Friday, September 23, 2016

REVIEW ~ When it’s Over by Emma Lauren





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I’ve recently had the pleasure of reading the first two books of Emma Lauren’s “When it’s Love” series. “When it’s Love”, the first book, is fantastic and does a fine job introducing two of our main characters: Sydney Morrison and Henry Hart. When It’s Love is entirely written in Sydney’s POV and recounts her story. “When it’s Over”, the second book, is written in both Sydney and Henry’s POVs and goes further to introduce another central character, Professor Paul Sparling. These books include some light angst and graphic sex scenes, so readers beware! ;)

A user on Goodreads included a dream cast in her review of the first book and it is literally the perfect casting for these books! I would TOTALLY see that movie! 

Sydney:


Henry:


Professor Sparling:


PERFECT!! J

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WHEN IT’S LOVE
Synopsis:
“When it’s Love” begins with Sydney lamenting her long unrequited crush on her Professor, whom I will appropriately name “Sparling” throughout this review. Sydney is meek and shy, so she’s envious of her classmate Melanie, an attractive and courageous student with no qualms about making her attraction to Sparling known. However, after Sparling compliments Sydney on her term paper, Sydney receives a letter from Sparling’s private emailing… stating that he thought her a great writer and would like to stay in touch with her. Sydney is quite over the moon. They email back and forth, and things heat up quickly! Sydney’s imagination takes over and the fantasies she had for ages intensify, awakening her passion and sexuality.

However, things also start to heat between her and Henry, her best friend for the past four years. It is soon revealed that Henry has held a torch for Sydney for quite some time. And like her email correspondence with Sparling, Henry ignites her passions; she is drawn into his significant sexual charm and prowess. But she’s torn. She still has yet to talk to Sparling face to face. And she’s more than a little worried that beginning a sexual relationship with Henry will ruin their friendship. But she can’t quite help herself. Henry touches a part of herself that even her fantasies with Sparling have yet to reach… a part of her that she tries to hide from the world: her loneliness and need for safety, comfort, and love.

However, all things are not simpatico for Sydney and Henry for she soon finds he’s hiding a huge secret from her that could forever destroy their relationship, both romantic and friendly.

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WHEN IT’S OVER
This part contains SPOILERS for those that have not read the first book!
                
     When it’s Over continues a few months after the ending of When It’s Love. Sydney has discovered that Henry was sending her emails in Professor Sparling’s name. That he had taken advantage of her trust and her attraction to her professor. As such, they have been separated for several months; even their friendship is in tatters. In an attempt to bury both her anger at Henry as well as her need to have him in her life, Sydney throws herself into a new project, a memoir that she enlists Professor Sparling to help her with. As they continue to work together, Sydney begins pushing the boundaries between their student and teacher relationship. She is surprised to find that although Sparling is hesitant to return her affections, he is quite drawn to her as well.
                
     Meanwhile, Henry is desperate to get Sydney back. While he may be mopping, he also constructs a plan to get her back, to win back her trust. A part of that plan is to help her uncover the mystery that is Sydney’s existence, the truth behind her parents and her birth.
                
     As the story continues, Sydney’s need for Henry grows… she misses his friendship, his safety, and his love in her life. But she’s not sure she can trust him again. On top of that, things are heating up between her and Sparling, in person this time! And it’s not just her love life getting more complicated! She starts having flashbacks to her childhood and learns that there may be more to her past than she was ever told!

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And finally, my REVIEW! SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

My short, quick review of these books is that I LOVED them! It was a compelling story with characters that weren’t cookie cutter perfect! They were flawed and that made them very relatable. I also loved that the books were such quick reads… they didn’t drag on and there weren’t huge information dumps that blocked my ability to enjoy the story. I also really like that not everything was handled to me as the reader on the silver platter, that it was a little unpredictable and that I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. It’s a nice change of pace because I’m usually pretty good at predicting the way a story is going to go.

My only critique I would say is that a lot seemed to happen over a short period of time… some things, like Sydney and Henry’s sexual relationship, felt a bit rushed. But then again, after four years of friendship, they were comfortable with a hurried sexual intimacy.

Sydney Morrison. I quite like Sydney… I can relate to her in more than one way. She’s shy and reserved, but underneath that is strength and courage. She had a neglectant childhood and that is reflected within her character. She was crafted quite well.

Henry Hart. For such a ladies’ man, this guy is quite clueless when it comes to women! I find that I go in and out of liking him. He seems like a good person, but I’m not sure I like the way he treats women.

Paul Sparling. I still don’t know enough about Sparling to gain an accurate view on him. Hopefully, the next book will give us more time getting to know this hot and obviously lonely man!

Random thoughts I had throughout the read:
(WHEN IT’S LOVE)
-          I find it interesting that in her fantasies in the first book, Sydney imagines Sparling as the sexually dominate partner considering that is exactly the kind of lover Henry has been to her so far.

-          I was pretty damn surprised that Henry was behind the emails from Sparling. I thought it was Melanie, honestly. I was so worried it was Melanie pulling a prank on Sydney to embarrass her; while Sydney was worried that it WAS Sparling, but that he might be playing a prank on her.

(WHEN IT’S OVER)
-          I wish more of this one was in Sydney’s POV. I relate to her more and I feel like I’m missing out on what’s going on with her with the switches to Henry’s POV. But I understand the reason for this considering the strings he’s pulling behind the scenes… like reading her emails and hiring the PI to investigate.

-          Sooo… Henry has a sex addiction? It hasn’t actually said what kind of mental health issue he has, but I’m leaning towards that. Plus likely a personality disorder with his possessiveness and controlling.

-          (Regarding lying about a hurt ankle to lure Sparling into her apartment) Oh Sydney. It may be a white lie, but if you’re hoping to have a relationship with this man, lying is not the healthiest thing to do. Neither is assuming he’s going to sleep with you. You are angry at Henry for assuming you’re back together after sleeping with him, and yet you’re also lying and making assumptions.

-          Her fixation on Sparling isn’t healthy. Crushes and fantasies are one thing, but thinking him as something she can win and conquer is another. I’m worried about her mental health. BUT I do like that Sydney is so open and honest about her upbringing with him. She’s been holding in a lot and it’s good for her to talk about it and get it out.

-          I don’t find it surprising that she couldn’t sleep with Sparling. He’s a FANTASY and so far, he just isn’t more than that. Sydney may be sexually attracted to him, but actually being intimate… I think she needs to have an emotionally intimate relationship in order to have a sexually intimate relationship; like her relationship with Henry.

-          (Chapter 11) Dr. Adler: “the more you try to own Sydney, the more she pulls away.” EXACTLY! I’ve been screaming that at Henry since the first book! If he wants a strong relationship with Sydney, if he wants her to trust him not to mistreat her or push her to far too fast, he needs to slow down and allow Sydney freedom.
-          I don’t like the way Henry is constantly reducing Sydney and their relationship to sex. It’s like their 4 years of friendship has gone down the drain and she’s nothing but a conquest.

-          (Chapter 14) OH SHIT!! Does Sydney have a TWIN?!?!

-          (Chapter 15) YUP! TWINS! What the fuck is going on?! What happened in the past between her parents?!?!

-          (Chapter 18) You’d never expect this story to be so mysterious, but it is! I’m incredibly curious about the mystery that Sydney and Henry are trying to solve; the REAL truth about herself and her parents. Because I have a feeling there is a LOT more than being a twin that has been withheld from Sydney.

-          (Chapter 19) So Sydney is not only hiding how she truly feels about Henry from Henry (and Sparling), but also the fact that she’s nearly slept with Sparling twice now. And Henry is hiding his mental disorder, whatever that is, and the fact that he’s looking into her parents’ history through a P.I. NOT GOOD GUYS! They are hiding a lot of things from one another. They need to come clean if they expect to have and strong and healthy relationship.
-          Even though Henry has been controlling of Sydney, I’m glad that he realizes that it’s not good for them and their relationship and is working on it with his therapist. No one is perfect, but it’s important to TRY.

-          (Chapter 23) I knew as soon as he offered the modeling job to Cassie that something like this was going to happen. L

My final random thought…

-          AHHHHHHH!!!! CLIFFHANGER!?! NOT NICE, EMMA!! L

I truly can’t wait to read the next book!! I am looking forward to it!

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~About the Author~

Emma Lauren is a writer and editor.  Her debut novel, When It’s Love, was an Amazon best seller.  She loves spending time with her husband and three children, writing, reading, and drinking coffee.  

Emma Lauren online:

Twitter: @emma_romance 



REVIEW ~ Loving Maddie From A To Z by Kelly Jamieson


Kelly Jamieson - Loving Maddie From A To Z 


Loving Maddie
Blurb: 

Award-winning photojournalist Zack Donovan is happy to be alive after being held captive by a band of rebels in Syria. He's not so happy to be on his way back to Chicago to recuperate with his college friends Maddie and Aidan, who are now a couple. The fear while being held prisoner was nothing compared to how he feels about facing the two people who unknowingly broke his heart seven years ago. Maddie and Aidan are deeply in love, but lately they feel something is missing for them. They'd do anything to make the other happy, but are struggling to figure out what that is. Those problems are set aside, however, when their best friend from college is taken hostage in Syria. After graduation, Maddie and Aidan were hurt by Zack's refusal to ever come home to visit, but he's still their friend and he has no family, so when he's finally free they insist he come stay with them to recover. Zack's a different man now. He's seen terrible things. He's come to terms with his sexuality and embraced his need to dominate. Maddie and Aidan would be shocked to know the kinds of things he likes to do. A guy like him will never have a relationship like theirs. But when Zack realizes he might be able to show Maddie and Aidan what they're missing, he faces a dilemma. Do something? Do nothing? Pretend everything's fine? Help them if he can? But will showing them what they're missing help save their relationship...or destroy it?

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REVIEW ~ Homefront by Jessica Scott




Blurb: 
He's always loved her... First Sergeant Gale Sorren waited a war and half a lifetime for a chance to get stationed near the ex-wife who left him years ago. When he finally musters the courage to see her, the life he imagined she was living was nothing close to the reality. 
She's never stopped loving him... Melanie never stopped worrying about Gale each time he headed off to war. But he's never been there when she needed him and she's had fifteen years to steel her heart against him. But when Gale moves to Fort Hood, he finally has a chance to make things right with Melanie and the daughter she raised without him. Can Mel trust her heart to a man who has always let her down? 
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 Excerpt:   
“What if he comes here?” 
“He won’t.” 
“You don’t know that.” 
“You’re right,” he admitted finally. He sighed heavily. “I’ve known him a long time and this doesn’t gel with what I know of him. He's not going to hurt you.” 
“You sound so certain.” Her fingers danced over his ribs, as though she wasn’t sure where to place her hands. “Why?” 
“Because you’re mine,” he said, giving voice to the powerful feelings he could finally identify for what they were. “And if he puts his hands on you or our daughter, I’ll kill him.” And then he kissed her. It was a powerful kiss, filled with a riot of emotions that had started building in him years ago when she’d first left him. It was a kiss filled with fear. With uncertainty. With desire. He gave in to the maelstrom inside him, holding back only enough to be certain that he wasn't crossing the line. 

Mel opened to his kiss, wanting badly to push away the sadness and the fear and the worry that had been squeezing the air from her lungs since she’d found Gale outside her office. There was fear in her response, a tacit admission that this was something fleeting and yet, it was the only tangible thing between them. He shifted then until their bodies pressed together, until she breathed with him and felt part of her soul take flight from the bonds of worry and sadness and daily life. Her fingers flexed against his ribs. 

Gale felt the moment she gave in to the kiss, savored the moment of her surrender. Her body relaxed against his, fitting perfectly against his chest. This was something good. Something pure. Untainted by the darkness that had caused him to seek her out today, needing her when he needed to lean. 

This. This was what he craved. His wife’s touch. His wife’s taste. She was not his wife. 

That ugly piece of reality crashed into him and he stiffened. Mel felt it instantly, her body tensing. 

“What?” The words lodged in his throat. There was no way he could admit the feelings that churned inside him. That he still thought of her as his wife after all these years. He nipped at her bottom lip, hoping to distract her. 
“We should do this more often.” He felt her smile beneath his lips. 

“You think so?” There was something light and breathless in her words. 
“Very much so.” He kissed the corner of her mouth. The edge of her jaw. He traced the outside edge of her ear with the tip of his tongue. Felt the pleasure of her gasp against his cheek. His teeth scraped over her earlobe. 
“That’s nice,” she breathed. 
“You like that?” 

“Yeah.” 

He closed his eyes, pulling her tight, needing the comfort of her touch, the pleasure to drive away the darkness. He breathed in her scent, holding her close. Her pulse scattered against his cheek and for a moment, he simply held her. 

“You make me crazy, Melanie,” he whispered.


REVIEW ~ Dare to Hold by Carly Phillips



Dare to Hold Cover


Blurb: Some women always get it right. Kindergarten teacher, Meg Thompson, on the other hand, consistently makes the wrong decisions — and she is currently single, pregnant and alone. Meg is determined to make changes in her life, to be a better mother than her own had been. No revolving door of men. No man, period. Just a single-minded focus on her baby. Her resolution would be easier to keep if not for hot cop, Scott Dare. He insinuates himself in her life, making Meg want to believe in happily ever after, even if history has taught her to know better. 


When Scott Dare hears Meg’s friends are determined she have a night of hot sex, before her life changes forever, he decides that man must be him. Their one night is mind blowing and life altering. And Scott, a man already burned by his ex-wife, finds himself all in anyway. While protecting Meg from her violent ex and becoming part of her increasingly complicated life, he’s falling hard and he can’t seem to find distance. Not when their bodies respond to each other with such heated intensity and he’s drawn to her unique combination of strength and vulnerability. 



But Meg’s future is one Scott has accepted he’ll never have, even if his growing feelings say otherwise … 

(love story, contemporary romance, alpha heroes, beach reads, sports heroes, bad boys, billionaire) 



Dare to Love Series Reading Order 
Book 1: Dare to Love (Ian & Riley) 
Book 2: Dare to Desire (Alex & Madison) 
Book 3: Dare to Surrender (Gabe & Isabelle) 
Book 4: Dare to Submit (Decklan & Amanda) 
Book 5: Dare to Touch (Olivia & Dylan) 
Book 6: Dare to Hold (Scott & Meg) coming in 2015 
Book 7: Dare to Rock (Avery & Grey) coming in 2015 
*each book can stand alone for your reading enjoyment 
Thank you so much and enjoy! 

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REVIEW ~ Black Keys by Rose B Mashal





Black Keys 
by Rose B. Mashal 
(The Colorblind Trilogy, #1) 
Publication date: May 15th 2015 
Genres: New Adult, Romance















Synopsis:

A Muslim Arab Prince with a heavy weight of responsibilities on his shoulders and a young, Catholic American woman with a dark, haunted past living inside her heart are unexpectedly thrust together in a deal of betrayal brokered by her brother. The last thing she imagines when she goes to a wedding in a kingdom far away from her home is to find out that it’s her own wedding as well. 

But as the bright, independent CEO struggles to live this new life, the attractive, intelligent Prince wants nothing more than for his bride to find the black keys.  
As traditions and rules become too numerous to keep up with, fate steps in to teach the troubled new Princess a few lessons about love, life, understanding, and acceptance. And destiny forces the Crown Prince into allowing his beautiful wife to break a rule or two. 

Because when it comes to love, rules blur and traditions fade.  

PURCHASE LINKS

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AUTHOR BIO: 
Rose is a loved mother, wife, and a stay at home lawyer. Writing is her passion, and reading is her obsession. Music is her best friend and sarcasm is her speaking trend. One of her joys is bringing happiness to others and her biggest wish is that they stay true to one another. Through her stories, she wants to spread nothing except understanding, peace and love.

AUTHOR LINKS
Amazon Author Page: http://goo.gl/PnT1np

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Lisa's Review

"Black Keys" weaves together romance, religion, culture, and diverse characters to create a beautiful story and a wonderful reading experience! 

Possessed of wonderfully flawed characters and a layered world, Black Keys tells the story of a young woman finding acceptance, love, and a better version of herself in the arms of those she never imagined she could care for. 

I give this book a five stars for it's beautiful imagery, it's emotion, and it's strong potential as a series. 

Oh, and pay special attention to the credits... you may just see my name there! I had the awesome privilege of editing this book for Rose a week before it's release! :D

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REVIEWS ~ "The Duality Principle" and "The Hierarchy of Needs" by Rebecca Grace Allen

The Duality Principle (The Portland Rebels #1)


Blurb:

Sometimes A + B = O. Yes. Oh, yes. Just like that.

Gabriella Evans’s life exists in terms of logic and definitions. She’s holed up in Portland, Maine, for the summer to work on her PhD thesis, but something is screwing up her concentration: the rumble of a motorcycle every time the embodiment of her rough-and-tumble fantasies rides down her street.

When her best friend talks her into a blind date, she finds herself out with the opposite of her fantasy. He’s polite and well-mannered, yet something behind his crisply tailored shirt doesn’t add up—a rebellious gleam in his eye that piques her curiosity.

Orphaned at fifteen, Connor Starks has finally put the years of failing grades, breaking laws and breaking hearts behind him. The only holdover? His penchant for getting down and dirty in public places. But Gabriella makes him want to prove he’s become a better man.

Nothing intrigues Gabriella more than a problem she can’t solve. But the more Connor tries to bury his past, the more determined she is to uncover it. And what she finds makes all her trusty logic begin to fail her…

Warning: This book contains a summer romance, dirty talk, dockside kissing, motorcycles and tattoos. Features a rebellious nerdy girl with an appetite for outdoor sex and light spanking, and a bad boy who’s turned good…or at least he’s trying.


Lisa's Review:


I love the message of this story, that people are complex and made of a vast spectrum of traits, behaviors, likes, dislikes, and personalities. No one is one sided and no one should sum themselves up based one side of their personality. Doing so creates a struggle within ourselves to find the completion of who we are. 

This is exactly the struggle in The Duality Principle by Rebecca Grace Allen. Our characters are struggling to find balance and acceptance for the duality within themselves. 

Gabby is a math nerd, a grad student, driving herself to further her studies. She's strong and independent and therefore, can't reconcile the other - what she believes to be the baser - part of herself and her sexuality. And her history with men that can't accept and keep up with that part of her certainly doesn't help any. Gabby begins to feel that she'll never be able to explore that side of herself, that she needs to lock it away and never find true contentment and satisfaction. 

Conner is a once a time bad boy now hoping - and pretending - to be something he's not, especially once he meets Gabby. But he doesn't know that it's the side of himself that he hides from her that she wants and craves the most. She craves the wild abandon that he can give her. 

But they both misread the signs and keep their inner selves, their true and complete selves, from one another. It takes a little while, but eventually the two learn to embrace both sides of themselves and each other to build a strong and lasting relationship. 

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars! It's well developed with very interesting characters and a theme that just about any reader could relate to. 

My favorite line:
"You can be all those things, Gabby. Duality isn't a bad thing. It's the different sides of us that make us who we are. It makes us WHOLE.

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The Hierarchy of Needs (The Portland Rebels #2)


Blurb:

Jamie Matthews is stuck in a rut. After hitting a wall with her dream career, she’s back in her hometown, living a life as monotonous as swimming laps in the neighborhood pool.

Being surrounded by her perfect brothers is a painful reminder of her failure to launch. The last bonfire of the summer is an ideal way to let off steam, especially when she runs into Dean Trescott, the playboy friend she had one hot-as-hell night with back in high school.

Since the day Dean met Jamie, he’s loved her beauty, talent, and smile that lit up the whole damn block. But dating isn’t an option. She has a bright future ahead of her, and he refuses to chain her to his—helping run the family business that’s barely staying afloat.

A “what-happens-in-Vegas” weekend was supposed to get their craving for each other out of their systems. But neither counted on the past repeating itself, drawing them together in even hotter and dirtier ways and dangling the possibility they might both be able to get exactly what they need…

Warning: A friends-to-lovers twice over story that contains some hot ’n’ heavy kissing in the waves, hair pulling, and a man who knows how to use his hands. It may also feature a few practical jokes—only the fun kind, of course.


Lisa's Review:
The Hierarchy of Needs features Jamie and Dean, side characters from the first book of the series: The Duality Principle. 

Though they have lived very different lives, childhood friends Jamie and Dean are very similar. Jamie comes from a successful family of doctors and has always felt unseen by her family. Dean comes from a broken home. His mother left when he was in high school and his father has ignored what Dean really wants out of his own life to push him to take over the family auto business. 

Both have been ignoring what they really want out of life out of fear. For Jamie, this fear is the fear of rejection. And for Dean it's the fear that he has nothing to offer. 

Overall, I give this book a 4 out of 5 stars. It wasn't quite as enjoyable for me as the first book, but it had very likable characters and a realistic and smart story. 



Buy links:


Excerpt:
“Who are we hanging out with tonight?”
Krissy’s question yanked Jamie back into the present.
“Just my friends,” she replied, hoping her blasé expression would mask the restless energy pumping through her. “Three guys I grew up with and have known forever.”
The soft hisses and sizzling pops of the bonfire guided her toward where Dean and her friends were sitting. They made a semi-circle by the lifeguard stand she’d spent the summer perched on, a plume of smoke between them spiraling up toward the sky.
Jamie gripped the peeling white wood and swung her body around it, throwing herself into a grand entrance.
“Hello, boys.”
Dean had the mouth of an open beer bottle by his lips, but paused when he saw her, his lips curling up into a smirk. His chin was masked by the day’s worth of stubble he always seemed to have. His crop of dirty blond hair was cut close on the sides but longer in the front, a few slightly mussed strands hanging down low over his eyes. Every inch of him said confident and relaxed, from his ever-present work boots to the swirling lines of ink that wound like ivy from his wrist to his neck.
He was sex incarnate, a wolf on the prowl in a black T-shirt and jeans.
“Jamie Matthews. My favorite girl.”
“Oh, I’m still your favorite, huh?”
She was no more his favorite than the last piece of ass he’d hooked up with, but she liked the nickname nonetheless. She also liked the way his gaze swooped from her face to her breasts and back up again. It was part of the game they played, one she wanted to lose herself in tonight.
He grinned. “Of course.”
“Good to know.” Jamie dropped to the sand by his side, kicked off her flip-flops and stretched out her legs. “I guess that means I’m entitled to your beer.”
She snagged his bottle from his fingertips and took a deep, icy swallow.
“Oh, go right ahead.” Dean’s voice oozed with sarcasm, but there was humor behind it. He nodded to Krissy.


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About Rebecca Grace Allen


Rebecca Grace Allen writes kinky new adult and hot contemporary BDSM romance. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with a double concentration in Creative Writing and Literary Comparison, as well as a Master of Science in Elementary Education, both of which seemed like good ideas at the time. After stumbling through careers in entertainment, publishing, law and teaching, she’s returned to her first love: writing. A self-admitted caffeine addict and gym rat, she currently lives in upstate New York with her husband, two parakeets, and a cat with a very unusual foot fetish.



Find Rebecca Online:
https://www.facebook.com/rebeccagraceallen