Review: Come to Me Quietly by A.L. Jackson

Posted April 19, 2021 by Casee in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Come to Me Quietly by A.L. JacksonReviewer: Casee
Come to Me Quietly by A. L. Jackson
Series: Closer to You #1
Publisher: NAL
Publication Date: January 7, 2014
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
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Reading Challenges: Casee's 2021 Goodreads Challenge
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four-half-stars
Series Rating: five-stars

Aleena Moore is content with her life. She has goals and dreams and an easy smile. She also has a secret she holds locked inside.

Jared Holt believes he doesn’t deserve to love or be loved. He destroys everything he touches. Haunted by the mistake that shattered his life, he’s fled from the memory of that pain.

Jared doesn’t know why he’s compelled to return, but finds himself drawn back to the place where it all began. The exact place where it ended. When he runs into his childhood best friend, Aleena’s older brother Christopher, he agrees to share Christopher and Aleena’s apartment while he looks for a place of his own.

Aleena is no longer the little girl Jared remembers from his past and evokes feelings in him he never wanted to feel again. Terrified of destroying her, he fights to keep her away. But her touch is something he can’t resist—the touch that sealed his fate.

Their pasts are intertwined and their futures uncertain. The only truths they know are the secrets they whisper in the night.

Jared Holt believes that he doesn’t deserve anything good in his life. Jared goes through the motions, but he’s been dead inside since the day he lost his mother. When he runs into Christopher Moore, his best friend while growing up, he can’t turn down his offer to stay with him and his sister. Jared doesn’t know why he’s come back to the place that haunts him. Then he sees her. Aleena Moore. Aly. The little girl that followed him around and he protected when she was younger is all grown up. Jared knows that it’s wrong to feel any attraction toward his best friend’s sister, but he can’t stop. Especially when they start meeting up in her room in the middle of the night just to talk.

Aly has always loved Jared. He left town when she was just fourteen, but she had loved him longer than that. Aly has loved Jared her entire life. She never expected to see him again, so when he turns up at the apartment she shares with her brother, she looks at it like it’s a gift. Until she starts getting to know him again, Aly doesn’t realize how scarred and tortured Jared is from the inside out. He blames himself for his mother’s death and has told himself that he doesn’t get to be happy. On the contrary, he needs to honor his mom the only way he knows how. By punishing himself. Night after night as they lay in her bed talking, Aly tries to get Jared to open up about that day so long ago.

As Jared and Aly become closer day-by-day, Jared realizes that he can never have what he wants. He can never have Aly. All he’s earned is a lifetime of misery. Aly makes him want to believe, but he knows he has to do his penance. Jared doesn’t get Aly and it kills him that he never will. When he leaves her, he expects to feel righteous for doing the right thing. What he comes to find out about himself is that he can’t give Aly up even if it means dishonoring his mom’s memory.

Oh my heart. It hurt while I was reading this book. Jared is one of the most tortured heroes I have read. He blames himself for something that happened when he was sixteen and has never recovered. He’s been in jail, lost his father, mother, and sister and if he doesn’t get his shit together, he will lose Aly. This book was so angsty. If you don’t like angst, I highly suggest passing this book up. I could only read for ten minutes at a time because this book was so incredibly emotional. A.L. Jackson has surpassed all my expectations, only getting better with each book I read.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5.

Closer to You

four-half-stars


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Sunday Spotlight: Better Than the Movies by Lynn Painter

Posted April 18, 2021 by Holly in Features, Giveaways | 1 Comment

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

Sunday Spotlight: Better Than the Movies by Lynn PainterBetter Than the Movies by Lynn Painter
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: May 4, 2021
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 368
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In this rom-com about rom-coms, in the spirit of Kasie West and Jenn Bennett, a hopeless romantic teen attempts to secure a happily-ever-after moment with her forever crush, but finds herself reluctantly drawn to the boy next door.

Perpetual daydreamer Liz Buxbaum gave her heart to Michael a long time ago. But her cool, aloof forever crush never really saw her before he moved away. Now that he’s back in town, Liz will do whatever it takes to get on his radar—and maybe snag him as a prom date—even befriend Wes Bennet.

The annoyingly attractive next-door neighbor might seem like a prime candidate for romantic comedy fantasies, but Wes has only been a pain in Liz’s butt since they were kids. Pranks involving frogs and decapitated lawn gnomes do not a potential boyfriend make. Yet, somehow, Wes and Michael are hitting it off, which means Wes is Liz’s in.

But as Liz and Wes scheme to get Liz noticed by Michael so she can have her magical prom moment, she’s shocked to discover that she likes being around Wes. And as they continue to grow closer, she must reexamine everything she thought she knew about love—and rethink her own ideas of what Happily Ever After should look like.

Excerpt

CHAPTER TWO

“A woman friend. This is amazing.
You may be the first attractive woman I have not wanted to sleep with in my entire life.”
—When Harry Met Sally

Michael was back.

I propped my feet up on the kitchen table and dug my spoon into the container of Americone Dream, still beside myself with giddiness. In my wildest dreams, I wouldn’t have imagined the return of Michael Young.

I didn’t think I’d ever see him again.

After he moved, I daydreamed for years about him coming back. I used to imagine I was out taking a walk on one of those gloriously cold autumn days that whispered of winter, the air smelling like snow. I’d be wearing my favorite outfit—which changed with each imagining, of course, because this fantasy started back in grade school—and when I’d turn the corner at the end of the block, there he’d be, walking toward me. I think there was even romantic running involved. I mean, why wouldn’t there be?

There were also no less than a hundred brokenhearted entries in my childhood diaries about his exit from my life. I’d found them a few years ago when we were cleaning out the garage, and the entries were surprisingly dark for a little kid.

Probably because his absence in my life was timed so closely with my mother’s death.

Eventually I’d accepted that neither of them were coming back. But now he’d returned.

And it felt like getting a little piece of happiness back.

I didn’t have any classes with him, so fate couldn’t intervene by throwing us together, which sucked so badly. I mean, what were the odds that we’d have zero occasions for forced interaction? Joss had a class with him, and clearly Wes did as well. Why not me? How was I supposed to show him we were meant to go to prom and fall in love and live happily ever after when I didn’t ever see him? I hummed along to Anna of the North in my headphones— the sexy hot tub song from To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before—and stared out the window at the rain.

The one thing in my favor was that I was kind of a love expert. I didn’t have a degree and I hadn’t taken any classes, but I’d watched thousands of hours of romantic comedies in my life. And I hadn’t just watched. I’d analyzed them with the observational acuity of a clinical psychologist.

Not only that, but love was in my genes. My mother had been a screenwriter who’d churned out a lot of great small-screen romantic comedies. My dad was 100 percent certain that she would’ve been the next Nora Ephron if she’d just had a little more time.

So even though I had zero practical experience, between my inherited knowledge and my extensive research, I knew a lot about love. And everything I knew made me certain that in order for Michael and me to happen, I would need to be at Ryno’s party.

Which wasn’t going to be easy, because not only did I have no idea who Ryno even was but I had zero interest in attending a party filled with the jocks’ sweaty armpits and the populars’ stinky beer breath.

But I needed to get reacquainted with Michael before some awful blonde who shall remain nameless beat me to him, so I’d have to find a way to make it work.

Lightning shot across the sky and illuminated Wes’s big car, all snuggled up against the curb in front of my house, rain bouncing hard off of its hood. That assbag had been right behind me all the way home from school, and when I’d pulled forward to properly parallel park, he’d slid right into The Spot.

What kind of monster parked nose-first in a street spot?

As I honked and yelled at him through the torrential down- pour, he waved to me and ran inside his house. I ended up having to park around the corner, in front of Mrs. Scarapelli’s duplex, and my hair and dress had been drenched by the time I burst through my front door.

Don’t even ask about the new shoes.

I licked off the spoon and wished Michael lived next door instead of Wes.

Then it hit me. “Holy God.”

Wes was my in. Wes, who had invited Michael to the party in the first place, would obviously be attending. What if he could get me in?

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

Sunday Spotlight: April 2021

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About Lynn Painter

Lynn Painter Headshot

Lynn Painter lives with her husband and pack of wild children in Nebraska, where she is a weekly contributor to the Omaha World-Herald and an avid fan of napping. When working on a new book, she can often be found sound asleep on her office floor. Some might say she should grow up and stop randomly dozing off like she's a toddler, but Lynn considers it part of her writing "process."


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Throwback Thursday Review: Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke’s Heart by Sarah McLean

Posted April 15, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 4 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke’s Heart by Sarah McLeanReviewer: Holly
Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart (Love By Numbers, #3) by Sarah MacLean
Series: Love by Numbers #3
Also in this series: Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord (Love By Numbers, #2), Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord (Love By Numbers, #2), Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart (Love By Numbers, #3), Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart (Love By Numbers, #3), Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake (Love By Numbers, #1)
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: April 26th 2011
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 384
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four-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

She lives for passion.
Bold, impulsive, and a magnet for trouble, Juliana Fiori is no simpering English miss. She refuses to play by society's rules: she speaks her mind, cares nothing for the approval of the ton, and can throw a punch with remarkable accuracy. Her scandalous nature makes her a favorite subject of London's most practiced gossips . . . and precisely the kind of woman The Duke of Leighton wants far far away from him.
He swears by reputation.
Scandal is the last thing Simon Pearson has room for in his well-ordered world. The Duke of Disdain is too focused on keeping his title untainted and his secrets unknown. But when he discovers Juliana hiding in his carriage late one evening—risking everything he holds dear—he swears to teach the reckless beauty a lesson in propriety. She has other plans, however; she wants two weeks to prove that even an unflappable duke is not above passion.

This review was originally posted on April 27, 2011.

I was somewhat disappointed with the 2nd book in this series, Ten Ways to be Adored When Landing a Lord, but this was much more on par with MacLean’s first release, Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake. I really enjoyed it. The characters came across well and the storyline was lively and fun.

Juliana has been feeling like an outcast since she left Italy to live with her brothers in England. The English are so reserved, so passionless. She longs for the day when she can leave and go back to Italy. Except..she can’t quite get over this small attraction she has to Simon Pearson, The Duke of Leighton. She shouldn’t be interested in him, he’s haughty and cold..except when he’s not. She wants to break through that icy exterior to find the heat beneath.

Simon is in a desperate rush to save his family reputation. Thanks to a reckless act by his sister, he must marry as quickly as possible – to someone with unimpeachable character. The frustrating Juliana Fiori is about as far as he can get from propriety. But when she stows-away in his carriage he has a hard time resisting temptation. Especially once she throws down a challenge – daring him to unleash the passion inside him. But Juliana doesn’t understand what’s at stake – passion could ruin his entire family.

Simon and Juliana have been dancing around each other since the first book. It seemed there was more to him than The Duke of Disdain, but he proved us wrong in the second book with his actions toward his sister. I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this novel. While there were times I wanted to kosh him over the head with a chamberpot, I eventually came to love him just as much as Juliana did. The weight of his responsibilities sat very heavily on him, which made him a more likable character.

With Juliana, I was worried she’d be one of the harebrained women who acted first and thought later..but that wasn’t really the case. Yes, she wanted passion, but she wasn’t reckless. And most of the scandals she found herself wrapped up in – or almost scandals – were not of her making. Her attraction to Simon frustrated her, but she wasn’t afraid to confront him about it. I think that’s what I loved best about her..she wasn’t afraid to speak her mind, or tell others what she wanted. Simon might have been a stick-in-the-mud, but Juliana called him on it.

They had chemistry in spades, but as we all know, chemistry isn’t enough. I think MacLean did a good job of showcasing that for us here. Yes, they were attracted to each other, but duty and honor played a large part in their actions. So did friendship and mutual respect. They really came to rely on one another, which was touching.

I’m disappointed that MacLean didn’t tie up all the loose ends. Since this is to be the end of the series I expected everything would be cleared up. Why did she bother to introduce Juliana’s mother into the story if she was going to leave it unresolved?

Despite a few issues, overall this was a fun, sexy read. I found the story engrossing and the characters flawed but lovable.

4.5 out of 5

Love By Numbers

four-half-stars


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