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: 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: 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.

Rubi @ Gone with the Words

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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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Review: Choose Us by Caylie Marcoe

18th Jul 2016 Rubi @ Gone with the Words 2016, Contemporary Romance Reading Challenge, Reviews, Reviews by Rubi

Review: Choose Us by Caylie MarcoeChoose Us by Caylie Marcoe
Series: Xtreme Bachelor #1
Published by Author
Pub Date: April 4th 2014
Pages: 264
Format: eBook | Source: Gifted
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Buy the book! | Goodreads
3 Stars

Riley Logan and Travis Grayson have been best friends for the last fifteen years. She would do anything for him, go anywhere for him...and she has, countless times. Except now. Now he's asking for too much. Their friendship has reached a breaking point and she doesn't know how to go back. But as Travis' personal assistant, Riley spends her every waking moment by his side. When a fractured ankle puts Travis' BMX career on hold he's given more downtime than he knows what to do with. Always one for excitement, he agrees to become the bachelor on a televised dating show, but only if Riley goes in undercover to help weed through the girls. What was supposed to be eight weeks of freedom has turned into eight weeks of hell surrounded by desperate girls all vying for Travis' attention. He promised her the show would be smooth sailing. He promised he would listen to her advice on which girls should be eliminated. But now he's breaking those promises and getting way too close to the girl Riley despises the most. She shouldn't care. Except she does. Much to her surprise there is one girl she wants Travis to choose... Her. Will she get what she wants, or will Riley lose her best friend along with getting her heart broken on national television?

As y’all know, I love a good “from friendship to dating” tale! That combined with The Bachelor – well it was a good read! I’m a huge fan of friends to lovers because there’s so much more history between the characters. Nothing feels forced or “insta” and that causes for a stronger and more believable connection.

This is the story of Travis, a pro bmx rider, and Riley, his best friend of 15 years and his personal assistant. While taking a break from riding, Travis is offered to star as a bachelor in a new reality tv show. He’ll only accept the offer if Riley comes along and helps him weed out the bad girls. Riley reluctantly agrees and in doing so she not only joins Travis, but goes undercover as one of the contestants vying for Travis’ love. In that process, the dynamic between our two main characters begins to shift and they are left trying to figure out what to do about their feelings since, as the old saying goes, the show must go on.

I felt for Riley because she had the tough job of having to balance being honest with Travis about the girls without coming off as petty to viewers. When the show ended, her life would still be impacted by what the audience thought of her. As feelings began to emerge it really threw the course of the show for a spin and, as a viewer, I would’ve totally been rooting her! I like that the author had Riley build the onscreen friendships she did because it added to the plot and kept Choose Us from being solely based on the love story. The friendships were strong and that kept me wondering how those friendships would hold up when the girls found out who Riley really was.

One of my favorite things about Caylie Marcoe‘s writing style was her detailed description of scenes! She truly did an amazing job at describing in great detail the different settings and it really helped to visualize the story as it was happening.

My pet peeve with Choose Us was with Riley’s character and how difficult she could be at times. I understood the predicament she was in, but the tantrums she’d throw just seemed a bit much at times. Granted, I could never go through the process of a tv show like The Bachelor, but if I somehow found myself in her situation then I would have placed more trust in my bestfriend.

All in all, this was a good quick read and I think those that would enjoy it most are my fellow  The Bachelor fans. This concept of having someone on the inside really peaked my interest! There are SO many times when us viewers get to see the true colors of contestants and it’s mind boggling how the bachelor/bachelorette continues to keep them around. A season with this kind of a twist would be super interesting to watch!

 

Rubi @ Gone with the Words

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Bitsy Words: Dating Sarah Cooper by Siera Maley

15th Jul 2016 Morgan @ Gone with the Words 2016, Bitsy Words, Contemporary Romance Reading Challenge, Reviews, Reviews by Morgan

Bitsy Words: Dating Sarah Cooper by Siera Maley

Bitsy Words: Dating Sarah Cooper by Siera MaleyDating Sarah Cooper by Siera Maley
Published by Author
Pub Date: July 30th 2014
Pages: 242
Format: eBook | Source: Purchased
Genres: Contemporary, LGBT, Romance, Young Adult
Buy the book! | Goodreads
5 Stars

Katie Hammontree and Sarah Cooper have been best friends since the 2nd grade. Katie's welcoming, tight-knit family is a convenient substitute for Sarah when her distant parents aren't around, and Sarah's abrasive, goal-oriented personality gels well with Katie's more laid-back approach to life.
But when a misunderstanding leads to the two of them being mistaken for a couple and Sarah uses the situation to her advantage, Katie finds herself on a roller coaster ride of ambiguous sexuality and confusing feelings. How far will Sarah go to keep up the charade, and why does kissing her make Katie feel more alive than kissing her ex-boyfriend Austin ever did? And how will their new circle of gay friends react when the truth comes out?

This is the kind of fluff I’m always looking for! I read Dating Sarah Cooper in about 4 hours and I really loved it. First of all, Katie and Sarah are extremely likeable despite the very unlikeable fake dating scenario they find themselves in at the start of the book. I loved their voices (especially Sarah) and I really liked the other characters as well. Not all of them were super fleshed out but there’s a good bit of “more than meets the eye” going on.

 

I also adored Katie’s parents and how close and supportive they were of her. One of my favorite scenes is when they reassure her they’ve always “known” about Katie because Katie isn’t even sure what she knows about herself! It was very sweet, but also kind of hilarious and a good turning point. Their quarterly family date night was such a fun idea too!

Not being LGBT myself (but knowing this book comes highly recommended from people who are), I thought Dating Sarah Cooper did a really wonderful job of exploring sexuality, prejudice, and how that all gets confused and fits into high school life. I loved watching Katie’s journey especially, the way she explained and sorted through her feelings, and gosh, this book was just CUTE ok!?! And had some very swoony kissing and really nice friendships. I totally loved it.

 

 

Morgan @ Gone with the Words

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Review: The Summer After You And Me by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski

11th Jul 2016 Morgan @ Gone with the Words 2016, Contemporary Romance Reading Challenge, Reviews, Reviews by Morgan

Review: The Summer After You And Me by Jennifer Salvato DoktorskiThe Summer After You and Me by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski
Published by Sourcebooks Fire
Pub Date: May 5th 2015
Pages: 306
Format: eBook | Source: Purchased
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Goodreads
4 Stars

Will it be a summer of fresh starts or second chances?

For Lucy, the Jersey Shore isn't just the perfect summer escape, it's home. As a local girl, she knows not to get attached to the tourists. They breeze in during Memorial Day weekend, crowding her costal town and stealing moonlit kisses, only to pack up their beach umbrellas and empty promises on Labor Day. Still, she can't help but crush on charming Connor Malloy. His family spends every summer next door, and she longs for their friendship to turn into something deeper.

Then Superstorm Sandy sweeps up the coast, bringing Lucy and Connor together for a few intense hours. Except nothing is the same in the wake of the storm, and Lucy is left to pick up the pieces of her broken heart and her broken home. Time may heal all wounds, but with Memorial Day approaching and Connor returning, Lucy's summer is sure to be filled with fireworks.

The Summer After You and Me was such a delightful way to kick off the summer! I really enjoyed it. I grew up 5 minutes from the Jersey Shore myself, about an hour north of the town the book is set in, and it brought back all of these beach memories :)

The book takes place not long after Superstorm Sandy ravaged the East Coast in 2012, so there is definitely a somber tone throughout that’s balanced by the feeling of hope in the air. The town is rebuilding, everyone’s working to get back on their feet; it’s not without setbacks, but Seaside Park is getting there.

I really liked Lucy a lot; her interest in marine life and her academic drive coupled with her love of her hometown was refreshing! I loved her inner monologue, her love of the ocean, and her varied interests. I also loved her relationships with the people in her life. There was a lot of drama, included love triangles, but it felt like very realistic teenage drama. The ache of having seasonal friends, fighting with your parents, growing pains within your friend group, feeling replaced, realizing that you and your boyfriend might not have been meant to be more than best friends, competing with your sibling, and all the other stress that goes along with being in high school.

The thing I liked most is that everyone has these moments where they realize people make mistakes. And it takes work to get relationships back on track but it was refreshing to see them apologize to each other, to be mature and really work on their friendships.

Sometimes the dialogue was cheesy and oh gosh years of missed opportunities is the worst, but the romance was also very sweet although I can’t say I shipped anything very much. I did like Connor and the shared history between him and Lucy. Sometimes the flashbacks got confusing and I couldn’t tell whether I was reading about present day or not.

Overall I would definitely recommend this book to contemporary fans. It wasn’t earth-shattering but I could feel the ocean breeze and smell the boardwalk food. It has a unique New Jersey flavor mixed with summer romance and real relationships between family and friends, which was very appealing.

Have you read TSAYAM yet? What other summer books do you love? And have you ever been “down the shore”? Let me know in the comments!

 

Morgan @ 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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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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