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: Off the Hook by Laura Drewry

17th Oct 2016 Rubi @ Gone with the Words 2016, Contemporary Romance Reading Challenge, Reviews, Reviews by Rubi

Review: Off the Hook by Laura DrewryOff the Hook by Laura Drewry
Series: Fishing for Trouble #1
Published by Loveswept
Pub Date: April 12th 2016
Pages: 242
Format: eBook | Source: Purchased
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Buy the book! | Goodreads
3.5 Stars

Welcome to The Buoys, a West Coast haven where love comes in with the tide. Perfect for readers of Jill Shalvis and Susan Mallery, the Fishing for Trouble series features three unforgettable brothers—each of whom is a great catch.
 
Major league pitcher Liam O’Donnell knows his best days are probably behind him, but that doesn’t mean he’s ready to retire and become a fishing guide. Still, after all the time he’s spent chasing his dreams, he owes it to his brothers to pull his weight around the lodge. The Buoys is their father’s legacy, and they can’t let some developer take it from them. The one snag Liam isn’t counting on is a blast from the past: his ex-wife.
 
The moment Kate Hadley steps out of the seaplane, she knows this assignment is going to be trickier than she thought. She has to persuade the owners to sell—and one of them is Liam O’Donnell. Ten years ago, she made the biggest mistake of her life when she married Liam during a fling in Vegas. Now he’s her only lifeline in the middle of nowhere. Kate’s trying to keep things cool, but Liam reminds her of the scorching few nights they spent together—and tempts her to make new memories that are just as steamy as the old.

Off the Hook is the first in the Fishing for Trouble series. In it, we are introduced to a tight knit family that owns and operates a fishing resort off the West coast of Canada. This first book gave us the second-chance romance of Kate and Liam. They are ex husband and wife whom have not seen each other since their brief Vegas marriage ended 10 years ago! These two really pulled at my heart strings because you could equally feel their attraction and their reservations with each other. Neither came from the ideal childhood, but they both worked hard to turn into the adults they are now. Kate wasn’t the fragile damsel that female leads are often portrayed as and I admired her so much for her strength and self-love!

As for the setting, The Buoys, easily made it to one of my top 5 favorite fictional places! I’m almost positive this is my first book set in Canada and I was not disappointed. The seclusion sounded heavenly and its lack of luxury only made it that much more appealing. I can’t wait to get more of this place, these characters, and their stories!

My problem with Off the Hook was with its pacing. It seemed to really drag at times and I felt bored on more than one occasion. The last couple of chapters were a lot better paced so I’m hoping the slow start was just due to the author getting more comfortable with the story line she was creating.

Laura Drewry did an amazing job at making each character stand out. Those characters were easily what captured me the most from this story. I fell in love with them as a whole, but each one had something special that made me like them as an individual. I’m really looking forward to reading Finn & Ronan’s books and seeing this group develop as a whole!

 

Rubi @ Gone with the Words

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Bitsy Words: Letters From Skye by Jessica Brockmole

14th Oct 2016 Morgan @ Gone with the Words 2016, Reviews, Reviews by Morgan

Bitsy Words: Letters From Skye by Jessica Brockmole

Bitsy Words: Letters From Skye by Jessica BrockmoleLetters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole
Published by Ballantine Books
Pub Date: July 9th 2013
Pages: 320
Format: Paperback | Source: Gifted
Genres: Adult, Historical, Romance
Buy the book! | Goodreads
5 Stars

A sweeping story told in letters, spanning two continents and two world wars, Jessica Brockmole’s atmospheric debut novel captures the indelible ways that people fall in love, and celebrates the power of the written word to stir the heart.
 
March 1912: Twenty-four-year-old Elspeth Dunn, a published poet, has never seen the world beyond her home on Scotland’s remote Isle of Skye. So she is astonished when her first fan letter arrives, from a college student, David Graham, in far-away America. As the two strike up a correspondence—sharing their favorite books, wildest hopes, and deepest secrets—their exchanges blossom into friendship, and eventually into love. But as World War I engulfs Europe and David volunteers as an ambulance driver on the Western front, Elspeth can only wait for him on Skye, hoping he’ll survive.
 
June 1940: At the start of World War II, Elspeth’s daughter, Margaret, has fallen for a pilot in the Royal Air Force. Her mother warns her against seeking love in wartime, an admonition Margaret doesn’t understand. Then, after a bomb rocks Elspeth’s house, and letters that were hidden in a wall come raining down, Elspeth disappears. Only a single letter remains as a clue to Elspeth’s whereabouts. As Margaret sets out to discover where her mother has gone, she must also face the truth of what happened to her family long ago.
 
Sparkling with charm and full of captivating period detail,Letters from Skye is a testament to the power of love to overcome great adversity, and marks Jessica Brockmole as a stunning new literary voice.

 

Letters From Skye was unbearably lovely from the very first page. I loved that it was written all in letters, and that it still managed to be a dual timeline novel. That seems tricky! It made the book focused while still remaining detailed within the letters themselves. The voices were so distinct and I loved the unraveling of the mystery and the blossoming of the romance. It’s a wonderful, quick read that is emotional and thought provoking (I almost cried a couple times), while the early letters contain quite a bit of humor. The story is very charming, full of family relationships & friendships, as well as romance. I highly recommend for historical fiction fans.

 

 

Morgan @ Gone with the Words

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Review: The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

12th Oct 2016 Morgan @ Gone with the Words 2016, Contemporary Romance Reading Challenge, Reviews, Reviews by Morgan

Review: The Hating Game by Sally ThorneThe Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Published by William Morrow
Pub Date: August 9th 2016
Pages: 384
Format: eBook | Source: Purchased
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Buy the book! | Goodreads
5 Stars

Debut author Sally Thorne bursts on the scene with a hilarious and sexy workplace comedy all about that thin, fine line between hate and love.

Nemesis (n.) 1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome.
2) A person’s undoing
3) Joshua Templeman

Lucy Hutton has always been certain that the nice girl can get the corner office. She’s charming and accommodating and prides herself on being loved by everyone at Bexley & Gamin. Everyone except for coldly efficient, impeccably attired, physically intimidating Joshua Templeman. And the feeling is mutual.

Trapped in a shared office together 40 (OK, 50 or 60) hours a week, they’ve become entrenched in an addictive, ridiculous never-ending game of one-upmanship. There’s the Staring Game. The Mirror Game. The HR Game. Lucy can’t let Joshua beat her at anything—especially when a huge new promotion goes up for the taking.

If Lucy wins this game, she’ll be Joshua’s boss. If she loses, she’ll resign. So why is she suddenly having steamy dreams about Joshua, and dressing for work like she’s got a hot date? After a perfectly innocent elevator ride ends with an earth shattering kiss, Lucy starts to wonder whether she’s got Joshua Templeman all wrong.

Maybe Lucy Hutton doesn’t hate Joshua Templeman. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.

I’m so glad I decided to buy The Hating Game after seeing friends talk about it online because I loved it SO MUCH! I haven’t stopped thinking about the book since I finished!! From the opening chapter, I was enchanted by Lucy’s voice- she was so hilarious but real and I was giggling out loud on the bus, which I rarely do.

The publishing house setting was great, as were the office dynamics and oh my gosh, from the get go you just fall in love with Lucy and Josh and their silly office games. They hate each other soooo muchhhh (wink wink), like genuinely seem to hate each other and get under each other’s skin, that you know it’s going to be great when they stop hating each other.

The secondary characters are fleshed out well enough (loved Helene!), and Lucy and Josh could have been total caricatures but they’re not. She has quirks but she’s not a “quirky girl”. She overthinks everything and collects Smurf figures and misses her family, but she’s intelligent and reaching for her dreams. Josh could have been the stereotypical macho guy with a tender heart but he was so much more than that. He hides his shyness and insecurities with bravado, but he’s such a good person underneath that asshole layer. He’ll really surprise you, in a good way.

I also loved that the drama was believable and not that over the top. Family drama, mild dating drama, office drama, etc. There was some miscommunication but it was always resolved quickly. It helped that Josh knew Lucy really well, including her tendency to freak out in a very I Love Lucy sort of way, so a scene that could have been frustrating (her deciding that stopping by was stupid and she’s going to leave) was turned into something humorous: “Stop. Sit down. I’m making you some tea.” I swear I died when he made Lucy a sandwich, wrapped her in a cozy blanket, and watched ER reruns on the couch with her. Just because. Before anything physical really happens.

One of the best quotes is Lucy monologuing how she realizes that Josh is dangling his upturned hand on the couch like seeds to a skittish chicken (her being the chicken); he knows she needs to go slow (even if she doesn’t want to) and it’s honestly adorable. I loved watching their relationship thaw from enemies to coworkers to friends to Or Something- you’ll get that when you read the book!

This is one of those books that is predictable but you love all the individual elements so much that you don’t care. It’s very well written, from the voice to the characterization to the romantic scenes. And I loooooove the taking care of someone when they’re sick trope, like in You’ve Got Mail! Eep! Delirious medicine talk is almost as good as drunk talk, as far as unfiltered thoughts go ;)

The Hating Game is a pure rom-com and such a delight to read. It reminded me of Sophie Kinsella books but I think I loved it even better. I can’t believe it’s a debut and I can’t wait to read whatever Sally Thorne writes next. It was absolutely hilarious, really really adorable and sweet, and so sexy. One of my favorite books of the year for sure. (I’ve already reread THG since I wrote my review. Take that for what you will!)

 

Morgan @ 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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Blog Tour: Reliquary by Sarah Fine | Excerpt + Giveaway!

20th Jul 2016 Jess @ Gone with the Words 2016, Blog Tours, Giveaways

Blog Tour: Reliquary by Sarah Fine | Excerpt + Giveaway!

Blog Tour: Reliquary by Sarah Fine | Excerpt + Giveaway!Reliquary by Sarah Fine
Series: Reliquary #1
Published by 47North
Pub Date: June 14th 2016
Pages: 280
Format: Paperback | Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Buy the book! | Goodreads

Mattie Carver’s engagement party should have marked the start of her own personal fairy tale. But when her fiancé, Ben, is violently abducted the next morning, her desperate quest to find him rips her away from small-town life and reveals a shattering truth: magic is real—and Ben is hooked. It’s not the stuff of storybooks. It’s wildly addictive, capable of producing everything from hellish anguish to sensual ecstasy almost beyond human endurance.

Determined to find out who took Ben and why, Mattie immerses herself in a shadowy underworld and comes face-to-face with the darkly alluring Asa Ward, a rogue magic dealer, infamous hustler…and her missing fiancé’s estranged brother. Asa has the power to sense magic, and he realizes Mattie is a reliquary, someone with the rare ability to carry magic within her own body, undetected. Asa agrees to help find Ben on one condition: Mattie must use her uncommon talent to assist his smuggling operations. Now, from magic-laced Vegas casinos to the netherworld clubs of Bangkok, Mattie is on a rescue mission. With Asa by her side, she’ll face not only the supernatural forces arrayed against her but the all-too-human temptation that she fears she can’t resist.

I’m so excited to be today’s stop on the Reliquary tour! I have an awesome excerpt to share with you guys, along with a chance for you to win 1 of 3 copies up for grabs! You can also buy it now: Amazon | Barnes & Noble!

Exceprt

RELIQUARY, Chapter one, part one excerpt:

The night before everything fell apart was the best of my life—the last purely happy, uncomplicated hours I would ever have. Looking back, I’m amazed by how lies can soothe the soul, quell every fear, blind you to reality in the most pleasant of ways. Not forever, of course. And only if you really want to buy into the illusion. But back then, I did. Even as the truth sharpened its knives and hunted me down, I refused to see it.

            I was too worried about whether I’d made enough deviled eggs.

 

“We really could have had this catered,” Mom said, stopping to rub my back as I balanced each egg half on the platter and then sprinkled them all with paprika.

I blew a lock of curly hair off my forehead. Outside I could hear laughter and the faint caress of Lake Michigan against the shore. “How many people are out there?” I asked, ignoring her comment. “Should I do another dozen?” It’s my engagement party and I want to feed people, I had said. Just appetizers and beer. I’ll be done with plenty of time to spare.

            Ugh. My mother was right. Again.

Her soft hands closed over my wrists. “We’ll have plenty. But Mattie, you need to be on the deck with Ben, not stuck in the kitchen. Your guests want to congratulate you—that’s the whole point of the party! Let me finish this up.” She held up my hands and glanced at my fingernails, short but coated with a bright-orange polish that set off my mustard-yellow dress and strawberry blond hair. “You’ll ruin these if you keep this up.” Smiling, she grabbed a dishrag and wiped a smear of mayonnaise off my ring finger, and the diamond that now lived there sparkled in the light. “Look—you’ve already done all the prep on the perperoncini wraps and the bruschetta. I’ve got this covered. Go.”

I glanced out to where my fiancé (fiancé!) was standing, a bottle of beer in one hand, flashing that smile that could melt glaciers. His hair ruffled in the breeze off the lake, the sun glinting off golden strands. I bit my lip and stared. Seriously—how had I gotten so lucky? “You sure, Mom? I feel terrible leaving you with all this work.”

She chuckled and shook her head. “Honey, that’s my job.”

My mind skipped through memories of all the times she’d rescued me from my own ambitious schemes. Like when I’d taken on decorations for the senior prom (DIY string chandeliers are harder than they look, damn you, Internet!), or the time I’d decided that I totally had time to make three hundred cupcakes for my sorority’s homecoming party despite the fact that I had to cheer in the actual homecoming game. “I guess I’m the queen of biting off more than I can chew.” I sighed. “Sorry.”

She pulled me into a hug, brushing my unruly hair off my face. “It’s just one of your many charming qualities.” She inclined her head toward Ben, and when I turned, he was watching the two of us, his honey-brown eyes full of affection and invitation. “And clearly Ben thinks so, too.”

“Remind him of that after he takes a look at the supply closet at the clinic, okay?” I nodded as he beckoned me to come outside. “I might have tried to install a new shelving system while he was fishing with Dad yesterday.” Ben had told me that it was my practice, too, even though he was the vet and I was just the lab tech and assistant. I’d wanted to show him I could pull me weight. And I could…but unfortunately, the new shelving system could not.

I explained the catastrophe that had once been Ben’s tidy closet. Mom just said, “We can get Dad over there to take a look at it tomorrow morning. He gets a kick out of fixing other people’s messes.” One of the reasons my dad was the most popular real estate agent in Sheboygan was that he actually seemed to enjoy patching holes and installing crown molding, and it certainly helped with sales.

“You guys are the best parents. I don’t deserve you.”

Mom handed me the egg platter. “Pay me back by making sure Grandpa’s having a decent time, okay?”

“You got it.” I grinned. “I’m a ray of sunshine. I even dressed the part.” I kissed her cheek and scooted through the open sliding door to the deck, where I set the platter on a table already crowded with food.

A warm hand closed over my arm. “Finally,” Ben said, his voice full of gentle teasing.

I leaned my head back and let him kiss me, savoring the taste of taste of beer on his lips. “Mm. I think I read somewhere that anticipation is a fine aphrodisiac.”

He laughed, and it accentuated the adorable dimple in his right cheek. “Is that what this is? I thought maybe you were avoiding me because of the supply closet.”

“You weren’t scheduled to go in until tomorrow!”

His arm slid around my waist, and he pulled me against his muscular body. “I had to go pick up some eyedrops for Barley.” His aging golden retriever was falling apart at the seams, but Ben was determined to give him a good life for as long as possible. “And it’s okay, really. It’ll be easy to fix.”

I buried my face against his shoulder. “You are amazing.”
He tipped my chin up. “And I’m marrying an amazing woman. Come on. Your friend Chelsea’s just gotten here, and I know you haven’t see her in a while. Also, a couple of your aunts and uncles have already asked me when you’ll appear. We need to greet your guests.”

Your guests.

I laced my fingers with Ben’s and looked out over my parents’ sprawling backyard, crowded with my extended family and everyone from my mother’s book club to my preschool gymnastics coach. Chelsea, my best friend from college, lifted her glass and grinned from her spot at the makeshift bar next to the pool.

“They’re not all mine,” I said quietly. Feeling lame, I waved toward Franz, one of a handful of Ben’s patients (or, rather, the family members of Ben’s patients) I had invited to beef up his part of the guest list.

Ben laughed as Franz waved back enthusiastically, looking a little lost and desperate as he stood among a group of my parents’ church friends. “I’m really flattered he decided to come,” Ben said. “He’s much more comfortable surrounded by books and wine.” A professor of anthropology at University of Wisconsin-Sheboygan, Franz had invited us over to his home a time or two, where I spent the evening playing with his dachshund, Lemmie, and Ben and Franz huddled in his library discussing lofty topics they claimed were too boring for me to sit through.

“I’m glad he came, too.” I bit my lip. “But he’s not your family. We could have invited Asa, you know.”

Ben’s grip turned to iron. “You can’t be serious.”

“Come on, Ben. He’s your brother.”

“Listen, even if we could find him, and even if he were sober enough to show up, trust me—you don’t want my brother here.” His jaw clenched over the tremble in his voice. “And I don’t, either. He’s a criminal. A lowlife. He’s—”

“Ben, he’s the only family you’ve got left.” My heart ached for him. His mother had taken off when Ben was only a toddler, and he and Asa had been raised by their father, who died a few years back. “Weddings bring people together!”

“But with some people, that’s more of a curse than a blessing.”

“You don’t think he’d be happy for you?”

“Mattie, the last time we saw each other, he threatened to kill me.”

What?” My eyes went wide. “You never mentioned that before!”

He bowed his head and shrugged. “It was a long time ago, and I don’t like to talk about it. But Asa’s just…he’s messed up. He’s got rage inside of him. And he’s always been jealous of me. Do you think it would help if he got a good look at all of this?”

I leaned my head on his shoulder. “I just wish you two could find your way back to each other. Family is important.”

“I’m building a new family, Mattie. And there’s no one I’d rather do it with.” He shoved his left hand in his pocket, and I knew his fingers were running over his lucky agate. Just one of the odd, endearing habits that had made me fall deeper in love with him. I watched his face as he took a deep breath and closed his eyes. And when he opened them, he smiled down at me. His hand rose from his pocket to stroke my cheek. “You are so beautiful,” he murmured.

I shivered with sudden pleasure. His touch was like a drug to me, and I was the happiest of addicts. As his fingertips trailed down my throat, my entire body tingled, and my hands balled in the fabric of his shirt, barely keeping me from sliding my palms up under it to feel his bare skin. “Do you think anyone would notice if we disappeared for a few minutes?”

My old bedroom was a few steps away, and I was already envisioning myself on the bed. His grip on my hips would be bruising and delicious. My body was already slick and soft and hot. I felt like I was one deft touch away from having an orgasm, right there on the deck. Ben’s hand spread across my back, steadying me, and he glanced down at my flushed cheeks with an appreciative grin. “What were you saying about anticipation?”

“Screw it. Or, wait, screw me. That would be even better.”

“If someone doesn’t bring me a damn plate of food, I’m going to starve!” said a gravelly voice to my left.

Ben released me instantly and clasped his hands behind his back, like a little boy caught stealing. My reaction wasn’t much better—I slapped my hands over my warm cheeks and turned toward the source of the complaint. “Grandpa! I-I was just coming to find you.”

Grandpa looked up at me from his wheelchair. Dad had parked him in the corner of the deck so that he could look out over the lawn. His wide-brimmed straw hat shaded his watery, red-rimmed eyes, and his gnarled hands were clawed over the armrests. “Yes, that much was obvious.”

Great. Grandpa had probably heard every word of my scheme to sneak in a quickie with my boyfriend (fiancé!). I blushed from my forehead to my toes. Could I just control myself for once in my life? “What would you like, Grandpa? Summer roll? Deviled eggs?”

“Surprise me.”

Grabbing a plate and a napkin, I listened to Ben doing his best to make nice—and to Grandpa having none of it. I scooped up a few appetizers from each platter and turned just in time to see Ben reaching out to shake Grandpa’s hand. When my grandfather didn’t let go of the armrests, Ben saved face by giving Grandpa’s hand a friendly pat.

Grandpa jerked away like he’d been burned, first glaring at the back of his liver-spotted hand and then up at Ben. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” he snapped.

Ben blinked down at his fingers, the shock on his face similar to my own. “I’m…sorry?”

“You should be,” Grandpa growled. “Don’t think I don’t know what you’re up to, boy.”

“Try the eggs!” I said, rushing forward with the plate and nearly tripping in my strappy sandals. Stepping between my gaping fiancé and the tight-lipped old man who for some inexplicable reason had chosen the occasion of my engagement party to lose his mind, I put the plate in Grandpa’s lap because hey, snacks can fix nearly anything. (Despite everything that’s happened, I still believe that.)

“Mattie, I think I’m going to…um…I’m going to go make sure Franz is having a good time,” Ben said.

I threw him and apologetic look over my shoulder. “I’ll be there in a few.”

Grandpa didn’t touch the food. His hands were shaking as I knelt next to him, my sunny skirt fanning around me. “Grandpa,” I said gently. “Are you okay?”

“Don’t take that tone with me,” he said, though his voice had lost its edge. “My hospice nurse uses the same damn voice when I dare to express an opinion about anything other than whether I would or would not care for raisins in my oatmeal.” His tremulous fingers clutched at mine, and he sighed. “Never get old, Mattie.”

“I won’t.” My chest squeezed with regret. Just a few weeks ago, the doctors had announced he only had months to live. He looked okay—apart from the rattling couch that kept him up nights and fatigue and pain meds that made him groggy during too many of his waking hours—but lung cancer was taking him down. After the doctors’ verdict, my parents had shipped him all the way to Wisconsin from his home in Arizona so they could take care of him until the end. They’d said it was the best thing for him, and to my surprise he hadn’t objected. But he didn’t seem happy about it—especially because everyone was tiptoeing around him like he was going to keel over any second. I tried to take a different approach. “Hey. In exchange for not using the you’re-a-crazy-old-man voice, I want to know what just happened with Ben.”

He grunted. “It was nothing.”

“Nothing? You refused to shake my fiancé’s hand! I mean, if you overheard us just now, that was as much my fault as—”

“Mattie, how much do you know about him, really?”

“We’ve been together for three years!”

“That doesn’t mean you know his secrets.”

I frowned. “How about you tell me what you’re getting at?”

Grandpa rubbed at his chest as he looked over at the lawn, where Ben was mingling like a pro. “Ask him.”

Frustration began to creep in. Seriously, he had to pick this night to get all protective of my virtue? They’d spoken for two minutes. What could have gone that wrong that fast? “Grandpa, what did he say to you that has you this upset?”

“Find out everything you can about him. You owe it to yourself.” He turned back to me, his chin trembling. “You and I haven’t spoken much since your grandma died.”

I looked away, ashamed. “I’m sorry. I should have written more.” Or called. Or visited.

“Come have lunch with me tomorrow?”
“I have to work.”

“Tuesday, then.”

“Okay.” I’d have to arrange with Jan, our practice manager, to cover the waiting room during what was usually her lunch break, but that wasn’t anything a box of Girl Scout cookies couldn’t fix.

“Mattie?” Ben called from the lawn. “The girl cousins are here.” His tone said, Help.

My aunt Rena’s four teenage daughters were a handful. I stood up and smoothed my skirt. “I’d better get down there before they stick one of their iPhones in Dad’s speaker dock and turn this into a rave.”

Grandpa squinted at me. “Are you speaking English?”

“Never mind.” I rubbed his shoulder. “Enjoy those eggs.”

I floated over to Ben, the incident already behind me. This was my engagement party, and I was marrying the love of my life. Nothing—and especially not my cranky old grandpa—was going to ruin it.

Re-printed with permission from 47North, copyright © 2016 by Sarah Fine

 

Giveaway

3 Finished Copies of RELIQUARY (US Only)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule

7/17: Polished Page-Turners – Spotlight
7/18: The Eater of Books – Excerpt
7/19: Behind Closed Covers – Spotlight
7/20: Gone with the Words – Excerpt
7/21: Reading is Better with Cupcakes – Excerpt
7/22: Supernatural Snark – Q&A
7/23: Quite the Novel Idea – Spotlight
7/24: The Book Cellar – Review
7/25: Fiction Fare – Q&A
7/26: No BS Book Reviews – Q&A
7/26: Emily Reads Everything – Review
7/27: Stuck in Books – Excerpt
7/27: Reads All the Books – Review
7/28: Ex Libris – Review
7/28: BCS Reviews – Review
7/29: kimberlyfaye reads – Review
7/29: Wandering Bark Books – Review
7/30: Lost in Lit – Review
7/30: Bookish Lifetsyle – Review
7/31: Don’t Fold the Page – Review
7/31: Miranda’s Book Blog – Review

 

About Sarah Fine

Sarah Fine is a clinical psychologist and the author of the Servants of Fate and Guards of the Shadowlands series. She was born on the West Coast, raised in the Midwest, and is now firmly entrenched on the East Coast.

Jess @ Gone with the Words

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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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Series Review: Captive Prince by C.S. Pacat

29th Jun 2016 Jess @ Gone with the Words 2016, Reviews, Reviews by Jess, Series Review

Series Review: Captive Prince by C.S. PacatCaptive Prince by C.S. Pacat
Series: Captive Prince #1
Published by Berkley
Pub Date: April 7th 2015
Pages: 270
Format: Paperback | Source: Publisher
Genres: Adult, Historical, LGBT, Romance
Buy the book! | Goodreads
2 Stars

Damen is a warrior hero to his people, and the rightful heir to the throne of Akielos. But when his half brother seizes power, Damen is captured, stripped of his identity, and sent to serve the prince of an enemy nation as a pleasure slave.

Beautiful, manipulative, and deadly, his new master, Prince Laurent, epitomizes the worst of the court at Vere. But in the lethal political web of the Veretian court, nothing is as it seems, and when Damen finds himself caught up in a play for the throne, he must work together with Laurent to survive and save his country.

For Damen, there is just one rule: never, ever reveal his true identity. Because the one man Damen needs is the one man who has more reason to hate him than anyone else…

I was beyond grateful and excited when I recived this series in the mail from Berkley publishers. I’d heard so many people just losing their minds over it. So I was ready to join in the fun. :)

Captive Prince started out really strong for me. I was instantly intrigued by this Prince (Damen) who was being carted away as a slave and being delivered into the hands of another Prince (Laurent). These guys aren’t friends, btw. Damen killed Laurent’s brother, so he’s always been out for his head, but when they finally come face to face with Damen as a slave, Laurent doesn’t know that he’s looking at his brother’s killer. Or does he?! LET THE GAMES BEGIN!

I was warned that this series would be “pretty dark with some serious sexual slavery portrayals” and it was! And I think a lot of the reason why this book is my lowest rated in the series is because I felt too much time was focused on showing us how bad it was for slaves in Laurent’s kingdom when what I really wanted was just a lot of Damen and Laurent period. But I get that why it was set up this way.

Also, expect nothing to happen between these two. Settle in for the long haul. They have a lot of crap between them before anything romantic or physical can happen between the two of them.

I was worried that since I didn’t love this book I wouldn’t enjoy the rest of the series, so I continued on with tamped down enthusiasm….

 

Series Review: Captive Prince by C.S. PacatPrince's Gambit by C.S. Pacat
Series: Captive Prince #2
Published by Berkley
Pub Date: July 7th 2015
Pages: 404
Format: Paperback | Source: Publisher
Genres: Adult, Historical, LGBT, Romance
Buy the book! | Goodreads
3 Stars

With their countries on the brink of war, Damen and his new master, Prince Laurent, must exchange the intrigues of the palace for the sweeping might of the battlefield as they travel to the border to avert a lethal plot.

Forced to hide his identity, Damen finds himself increasingly drawn to the dangerous, charismatic Laurent. But as the fledgling trust between the two men deepens, the truth of secrets from both their pasts is poised to deal them the crowning death blow…

Prince’s Gambit takes us out of the castle and into the lands and already I liked it so much better! For one, the Damen and Laurent pagetime increased, so YAY! Secondly, with their countries about to go to war, there’s so much scheming and stratergizing that goes on and I really loved that. It made it exciting again.

Something more was building between Damen and Laurent and tension started to get delicious. Will they, won’t they, WHEN, DAMMIT!! All I’ll say is, settle in for the long haul with these two, because the payoff will be worth it.

There’s also the question of will Damen reveal his identity to Laurent. It feels he’s on the cusp of it throughout the book and you won’t get an answer to that until the end either.

There’s this EPIC battle scene near the end that left me saying “whoa” and after it’s over EVERYTHING IS REVEALED! That was a scene I was so looking forward to and it left me so surprised. Definitly not what I was expecting, but in a good way.

Overall the second book made me excited to continue reading. It took away my worries that I wouldn’t enjoy the series after all.

 

Series Review: Captive Prince by C.S. PacatKings Rising by C.S. Pacat
Series: Captive Prince #3
Published by Berkley
Pub Date: February 2nd 2016
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback | Source: Publisher
Genres: Adult, Historical, LGBT, Romance
Buy the book! | Goodreads
3.5 Stars

Damianos of Akielos has returned.

His identity now revealed, Damen must face his master Prince Laurent as Damianos of Akielos, the man Laurent has sworn to kill.

On the brink of a momentous battle, the future of both their countries hangs in the balance. In the south, Kastor's forces are massing. In the north, the Regent's armies are mobilising for war. Damen's only hope of reclaiming his throne is to fight together with Laurent against their usurpers.

Forced into an uneasy alliance the two princes journey deep into Akielos, where they face their most dangerous opposition yet. But even if the fragile trust they have built survives the revelation of Damen's identity - can it stand against the Regent's final, deadly play for the throne?

I was a little nervous going in because I didn’t know how Damen and Laurent’s dynamic would be affected by everything being out in the open and oooooh, was it ever affected. But the best part is that even though they were at odds, they still had to work SO CLOSELY together in this one to get their countries in order and out of the hands of usurpers.

I loved that we got to see Laurent in situations where his true self could finally shine. Before this book he’d kept himself really private but I knew there was so much more to him and we finally got to see it. Damen on the other hand was always pretty much an open book throughout the series, aside from the hiding his identity thing. He never wavered, while Laurent wasn’t a sure thing. I always felt he was very cunning and would somehow betray Damen in the end. But I worried for nothing. These guys are loyal!

The ending was really gratifying and when I closed the book I was happy I’d read it and stuck with it. It’s been a very long while since I’ve binged a series like that.

gwtw-separate-line

Some general thoughts on the series as a whole that I wanted to mention:

So much of the story is Damen and Laurent and their quest to take back their kingdoms… I didn’t feel like we got a good sense of what the people of thier land are like. I often wondered why it was that being love slaves was such a high regarded position, or why slavery exsisted at all. It was never really explained. And why mostly men? And why young men? There’s hardly any women in this series, and the ones we do meet aren’t that great.

Obviously none of these things affacted my overall feelings but they are thoughts I had that I wanted to share with you all.

Series Rating: 3.5 Stars

 

Have you guys read this series? Is it one you’ll be reading soon? Let me know in the comments!

 

Jess @ Gone with the Words

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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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Bitsy Words: Fly With Me by Chanel Cleeton

3rd Jun 2016 Jess @ Gone with the Words 2016, Bitsy Words, Contemporary Romance Reading Challenge, Reviews, Reviews by Jess

Bitsy Words: Fly With Me by Chanel Cleeton

Bitsy Words: Fly With Me by Chanel CleetonFly With Me by Chanel Cleeton
Series: Wild Aces #1
Published by Berkley
Pub Date: May 3rd 2016
Pages: 320
Format: eARC | Source: NetGalley
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Buy the book! | Goodreads
4 Stars

U.S. Air Force fighter pilot Noah Miller—call sign Burn—loves nothing more than flying hard and fast. When he meets a gorgeous and sassy woman while partying in Las Vegas, he immediately locks on to her.

Jordan Callahan owns a thriving clothing boutique, but her love life is far less successful. Her luck changes when six feet, two inches of sexy swagger asks her to dance and turns her world upside down.

One scorching weekend becomes an undeniable chemistry that they can’t leave in Vegas. But the long distance relationship and their different lives threaten to ground their romance. And when the dangers of Noah’s job become all too real, Jordan learns being with a fighter pilot means risking it all for a shot at love…

There’s something really sexy about Air Force pilots. Maybe it’s the aviators, I don’t know! But as soon as I saw Chanel Cleeton was writing this, I knew it would be SPOT ON. How do I know this? Read her bio. ;) SHE KNOWS WHAT SHE’S TALKING ABOUT.

I’m always a fan of Chanel’s books and they seem to get more polished the more she writes. This one was really well done. I loved the sexiness, the emotional moments, the drama was never over the top… it was just everything I love about a good romance novel.

Jordan and Noah’s eye meet across the dance floor of a Vegas club and it was lust at first sight. There’s something to be said about a strong physical connection. These two had it and it worked for them. I loved how committed they became to each other even though they were a long distance apart. Both Jordan and Noah found something in each other that they’d been missing and their love story just unfolded, albeit non-traditionally, but certainly in beautiful way.

We got to meet a lot of Noah’s squad in Fly With Me, and talk about #suadgoals. I feel like there’s some even more emotional stories on the way from this group and I’m really looking forward to them.

Start your summer romance reading fun with this sexy book!

 

About Chanel Cleeton

Originally a Florida girl, at seventeen Chanel moved to London to attend an international university. In the four years that followed, she received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees, learned how to dance, travelled through Europe, and made lifelong friendships. Chanel fell in love with London and planned to stay there forever. But fate intervened on a Caribbean cruise, when an American fighter pilot with smooth dance moves, swept her off her feet.

Now, a happily ever after later, Chanel is living her next adventure in South Korea. An avid reader and hopeless romantic, she is happiest curled up with a book. She has a weakness for handbags, puppy cuddles, and her fighter pilot husband. Chanel writes New Adult contemporary romances and Young Adult thrillers. Her New Adult debut, I SEE LONDON, will be released by Harlequin (HQN) on February 3, 2014, followed by a sequel, LONDON FALLING, later in the year.

Jess @ Gone with the Words

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Review: Don’t You Cry by Mary Kubica

18th May 2016 Ashley @ Gone with the Words 2016, Reviews, Reviews by Ashley

Review: Don’t You Cry by Mary KubicaDon't You Cry by Mary Kubica
Published by Mira
Pub Date: May 17th 2016
Pages: 320
Format: ARC | Source: Publisher
Genres: Adult, Mystery, Thriller
Buy the book! | Goodreads
4 Stars

New York Times bestselling author of The Good Girl, Mary Kubica returns with an electrifying and addictive tale of deceit and obsession 

In downtown Chicago, a young woman named Esther Vaughan disappears from her apartment without a trace. A haunting letter addressed to My Dearest is found among her possessions, leaving her friend and roommate Quinn Collins to wonder where Esther is and whether or not she's the person Quinn thought she knew.

Meanwhile, in a small Michigan harbor town an hour outside Chicago, a mysterious woman appears in the quiet coffee shop where eighteen-year-old Alex Gallo works as a dishwasher. He is immediately drawn to her charm and beauty, but what starts as an innocent crush quickly spirals into something far more dark and sinister than he ever expected.

As Quinn searches for answers about Esther, and Alex is drawn further under Pearl's spell, master of suspense Mary Kubica takes readers on a taut and twisted thrill ride that builds to a stunning conclusion and shows that no matter how fast and far we run, the past always catches up with us in the end.

I’ve had a few Mary Kubica’s books on my TBR for a while now, so when this one came across my desk, I decided to give it a try. The book is broken up into days Sunday through Thursday (when Esther goes missing) and told in alternating points of view between Quinn and Alex.

Quinn wakes up on a Sunday morning to find her roommate Esther missing. With her bedroom window open and her alarm blaring, Esther is no where to be found. Whats more odd is her purse and phone are still at home. Even though Quinn knows something is wrong, she isn’t quite sure what to do and when the police tell her she has to wait to file a missing persons report, Quinn decides to start her own investigation. Ransacking Esther’s room Quinn discovers things about Esther’s past that makes her begin to question her own safety.

Alex was supposed to be starting college this year but he has to stay behind and take care of his alcoholic father. He works at the diner in town and knows mostly everyone who comes in, except the mysterious brunette who always sits by the window and watches the houses across the street. Alex becomes obsessed, he can’t stop thinking about her and even waits hours after his shift end just to catch a glimpse of her. When he does end up finding the mystery girl, she’s in an abandoned house across the street from his own house. The more Alex gets to know the woman, the more mysterious she becomes, and when he discovers who she really is, his whole world comes crashing down.

I enjoyed reading Don’t You Cry, it was very well written and fun to read. The way Kubica weaves the story and the character had me running in circles trying to figure out what was really going on. I would definitely recommend to anyone looking for a good mystery, it’s not too scary or gory, and I love the creepy-ish cover!

 

Ashley @ Gone with the Words

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