Genre: New Adult

Sunday Spotlight: Before You Break by Christina Lee

Posted June 9, 2019 by Rowena in Features | 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. 🙂

This week’s Sunday spotlight book is a throwback to intense New Adult books, the ones that used to eat me up emotionally and then spit me back out, all whole and complete again. I read the first book in this series and enjoyed it but I wasn’t prepared for how much love I’ll have for this book. Before You Break tackles hard hitting, emotional issues and you won’t be able to help yourself. You’ll fall hard for both Daniel Quinn and Ella Abrams. Their journeys will hit you in the gut and their romance will fill you right up. This was a fantastic book and if you haven’t read it, I highly recommend that you remedy that because this book is the bomb.

Sunday Spotlight: Before You Break by Christina LeeBefore You Break by Christina Lee
Series: Between Breaths #2
Also in this series: All of You, Before You Break, Whisper to Me, Whisper to Me, Promise Me This, Promise Me This, There You Stand, Two of Hearts
Publisher: Intermix
Publication Date: February 18, 2014
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: New Adult
Pages: 223
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

A sexy, emotional New Adult romance about a bad boy on the edge and a good girl about to lose control…

The star catcher of the college baseball team isn't supposed to have skeletons in his closet. But Daniel Quinn is hiding a guilty past so dark he refuses to let anyone get close. Except there’s something about gorgeous, studious Ella Abrams that goes beyond the electric attraction between them—something that makes him want to open up.

Ella has suffered enough heartache and guilt to fill one of her psychology textbooks, but she keeps that part of herself hidden behind a bubbly exterior. Until she receives an anonymous call while working the suicide helpline and the voice on the other end touches something inside of her that she can’t ignore.

Soon Ella and Quinn’s physical connection heats up, even as their deep and revealing hotline talks intensify. But by the time Ella realizes that her seductive jock and her sensitive caller are the same guy, it might be too late to save him—or to stop herself from falling too far.

Memorable Moments

Here are some of my favorite scenes and quotes from the book. So much goodness.

“I’m not going to kiss you, Ella. Not tonight.”

She sagged against me, her forehead landing on my shoulder.

“Kissing you would be too easy,” I whispered in her ear. “And you’re not a girl I want to be easy with.”

“Don’t misunderstand, Ella. I want you. So fucking bad.” I gathered her face in my hands. “The day I can finally bury myself inside of you is the day I know for sure that you’re mine. All mine. Only mine. And anything other than that isn’t good enough.”

“We always seem to end up against a door,” she breathed out. Her words faltered as I licked and nipped my way down her collarbone to the scoop of skin above her breasts.

“I have fantasies about what I want to do to you against this door.”

“This boy—this man—was asking for the moon and the stars. And I was willing to shoot us straight off the map. And offer him the entire universe.”

This book is full of feels and packed with lots of charming characters, witty dialogue and just all around goodness. Seriously, you need to meet Quinn and Ella. Their story is too good.

Between Breaths

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: June 2019

Do you love this book as much as we do? Let us know what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About Christina Lee

Mother, wife, reader, dreamer. Christina lives in the Midwest with her husband and son--her two favorite guys. She's addicted to lip balm, coffee, and kissing. Because everything is better with kissing.

She writes MM Contemporary as well as Adult and New Adult Romance. She believes in happily-ever-afters for all, so reading and writing romance for everybody under the rainbow helps quench her soul.

You can find more info on her website: www.christinalee.net. From there you can link to her Facebook reader group called The Swoon Room as well as her IG account and newsletter.

four-half-stars


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Review: Extra Credit by Sarina Bowen

Posted April 15, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Extra Credit by Sarina BowenReviewer: Rowena
Extra Credit by Sarina Bowen
Series: The Ivy Years #6
Also in this series: The Year We Hid Away , Blonde Date , The Year We Fell Down , The Understatement of the Year (The Ivy Years, #3), The Shameless Hour (The Ivy Years, #4), The Fifteenth Minute (The Ivy Years, #5), The Fifteenth Minute (The Ivy Years, #5), The Year We Hid Away (The Ivy Years, #2)
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: March 9th, 2019
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: New Adult
Pages: 234
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2019 A-Z Reading Challenge, Rowena's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Three novellas, including all new Ivy Years fun!

BLONDE DATE: A nervous sorority girl, a mean fraternity prank and an adorkable basketball player with a heart of gold. Blonde Date follows Katie and Andy’s first blind date…

STUDLY PERIOD: One hunky hockey player with a language barrier. Plus one awkward English tutor with a big crush. Equals hot, hilarious trouble! Study Period follows Pepe and his tutor Josie.

YESTERDAY: It’s been seven years since John Rikker left his childhood home in Michigan. Surely that’s long enough to scar over the wounds he received there. Or is it? Can Rikker survive a visit with his parents? And can Graham let him do it alone?

I’m a huge fan of Sarina Bowen’s Ivy Years series so when she announced that she was releasing Extra Credit, I couldn’t wait to read it. Extra Credit is a book that features three short stories featuring characters in the Ivy Years series. Two old stories and one brand spankin’ new one!

Blonde Date

Andy and Katie are set up on a blind date and while Katie has no clue who Andy is, Andy knows all too well who Katie is. They hit it off on their blind date and Katie learns that not all guys are assholes and she is worthy of being treated like a princess. I loved seeing these two get together all over again. I don’t think I’ll ever get over Andy being a Celtics fan but he was still a keeper. I think I’ve changed my mind over wanting Dash’s story. Eff that guy.

Katie was a fantastic heroine too. She was so normal and sweet. I loved seeing her have fun after what she went through with her ex-boyfriend Dash. I loved how strong and sure of herself she felt when she was with Andy, and I really loved how once she jumped in with Andy, she left all of the baggage from Dash in the past. It wasn’t worth her time and she showed it by not letting him ruin another day of her life. This was a sweet romance.

Grade: 4 out of 5

Studly Period

Studly Period is the novella that Sarina Bowen released as a weekly serial for her newsletter subscribers and I adored it when she released it week after week and I adored it all the more when I read it again. Pepe and Josie were too cute for words and I really enjoyed their story. I loved how shy and book nerdy Josie was and I loved how sweet and corny that Pepe was. Pepe was one of those characters that I didn’t think I needed to read about but I’m glad that Sarina wrote his story.

It was in this story that I realized how much I missed the characters from this series and it was while reading this story again for the second time that I decided to re-read this entire series. Seeing everyone again in this one made me happy and I got a little teary eyed when Josie thought Pepe ghosted her over vacation. Seeing them work their issues out was just too cute for words.

Grade: 4.25 out of 5

Yesterday

Ooh, we got a new short story for Rikker and Graham. Oh man, these two are the best! I loved seeing both of them in a good place, as a strong unit. They were solid in their relationship after all of the drama that they both went through and I was glad for it. Graham! My man Graham is really stepping into his new life and I just love him so much. He’s come such a long way from his book and seeing him stand up for both himself and for Rikker with his high school friends was something else.

Rikker’s part of this story made my heart hurt so much. He had such a harder time with his coming out then Graham did. He was never shown the kind of love and support from his family (outside of his grandmother) the way that Graham did but that didn’t stop him from loving with all that he was anyway. Seeing his parents up close and personal made me sorry for them because they couldn’t see past their worries to the amazing man their son grew up to be. I’m glad that when Rikker walked away, he walked away to somewhere that accepted and loved him just as he was. This might have been a short story, but it still packed the punch that I expect from Sarina Bowen. She didn’t disappoint. Graham and Rikker forever!

Grade: 4.5 out of 5

Final Grade

4.25 out of 5

The Ivy Years

four-stars


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Review: xo, Zach by Kendall Ryan

Posted March 27, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: xo, Zach by Kendall RyanReviewer: Holly
xo, Zach by Kendall Ryan
Narrator: Andi Arndt, Sebastian York
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: January 23, 2018
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Genres: Contemporary Romance, New Adult
Pages: 334
Length: 5 hours and 51 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 New to Me Challenge, New to Me Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
one-half-stars

The first time we met was at a party.

Your ex arrived to show off the person he'd left you for last month, and you asked me to pretend to be your date.

I was more than happy to help. You were attractive, smart and witty--and that kiss we shared? It left me wanting you for days.

The second time we met was in my office on campus where we were both surprised to discover you were the new master’s degree student in poetry that I would be working with. You promised to be professional. I did no such thing.

The late nights and intense study sessions spent alongside you majorly throw me off my game. I want you, and I fight with myself daily over this fact.

I know I'm crass, that my sexual innuendos and dirty mouth annoy you, but I live for those two bright spots of color in your cheeks. If that's the only reaction I can get out of you, I'll gladly take it.

You hate Mondays so every Monday I slip an anonymous poem into your bag and your smile gets me through the week.

I think I'm falling for you, and I know it's wrong. I know that I'm only supposed to be the adviser to your program and nothing more, but here's the thing. I think you're falling for me too.

xo, Zach

Audible was a having a 2 for 1 Credit sale and this book was on the list of available options, so I decided to give it a try. This is my first book by Kendall Ryan. I love Andy Arndt and Sebastian York as narrators, they’re wonderful. As soon as I saw their names listed I knew I had to get this.

Poppy, who is recently single, goes to a party with a friend and sees her ex with another woman. In a moment of panic she approaches a stranger and asks him to pose as her date. They end up having a great conversation and sharing a really hot kiss. He asks for her number, but she isn’t quite ready to commit to seeing him again. She tells him if it’s meant to be they’ll find each other. She’s feeling really great about it until she meets with her new adviser Monday morning and it’s Zach, the really great kisser from the party.

Zach wants Poppy. He wants to get her in bed, yes, but he genuinely likes her and thinks they could have something special. He’s almost 30. Ready to settle down and looking for something long term. But he also has a potty mouth and doesn’t always remember to spell out what he’s thinking. This makes Poppy hesitate to start anything with, even though he’s all in.

I really liked Zach. He was sweet and caring, despite his potty mouth. The poems he wrote Poppy were cute and I liked that he wanted her for more than just her body. The first couple chapters had a lot of humor. I actually laughed out loud a couple times. Then things went downhill. There were a lot of things that bothered me after the first quarter.

1) Zach is Poppy’s adviser. She told him she wasn’t interested in a relationship and he pursued it anyway. They eventually had a discussion about how she was safe with him and their professional relationship would never be affected by personal stuff, but it came too little, too late. He was already creepily aggressive a couple times prior to that.

2) Poppy. I hated her. She started out funny and sweet, but by the third chapter she was already getting on my nerves. View Spoiler » It was the way she threw it up as a road block for their relationship (internally) that bugged me.

Plus, she blew really hot and cold with Zach. She kept leading him on. She would flirt with him, kiss him, let him go down on her, then bail. The next day she rejects him and makes it clear she wants nothing but a student/adviser relationship with him, then she throws a fit because he goes on a date with someone else and purposely flirts with someone, because “screw it”!?!? She doesn’t want him, but no one else can have him either? She’s mad he’s with someone else after she rejected him repeatedly, but it’s okay for her to flirt with someone else? She makes it clear she’s not comfortable being in a relationship with him because he’s her adviser, then kisses him?

More than that, it was the immaturity of her actions. She literally ducked into bathrooms and ran around corners to avoid him. She was 24, not 14. The longer the story went on the more angry at her I became. Every time she let him kiss her or go down on her then disappeared, my blood pressure rose.

4) Poppy’s friends were pretty awful. The minute they gave out her personal information to Zach – with her sitting right there telling them not to – they lost me. With friends like that who needs creepy enemies?

Although there were couple things I liked, they didn’t make up for the rest. Between this and Rowena’s experience with Baby Daddy, I don’t think I’ll be trying another Kendall Ryan book.

1.5 out of 5

one-half-stars


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Review: The Dating Game by Kiley Roache

Posted March 25, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 3 Comments

Review: The Dating Game by Kiley RoacheReviewer: Rowena
The Dating Game by Kiley Roache
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Publication Date: April 1, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Genres: New Adult
Pages: 304
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-stars

The Social Network gets a romantic twist in this fresh and engaging new read from the author of Frat Girl, Kiley Roache. Experience the whirlwind ups and downs of college life in this authentic and entertaining new novel!

When a notoriously difficult class for future entrepreneurs leads to three freshmen developing the next “it” app for dating on college campuses, all hell breaks loose…

Type A control freak Sara lives by her color-coordinated Post-it notes.

Rich boy Braden wants out from under his billionaire father’s thumb.

Scholarship student Roberto can’t afford for his grades to drop.

When the three are forced to work together in one of the university’s most difficult classes, tension rises to the breaking point…until, shockingly, the silly dating app they create proves to be the most viable project in class. Late nights of app development, interest from investors and unexpected romance are woven into a true-to-life college drama that explores what it means to really connect online and IRL.

The Dating Game caught my eye while I was browsing Edelweiss because I liked the look of the cover and the blurb was interesting. It’s got The Social Network vibe working for it and I enjoyed that movie so I was mighty curious about this one. Three students come together for a group project, create a dating app that takes off and complicates the hell out of their lives? Yeah, count me in. While this book ended up being a solid read, it was also problematic for me and I just wasn’t a fan of the direction the author took one of the main leads.

So Roberto, Sara, and Braden are paired up together in class to create an app and they dive into creating a dating app that lets the user rate other users. The more swipe rights you get, the higher your profile is. While the three of them tackle this project, we get to know each of them and see them really go through it. Roberto’s got some family issues going on, Braden is a rich boy who is determined to not be like his father.

There’s a lot going on in this story. There are the individual situations at the same time that they’re working on their app and there’s also a budding romance because, of course, there’s one! I saw that love triangle a mile away and the way that it was handled low key rubbed me the wrong way. I just wasn’t a fan of that whole thing. I didn’t like that one had to completely change for the main romance to work. I also didn’t connect with each of the characters as much as I was hoping. I thought of the three characters, I would like Robbie’s character the most but his whole story low key felt flat for me. It felt very surface level and not as in depth so I didn’t connect with him and that bummed me out. Sara and Braden were fine until they weren’t fine and yeah, there was a whole lot of me hoping the author went in a different direction than the one she actually went on and because of that, my enjoyment suffered. I also thought the success of the app was a bit over the top, considering it wasn’t a very original idea but that was small potatoes. I did think that the author got the college experience right in this one. I thought that was handled well.

Overall, the story had a lot of promise and I was really looking forward to reading it but I didn’t fully connect with everything going on and with all of the characters so that bummed me out but still, I’d read something else from this author.

Grade: 3 out of 5

three-stars


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Review: Getting Lucky Number Seven by Cindi Madsen

Posted March 21, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

This month’s reading suggestion for the TBR Challenge was about choosing your favorite trope to read and I have a lot of favorites but I chose the best friend’s to lovers trope because that’s in the top of the tops list and this book fit the bill perfectly.

Review: Getting Lucky Number Seven by Cindi MadsenReviewer: Rowena
Getting Lucky Number Seven by Cindi Madsen
Series: Taking Shots #1
Publisher: Entangled, Entangled Embrace
Publication Date: April 28, 2015
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Escape
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Genres: New Adult
Pages: 363
Length: 6 hours, 32 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, Rowena's 2019 New to Me Challenge, Rowena's 2019 TBR Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

What's your lucky number?

Lyla Wilder is done being the shy, chemistry nerd extraordinaire. While every other college student is out having fun, Lyla is studying. With her cat. Well, she's played it "safe" quite enough, thank you. So she creates a "College Bucket List"―with item #7 being a night of uninhibited, mind-blowing sex...

But she needs some help from her man-whore best friend.

Hockey player Beck Davenport thought Lyla's transformation would be subtle. Man, was he wrong. With every item she ticks off, Beck finds himself growing seriously hot for his sweet, brainiac best friend. And if he's not careful, he'll end up risking their friendship in order to convince Lyla that he might just be her lucky #7...

Getting Lucky Number Seven is the first book in the Taking Shots series by Cindi Madsen and this book has been sitting on my TBR list for years. Ames brought this to my attention and I remember her telling me that she enjoyed it so I purchased it not too long after that and then I never touched it. When I was browsing the Audible Romance Package titles, I came across this series and knew that I was going to read this one finally so I downloaded the audiobook and listened to the entire thing one day at work. I haven’t read anything by Cindi Madsen before but I was looking forward to reading her and I’m happy to report that I liked this one and will definitely be reading more from this author.

This book follows two best friends, Beck and Lilah as they grow closer when Lilah decides to stop being a hermit nerd and get out there and have college experiences that she only reads about in books. She’s tired of being the frumpy nerd that guys can’t connect with so after a really bad date, she heads to her best friend Beck’s house and tells him that she’s going to put together a college bucket list and she needs his help with it.

She’s got a bunch of stuff on her list already, kiss a handsome stranger, get drunk at a college party, stuff like that but as she starts to check things off her list, she starts to add things and Beck, who loves his best friend as she is, is starting to see her in a different light. In a romantic light and though he wants to be there for her while she goes through this list, it’s starting to get harder to deny his attraction to her. When he finds out that number seven on her list is to have mind-blowing sex, Beck wants in on that list item.

This was such an easy story to fall into. I really liked both Lilah and Beck. They were a fun couple to get to know and I really liked seeing the both of them come into their own. I loved that Lilah could be there for Beck with everything that he was going through and even when I wanted to smack Beck upside his head, I really liked him. He was genuine in his affection for Lilah and that was exactly what she needed in her life. Cindi Madsen worked her magic with these two and their romance and I’m glad that I finally gave it a chance. I’m definitely finishing out this series. I recommend.

Grade: 4 out of 5

Taking Shots

four-stars


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