Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Starbreaker (Endeavor #2) by Amanda Bouchet

* * * * *


Captain Tess Bailey and Shade Ganavan are still the galaxy's Most Wanted, and with revolution in the wind and the universe on the brink of catastrophic war, the situation couldn't be more desperate. Despite the Dark Watch scouring the known sectors for them, rebel leaders have handed the crew of the Endeavor a delicate and dangerous mission: break into Starbase 12 and free renowned scientist Reena Ahern. She's the only one who stands a chance of tipping the odds in their favor for the first time in decades.


The clock is ticking. But as their attraction builds and secrets are revealed, Tess and Shade must decide if they trust each other enough to execute this impossible prison break. They could change the course of history, but they'll be risking everything... They'll just have to tackle one crisis at a time.

Source: advance e-galled provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review

It seems as if during these days (and months) of shelter-in-place our only hope for thrill-seeking is to seek it out in books. What could be so perfect at removing us from our own reality to the outer edges of the galaxy than the much-awaited Starbreaker!

Tess, Shade and the gang are barely recovered from their previous adventure in Nightchaser when they are recruited for their next mission. They'd essentially be organizing a jailbreak out of one of the most tightly guarded locations in the galaxy while also delivering life-saving supplies to those who need it. Tess is used to high stakes missions but Shade is the newcomer here. He now not only gets to see the risk Tess and her crew take on but he gets to participate as well. All this as he and Tess are trying to navigate their new relationship. Both are still a bit out of practice when it comes to full on trust or even believing that they might be enough for each other. They definitely grapple with their insecurities especially when faced with what they want out of their future.

The new lovebirds also have to contend with the bad guys aka Uncle Nate chasing after them. We have an unexpected turn of events here so let's say that not everything is at it looks and no one is more astounded than Tess. With newfound revelations and possibly new allies it looks like nothing can stop Tess and her team from dismantling her father's tyrannical Dark Watch regime. 

There were some new details that I caught onto in Starbreaker, one of them being the wistful memories of an Earth that's long since ceased to exist in the way it was. Quite a few times mention is made of creatures, colours or life that's associated with Earth, though no one has any firsthand experience of those things. It's kind of sad, really, people holding onto an existence that's no longer theirs but they're somber little touches, reminders of fragility and more importantly, humanity.

Sci-fi is not generally in my wheelhouse but in this case I'm here because I'm a fan of Bouchet's. Whether she's building a world in space or in a mythical land, she weaves incredible stories that you can sink your teeth into. If you're itching for non-stop, gripping adventure right now then you have to read Starbreaker. You can barely catch your breath before the next action begins. Tess continues to be a dominant leader, fighter, mother figure, friend, and now lover as well. She's inspiring Shade to be a better version of himself and encouraging her crew to open up, too. This is probably her most challenging time yet, personally as she faces a bit of an existential crisis. Being someone who has always viewed things in terms of good versus evil, she's now confronted with the possibility that grey areas do exist, and that they can prove to be even more difficult that picking a side.

Starbreaker is a brilliant adventure that takes you on a ride through the highs and lows of love, the dangers of outlaw life, and affirmation that a good leader with altruist intentions can bring about change.

~ Bel

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Girl Gone Viral (Modern Love #2) by Alisha Rai

* * * *

In Alisha Rai’s second novel in her Modern Love series, a live-tweet event goes viral for a camera-shy ex-model, shoving her into the spotlight—and into the arms of the bodyguard she’d been pining for.

OMG! Wouldn’t it be adorable if he’s her soulmate???

I don’t see any wedding rings [eyes emoji]

Breaking: #CafeBae and #CuteCafeGirl went to the bathroom AT THE SAME TIME!!!

One minute, Katrina King’s enjoying an innocent conversation with a hot guy at a coffee shop; the next, a stranger has live-tweeted the entire episode with a romantic meet-cute spin and #CafeBae is the new hashtag-du-jour. The problem? Katrina craves a low-profile life, and going viral threatens the peaceful world she’s painstakingly built. Besides, #CafeBae isn’t the man she’s hungry for...

He’s got a [peach emoji] to die for.

With the internet on the hunt for the identity of #CuteCafeGirl, Jas Singh, bodyguard, friend, and possessor of the most beautiful eyebrows Katrina’s ever seen, comes to the rescue and whisks her away to his family’s home. Alone in a remote setting with the object of her affections? It’s a recipe for romance. But after a long dating dry spell, Katrina isn’t sure she can trust her instincts when it comes to love—even if Jas’ every look says he wants to be more than just her bodyguard…

Source: advance e-galley provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review

Kat, whom we met in The Right Swipe, is an intensely private person. Part of the reason for that is she suffers from anxiety and also experienced a traumatizing event that has made her extra guarded and slow to trust. Her immediate circle includes her best friend Rhiannon, Rhiannon's assistant and Jas, her bodyguard. She's happy to keep her circle tight and look after them. When her much-valued privacy and anonymity are blown thanks to a viral tweet, she panics and Jas' protectiveness kicks in. He takes her to his family's peach farm, far, far away from the prying eyes of the city where she can take a breath and wait it out until the public interest wanes. While Kat escapes the media hounding, Jas comes face-to-face with what he's been avoiding: his family. His grandfather's expectation of him and the weight of his inheritance has driven a wedge between them. After his tour of duty, Jas finds it hard to confide in anyone about his experience and the nightmares that torment him. Coming home is almost more than he can handle but he has to keep it together for Kat's sake.

Firstly, Kat and Jas are hopelessly in love with each other though neither has admitted that out loud. There's the sensitive employer-employee dynamic and also the fear of being that vulnerable and open to rejection and heartache. They're ridiculously attractive people and together they're basically blinding to our mere mortal eyes; we don't stand a chance. I have to say that I did enjoy the dance they'd do around each other, noticing the little things, being hyper aware of the shift in atmosphere whenever they were close or barely touched. I liked how that tension between them gradually built while they were hiding away from the rest of the world in their own tiny bubble.

Secondly, the social media angle felt to me like Rai was putting into words how I feel about it sometimes. Don't get me wrong - I enjoy scrolling through feeds and seeing all the pictures but I am also acutely aware that most of that is staged. Perfection sells. So do fairytales and these days fairytales are written differently. In this case, they're live tweeted by people detailing every bit of what they observe is happening in front of them. Now I'll admit, it can be cute. Who doesn't want to get behind two people falling in love and witness it happening in real time? But it's creepy when you think about it. There's someone there watching you intently, listening in on what should be a private conversation even if you are in public, putting things out there and spinning things into something it may not be. It is a total invasion of privacy. So I completely understood Kat's feeling about it and how the unwanted scrutiny further fueled her anxiety. 

Rai writes some spectacular romances and I like Girl Gone Viral and The Right Swipe for different reasons. Both offer pertinent commentary on social culture as you fall in love with the characters. They're entertaining reads with gratifying resolutions and I love every bit of them.

~ Bel

Monday, April 13, 2020

Throwback Blog Tour

Today we have the anniversary blog tour for Zeia Jameson and her contemporary romance, THROWBACK! Check it out and be sure to pick up your copy today!

Genre: Contemporary Romance

: : About Throwback : :

First comes love, then comes marriage.
Then comes...disaster. 

In Livy's mind, prince charmings, happily ever afters and true love only exist in her world of books. Jeremy believes otherwise, and he's determined to prove he can be all of that for Livy. 

All it takes is a little hope to embark on forever... until the unexpected turns their solid foundation into suffocating quicksand. And just like that, everything begins to crumble. 

Spiraling out of control, Jeremy and Livy grow further apart with every day that passes. 

But a glimpse of what once was reminds them that the fate of their future lies solely in their hands. 

When life-altering love becomes earth-shattering heartache, only the past can mend it. If it isn't too late.

: :  Order Your Copy Today : :

Amazon | Apple Books | Barnes & Nobles | Kobo


: : About Zeia Jameson : :

Zeia Jameson's passion for writing compels her to get into the zone and type until her fingers go numb. When not submerged within her own stories, she enjoys curling up in her large reading chair, snuggling underneath a blanket, and feeding her addictions of coffee and reading. She is fond of humor and laughter and believes these are elements that keep the world sane and spinning. Zeia lives in Georgia with her husband and daughter, where they spend most of their time exploring recipes, bingeing on Netflix, and traveling as much as possible.

: : Connect with Zeia : :

Reader Group, the Fierce Romantics | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Book+Main | BookBub | Amazon | Goodreads

: : Excerpt : :


She’s fucking with me again and trying to make me squirm. She’s using confrontation as an intimidation mechanism, and I feel like she’s testing me to see if I’ll forcibly deny that I was checking her out or own up to my automatic masculine tendencies.

I feel like if I’m going to have any chance of getting her number—hell, even her name at this point—I should choose option B.

I look her square in the face and give her a good, confident smile. “Actually, I did.”

Looking at her eyes, I notice the sinister quality is fleeing and being replaced with slight surprise and a hint of satisfaction. “Hmm. A guy who admits he was checking out the goods. I like that.”

“Well, I didn’t figure you’d be wearing those jeans if you didn’t want people taking a peek.” I decide to go for a little teasing of my own. “And as long as I’m being honest, you know what else I checked out?”

She looks at me just like I thought she would. Like she knows I’m going to say her boobs. Or rack. Or tits. Or whatever other off-color term you could use to describe breasts. The smile leaves her face, and she gives me a look of disappointment. I admire that even though she is let down, she still locks eyes with me, awaiting my response. It makes me wonder if she’s had this exact same conversation countless times before. She gave me a little honesty, and she thinks I’m about to take advantage of that vulnerability.

How the fuck can I tell all of this about her just by looking at her face?

She leans into the bar and gets closer to my face. At the V of her shirt, the fabric loses connection with her skin, and if I were looking in that direction, I’d probably be able to get a great view of what was hidden underneath. But my eyes do not leave hers. “Yeah, what’s that, stud?” she says in a monotone but enunciates the d in the word stud, nearly making it its own syllable. She’s indicating that I need to choose my next words wisely.

I wait before I answer and stare at her for a few seconds. She looks so sad, like she wanted me to be different. There was a small glimmer of hope in her face before, and now it’s been extinguished.

I want to reignite it.

Here goes nothing.

“Your eyes,” I finally say. And, as I assumed, that takes her by surprise. But her reaction is hardly noticeable. I only see the minor adjustment of her face. Her eyes widen ever so slightly, and there is just the tiniest bit of a grin on the left side of her lips. But the best part is that I see the hope again.

: : Enter the Giveaway : :

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, April 6, 2020

You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle

* * * *

When your nemesis also happens to be your fiancé, happily ever after becomes a lot more complicated in this wickedly funny, lovers-to-enemies-to-lovers romantic comedy debut.

Naomi Westfield has the perfect fiancé: Nicholas Rose holds doors open for her, remembers her restaurant orders, and comes from the kind of upstanding society family any bride would love to be a part of. They never fight. They're preparing for their lavish wedding that's three months away. And she is miserably and utterly sick of him.

Naomi wants out, but there's a catch: whoever ends the engagement will have to foot the nonrefundable wedding bill. When Naomi discovers that Nicholas, too, has been feigning contentment, the two of them go head-to-head in a battle of pranks, sabotage, and all-out emotional warfare.

But with the countdown looming to the wedding that may or may not come to pass, Naomi finds her resolve slipping. Because now that they have nothing to lose, they're finally being themselves--and having fun with the last person they expect: each other.

Source: advance e-galley provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review

You Deserve Each Other takes a different look at a relationship in tatters. Sometime since Nicholas and Naomi's engagement there occurred a massive breakdown between them that's kept them in a near-constant passive-aggressive mode with each other for the past months. On the surface the rift seems irreparable and all they do is sabotage things hoping that one of them will cave and call off the wedding. No one wants to be the first to accept defeat, especially when walking away means having to pay off all the cost of the wedding so far. 

What could've caused things to get this bad? We gain that insight as the history of relationship is told backwards.  Nicholas' mother is a big antagonist here as the overbearing, manipulative, control freak who wants to monopolize her son's time. She always manages subtle jabs at Naomi for not being good enough for her him and Naomi has never felt her fiancé defend her in these situations. Nicholas just continues to be a mama's boy. Then there's also their differing views on success and ambition. He is doing well at a dental practice and she's happy working at a souvenir shop. The thing is, Naomi has never felt that urge to pursue a career that requires a degree or for her to be behind a desk. So right now it just feels like all they do is needle each other or one up the other. The story is told from Naomi's perspective and with a good chunk of it from her head space, I was eager to know what was running through Nicholas' mind. I did eventually get that once their usual snark and insults started dissipating and was replaced by actual dialog.

I'll be honest, after reading the first chapter I was worried the hostile tone would be pervasive throughout the story. That was followed by Naomi scheming ways to get back at Nicholas, some of those schemes involving the most ridiculous of outcomes. All I kept thinking was how it could get that bad. There seemed to be no love lost between them and then I wondered what the point was. Hang in there, though because Nicholas does something so unlike him (that's one of the things Naomi hates about him: his predictability) that it seems to shift things between them. Relearning things about each other and actually vocalizing their thoughts (who would've thunk it, right?) begin to make all the difference in the world. 

This is essentially a smartly written, slow burn (and there is some burning involved), lovers-to-enemies-to-lovers romance, and I appreciated the author not using sex to magically fix everything. Rather that comes in much later when they're finally reconnecting emotionally but it's a scary step for both of them. The enmity that's a huge part for most of the book might initially be off-putting because when we first meet Naomi and Nicholas they're at their worst which makes them simply not likable - fact - and that can make it difficult to push through. What helped me was the snark and sarcasm because I'm a fan of that. I don't necessarily think this is a lighthearted read but it does lighten up and there is reconciliation which is what makes it worth the read. You Deserve Each Other is a about rekindling a relationship and romancing in reverse. I was happy with the outcome and thought it suited Naomi and Nicholas perfectly.

~ Bel