Standalone Sunday (6/25/17): Under Locke by Mariana Zapata 

Standalone Sunday is a fun feature created by Megan at Bookslayerreads where each Sunday you feature a standalone book (not part of a series) that you loved or would recommend. There’s so much focus on books that are part of a series… she thought it’d be nice to focus on some standalone novels, too!
Feel free to join in on this weekly feature by creating your own Standalone Sunday post! And be sure to check out Megan’s very creative blog and leave a link in her Standalone Sunday comments section so she can add your blog to the list

My Standalone Pick this week is: Under Locke by Mariana Zapata. 

BLURB
: He was my boss, my brother’s friend, a widow, an ex-felon, and a man I’d seen casually with a handful of women. But he was everything that gripped me, both the good and the bad. Worst case scenario: If things turned awkward between us, I could go somewhere else. I’d gotten over epic heartbreak before; one more wouldn’t kill me.
After moving to Austin following six months of unemployment back home, Iris Taylor knows she should be glad to have landed a job so quickly… even if the business is owned by a member of the same motorcycle club her estranged father used to belong to. Except Dex Locke might just be the biggest jerk she’s ever met. He’s rude and impatient, and he doesn’t know how to tell time. And the last thing they ever expected was each other.
Narrated by: Callie Dalton
Length: 16 hrs and 5 mins

ADD TO GOODREADS 

I’m currently listening to this audiobook because I loved The Wall of Winnipeg and Wait For It by the same author. Zapata takes her time with character development so that the friendship, attraction and subsequent love story never feels rushed. I am anticipating a satisfying story today.

Have you read or listened to this book? Did you enjoy it? What about this author, have you tried her before?

#audiobookmonth #standalonesunday 

Goodreads Monday (6/19/17): The Lovely Reckless by Kami Garcia

Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren’s Page Turners . To participate, you simply choose a random book from your TBR and show it off. Don’t forget to check out her blog and link back to Lauren’s Page Turners and add your own links!

My choice today is The Lovely Reckless by Kami Garcia

BLURBI’ve become an expert at avoiding things that could hurt me—which means I will figure out how to stay away from Marco Leone.

Seventeen-year-old Frankie Devereux would do anything to forget the past. Haunted by the memory of her boyfriend’s death, she lives her life by one dangerous rule: Nothing matters. At least, that’s what Frankie tells herself after a reckless mistake forces her to leave her privileged life in the Heights to move in with her dad—an undercover cop. She transfers to a public high school in the Downs, where fistfights don’t faze anyone and illegal street racing is more popular than football.

Marco Leone is the fastest street racer in the Downs. Tough, sexy, and hypnotic, he makes it impossible for Frankie to ignore him—and how he makes her feel. But the risks Marco takes for his family could have devastating consequences for them both. When Frankie discovers his secret, she has to make a choice. Will she let the pain of the past determine her future? Or will she risk what little she has left to follow her heart?

ADD TO GOODREADS 

I got this book as a freebie arc during the Romantic Times Convention 2016 in Las Vegas. It’s been on my bookshelf but I was traveling to Montego Bay for my annual anniversary vacation, I grabbed it for a plan ride.   It was one of my favorite reads of 2017. I didn’t sleep a wink on the plane. I wish I read this one last August when it came out. 5-Star all the way! I will add a review as soon as I’m caught up on real life stuff. I do have her Beautiful Creatures (Caster Chronicles #1) audiobook but I haven’t listened it yet. Have you read anything by Kami Garcia? Watched the movie maybe?

What are you reading today from your Goodreads TBR shelf?

 

Goodreads Monday (5/29/17): When It’s Real by Erin Watt 

Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren’s Page Turners . To participate, you simply choose a random book from your TBR and show it off. Don’t forget to check out her blog and link back to Lauren’s Page Turners and add your own links! 

My choice today is When It’s Real  by Erin Watt.


BLURB
:


From #1 New York Times bestselling author duo Erin Watt comes the addictive contemporary tale of a teen rock star in need of an image makeover and the teen girl hired to be his fake girlfriend.

Meet Oakley Ford-teen celebrity, renowned pop star, child of famous movie stars, hottie with millions of fangirls… and restless troublemaker. On the surface he has it all, but with his home life disintegrating, his music well suddenly running dry, and the tabloids having a field day over his outrageous exploits, Oakley’s team decides it’s time for an intervention. The result: an image overhaul, complete with a fake girlfriend meant to show the world he’s settled down.

Enter seventeen-year-old Vaughn Bennett-devoted sister, part-time waitress, the definition of “normal.” Under ordinary circumstances she’d never have taken this gig, but with her family strapped for cash, she doesn’t have much of a choice. And for the money Oakley’s team is paying her, she figures she can put up with outlandish Hollywood parties and a team of publicists watching her every move. So what if she thinks Oakley’s a shallow, self-centered jerk? It’s not like they’re going to fall for each other in real life…right?

ADD TO GOODREADS 

Isn’t that cover beautiful? Erin Watt is the brainchild of two bestselling authors: Jen Frederick and Elle Kennedy. I devoured their Royal series (See Review) on audio in a week. I hope to finish this book tonight and have a review for tomorrow. I’ve only read one book by Jen Frederick but I just bought my second audiobook to try. On the other hand, I’ve read 2 different series by Elle Kennedy which I will loved:  Killer Instincts  and Off Campus. I normally don’t enjoy rocker romances but I like this one so far.  Have you read anything by the two author? What did you think?

What are you reading today from your Goodreads TBR shelf? 

Standalone Sunday (5/21/17): Wait for It by Mariana Zapata

Standalone Sunday is a fun feature created by Megan at Bookslayerreads where each Sunday you feature a standalone book (not part of a series) that you loved or would recommend. There’s so much focus on books that are part of a series… she thought it’d be nice to focus on some standalone novels, too!

Feel free to join in on this weekly feature by creating your own Standalone Sunday post! And be sure to check out Megan’s very creative blog and leave a link in her Standalone Sunday comments section so she can add your blog to the list

My Standalone Pick this week is: Wait For It by Mariana Zapata

  

BLURB: If anyone ever said being an adult was easy, they hadn’t been one long enough.

Diana Casillas can admit it: she doesn’t know what the hell she’s doing half the time. How she’s made it through the last two years of her life without killing anyone is nothing short of a miracle. Being a grown-up wasn’t supposed to be so hard.

With a new house, two little boys she inherited the most painful possible way, a giant dog, a job she usually loves, more than enough family, and friends, she has almost everything she could ever ask for.

Except for a boyfriend.
Or a husband.

But who needs either one of those?

Kindle Edition: 670 pages

Audiobook
: 15hrs, 52 mins

Published:
December 7th 2016 by Amazon Digital Services LLC

ADD TO GOODREADS 

I’m currently listening to this audiobook narrated by Callie Dalton. I chose this book because I read The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by the same author a week and a half ago and loved that book. So I purchased this book. I plan to also get the Audiobooks Under Locke and Kulti by Mariana Zapata. This author’s writing was that gripping and entertaining to me.

Have you read or listened to this book or any book by Mariana Zapata? Did you enjoy it? Happy First Day of the Week!

Close Enough to Touch by Colleen Oakley

Close Enough to Touch by Colleen OakleyNarrator: Candace Thaxton, Jonathan Todd Ross, Kirby Heyborne
Source: Netgalley

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Title: Close Enough to Touch by Colleen Oakley
Release Date: March 7th, 2017
Format:  e-ARC (366 pages)
Published By: Gallery Books
Purchase Links: Amazon US Barnes & Noble •  Books-a-million iBooks Indiebound

One time a boy kissed me and I almost died…

And so begins the story of Jubilee Jenkins, a young woman with a rare and debilitating medical condition: she’s allergic to other humans. After a humiliating near-death experience in high school, Jubilee has become a recluse, living the past nine years in the confines of the small town New Jersey house her unaffectionate mother left to her when she ran off with a Long Island businessman. But now, her mother is dead, and without her financial support, Jubilee is forced to leave home and face the world—and the people in it—that she’s been hiding from.

One of those people is Eric Keegan, a man who just moved into town for work. With a daughter from his failed marriage who is no longer speaking to him, and a brilliant, if psychologically troubled, adopted son, Eric’s struggling to figure out how his life got so off-course, and how to be the dad—and man—he wants so desperately to be. Then, one day, he meets a mysterious woman named Jubilee, with a unique condition…

An evocative, poignant, and heartrending exploration of the power and possibilities of the human heart, Close Enough to Touch is perfect for fans of the emotional novels of Jodi Picoult and Jojo Moyes.

three-half-stars

This book had a really interesting premise but it took me two-thirds of the book before I truly got invested in the characters. It was written well but there just wasn’t a connection with the main characters for most of the book. The beginning was like 2-3 stars and the second half was 4-stars.

As a three year old toddler, Jubilee Jenkins developed a rare skin allergy that made touching other humans deadly. Her mother went to specialist after specialist before abandoning her to marry some rich guy in another city. After a kiss in high school almost killed her, Jubilee grudgingly acknowledged that her life was meant to be different from others and without skin to skin contact.

When her mother died and her step father withdrew financial support, Jubilee was forced to find a job to pay for her own bills. She got hired at the library which placed her around people. Once Jubilee saved a little boy Aja from drowning, Jubilee was introduced to Eric Keegan, Aja’s father who slowly opened Jubilee’s heart to a future of happier possibilities.

I like that Eric Keegan wasn’t this hero that made everything better. He had his own messed up situation and was trying to figure out his own life. Eric’s drama made everyone including Jubilee made her face some things from her past as well as make some decisions about her future.

I like how the author used the library and reading as vehicle of communication to allow the characters to understand each other. I felt the most for the young boy Aja. He was clearly in pain and I just wanted to hold him so tight. It was after Aja and his X-men comments that I truly plugged into this story.

Colleen Oakley didn’t write a clean, smooth, cheesy story. It was a slow burner where the individual journey overshadowed the romance, which was okay with me. The writing in the first half dragged but the second half was more touching (pun intended). Overall, it was a good read.

*Special Thanks to Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books via Netgalley for the e-arc given in exchange for an honest review.

Ezi

Goodbye Paradise (Hello Goodbye #1) by Sarina Bowen

Series:
(Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Title: Goodbye Paradise by Sarina Bowen (originally In Front of God & Everyone (Pay It Forward #1))
Series: Hello Goodbye #1 (Pay It Forward #1)
Release Date: March 21st, 2017 (first published February 18th, 2015)
Format: e-ARC                Pages: 331
Genre: Gay Romance, Contemporary Romance, New Adult, Cult romance
Published By:
Purchase Links: Amazon US Barnes & Noble Kobo Google

Most people called it a cult. But for twenty years, Josh & Caleb called it home.

In Paradise, there is no television. No fast food. Just long hours of farm work and prayer on a dusty Wyoming ranch, and nights in a crowded bunkhouse. The boys of the Compound are kept far from the sinners’ world.

But Joshua doesn’t need temptation to sin. His whole life, he’s wanted his best friend, Caleb. By day they work side by side. Only when Josh closes his eyes at night can they be together the way he craves.

It can never be. And his survival depends on keeping his terrible desires secret.

Caleb has always protected Josh against the worst of the bullying at the Compound. But he has secrets of his own, and a plan to get away — until it all backfires.

Josh finds himself homeless in a world that doesn’t want him. Can Caleb find him in time? And will they find a place of safety, where he can admit to Josh how he really feels?

Warning: Contains a hot male/male romance, copious instances of taking the Lord’s name in vain, and love against the kitchen counterThis book was previously released under the title: In Front of God & Everyone. For more about its previous publication, you can read this blog post.

four-stars

This is one of those books that makes you believe in the young people’s resilient spirit and the kindness of strangers. It was sweet, hopeful and just encouraging that people can recover after horrifying childhoods peppered with traumatic experiences.

This story was told from both Caleb and Joshua’s POV as young people trapped in a cult where the elders usually kept 4-6 wives, some as young as fourteen. Consequently, boys over the age of 14 were considered a threat to their family structure and were sent to live the bachelor quarters. The young guys considered “weak” usually disappear from the compound after they are reach age of majority. Joshua and Caleb grew up together as best friends and live together in the bachelor quarters but it was generally understood that Joshua was a weak link. So, when Joshua was thrown out close to a bus station with $50, Caleb ran away to join Joshua.

From the beginning, it was clear that the bond between Joshua and Caleb was stronger than just mere friendship. It was ardent, devoted and passionate. It was as though their hearts were always bound together from day one but it had to be hidden. Once outside the confines of the religious cult, Joshua and Caleb had to learn how to deal with the feelings that they had been taught were sinful and perverse. Joshua struggled a lot harder than Caleb. I struggled with Caleb’s seamless transition from accepting his feelings to use of cuss words. I was expecting the guys to have some difficulty adjusting to the “outside” life as well as some language barriers since cult language seems to be more biblical and less informal/conversational in secular society. In addition, this story lacked the angst that I expected from boys tormented by the cult leaders. It’s almost like their past was forgotten. There was no mention to save those left behind or even rescue other boys who were sure to be discarded like Joshua.

Regardless of those issues, I found the love that blossomed between Caleb and Joshua to be so sweet and endearing. In Maggie and Daniel’s home, Caleb and Joshua found freedom, acceptance and finally, their talents. There were wonderful secondary characters that made this story richer. From Washington, Daniel, Maggie & Chloe, the supporting cast helped make this story heartwarming. Caleb and Joshua would have had a much harder and rougher time but for the continual support of the secondary characters. Most of all, I love that they all helped Joshua find his voice and gave him the strength to use it. Joshua was the one I rooted for the most because I am always drawn to the underdogs of the world. His development made this book for me.

If you want a super dramatic, angst-filled story, this isn’t it. This romance was a steady and emotionally even love story, not just between two guys, but a makeshift family.
Ezi

About Sarina Bowen

Sarina Bowen is a USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance. She lives in Vermont’s Green Mountains with her family, six chickens and too much ski gear and hockey equipment.

True Colors by Anyta Sunday

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

True Colors: by Anyta Sunday
Series: True Love #2
Release Date: March 14th, 2017
Pages: 226 • Format: eARC
Published By: Self-Published
Purchase Links:
Amazon

Oskar used to be Marco’s best friend. His everything. His sunshine yellow.

But that was before. Before Marco stopped being a hot jock. Before he learned to live with scars and pain. And before Oskar tore their friendship apart.

Now the boy next door has returned home, determined to rekindle his friendship with Marco, and Marco’s more afraid than ever. Afraid of getting hurt. Afraid of being humiliated.

Afraid of falling in love.

Can Oskar find a way through Marco’s fear, back into his heart?
~~~~***~~~~
“True Colors” is an enemies to lovers, boy next door, first time, slow burn M/M romance with a generous helping of UST. This no-cliffhanger, HEA book can be read as a standalone.

three-half-stars

I am not a fan of the angst. She is not a fan of the angst. We are not a fan of the angst. I.HATE.THE.ANGST.

I got that out of my system. I don’t go looking for angst, because I always get so ragey made by midway through the book, but end up enjoying it. I don’t want to feel that way towards my books. I really liked Leo Loves Aries, and wanted to read more of this authors’ work. It’s a big difference of slow burn romance, and angst central. I can deal with slow burn romance, because the buildup of their love & devotion is so beautiful to watch. Angst is some hard core b.s. While I felt like the story was angsty enough, I also felt like March was over melodramatic. Put your pitchforks away and let me explain.

Marco went through a traumatic experience. I applaud him for having the strength to succeed in day to day things. During this traumatic time he was betrayed by someone he trusts. I get all of this. 16 is a hard age to adjust to and deal with. I think whatever happens during the time is life changing, but for Marco the one thing he didn’t expect with his fallout with his best friend Oskar. Someone he counts on, depends on, and loves deeply. Oskar has been his life force during this troubling time. But the betrayal came from Oskar. Marco hasn’t allowed himself to heal internally, and his hatred it seems for Oskar is damaging everything around him. His and Oskar’s family is friends/neighbors/family together. They’ve been in each others lives forever, and by the boys not being friends anymore its hard to adjust to. Fast forward to the present. Both guys are 20. Adults in every sense of the word. Oskar is moving back home after being away for 2 years. Marco is moving out of his home, and finding the independence that he needs. He doesn’t take into account Oskar moving back throws a wrench into his mental plan. Here’s my thing when they communicate or start to build up to where they were or could have been, I feel like Marco was stagnant in this sense. I get him being upset and mad. I get Oskar doing what he did. What I don’t get is an educated, smart person who plans to be a high school teacher, and was once a teacher holding a grudge for this long. At times I felt like every time Oskar was on page, and Marco didn’t like it was very melodramatic. Oskar practically begging for his forgiveness, and Marco defiantly holding his past against him. This is all my take on the situation. Its very easy for me to say these things, and not have it been about me.

I will say out of my melodrama comment, I did enjoy the story. I loved the author’s take on the chapter titles and meanings. It was super fun to see what each meant. This was an angsty friends to lovers romance, and outside of my quips on a certain situation I did enjoy it. I really am glad that I gave this a chance. I did fans of Sunday will love Marco & Oskar’s love for one another. It’s the best kind of romance when its a near friend of yours. I really loved Oskar as a character. He seemed so mature for his age, and even Marco who I felt could be lenient sometimes, but I understand it was a defense mechanism. It can be read as a standalone and a definite recommend.

 

signature-fonts

About Anyta Sunday

Anyta Sunday – New Zealand writer in Berlin, Germany.

A born and raised New Zealander from Wellington, I’ve been exploring the literary world since I started reading Roald Dahl as a kid. Stories have been piling up in my head ever since. Fast forward to my mid-twenties and jump a few countries (Germany, America, and back again), I started to put them to paper.

My genre of choice is romance, both adult and YA, gay and straight. You can take a closer look at my books, available as e-books for download in many formats!

When I’m not pushing my characters deeper into adventure, I chase my sons around the house and fight my two comical cats for the desk chair.

Blog Tour: Scarred by Mia Kerick

Scarred by Mia Kerick
Publication Date: March 1st 2017
Genres: LGBTQ+, New Adult, Romance, Suspense

From bestselling author Mia Kerick comes a New Adult novel of Gay Romantic Suspense that will keep you up reading all night!

Matthew North waited ten years to heal from the devastating wounds inflicted by the man who abducted and abused him as a child. Living reclusively on a tropical island—with no company but his four cats—he merely avoids the lingering pain.

Wearing twisted ropes of mutilated skin on his back, Matt struggles with a profound hindrance—the scars that deaden his soul. However, on the night he meets lively Vedie Wilson, a local restaurant busboy who expresses his gender by wearing lipgloss and eyeliner along with his three-day beard, things change.

Gradually, Vedie and Mateo unite in friendship. Through a series of awkward encounters, the pair learns each other’s secrets. Vedie learns that an angelic face can front for a scarred soul. Matthew learns that the line between one’s masculine and feminine sides is blurred. Can they embrace the painful stories behind each other’s scars if they’re to find everlasting love? Or will surrendered love come to be yet another blemish on their souls?

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

Vedie

“Lookin’ good, pretty Miss Vedie.…mmmhmm….” No matter if I’m dressed like a dude or a lady, Joey always stares at me as if I’m a juicy bowl of strawberry shortcake—he licks his lips and I know he wants to take himself a nice big bite of a flavor he can’t get at home. Then he slaps a hand hard against my thigh, and creepy-slow, it climbs my leg. It’s headed for my ass cheek, or my name ain’t Vedie Wilson.

“Hands outta the cookie jar, Joey, my man.” I don’t appreciate it when any dude gropes me without asking for permission first. But the sad truth is I ain’t never gonna like Joey’s hands on me. While he gawks, I pull a shimmery hairband out of my bag and wrap it around my head to hold the damp dreads off my face. “Got yo’self a sweet tooth, looks like, Joey. You’d be wise to get your ass home to your sweet wife, not that you asked me for no words of wisdom.”

“Not gonna even think about going home ‘til I had me some fun,” Joey replies, jamming his hand in his pocket—probably to keep it from curving ‘round my ass.

When I bend down to rinse the sweat off my face he stays quiet and don’t goose me. Maybe this time he heard what I told him about gettin’ his butt home to Miz Joey. But more likely he’s checking out my butt.

“Baybeee… uh huh…. mmmhmm… nice ass you got there in them sweet little shorts….”

I sigh real loud, “I got some shit to do here, big dawg, so’s if that’s all you wanted…” The only way to get this guy to take a hike is to tell him point blank that he’s gotta head on out. “Catch ya on da flip side, ‘kay?”

He leans in so close I can feel his scratchy beard brushing on my neck and I shiver in the bad way. He takes a deep sniff—I guess he likes the smell of sweaty dude—and then finally bails. Right now, I sorely wish the tiki hut restaurant I work at had one of them one-person anything goes restrooms—for a dude, a lady, or whoever you feel like at the moment—but at least now I’m finally alone in the men’s room.

I pull out my makeup bag and quickly powder my nose so’s it don’t shine, and glide a deep shade of maroon over my lips, but I take the time to be an artist with my eyeliner and mascara ‘cause I figure eyes oughta say somethin’. When I look good enough that I’d wanna do me, I figure I’m looking good enough for public viewing. My new perfume smells like the freedom I got down here on Placida Island—coconuts and wildflowers and the ocean and honey— I spray it all over my neck and chest.

As I saunter outta the men’s room, I don’t miss that it’s kinda funny how I went in here looking all-dude but comin’ out, you could mistake me for a lady. Ha! More like a red-hot, sexy mama—smooth and silky everywhere ‘cept for the four-day beard.

 

Author Bio:

Mia Kerick is the mother of four exceptional children—all named after saints—and five nonpedigreed cats—all named after the next best thing to saints, Boston Red Sox players. Her husband of twenty years has been told by many that he has the patience of Job, but don’t ask Mia about that, as it is a sensitive subject.

Mia focuses her stories on the emotional growth of troubled young men and their relationships, and she believes that sex has a place in a love story, but not until it is firmly established as a love story. As a teen, Mia filled spiral-bound notebooks with romantic tales of tortured heroes (most of whom happened to strongly resemble lead vocalists of 1980s big-hair bands) and stuffed them under her mattress for safekeeping. She is thankful to Dreamspinner Press for providing her with an alternate place to stash her stories.

Mia is proud of her involvement with the Human Rights Campaign and cheers for each and every victory made in the name of marital equality. Her only major regret: never having taken typing or computer class in school, destining her to a life consumed with two-fingered pecking and constant prayer to the Gods of Technology.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

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About Mia Kerick

Mia Kerick is the mother of four exceptional children—all named after saints—and five nonpedigreed cats—all named after the next best thing to saints, Boston Red Sox players. Her husband of twenty years has been told by many that he has the patience of Job, but don’t ask Mia about that, as it is a sensitive subject.

Mia focuses her stories on the emotional growth of troubled young men and their relationships, and she believes that sex has a place in a love story, but not until it is firmly established as a love story. As a teen, Mia filled spiral-bound notebooks with romantic tales of tortured heroes (most of whom happened to strongly resemble lead vocalists of 1980s big-hair bands) and stuffed them under her mattress for safekeeping. She is thankful to Dreamspinner Press for providing her with an alternate place to stash her stories.

Mia is proud of her involvement with the Human Rights Campaign and cheers for each and every victory made in the name of marital equality. Her only major regret: never having taken typing or computer class in school, destining her to a life consumed with two-fingered pecking and constant prayer to the Gods of Technology.

Blog Tour & Review: Any Boy But You (North Pole, Minnesota #1) by Julie Hammerle

Series:
(Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)Source: Chapter by Chapter

ANY BOY BUT YOU (NORTH POLE, MINNESOTA #1) BY JULIEHAMMERLE

ADD TO Goodreads:

Purchase Links: Google Play | BAM | Amazon US | Indies | B&N| TBD | iBooks

Giveaway Information:

• One (1) winner will receive a signed copy of The Sound of Us by Julie Hammerle (US ONLY)

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Any Boy but You (North Pole, Minnesota #1) by Julie Hammerle
Publication Date: February 13, 2017
Publisher: Entangled: Crush

Elena Chestnut has been chatting with an anonymous boy late into the night. It’s a very You’ve Got Mail situation, and she has no idea who he is. He can’t be Oliver Prince, hot-and-bashful son of the family running the rival sporting goods store. Their fancy sales strategies are driving Elena’s family out of business. Elena’s mystery boy has teamed up with her in their latest sales strategy, an augmented reality game, to help her win the grand-prize plane tickets. Money’s so tight Elena’s going to miss senior year spring break with her friends if she can’t win this game.

The girl Oliver’s fallen head-over-heels for online had better not be Elena Chestnut. She’s his angry, vindictive Latin tutor, the daughter of his dad’s business rival, and the one girl he’d never even think of kissing. She’s definitely not his online crush, because that girl is funny, sweet, and perfect.

When Oliver asks to reveal their names at the Valentine’s Day dance, their IRL relationship will either ruin what they have online, or they’ll discover just how thin the line between love and hate really is.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains swearing, snowball fights, and sexual tension that could melt the North Pole. Read at your own risk.
four-stars

MY REVIEW
I really liked this young adult story that reminded me of those Shakespearian tragedies that featured families that had feuds lasting generations but had a romance entangled in it.

Elena Chestnut worked in her family’s sporting goods store which was struggling to keeping afloat thanks to the rival sporting goods store run by Oliver Prince’s family. Right from the beginning, the author set up the Chestnut versus Prince family feud. Thanks to the title, I already suspected how the story would conclude, but I was curious as to how the author would get the readers from loathing to love. I was really impressed by how the author wove the story around the Stash Grab app, which reminded me of the Pokémon Go that was all the rage this summer, and it really worked in keeping the story fresh.

I enjoyed the journey because it was not insta-love. The Chestnut – Prince feud was exasperating but betrayal is often the cause of long-lasting grudges. What I found thought-provoking was the parent’s indifference to the effects of their grudges on their children and the community. This self-centered attitude was evident in Elena and Oliver’s actions towards each other as well as their neighbors. I am glad that the main characters all grew as people and made better life choices. It was encouraging to witness characters develop as the story unfolded. I really ended up liking Oliver and Elena whereas in the beginning I didn’t really care for their attitudes.

The author’s writing was entertaining and the plot was laid out really well. I found the characters to be likable especially Elena, Oliver and Harper. The unsung heroes here were Harper and Oliver’s mom. The mother because her intervention caused Oliver to exist outside his computer and Harper because she was the link between Elena and Oliver. The second half of this story was a little more angst-filled and I was even more captivated by secrets that I could clearly see would blow up in people’s faces. I took pleasure in how Elena and Oliver got together and the effect on their families.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a light and charming read with a fresh twist on the enemy to lovers trope.
Ezi

About Julie Hammerle

Julie Hammerle is the author of The Sound of Us, which will be published by Entangled Teen on June 7, 2016. Before settling down to write “for real,” she studied opera, taught Latin, and held her real estate license for one hot minute. Currently, she writes about TV on her blog Hammervision, ropes people into conversations about Game of Thrones, and makes excuses to avoid the gym. Her favorite YA-centric TV shows include 90210 (original spice), Felicity, and Freaks and Geeks. Her iPod reads like a 1997 Lilith Fair set list.

She lives in Chicago with her husband, two kids, and a dog. They named the dog Indiana.

Audio Series Review: The Royals by Erin Watt

Series:
Narrator: Angela Goethals, Zachary Webber
  • The Royals Series by Erin Watts

Title: Paper Princess (Book 1); Broken Prince (Book 2); Twisted Palace (Book 3) by Erin Watt
Series: The Royals
Release Date: January 10, 2017
Format: Audiobook (about 9 hours each)
Published By: Everafter Romance; Audible
Purchase Links:
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four-half-stars

What a page turner. These books were so engaging, full of angst so be prepared to read the entire series without coming up for air. I must say that Erin Watt impressed me with their versatility as authors. This book featured a solid character building, plot development and completely absorbing story. What I liked best about this series written by Erin Watt (the duo Elle Kennedy and Jen Frederick) was the fact that this new adult romance was uncomfortable, disconcerting but yet incredibly addicting. The characters were developed in such a way that you both liked and disliked them but you were secretly hoping for them to be redeemed. It was a wild ride.


In Book 1 can best be described as a sort of rags to riches, but with a touch of Pretty woman, Cinderella, Beauty & the Beast. the reader is introduced to Ella’s past and shown how she came to be a fighter and street smart. The heroine Ella Harper has been through a lot but when it seems like she can’t be in a worse situation, an angel named Callum Royal appears. Ella is rescued from her life of poverty and transported to castle where Royals reign supreme.
Then Ella is rescued by her father’s best friend Callum Royal where she comes to live with his family, including five sons. Book 1 illustrates the transition of the Royal brothers hating Ella and treat her abominably to Ella eventually gaining their acceptance and esteem as a sister. Ella’s transition from public school into a highly prestigious prep school called Park Prep was full of teenage drama. In fact, that school was mean girls meets the old Eastside High from the movie Lean on Me starring Morgan Freeman. Their school theme song should have been “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns-n-Roses. I’m not sure what would be harder, Park Prep or prison. Both institutions had bullies, hardened criminals and administrators that look the other way. It was a good thing Ella had experience from her days working at the strip club or she would have been destroyed by those rich kids. I could see the “good guys” lurking behind every mean word and action aimed at extinguishing Ella’s esteem, well from the Royals, not so much the school kids. Eventually, Ella and Reed Royal make a love connection, which puts them in a precarious position.
By the end of the book, Battle lines and alliances were revealed between the major players, Callum, Reed, Ella, Easton versus Brooke (Callum’s ex), Dinah (Ella’s stepmother), the Delacorte family from Park Prep school. It was intense to say the least. This book ends in a wicked cliffhanger so make sure to have book two ready to go.


Book 2 presented a change in narration, where the story was primarily told from Reed’s perspective as opposed to the first book where Ella was the primary story teller. It gives Reed the opportunity to introduce himself to the readers and attempt to explain his behavior.
The bulk of the story focused on the rebuilding of the broken trust between Ella Harper and Reed Royal as well as the unveiling of more family secrets. Ella’s father Steve who had been presumed dead returned so that shifts the battle lines a bit.
I didn’t feel like the authors really fleshed out Brooke and Dinah’s relationship as well as motivations at all. Plus, I can’t help but wonder if the real love relationship is between Callum and Steve. Again, this book ends in a cliffhanger as a major character is murdered.


In the third and final book in this angst-filled trilogy, I expected many of my long-standing questions to be address. I was somewhat disappointed because now I felt strung along for a long time.
In this book 3, The Royals are the town pariah right now, with the murder charge still shining a negative light on the Royals and more specifically Reed. I never doubted that Reed and Ella would figure out how to keep their relationship afloat. I knew the Royals would end up on top but I wanted to know who was getting the best of them and why. I also like the ceasefire with Jordan, but I would have liked to know that Jordan was turning over a new leaf in general. Most importantly, I wanted to know how the murderer got away for so long and who aided the murderer. I was right about the murderer but correct on the why and how. I was still confused as the nature of everyone’s relationships. These unanswered questions have left me dangling on but I still enjoyed this screwed up Royal Family.

With all that said, I need these questions answered.
Did Brooke not share with Dinah what she learned, or did Dinah know it before?
Did Steve erase the videos because Reed wasn’t the only one there?
Did Dinah know what really happened to her bestfriend?
What really happened with Steve?
How was Callum so oblivious about Steve?
What was the real deal with Gideon and Dinah? How could an intelligent guy like Gideon not seek easily available legal advice regarding Dinah?
How could Callum know about Reed & Brooke and not Gideon & Dinah, especially with all the cameras in the house?
So is Easton an addict and what’s the family going to do about it?
And Steve…I don’t understand Steve’s motivations at all.

Ezi