Author: Sarina Bowen

Review: Rookie Move by Sarina Bowen

Posted December 5, 2018 by Casee in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Rookie Move by Sarina BowenReviewer: Casee
Rookie Move (Brooklyn Bruisers, #1) by Sarina Bowen
Narrator: Nicol Zanzarella, Rock Engle
Series: Brooklyn Bruisers #1
Also in this series: Rookie Move, Rookie Move, Hard Hitter, Rookie Move, Hard Hitter (Brooklyn Bruisers #2), Pipe Dreams, Pipe Dreams, Pipe Dreams (Brooklyn Bruisers, #3), Brooklynaire (Brooklyn Bruisers #4), Bountiful (True North, #4; Brooklyn Bruisers, #4.5)
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: September 6, 2016
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Romance Package
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 303
Length: 9 hours 53 minutes
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
two-stars

The first novel in a sexy new series featuring the hockey players of the Brooklyn Bruisers and the women who win their hearts—from the USA Today bestselling author of the Ivy Years series. 
In high school they were the perfect couple—until the day Georgia left Leo in the cold...
  Hockey player Leo Trevi has spent the last six years trying to do two things: get over the girl who broke his heart, and succeed in the NHL. But on the first day he’s called up to the newly franchised Brooklyn Bruisers, Leo gets checked on both sides, first by the team’s coach—who has a long simmering grudge, and then by the Bruisers’ sexy, icy publicist—his former girlfriend Georgia Worthington.   Saying goodbye to Leo was one of the hardest things Georgia ever had to do—and saying hello again isn’t much easier. Georgia is determined to keep their relationship strictly professional, but when a press conference microphone catches Leo declaring his feelings for her, things get really personal, really fast....

This book was unbearable from start to finish. From the narrators to the story itself to the heroine, I disliked it immensely. The only saving grace to this book was Leo, the hero.

Let us start with the narrators. There were two, a male and a female. The male voice was just…off. Nothing like I would have imagined Leo’s voice to sound like. I always laugh a little when the men read dialogue from the heroine during a sex scene, but this narrator was roll-your-eyes-out-of-your-head eye rolling. Oh and when he voiced Leo’s mom? Are you fucking kidding me? That’s what my kids used to sound like when they tried to imitate me when they were six. It really pulled me out of the book. The female narrator was pretty bad too. Her voice was so breathy, it just didn’t work. Plus as the voice of Georgia, I was more imagining nails-on-a-chalkboard. She sounded like a porn star during the sex scenes.

My dislike of this book began and ended with the heroine. Georgia Worthington was awful. I mean truly, truly awful. The only reason I didn’t DNF this book is because I plan on continuing this series and I’m anal about leaving a book unfinished. It was a close thing though. I wanted to “toss” it at least three separate times. Georgia and Leo’s age was somewhat murky. I couldn’t tell if they were twenty four or twenty six. Maybe twenty five? I have no idea. What I do know for certain is that I wanted to brain Georgia with one of those stilettos that she hates so much.

Georgia and Leo have history. It’s all about to come to a head when Leo is traded to the Brooklyn Bruisers. The Bruisers is a professional hockey team of which Georgia is the interim lead publicist for. As an aside I would say that the publicist profession is my second least favorite profession when reading. I simply don’t like them. When you had in the fact that the heroine was insufferable, a disaster is brewing. Anyway, Georgia and Leo haven’t seen each other for anywhere from four to six years. They were high school sweethearts. Then there was a horrible night that Georgia was raped at a party. After that, nothing was ever the same. But should/would it be? Regardless of that, Georgia dumps Leo because he doesn’t look at her with desire anymore. Holy shit. Seriously.

Now, in the present, Georgia can only think back to how great it was in the past with Leo. Before the rape. When they were teenagers. TEENAGERS. Grow the fuck up. Are you an adult? I know things were great, but you’ve evolved. Leo has evolved. Stop holding on to your TEENAGE past. Georgia just had the most shortsighted, brainless reasons for saying no to a relationship with Leo. He might be traded. He’ll never look at her the way he used to. They can never had what they had in the past. She can’t have a relationship with a player. On and on it goes. It got really old.

Leo was delightful. I really loved him. He was funny. I loved his sense of humor. As much as he loved hockey and has wanted to play it his entire life, he is willing to give it all up for Georgia. I have no idea WTF he was thinking there. I wouldn’t give her a glass of water if she was on fire. This right here is the epitome of who Leo is.

“Fuck that,” he said. “You and I don’t have one-night stands. We have forevernight stands.”

How can you not fall in love with Leo?

Even with how much I loved Leo, I detested Georgia even more. Did I already tell you she was insufferable? I know I did. It bears repeating. Georgia was insufferable. Not one likable thing about the woman.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Brooklyn Bruisers

two-stars


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Review: Us by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy

Posted November 20, 2018 by Casee in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Us by Sarina Bowen and Elle KennedyReviewer: Casee
Us (Him, #2) by Sarina Bowen, Elle Kennedy
Series: Him #2
Also in this series: Us (Him, #2), Him (Him #1)
Publisher: Rennie Road Books
Publication Date: March 8, 2016
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Genres: M/M
Pages: 322
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-half-stars

Can your favorite hockey players finish their first season together undefeated?

Five months in, NHL forward Ryan Wesley is having a record-breaking rookie season. He’s living his dream of playing pro hockey and coming home every night to the man he loves—Jamie Canning, his longtime best friend turned boyfriend. There’s just one problem: the most important relationship of his life is one he needs to keep hidden, or else face a media storm that will eclipse his success on the ice.

Jamie loves Wes. He really, truly does. But hiding sucks. It’s not the life Jamie envisioned for himself, and the strain of keeping their secret is taking its toll. It doesn’t help that his new job isn’t going as smoothly as he’d hoped, but he knows he can power through it as long as he has Wes. At least apartment 10B is their retreat, where they can always be themselves.

Or can they?

When Wes’s nosiest teammate moves in upstairs, the threads of their carefully woven lie begin to unravel. With the outside world determined to take its best shot at them, can Wes and Jamie develop major-league relationship skills on the fly?

Warning: contains sexual situations, a vibrating chair, long-distance sexytimes and proof that hockey players look hot in any shade of green.

After reading Him, I immediately picked up Us. I proceeded to read it in one day. You guys know me…that rarely happens. Until the end of September I don’t even remember the last time I read a book in a day. The last book I remember reading in a day was Acheron by Sherrilyn Kenyon. Which was quite a feat, I have to say.

This book picks up exactly where Us left off. Wes and Jamie are in Toronto, living together as “roommates” although they’re really shacking up. fans myself These two are it. They are love. However it’s different this time around. See, Wes has to go back into the closet during his rookie season with his hockey team. He knows that coming out as gay could mess up his future. While he’s never been ashamed of who he is nor ashamed of Jamie, he will not risk his hockey career for anything.

Jamie has started coaching younger kids, which he loves. He did like playing hockey, but coaching is his niche. He loves the challenge of it and seeing the results. He would be completely happy with his life if he and Wes didn’t have to hide. The only sanctuary they have is their apartment. It’s only there that they can truly be themselves, be together, just be. Then one of Wes’ hockey teammates moves in upstairs. If Wes and Jamie didn’t think things could get worse, they were wrong.

This book is really about two people trying to be themselves and be together, but having to make a sacrifice for something that is important to them both. Wes hates being in the closet. He’s never been in the closet and he’s proud of who he is. He thought Jamie would be more afraid of coming out with him, but even he gets tired on the charade. They barely see each other due to Wes’ hockey schedule and the precious time they used to have at home continually gets interrupted by Blake, Wes’ teammate.

Then Jamie gets sick and all bets are off. Wes no longer cares if he’s dropped by the team because of the negative publicity. He will not leave Jamie alone in the hospital. It all comes out from there and both Wes and Jamie are relieved though they certainly wouldn’t have come out like that.

Jamie has a hard recovery. This was written incredibly well. Even men have a hard time. Even men can fall into a depression. The thing is that men think they should always be strong. Jamie can’t accept the fact that he’s physically weaker because of his illness. He doesn’t count on the depression either. What he does know is that he has to get away from Wes and he doesn’t even know why.

This part of the book was heartbreaking. They both were just wrecked. I just loved this book from beginning to end. I’m really excited to read Good Boy, which is Blake and Jess’ story. I found Blake incredibly annoying at the beginning, but I adored him by the end. He stuck with Wes and Jamie through everything, proving himself as one of their best friends. He was fantastic.

I highly recommend this series. It is amazing. Don’t pass it up because it’s m/m. If you’ve ever wanted to give m/m a try, this is the series to get started with. Seriously, get started.

Wes + Jamie = FOREVA.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Him

four-half-stars


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Review: Him by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy

Posted November 19, 2018 by Casee in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Him by Sarina Bowen and Elle KennedyReviewer: Casee
Him (Him #1) by Sarina Bowen, Elle Kennedy
Series: Him #1
Also in this series: Us (Him, #2), Us (Him, #2)
Publisher: Rennie Road Books
Publication Date: July 28, 2015
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Genres: M/M
Pages: 360
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-stars

They don’t play for the same team. Or do they?

Jamie Canning has never been able to figure out how he lost his closest friend. Four years ago, his tattooed, wise-cracking, rule-breaking roommate cut him off without an explanation. So what if things got a little weird on the last night of hockey camp the summer they were eighteen? It was just a little drunken foolishness. Nobody died.

Ryan Wesley’s biggest regret is coaxing his very straight friend into a bet that pushed the boundaries of their relationship. Now, with their college teams set to face off at the national championship, he’ll finally get a chance to apologize. But all it takes is one look at his longtime crush, and the ache is stronger than ever.

Jamie has waited a long time for answers, but walks away with only more questions—can one night of sex ruin a friendship? If not, how about six more weeks of it? When Wesley turns up to coach alongside Jamie for one more hot summer at camp, Jamie has a few things to discover about his old friend... and a big one to learn about himself.

Warning: contains sexual situations, skinnydipping, shenanigans in an SUV and proof that coming out to your family on social media is a dicey proposition.

Due to the fact that I no longer have an aversion to first person, I decided to pick this book up. Elle Kennedy is my girl (although she doesn’t know it) and Sarina Bowen is Holly & Rowena’s (though I don’t think she knows it). This is seriously an ace writing team, so I was really excited to read this book. It’s the first m/m that I’ve read in sometime. I really decided to read it after I read Tracy’s review of Us. I just couldn’t not read it.

Ryan Wesley never expected to see Jamie Canning again. After becoming best friends a hockey camp over the summers when they were young, Wes ruined it the night he made an unforgivable bet with Jamie. Wes left camp and never looked back although he regularly regrets it. Even when he was eighteen, Wes know that Jamie was the only man for him. Problem with that was that Jamie is as straight as an arrow.

Fast forward several years and Wes and Jamie meet at the championship for college hockey. Seeing Jamie makes Wes realized that he didn’t just lose the man he loved, he also lost his best friend. He decides to apologize, which is something he should have done a long time ago.

Jamie never knew why Wes disappeared from his life. Hurt for the friend that he lost, Jamie is thrilled to see him again. He still doesn’t know why Wes left camp so suddenly. All they did was a little experimenting and Wes paid up on a bet. He doesn’t even consider that the bet could have been the reason Wes left and never spoke to him again. He was wrong.

Knowing he was going to lose Jamie for a second time, Wes makes a rash decision. He contacts the director of the very same hockey camp that he and Jamie went to as kids and offers to be a coach. Jamie goes back every summer to coach. All he wants to do is spend six weeks with the man he loves before he heads to Toronto and the NHL. It doesn’t even matter that Jamie doesn’t know it.

I found this book incredibly realistic. After a hot night between the sheets, Jamie grapples with his sexuality. He’s never been attracted to men, but he can’t stop what he feels for Wes. When their summer comes to an end, Jamie won’t let their time to be over. He loves Wes just as much as Wes loves him and nothing, not even Wes’ career is going to stand in the way of him being with the man he loves.

The book wasn’t as much about being gay as it was about finding your person. Wes was Jamie’s person. Jamie was Wes’ person. The fact that they were both men meant little to Jamie. He was a little naïve though. He didn’t realize how difficult it was for Wes to be out of the closet as a gay man. He soon finds out what Wes faces when he faces it himself. That’s still not enough to keep him away from Wes.

I loved Wes and Jamie. Loved them. They were truly meant for each other. Not just romantically, but as best friends. If you’re looking for a good m/m, this is your book.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5.

Him

four-stars


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Review: Bountiful by Sarina Bowen

Posted November 16, 2018 by Casee in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Bountiful by Sarina BowenReviewer: Casee
Bountiful (True North, #4; Brooklyn Bruisers, #4.5) by Sarina Bowen
Narrator: Seraphine Valentine, Teddy Hamilton
Series: True North #4, Brooklyn Bruisers #4.5
Also in this series: Bittersweet, Steadfast (True North #2), Steadfast, Bittersweet, Keepsake, Bountiful (True North, #4), Speakeasy (True North, #5), Bittersweet (True North, #1), Steadfast (True North, #2), Fireworks (True North #6), Keepsake (True North, #3), Rookie Move, Rookie Move, Hard Hitter, Rookie Move, Hard Hitter (Brooklyn Bruisers #2), Pipe Dreams, Pipe Dreams, Pipe Dreams (Brooklyn Bruisers, #3), Brooklynaire (Brooklyn Bruisers #4), Rookie Move (Brooklyn Bruisers, #1)
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: October 20, 2017
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Romance Package
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 315
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
three-stars

No last names. No life stories. Those were the rules.

Once upon a time a cocky, copper-haired tourist sauntered into Zara’s bar. And even though she knew better, Zara indulged in a cure for the small-town blues. It was supposed to be an uncomplicated fling—a few sizzling weeks before he went back to his life, and she moved on.

Until an accidental pregnancy changed her life.

Two years later, she’s made peace with the notion that Dave No-Last-Name will never be found. Until one summer day when he walks into her coffee shop, leveling her with the same hot smile that always renders her defenseless.

Dave Beringer has never forgotten the intense month he spent with prickly Zara. Their nights together were the first true intimacy he’d ever experienced. But the discovery of his child is the shock of a lifetime, and his ugly past puts relationships and family out of reach.

Or does it? Vermont’s countryside has a way of nurturing even tortured souls. The fields and the orchards—and hard won love—are Bountiful.

I was really looking forward to this book. I’m a fan of reunion stories. I even like secret baby books. This wasn’t exactly a secret baby, but it was as close as you could get without being one. I can’t quite put my finger on what didn’t do it for me. It wasn’t that I hated this book. I didn’t. I didn’t particularly like it. I just sort of feel blah about it.

I listened to this book on audio. The narrators were pretty darn good. Sometimes Dave sounded like kind of a dunce, but I got used to it. He just seemed sort of slow, but I got over that and just let myself enjoy it.

Zara runs her uncle’s bar in a small town in Vermont. She’s kind of bitter after her ex finds someone else so quickly (see Griff Shipley from Bittersweet). She’s basically ripe for a one night stand. Except her one night stand with Dave No-Last-Name ends up being a summer fling. One they agree will end when his time in Vermont ends. Dave is a hockey player for the Brooklyn Bruisers and has no intention of settling down. Zara is a bitter shrew and neither does she have any intention of settling down. That’s before Dave leaves her a bun in the oven. He once mentioned his last name in passing. Even her twin brother, Benito’s law enforcement contacts are unable to find Dave. So she has her baby on her own and keeps the father’s name a secret.

Two years later she is happy. Her baby girl is thriving and she has a new business with (who would have guessed it) Audrey Shipley, her ex’s new wife. Then her her world is thrown into chaos when Dave walks into her new coffee shop. Dave couldn’t be more excited to see her. Zara doesn’t exactly feel the same way. She never planned nor particularly wanted to see Dave again. She doesn’t want to share her daughter, Nicole. She doesn’t know Dave. She doesn’t want to explain Dave to her family. Unfortunately her past has come calling.

Dave hasn’t forgotten Zara in the two years that have passed. He’s blown away when he learns that he has a two year old daughter. It’s abundantly clear when he looks at her that Nicole is his daughter. Before long he’s doing daddy-like things and he couldn’t be happier. The problem is that Zara still doesn’t want more from him than sex. He’s determined to convince her that he is worth taking a chance on.

Zara was a bitter, bitter woman. It was hard to stomach at times. I just didn’t understand her hangups. It was just weird. I couldn’t get past what her issue was. And it was an issue. As much as she overcame her problem with Griff, became best friends with Audrey, and was a wonderful mother to Nicole, I just couldn’t understand why she was so bitter. It was weird. Plus she used Nicole as an excuse more than was acceptable to me.

The ending was real shit. It showed that a couple doesn’t just ride into the sunset. They both had lives outside of each other. She was a business owner. He played professional hockey. They couldn’t just stop their lives. I thought Sarina Bowen did write the ending rather well. Still, this was not my favorite book of the series.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

True North

three-stars


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Review: Keepsake by Sarina Bowen

Posted November 15, 2018 by Casee in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Keepsake by Sarina BowenReviewer: Casee
Keepsake (True North, #3) by Sarina Bowen
Narrator: Erin Spencer, Teddy Hamilton
Series: True North #3
Also in this series: Bittersweet, Steadfast (True North #2), Steadfast, Bittersweet, Keepsake, Bountiful (True North, #4), Speakeasy (True North, #5), Bittersweet (True North, #1), Steadfast (True North, #2), Fireworks (True North #6), Bountiful (True North, #4; Brooklyn Bruisers, #4.5)
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: October 25, 2016
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Romance Package
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 312
Length: 10 hours, 8 minutes
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-stars

There's a first time for everything.

Lark Wainwright used to be fearless. Her life was a series of adventures, each one more exhilarating than the last. But her recent overseas adventure was one too many. Now she’s home and in one piece. Mostly. But her nights are filled with terror.

When her best friend offers her a stay at the orchard in exchange for help at the farmers’ markets, Lark jumps at the chance to spend fall in Vermont. But her nightmares don’t stop. Desperate to keep her fragile state a secret, she relies on the most soft-spoken resident of the Shipley Farm to soothe her when her dreams prove too much.

Zachariah is a survivor, too. It’s been four years since he was tossed aside by the polygamist cult where he grew up. He’s found a peaceful existence on the Shipley’s farm, picking apples and fixing machinery. But getting thrown away by your own people at nineteen leaves a mark on a guy. He doesn’t always know what to make of a world where movie quotes are the primary means of communication. Before hitchhiking to Vermont, he’d never watched TV or spoken on the phone.

Actually, there are a lot of things he’s never done.

Zach and Lark slowly grow to trust one another. One night they become even closer than they’d planned. But Lark may still be too broken to trust anyone. When she pushes Zach away, he will have to prove to himself that he's good for much more than farm labor.

I listened to this book on audio. I’ve really enjoyed listening to the series. The narrators have switched up and they’ve all been pretty good.

Keepsake is a book about survivors. Both Zachariah and Lark survived different kinds of hell. Zach was in a cult as a child and young adult. He finally escaped, but there was a steep price. He’s never forgiven himself for the girl he left behind and often wonders what became of her. He’s built his life around the Shipley farm, but he knows that it will soon be time to move on. That’s something that scares him deeply. Zach has never truly been on his own. When May Shipley’s best friend, Lark Wainwright, shows up at the farm, he recognizes a survivor in her.

Lark has come to Vermont to heal. As an investigative journalist, Lark used to be fearless. She would go from assignment to assignment with no fear that something could happen to her. That all changes when she is kidnapped. Now her nights are plagued with nightmares. She’s hoping that her stay at the farm will bring her peace. She has no idea how broken she truly is until she gets there. She finds unexpected comfort in Zach. She recognizes that he has demons of his own and feels no regret in taking the comfort that he offers her.

I understood Lark. I truly did. That didn’t mean I particularly liked her. Maybe it would have been different if Zach wasn’t Zach. The fact is that Lark flat out used Zach. Sure she had feelings for him. It’s clear, but she used him to cover her own nightmares. The one thing that was admirable about her was that she didn’t lie to herself or to Zach about it. I knew that she was going to have to leave Zach, but geez. It was hard reading Zach’s reaction. The guy has never had a mean thought. He would have done anything for Lark. Even let her go.

In the end, I still loved Zach. I liked Lark, but didn’t love her. She was just so-so. Then there was the way things unfolded with May and Lark. Like where the hell did that come from? I was thrown for a loop and it felt like that was just put in there for shock value. It was really weird.

Rating: 4 out of 5. (For Zach)

True North

four-stars


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