Rule by Jay Crownover

Over the years, I’ve had Jay Crownover’s Marked Men series pop up as a recommended series based on my read list on GoodReads. Whatever algorithm Goodreads uses to recommend things works, because it was absolutely right. Rule, the first novel in the New Adult series, was wildly entertaining.

17200687Opposites in every way . . . except the one that matters

Shaw Landon loved Rule Archer from the moment she laid eyes on him. Rule is everything a straight-A pre-med student like Shaw shouldn’t want—and the only person she’s never tried to please. She isn’t afraid of his scary piercings and tattoos or his wild attitude. Though she knows that Rule is wrong for her, her heart just won’t listen.

To a rebel like Rule Archer, Shaw Landon is a stuck-up, perfect princess-and his dead twin brother’s girl. She lives by other people’s rules; he makes his own. He doesn’t have time for a good girl like Shaw-even if she’s the only one who can see the person he truly is.

But a short skirt, too many birthday cocktails, and spilled secrets lead to a night neither can forget. Now, Shaw and Rule have to figure out how a girl like her and a guy like him are supposed to be together without destroying their love . . . or each other.

I’m always down for a good girl falling for the bad boy. No matter how unrealistic it seems at times. Granted, I know from experience that every good girl has a wild side waiting to come out. For a New Adult novel, this book had some heavy subject matter – dealing with the death of a friend/brother, the fracturing of a family, disowning parents, and unfulfilled longing for love and acceptance. It added some tangible substance between the tension-filled bickering and scorching moments of surrender.

I particularly enjoyed Rule as a damaged bad boy with tattoos and piercings – LOTS of piercings. There were a few eyebrow raising moments, but that’s what made this story so fun to read. I loved that Shaw was the complete opposite of Rule, clean-cut, rich and well-mannered. It made their relationship like the joining of fire and ice; it could get explosive.

My one complaint is I think Rule is a dumb name. Who would name their kid Rule? However, I loved the variety of secondary characters. I’m excited to read the rest of the series knowing I’ll get to hear the stories of some of my favorites like Rome and Jet.

STARS: 4 out of 5

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The Mighty Storm by Samantha Towle

The Mighty Storm by Samantha Towle has been on my radar for years. It was the New Adult book that everyone was talking about and I wanted in. Sadly, this book fell flat for me.

15724654It’s been twelve years since Tru Bennett last saw Jake Wethers, her former best friend and boy she once loved.

Jake Wethers, sexy, tattooed and deliciously bad lead singer, and brains behind The Mighty Storm, one of the biggest bands in the world, left Tru with a broken heart when he moved from England to America with his family when they were both fourteen.

Sent to interview Jake for her music column by the magazine she works for, they are both unprepared for the sparks that fly the instant they reconnect. Only, there’s a complication to their instant feelings for one another—Will, Tru’s boyfriend of two years.

Then Jake makes Tru a job offer she can’t refuse—travelling the world with him and his band. But taking the job means leaving Will behind, and being on the road with the band means spending an inordinate amount of time with Jake.

Is Tru strong enough to resist the delectable bad boy who once held her heart so completely, or will she willingly risk it all for one night with the world’s most notorious womanizer?

The Mighty Storm is the epitome of a new adult romance. It has the self-conscious heroine that doesn’t realize she’s beautiful and the arrogant, rich bad boy (in this case rock star) that demands her heart. Most of the time I’m okay with the stereotype, and even if there are moments that I cringe at the over-the-top, need-you-now, I’m-a-caveman dialogue, I can still fall into the story. However, I couldn’t get there with this book.

The first half of this novel was wildly entertaining. I enjoyed all the “Briticisms,” like saying boot instead of trunk or vest instead of a tank top. The story and characters were stereotypical, sure, but I enjoyed the first meeting, anticipated the first kiss and even endured the heart-wrenching love triangle. The first half felt like it was its own little story with a beginning, middle and end. About the half-way point is where I got lost. The story changes…it morphs into this obstacle-rich battle ground with dealbreakers coming in out of nowhere. Between one page and the next, the whole tone of the story flips from an authentic connection to a pessimistic interrogation.

Where The Mighty Storm fell flat the most was the character’s contradictory decision-making, specifically Tru. It’s impossible to describe without spoilers but she basically considers an act, that she had done herself, as unforgivable. It was such a hypocritical moment that I couldn’t side with either character. I was just done with the BS and didn’t want to read anymore. I skimmed through to the end to see how it all ended up, but it didn’t redeem this book for me.

The Mighty Storm was a letdown. It left me feeling like I wasted time.

STARS: 2 out of 5

My Book Slump – An Unfortunate Misadventure Told in Mini Reviews

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I am in a major book slump. I blame it on A Court of Mist and Fury. Nothing can compare to its brilliance and I’m having trouble reading anything in the YA Fantasy genre because of it. After reading a book that sets the bar really high in a genre, I have to take some time away so that I don’t immediately dislike everything else. Sometimes I have a Kanye-esque I’m-going-to-finish-reading-you-but-ACOMAF-is-the-best-book-of-all-time moment, which is incredibly bias and unfair to unsuspecting novels on my shelf.

In an effort to get my groove back, I ventured into different territories.

First Stop: New Adult Romance. Because a steamy romp fixes everything, right? Wrong.

23288101Brotherhood. Club. Family.

They live and ride by their own rules.

These are the Raven Riders . . .

Raven Riders Motorcycle Club President Dare Kenyon rides hard and values loyalty above all else. He’ll do anything to protect the brotherhood of bikers—the only family he’s got—as well as those who can’t defend themselves. So when mistrustful Haven Randall lands on the club’s doorstep scared that she’s being hunted, Dare takes her in, swears to keep her safe, and pushes to learn the secrets overshadowing her pretty smile.

Haven fled from years of abuse at the hands of her criminal father and is suspicious of any man’s promises, including those of the darkly sexy and overwhelmingly intense Ravens’ leader. But as the powerful attraction between them flares to life, Dare pushes her boundaries and tempts her to want things she never thought she could.

The past never dies without a fight, but Dare Kenyon’s never backed down before . . .

I started with a gritty, motorcycle club book with Ride Hard by Laura Kaye. Bad Boy meets good girl, sparks fly, book slump cured. Maybe? Laura Kaye is an author that I love, so I thought I couldn’t go wrong. Unfortunately, the story of Dare and Haven was too predictable and I didn’t engage well with the secondary characters. (Also, I’m binge-watching Sons of Anarchy and that show is killing my will to live with its cruelty. It’s badass, but evil. It may be affecting my level of enjoyment in MC fiction.)

It was a sweet story of one damaged soul saving another, but it didn’t have the level of desperation and emotional turmoil that I was expecting. Their relationship was a bit stagnant and cold between moments of heat, and the perception of disinterest left me, well, disinterested.

Usually, I’m all about the playing hard to get trope, but not here. See, this book slump is killing me slowly.

Next Stop: Try another New Adult by a favorite author (in case the first try was a fluke)

 

13614836A sexy category romance from Entangled’s Brazen imprint…

She’ll make him lose control…

Madison Daniels has worshipped her brother’s best friend since they were kids. Everyone thinks she and Chase Gamble would make the perfect couple, but there are two major flaws in their logic. 1) Chase has sworn off relationships of any kind, and 2) after blurring the line between friends and lovers for one night four years ago, they can’t stop bickering.

Forced together for her brother’s wedding getaway, Chase and Madison decide to call a truce for the happy couple. Except all bets are off when they’re forced to shack up in a tacky 70’s honeymoon suite and survive a multitude of “accidents” as the family tries to prove their “spark” can be used than for more than fighting. That is, if they don’t strangle each other first…

I know I’m in a serious book slump when a feel-good, New Adult novel from an author I love turns out to be an “okay” read. Granted, this book very well may be mediocre, but I couldn’t really get into it enough to verify from a balanced place of judgment.

Tempting the Best Man by J. Lynn (aka Jennifer L. Armentrout) is the first in a New Adult series. It was light-hearted but also frustrating. I don’t like it when the biggest issue in a relationship is a lack of communication (no matter how realistic that is) because one conversation between the main characters can resolve all the conflict in the entire book. I wasn’t feeling the usual heat that I expect from Armentrout. In fact, I wasn’t really feeling anything and that’s what made this book a dud for me.

Next Stop: Going Dark

22895913Innkeeper’s daughter Jane Heatherington is sold into indentured servitude to cover her father’s debts, sold to Aidan Warrick, a man whose handsome face and form mock the rumors that skulk in his shadow, rumors that paint him a smuggler, a pirate…and worse.

On the rainswept Cornish coast, Aidan’s business is carried out in the darkest hours of moonless nights, his secrets are many, and death follows in his wake. Isolated and alone, Jane’s only companion is the man she dare not trust, the man who looks at her with heated desire that she both fears and craves.

As she finds herself ensnared in the twisted schemes carried out within the walls of Aidan’s looming estate, Jane must decide if Aidan Warrick is the dark prince of her dreams or a monster preying on the innocent…

Note: All books in the Dark Gothic series can be read as stand-alone novels.

After failing to read a “happy romance,” I decided to go dark, gothic dark with a Historical Romance. Dark Prince by Eve Silver was an intriguing read. It had a menacing setting complete with overcast skies, tumultuous waves crashing upon rocky shores, leaf-filled cemeteries visited by ravens, and dead bodies washed ashore with no eyes. The female protagonist was damaged but determined, and the love interest was stoic yet sensitive. I got a Mr. Darcy feel from Aidan Warrick, and I admired Jane’s tenacity and kindness.

This book wasn’t uplifting by any means. The story is resolved in a satisfying manner where both of them learn from one another and become better people. It was a nice read, but still left me without a zest for that #booklife.

Next Stop: Tears, lots of tears

15507958Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.

Just when I was thinking my book slump was lifting, my book club picked Me Before You by JoJo Moyes for the July read.

If you’ve read this book, you know, YOU KNOW, what I mean when I say that this book was heartbreaking. I was so intrigued, so invested only to have my heart crushed into a million pieces. JoJo Moyes single-handedly sucked the joy of reading from my soul with this gut-wrenching story. Why, JoJo, Why? I knew it was going to be a sad read, but I didn’t like how certain things were shown, such as Lou’s breakdown, but then it didn’t show pertinent parts at the end.

I hate this book in that angry way where you are ugly crying with tissues but you don’t really mean it. I just need some time.

Next Stop: A cure?

I’m currently reading a YA Contemporary with extreme caution. I’m hoping this will bring me out of my miserable, negative-nancy, reading disease. My book slump is hitting epic proportions. The more I read the worse it gets, and I just kinda want to curl up and stare at nothing until I’m better.

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Any recommendations for books that will be a fix for my book slump?

Archer’s Voice by Mia Sheridan

Archer’s Voice by Mia Sheridan was a unique treat amongst the pile of romance novels out there. This story was special. It was moving. It was simply fantastic.

20639274When Bree Prescott arrives in the sleepy, lakeside town of Pelion, Maine, she hopes against hope that this is the place where she will finally find the peace she so desperately seeks. On her first day there, her life collides with Archer Hale, an isolated man who holds a secret agony of his own. A man no one else sees.

Archer’s Voice is the story of a woman chained to the memory of one horrifying night and the man whose love is the key to her freedom. It is the story of a silent man who lives with an excruciating wound and the woman who helps him find his voice. It is the story of suffering, fate, and the transformative power of love.

I’m usually not one to go for stories based on mythology, but this book is a must read. The writing was great, sucking you into the story immediately. The mystery behind Bree and Archer’s pasts had me flipping pages deep into the night. I had to see what would happen next.

Mia Sheridan created something beautiful with her character Archer. In the beginning, he was like a boy stuck in a man’s body and the way Bree opens him up was so much fun to read. I felt every emotion: curiosity, hesitance, determination, warmth, love, joy. The way Archer and Bree filled the holes in each other’s lives was beautifully done. The blossoming romance between them was a slow burn but once the spark was lit, it was like fire. The pages burned in my hand and I couldn’t put it down.

I can’t describe how great this book is. It was an amazing experience, and it was an experience. The reader goes on the journey with Bree while she faces her past, connects with Archer and ultimately finds herself. I highly recommend this book. It’s one of my top reads for this year!

STARS: 5 out of 5

I Want It That Way by Ann Aguirre

I was blessed to receive a copy of I Want It That Way by Ann Aguirre. It arrived in the mail on a day when I really needed a pick-me-up. I devoured it in one sitting. This is the first Contemporary Romance that I’ve read from Aguirre (I’ve read and loved her YA Razorland series.), and I was really impressed.

untitledNadia Conrad has big dreams, and she’s determined to make them come true—for her parents’ sake as well as her own. But between maintaining her college scholarship and working at the local day care to support herself, she barely has time to think, let alone date. Then she moves into a new apartment and meets the taciturn yet irresistible guy in 1B….

Daniel Tyler has grown up too fast. Becoming a single dad at twenty turned his life upside down—and brought him heartache he can’t risk again. Now, as he raises his four-year-old son while balancing a full-time construction management job and night classes, a social life is out of the question. The last thing he wants is for four noisy students to move into the apartment upstairs. But one night, Nadia’s and Ty’s paths cross, and soon they can’t stay away from each other.

The timing is all wrong—but love happens when it happens. And you can’t know what you truly need until you stand to lose it.

I was drawn to the premise of this story, where a young college girl falls for a guy with a kid. It was beautifully done between describing the chaos surrounding a college girl’s life from parties to finals to the stress of working full-time and being a father. I was drawn to how real both Nadia and Ty were. I love realistic characters and I could relate to Nadia’s life ( It literally felt like my college experience in the beginning). Ty was an amazingly complex character. He was haunted by his past, both loathed and loved his current situation and secretly longed for more. His transformation from standoffish to lovable and loved was magical to watch.

I was surprised by Aguirre’s ability to show Ty as both a father and a hot-as-hell ginger. Just like Nadia, I lived for his weekends off when Nadia and Ty could finally be together without interruptions. This book had a lot of steamy, surprising moments. I was impressed that the love scenes weren’t repetitive or over-the-top; they were deliciously unexpected and different, creating emotional, tantalizing scenes.

This book was so refreshing because it was realistic in every way: the sexual tension between Ty and Nadia, the hardships of being a young father and a poor girl putting herself through college, and the beautiful payoff once the characters realized how love can never be planned and is always unexpected.

I devoured this book in one night, staying up way too late, but it was because I literally consumed this beautiful story that Aguirre created. Besides Ty and Nadia’s relationship, there is a lot going on with the secondary characters. At times, it felt like a little too much, but it makes me think these secondary characters will have their own stories later on. I enjoyed hearing about the drama of Nadia’s roommates and the stress of work. I really enjoyed Ty’s son Sam; he had so many cute moments.

Overall, I highly recommend this to anyone looking for a steamy contemporary romance with realistic characters and a unique premise. I absolutely loved this book and I wouldn’t be the diehard BSB fan I am without mentioning the genius of naming this novel after a Backstreet Boys song. I am in love with this series and I can’t wait to read more.

STARS: 5 out of 5

Thank you Author Rx and Ann Aguirre for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover

Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover is a beautiful, heart-wrenching love story that will suck you down and then send you soaring.

17788401When Tate Collins meets airline pilot Miles Archer, she knows it isn’t love at first sight. They wouldn’t even go so far as to consider themselves friends. The only thing Tate and Miles have in common is an undeniable mutual attraction. Once their desires are out in the open, they realize they have the perfect set-up. He doesn’t want love, she doesn’t have time for love, so that just leaves the sex. Their arrangement could be surprisingly seamless, as long as Tate can stick to the only two rules Miles has for her.

Never ask about the past.
Don’t expect a future.

They think they can handle it, but realize almost immediately they can’t handle it at all.

Hearts get infiltrated.
Promises get broken.
Rules get shattered.
Love gets ugly.

“Don’t ask about my past and don’t expect a future.”

Colleen Hoover puts her heart and soul in her writing, which is impeccably brilliant. Her words fly from the page straight to the reader’s heart, pumping emotions through their veins like adrenaline. This book made me feel every emotion as Hoover slowly unraveled Miles’ past and Tate’s present. I loved the alternating point of view between Miles and Tate. As the reader walks through Tate’s current predicament, Miles’ past is artfully revealed, as each chapter builds more and more on the truth of what happened.

I also really enjoyed the artistry with which Hoover approaches her writing; it’s like poetry –– not only is it impressively lyrical, but the change in formatting really puts the reader in the speaker’s shoes, creating realistic images and moving moments.

The relationship between Miles and Tate was a wild ride, filled with hot scenes, emotional turbulence and intimate moments. I couldn’t get enough of these two. Hoover explains it best when she describes Miles as solid and Tate as liquid. I loved this comparison; it’s another example of how beautiful Hoover’s writing truly is.

The climatic reveal is shocking and the ending is so amazingly satisfying that I’m still sighing in contentment. If you enjoy New Adult love stories, with strong female protagonists and damaged/alpha males, you will love this book. Read it. Just read it.

STARS: 5 out of 5

Best Kind of Broken by Chelsea Fine

Best Kind of Broken by Chelsea Fine is a gripping story about love and tragedy that delivers an entire spectrum of emotions. Get ready for tons of feels.

18360175Pixie and Levi haven’t spoken in nearly a year when they find themselves working―and living―at the same inn in the middle of nowhere. Once upon a time, they were childhood friends. But that was before everything went to hell. And now things are… awkward. All they want to do is avoid each other, and their past, for as long as possible. But now that they’re forced to share a bathroom, and therefore a shower, keeping their distance from one another becomes less difficult than keeping their hands off each other. Welcome to the hallway of awkward tension and sexual frustration, folks. Get comfy. It’s going to be a long summer.

This book made me feel so many different emotions. The first – laughter. I cracked up when the main female character, Pixie, talks about the “sexy” vegetables in an effort to divert her attention from the delicious and damaged Levi. This story had me literally laughing out loud because the internal dialogue for each character was extremely entertaining. However, the dialogue also got extremely serious, which brings me to the next emotion: sadness and fear.

From the very beginning, I was insanely curious about what happened that tore these two (who seemed perfect for each other) apart. I love the way that the story slowly unfolds as the reader puts together the pieces of the puzzle: who Levi is to Pixie, why her name is Pixie, and of course, what caused her scar. I found this unraveling of juicy details especially thrilling.

This story was also extremely passionate, which means tension – beautiful, messy, sexual tension. I could feel it pouring out of the pages and I was rooting for both Levi and Pixie to give in to their secret desires. The dialogue between them was electric, whether they were fighting or baring their souls to each other, I couldn’t get enough.

As a New Adult, this book was right on the money. It was compelling and beautiful, realistic and raw. I felt connected to the characters and their story. Reading their journey, from damaged to healing, was a moving experience that left me satisfied with the book’s ending. I’m anticipating more from this cast of characters, the next book in the Finding Fate series, Perfect Kind of Trouble, came out June 17, 2014. It follows a couple of secondary characters and I’m excited to see what’s next for this series.

STARS: 5 out of 5