Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Berkley Bookmas: The Wedding Date + a Giveaway!

I am so excited to participate in Berkley Bookmas and I'm hosting an excerpt from Jasmine Guillory's The Wedding Date today! Y'all know how much I love this book and how much I've been singing its praises (& it's not even out yet!!), so obviously I jumped on the opportunity to promote this book with the help of one of my favorite publishing teams, Berkley Romance.

Berkley Bookmas is chock full of exclusive content from authors like exclusive excerpts, deleted scenes, author recipes and more! Check out the calendar of events below:

Here's a sneak peek at a scene from the book, one that I really loved! How much are you going to want to read this story just from this??!

THE WEDDING DATE by Jasmine Guillory
Berkley Bookmas Excerpt

(At the rehearsal dinner)

Boy, was it nice when this guy touched her. The hand-holding was particularly great. She felt like she was back in high school, except instead of the nerdy girl that everyone liked in that generic way, she was the girl holding hands with the hot guy at the party. She’d always wondered how that had felt.

News flash: it felt awesome.

She fought back her smile before she remembered that she was supposed to be besotted with Drew, so she let it beam as they walked through the party and up to the bar.

“Full bar, thank God. What’s your drink of choice?” He gestured to the bottles of alcohol along the bar with a flourish.
“Tonight? Let’s start with a gin martini, please.”

Drew handed over her drink and clinked it with his bourbon. They each took long sips of their drinks without breaking eye contact. Alexa glanced at an empty table in the corner and rose her eyebrows to Drew; he nodded and took her arm to steer her over there. As Drew set his glass down, a tall blond guy came over and slapped him on the back before he turned to Alexa.

“So this is Alexa? So glad you’re here with Drew for the wedding,” he said, holding out his hand for her to shake.
Drew put his hand on the small of her back.

“Alexa, I’d like to introduce you to Josh Rogers, the groom. Josh, my girlfriend, Alexa Monroe,” Drew said, his hand stroking the small of her back in a way that made her whole body tingle. Or maybe that was the gin hitting her bloodstream. She ignored whatever it was and smiled at Josh as she shook his hand.

“A pleasure to meet you, Josh. Congratulations on the wedding! I’m honored to be here.”

A strawberry blonde with soft curls and a knee-length white eyelet dress walked up to them. Alexa had pegged her as the bride as soon as she’d walked into the room—who else would wear white to a rehearsal dinner? At her approach, Alexa moved closer to Drew. He picked up his drink and sipped it, but she knew he noticed, too, because he slid his arm around her waist. Damn, there was that tingle again.

“Drew, is this Alexa? Alexa, I’m Molly. It’s so nice to meet you.”

Molly gave her a huge smile that felt genuine, and not for the first time, Alexa wondered what the whole story was between the Molly and Drew breakup. Did Josh and Molly feel guilty for what they’d done to Drew? Did they ask him to be in the wedding to assuage their guilt?

She wasn’t going to get an answer to that question right now (if ever), so her job was just to stand here next to Drew and turn on the charm. Luckily, she worked in politics; charm was her middle name.

Alexa increased the wattage of her smile by at least fifty percent.

“Molly, thank you so much for having me. Everything is lovely. What a wonderful choice for a rehearsal dinner. I can only imagine that the wedding will be just as beautiful.”

Drew’s thumb traced circles around her hip as she and Molly exchanged bright pleasantries about the wedding, the perfect weather in the Bay Area this time of year, and Josh and Molly’s upcoming honeymoon in Hawaii. Between the sensuous feel of his touch and her now-finished martini, she was almost distracted enough not to wonder if he could detect the Spanx underneath her dress. Almost.

After a few minutes, Molly glanced to the corner of the room and sighed.

“My mom is signaling me; I think I have to go talk to one of my aunts. I hope to get to talk to you more later, Alexa. And you, too, Drew. Oh, and don’t forget! The hashtag is #jollymosh.” Molly smiled and glided away.

Here's your chance to win this amazing sweepstakes from Berkley Romance, featuring a one $100 Visa gift card, and a book/galley/bound manuscript by each of the authors participating.

For tomorrow’s fun, head to one of the following blogs:

Monday, November 27, 2017

My Favorite Contemps I Read in 2017: YA Edition

I've read a ton of adult books this year; however, I've also read quite a few really great YA contemporaries, too. Since I already compiled my list of favorite adult romances I read in 2017, I thought I'd feature some of my fave YA contemps I read this year as well.

I had the honor of reading some incredible debut YA contemporaries this year. A few of those make my list for all time favorites, too. I can't wait to see what those authors write next. You'll see some past love authors with their latest releases throughout this post, too. Some writers just keep wow'ing me, book after book. Man, I read some really great YA contemps this year.

Twelve Steps to Normal by Farrah Penn
About the book: James Patterson presents this emotionally resonant novel that shows that while some broken things can't be put back exactly the way they were, they can be repaired and made even stronger.

Kira's Twelve Steps To A Normal Life

1. Accept Grams is gone.
2. Learn to forgive Dad.
3. Steal back ex-boyfriend from best friend...

And somewhere between 1 and 12, realize that when your parent's an alcoholic, there's no such thing as "normal."

When Kira's father enters rehab, she's forced to leave everything behind--her home, her best friends, her boyfriend...everything she loves. Now her father's sober (again) and Kira is returning home, determined to get her life back to normal...exactly as it was before she was sent away.

But is that what Kira really wants?

Life, love, and loss come crashing together in this visceral, heartfelt story by BuzzFeed writer Farrah Penn about a girl who struggles to piece together the shards of her once-normal life before his alcoholism tore it apart. [goodreads]
**My first thoughts after reading: Kira’s story is one I feel that a lot of teens, unfortunately, can relate to. We see the aftermath of what having an alcoholic parent can do to a teenage girl’s life. The story picks up just after Kira’s dad exits his rehab therapy & attempts to re-enter Kira’s life. From the first chapter, I immediately felt the emotional journey both Kira & her dad would take me on.

This is so much more than just a story about recovery & the effects alcoholism can have on the people that are touched by it. It’s a beautiful debut novel by someone I am so proud of. Thank you, Farrah, for sharing your words with me.

Together at Midnight by Jennifer Castle
About the book: What does it really mean to be kind . . . and why does it sometimes feel like the hardest thing in the world to do? High school senior Kendall, who just returned from a life-changing semester in Europe, and Max, who is drifting his way through a gap year before college, struggle with these questions when they witness a tragic accident in New York City during the holiday season. Racked with guilt, the two accept a dare to perform random acts of kindness to strangers. The challenge pulls these two teens, who have a history together from back home, closer and closer as they explore a vibrant city filled with other people’s stories and secrets.

Kendall and Max can’t deny their growing bond, even though they both have other romantic entanglements and uncertain futures. As the clock counts down on New Year’s Eve, will they find themselves together at midnight? [goodreads]
**My first thoughts after reading: Jennifer Castle is such a quietly strong voice in the YA community today. This is my third novel of her’s to read & once again I’m wow’ed by the beauty of her storytelling.

For fans of books set in New York City, throw in the holiday season, plus a task at hand for two misguided teens — you’ll want to read this novel!

Top Ten by Katie Cotugno
About the book: Ryan McCullough and Gabby Hart are the unlikeliest of friends. Introverted, anxious Gabby would rather do literally anything than go to a party. Ryan is a star hockey player who can get any girl he wants—and does, frequently. But against all odds, they became not only friends, but each other’s favorite person. Now, as they face high school graduation, they can’t help but take a moment to reminisce and, in their signature tradition, make a top ten list—counting down the top ten moments of their friendship:

10. Where to begin? Maybe the night we met.
9. Then there was our awkward phase.
8. When you were in love with me but never told me…
7. Those five months we stopped talking were the hardest of my life.
6. Through terrible fights…
5. And emotional makeups.
4. You were there for me when I got my heart broken.
3. …but at times, you were also the one breaking it.
2. Above all, you helped me make sense of the world.
1. Now, as we head off to college—how am I possibly going to live without you? [goodreads]
**My first thoughts after reading: That was a one-sitting, read it in a day kind of book. Loved it!!

Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley
About the book: This is a love story. It's the story of a second-hand bookshop called Howling Books where people leave letters to strangers, or those they love, or want to love, between the pages of books in the Letter Library.

Henry Jones and Rachel Sweetie are best friends. Or they were. Before Rachel moved away to the sea. Now, she's back, grieving for her brother Cal who drowned in the sea that he loved.

Rachel loves Henry. Henry loves Amy. Amy loves Amy but is happy for Henry to love her too.

This is a book about books. About the power of literature to cradle our past, present and future selves. It's about how we leave ourselves behind when we die. How we leave our histories in the things we love - like books. [goodreads]
**My first thoughts after reading: Now I remember why I love Aussie YA contemps so much. This was spectacular!

The Secret History of Us by Jessi Kirby
About the book: A near drowning…a coma for days…and then…

Olivia wakes up to realize she doesn’t remember. Not just the accident—but anything from the last four years. Not high school. Not Matt, the guy who is apparently her boyfriend. Not the reason she and Jules are no longer friends. Nothing.

That’s when it hits her—the accident may not have taken her life, but it took something just as vital: her memory. The harder she tires to remember things, the foggier everything gets, and figuring out who she is feels impossible when everyone keeps telling her who she was.

But then there’s Walker. The guy who saved her. The one who broke her ribs pumping life back into her lungs. The hardened boy who keeps his distance despite Olivia’s attempts to thank him.

With her feelings growing for Walker, tensions rising with Matt, and secrets she can’t help but feel are being kept from her, Olivia must find her place in a life she doesn’t even remember living. [goodreads]
**My first thoughts after reading it: Just when I think I've read my favorite Jessi Kirby novel, she comes out with something new to fall in love with. The concept behind this story is so very intriguing dealing with trauma & memory loss. Kirby handles it with grace & beauty. I loved these characters, this setting, & the journey this novel takes you on. Well done, Jessi!

I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo
About the book: Desi Lee believes anything is possible if you have a plan. That’s how she became student body president. Varsity soccer star. And it’s how she’ll get into Stanford. But—she’s never had a boyfriend. In fact, she’s a disaster in romance, a clumsy, stammering humiliation magnet whose botched attempts at flirting have become legendary with her friends.

So when the hottest human specimen to have ever lived walks into her life one day, Desi decides to tackle her flirting failures with the same zest she’s applied to everything else in her life. She finds guidance in the Korean dramas her father has been obsessively watching for years—where the hapless heroine always seems to end up in the arms of her true love by episode ten. It’s a simple formula, and Desi is a quick study.

Armed with her “K Drama Steps to True Love,” Desi goes after the moody, elusive artist Luca Drakos—and boat rescues, love triangles, and staged car crashes ensue. But when the fun and games turn to true feels, Desi finds out that real love is about way more than just drama. [goodreads]
**My first thoughts after reading: This book reminded me of my most favorite 90s teenage rom-coms rolled into a YA read. I loved it so!

Once and For All by Sarah Dessen
About the book: As bubbly as champagne and delectable as wedding cake, Once and for All, Sarah Dessen's thirteenth novel, is set in the world of wedding planning, where crises are routine.

Louna, daughter of famed wedding planner Natalie Barrett, has seen every sort of wedding: on the beach, at historic mansions, in fancy hotels and clubs. Perhaps that's why she's cynical about happily-ever-after endings, especially since her own first love ended tragically. When Louna meets charming, happy-go-lucky serial dater Ambrose, she holds him at arm's length. But Ambrose isn't about to be discouraged, now that he's met the one girl he really wants.

Sarah Dessen’s many, many fans will adore her latest, a richly satisfying, enormously entertaining story that has everything—humor, romance, and an ending both happy and imperfect, just like life itself. [goodreads]
**My first thoughts after reading: That was good. So so so good!! The complexity of Dessen's writing comes back into focus with this one, reminding me why I love her storytelling so very much.

Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han
About the book: Lara Jean is having the best senior year. And there’s still so much to look forward to: a class trip to New York City, prom with her boyfriend Peter, Beach Week after graduation, and her dad’s wedding to Ms. Rothschild. Then she’ll be off to college with Peter, at a school close enough for her to come home and bake chocolate chip cookies on the weekends.

Life couldn’t be more perfect!

At least, that’s what Lara Jean thinks…until she gets some unexpected news.

Now the girl who dreads change must rethink all her plans—but when your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to? [goodreads]
**My first thoughts after reading: I don't know if I'll ever be ready to say goodbye to these characters, but that was a pretty good send off. Well done, Jenny Han, well done.

The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord
About the book: When it all falls apart, who can you believe in?

Everything is going right for Lucy Hansson, until her mom’s cancer reappears. Just like that, Lucy breaks with all the constants in her life: her do-good boyfriend, her steady faith, even her longtime summer church camp job.

Instead, Lucy lands at a camp for kids who have been through tough times. As a counselor, Lucy is in over her head and longs to be with her parents across the lake. But that’s before she gets to know her coworkers, who are as loving and unafraid as she so desperately wants to be.

It’s not just new friends that Lucy discovers at camp—more than one old secret is revealed along the way. In fact, maybe there’s much more to her family and her faith than Lucy ever realized. [goodreads]
**My first thoughts after reading: This is Emery Lord at her finest. Her ability to write characters with such depth, emotion, and authenticity shines brightest with this novel. I found myself particularly drawn to Lucy's story for personal reasons, yet I did not expect to read words that felt as though they'd been pulled from my most intimate experiences in dealing with cancer and sick mothers. There's something to be said about an author when they have the ability to do that. The struggles Lucy endures is supported by the unexpected relationships she finds in the least likely places. It's in these moments that her darkest corners begin to shed light, creating a path she didn't quite anticipate, realizing fear does not have to lead her down it, and that love can guide her there as well.

I can't quite recommend this book enough. It's so much more than literature. It's a gift that's been given to me, one I didn't know I was looking for, but am so grateful to have received.

Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett
About the book: The one guy Bailey Rydell can’t stand is actually the boy of her dreams—she just doesn’t know it yet.

Classic movie fan Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online as Alex. Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.

Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth—a.k.a. her new archnemesis. But life is whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever it is she’s starting to feel for Porter.

And as the summer months go by, Bailey must choose whether to cling to a dreamy online fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex…Approximately. [goodreads]
**My first thoughts after reading: This lived up to all my expectations + more. Jenn Bennett is now on my list of auto-buy others. I loved the messy characters, the rich setting, and the irresistible charm within this storyline. It is #SuchAGingerRead.

Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy
About the book: Ramona was only five years old when Hurricane Katrina changed her life forever.

Since then, it’s been Ramona and her family against the world. Standing over six feet tall with unmistakable blue hair, Ramona is sure of three things: she likes girls, she’s fiercely devoted to her family, and she knows she’s destined for something bigger than the trailer she calls home in Eulogy, Mississippi. But juggling multiple jobs, her flaky mom, and her well-meaning but ineffectual dad forces her to be the adult of the family. Now, with her sister, Hattie, pregnant, responsibility weighs more heavily than ever.

The return of her childhood friend Freddie brings a welcome distraction. Ramona’s friendship with the former competitive swimmer picks up exactly where it left off, and soon he’s talked her into joining him for laps at the pool. But as Ramona falls in love with swimming, her feelings for Freddie begin to shift too, which is the last thing she expected. With her growing affection for Freddie making her question her sexual identity, Ramona begins to wonder if perhaps she likes girls and guys or if this new attraction is just a fluke. Either way, Ramona will discover that, for her, life and love are more fluid than they seem. [goodreads]

**My first thoughts after reading: If I could, I would give this book all the stars. I have admired Julie Murphy's work since her debut, but something about this particular story really clings to my heart.

In a world where people are so quick to place labels & cast judgements, this novel is every bit needed & appreciated. I love Ramona & I love her little town of beautiful characters.

Add this novel to your must read list & go ahead & order it. I'm already doing the same.

The Last Thing You Said by Sara Biren
About the book: Last summer, Lucy’s and Ben’s lives changed in an instant. One moment, they were shyly flirting on a lake raft, finally about to admit their feelings to each other after years of yearning. In the next, Trixie—Lucy’s best friend and Ben’s sister—was gone, her heart giving out during a routine swim. And just like that, the idyllic world they knew turned upside down, and the would-be couple drifted apart, swallowed up by their grief. Now it’s a year later in their small lake town, and as the anniversary of Trixie’s death looms, Lucy and Ben’s undeniable connection pulls them back together. They can’t change what happened the day they lost Trixie, but the summer might finally bring them closer to healing—and to each other. [goodreads]

**My first thoughts after reading: With a slow start, I was anxious to see where this book would take me. Never did I imagine I'd lose myself at the lake, on a hot summer day, caught somewhere between grief & hope. This is the type of story that will creep up on you & fill you with overwhelming emotions. I love contemporary YA that has that effect on me.

Oh this book, friends, add it to your TBR list!

Kissing Max Holden by Katy Upperman
About the book: Kissing Max Holden was a terrible idea...

After his father has a life-altering stroke, Max Holden isn't himself. As his long-time friend, Jillian Eldridge only wants to help him, but she doesn't know how. When Max climbs through her window one night, Jill knows that she shouldn't let him kiss her. But she can't resist, and when they're caught in the act by her dad, Jill swears it'll never happen again. Because kissing Max Holden is a terrible idea.

With a new baby sibling on the way, her parents fighting all the time, and her dream of culinary school up in the air, Jill starts spending more and more time with Max. And even though her father disapproves and Max still has a girlfriend, not kissing Max is easier said than done. Will Jill follow her heart and allow their friendship to blossom into something more, or will she listen to her head and stop kissing Max Holden once and for all? [goodreads]
**My first thoughts after reading: At first glance this book appears to have all the ingredients for a sweet, sugary YA contemp. However, after a few chapters the ingredients begin to marinate & simmer in a story about family, young love, & the deep emotions that can both break & bind those relationships.

Katy Upperman delivers a swoon-worthy read that will break your heart, but remind us how to mend those broken pieces, too. Add this one to your TBR!

Did any of these books make it to your favorites list read in 2017? I hope I've added some new reads to your TBR, if not! Please let me know in the comments about some of your favorite YA contemps you've read this year.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

New To My E-Reader: The Adult Romance Novella Edition

It's that time of year when I look at my goodreads reading challenge goal and start to freak out a bit because I'm sort of close, but not really close to meeting it. So what does a girl do? Read a bunch of novellas!

Short stories have been a hit or miss for me in the past. Either I really love them, or I'm left struggling with what I just read. Since I have the week off from work right now, my goal is to read as many novellas as possible over the next few days. But I want this reading time to be productive, aka worth my time.

So I went to twitter & asked a few of my trusted bookish friends for some adult romance novella recommendations. After perusing through them, I decided to compile a round-up of the few (or more) ebooks I added to my e-reader thanks to their recs.  Hopefully I've also managed to build your own TBR list as well! Side note: I've already finished two of these & now I'm on to the next. Let the romance-novella-readathon continue!

Fit by Rebekah Weatherspoon
About the book: Violet Ryan loves the delicious food she gets to eat on the reality shows she produces for The Food Channel. What she hates is her expanding waistline. Determined to drop the pounds, Violet hatches a plan to kick start a fitness regimen. But when her determination isn’t enough to get her through even one intense group class without breaking down into tears, she knows she needs a new approach and possibly a new trainer—one with a lighter touch.

Grant Gibson has always managed to mix business with pleasure, but now this trainer by day, and Dominant by night, is bored. Bored and lonely. Even though he owns one of L.A.’s hottest private gyms, his personal life is sorely lacking. After his last submissive tried to kidnap his dog and the contents of his bank account, he’s in no hurry to take a new lover under his wing. Not until the voluptuous Violet falls into his lap.

She may be wary of his unorthodox approach of using sexual gratification as a reward, but even before her initial weigh-in Violet can’t seem to stay away from the sexy fitness god. She may have to let Grant show her there’s more than one way to get in shape… [goodreads]
**I read this in practically one sitting. It's definitely a quick one! For a novella though, the characters were well-written with a considerable amount of depth. We get right to the plot of it, yet I still felt like I understood them. This one contains BDSM, so if that's not your jam, you may want to try another one below.

Holiday Wishes by Jill Shalvis
About the book: It’s Christmastime again in Heartbreaker Bay!

When Sean O’Riley shows up at the Hartford Bed & Breakfast for his older brother’s bachelor weekend, he’s just hoping to make it through the weekend. What he’s not expecting is to come face to face with the woman he lost his virginity to a decade ago—a woman he’s never really forgotten.

The last time Lotti Hartford saw Sean, she told him she loved him while he said nothing. Now, ten years later, she’s just looking for a good time. For once, she wants to be the wild and free one, and Sean – the good time guy – is the perfect candidate.

But as the weekend continues, Sean realizes that after a lifetime of being the hook-up king, he’s ready to find happily-ever-after, and he wants it with Lotti. But will she open her heart to him again? As Christmas sweeps through the little B&B, he can only hope love and magic are in the air. [goodreads]
**It's Jill Shalvis, so of course I want to read it! She is one of the first adult romance authors I read as a blogger & I really enjoy the heart she puts into her stories. Not to mention those oh-so-steamy sexytimes! I love a good holiday romance novella, so I'm really looking forward to this one.

Once Upon a Winter's Eve by Tessa Dare
About the book: Some wallflowers bloom at night...

A Spindle Cove Novella

Violet Winterbottom is a quiet girl. She speaks six languages, but seldom raises her voice. She endured bitter heartbreak in perfect silence. The gentlemen aren't beating down her door.

Until the night of the Spindle Cove Christmas ball, when a mysterious stranger crashes into the ballroom and collapses at Violet's feet. His coarse attire and near-criminal good looks would put any sensible young lady on her guard. He's wet, chilled, bleeding, and speaking in an unfamiliar tongue.

Only Violet understands him. And she knows he's not what he seems.

She has one night to draw forth the secrets of this dangerously handsome rogue. Is he a smuggler? A fugitive? An enemy spy? She needs answers by sunrise, but her captive would rather seduce than confess. To learn his secrets, Violet must reveal hers—and open herself to adventure, passion, and the unthinkable... Love.

Warning: The heroine packs a pistol, the hero curses in multiple languages, and together they steam up a cold winter’s night. [goodreads]
**Tessa Dare has become a new-to-me-author this year, so when I stumbled across a holiday romance novella by her, I immediately added it to my e-reader. She's fun, feisty, and such an addictive storyteller. I'm really excited for this one.

His Road Home by Anna Richland
About the book: To avoid an Afghan warlord’s matchmaking, Staff Sergeant Rey Cruz invents a fiancĂ©e he’ll never meet—until he’s flat on his back in Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and marine biologist Grace Kim shows up with one question: why did you lie?

Cruz can’t explain his fabrication to her, the news media, their families, or their hometown, because his traumatic brain injury has manifested as aphasia, leaving him with few words to navigate his new world.

Grace offers friendship, a big step for a woman who prefers Orcinus orca to most company. Texting throughout his recovery, they connect in ways neither anticipates. She agrees to help drive his classic muscle car home across-country at Thanksgiving. His hands-on method of teaching her to operate a manual transmission is the beginning of his challenges to her comfort zone. She responds by introducing him to the steamy world of South Dakota ice-fishing shacks, and they both learn to look beyond labels into each other’s hearts. [goodreads]
**When Angie recommends a book to me, I don't hesitate on that one-click button! I just finished reading this one & oh my, what a story! This is definitely going in my top contemporary romances reads list. Angie, please recommend more!!

The Courage of Eli Jackson by Kelly Hunter
About the book: They were on the honeymoon of a lifetime. Pity it wasn’t theirs.

Eli Jackson has just married the woman of his dreams. Sure, it was part of an online role-playing game and not exactly real, but he totally dominated the wedding battle that followed and his lady wife was very impressed.

Eli never imagined that his brothers would bestow on them a real-world honeymoon package at one of the Gold Coast’s premier hotels. He never figured on costume designer Zoey Daniels being such fun. Together they’re dynamite, but Eli’s not looking for a real relationship and Zoey lives only for the day.

Besides, no one falls in love this fast. Do they? [goodreads]
**Angie had me at "Aussie gamer geek romance" when she recommended this one. This story sounds every bit fun & flirty! Sign me up for its sweetness because I'm looking forward to reading it.

Thirty Day Boyfriend by Whitney G.
About the book: I should've never agreed to this arrangement...

Thirty days ago, my boss—Mr. Wolf of Wall Street, came to me with an offer I couldn’t refuse: Sign my name on the dotted line and pretend to be his fiancĂ©e for one month. If I agreed, he would let me out of my employment contract with a “very generous” severance package.

The rules were pretty simple: No intimate kissing, no actual sex. Just pretend to love each other for the press, even though I’ve secretly wanted to knock that sexy smirk off his face since the first day we met.

I definitely didn’t need to think twice about this. I signed my name and started counting down the seconds to when I would never have to deal with his special brand of ass-holery again.

I only made it to one minute...

We argued the entire four-hour flight to his hometown, failed to make a convincing impression with the welcoming press, and right when I was about to knock that arrogant look off his face in real life? He purposely dropped his bath towel in front of me, distracting me with his nine-inch cock to "show me who the bigger person was" in our relationship. Then he gave me his trademark smirk once again and asked if I wanted to consummate our marriage.

Tragically, this is only day one.
We still have 29 more days to go... [goodreads]
**I'm a sucker for fake relationship stories & this one really grabbed by interest when I read the synopsis for it, thanks to a friend of a friend's recommendation. I'm new to this author, but after adding this one to my e-reader, I also bought a full length novel by her that sounded good, too. Yay more reading!

Did any of these make it to your e-reader, too?! What about your TBR list? Let me know in the comments. And if you have a favorite novella to recommend, I'd love to know about it.

Monday, November 20, 2017

My Favorite Romances I Read in 2017: Adult Edition

I threw out a tweet the other day, asking if anyone would be interested in a blog post from me highlighting my favorite romance reads of 2017. And the response was, YES! So, here it is. This list includes books that I read in 2017, not necessarily books that were published in 2017.  If you see something you've read, or are on the fence about reading, let me know in the comments. I always love recommending new reads!

Adult Romances

Some Kind of Magic by Mary Ann Marlowe
About the book: Biochemist Eden Sinclair has no idea that the scent she spritzed on herself before leaving the lab is designed to enhance pheromones. Or that the cute, grungy-looking guy she meets at a gig that evening is Adam Copeland. As in the Adam Copeland international rock god and object of lust for a million women. Make that a million and one. By the time she learns the truth, she s already spent the (amazing, incredible) night in his bed.

Suddenly Eden, who's more accustomed to being set up on disastrous dates by her mom, is going out with a gorgeous celebrity who loves how down-to-earth and honest she is. But for once, Eden isn't being honest. She can't bear to reveal that this overpowering attraction could be nothing more than seduction by science. And the only way to know how Adam truly feels is to ditch the perfume—and risk being ditched in turn. [goodreads]
**A new-to-me-author that I really loved reading. I enjoyed the musical element to the story, but really fell for the hot sexual tension between these two main characters.

Bet Me by Lila Monroe
About the book: What happens when your sex strike goes viral -- and suddenly every man in town has their eye on your prize?

All I wanted was little old-fashioned romance. After a parade of Tinder disasters who think chivalry is giving me a pearl necklace on the first date, I made a pledge: until guys step up their game, this girl is off the market.

But one bottle of chardonnay later, and my drunken rant has gone viral. I’m the most famous person NOT having sex since the Jonas Brothers put on their purity rings. A men’s magazine has even put a bounty on my (ahem) maidenhead: fifty Gs to whoever makes me break the drought.

Be careful what you wish for...

Now my office looks like an explosion in a Hallmark factory, I’ve got guys lining up to sweep me off my feet - and the one man I want is most definitely off-limits. Jake Weston is a player through and through. He’s also the only one who sees through the mayhem to the real me, but how can I trust he’s not just out to claim the glory?

And how will I make it through the strike without scratching the itch - especially when that itch looks so damn good out of his suit?

The thrill of the chaste has never been so sexy in Lila Monroe’s hilarious, hot new romantic read! [goodreads]
**Another new-to-me-author that had me binge reading her novels after I finished this one because I loved it so much!

Some Sort of Crazy by Melanie Harlow
About the book: When a psychic tells Natalie Nixon her life is about to be upended by a mysterious stranger, she laughs it off. After all, she has everything she’s ever wanted—a successful bakery, a the perfect boyfriend, and the keys to her dream house.

Who could possibly make her want to throw all that away?

Then Miles Haas comes back to town.

But he’s no stranger—they’ve known each other since high school. Plus, he’s only around for the summer, he’s still a shameless playboy, and he makes a living writing articles for a men’s magazine with titles like 'Should You Bang the Boss’s Daughter? A Flowchart' and 'Butt Stuff for Beginners: A Field Guide.'

He’s not the man of her dreams, and she’s not about to abandon everything she’s worked so hard for just for a little fun. Except he makes her laugh like no one else, smells like heaven, and looks sexy as hell in those panty-melting glasses. [goodreads]
**I'll admit, it was the cover that attracted my attention at first. But then I started reading & it was THAT GUY on the cover's voice that really pulled me in. I really, really enjoyed this one.

Purple Hearts by Tess Wakefield
About the book: When a soldier with a troubled past and a struggling songwriter agree to a marriage of convenience for the military benefits, neither expects much after saying “I do.” Then tragedy strikes, and the line between what’s real and what’s pretend begins to blur in this smart and surprising romance perfect for fans of Nicholas Sparks and Jojo Moyes.

Cassie Salazar and Luke Morrow couldn’t be more different. Sharp-witted Cassie works nights at a bar in Austin, Texas to make ends meet while pursuing her dream of becoming a singer/songwriter. Luke is an Army trainee, about to ship out for duty, who finds comfort in the unswerving discipline of service. But a chance encounter at Cassie’s bar changes the course of both their lives

Cassie is drowning in medical bills after being diagnosed with diabetes. When she runs into her old friend Frankie, now enlisted in the Army, she proposes a deal: she’ll marry him in exchange for better medical insurance and they can split the increased paycheck that comes with having a “family.” When Frankie declines, his attractive but frustratingly intense friend Luke volunteers to marry Cassie instead. What she doesn’t know is that he has desperate reasons of his own to get married. In this unforgettable love story, Cassie and Luke must set aside their differences to make it look like a real marriage...unless, somewhere along the way, it becomes one... [goodreads]
**When author & friend Bethany Chase recommends a book to me, I stop what I'm doing & read it. This story is yet another reason to always trust her recs. It's a heavier read, but a well-written, slow burn of a romance.

Dating You / Hating You by Christina Lauren
About the book: All’s fair in love and work. The first standalone romance by New York Times and #1 international bestselling author Christina Lauren (Beautiful Bastard) is a sexy, compulsively readable romantic comedy that dives headlong into the thrill and doubt of modern love.

Despite the odds against them from an embarrassing meet-awkward at a mutual friend’s Halloween party, Carter and Evie immediately hit it off. Even the realization that they’re both high-powered agents at competing firms in Hollywood isn’t enough to squash the fire.

But when their two agencies merge—causing the pair to vie for the same position—all bets are off. What could have been a beautiful, blossoming romance turns into an all-out war of sabotage. Carter and Evie are both thirtysomething professionals—so why can’t they act like it?

Can Carter stop trying to please everyone and see how their mutual boss is really playing the game? Can Evie put aside her competitive nature long enough to figure out what she really wants in life? Can their actor clients just be something close to human? Whether these two Hollywood love/hatebirds get the storybook Hollywood ending or just a dramedy of epic proportions, you will get to enjoy Christina Lauren’s heartfelt, raucous, and hilarious romance style at its finest. [goodreads]
**If it's Christina Lauren, I'll read it. This was my first introduction to a standalone novel by this writing duo and yet again, they proved what a powerhouse writing team they are! Loved this one, too.

Mister Romance by Leisa Rayven
About the book: Max Riley is the man of your dreams. Or at least he will be, for a price.

As his alter-ego Mister Romance, Max is a drop-dead gorgeous escort who makes romantic fantasies come to life. No sex, just swoon-worthy dates to die for, and the cream of New York's socialites can't get enough. Whether they want a dominating billionaire, bad boy with a heart of gold, hot geek, sexy biker, or best friend who loves them from afar, Max can make it all happen, but he's careful to keep his real identity a secret.

Enter investigative journalist Eden Tate. Having caught wind of the urban legend of Mister Romance from a lovestruck client, Eden is determined to publish a scathing expose on Max and his ability to swindle lonely society women out of their fortunes.

Desperate to protect his anonymity and his clients, Max challenges Eden to give him three dates. If she doesn't fall in love with him, she can run her story with his blessing. If she succumbs to his charms, the story dies.

Cynical Eden has no doubt she can resist his fake romance personas, but when the real Max admits he’s falling for her, she has to decide if the professional liar is telling the truth, or if the passionate man with the mysterious past is just one more character designed to con her out of her career-making story. [goodreads]
**Once I got past a few of the editing hiccups, I was totally pulled into this fun, feisty romance read! This was a nice surprise.

Lingus by Mariana Zapata
About the book: Most people would describe Katherine Berger as a responsible girl with a big heart, a loyal friend who takes care of those close to her, and the possessor of a wicked sense of humor. There was something about her that most people didn't know. "My name is Kat Berger, and I love porn."

When twenty-five-year-old Kat is dragged to a porn convention by her best friend, she's both embarrassed and nervous. The last thing she ever expected was to meet someone who makes her laugh like no other. This is a story about acceptance and friendship, and a love born out of the most unexpected of places. [goodreads]

**So this might be one of my most favorite romance reads of the year -- I know, what?? -- I just really, really enjoyed it. I want more stories like this. Totally unexpected and addictive.

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory
About the book: A groomsman and his last-minute guest are about to discover if a fake date can go the distance in a fun and flirty debut novel.

Agreeing to go to a wedding with a guy she gets stuck with in an elevator is something Alexa Monroe wouldn't normally do. But there's something about Drew Nichols that's too hard to resist.

On the eve of his ex's wedding festivities, Drew is minus a plus one. Until a power outage strands him with the perfect candidate for a fake girlfriend...

After Alexa and Drew have more fun than they ever thought possible, Drew has to fly back to Los Angeles and his job as a pediatric surgeon, and Alexa heads home to Berkeley, where she's the mayor's chief of staff. Too bad they can't stop thinking about the other...

They're just two high-powered professionals on a collision course toward the long distance dating disaster of the century--or closing the gap between what they think they need and what they truly want... [goodreads]
**This novel doesn't publish until 2018 (January!), but I've already been recommending it to everyone I know. To say I loved this one is an understatement. Trust me when I say this, you want this book in your life.

Roomies by Christina Lauren
About the book: Marriages of convenience are so…inconvenient.

Rescued by Calvin McLoughlin from a would-be subway attacker, Holland Bakker pays the brilliant musician back by pulling some of her errand-girl strings and getting him an audition with a big-time musical director. When the tryout goes better than even Holland could have imagined, Calvin is set for a great entry into Broadway—until he admits his student visa has expired and he’s in the country illegally.

Holland impulsively offers to wed the Irishman to keep him in New York, her growing infatuation a secret only to him. As their relationship evolves from awkward roommates to besotted lovers, Calvin becomes the darling of Broadway. In the middle of the theatrics and the acting-not-acting, what will it take for Holland and Calvin to realise that they both stopped pretending a long time ago? [goodreads]
**It's Christina Lauren, what do you expect? Of course it's made my list for favorites. Now, this standalone might just be my very favorite of theirs though. Again, an unexpected love affair has grown with these characters. Plus, I'm a sucker for pretend relationships.

This Love Story Will Self-Destruct by Leslie Cohen
About the book: This is the classic tale of boy meets girl: Girl…goes home with someone else.

Meet Eve. She’s a dreamer, a feeler, a careening well of sensitivities who can’t quite keep her feet on the ground, or steer clear of trouble. She’s a laugher, a crier, a quirky and quick-witted bleeding-heart-worrier.

Meet Ben. He’s an engineer, an expert at leveling floors who likes order, structure, and straight lines. He doesn’t opine, he doesn’t ruminate, he doesn’t simmer until he boils over.

So naturally, when the two first cross paths, sparks don’t exactly fly. But then they meet again. And again. And then, finally, they find themselves with a deep yet fragile connection that will change the course of their relationship—possibly forever.

Follow Eve and Ben as they navigate their twenties on a winding journey through first jobs, first dates, and first breakups; through first reunions, first betrayals and, maybe, first love. This is When Harry Met Sally reimagined; a charming tale told from two unapologetically original points of view. With an acerbic edge and heartwarming humor, debut novelist Leslie Cohen takes us on a tour of what life looks like when it doesn’t go according to plan, and explores the complexity, chaos, and comedy in finding a relationship built to last. [goodreads]
**Here's another 2018 read that I just recently finished and immediately started recommending. This particular story is messy and unexpected. I didn't realize how addicted I was to it until I found myself finishing it and thinking, what now?!

Add any of these to your TBR? Let me know in the comments! What are some of your favorite romances read this year? I'm always looking for new recommendations, too.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Too Soon For Holiday Reading?

I love a good holiday romance, whether that be YA or of the Adult variety. However, I'm not much of a fluff girl (sorry Hallmark Holiday Viewers, that's a bit too much cheese for me!). I still yearn for substance in my reading, even if the theme is set around the holidays time. I've recently read two, one YA and the other Adult Romance, that I felt really hit all the right notes for me. Below are mini reviews of each and links to add them to your TBR for this holiday season!

Together at Midnight by Jennifer Castle
To be published: January 2, 2018
About the book: Combining the emotional deftness of Sarah Dessen with the magical spark of New York City in wintertime, this affecting novel will inspire readers to pay closer attention to the world around them.

What does it really mean to be kind . . . and why does it sometimes feel like the hardest thing in the world to do? High school senior Kendall, who just returned from a life-changing semester in Europe, and Max, who is drifting his way through a gap year before college, struggle with these questions when they witness a tragic accident in New York City during the holiday season. Racked with guilt, the two accept a dare to perform random acts of kindness to strangers. The challenge pulls these two teens, who have a history together from back home, closer and closer as they explore a vibrant city filled with other people’s stories and secrets.

Kendall and Max can’t deny their growing bond, even though they both have other romantic entanglements and uncertain futures. As the clock counts down on New Year’s Eve, will they find themselves together at midnight?

Jennifer Castle’s latest novel is a romantic, thought-provoking tale of human connection and how we find—and make—our place in the world. [goodreads]
This young adult novel is written by one of my favorite YA writers, Jennifer Castle -- who I feel deserves way more attention! Each of her stories pull at my heart strings, while delivering a very fulfilled reading experience. This particular story is set in New York City, just after Christmas and before New Year's Eve. I love the time frame of the novel and how we're almost racing against the clock, alongside the characters, to accomplish their random acts of kindness before the year is up.

Kendall and Max are both equally developed characters, with rich voices, demanding to be heard in their own unique way. They're both very different, yet their uncertain paths is the bond that unexpectedly ties them together. I was mesmerized by the city during the holiday season, but it was the true depth of the story that really sucked me in. It's the kind of novel you find yourself rooting for the characters, hoping they'll find their way to happiness, even if the path gets messy along the way.

An Ex for Christmas by Lauren Layne
To be published: November 7, 2017
About the book: She’s making a list—and checking it twice. But is there a nice guy among all her naughty exes? The New York Times bestselling author of Blurred Lines returns with a charming friends-to-lovers rom-com.

When a psychic tells spunky, superstitious Kelly Byrne that she’s already met her true love, she becomes obsessed with the idea of tracking him down before Christmas. Kelly immediately writes up an “Ex List” and starts contacting old boyfriends to figure out which one is the one. When her college sweetheart rolls into town, Kelly convinces herself that they’re meant to be. The trouble is, sparks are flying with someone she’s never given a chance: her best friend, Mark.

Mark Blakely has watched the guys on Kelly’s list break her heart, and he’s not looking forward to watching them do it all over again. Mark’s always been there for her, but the timing’s never worked out for their relationship to be something more. Now, just as Mark is ready to move on, the sexual tension between them is suddenly off the charts. With Christmas morning around the corner, he just hopes Kelly will wake up and realize that everything she wants has been right in front of her all along. [goodreads]
Oh how I really, really enjoyed this one! Lauren Layne is slowly becoming a favorite adult romance writer. Each of her stories end up surprising me, even though they shouldn't, with how cleverly written they are. On the surface this story has all the fixings for a fluffy holiday romance, but once I started reading I soon discovered a highly emotional investment. 

Kelly is spending Christmas at home in her small town alone and she seems perfectly fine with that. Until a random stranger scares the you know what out of her by predicting she's already found her one true love & that they'll connect by Christmas. This sends Kelly on a hunt through her recent ex's list. As she marks each guy off, her best friend of ten years sits patiently (yet a bit brooding and irritatingly) by. You know where I'm going with this right? Yeah, the storyline is predictable, but I still had a lot of fun reading it.

The sexual tension in this novel was scorching! The friendly banter between Kelly and Mark was sweet, yet sexy. The odes to some of my favorite holiday movies such as Love Actually was a nice touch. But it was the emotional attachment I felt in the end that really took me by surprise. I hadn't realized just how invested I had become in Kelly's happiness. Her joyous spirit during the Holidays is infectious and you can't help but be rooting for her to find her happily ever after. Though it took her a little bit longer to recognize it, it was still a sweet surrender when she finally does.

Are you reading any Holiday novels yet? If so, tell me about them! 

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