Review & Giveaway: Hold On To Hope by AL Jackson

HOLD ON TO HOPE
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: AL Jackson
Release Date: October 28, 2019

A best friends-to-lovers, stand-alone romance from New York Times Bestselling Author, A.L. Jackson . . .

Evan Bryant wasn’t your typical hero.

But he was mine.

Broken by the worlds’ standards, he was still the strongest boy I would ever know.

My best friend. The boy I’d given everything to. My heart, my body, and the promise of forever.

The day I’d needed him most, he walked away.

He left me shattered and questioning the love I’d thought we’d shared.

 

Three years later, I wasn’t prepared for him to return to Gingham Lakes.

It wouldn’t have mattered if he wasn’t the most beautiful man I’d ever seen.

My fingers still would have ached to caress his skin.

My body still would have begged to get lost in his touch.

And my heart . . . it would have always sung his name.

But time changes things. With it, secrets that could ruin everything.

Can we find a way to love again, or have the fears of our past stolen the hope of our forever…

AMAZON PAPERBACK | AMAZON EBOOK | AUDIBLE

I don’t know how to be in your space and not want you, Evan. I don’t remember how not to be yours.”

Poignant. Powerful. Gripping. And utterly heart wrenching. AL Jackson knows how to create words that get into her readers souls. I swear. There’s just something about stories that just stick with you. And there is no better example of it than with this book.

Evan first stole my heart a sweet little boy that was battling for his life in Follow Me Back. As a grown man, he was absolutely devastating. He and Frankie Leigh have been thick as thieves since they were just little kids. They were best friends whose love for each other soon evolved from children’s adoration to something so much deeper. But when Frankie thought they would be together forever, Evan broke her heart by leaving town with nothing more than a note.

Now three years later, Evan is back, and all those feelings that Frankie thought she’s finally moved on from come roaring back.

While emotional and angsty, this is very much a sweet friends-to-lovers/second chance romance. Admittedly, sweet isn’t really my thing when it comes down to preference, but there was something so charming about this book that it just worked for me. Maybe it’s the fact that Evan wasn’t your stereotypical hero. He was sweet and intense all at the same time. The love that he had for Frankie was devastating and heart warming all at the same time. I loved watching them find their way back to each other and seeing Evan fight for her. There’s something so incredibly endearing about Evan. His health struggles and all the pain that it brought along with it wasn’t easy to read about. He went through so much as a little boy, and so much of it follows him into adulthood.

There’s one particular plot device that was present here that I typically shy away from, and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t diminish some of my enjoyment of this book. Unfortunately, I struggled with this piece of the story for a while. I equal parts understood it and hated it all at once.

But then somewhere around the second half everything just grew on me. And when the plot twist hit? I was all in! It came entirely out of left field and I didn’t see it coming at all. It brought everything in a full circle and just made the book for me.

This was another emotional and beautiful romance from one of my beloved authors that tugged at every heart string I had. I can’t wait for more!

A.L. Jackson is the New York Times & USA Today Bestselling author of contemporary romance. She writes emotional, sexy, heart-filled stories about boys who usually like to be a little bit bad.

Her bestselling series include THE REGRET SERIES, CLOSER TO YOU, BLEEDING STARS, FIGHT FOR ME and CONFESSIONS OF THE HEART novels. Grab A.L. Jackson’s latest novel, HOLD ON TO HOPE, a best friends-to-lovers stand-alone romance.

If she’s not writing, you can find her hanging out by the pool with her family, sipping cocktails with her friends, or of course with her nose buried in a book.

Be sure not to miss new releases and sales from A.L. Jackson – Sign up to receive her newsletter http://smarturl.it/NewsFromALJackson or text “aljackson” to 33222 to receive short but sweet updates on all the important news.

 

Connect with A.L.

Newsletter | FacebookReader Group | Amazon | Bookbub
Twitter: @aljacksonauthor

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Don’t miss the awesome giveaway for the Hold on to Hope release!

Enter Here: https://smarturl.it/HOTHReleaseGiveaway

 

Review: Nothing But This by Natasha Anders

BroNOTHING BUT THIS
Series:
Broken Pieces #2
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Natasha Anders
Release Date: July 30, 2019

A married couple yearns to rediscover lost love in this novel about forgiveness, reconciliation, and emotional growth.

It’s always been complicated between Libby Lawson and Greyson Chapman—and married life isn’t any simpler. But when Libby gets pregnant, she at last sees a bright future ahead. There’s just one problem: Greyson says he’s sterile.

Furious, Greyson abandons the young family. Equally furious and deeply hurt, Libby cuts all ties with him. After all these years, it seems their relationship has finally expired. But love is resilient and endures even when you don’t want it to. Greyson still longs for Libby, and though Libby’s heartbroken by Greyson’s lack of trust, she holds out hope for a complete, happy family.

And so they embark on the journey back to each other, wary of all the obstacles between them. It’s been a long road already—one strewed with fear, doubt, and misunderstandings. Will they keep looking to the past, or will they look to each other and walk hand in hand toward a broad new horizon?

AMAZON

I’ve been trying to find the right words. The proper combination of sounds that would make you forgive me, that would make up for what I said and did. But those words don’t exist.”


Ever since Natasha Anders introduced Grey and Libby in More Than Anything, I’ve been completely enamored and invested in their story. If there’s one thing that I love more than a hero that royally screws up with his woman, it’s watching him grovel to get back into her good graces again. And this book? It’s one long, delicious, and emotional grovel.

Now I love a good alphahole as much as the next girl, but this book didn’t focus on that. You get plenty of Grey’s generally cold disposition in the first book. Enough of it to know that when the man makes a mistake, it’s the biggest mistake of his life. This book focuses on him dealing with the repercussions of that mistake and trying to grovel his way back and somehow make amends. You get flashbacks of what transpired to bring Grey and Libby to the point where they are now. I loved that Libby really grew into herself in this book. She goes from a besotted girl to a woman that’s not afraid to make him work for it. She’s not willing to forgive and forget, nor should she. I mean, the man thought their child was the result of an affair.

The flow is really organic and the pacing is superb. It highlights every bump along their road and twists and turns your heart right along with them. Their journey is painful and emotional and totally enrapturing.

Nothing But This was a painfully beautiful story of second chances. It was sweet, funny, and utterly gut wrenching in parts. It wasn’t an overly angsty read but it was certainly an emotional one. I really loved this book. It was a gripping and charming and hits every single feel.

Review: Then Came You by Kate Meader

THEN CAME YOU
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Laws of Attraction #3
Author: Kate Meader
Release Date: May 7, 2019

In the courtroom, they’re rivals. In the bedroom, they’re . . . divorced. But could the road trip from hell lead to a second chance at love?

Aubrey Gates is the hottest divorce lawyer in Chicago, a barb-tongued stiletto with legs that go on for miles. When her cool gray eyes meet mine across the battlefield, I want her like I’ve never wanted anyone or anything. Then I remember who she is: the woman who brought me to my knees. The woman who destroyed my faith in relationships.

The woman I used to call . . . wife.

And she needs a favor from me, Grant Lincoln.

It seems my ex forgot to mention the demise of our marriage to her dear old grammie, and now we’re both expected to attend her ninetieth birthday party. In Boston. And because it isn’t already awkward enough, Aubrey and I are driving there together from Chicago. That’s more than a thousand miles of tension, heartbreak, and barely concealed lust.

A little piece of paper might say we’re over, but this road trip is the true test. I intend to get my wife back . . . and I won’t stop until “I do.”

AMAZON

Pain is supposed to make you stronger, some idiot said. Love, too. With Aubrey, I feel nothing but fear and weakness, desire and longing. When do I reach the part about becoming a better person?

I adore all things Kate Meader, and the second I got a look at the blurb for this book, I knew I had to read it! It sounded like it would be a great combination of feels, angst and steam, and boy was it!

Aubrey gates is a successful divorce attorney, Boston blue blood society bred yet totally down to earth sort of woman. She’s sharp witted and strong…or at least on the surface. Below the sharply dressed exterior, the woman is still trying to pick up all of her shattered pieces.

Grant is a good ole’ souther boy with the manners and slow drawl to match. He’s Aubrey exact opposite. The boy who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks to her high society. The man that never quite belonged in her family. The sweet to her edgy. Her ex husband and the only man that’s capable of finally shattering the walls that Aubrey has built around her heart in one holiday road trip to visit her family.

I loved the premise of the story, but admittedly, I just didn’t feel like the root of the story was a full novel size. And while I really loved the chemistry between them, I struggled understanding the quick turnaround considering all their emotional issues. Grant tries so hard to get Aubrey to talk about their problems. And Aubrey is just as determined to leave it buried. This ultimately began to get extremely frustrating for me. Don’t get me wrong, I understood her issues and they why’s behind it, I really do. But I also struggled to connect to her stonewalling of a man that’s as incredible as Grant.

Ultimately, the kind of issue they had between them, didn’t seem like it was one that could have been resolved as quickly as it did considering their time apart, hence my saying the book could have worked better as a novella. I think some of the sexy times (and they WERE sexy) served more to keep the book going rather than drive the plot forward, if that makes sense.

Grant was absolute perfection and made the book for me. I adored him so much. And considering my gravitation towards alphaholes in books, that’s saying something. He was the ultimate nice guy and I loved him for it.

I really enjoyed Then Came You and loved Grant and Aubrey’s HEA, but it just didn’t pack as much of a punch for me as much as Kate’s book usually do. Do I think most would really enjoy this one? Absolutely! There’s plenty to love about this romance. It just didn’t check every box for this particularly picky reader.

Review: Have Mercy by N.E. Henderson

HAVE MERCY
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Dark
Author: N.E. Henderson
Release Date: May 2, 2019

I never saw it coming.

It’s hard to get over that kind of betrayal. It leaves a mark on the heart. A slow bleed that never goes away. She was my girl. We were supposed to be partners. She was going to be the mother of my children down the road. The only girl to warm my bed. She was my forever girl.

Until she ran away.

I thought she felt the same. But if she did she wouldn’t have ditched me like I didn’t matter. All the plans we made meant nothing to her. She disappeared without so much as a goodbye. Those cuts are the deepest. A gaping hole that can’t be sealed. I could’ve stomached anything else—a meaningless one-night stand, drifting apart, vanishing love. But abandonment is a deadly strike that can’t be forgotten. It sticks with you forever.

Three months later she showed up, expecting me to welcome her back with open arms. Excuses, lies, not even her crying eyes could make me believe the manipulative bullshit coming out of her mouth. For months I felt like I was burning alive. She shattered my heart and stole my soul.

I moved on.

Now, eighteen years later, a nightmare unfolds. Every detail makes my stomach churn. Lies come to the light. The truth is uncovered. And the people I thought I knew become strangers. The heartbreak I felt was only a scratch compared to the sliced open heart in my chest.

Winning her back seems like an impossible feat. She may never forgive me, because the thing about mercy—you have to give to receive.

***Have Mercy is a 107K word standalone, second chance love story.***

AMAZON

Eighteen years have gone by and Elise Thomas still owns me like no other woman ever has—or ever will.

This review is extremely difficult for me to write. I have sat on my rating for it for a solid week and I’m still struggling with it. Why? Because I binge read this story. I’m talking glued to the pages, completely incapable of setting it down for even a second sort of binge here, people. It was like a rockstar soap opera. No lie. If OTT drama, angst, and alphahole heroes aren’t your jam, I’d say this book won’t be for you. But this reader? I froth at the mouth for it. Don’t you judge me either. I yam what I yam.

I think that had it been for different execution on a few plot devices and elements of this book, it would have been a no brainer 5 star. As it was, there were things in this story that I really hoped would be better wrapped up then they were at the end. But I’ll get to those in a minute.

First let me start with what I loved; the set up. DELICIOUS. A second chance romance 18 years in the making. Jamie and Jenna were each other’s world as teenagers. They loved and they loved hard, until they fell apart even harder. Eighteen years later and neither of them is much closer to any sort of closure from each other. Jamie is now divorced and still as bitter as he was back when he though Jenna betrayed him. Jenna has tried to move on from Jamie, but how do you forget the love of your life? But how do you ultimately pick up the pieces when you realize that everything you thought you knew was wrong. And the person you’ve hated for years is not at all who you thought they were and that you’re ultimately responsible for breaking you apart? That’s the premise of the book.

The story unravels in alternating flashbacks. These were cleverly written to give the reader the whole story crumble by crumble, until you’re utterly desperate for the whole picture. I loved the over the top angst and drama of this book. The antagonistic sort of back and forth between Jamie and Jenna was book crack. Jamie made a terrible decision those years ago that essentially got all the dominoes to fall. A decision made by a young and immature boy that didn’t yet have his head out of his own ego long enough to dig deeper. I didn’t hate him for it, but I can see a lot of readers having an issue with it. This reader, however, did not. I loved to hate Jamie. What can I say? I live for some book drama every now and then.

Jenna struck me a great and strong willed heroine at first. I loved her spark and the added edge of what she keeps hidden below the surface with the scars of her past. This is also where the story began to lose me. I wanted Jenna to keep holding on to that edge, but I couldn’t help but feel that she began to lose most of it with Jamie. She gives in so easily to his every whim. After the betrayal that lies between them, I just couldn’t wrap my head around this, no matter how much she still loves him. I wanted her to make him work for it. Make him beg, crawl on his knees! But she does none of those things. The only thing she does do is keep him on the edge by not sharing the full capacity of the truth with him. This ultimately drove me crazy. It just seemed like an unnecessary way to drive the plot forward where there were plenty of other moving wheels in the story to do so. It dragged on for way too long. I also absolutely hate when a heroine is celibate for years while the hero is anything but when they’re not together and have no hopes of being together.  It’s unrealistic and it’s a huge pet peeve of mine so unfortunately this played a big part in my rating.

There is a very heavy element of suspense around the mystery of what happened those years ago. Though to be fair, it’s only a mystery to the reader for a short part of the book. It continues to be a mystery to Jamie for longer. I also really disliked that Jamie continually kept jumping to the wrong conclusion of Jenna no matter how much evidence he had to the contrary. I wanted this man to GROVEL, and I do mean GROVEL. And all he continues to do is jump to conclusions and think the worst of her.

I liked the inclusion of the secondary characters and the kids, however, I didn’t feel it necessary to have their POVs. While it didn’t take away from the story, it did convolute it a bit with the continuous flashbacks.

I wanted Jenna to be as strong of a heroine with Jamie as she is with every other aspect of her life, and unfortunately for me, she just wasn’t. A betrayal of that caliber needs a huge grovel, and that didn’t happen either. I wanted to 5 star this book so much. It took me out of a huge book funk and kept me glued to the pages. Unfortunately I just couldn’t look past the many issues that I also had with it.

I’m definitely a huge fan of the author and will definitely read her future books. This one may not have been perfect, but it still hit the spot, so give it a shot and see for yourself.

Review: The Things We Never Said by Samantha Young

THINGS WE NEVER SAID
Series:
Hart’s Boardwalk #3
Genre: Dark Romance
Author: Monica James
Release Date: May 7, 2019

Local metalsmith and gift shop owner, Dahlia McGuire, likes her quiet life in Hartwell, Delaware. It’s the perfect place to hide from her family and the tragic events that led to their estrangement. However, when her father, the person she loves most in the world, needs her Dahlia has no choice but to return to Boston to face her ghosts. One of those happens to be her ex-boyfriend’s best friend, Michael Sullivan. The man she was never supposed to fall in love with.

Michael Sullivan has never forgotten Dahlia McGuire. Some might say he’s never gotten over her. For years he lived with the anger of her desertion, and now, newly-divorced, he’s finally ready to move on. That proves impossible when Dahlia returns to Boston and reawakens their explosive connection. Despite everything, Michael wants her back, but Dahlia can’t seem to let go of the tangled emotions of the past. When she flees home to Hartwell, Michael follows, determined to do everything in his power to convince her they belong together.

However, when the unthinkable hits the quiet seaside town, Michael finds himself trying to unravel more than the mystery of Dahlia’s broken heart. It’s time for truths left unsaid to finally be spoken or Michael and Dahlia might find themselves torn apart forever…

AMAZON 

The truth was I must have been sleepwalking through life all this time because whenever Michael appeared, I was suddenly wide awake.

Things We Never Said was an swoony and emotional second chance romances with a slight twist. It also had one of the most incredible heroes I’ve read in a long while. There’s just something about Michael Sullivan that made me fall head over heels the second he appears on the pages.

Trust me, dahlin’, I appreciate the good things in life, and I’m more grateful than I can say when I come across special. Just never thought I’d come across goddamn extraordinary in my life…

Admittedly, the first two books in this series haven’t been my favorite. But there was something so…different about this one. It had a different vibe and energy to it that I found lacking in the other two.

Michael and Dahlia have a right place but wrong time sort of beginning when they first meet. Their chemistry is immediate and downright incendiary. But Dahlia has just settled in a relationship with a man that’s good for her and she doesn’t want to jeopardize that. But when she finds out that Michael is her boyfriend’s best friend, she knows that any potential they may have had will never be. So they settle into a friendship with a side of burning unrequited love on both sides. It becomes clear just how crazy Michael is about her, but youthful mistakes and fate circumstances soon spell the end for any budding romance they may have had.

When life takes a turn once more, Dahlia finds herself back in her home town and facing the circumstances of her decision all those years ago; the biggest one being Michael. But he’s no longer the sweet man that she knew in her youth. He’s angry, bitter, and hurt. As much as you want to hate Michael for his callous treatment of Dahlia when she first appears back in his life, you just can’t. You know that he’s harboring a lot of pain but you don’t know quite what transpired between the two of them to bring them to this place. That slowly gets trickle fed to the reader chapter by chapter. But when you see this southie boy see the error of his ways and finally pursue Dahlia with a single minded intent to break down all of her walls? Oh my swoon!!!! He’s sheer perfection.

I’ll wait forever for you, Michael Sullivan.” He shook his head. “No waiting required. I’ve been yours since day one.”

I really loved this beautifully emotional romance. The more you learn about Dahlia’s past and what sent her running, the more you begin to understand. It takes the majority of the book to fully unravel the truth, and it’s devastating at the core of it.

There’s also a bit of action and suspense that’s thrown in, along with the tease of two secondary characters that I’m desperately waiting on a book for.

Ultimately, this was an incredibly satisfying read that I enjoyed from start to finish and would recommend to any Sam Young fan out there.

Review & Giveaway: Pieces of Us by @aljacksonauthor

 
PIECES OF US
Series: Confessions of the Heart #3
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: A.L. Jackson
Release Date: April 22, 2019
Maxon Chambers has a way of stealing all the attention.
All my affection, and all my dreams.
What I needed to remember was he’d stolen my good judgment and my virginity, too.
When he broke up with me, I ran across the country and swore I’d never return to Broadshire Rim.
But here I am, thirteen years later.
Maxon is all grown up.
Sexier than sin and more tempting than ever.
A detective on the Charleston force, he lives on the outside of safety, devoted to protecting the people of his city.
But with the way he’s looking at me now? I’m pretty sure what needs protecting is my heart.
Can we mend the pieces of us? Or will he leave my heart shattered forever . . .

There’s never been a single day in my life when I didn’t want you. We are endless.”


Deeply romantic, heartbreakingly emotional, and achingly beautiful. Pieces of Us is easily one of my favorite AL Jackson books to date. I fell head over heels for Mack and Izzy’s story and I still can’t stop thinking about them after finishing.

It’s no secret that I love a good punch to the feels that a second chance romance always brings. But there was something so special about Mack and Izzy’s story. I don’t even know how to begin to describe it, but it felt almost electric. I always knew there was some darkness in Mack’s past. He’s been such a solid presence in his friend’s lives. But beneath that cop exterior, still waters run deep. This is a man with deep emotional scars and demons from his past that continue to haunt his present

Izzy has loved Maxon “Mack” Chambers since they were kids. Him, the boy on the wrong side of the tracks. Her, the sweet dreamer that thought she can save him. But then everything they built came tumbling down around Izzy and she had no choice but to run. Now she’s back and has no desire to see the man that broke her heart. But things never quite go as you intended.

I really don’t want to tell you much more about this story, but prepare yourself for one emotional ride. I couldn’t bear to put this book down for even a second, utterly desperate for another piece of Izze and Mack’s past. I was dying to know how it all fell apart and even more desperate to see how they would rebuild it all.

Mack is one of my favorite heroes in this series. And I though I loved Ian. But man, nothing compares to the way that this man loves. His soul is so achingly broken and yet he yearns for Izzy and everything that they lost. Izzy is a heroine that’s impossible not to love. She’s this delicate combination of vulnerability and strength. She’s survived so much pain in her life and yet she holds strong. She never gave up on Mack when they were kids. Her unique view of the world and wonderment were extremely endearing. Izzy as an adult is even more so.

I loved everything about this story. Two secondary characters in particular. These two completely owned my heart. I loved them so much.

If you’re looking for a beautiful romance that will break you and then put you back together in the best of ways, you seriously can’t go wrong with this book. I can’t recommend it enough!

A.L. Jackson is the New York Times & USA Today Bestselling author of contemporary romance. She writes emotional, sexy, heart-filled stories about boys who usually like to be a little bit bad.
Her bestselling series include THE REGRET SERIES, CLOSER TO YOU, BLEEDING STARS, and FIGHT FOR ME novels. Grab A.L. Jackson’s latest novel, PIECES OF US, the third stand-alone novel in her brand-new CONFESSIONS OF THE HEART series.
If she’s not writing, you can find her hanging out by the pool with her family, sipping cocktails with her friends, or of course with her nose buried in a book.
Be sure not to miss new releases and sales from A.L. Jackson – Sign up to receive her newsletter http://smarturl.it/NewsFromALJackson or text “aljackson” to 33222 to receive short but sweet updates on all the important news.

Connect with A.L.

Facebook: http://smarturl.it/ALJacksonPage
Reader Group: http://smarturl.it/AmysAngelsRock
Amazon: http://smarturl.it/ALJacksonAmzn
Bookbub: http://smarturl.it/ALJacksonBookbub
Twitter: @aljacksonauthor
Instagram: @aljacksonauthor
Snapchat: @aljacksonauthor

Don’t miss the awesome giveaway for the Pieces of Us release! It’s the first two books from the Confessions of the Heart Series + Kindle Fire + Polaroid Camera + All the Goods!

Ahhh I can’t wait for you to experience this story! I’m so insanely proud of it! I can’t wait to hear what you think!
xoxo ~
Amy

Review: I Want You Back by Lorelei James

I WANT YOU BACK
Series: Want You #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Lorelei James
Release Date: April 2, 2019

New York Times bestselling author Lorelei James kicks-off her Want You Series with a Lund family cousin hot enough to melt the ice and mend a broken heart.

Former NHL star Jaxson Lund has returned to the Twin Cities, but he’s at loose ends, unsure if he belongs at Lund Industries, or where he stands with Lucy, his ex-girlfriend and mother of his daughter, Mimi. Despite the signs she’d like to leave him in the penalty box, the attraction burning between them reinforces his determination to prove that he deserves a second chance…

Lucy Quade is in a good place with a steady job, a nice apartment, and a well-adjusted daughter, which is why she’s hesitant when Jax insists on co-parenting. It’s not that Lucy doesn’t trust Jax…she’s just unconvinced he can handle multiple responsibilities when he’s been singularly focused on playing hockey. But when issues arise with Mimi, Lucy’s shocked at how levelheaded and paternal he acts, giving her a glimpse of the Jax she used to know, the sexy, sweet man she fell for years ago.

Once Lucy lets her guard down, Jax goes all in to show her how good they are together, but will their past remain too large an obstacle to ever overcome?

AMAZON

Kissing Jaxson Lund wasn’t something I could ever forget.

I’ve read a lot of second chance romance; it IS my jam after all. But rarely does one stick out in my memory the way this one did. I was thinking about it days after finishing. I Want You Back is a refreshingly different take on the second-chance romance trope. It’s emotional, raw, and unapologetically real. It doesn’t sugar coat or spare feelings. It takes the reader on an emotional ride with all the bumps along the way. It’s a slow burn sort of read with plenty of chemistry and a dash of angst. I seriously enjoyed this one!

Jaxson Lund is one of the best imperfect characters I’ve read in a while. A retired professional hockey player that allowed his sports reputation to get the best of him, Jax is no stranger to failure. What I loved about him the most is that he wasn’t afraid to take accountability for all the things he did wrong. Here’s a man that’s a recovering alcoholic that lost the love of his life because he betrayed her in the worst way possible. He’s a man that’s trying to right all of his wrongs; including becoming a staple in his daughter’s life when he was more of a memory to her as she was growing up due to his hockey career.

I absolutely loved the way that he fought to get back into his ex’s good graces. But what I really loved the most, is the fact that Lucy wasn’t perfect herself. This was a shockingly realistic look at what happens when two people love each other beyond reason but their pasts mold them into an inevitable conclusion. The story is told in alternating flashbacks of past to present, telling the reader how they got together and what led to their inevitable implosion. Lucy is woman with plenty of issues of her own; including trust issues that are formed by her childhood. Issues that only get reinforced when her and Jaxson break.

There’s no unnecessary drama or added issues in this book to convolute what’s already happening. It’s just two broken people that are slowly working on putting their pieces back together. Their journey back to each other is not paved in sunshine and butterflies, but it’s also not unnecessarily angsty either. I really loved the way that the author handled a lot of the issues in this book. James doesn’t try to sugarcoat the repercussions of Jax’s mistakes and addiction. You get an incredibly realistic look at the results of his hard living. This may come as a shock for some people. I’ll admit that I have NEVER read a book where the author went there but boy do I love that she did. And no I won’t tell you what that was, but I will say that I’m still thinking about it.

I really enjoyed this book. It was a perfectly paced and emotional slow burn. I wished that we got flashbacks a little further and truly experience the break between Lucy and Jax, but at the same time I understand why the author chose not to quite go there. If you’re looking for something just a little different, then you definitely need to check this one out. I can’t wait for the rest of the series. There’s a certain Lund sibling whose book I’m already salivating for.

Review: Ruthless King by Maya Hughes

RUTHLESS KING
Series:
Kings of Rittenhouse #3
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Maya Hughes
Release Date: January 10, 2019

A STANDALONE second chance, enemies to lovers romance.

My dick never got me in half as much trouble as my heart…

We were high school sweethearts. I was head over heels for her and no one could tell me we weren’t going to last forever. College? Going pro? My family’s money? None of it mattered. She was all I needed.

Then she ripped my heart out. But I’m not going to let that happen again.

She’s back. Invading my life and acting like she was the wronged one. The pain is still there, but I can’t keep my eyes off her. I can’t stop thinking about her and how much was left unsaid between us. Being this close is making me question everything I thought I knew about her.

This time everything will be on my terms. Everything…

AMAZON

I never stopped loving you. Even when I hated you with all of my being, even when I hated myself for it and wished I could carve my heart out of my chest, I still loved you.”

The second I read the blurb to this book, I knew this would be my first Maya Hughes read. I’m a sucker for a good second-chance romance, and this one checked all of my boxes.

Avery Davis had dismantled me and left me as a shell. Even knowing the pain she’d caused, every night I closed my eyes, it was her I dreamed about.

I dove into this book without having read the previous two in this series, and while I had absolutely no problem enjoying it as a standalone, I’ll definitely be reading the other books if only because I’m intrigued by the characters and loved the author’s writing style.

As for this book? It was a mildly angsty read with plenty of feels that I fell in love with from the very first pages.

Emmett and Avery were high school sweethearts. They were everything to each other, and even though they were young, their love was one that should have been a forever kind. The reader doesn’t know what happened to rip them apart, but you know it was enough to plant a seed of resentment into Emmett that even years later he can’t get over.

When fate and circumstance throws them together once more, they are forced to acknowledge everything that happened between them, though it’s certainly not a smooth road. I’m not typically a fan of the continuous misunderstanding plot device in my books, but it actually worked here. I understood why Avery was hesitant to shed light on everything that happened in high school. And while I wanted to smack Emmett for his reaction to the bumps on their path to a HEA, I also couldn’t help understanding him either. These characters are both flawed in their own way, but in a very endearing way. Avery is extremely loyal to her family and I loved her fierce protectiveness and care for her sister. I understood why she did what she did.

Emmett, while being a successful pro-hockey player and having his pick of any woman he wants, is like a lost boy when it comes to Avery. She was the only woman he ever loved and he never got over her breaking his heart. I loved this vulnerable side to him.

I really enjoyed the secondary characters and the pacing of this book. I wished there was a little more angst beyond the constant misunderstanding between Emmett and Avery, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. Maya Hughes is a new to me author that is now going straight to my auto-buy list and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.

Review: Third Strike by BJ Harvey

THIRD STRIKE
Series:
Chances #3
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: BJ Harvey
Release Date: January 10, 2019

Falling for your best friend’s sister has never felt so bad yet so damn right.

From USA Today Bestselling author BJ Harvey comes the third and final standalone in the Chance series, this time it’s the much anticipated story of Drew and Ashley.

***
I have a long history of acting first and thinking it through later. In fact, I’m the definition of a screw up.

Case in point – I’m having a baby with a woman I can’t stand, my ex is now my best friend’s wife, and I’m in love with a woman I can never have.

My biggest secret is falling for my best friend’s sister twelve years ago.

My biggest mistake is thinking I could live without her.

And now my biggest regret is the look on her face the moment I tell everyone I’m already married to the woman they hate most.

AMAZON

You’re my beginning, middle, and end, Ash. 

Oh.
Oh wow.
Oh my heart.
Oh the feels.
Oh the everything!
I simply loved this book.

There is nothing I love more than a flawed but completely redeemable hero. And it just doesn’t get more flawed than Drew. He’s so perfectly imperfect and with a heart of gold. The fact that you spend the entire book inside his head was one of my favorite things. You really get to see the heart of gold beneath the well-meaning intentions that turn out to be disastrous decisions.

Drew has always thought of his best friend’s family as his own after the loss of his mother. So he’s always known that Millen’s little sister is entirely hands off. There’s just one problem with that; he can’t stay away from her. The odds are stacked against them and there’s every reason why they can’t work, but sometimes love happens when you least expect it.

Third Strike is a romance that spans 12 years; through heartbreak and devastation, life takes Drew and Ash through the ringer. I have to admit, had I not been inside of Drew’s head, I probably would have not loved this book as much as I did. This is a man that makes his fair share of mistakes. But understanding the root of them and his intentions, you can’t help but fall for his bumbling ways. He’s successful, sexy and sure of himself in every aspect of his life…except when it comes to Ash.

This story is no walk in the park. It’s painful, and tragic, and downright infuriating at times. But it’s also beautiful and emotional and a book that sucks you right in and doesn’t let you loose until the very last page. It owned my heart. It made me cry, it made me rage, it made me swoon. And there’s one scene in particular that I’m fairly certain made me spontaneously ovulate…

But I digress. If you read the first book in this series, you may have some thoughts on Drew’s character. But let me tell you, if you have doubts that you’d like him, you need to read this. He struggles with loyalty to his best friend and his love for his best friend’s sister. Every painfully beautiful memory between him and Ash owned my hear.

I still haven’t forgiven BJ for bastardizing my name with the twat of a character that she decided to name Lana, but man, even dealing with her was worth it for the experience of this book.

I’ve loved BJ’s romcoms, but she’s definitely stolen my heart completely with this beautifully angsty read. I loved it from start to finish and didn’t want it to end. I devoured it in a day and can’t recommend it enough!

Review: It’s Not Over by Grahame Claire

IT’S NOT OVER
Series: Paths to Love #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Grahame Claire
Release Date: August 3, 2018

Daniel

I have two lives.

One with the woman who owns me. The other tied to a past I can’t escape.

For eight years, I kept them separate, knowing one day their collision was inevitable.

That day has come.

She’ll have to accept it.

It’s over.

Vivian

He has two lives.

A beautiful one with me. Another shrouded in ugly secrets.

It didn’t matter, until now.

I don’t know why he’s destroyed us,

But fighting for him will be the battle of my life.
It’s not over.

AMAZON

Even if we never see each other again, it will never be over. Never.”

If you love powerful second chance romances and strong heroines, this book is not to be missed.

You want me to bare my soul? Tell you all my deepest, darkest secrets?” His voice was laced with sarcasm.
“Yes,” I answered without hesitation. “I won’t be with somebody who won’t let me know them. I want a partner. I don’t need a body to keep me warm at night. That’s what blankets are for.”

From the very first page that I read, I knew this would be a book I’d devour in practically one sitting. This author went straight to my auto-buy list. I’m addicted to her words!

I’m a sucker for a well-written second chance romance, and this one had all the ingredients for a phenomenal read! It was emotional, gripping, with a splash of suspense and a whole lot of sizzle. Told in alternating past and present, it painted a powerful story of a once in a lifetime love that stood the test of unimaginable odds.

Daniel and Vivian had a love that seemed to be unbreakable, until Daniel’s past clashes with his present and he cuts Vivian out of his life. Unable to imagine her life without him, Vivian isn’t one to sit back and watch it happen. She’s prepared to fight for him, if only he’d fight for her right back…

The book alternates from past to present to tell the story of how they met and the path that inevitably brought them to where they are now. I absolutely loved Vivian’s character. Here’s a woman that’s not afraid to state what she wants and owns it. She makes Daniel fight for her heart when they first meet. She isn’t satisfied to take the initial crumbs he offers and will take nothing short of everything. You really can’t help but be in awe of such a strong heroine. She’s just the right amount of strength and vulnerability. She’s hard-edged without being brash and I loved that about her.

I want a partner. I want trust and respect and honesty. Someone who will face life with me head on. Sometimes he’ll carry me, and sometimes I’ll carry him. We’ll laugh together, fight together, give each other everything. I don’t need a fucking white knight on a horse. I can save my own ass, and I can buy my own flowers. The only thing I want is you. If you can’t give me that, there’s no need to go any further.”

Daniel is a hero that captures your heart right away with his incredibly powerful and magnetic presence. There’s just the right amount of darkness that lurks under his handsome looks that lures you into his orbit. This is a man that has lived a hard life and will sacrifice everything to protect those that he loves.

I also absolutely adored the secondary characters of Miriam and Stone and cannot wait to dive into their story. As for this one? I enjoyed it cover to cover. It was perfectly paced, with a dash of grit, and a heavy dose of suspense. This was my first book by Grahame Claire and I know it definitely will not be my last.

Copyright © 2015 · Dirty Girl Romance

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