Standalone Sunday (7/23/17): By Your Side by Kasie West

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: By Your Side by Kasie West. I have read three books by Kasie West and I enjoyed them. They aren't too heavy and I need something light, yet endearing.


BLURB: In this irresistible story, Kasie West explores the timeless question of what to do when you fall for the person you least expect.

When Autumn Collins finds herself accidentally locked in the library for an entire weekend, she doesn’t think things could get any worse. But that’s before she realizes that Dax Miller is locked in with her. Autumn doesn’t know much about Dax except that he’s trouble. Between the rumors about the fight he was in (and that brief stint in juvie that followed it) and his reputation as a loner, he’s not exactly the ideal person to be stuck with. Still, she just keeps reminding herself that it is only a matter of time before Jeff, her almost-boyfriend, realizes he left her in the library and comes to rescue her.

Only he doesn’t come. No one does.

Instead it becomes clear that Autumn is going to have to spend the next couple of days living off vending-machine food and making conversation with a boy who clearly wants nothing to do with her. Except there is more to Dax than meets the eye. As he and Autumn first grudgingly, and then not so grudgingly, open up to each other, Autumn is struck by their surprising connection. But can their feelings for each other survive once the weekend is over and Autumn’s old life, and old love interest, threaten to pull her from Dax’s side?

ADD TO GOODREADS

Wait for It by Mariana Zapata

Narrator: Callie Dalton
Source: Tantor Audio

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: Wait for It by Mariana Zapata
Narrator: Callie Dalton
Release Date: March 8, 20117
Format: Audiobook (15 hrs and 52 mins)
Genre: Romance
Published By: Tantor Audio

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?

four-half-stars

This was another winner from Mariana Zapata. I was a little scared that my second audiobook by her will succumb to the sophomore jinx. No such worries because this book had my favorite trope, the single parent who finds love. This story focused more on the family aspect than the romance and I loved that. Callie Dalton definitely fits Zapata’s characters because her voice added to my enjoyment.

Diana Casillas (yes, related to Sal Casillas from Kulti) is raising her two nephews, Josh and Louie at the ripe ole age of 29 years old. Events led her to meeting her neighbor Dallas Walker. As a parent myself, I appreciated hearing Diana’s inner musings as I have similar thoughts going on in my head. I also loved how much she just loved those boys and did her best with what hand life dealt her. I knew Dallas was a good guy even though we didn’t know his situation with his ex. He was trying to look out for his brother as well as looking after his grandmother.

There was moments of sadness, angst, humor and romance. The author just took her time to outline the plot, form the characters and unfold the story. I loved what each character brought to the narrative. I also loved how the narrator’s voice brought this story to life. The ending was just so AAAHHHHHH! I just exhaled with pleasure. Bravo to the author. I can’t wait to get to the other books Mariana Zapata has written because these are the kinds of books I want to listen to.

Ezi

Guest Review: A Kind of Home by Lane Hayes

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.

A Kind of Home: by Lane Hayes
Series: A Kind of Stories #4
Release Date: June 23rd, 2017
Pages: 224 • Format: eARC
Published By: Dreamspinner
Purchase Links:
DreamspinnerAmazon

A Kind Of Story

Isaac Dalton is the guitarist for Spiral, arguably the biggest rock band in the world. The band’s meteoric rise to superstardom has its perks, but fame and fortune aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. Nonstop touring and performing exhaust him, and when an overzealous fan makes it imperative that Isaac travel with a clingy bodyguard, he is ready for a break from the madness. More so when his newly single first crush shows up on his doorstep. The man is strictly off-limits. He’s a memory from a place Isaac would rather leave behind. And he’s straight.

Fun-loving former athlete slash construction worker Adam McBride desperately needs a new beginning. And New York City is the perfect place to start over and think about how to rebuild his life. A short stint as roommates with his brother’s best friend from high school seems like a mutually beneficial arrangement. However, when friendship gives way to fierce attraction, both men find themselves in uncharted and possibly dangerous territory. Isaac has to decide if he’s willing to take the ultimate risk for a kind of love and a kind of home he never dreamed possible.

four-stars

In previous books of this series we have gotten to know the guys from the rock band Spiral. By the time this book begins the band is huge. They’re one of the most famous bands in the world and the long hours, traveling and lack of privacy has begun to wear on guitarist Isaac. He loves the music but he’s growing weary of everything else. What he wants most is to be left alone. Unfortunately for Isaac he’s picked up an odd fan who seems like they might be obsessed with him. As a result he has also picked up a body guard he doesn’t want.

Imagine Isaac’s shock when he gets home from a tour to find that the old friend he said could use his apartment for a week or so is still there a few months later. Adam is the older brother of Isaac’s best friend from high school. Isaac always had a crush on the older boy and hasn’t seen him since his wedding a few years earlier. Despite his annoyance at finding Adam at his place he agrees to let him stay a bit longer. Adam is getting divorced and is looking to make some changes in his life.

As the two men begin to get reacquainted Isaac finds that all the things that attracted him to Adam in the past are still there but now there are even more things to like about him. Adam is in New York to make big changes in his life and apparently he’s not as straight as Isaac always thought he was. The two can’t deny their chemistry and soon friendship turns into something more.

I liked both of these MC’s individually and I really loved them together. They were a perfect compliment to each other. Their chemistry jumped off the pages and the book was filled with both sweet, romantic scenes and some super hot bedroom scenes. The grand gesture at the end was especially lovely.

Extra kudos to the author for not making the ex wife the stereotypical shrew and for not making Adam’s bisexuality an issue or problem within the marriage. I thought the entire divorce part of the plot line was well thought out and executed perfectly.

This book can be read as a standalone. Because of both band work and their friendships we see a lot of some of the previous characters (especially Rand) so if you’ve read the others you’ll probably appreciate that. So whether you’re an existing fan of the series or new to it, this is a book I would definitely recommend.

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About Lane Hayes

Lane Hayes is grateful to finally be doing what she loves best. Writing full-time! It’s no secret Lane loves a good romance novel. An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. These days she prefers the leading roles to both be men. Lane discovered the M/M genre a few years ago and was instantly hooked. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions in the 2014 and 2015 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband and the coolest yellow Lab ever in an almost empty nest.

Standalone Sunday (7/2/17): Kulti 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: Kulti by Mariana Zapata

Blurb
“Trust me, I’ve wanted to punch you in the face a time or five.”

When the man you worshipped as a kid becomes your coach, it’s supposed to be the greatest thing in the world. Keywords: supposed to. 

It didn’t take a week for 27-year-old Sal Casillas to wonder what she’d seen in the international soccer icon – why she’d ever had his posters on her wall or ever envisioned marrying him and having super-playing soccer babies.

Sal had long ago gotten over the worst non-break-up in the history of imaginary relationships with a man who hadn’t known she’d existed. So she isn’t prepared for this version of Reiner Kulti who shows up to her team’s season: a quiet, reclusive shadow of the explosive, passionate man he’d once been.

ADD TO GOODREADS



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 

What Matters by Gracie Leigh

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.

What Matters by Gracie Leigh
Release Date: May 2nd, 2017
Pages: 192 • Format: eARC
Published By: Fox Love Press
Purchase Links:
Amazon

“It’s a good fear, Sam. I’d miss it if it wasn’t there…”

Musical prodigy Eddie Dean gets everything she wants. The best violin, the best boyfriend, and a place at the best music school in London are hers until her father goes bankrupt. Once the financial facade comes tumbling down, Eddie’s broke and her boyfriend couldn’t care less.

The doorstep of Jimmy’s Café is the last place she expects to wash up.

Scrubbing dishes and serving fried breakfasts to pay her rent is as hellish as she imagined, and her new life is made worse by the distain of her boss’s sneering grandson. Sam Novak is arrogant, rude, and gorgeous, and if Eddie never sees him again, it will be too soon. Shame she can’t stop thinking about him. Dreaming about him. Craving him.

And then there’s his best friend Dylan.

Dylan is as light as Sam is dark, and Eddie wants him too. She can have him too—according to Sam—but when Sam reveals a vulnerability that could cost him his life, it’s time for Eddie to face the music. Does she still need to get everything she wants, or should she choose what matters?

two-stars

I could not be more disappointed in this book. This author also writes under a different name in the m/m romance genre and in that she is one of my favorite authors. I was SO excited when I saw that she was writing a m/f romance. I expected great things. What I got was a book I barely finished.

The plot is in the blurb (obviously) and the first 15% or so of the book was pretty good. I liked Eddie (the heroine) at the beginning and it seemed like a great set up. The book went bad for me pretty early on because Sam (the “hero”) was an absolute, unmitigated asshole. He was dreadful to Eddie when they first began to work together at his family restaurant but I thought as he fell for her he would show her his tender side and start to be kind and loving to her. Nope. He continued to be rude and disrespectful to her throughout. He insults her every chance he gets. I hated him as much at the end of the book as I did at the beginning. Some examples of Sam talking to Eddie:

“I want you to piss off, but as that’s unlikely to happen, you can go round and fill up the sauce bottles.”

“You think I owe you a conversation, or some shit? Just because I fucked you the other night?”

“You want to feel special? Is that all this is, Eddie? You want the whole world to revolve around you?
“No! That’s not what I meant.”
“Great, ’cause I don’t actually give a shit what you meant.”

“How many times do you need telling before it sinks into your entitled brain?”

“You know what, Eddie? Fuck you.”

Soooo……..as you can tell, Sam’s a prince among men. I guess this is all a matter of perception. Some people may not have an issue with someone talking to them like this but it doesn’t work me at all. I don’t call it romance. I don’t call it a broody hero. I call it verbal
abuse.

I mentioned that I liked Eddie at the beginning and I did. That didn’t last though. While she wasn’t as horrible as Sam was for me, she still wasn’t a very nice person. She treats the people around her poorly, she’s rude and disrespectful to Sam (two wrongs don’t make a right & all that) and she’s dreadful to her mother. Her mother, also not a nice person, is still her mother and I’m not a fan of telling her to “Get the fuck out of my apartment”.

This also contains my least favorite plot devise and that is “The Giant Misunderstanding That Could Have Been Avoided With Communication”. There’s a few instances of it here and both characters are immature and fly off the handle and refuse to speak to each other, say mean things, send mean texts, blah, blah, blah. I’m completely befuddled as to why it’s in this book. I know it’s common in a lot of m/f NA (which is why I avoid them) but I’ve never seen this author use this plot device so I was completely shocked to see it here.

The sex. Some readers will think this next complaint is petty but it really irked me. They’re together for the first time and he asks if she’s on the pill and she says “yes” so they don’t use a condom. They’ve just met and she’s been sleeping with another guy. This drives me insane. Yes, she won’t get pregnant but she or he could get any number of sexually transmitted diseases. Then there is this really odd threesome with Sam’s friend Dylan. It was hot, I’m not gonna lie, but it didn’t fit in the story. I don’t understand why it was there. It really served no point as far as the plot went. And…..for some reason Dylan had to wear a condom??? **best Scooby Doo confused shrug here** Also, the sex was super unrealistic. Eddie’s only had boring, bad sex with her ex before and has never had an orgasm. She’s also never given a blow job. So jump forward to the second or third time she’s had sex with Sam. She’s deep throating him (it mentions his dick hitting the back of her throat more than once) and then she’s doing both him and his best friend, deep throating them both and taking both of their dicks at once. Now I appreciate a girl who throws herself into things but I feel she really jumped ahead of the learning curve. I actually thought at this point that I had misunderstood and this wasn’t supposed to be a romance but was in fact an erotica story. And I was happy. But then sadly, this threesome ended, Dylan just weirdly disappeared from the book as fast as he’d shown up and we were back to the romance portion.

By the end of the book they were all “I’ll love you forever and ever”. I have ZERO idea how they got there. There was no relationship development, no scenes of them being tender with each other, no communication, no feelings whatsoever. This was a huge case of “telling” the reader rather than “showing” them.

It makes me sad to say this cuz I’m usually such fan girl for this author but I really disliked this. A lot.

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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!

If Not for You (New Beginnings #3) by Debbie Macomber

Series:
Narrator: Khristine Hvam.
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: If Not for You by Debbie Macomber
Series: New Beginnings #3
Release Date: March 21st 2017
Format: e-ARC (432 pages) • Audiobook: 10 hrs and 46 mins
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published By: Ballantine Books
Purchase Links:  Amazon US Audible

If not for her loving but controlling parents, Beth Prudhomme might never have taken charge of her life and moved from her native Chicago to Portland, Oregon, where she’s reconnected with her spirited Aunt Sunshine and found a job as a high school music teacher. If not for her friend Nichole, Beth would never have met Sam Carney, although first impressions have left Beth with serious doubts. Sam is everything Beth is not—and her parents’ worst nightmare: a tattooed auto mechanic who’s rough around the edges. Reserved and smart as a whip, Beth isn’t exactly Sam’s usual beer-drinking, pool-playing type of woman, either.

But if not for an awkward setup one evening, Beth might never have left early and been involved in a car crash. And if not for Sam—who witnessed the terrifying ordeal, rushed to her aid, and stayed with her until help arrived—Beth might have been all alone, or worse. Yet as events play out, Sam feels compelled to check on Beth almost daily at the hospital—even bringing his guitar to play songs to lift her spirits. Soon their unlikely friendship evolves into an intense attraction that surprises them both.

Before long, Beth’s strong-willed mother, Ellie, blows into town spouting harsh opinions, especially about Sam, and reopening old wounds with Sunshine. When shocking secrets from Sam’s past are revealed, Beth struggles to reconcile her feelings. But when Beth goes a step too far, she risks losing the man and the life she’s come to love.

three-half-stars

This book was in the usual Debbie Macomber style. A nice contemporary romance with ordinary and relatable characters. While you may not love the characters, they typically remind me of people I know. It’s like watching a Saturday afternoon show on Lifetime. In fact, this one would make a good movie.

Beth Prudhomme and Sam Carney were set up on a blind date by mutual friends (Nichole and Rocco from Book 2: A Girl’s Guide to Moving On) and that first dinner was a disaster. Both of them came to the date with preconceived notions, so nothing really clicked for them. One the way home, Beth got into a car accident and Sam was one of the first people on the scene. Beth’s misfortune paved a way for Sam to connect with her in a new way. As Beth recovered, Sam came to visit and keep her company in the hospital. They began looking
forward to spending time together.

I thought it was sweet that Sam kept coming to check on Beth, but I had issues with both of them. How could a grown twenty-five year old teacher be so completely under the mother’s thumb? Beth seemed to be a sixteen-year old girl at times where Sam had the jaded attitude made him seem really old. Sam had a painful experience with a woman, so he swore off love and relationships. Yet, he went to visit Beth every chance he got because he just wanted…what exactly did he expect?
Each character seemed to be the opposite of their counterpart. Beth as sweet and flexible, Sam was gruff and inflexible. Beth’s mom Ellie was pushy and judgmental while Beth’s dad seemed like he took things lighter and respected the autonomy of others.

I liked Sam but didn’t feel like his past gave him a pass to be so mean and unforgiving. I had a harder time liking Beth because she was pretty weak as a heroine, yet nosy as hell with other people’s issues. Her mother was annoying and rude. I am glad Beth’s dad was in the story to balance out the mother’s prickly personality. It’s obvious that Beth wouldn’t even live on her own if not for her dad.
I liked the side story of the Aunt Sunshine, which ended well after 30 years. I also had issues with their communication or lack thereof, but it did end well, so I had to be content with that.

Overall, the story was a pleasant read and I look forward to reading more books in this series.

Ezi

Release Blitz: It’s Me Again, Baby (O’Connor Family #3) by Katie Reus

Series:
(Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)Source: IndieSage PR

It’s Me Again, Baby

by Katie Reus
O’Connor Family Series
Publication Date: May 16, 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Purchase: Amazon | Amazon Print | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

She lost him once…

Years ago Samantha made a mistake and lost a chance at something real with Maguire O’Connor. Now that she’s living in Holly again, she knows seeing him is inevitable. But the last thing she ever expected was to take him on as a client.

Now they have a second chance…

Maguire never got over Sam. Thanks to a meddling family member, he mistakenly hires Sam as his real estate agent. With her in his sights again, he’s not letting her go. But someone from her past followed her back to Holly with a sinister intent. Now Maguire will do whatever it takes to protect the woman he intends to claim as his forever.

Length: NOVELLA

O’Connor Family Series:
1. Merry Christmas, Baby
2. Tease Me, Baby
3. It’s Me Again, Baby
4. Mistletoe Me, Baby

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About Katie Reus

Katie Reus is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Red Stone Security series, the Darkness series and the Deadly Ops series. She fell in love with romance at a young age thanks to books she pilfered from her mom’s stash. Years later she loves reading romance almost as much as she loves writing it.

However, she didn’t always know she wanted to be a writer. After changing majors many times, she finally graduated summa cum laude with a degree in psychology. Not long after that she discovered a new love. Writing. She now spends her days writing dark paranormal romance and sexy romantic suspense.

Goodreads Monday (5/15/17): The Year of Loving by Traci L. Slatton 

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 Year of Loving by Traci L. Slatton. 

BLURB: Art gallerist Sarah Paige’s world is crumbling. One daughter barely speaks to her and the other is off the rails. Sarah is struggling to keep her gallery afloat in a tough market when she learns that her most beloved friend has cancer. In the midst of her second divorce, two men come into her life: an older man who offers companionship and stability and an exciting younger man whose life is as chaotic as hers. 

Sarah’s courage, humor, and spirit strengthen her, but how much can she bear, and what sustains her when all else falls away?

Traci L. Slatton wrote the After series, one of my favorite Dystopian series. See my Review of Fallen (Book 1). Every time I read a book by her, I am so drawn into the story that I read them in one sitting. I’m amazed that her books fly under the radar. Her writing is so visceral to me. 

So Today’s choice is a contemporary novel she releases recently and it’s been languishing on my TBR because of Goodreads challenges that dictate my reading choices. I will add a review as soon as I’m done.

What are you reading today from your Goodreads TBR shelf?