seeing it as a student, the coach's daughter and as a filmmaker offers a different perspective on life. I thought her observations, especially how the adults behaved and interacted were incredibly interesting and refreshing for someone of her age. It's through this documentary that she begins to see Nico n a different light. Nico the scholarship kid, the one kid in school who routinely vexes her through their continual verbal sparring in class. The kid who broadens her awareness of the world around her not just the microcosm of the school they attend. Nico, the outlier becomes the quarterback who can save their football season but that's not without resistance. 

I regularly ask myself what it is I enjoy about YA novels. The easy answer is that it's fun to go back to that time in life where everything is a first: first crush, first glance, first kiss on the cheek, first date, first real kiss...firsts. All that awkwardness and exuberance becomes nostalgic for most. My story is different. I went to an all girls high school so I didn't get to experience the rush that comes with seeing the cute boy pass by my locker or watching the boy stride into class or the giddiness that comes with saying "hey" as we crossed paths. Reading a Ginger Scott novel is letting her be tour guide through that time period, and through her words I feel as if she's picking me up and dropping me into someone else's shoes. I get to live vicariously through her characters. 

One can be forgiven in assuming that The Hard Count is simply a high school romance. It's deeper than that. It examines social economics and dynamics, how people are perceived based on which side of town they live in, how money and privilege affect the haves and have nots; all this through Reagan and Nico's impressionable eyes. It delves into the consequences of outside influence and pressure on families that are expected to perform, succeed and be examples to the community. It's also about how individuals can be capable of escaping their closed-mindedness. You'd be hard-pressed not to draw any correlation between the novel and what's happening in the news. And most importantly, it'll have you taking a hard look at your own views and internal dialogue when you come face to face with a social issue.

What can I say? Congratulations to Ginger Scott for scoring another touchdown with this one. She managed to tell so much story that fit into this little part of the world and I'm so happy that I got to read it!

~ Bel

  


+ + + GIVEAWAY + + +

1 signed copy of In Your Dreams, $10 Amazon gift card
Open International






+ + + ABOUT GINGER SCOTT + + + 


Ginger Scott is an Amazon-bestselling and Goodreads Choice Award-nominated author of several young and new adult romances, including Waiting on the Sidelines, Going Long, Blindness, How We Deal With Gravity, This Is Falling, You and Everything After, The Girl I Was Before, Wild Reckless, Wicked Restless and In Your Dreams.

A sucker for a good romance, Ginger’s other passion is sports, and she often blends the two in her stories. (She’s also a sucker for a hot quarterback, catcher, pitcher, point guard…the list goes on.) Ginger has been writing and editing for newspapers, magazines and blogs for more than 15 years. She has told the stories of Olympians, politicians, actors, scientists, cowboys, criminals and towns. For more on her and her work, visit her website at http://www.littlemisswrite.com.

When she's not writing, the odds are high that she's somewhere near a baseball diamond, either watching her son field pop flies like Bryce Harper or cheering on her favorite baseball team, the Arizona Diamondbacks. Ginger lives in Arizona and is married to her college sweetheart whom she met at ASU (fork 'em, Devils).


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