Genre: Contemporary Romance

Sunday Spotlight: The One for You by Roni Loren

Posted December 15, 2019 by Rowena in Features, Giveaways | 4 Comments

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. 🙂

I can’t believe that we’re already on Book 4. When I first heard about this series before the first book came out, I was mighty intrigued and I thought it was such an interesting concept though I didn’t know how Roni Loren would pull it off. Telling the stories of victims of a school shooting? That was different but I’ve got to say that Roni Loren has written fantastic stories for the survivors and I have eaten each and every single book that she’s written in this series up.

In The One for You, we are finally getting Kincaid’s story. I’m pretty anxious for this book to be released into the wild because Kincaid has completely won me over throughout this series. In the first book, I didn’t really care for her at first but now? Love the woman. I can’t wait to read her story and it’s a best friend trope along with the one that got away trope? Oh yes, sign me up!

My love for this series is real and that is why we’re featuring The One for You on our Sunday Spotlight for this week. Check out the excerpt below and see Kincaid meet up with her long lost best friend that she hasn’t seen in years. Enjoy!

Sunday Spotlight: The One for You by Roni LorenThe One for You by Roni Loren
Series: The Ones that Got Away #4
Also in this series: The Ones Who Got Away (The Ones Who Got Away, #1)
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: December 31, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Point-of-View: Third

Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 352
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: four-stars

The highly-anticipated fourth book in Roni Loren's unforgettable The Ones Who Got Away series.

She got a second chance at life.Will she take a second chance at love?

Kincaid Breslin wasn't supposed to survive that fateful night at Long Acre when so many died, including her boyfriend—but survive she did. She doesn't know why she got that chance, but now she takes life by the horns and doesn't let anybody stand in her way

Ashton Isaacs was her best friend when disaster struck all those years ago, but he chose to run as far away as he could. Now fate has brought him back to town, and Ash doesn't know how to cope with his feelings for Kincaid and his grief over their lost friendship. For Ash has been carrying secrets, and he knows that once Kincaid learns the truth, he'll lose any chance he might have had with the only woman he's ever loved.

Excerpt

Ash’s head was pounding from lack of sleep and absence of coffee as he stepped out of the tiny shower in the apartment above the bookstore. The hot water had helped wake him up some, but the headache was going to take something more drastic. Like a double shot of espresso from the coffee shop on the corner. Maybe a triple. It wouldn’t taste like his usual from his favorite shop in Brooklyn, but he couldn’t be choosy.

Not that many years ago, Long Acre didn’t have a coffee shop at all. If you wanted coffee, you had to go to Toby’s Diner and drink the weak, brown water they passed off as coffee. As a teen, he’d thought it was quality stuff. He and Kincaid used to stop there all the time after their evening shifts at the bookstore to meet Graham, order a pot of coffee, eat cheese toast—the cheapest thing on the menu—and get their homework done. Well, mostly it’d been Ash attempting to do his homework while Kincaid narrated everything about her day or the customers she’d helped in the store. He’d never met anyone who seemed to say every thought in her head even while doing a completely unrelated task. Some people worked to background music. He’d taken to working to the hum of her chatter. After a while, it’d become something he missed when he tried to work in silence.

He grimaced and dried his face on his towel, trying to wipe away the memory. No thinking about the past. Being back in Long Acre was bad enough. He didn’t need to do the memory-lane thing. That road was populated with a whole bunch of sites he didn’t want to visit ever again. That was one reason the little gourmet coffee shop was perfect. It was new, probably some transplant business owner from Austin looking for small-town life, and when Ash had stopped in the last two mornings, he hadn’t recognized a soul and no one had recognized him.

Ash finished drying off and knotted the towel around his waist. He felt around the edge of the sink. Dammit. Where had he left his glasses? He squinted through the steam trapped in the small room and didn’t see them. He sighed, wishing, not for the first time, that he was back in his New York apartment where he had defined places for everything.

He vaguely remembered pulling off his glasses when he’d gotten undressed by the bed, so he headed out of the bathroom, vision blurry but manageable. The apartment was just a studio with a small kitchen in the corner, a bed, and a table where he could eat and work at his laptop, but the layout was unfamiliar. Plus, the place was filled with boxes and dark, the curtains still drawn. He walked carefully, hoping not to stub a toe or knock something over. He finally located his glasses on the small bedside table and slipped them on. He reached for the lamp, but when he heard a sound off to his left, he only had time to register that someone was standing near the door before a woman’s shriek tore through the small room.

He lifted his palms as if it were a holdup and jumped back in surprise. But before he could get a word out, something heavy and solid crashed into his shoulder.

Oof. Pain rocketed down his arm and up his neck. The sound of breaking glass exploded at his feet. “What the fu—”

“I have pepper spray and know self-defense!” the woman shouted. “Don’t you move!”

“Me?” he asked incredulously. “You don’t move. This is my apartment. And if you have pepper spray, why the hell didn’t you use that instead?” He rubbed his throbbing shoulder and took a step toward the lamp to illuminate his unwelcome visitor, but sharp pain pinched the bottom of his foot. “Fuck.”

“Your apartment?” she said, affronted. “I don’t think so, squatter. This place is on the market.”

Ash’s foot was on fire with pain. The glass had nicked him, and he was losing his patience and possibly blood. “Look, calm down. I think there’s been a mix-up, but give me a sec. Let me turn on a light.” He kept his feet where they were and reached for the lamp again. He clicked it on, soft light flooding the room. He was ready to yell at whoever this stranger was for attacking him, but when he saw the blond woman standing there, pepper spray aimed, familiar just-try-me expression on her face, all his breath left him. “Kincaid?”

Kincaid’s face, which he hadn’t seen since their last awkward shared Christmas at the Lowells—an annual tradition that always involved a lot of tense, fake smiling at each other—was the picture of shock. Eyes widening. Lips parting. Her gaze slid down his body, which he now remembered was bare except for his tattoos and the damp towel around his hips. He cleared his throat.
Her attention snapped back up to his face. “Ash? What the hell?”

He grabbed the knotted towel at his hip, not trusting the thing to hold up. Apparently the universe hated him, so full frontal nudity was imminent if he didn’t take precautionary measures. “I could say the same to you. How’d you get in?”

“I have a key. I’m showing the place for the Lowells so they can rent it out.” She lowered the pepper spray and swept her other hand in his direction. “I was bringing flowers by to brighten up the place. I have someone coming over later to see it.”

Ash looked down at his feet where shards of glass glinted in the lamplight and a puddle of water had spread like some kind of abstract art, mixing with the blood from his cut and the scattered flowers. His foot was burning like hell. “Well, it’s not for rent anymore. I’m…using it.”

Her brow creased, and she glanced around, noticing the boxes for the first time. “Using it? You always stay at Grace and Charlie’s when you visit.”

God, he didn’t want to get into this with Kincaid. He’d always made sure to bring a date home for Christmas, and he’d been extra thrilled the last two years to bring a serious girlfriend home to prove to everyone how well he was doing. Without this town. Without his parents. Without Kincaid. That he was just fine. Now here he was, right back where he’d started. “I needed a place for a little longer to get some writing done. Someplace quiet.”

The Ones That Got Away

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: December 2019

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 Roni Loren

Roni wrote her first romance novel at age fifteen when she discovered writing about boys was way easier than actually talking to them. Since then, her flirting skills haven’t improved, but she likes to think her storytelling ability has. She holds a master’s degree in social work and spent years as a mental health counselor, but now she writes full time from her cozy office in Dallas, Texas where she puts her characters on the therapy couch instead. She is a two-time RITA Award winner and a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author.


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Review: Not So Nice Guy by R.S. Grey

Posted December 12, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 3 Comments

Review: Not So Nice Guy by R.S. GreyReviewer: Holly
Not So Nice Guy by R.S. Grey
Narrator: Teddy Hamilton, Luci Christian Bell
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: August 9, 2018
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Escape
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »

Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 264
Length: 7 hours and 1 minute
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-stars

"Oh my god. Who is that?"I get asked this question a lot."Oh him?" I reply. "That's just Ian."
Just Ian is the biggest understatement of the century.Just the Mona Lisa. Just the Taj Mahal. Just Ian, with his boring ol' washboard abs and dime-a-dozen dimpled smile.
Just Ian is... just my best friend.
We're extremely close, stuck so deep inside a Jim-and-Pam-style friendzone everyone at works assumes we're a couple - that is until one day, word spreads through the teacher's lounge that he's single. Fair game. Suddenly, it's open season on Ian.
He should be reveling in all the newfound attention, but to our mutual surprise, the only attention he seems to want is mine.
He's turning our formerly innocent nightly chats into x-rated phone calls. Our playful banter sports a new, dangerous edge.
I want to assume he's playing a prank on me, just pushing my buttons like always - but when Ian lifts me onto the desk in my classroom and slides his hands up my skirt, he doesn't leave a lot of room for confusion.
I'm a little scared of things going south, of losing my best friend because I can't keep my hands to myself. So, I'm just going to back away and not return this earth-shattering kiss - oh who am I kidding?!
Goodbye Ian, ol' buddy, ol' pal!
Helloooo mister not so nice guy.

I came across Not So Nice Guy by R.S. Grey on Audible Escape and decided to give it a go. I was in the mood for something light. I enjoyed the narrators. The first part of the book was really cute.

Ian and Samantha (Sam) have been best friends for years. They work together and spend all their free time together. Although they’re attracted to one another, neither has ever acted on it because they assume the other isn’t interested.

I easily fell into the story and couldn’t wait to see what would happen when these best friends realized they wanted to be lovers. As the story progressed, things kind of went downhill. I didn’t love the author’s humor, but more, I thought both characters acted immature and silly. I didn’t get why they refused to speak to each other or why they blew so hot and cold.

Things came back around and I enjoyed the last chapter or two (until the epilogue, that is), but overall this was just a rather meh read for me.

Rating: 3 out of 5

three-stars


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Review: Open House by Ruby Lang

Posted December 9, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Open House by Ruby LangReviewer: Rowena
Open House by Ruby Lang
Series: Uptown #2
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: November 11, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »

Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 165
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2019 New to Me Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Love can take root where you least expect it.

Tyson Yang never imagined that one day he’d be the de facto spokesperson for an illegal community garden. But when the once-rat-infested-but-now-thriving Harlem lot goes up for sale, Ty can’t just let all their hard work get plowed under.

Even if he is irresistibly drawn to the lovely but infuriatingly stubborn real estate associate.

Magda Ferrer’s family is already convinced this new job will be yet another flop in her small but growing list of career path failures. But her student debt isn’t going anywhere, and selling her uncle’s historic townhouse and the lot nearby means a chance to get some breathing room.

Ty is her charming rival, her incorrigible nemesis, the handsome roadblock to her success.

Until one hot Harlem night blurs the hard line drawn between them, and the seeds of possibility in this rocky garden blossom into love…

This book is approximately 48,000 words

One-click with confidence. This title is part of the

Carina Press Romance Promise: all the romance you’re looking for with an HEA/HFN. It’s a promise!


Open House is the second book in Ruby Lang’s Uptown series but it is the first book that I’ve read by Lang and it won’t be the last. She’s got a charming writing style that I liked and I enjoyed the romance that blossomed between Ty and Magda. I also liked seeing Ty grow to really love the community garden and see the old ladies in the neighborhood take him under their wing at the same time that he took them all under his protection. I even enjoyed Ty’s sister and the relationship that they had between them. Magda’s family was a lot harder to like at first but they really did come around and when Magda finally stands up for herself and demands that they treat her like the adult she is, I cheered for her.

Magda was really trying to find herself over the course of this book and even though there were times when I wanted to smack some sense into her, I respected the hell out of her because she was trying. I liked that she understood why her family treated her the way that they did and I really liked how she was putting in the work to make something of herself without any influence from anyone. She was just a normal woman with normal problems that I related to and I connected with her character. Ruby Lang did a great job with Magda’s character and I appreciated her efforts.

Ty was another interesting character and even though there were times when I didn’t understand his thought processes, I never once hated him. Like Magda, Ty was a normal guy with normal problems and it was easy to relate to the stuff he was dealing with. I enjoyed seeing him come into his own and deal with the issues that have ruled his life so far. It was a nice perk to see him fall in love in a realistic way.

Magda and Ty had great chemistry and they were awesome on their own but better together. I enjoyed seeing them grow closer, and then battle to figure out how to be together with the different things in their lives that were pulling them apart. It wasn’t always easy for them because he was trying to save a garden that was on a lot that she was trying to sell. There’s some push and pull and while that was bothersome, they figure it out and all is well that ends well so even though I spent some time in this book rolling my eyes around the room, Ruby Lang still wrote a fun romance and I was still invested in what happened to everyone so all in all, this was a solid read. I recommend.

Final Grade

3.5 out of 5

Uptown Series

three-half-stars


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Review: Blitzed by Alexa Martin

Posted December 3, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Blitzed by Alexa MartinReviewer: Rowena
Blitzed by Alexa Martin
Series: The Playbook #3
Publisher: Penguin, Berkley
Publication Date: December 3, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »

Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 320
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-stars
Series Rating: three-stars

Maxwell has finally met an opponent that he can't best in this new football romance from the author of Fumbled.

According to Brynn Larson, Maxwell Lewis is more trouble than he's worth. She doesn't care if he's a football god with a rock-hard body that brings most women to their knees. After an encounter that ends poorly, she's not interested in giving him a second chance. The last thing Brynn expects is for him to turn up at her bar months later, hat in hand. It doesn't matter if he brings more customers to her business--she's still not going on a date with him.

Maxwell knows he made a mistake. He'd been waiting to make his move on Brynn since the day he laid eyes on her and he was finally ready to go for it until he screwed up. He wishes he could tell her the truth about what happened that night, but he just can't. He can't tell anyone, so he'll make amends and hope she'll forgive him.

Brynn's not like other women, though. Playing for the Mustangs doesn't impress her and gifts make her scoff. Max will have to bring his A game if he hopes to win her over.


Blitzed is the third book in Alexa Martin’s The Playbook series. It follows the owner of the women’s bar, Hers, Brynn Larson as she falls in love with Denver Mustang, Maxwell Lewis. Their story wasn’t an easy story because it just about ended before it even started and the telling of this story is on the slow side so it was hard to stay invested in what was the characters were going through because of that. I spent a huge chunk of this book waiting for something, anything to happen and when things started to pick up, I had almost given up on the story as a whole.

In the previous book, I liked Brynn a great deal. I loved the idea behind her bar, Hers, and I really loved her personality but I struggled with her in this book when she’s front and center of all of the action. She was really whiny and I didn’t understand why for a lot of this book and I wasn’t a big fan of the conflict between them. When we first see these two together, Maxwell receives a phone call that shakes him up pretty bad that he behaves in a way that scares the crap out of Brynn but instead of being scared, Brynn gets mad. I could have understood that and even accepted it but it came off as too whiny and it bugged the snot out of me. Don’t even get me started on the Theo thing.

Then there was Maxwell. When we first meet him, my initial thought was that he was a sweetie pie. A giant teddy bear with a heart of gold but then that scene at Hers happens and we spend quite a long time not knowing what happened to cause him to lose his shit the way that he did and if I’m being honest, I didn’t dig that whole thing. I didn’t dig the fact that he threw his phone and nearly took Brynn’s head off, I didn’t like that he spent a long-ass time not being able to talk about everything but even though there were times when I wanted to shake some sense into Maxwell, I never hated him. I never wanted him to not get his shit together and get the girl in the end but I don’t know, I guess I just wanted a different story for Brynn and Maxwell.

I will say that Alexa Martin brought the magic with the female friendships, and the whole reality shows stuff because I adored all of that. I loved how strong the friendships between all of the Mustangs women were. I loved how supportive they were of each other and how sure I was that they each had each other’s backs. They were loyal to each other and they cared and you saw it. You felt it. You understood it. That was my favorite thing about this book and even though the romance didn’t live up to the hype that I gave it leading up to my reading the book, I’m still looking forward to more books in this series. I’m crossing my fingers that we’ll get more books and that we’ll get a book for Eloise.

Final Grade

3.25 out of 5

The Playbook

three-stars


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Review: Lead Me Home by A.L. Jackson

Posted November 27, 2019 by Casee in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Lead Me Home by A.L. JacksonReviewer: Casee
Lead Me Home by A. L. Jackson
Narrator: Andi Arndt, Joe Arden
Series: Fight for Me #3
Also in this series: Hold on to Hope, Show Me the Way, Follow Me Back
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: April 20, 2018
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating First

Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 396
Length: 10 hours and 36 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Fourteen years ago, my life changed forever.

My sister disappeared. That day I was selfish. That day I chose myself over her. And that day, I lost everything.

Including Nikki Walters.

She's the girl I’ve loved my whole life. She’s gorgeous. Caring. Every single thing I’ve ever wanted but denied myself. She was my sister’s best friend, and I destroyed any chance of keeping her.

When her safety is threatened, I have a second chance to do the right thing. But as soon as she moves in, I want her in all the wrong ways.

All it takes is a brush of her hand, and I’m losing all control.

The fire between us is only burning hotter.

But neither of us saw what was coming.

And it just might be Nikki Walters who destroys me in the end.


Ollie and Nikki have skated around each other since they were kids. The age difference was too vast when they were younger. Now tragedy lays between them and it’s something that neither of them can get past. Nikki has mostly healed after her best friend disappeared without a trace. In her heart, she knows that Sydney is dead. While she mourns for what was lost, she doesn’t let herself exist in the past. Except with it comes to Ollie, Sydney’s brother.

Ollie has not, nor will he ever forgive himself for what happened to Sydney. Although the logical part of himself knows that she dead, he can’t stop searching for her. His entire life revolves around the sister that he was always supposed to protect. Not only did he not protect her, he was the one that sent her away to her unknown fate.

Ollie can’t stay away from Nikki even though he can’t have her. His demons are too great, his soul in shreds. When someone starts harassing Nikki, Ollie steps in to protect her. It doesn’t matter that he can’t give her what she wants…Ollie will never let anything happen to the girl who should have been his. When the situation escalates, their relationship escalates as well. Nikki can’t take the pushing and pulling any longer and tells him that he needs to let her go. And leave her alone. That’s not something that Ollie can promise.

I really liked this book, but it wasn’t my favorite in the series. The way the killer (yes, killer) is found at the end and how it all ties into the story was pretty campy. That didn’t take away from the story as a whole. I really loved seeing Ollie heal with Nikki’s help.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5.

Fight For Me

three-half-stars


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