ARC Review: Blow by Heidi McLaughlin

Blow (Virtuous Paradox, #1)

Blow
(Virtuous Paradox #1)
Author: Heidi McLauglin
Publisher: Loveswept
Date of Publication: November 8, 2016
Genre: Romance, New Adult, Contemporary

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Synopsis new

Meet the complicated men behind the sexiest boy band in America! In Blow, the start of an emotionally charged series from bestselling author Heidi McLaughlin, an insatiable heartthrob gets blinded by the spotlight—and learns to fight for love.

Bodhi McKnight has always had everything handed to him on a silver platter: fame, success, money, girls. The raven-haired, blue-eyed hottie is the son of Hollywood A-listers, and when he’s asked to join the boy band Virtuous Paradox, his star shoots even higher. But so do expectations, leading Bodhi down a destructive path of addiction—until a drop-dead gorgeous guardian angel shows him her sizzling brand of tough love.

When Bodhi ends up in rehab, he doesn’t expect to meet someone as cool and down-to-earth as Kimberly Gordon. Although he’s enjoyed the company of beautiful, charming women before, none of them have tried to get to know the “real” Bodhi. But Kimberly isn’t fazed by his stardom. She’d rather go horseback riding, teach Bodhi to play guitar, or ask him about his feelings. Soon Bodhi realizes he’s fallen head over heels for her. He just hopes that he’s strong enough to protect what they have from all the pressures and temptations of the outside world.

Includes a special message from the editor, as well as an excerpt from another Loveswept title.

my thoughts new

So I’ve heard a lot of great things about Heidi McLaughlin and her previous rock star series and I admit that I really wanted to delve into those books prior to reading this. This is my first Heidi McLaughlin read. Sad to say, I was disappointed.

While Blow has an interesting premise about a rock star falling for an ordinary woman who helps him get over his drug addiction, this book was ruined by a lot of things. For once, both the male lead and the heroine were not likable enough for me to feel fascinated with their story.

There was an absolute insta-love insta-lust. All throughout the book all Bodhi McKnight and Kimberly Gordon ever did was lust after each other. I didn’t really think that what they felt for each other was love at all. There were also scenes that kind of made me cringe. Tell you what, I am not against over-the-top sensual scenes but when (view spoiler).

I also wasn’t sold on how Bodhi’s drug addiction quickly faded. Drug addiction has never been an easy condition to be dealt with and to be easily treated. It may take more than 30 days for a person to completely be sober without thinking about going back to it and without experiencing some undesired symptoms all throughout the recovery process. So no, I wasn’t convinced.

And oh, did I tell you that there was cheating involved here? Not that it was done willingly, but still, it was cheating. Ugh.

As a whole, I did not like this book. Things were just too unbelievable and unrealistic for me that I found myself having a hard time resisting the urge to groan in frustration.

(An ARC was provided to me by Loveswept Publishing and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Rating:

2.5

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Review: Anatomy of a Player by Cindi Madsen

Anatomy of a Player (Taking Shots, #2)

Anatomy of a Player
(Taking Shots #2)
Author: Cindi Madsen
Publisher: Entangled: Embrace
Published: January 25, 2016
Genre: Romance, New Adult, Contemporary

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Synopsis new

This bad boy is about to get played…

After getting her heart broken by a player again, Whitney Porter is done with men. She’s focusing on her future career and her first assignment at the college newspaper: Posing as a sports writer for an exposé on the extra perks jocks receive. But Hudson Decker, the bad boy of the hockey team, is about to test her resolve. To keep herself from breaking her no-sex rule with the temptingly tattooed athlete, she decides to use him for a side project: Anatomy of a Player, to help Whitney—and women everywhere—spot a player, learn what makes him tick, and how to avoid falling for one.

With his life spiraling out of control, Hudson Decker’s looking for a distraction. When his teammates bet him that he can’t land the gorgeous but prickly new reporter, he accepts the challenge, boasting he’ll have her in bed by the end of the semester. But Whitney is so much more than Hudson expected, and soon enough, he’s in too deep. The last thing he needs is another complication, but staying away isn’t an option. One thing’s for certain: this girl totally throws him off his game.

my thoughts new

Anatomy of a Player is much better compared to the first book of the series. However, it took me a while to warm up to the story.

The book follows journalism student Whitney Porter and ice hockey player Hudson Decker. After getting Whitney’s heart broken by her cheating ex, she swore to never fall in love again with guys– most especially athletes. When she met hockey star Hudson though, her plans to avoid athletes failed. It’s difficult to resist a sexy, tatted, and packed-with-abs guy who knows how to treat her right. When she knew she’s about to fall for him, that’s the time when conflict began. Dating him is not an option because she’s also secretly working for an article that may destroy Hudson’s hockey life.

The writing once again especially awed me. It was good! There was also an angst here which made me like it. However, Whitney turned me off. She was weak for a character. And she didn’t fail to annoy me most of the time. For once, she was so full of drama and the way she treated Hudson at the first few chapters was immature.

While I loved that there were also conflicts, I found the story packed with too many issues and problems and that’s just so frustrating.

1. Hudson has mommy issues.
2. Hudson is having academic problems.
3. Hudson has a bet with his teammates that he can get Whitney to sleep with him.
4. Whitney has relationship issues.
5. Whitney is secretly writing an article that may hurt Hudson.

Yep, too many issues.

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As a whole, The Anatomy of a Player was just okay. It could have been a lovable NA romance book if there weren’t too many issues that ruined my enjoyment.

Rating:

3 Stars

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Review: Lead by Kylie Scott

Lead (Stage Dive, #3)

Lead
(Stage Dive #3)
Author: Kylie Scott
Publisher: Macmillan Australia
Published: July 29, 2014
Genre: Romance, New Adult, Adult, Contemporary

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Synopsis new

Stay up all night with the sexy rockers in Stage Dive, the epic New Adult series from New York Times bestselling author Kylie Scott, author of Lick and Play.

As the lead singer of Stage Dive, Jimmy is used to getting whatever he wants, whenever he wants it, whether it’s booze, drugs, or women. However, when a PR disaster serves as a wake-up call about his life and lands him in rehab, he finds himself with Lena, a new assistant to keep him out of trouble.

Lena’s not willing to take any crap from the sexy rocker and is determined to keep their relationship completely professional, despite their sizzling chemistry. But when Jimmy pushes her too far and Lena leaves, he realizes that he may just have lost the best thing that ever happened to him.

my thoughts new

“God damn mother-f*cking rock stars.”

I honestly didn’t think I would love Jimmy Ferris because he was such a douche in the previous books. But my oh my. This book totally changed my opinion and feelings for him.

James Dylan “Jimmy” Ferris, Stage Dive’s lead singer, is a difficult man to understand. He comes full of baggage. Spoiled, vain, and sensitive, the way he manages his issues changed when Lena Morrissey came into his life as his personal live-in assistant. Lena is a different girl. She doesn’t put up with Jimmy’s crap, thus they were like a cat and a dog who are always at clash with each other. But because they seriously have this strange connection between them and a chemistry that is so apparent, Lena slowly became infatuated with him. However, relationship is not in Jimmy’s vocabulary so she has to hide her feelings.

“Whatever he might be, Jimmy Ferris was special and complicated, beautiful and beastly, all rolled into one.”

I loved how their relationship had no insta-love. The build-up was done so well and it was packed with sexual tension and frustration. lol. I especially loved their banters and those parts where Jimmy tried so hard to control his jealousy each time Lena is with another guy. You can expect to find a push and pull kind of romance here which I found really entertaining. All throughout the book, all I was ever hoping for was for them to say those magic words and finally be together as a couple.

I guess what truly made this book stand out was the way Jimmy’s character was fleshed out and how his family issues were highlighted. I finally understood why he’s acting like a jerk. It’s because of this book that I realized he’s more than just a tortured hero. He’s a man who’s also capable to care for someone as good as Lena. Another thing that made me appreciate this book was Lena’s patience to Jimmy and her acceptance to his issues. It was quite remarkable. I just wished this book highlighted Jimmy’s performance on stage. I would have loved to see him singing on stage together with his bandmates. Also, I wished the resolution to their conflict wasn’t that rushed.

All in all, Lead was a knock-my-socks-off kind of book. There was certainly A LOT to love about it. Definitely one of the entertaining and wonderfully written sequels ever!

“Love came in all sorts of shapes and size, but if it wasn’t based upon doing what was right for the one you loved, then what was it worth, really?”

Rating:

4 stars

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Blog Tour & Review: Mr. President by Katy Evans

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Mr. President (White House, #1)

Mr. President
(White House #1)
Author: Katy Evans
Publisher: Katy Evans
Published: October 31, 2016
Genre: Romance, Adult, New Adult, Contemporary

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Synopsis new

From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Katy Evans comes a sizzling new contemporary romance.

He’s won the hearts of millions. But is he willing to lose his?

I met the president’s son when we were both young. Matthew Hamilton was handsome, polished, and intelligent. I’d never met a guy like him.

He promised me that he’d never run for president. I promised that if he did, I’d be by his side.

Three terms later, an invitation to join Matthew Hamilton’s campaign is the most exhilarating opportunity I’ve ever experienced. I’m determined to make a difference; he is determined to win.

Focused on his goal, Matt is steadfast, ruthless, and disarming. All eyes are on him and his popularity is surging. But soon, the next possible president of the United States is possessing me in more ways than one—and despite the risks, I’m helpless to resist.

We’re stealing touches, stealing moments, and stealing away at night. But our chemical connection is quickly becoming dangerously combustive, putting not only my heart, but Matt’s chance at the presidency on the line.

Winning will take everything. Walking away will be the hardest thing of all.

my thoughts new

 

(I’ve read this book together with my lovely sis Bea. Click her name to read her wonderful review.)

You can always count on Katy Evans delivering such a novel complete with a perfect mix of angst and steam. I’ve been a fan of her works since her Manwhore series because of her way of writing that is simply addicting and her Alpha male men that are hot and irresistible.

Apparently Mr. President has rendered me utterly amazed. It was an all-consuming novel, so different compared to her previous works. As what the blurb says, this book tells a story about two characters living in a political world, Matthew “Matt” Hamilton and Chralotte Wells. Matt is the son of an ex US President while Charlotte is the daughter of an ex Senator. They first met when Charlotte was 11 years old and Matt and her father went to her family’s house for a visit. She has been crushing on Matt ever since that day and she even promised to support him if he ever runs for presidency in the future. Now after 11 years, they met again and this time, Matt is already a candidate for President and Charlotte is working for his campaign.

“You will not be the reason for me losing. If anything, you’ll be the reason for me winning.”

What made this book stand out for me was the off-the-charts chemistry between Charlotte and Matt. They simply hit it off! I loved how their relationship was built up from a simple crush to a deep attraction which later on bloomed into sexual tension and frustration and yes– white-hot love.

“She grounds me. She obsesses me. She fuels me. This woman not only makes me want to be a great man, she makes me want to be the best goddamn president that ever lived.”

Both characters are also likeable. Matt is such a sweet and passionate person. The way he looks at Charlotte like he’s the last woman on earth even when there are tons of people around. Oh MY GOD. And don’t even get me started on his irresistible charm that wins millions of people. On the other hand, I adore Charlotte’s character. She’s a natural. She has a soft heart for the place where she grew up and she’s a down to earth person despite the fact that she belongs to a well-endowed family.

What’s even great about Charlotte’s character is the way she loves Matt in a selfless way. She doesn’t set expectations right when they started their secret love affair. She knows what’s bound to happen and that their relationship is about to fall when America chooses Matt as the next president. She’s not whiny and needy and these qualities made me love her.

“I don’t care about more. I don’t care that there is no future for us if he wins. I won’t deny us both this moment. He said he needs me. And I need him.”

As for the ending, well, this was me after that ending…

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…a hot mess. A steaming pile of mess.

It’s not yet a happily-ever-after for Charlotte and Matt but the ending promised all kinds of feels and goodness in the upcoming sequel. And I so need the next installment so bad it hurts!

A real page-turner, this book is no doubt one of the best romance novels I’ve read this year and possibly one of the most beautiful political romance books ever written. The story was brought out in a passionate and intoxicating way. The angst was overwhelming and the love the characters both share for each other made this book a keeper. Yet another book added to my favorites shelf!

“Love has no place in the White House.”

(An ARC was provided by the author Katy Evans in exchange for an honest review)

Rating:

5 stars new

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ARC Review: Beautiful Crazy by Kasey Lane

Beautiful Crazy (Rock 'n' Ink, #1)

Beautiful Crazy
(Rock ‘n’ Ink #1)
Author: Kasey Lane
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Date of Publication: November 1, 2016
Genre: Romance, Adult, New Adult, Contemporary

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Synopsis new

“Vibrant and sexy! The chemistry between Kevan and Mason is explosive and I was cheering for their happy ever after from page one.” -Stefanie London, USA Today bestselling author of the Dangerous Bachelors Club series

“You confound me. You’re all these maddening contradictions that don’t make any sense… And I can’t get enough of your special brand of beautiful crazy.”

She’s a rocker with attitude and ink…
He’s a sexy suit who gets what he wants

Kevan Landry is trying to keep her life on track and her brother in rehab. If her fledgling marketing firm can sign the hot new band, Manix Curse, it will make a world of difference. Mason Dillon heads the most successful music PR firm in Portland. He’s desperate to breathe new life into the company by signing Manix Curse.

The last thing either one needs is a one-night stand with a smoldering stranger…

The stakes are high when a battle for the band-in the bedroom and the boardroom-becomes a battle of the heart. But if these two can set aside their differences, they may find they’re the right mix of sexy savvy to conquer both their worlds.

“Get ready for your new auto-buy author! Kasey Lane’s debut hits all the high notes in this rock-infused love story! I loved it!” -Megan Crane, USA Today bestselling author of Edge of Control and Devil’s Honor

“Beautiful Crazy is like driving a vintage convertible in August-hot to the touch and sexy as hell!” -Kaylie Newell, author of the Wolfe Creek series

my thoughts new

If I could describe this book in one word, it would be “kick-ass”. Tatted and with punk personality, our heroine Kevan Landry is on a mission and that is to sign the coolest metal band known as “Manix Curse” as her first major entertainment marketing client. However, someone is ruining her chances and that is Mason Dillon— CEO of Global Entertainment Marketing who happens to also pursue Manix Curse for the same project. Worse, he also happens to be the guy she had a one-night-stand with at a club.

While Beautiful Crazy didn’t capture me like I wish it would, there were still parts that I enjoyed. Like Kevan and Mason’s push and pull romance. I loved that these two were able to bring out the best in them by simply having that tight competition they were up against each other. At first I thought I wouldn’t like Kevan’s street-smart personality (I envisioned her to be somewhat sarcastic) but I was wrong. She was indeed a likeable character. She’s responsible and success-driven– things that I like about a character.

The only thing that made this book quite a drawback was Mason. His character wasn’t that consistent. When he was introduced at the first chapter during their club scene, he appeared to be like all-Alpha and panty-dropping dominant but later on his character did change and as I went through the pages, I no longer saw any glimpse of his Alpha personality. Instead I saw a man with playful, carefree playboy personality. Where did that Mason-from-the-club go???

The romance was good. There were of course tons of hot and smexy scenes in places and the chemistry was also palpable. There was also a conflict but the resolution was fairly predictable. I found the writing also promising, although I wish this book was written in a 1st person POV. I don’t know but reading it in a 3rd person POV sounds a bit awkward. As a whole, it was a good romance book but it didn’t really knock my socks off. I would recommend it to fans of romance books with one-night-stand tropes.

(An ARC was provided to me by Sourcebooks Casablanca and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Rating:

3 Stars

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Review: A Place in the Sun by R.S. Grey

A Place in the Sun

A Place in the Sun
Author: R.S. Grey
Publisher: Entangled: Embrace
Published: October 24, 2016
Genre: Romance, New Adult, Contemporary
My Rating:

2 Stars smile

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Synopsis new

When her mother’s incessant matchmaking hits an all-time high, Georgie Archibald does what any sensible woman would do: she flees the country.

Seeking refuge in the picturesque seaside village of Vernazza, Italy, Georgie’s only plan is to lie low, gorge herself on gelato, and let the wine and waves wash her troubles away… that is until she wakes up in a bed that belongs to the most romantic-looking man she’s ever seen.

Gianluca.

After going out of his way to rescue her, the former London financier turned mysterious recluse makes it clear that despite acting as her white knight, he has no plans to co-star in her fairytale.

But Georgie isn’t asking for his heart—she’s merely intrigued.

After all, Gianluca isn’t just gorgeous—tall and tan from days spent in the sun—his touch sets her world on fire. With him, Georgie experiences the most intoxicating passion she’s ever known, and it only takes a few steamy nights for her to realize that sometimes running away from trouble is the best way to find it.

my thoughts new

I’m afraid I’ll be steering myself away from R.S. Grey books for a while. It just doesn’t work for now. I think With This Heart will always remain my favorite book written by her. It was so much better. *sigh

A Place in the Sun opens when Georgie Archibald abruptly packed her things up for a trip to Vernazza, Italy due to her mom’s incessant lecture on how she should take time for a relationship. In Vernazza she met two Italian cousins namely Massimo and the hot incarnate Gianluca/”Luca”. Georgie instantly got intrigued and became attracted to Luca but the Italian man wasn’t that into her because up to that moment, he still hasn’t moved on from the death of his late wife.

The setting was so enchanting and the way the tourist spots were described was well-detailed and I think that’s the only thing I found fascinating here. I didn’t particularly connect with the characters and their story. The fact that Georgie was obsessing over Luca for almost every part of the book also didn’t help. It really frustrates me when heroines force themselves to guys who don’t even consider throwing the attention back.

“To me, Gianluca is the sun.”

Both characters lacked chemistry and spark and at times I felt the romance was forced. I wasn’t also convinced when it comes to the ending. And that certain thing that happened to Georgie which changed everything in the end… it was unnecessary. A Place in the Sun, as whole, was difficult for me to like. If you love romance books that are set in beautiful places like Italy though, I think you still have to try this book. 🙂

Rating:

2 Stars smile

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Review: All Lined Up by Cora Carmack

All Lined Up (Rusk University, #1)

All Lined Up
(Rusk University #1)
Author: Cora Carmack
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Published: May 13, 2014
Genre: Romance, New Adult, Contemporary
My Rating:

4

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Synopsis new

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Cora Carmack follows up her trio of hits—Losing It, Faking It, and Finding It—with this thrilling first novel in an explosive series bursting with the Texas flavor, edge, and steamy romance of Friday Night Lights.
In Texas, two things are cherished above all else—football and gossip. My life has always been ruled by both.

Dallas Cole loathes football. That’s what happens when you spend your whole childhood coming in second to a sport. College is her time to step out of the bleachers, and put the playing field (and the players) in her past.

But life doesn’t always go as planned. As if going to the same college as her football star ex wasn’t bad enough, her father, a Texas high school coaching phenom, has decided to make the jump to college ball… as the new head coach at Rusk University. Dallas finds herself in the shadows of her father and football all over again.

Carson McClain is determined to go from second-string quarterback to the starting line-up. He needs the scholarship and the future that football provides. But when a beautiful redhead literally falls into his life, his focus is more than tested. It’s obliterated.

my thoughts new

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My expectations were met when I thought I would love a Cora Carmack book. Her books have been on my radar since 2014, but because too many books too little time, it was only two days ago when I had my first taste of her work. And it certainly did not fail.

“Do you ever think that maybe that’s all people do? Fix some things and break others? And we all just live in this giant cycle where we screw things up and hurt people we love, and then we turn around and try to atone for that by fixing other things. And maybe we’re all just waiting on our turn for a broken heart and the person who will fix it.”

All Lined Up‘s plot revolves around two characters Dallas Cole and Carson McClain. Both students of Rusk University in Texas, their attraction started when they met in very strange situation while they were at a college party. However, no matter how strong their connection is, their booming relationship is bound to doom since Carson is one of the football players of Rusk where Dallas’s father is the coach. Since Carson has a goal of becoming a full scholar at the University, he vowed to never let Dallas become a distraction for his plans. But their chemistry is of course so strong that they find it hard to resist each other.

I am generally a sucker for college romance that has sports element so basically I expected this book to knock me off my feet. I ended up adoring it because Cora Carmack’s writing matches my taste. There was absolutely something beautiful about the way she writes a sweet book with a bit of an angst and mild steam. At first I was afraid that I would end up disliking it since the storyline is already worn out. The book reminds me of Whatever Life Throws at You and Moonshot where the heroines’ dads are heads of a certain sports team. But even if All Lined Up has a similarity to those books, it differs when it comes to the characterizations.

Dallas is one likeable character. I love that she knows what she wants to pursue in life which is dancing and how she’s very determined to attain it. Her relationship with her dad is so genuine that at times I was teary-eyed. Even when she’s growing up without a mom, she turned out such a strong girl. Carson, on the other hand, is also a character that’s worthy of admiration. He is not a typical sports hero who gets all the attention of the girls on campus. He is so down to earth. Growing up in a family who lacks sufficient money to support him in his education made him become a responsible, goal-driven person and that makes him my favorite character.

“I can’t walk away from you because I don’t want to. There are a thousand things I want and need to do, but you trump all of them You drive me to distraction, and all I want to do is get lost in you. All I want to do is make you lose it, too.”

The romantic development in this book is one of my most favorites. Dallas and Carson’s relationship was not forced. It developed so naturally. I loved how they shared each moment even if they were just stolen. I also loved that they are both family-oriented and that they learn lessons from each other as their relationship progressed.

All in all, it was a sweet and cute college sports romance. I couldn’t agree more with everyone who attest that Cora Carmack is a great story-teller. It’s proven. I can’t wait to read the next books in this series and the author’s other works.

Rating:

4

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