Review: The Bachelor Auction by Rachel Van Dyken

24th Oct 2016 Rubi @ Gone with the Words 2016, Contemporary Romance Reading Challenge, Reviews, Reviews by Rubi

Review: The Bachelor Auction by Rachel Van DykenThe Bachelor Auction by Rachel Van Dyken
Series: The Bachelors of Arizona #1
Published by Forever
Pub Date: October 4th 2016
Pages: 352
Format: eARC | Source: NetGalley
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Buy the book! | Goodreads
3 Stars

Cinderella never had to deal with this crap.

Jane isn't entirely sure that Cinderella got such a raw deal. Sure, she had a rough start, but didn't she eventually land a prince and a happily-ever-after? Meanwhile, Jane is busy waiting on her demanding, entitled sisters, running her cleaning business, and . . . yep, not a prince in sight. Until a party and a broken shoe incident leave Jane wondering if princes---or at least, a certain deliciously hunky billionaire---maybe do exist.

Except Brock Wellington isn't anyone's dream guy. Hell, a prince would never agree to be auctioned off in marriage to the highest bidder. Or act like an arrogant jerk---even if it was just a façade. Now, as Brock is waiting for the auction chopping block, he figures it's karmic retribution that he's tempted by a sexy, sassy woman he can't have. But while they can't have a fairy-tale ending, maybe they can indulge in a little bit of fantasy . . 

The Bachelor Auction was a cutesy contemporary with a fun Cinderella twist! Plain Jane and boring Brock have lived their lives trying to please their families even at the expense of their own happiness. They have both been living this way for so long that it just comes as second nature at this point. Jane slaves herself in order to keep her sisters happy and Brock has agreed to be auctioned off by his grandfather! The only thing that snaps these two out of the “serve others” trance they’ve been under for years, is having met each other and they’re now willing to risk everything to be together.

I loved catching the hints at the Cinderella story we have all come to know and love! Her sisters were such jerks that I was glad poor Jane didn’t have to deal with an evil stepmother on top of it all. Although I didn’t really understand how the whole auction concept was supposed to fix the Wellington family’s business problems, this book had such a fun flair to it that those details didn’t really bother me. I stopped trying to make sense of it and just enjoyed the cheesy love scenes and Brock’s hilarious twin brothers. I’m looking forward to the rest of the books in The Bachelors of Arizona series which will hopefully have a lot more of Brock’s brothers Brant and Bentley!

If you’re not looking for anything too serious and are in the mood for a fluffy romance wrapped in some major LOL moments, then pick this one up today!

Rubi @ Gone with the Words

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Review: To Love and to Cherish by Lauren Layne

20th Oct 2016 Rubi @ Gone with the Words 2016, Contemporary Romance Reading Challenge, Reviews, Reviews by Rubi

Review: To Love and to Cherish by Lauren LayneTo Love and to Cherish by Lauren Layne
Series: The Wedding Belles #3
Published by Pocket Books
Pub Date: October 18th 2016
Pages: 320
Format: eARC | Source: NetGalley
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Buy the book! | Goodreads
4.5 Stars

Sex and the City meets The Wedding Planner in The Wedding Belles, a contemporary and witty romance series about three high-powered New York City women who can plan any wedding—but their own.

Alexis Morgan has spent the past six years devoted to turning her tiny start-up into Manhattan’s premiere wedding planning company, The Wedding Belles. Now that her business is thriving, it’s time to turn towards her much neglected personal life, and Alexis approaches her relationships like she does everything else: with a plan. Not a part of that plan is Logan Harris, the silent partner in the Belles, and the one person who’s been there for her since the very beginning. But Alexis needs someone fun, and Logan’s all business, all the time—except when a late night at the office ends with an unexpected kiss that leaves the usually cool and together Alexis reeling.

Logan has lusted after Alexis since the day he walked into the tiny Harlem apartment that used to double as her office. But the ambitious wedding planner has always been untouchable...until now. Alexis has made it clear that she’s on the dating market—and equally clear that he’s not in the running. But when Alexis finds herself in need of a date for her sister’s last minute wedding in Florida, Logan knows it’s the perfect time to show Alexis that there’s more to him than numbers and spreadsheets—and beneath the pinstripes and glasses lies a hot-blooded heartthrob. As Florida’s sultry days turn into even hotter nights, Logan’s out to convince Alexis that the fling of a lifetime could just maybe turn into forever...

Finally! The story of “The couple who wasn’t a couple.” I have been waiting to read To Love and to Cherish for what seems like forever! Lauren Layne has been giving us small doses of Alexis Morgan, owner and founder of The Wedding Bells, since From This Day Forward and with each book I only craved more of her. From the previous books, we’ve learned that Logan Harris, The Wedding Belle’s sexy British accountant, has been interested in Alexis for years now. Alexis, on the other hand, has never allowed her emotions to show, so I couldn’t wait to get in her head and see what was really going on in there.

I can’t even put into words how much I absolutely loved the way this final book started off! The prologue was a flashback to 8 years ago on the night Alexis and Logan first met. I shipped these too so hard and really wanted a happy ending for this pair. It was great to get a back story on how The Wedding Belles got started; I only wish we had gotten more of those flashbacks. Alexis was a hard puzzle to crack, but Logan has known her for years and knew that patience was key. From what I had come to know about Alexis, I agreed with the different methods he attempted to try and woo her. Pushing too hard would only push her away. It was a thin line he had to walk in order to exit the dreaded friend zone!

This entire series has been filled with yummy male leads and Logan was no exception! I am a total sucker for anything British, but Logan was just perfection! He’s got the whole Clark Kent/Superman thing going for him and it was giving me life. I admired his patience, but loved his no nonsense side even more. *sigh* Lauren Layne is fantastic at describing scenes in a way that makes you feel like you are another guest at the table. It was great to catch up on the other couples we’ve come to love and some of my favorite scenes were those of Josh, Seth, and Logan having guy time.

I was extremely pleased with how this series turned out and I was very thankful to have found another auto-buy author! I pre-ordered To Love and to Cherish moments after finishing For Better or Worse and I look forward to doing the same with Layne’s future books! If you have not read this series yet, do yourself a favor and get to it! Yummy guys, hard working ladies, amazing bonds, and loads of laughs – you truly can’t ask for more!

About Lauren Layne

Lauren Layne used to work in e-commerce. She wore cute shoes and big-girl clothes like an adult.

Then she was like, nope, changed into her pajamas and started writing romance novels.

She believes in sarcasm, weekday happy hours, and happily ever after.

Rubi @ Gone with the Words

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Review: For Better or Worse by Lauren Layne

19th Oct 2016 Rubi @ Gone with the Words 2016, Contemporary Romance Reading Challenge, Reviews, Reviews by Rubi

Review: For Better or Worse by Lauren LayneFor Better or Worse by Lauren Layne
Series: The Wedding Belles #2
Published by Pocket Books
Pub Date: August 30th 2016
Pages: 368
Format: eARC | Source: NetGalley
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Buy the book! | Goodreads
5 Stars

Will a budding wedding planner and her bad boy neighbor stop banging heads and start hearing wedding bells in the sexy second novel in USA TODAY bestselling author Lauren Layne’s irresistible new series that marries Sex and the City with The Wedding Planner?

When small-town girl Heather Fowler finally gets promoted from assistant to actual wedding planner, she’s determined to make it as one of Manhattan’s elite Wedding Belles. Unfortunately, her first client demands an opulent black-tie affair at the Plaza…in five months’ time. Heather’s days quickly become a flurry of cake tastings, dress-fittings, RSVP cards, and bridal tantrums. But what she’s really losing sleep over is the live music blaring from her playboy neighbor’s apartment all night.

Five years ago, Josh Tanner was an up-and-comer on Wall Street, complete with the penthouse and the migraines. But a grim cancer diagnosis made him realize there is more to life than the corner office. If only he could convince his pretty, workaholic neighbor to let loose, too. As Heather lets down her guard, Josh is surprised when he starts falling for the sweet, vulnerable woman hiding beneath those power suits. Soon, it’s Heather’s turn to convince Josh to take the biggest risk of all: love. 

I just cannot get enough of Lauren Layne! I want to marathon read all of her books and live happily ever after. *sigh* There’s just something so special about how she’s able to transport me into a setting that I’ve never been in and make it all feel so real!

In For Better or Worse, we get the story of neighbors Heather and Josh. Heather is a 27 year old who’s never been in love. She comes from a small town in Michigan and moved to the Big Apple with even bigger dreams of making a name for herself. As an assistant with The Wedding Belles, she has been dying for the promotion to wedding planner which seems to finally be around the corner. Unfortunately, the 33 year old overgrown frat boy next door’s band practices are costing her sleep and focus. Heather soon realizes there is much more to playboy Josh than she originally thought and watching these two learn each other was a ride I enjoyed every minute of!

My favorite thing about Lauren Layne is her ability to create characters you can’t help but love! Heather was a total darling with a good heart that I just wanted the best out of life for and Josh’s quick wit had me laughing out loud more than once. I’ve always said my favorite thing between a couple is funny banter and these two were a perfect match! Also, I must say that Ilove Layne’s men! Most contemporary books have me rooting for the female lead and swooning over the male lead, but I’ve noticed that with Lauren Layne I always end up liking the male lead just a tad more. They aren’t pounding their chest nor are they catering doormats. They are just the perfect amount of strong and sweet and sexy! *swoon*

This series is a must read for anybody that loves a good love story. I enjoy the small updates you get in each book of how the relationships in past/future book’s are moving along. I’ve been looking forward to Alexis and Logan’s story for what seems like months now and I am counting down til the release of the final book, To Love and to Cherish!

 

About Lauren Layne

Lauren Layne used to work in e-commerce. She wore cute shoes and big-girl clothes like an adult.

Then she was like, nope, changed into her pajamas and started writing romance novels.

She believes in sarcasm, weekday happy hours, and happily ever after.

Rubi @ Gone with the Words

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Review: The Surrendered by Case Maynard

4th Oct 2016 Rubi @ Gone with the Words 2016, Reviews, Reviews by Rubi

Review: The Surrendered by Case MaynardThe Surrendered by Case Maynard
Published by Blaze Publishing
Pub Date: September 20th 2016
Pages: 340
Format: eARC | Source: NetGalley
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
Buy the book! | Goodreads
5 Stars

After a financial collapse devastates the United States, the new government imposes a tax on the nation’s most valuable resource—the children.

Surrendered at age ten—after her parents could no longer afford her exorbitant fees—Vee Delancourt has spent six hard years at the Mills, alongside her twin, Oliver. With just a year to freedom, they do what they can to stay off the Master’s radar. But when Vee discovers unspeakable things happening to the younger girls in service, she has no choice but to take a stand—a decision that lands her on the run and outside the fence for the first time since the System robbed her of her liberty.

Vee knows the Master will stop at nothing to prove he holds ultimate authority over the Surrendered. But when he makes a threat that goes beyond what even she considers possible, she accepts the aid of an unlikely group of allies. Problem is, with opposing factions gunning for the one thing that might save them all, Vee must find a way to turn oppression and desperation into hope and determination—or risk failing all the children and the brother she left behind.

I have been on a serious contemporary binge for the last couple of months, so throwing in a dystopian, and a great one at that, was extremely refreshing! I kept picking up the book right before bedtime so it took me about 4 days to get just 10% in. Yesterday, I finally got some free time and I devoured the remaining 90% of the story!

Our main character, Vee, is a fireball and that caused for zero downtime. The Surrendered was action packed from start to finish and Case Maynard really did a great job at moving the story along. I’ll have to be honest, I didn’t go into this 340 page dystopian standalone expecting a whole lot. At most, I thought there may be a hitch or two in the plan to survive outside of the fence and that would be all. Boy was I wrong. Maynard made every single page count! She wasted no time on random story lines meant to only fluff up the book. Everything you read was something that would come to play at some point or another. To say I was impressed with the way it all wrapped up in the end is an understatement!

I think the author did a great job at explaining the world the characters are now living in. There were different jobs and titles and it was fairly easy to understand how the system worked. What I do think could’ve been done better is the description of the world itself. At times, it was hard to visualize the actual setting and I wouldn’t be able to draw a map of the town/city or what was located where. I would usually be peeved by this, but what lacked in world building was definitely made up for with the thought that went into each of the characters.

The Surrendered really made me feel. No joke: I was up at 3:30am crying, shocked, and feeling like my entire heart had been crushed into a million pieces. When Vee was hurt, I felt the pain. When she was loved, I felt the tug on my heart. When she was betrayed, I felt the betrayal! Major kudos to Case Maynard for taking risks that many other first time authors wouldn’t have! If you are looking for a quick dystopian that packs a punch, look no further and pick this one up today!

Rubi @ Gone with the Words

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Review: Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

29th Sep 2016 Ashley @ Gone with the Words 2016, Reviews, Reviews by Ashley

Review: Nevernight by Jay KristoffNevernight by Jay Kristoff
Series: The Nevernight Chronicle #1
Published by Thomas Dunne Books
Pub Date: August 9th 2016
Pages: 429
Format: eARC | Source: NetGalley
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Buy the book! | Goodreads
4 Stars

In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.

Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined.

Now, Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic—the Red Church. If she bests her fellow students in contests of steel, poison and the subtle arts, she’ll be inducted among the Blades of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the vengeance she desires. But a killer is loose within the Church’s halls, the bloody secrets of Mia’s past return to haunt her, and a plot to bring down the entire congregation is unfolding in the shadows she so loves.

Will she even survive to initiation, let alone have her revenge?

Nevernight is a book that will take you on the craziest ride of your life. When I first saw the cover for this book I knew I was going to read it before I even knew what it was about. I was lucky enough to receive an eARC from NetGalley and it prompted me to pre-order both the US and the UK versions; I NEVER preorder anything. With that being said, I’d like to start this review with a cautionary note. Nevernight is a book that lives in the Science Fiction/Fantasy section of the bookstore, not Young Adult. I’ve seen a lot of talk on Twitter/Goodreads and several reviews confusing this idea, please don’t. If Nevernight was a movie it would be rated R for violence, grisly images, language, some nudity and sexuality. Anyhow…on to the good stuff!

“Be advised now that the pages in your hand speak of a girl who was to murder as maestros are to music. Who did to happy ever afters what a saw blade does to skin.”

Mia Corvere came from a wealthy family but after her father is publicly hung for being a traitor and her mother jailed, she begins to live a much different life. While on the run from the very men who killed her father, Mia runs into some trouble and is nearly beaten to death in an alley.  This is how she meets her mentor Mercuiro, he saves Mia and takes her under his wing. It doesn’t take long for him to learn how badly Mia wants vengeance against the men who ruined her family so he begins training her to be an apprentice in the Red Church. This is a church of a different kind, it teaches and trains assassins. Once you’re accepted to the Red Church there are only two ways out, you either die or graduate and be initiated as a Blade.

“Never Flinch, Never Fear and Never Ever Forget” 

There are 28 acolytes fighting for the coveted title of Blade. Of those 28 only 4 can become anointed. Which means everyone will do whatever they have to do to be one of those 4 left standing. The Red Church is unique and has a Harry Potteresque feel to it. Long winding passageways, ghosts and monsters hiding in the shadows and a history that goes back centuries, a potion ‘s professor. But that is where the similarities end. Nevernight is a revenge story and Mia will stop at nothing to avenge her family even if means she doesn’t become a blade.

I loved this book for many reasons. Mia Corvere is a cold-hearted killer on the outside. She has been through some serious shit and her determination is a force to be reckoned with. While she is perceived as heartless, she really isn’t. She ends up being the only acolyte who really cares about her peers and despite her need for revenge. Oh! and she has a familiar, a cat named Mister Kindly who appears shortly after her father’s death.

Even though I stand by my 4 star rating on Goodreads, there were a few things I was less enthusiastic about. The beginning of this book was hard to get into, it seemed a bit slow and I wasn’t impressed with the first few chapters. There are footnotes in this book. Yep, you heard me, footnotes. Since I read the eARC the footnotes were impossible to keep up with, I had to scroll back and forth and by the time I got to the end of the chapter, I wasn’t sure what the footnotes were talking about. To be honest, I stopped reading them. It didn’t seem like they mattered a whole lot to the actual story so I just opted out. Overall though, I am glad I read Nevernight and I will be continuing with the series.

 

Ashley @ Gone with the Words

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Review: Twisted Up by Erin Nicholas

28th Sep 2016 Rubi @ Gone with the Words 2016, Contemporary Romance Reading Challenge, Reviews, Reviews by Rubi

Review: Twisted Up by Erin NicholasTwisted Up by Erin Nicholas
Series: Taking Chances #1
Published by Montlake Romance
Pub Date: August 23rd 2016
Pages: 295
Format: eARC | Source: NetGalley
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Women's Fiction
Buy the book! | Goodreads
4 Stars

Avery Sparks is a master at controlling chaos—and she gets plenty of opportunities as fire chief and head of emergency management in her hometown of Chance, Nebraska. The only thing she can’t seem to control are her feelings when she’s around Jake Mitchell, the man who was her first everything the night of their high school graduation. But Jake was so quick to leave Chance—and Avery—behind that she swore she’d move on.

While Avery’s job is to minimize drama, Jake embraces the chaos of an emergency. After enlisting in the Army National Guard, Jake became a nationally recognized leader in disaster recovery. Yet a life on the road has left him restless. So when a class-four tornado wreaks havoc on Chance, he’s eager to return home—and to the woman never far from his mind.

Now, Avery and Jake must team up to help their hometown weather a siege of violent storms. But it’s clear to them both that nature isn’t the only force they’ll have to reckon with. Will Avery and Jake’s whirlwind love affair be an all-new disaster—or can they recover from their stormy past to build a future together?

Twisted Up really took me by surprise! It wasn’t a book I had heard any buzz over so I went into not really expecting anything too crazy. What I got was a small town setting with a whole lot going on and a couple that I fell in love with!

The chemistry between our two main characters, Avery and Jake, is undeniable and perfectly balanced with great banter. I constantly found myself caught between laughing and fanning myself. These are the kind of ships I love to love! Although our male lead is your catalog ordered hero (and is not shy in admitting so), our female lead is strong, independent, and a total bad-ass who doesn’t need any saving. What I liked about this story the most is that Avery really knows how to hold her own and Jake doesn’t complete her – he compliments her! The history between these two had me rooting extra hard for them and I was really pleased with the way it all wrapped up.

I fell in love with the chaotic town of Chance, Nebraska and it’s residents. You would think twisters would be enough to scare anybody away, but I wanted to pack up my bags and move in like yesterday! I can’t wait to read the rest of the books in the Taking Chances series and find out what happens with our other hot couples. I have a total girl crush on Bree and have a feeling Tangled Up will really take me for a ride! For now, I’m off to watch the movie Twister because after reading Twisted Up it is simply a must!

Rubi @ Gone with the Words

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Review: To Have and to Hold by Lauren Layne

14th Sep 2016 Rubi @ Gone with the Words 2016, Contemporary Romance Reading Challenge, Reviews, Reviews by Rubi

Review: To Have and to Hold by Lauren LayneTo Have and to Hold by Lauren Layne
Series: The Wedding Belles #1
Published by Pocket Books
Pub Date: July 26th 2016
Pages: 384
Format: eARC | Source: NetGalley
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Buy the book! | Goodreads
5 Stars

Discovering her fiancé is an international con man just moments before they exchange vows devastates celebrity wedding planner Brooke Baldwin’s business—and breaks her heart. Now a pariah in Los Angeles, she seeks a fresh start in New York City and thinks she’s found it with her first bridal client, a sweet—if slightly spoiled—hotel heiress. Then she meets the uptight businessman who’s holding the purse strings.

Seth Tyler wishes he could write a blank check and be done with his sister Maya's fancy-pants wedding. Unfortunately, micromanaging the event is his only chance at proving Maya’s fiancé is a liar. Standing directly in his way is the stunning blonde wedding planner whose practiced smiles and sassy comebacks both irritate and arouse him. He needs Brooke’s help. But can he persuade a wedding planner on a comeback mission to unplan a wedding? And more importantly, how will he convince her that the wedding she should be planning…is theirs?

This series, you guys! I had never read a Lauren Layne book until From This Day Forward and she has quickly become a must read/auto buy author for me. Usually, I have to at least read a whole book, but she managed to do it with a short novella! It captured me in a way that I instantly knew I would love the entire series. I was left wanting more of this world and was very excited going into To Have and to Hold– Layne did not disappoint! I am positive this series will be one of my top contemporary series of 2016!

Lauren Layne strongest suit is her ability to create characters that the reader can’t help but to fall in love with! She builds the perfect amount of angst between her couples and then BAM! The chemistry between Seth and Brooke was incredible and kept me turning the pages to see what would happen next. Brooke was everything that a woman should aspire to be- brave, self sufficient, witty, has a career she excels in, and a lover of chocolate and wine! Seth was the ideal book boyfriend and I couldn’t stop myself from feeling protective over him on different occasions. I loved Brooke, but Seth totally owned my soft spot. I shipped these two so hard!

Although the main plot line was incredible, the supporting characters and their stories are really what gave this great book an extra dose of awesomeness! Not only did we have a fan yourself romance, but we had great friendships too! There was a little bromance and a whole lot of girl time. These are characters that I can’t wait to get more from in the coming books. Also, Etta! She gave me several fits of laughter and was easily my favorite supporting character. Everybody needs an Etta in their life!

Layne has a writing style that you can’t help but to get lost in. The flow of the story is effortless and everything seems like it happens in it’s natural order. There’s no scene that feels forced in order for the story to progress. The dialogue between the characters seems genuine and realistic. You almost feel like you’re there in that wedding dress shop or at the hotel bar along with these characters. Her ability to transport me from my couch in Texas to the streets of New York City gave me life! Most contemporary books are filled with lots of cutesy fluff or need an overly complicated plot twist in order to keep the reader’s attention. Although To Have and to Hold is not one of those books with super heavy content, it’s still a book that I could not put down! It was a simply, light read that wrapped up perfectly and I’m excited to see what happens next!

About Lauren Layne

Lauren Layne used to work in e-commerce. She wore cute shoes and big-girl clothes like an adult.

Then she was like, nope, changed into her pajamas and started writing romance novels.

She believes in sarcasm, weekday happy hours, and happily ever after.

Rubi @ Gone with the Words

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Review: Leave Me by Gayle Forman

13th Sep 2016 Rubi @ Gone with the Words 2016, Reviews, Reviews by Rubi

Review: Leave Me by Gayle FormanLeave Me by Gayle Forman
Published by Algonquin Books
Pub Date: September 6th 2016
Pages: 343
Format: eARC | Source: NetGalley
Genres: Adult Fiction, Contemporary
Buy the book! | Goodreads
3.5 Stars

For every woman who has ever fantasized about driving past her exit on the highway instead of going home to make dinner, for every woman who has ever dreamed of boarding a train to a place where no one needs constant attention--meet Maribeth Klein. A harried working mother who's so busy taking care of her husband and twins, she doesn't even realize she's had a heart attack.

Afterward, surprised to discover that her recuperation seems to be an imposition on those who rely on her, Maribeth does the unthinkable: She packs a bag and leaves. But, as is so often the case, once we get to where we're going, we see our lives from a different perspective. Far from the demands of family and career and with the help of liberating new friendships, Maribeth is finally able to own up to secrets she has been keeping from those she loves and from herself.

With big-hearted characters who stumble and trip, grow and forgive, Leave Me is about facing our fears. Gayle Forman, a dazzling observer of human nature, has written an irresistible novel that confronts the ambivalence of modern motherhood head-on.

Leave Me was a very interesting book for me. On one end, I am 28 years old and have no children so my life is a lot more relaxed than that of most around me. On the other end, I am the youngest of 7 children and the daughter of a stay-at-home mom who carried the majority of that weight alone. Although I’ve never been the one tiny mouths depended on, I can recall looking around more than once and wondering how the heck she did it. So even though I couldn’t relate to our main character Maribeth firsthand, I felt for her because I knew she was the unofficial spokeswoman for many women across the world!

“The logistics of their weekends generally made her feel like an air traffic controller, but right now, she just couldn’t keep the planes in the air.” 

Gayle Forman poured herself into this novel and you can feel Maribeth’s frustration jump out at you. The first half of the book was spent with me having the overwhelming desire to shake those around her. It hurt to see a woman who selflessly put herself last get taken for granted by those she put first. I couldn’t necessarily agree with the way Maribeth chose to play things out, but I could understand the thought process behind her decisions.

“I believe you have a healthy heart. The doctors have done their part. But if you want to get better, really better, well you’re going to have to do that for yourself.” 

I really enjoyed the first 3 quarters of this book and the range of characters we met in the process. It was the ending that felt a bit abrupt. I sort of felt like story lines were opened up that this book could have done without (in particular her 2nd doctor) and I would have liked either an extended ending or an epilogue. Either way, I do think that this book was made for the many women who feel taken for granted, unappreciated, and have fantasized about taking a couple of weeks off. I don’t think up and leaving the way Maribeth did is for everyone, but I do believe that Leave Me can serve as a daydream of“what if”.

About Gayle Forman

My name is Gayle Forman and I love to write young-adult novels. Because I do. So thank you for reading them. Because without you, it’d just be me. And the voices in my head.

Gayle Forman is an award-winning author and journalist whose articles have appeared in such publications as Jane, Seventeen, Glamour, Elle, and The New York Times Magazine, to name just a few. She lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.

Rubi @ Gone with the Words

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Review: It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover

8th Sep 2016 Rubi @ Gone with the Words 2016, Contemporary Romance Reading Challenge, Reviews, Reviews by Rubi

Review: It Ends with Us by Colleen HooverIt Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover
Published by Atria Books
Pub Date: August 2nd 2016
Pages: 373
Format: eARC | Source: NetGalley
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Buy the book! | Goodreads
5 Stars

Sometimes it is the one who loves you who hurts you the most.

Lily hasn’t always had it easy, but that’s never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She’s come a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up—she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. So when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily’s life suddenly seems almost too good to be true.

Ryle is assertive, stubborn, maybe even a little arrogant. He’s also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily. And the way he looks in scrubs certainly doesn’t hurt. Lily can’t get him out of her head. But Ryle’s complete aversion to relationships is disturbing. Even as Lily finds herself becoming the exception to his “no dating” rule, she can’t help but wonder what made him that way in the first place.

As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan—her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened.

With this bold and deeply personal novel, Colleen Hoover delivers a heart-wrenching story that breaks exciting new ground for her as a writer. Combining a captivating romance with a cast of all-too-human characters, It Ends With Us is an unforgettable tale of love that comes at the ultimate price. 

Colleen Hoover is a literary genius! Her ability to write these stories that completely take over your thoughts long after the book has been put away, is incredible. If you are a CoHo fan, then you more than likely go into her books knowing to expect you’ll question things you never thought you would. It is pretty much a guarantee that you will at some point ask yourself “What would I do?” and It Ends with Us was no exception! I strongly believe that this wonderful masterpiece of a book is best enjoyed by going in completely blind. So if you haven’t picked it up yet, stop looking at reviews and just dive in head first – you’ll thank me later!

This story is raw and not sugarcoated in the least. It never felt overly-dramatized just to add a wow factor. At times, frustration would creep in towards the reaction of certain characters, but CoHo wrote this story in a way that made it easy to understand their reasoning and train of thought. This is a story that needed to be told and after having read the acknowledgments, I don’t think there could have been a better writer for this than Colleen Hoover. Speaking of the acknowledgments, don’t skip over them!

It Ends with Us left me wanting more! Seriously, CoHo, we need some sort of novella, epilogue, 2nd book? *nudges shoulder* lol Something? Anything! C’mon, you know you want to! I’m all for leaving things to the imagination, but your imagination is just soooooo much better than mine!

About Colleen Hoover

Colleen Hoover

Colleen Hoover is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Slammed, This Girl, Point of Retreat, Hopeless, Losing Hope, Finding Cinderella, Maybe Someday, Ugly Love, Maybe Not, Confess, and November 9. She lives in Texas with her husband and their three boys.

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Review: Waking Olivia by Elizabeth O’Roark

25th Jul 2016 Rubi @ Gone with the Words 2016, Contemporary Romance Reading Challenge, Reviews, Reviews by Rubi

Review: Waking Olivia by Elizabeth O’RoarkWaking Olivia by Elizabeth O'Roark
Published by Author
Pub Date: March 14th 2016
Pages: 378
Format: eARC | Source: NetGalley
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Buy the book! | Goodreads
5 Stars

"That girl isn't just trouble of the not-a-team-player, not-a-reliable-runner variety. She's trouble of the devious, manipulative, too-f***ing-hot-for-her-own good variety. She's the kind of girl who causes trouble merely by existing, and then makes sure to cause more. 
And the last thing I need right now is more trouble."

A failing farm.
His father’s debt.
And a struggling college track team. 
Will Langstrom has too many responsibilities, and the last thing he needs is Olivia Finnegan, a beautiful but troubled new transfer student.

A smart mouth. 
A strong right hook.
And a secret that could destroy her. 
Olivia is her own worst enemy, with a past she can’t seem to escape, and the last person she wants help from is a cocky track coach she can never seem to please.
Refusing to be pushed away, Will is determined to save her. 
And determined to resist an attraction that could destroy them both.

Olivia is an extremely talented track runner, but has a rough past that still haunts her. It’s forced her to build thicker walls than most, but for the past couple of years it has also been affecting her performance. After having been kicked out from her last college, Olivia is finally given a last chance to run for East Colorado University. All she needs now is to put an end to her demons or she’ll end up losing her scholarship. As if that wasn’t enough pressure, she can’t seem to do anything right in the eyes of her new coach.

Will always had big plans of leaving home to experience life outside of the farm. When his father passed away, Will was forced to set aside his passion for rock climbing and return home in order to tend to the family farm. He is now coaching the East Colorado University women’s track team to make some extra cash. What he didn’t expect was to suddenly feel so protective over Olivia, the new team member, who seems to be nothing but trouble.

In most books, boy and girl meet, they instantly lust for each other, and bam. Waking Olivia was most definitely not “most books” though! This pair was off to a rocky start and built from there. All of that initial trouble caused some serious angst, but the wait totally paid off! There is a minor love triangle, but that didn’t put me off in the least because the other person was more of a gnat that wouldn’t go away.

There were two things that really made this book a favorite of mine: all of the hilarious banter and Olivia’s character. My ebook copy ended up covered with highlighting of great quotes and ridiculously funny moments. There was so much banter between all of the different characters, not just our two MCs. I have a sarcastic sense of humor and that made me feel like these were my people! As for Olivia, she is definitely an acquired taste and some readers might even be put off by her brashness. The fact that she wasn’t the typical sweet virgin protagonist really worked for me though. She was rough around the edges but life had made her that way and she didn’t walk around assuming the world owed her anything.

Overall, this book was so much more intense than I could have imagined. It kept me up til 2 am with that infamous “just one more chapter” thing us readers do ourselves at night. Lol If you’re looking for a New Adult book with lots of banter that packs a punch, then Waking Olivia is that book!

 

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Bitsy Words: From This Day Forward by Lauren Layne

8th Jul 2016 Rubi @ Gone with the Words 2016, Bitsy Words, Blog Tours, Contemporary Romance Reading Challenge, Reviews, Reviews by Rubi

Bitsy Words: From This Day Forward by Lauren Layne

Bitsy Words: From This Day Forward by Lauren LayneFrom This Day Forward by Lauren Layne
Series: The Wedding Belles #0.5
Published by Pocket Star
Pub Date: June 6th 2016
Pages: 103
Format: eARC | Source: NetGalley
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Buy the book! | Goodreads
4 Stars

Up-and-coming wedding photographer Leah McHale's career is on the rise - thanks in no small part to the Wedding Belles, the elite New York wedding planning agency that always throws top-tier business Leah's way. So when one of the Belles asks Leah to fill in at the former First Daughter's wedding, Leah is overjoyed to say yes - until she finds out who she'll be working with.

Jason Rhodes is the one man who was able to capture Leah's heart and, once he had it, promptly stepped all over it and left her broken. Now he's working side-by-side with her at the biggest wedding of the season and Leah is determined to give him the cold shoulder. Despite his persistence, she is not going to fall for his charming, impish ways again. Not even if he still has that killer, irresistible smile...

I went into this novella thinking it was written as way of introducing us to The Wedding Belles series as a whole. I expected it to tease us a bit and was really looking forward to meeting the characters. What I got was a mini standalone – and I loved it!

This was my first Lauren Layne book and I’ve already added her other series to my TBR. Her writing style captures you in a way that makes you feel connected to her characters. I got to know them so much more in this short story than I have past characters with 300+ pages. These 100 pages really packed a punch!

From This Day Forward is the story of Leah and Jason who are both successful wedding photographers in their early 30s. After having dated for a couple of months, their relationship came to an abrupt end and they haven’t seen or spoken to each other in a year. Leah is offered the opportunity of working the former First Daughter’s wedding, but she isn’t thrilled about having to work it with Jason. I loved how strong and assertive of a female lead Leah played and I couldn’t get enough of how much Jason loved to rattle her. He had an amazing ability to unnerve both her and me! Lol There’s crazy chemistry between the pair and, as the reader, you will find yourself rooting hard for these two!

“Nothing had burned hotter than him and Leah together. And nothing had been quite so cold as the year that followed, when Leah had iced him out of her life entirely.” 

This was a great way to kick off The Wedding Belles series and I can’t wait to read the next book, To Have and to Hold!

 

About Lauren Layne

Lauren Layne used to work in e-commerce. She wore cute shoes and big-girl clothes like an adult.

Then she was like, nope, changed into her pajamas and started writing romance novels.

She believes in sarcasm, weekday happy hours, and happily ever after.

Rubi @ Gone with the Words

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Review: Up in Flames by Abbi Glines

6th Jul 2016 Rubi @ Gone with the Words 2016, Contemporary Romance Reading Challenge, Reviews, Reviews by Rubi

Review: Up in Flames by Abbi GlinesUp In Flames by Abbi Glines
Series: Rosemary Beach #13
Published by Atria Books
Pub Date: June 28th 2016
Pages: 256
Format: eARC | Source: NetGalley
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Buy the book! | Goodreads
4 Stars

The villain of Rosemary Beach finally gets her own happy ending in the long-awaited final novel of the #1 New York Times bestselling new adult romance series by Abbi Glines.

The blockbuster #1 New York Times bestselling Rosemary Beach series ends with a bang when the troubled character readers love to hate gets her very own happily ever after in this eagerly anticipated and overwhelmingly requested story. Known for causing problems for everyone in Rosemary Beach, Nan has been growing up lately, and she’s finally taking center stage—and finding love with the man she least expected.

I could not have been more pleased when I saw the news that this final book would give us Nan’s story! In this world, there is “evil” and there is “misunderstood” and with everything you learn about Nan from the other books in the Rosemary Beach series, I always felt she was just misunderstood and her anger misdirected. Nan needed a voice and Abbi Glines did an incredible job at giving her a story!

“Villains were created, not born.” 

Nan didn’t have the ideal childhood. Sure she came from money, but she never felt the love of parents who genuinely cared for her and the only person who’s ever been in her corner was her brother Rush, whom we first met in Fallen Too Far. Over the course of this series, Nan has seen the men around her (Rush, Grant, etc.) fall in love and change for the different women in their lives. As if growing up without a loving parent wasn’t enough to cause insecurity in just about anyone, seeing all these transformations has really led Nan to believe that she is not worthy enough to cause the same reaction in any man.

“I wanted to be someone’s Harlow. Or Blaire. But I’d always just be Nan. And Nan wasn’t enough. I never had been, and I was done trying to be.” 

In Up in Flames, Nan finds herself in a bit of a love triangle between Major and Cope, who we’ve met and heard about in earlier books. When dealing with love triangles, I usually choose my pick early on and this story was no different. Although both characters had their charming bits, one stood out more than the other to me and it reminded me why Abbi Glines quickly became one of my favorite authors! Not everyone is easy to love, but Glines was able to create the perfect person for Nan; someone who would not only understand her but also bring out the best in her. I didn’t walk away feeling like “well that was convenient” in the least. It felt genuine and I was 100% invested in this story!

Although this could pass as a standalone, I wouldn’t recommend reading it as such. Having read the other books is what really makes this story because it allows you to truly appreciate the tremendous growth of Nan’s character. Abbi Glines didn’t go into the history of the characters as much so reading this book as part of the series is what really gives you a better understanding. It also doesn’t hurt that this entire series is fantastic!

My only con for Up in Flames is that I wish we would’ve gotten a prettier bow to wrap up the series as a whole. Abbi Glines wrapped up her other big series Sea Breeze in a huge way and I was really looking forward to the same with the conclusion of Rosemary Beach. I was pretty bummed out to not have that happen. Either way, I am a huge Abbi fan and look forward to her future books!

 

Rubi @ Gone with the Words

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Review: And I Darken by Kiersten White

27th Jun 2016 Morgan @ Gone with the Words 2016, Reviews, Reviews by Morgan

Review: And I Darken by Kiersten WhiteAnd I Darken by Kiersten White
Series: The Conquerors Saga #1
Published by Delacorte Press
Pub Date: June 28th 2016
Pages: 496
Format: eARC | Source: NetGalley
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, LGBT, Retelling, Young Adult
Buy the book! | Goodreads
4.5 Stars

NO ONE EXPECTS A PRINCESS TO BE BRUTAL. 

And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, who’s expected to rule a nation, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.

But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.

From New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White comes the first book in a dark, sweeping new series in which heads will roll, bodies will be impaled . . . and hearts will be broken.

And I Darken was incredible. I thought this was amazing alternate history because it felt SO real. Kiersten White took details of real countries, people, religions, and politics and twisted them just so. And the characters! Oh my god. From the opening pages, you are painted a very stark picture of brutal Lada and her scared little brother Radu. They ensnared me immediately. But as with any good story there are layers and twists in every relationship. It’s all so complicated in the best way, sometimes loving and sometimes toxic. 

The story is definitely slower paced but not boring; this is a long haul kind of story and we’re setting the scene. The political machinations, the attention paid to religion, and the moral grayness of characters, the sometimes Machiavellian attitudes, really do bring A Game of Thrones to mind. Every action has a reaction. I also loved the diversity in every aspect, from culture (Turkish/Wallachian/Ottoman/etc) to religion (I learned a lot about Islam!) to sexuality (an unexpected but very welcome surprise). Everything was woven into the story seamlessly. I can’t say enough about the writing, I thought it was wonderful. White really knows how to weave a complicated web.

There are also some excellent kisses, a few ships, and some complicated romances, though not in the ways you might expect (no spoilers here!). It was also interesting to watch how Lada and Radu’s characters shifted over time, learning to soften and strengthen in turn.

The book faltered slightly in the middle just because it is a looong book and it can’t keep up the pacing the whole time. And it some ways I expected plots that happened later in Lada/Vlad’s life. But where the story leaves you is perfect and I can’t wait to follow Lada, Radu, and Mehmed to see how their lives intertwine; loyalty (to family, to yourself, to your country) are big themes throughout. If you love historical fiction, and a lot of political cleverness mixed with action, violence, and romance in a non-Western setting, you should read And I Darken.

 

Morgan @ Gone with the Words

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Review: Just a Girl by Ellie Cahill

22nd Jun 2016 Rubi @ Gone with the Words 2016, Contemporary Romance Reading Challenge, Reviews, Reviews by Rubi

Review: Just a Girl by Ellie CahillJust a Girl by Ellie Cahill
Published by Loveswept
Pub Date: June 21st 2016
Pages: 277
Format: eARC | Source: NetGalley
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Buy the book! | Goodreads
2 Stars

After getting kicked out of her own band—by her own boyfriend—Presley Mason finds herself back in Wisconsin, helping her parents run their renowned music store. Instead of belting out powerhouse vocals to sold-out crowds in L.A., she’s stocking shelves and inspecting rental violins. But the shop isn’t all bad: When she’s vacuuming up late one night, she bumps into the guitar teacher with the smoldering amber eyes and the killer tattoo. And that’s when things take an interesting turn.
 
Presley soon finds that Paul Kellerman is as good in bed as he is on guitar. So why isn’t he stoked to share his band, Jukebox Bleu, with her? Turns out Paul has crippling stage fright, which he’s been self-medicating without much success. But when Jukebox Bleu’s lead singer gets called for military service, the other members beg Presley to front them. Even though she swore never to mix men with music again, the temptation to perform is almost as intense as her chemistry with Paul. Now Presley must decide what’s more important: a second chance at love . . . or rock stardom.

Just a Girl is the story of 21 year old Presley who’s entire life is worked around music. Her parents own a very popular music store in Wisconsin and that’s allowed her to meet some of the greatest musicians. For the past couple of years, she has been living in Los Angeles and is the lead singer of a successful band she started along with her boyfriend. Presley finds herself having to move back home to Wisconsin after her boyfriend and band-mates kick her out of the band.

Presley is less than thrilled to be back in Wisconsin, but while working in her parent’s music store she meets Paul who also happens to be in a band of his own, Jukebox Bleu. Life happens and Jukebox Bleu is suddenly in need of a lead singer. You’d think Presley would be perfect for the gig, but history has her dead set on not dating a band member ever again.

The Good:

Music was the central theme for this entire story and it was easily my favorite part of Just a Girl. Ellie Cahill seems to have definitely done her homework and it gave a very realistic feel to her story. The way the music store was described made me want to take a trip to Wisconsin for one of their late night private concerts! Imagine being in a room with some of music’s legends while they play live and intimate performances just for fun! I also really liked the idea of different playlists of popular songs that would correspond with the different chapters. It was something different and really added to the story.

The Bad:

Unfortunately, the music theme is the only thing I really enjoyed. The conflicts were too over dramatized and parts of the story seemed to drag while others were rushed. Most importantly, I could not bring myself to care for any of these characters. Presley came off as dramatic in general, cold towards Paul, and rude to authority (police – which is a pet peeve of mine). I also didn’t understand her relationship with her parents. They had a very “hippie” parenting style that I found puzzling, specifically her mom. I’m all for having open communication, but her mom would ask her things like “Is paul good?” and at some point even told Presley about how good her dad was with his fingers. Umm, wtf?!

Sadly, Just a Girl didn’t seem to be the book for me, but I plan to give Ellie Cahill another shot since I’ve heard good things about Call me, Maybe. Check out Jess’s review of it here!

 

About Ellie Cahill

Ellie Cahill is a freelance writer and also writes books for young adults under the name Liz Czukas. She lives outside Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with her husband, son, and the world’s loudest cat.

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Review: Unbreak My Heart by Nicole Jacquelyn

20th Jun 2016 Rubi @ Gone with the Words 2016, Contemporary Romance Reading Challenge, Reviews, Reviews by Rubi

Review: Unbreak My Heart by Nicole JacquelynUnbreak My Heart by Nicole Jacquelyn
Series: Unbreak My Heart #1
Published by Forever
Pub Date: June 7th 2016
Pages: 368
Format: eARC | Source: NetGalley
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Buy the book! | Goodreads
4 Stars

What do you do when your soul mate marries your best friend?

If you're Kate Evans, you keep your friend Rachel, bond with her kids, and bury your feelings for her husband. The fact that Shane's in the military and away for long periods helps-but when tragedy strikes, everything changes.

After Rachel, pregnant with her fourth child, dies in a car accident and the baby miraculously survives, Kate upends her entire life to share parenting duties. Then on the first anniversary of Rachel's death, Kate and Shane take comfort in each other in a night that they both soon regret.

Shane's been angry for a year, and now he feels guilty too - for sleeping with his wife's best friend and liking it . . . liking her. Kate's ability to read him like a book may have once sent Shane running, but their lives are forever entwined and they are growing closer.

Now with Shane deployed for seven months, Kate is on her own and struggling with being a single parent. Shane is loving and supportive from thousands of miles away, but his homecoming brings a betrayal Kate never saw coming. So Kate's only choice is to fight for the future she deserves - with or without Shane. . .

Shane and Kate have known each other since they were teenagers and she’s been mad crushing since. He, on the other hand, has never seen Kate in that way and has actually allowed her feelings to push him away. Over the years, they’ve gone from being best friends to barely on speaking terms. With Shane being on active duty in the military, he can really use all the help he can get to try and give his kids a sense of normalcy after having lost their mother. Kate and the kids have grown a special bond over the years and nobody is better qualified for the job than her. But with so much tension and mixed emotions, what could possibly go wrong?

I absolutely loved Kate’s character! Sure, I wanted to hit her upside the head with her own book at times, but she just has a heart of gold and I couldn’t hate her for that. I loved seeing how much she cared for those little ones and how much they loved her back. I’m the only girl out of my siblings who doesn’t have children of her own and I could really relate to her on the “aunt Kate” moments. I, too, am a proud member of the “spare car seat” club! With such a selfless attitude and the constant ability to want to please others, she’s easily a character that you’ll really find yourself rooting for.

However, Kate was only one half of the couple. The other half was Shane, and oh boy did he work my nerve! Going into this book I expected him to be a broken man who’s lost his wife at the age of 29 and is surprised by his sudden feelings for her best friend. I really wish the book summary had at least mildly prepared me for the virtual reality slap heading my way! I can’t think of the last villain I hated as much as I did Shane and the problem is he’s meant to be the male protagonist of this story! He was just so entitled and such an asshole that I just knew early on he would not be my cup of tea. There was no redeeming him in my eyes and I badly wanted a a random love interest, someone who was worthy of Kate, to come barging in and sweep her off her feet.

The supporting characters were incredible! I loved the feeling of a tight, dysfunctional, but tight family. This was a blended family that really worked and their closeness felt very realistic. As I was reading Unbreak My Heart I found myself wanting to get more of their stories. Needless to say, I was over the moon when I realized the second book in this duology, Change of Heart, would be based on Anita and Bram!

As for the writing, I wish the author had done a better job at transitioning between the chapters. One chapter would end in a heated argument and the next would pick up with birds chirping like nothing had ever happened and that was extremely frustrating. I was still angry with Shane for jerk move #24 and I expected Kate to also be enraged. It took me a while to realize that although only mere seconds had passed for me between the ending of one chapter and the beginning of the next, Kate had had a few days to cool off.

Nicole Jacquelyn‘s way of describing the heart wrenching moments was something really special! I love a book that makes me feel and this book really did that. I found myself crying, cursing, laughing, and angrily hitting my kindle to read the next page. (True story! lol) The only reason I couldn’t love this book more is Shane, but I look forward to checking out other books by Jacquelyn in the future!

 

Rubi @ Gone with the Words

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