Genre: New Adult

Throwback Thursday Review: The Secret of Ella and Micha by Jessica Sorensen

Posted August 29, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 3 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: The Secret of Ella and Micha by Jessica SorensenReviewer: Rowena
The Secret of Ella and Micha by Jessica Sorensen
Series: The Secret #1
Publisher: Forever
Publication Date: February 12th 2013
Genres: New Adult, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 320
Add It: Goodreads
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four-half-stars
Series Rating: five-stars

Ella and Micha have been best friends since they were kids. But one tragic night shatters their friendship and their lives forever.

Ella used to be a rule-breaker with fiery attitude who wore her heart on her sleeve. But she left everything behind when she went to college and transformed into someone that follows the rules, keeps everything together, and hides all her problems. But now it's summer break and she has nowhere else to go but home.

Ella fears everything she worked so hard to bury might resurface, especially with Micha living right next door. If Micha tries to tempt the old her back, she knows that it will be hard to resist.

Micha is sexy, smart, confident, and can get under Ella’s skin like no one else can. He knows everything about her, including her darkest secrets. And he’s determined to bring his best friend, and the girl he loves back, no matter what it takes.

(New Adult Contemporary)*Mature Content** Recommended for ages 17+ due to sexual situations and language.

*** Every Thursday, we’ll be posting throwback reviews of our favorite and not-so-favorite books. Enjoy! ***

This review was originally posted on Apr 17, 2013

This story is filled with secrets up to my ears and I spent a good deal of this book, confused.  I was trying to figure out what happened, why they weren’t talking about it and yet, I couldn’t put this book down.  I thought this book was written exactly the way that it was supposed to be written because I was so wrapped up in Ella and Micha’s world that I was sad when it all came to an end.

Ella and Micha are best friends and have been best friends since they were children.  They’ve also got some big time feelings for each other but for reasons that belong to the both of them, they’ve never gotten together.  They’ve never been an official couple.  When Ella’s mother dies, things happen and Ella runs away.  She runs away from her home, from her friends and from Micha.  Nobody knows where Ella went, except for her Dad and he’s not telling anyone, anything and that, more than anything, pisses Micha off.

The story takes place eight months later.  It’s summer time and with nowhere to go for the summer, Ella has no choice but to go back home and face the music that is sure to be waiting for her when she gets back.

Throughout this whole story, I was engaged.  My heart, my emotions, my mind, it was all focused on the characters in this book.  I couldn’t put it down.  The book isn’t a very long read anyway but I still inhaled it.  I came to love both Ella and Micha so much as well as Ethan and Lila.

Ella and Micha together made sense and man, the amount of love and passion that Micha showed for Ella, holy cow…it was fantastic!  He was my very favorite part of this book and I cannot freaking wait until the next book.  There were a few times when I wanted to strangle Ella and Dean and Ella’s Dad but overall, the story was a great read. I highly recommend.

Rating: 4.75 out of 5

The Secret


four-half-stars


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Featured Review: Like the Wind by J. Bengtsson

Posted July 31, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Featured Review: Like the Wind by J. BengtssonReviewer: Casee, Holly, and Rowena
Like the Wind by J. Bengtsson
Narrator: Callie Dalton, Zachary Webber
Publisher: Audible Studios
Publication Date: January 15, 2019
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Escape
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Genres: New Adult
Pages: 335
Length: 9 hours, 23 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
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two-half-stars

Prepare to laugh, cry, and fall in love with this enthralling new romance from J. Bengtsson - available in audio first!

When a letter from his supposedly deceased mother finds its way into his hands, life changes in an instant for international pop star Bodhi Beckett.

Reeling from the deception of those closest to him, Bodhi spirals out of control and is sent to a secluded mansion in the coastal mountains of Southern California for some rest and relaxation. But the retreat proves to be anything but relaxing when a raging wildfire sets the landscape around him ablaze.

While escaping the flames, Bodhi rescues Breeze, a quirky, pet-loving woman, and together the two fight their way to safety. In the aftermath of the fire, Bodhi and Breeze hit the road to uncover the truth about his family. What neither of them expected is to forge a powerful connection that will change their lives forever...but can it survive the real world, or will it disappear like the wind?

This month’s featured review is Like the Wind by J. Bengtsson, chosen by Casee. This is a rockstar romance that features a pop star hero who saves his heroine from a fire and then the heroine gives his rockstar ass a place to hide while he figures some stuff out and through it all, they fall in love. This was a really quick read and the perfect audiobook for a quick road trip.

Casee: What did you guys think? Good choice? Bad choice? Better than Hate Notes?

Holly: It was definitely better than Hate Notes for me. I really liked the beginning. I was super interested in the fire and how they were going to escape. After that things kind of went downhill.

Casee: I agree that it was super interesting in the beginning.

Rowena: Hmm, I enjoyed Hate Notes and I didn’t hate this one but I didn’t love this one either. I don’t know, the dialogue was super cheesy to me and I don’t know, I just never came to care for either Bodhi or Breeze. They were fine but meh, that’s about it for me.

Casee: I didn’t really connect with Breeze at all. Other than her wanting to save all the animals from the fire, I found her to be rather selfish. She acted like she was being selfless, but it didn’t come across that way to me. I did really enjoy Bodhi though.

Holly: I didn’t think Breeze was anymore selfish than Bodhi. That ridiculous temper tantrum he threw for 3 months, then disappearing without telling his father he wasn’t dead after the fire, then pulling Breeze into his drama and his life without preparing her for it? That screams “SELF CENTERED” to me.

Casee: The only thing I didn’t like about Bodhi was the 3-month temper tantrum. I could understand everything else. He seemed to me like someone that was scared. He found someone he potentially wanted to keep in his life and he was scared to lose her. Especially since the last person (nanny) that he got attached to disappeared.

Rowena: Yeah, Bodhi’s three-month tantrum was super annoying but I was more annoyed with him when he let his family and friends think he was dead so that he can meet his Mommy Dearest. That wasn’t cool. At all. I felt bad for RJ because thinking your best friend is dead and then finding out that your best friend couldn’t be bothered to call him to assure him that all was well because he was getting close to a girl? That’s fucked up.

Holly: I really struggled with Bodhi not telling the guys he was still alive. I guess I kind of? understood why he didn’t want to contact his father, but his bandmates who were his family? Especially RJ? That was just shitty all the way around.

Rowena: I also thought it was super strange that he “saves” Evan from their mother’s life, telling Evan that he was Evan’s Eddie, but immediately starts planning a trip with Breeze that does not include Evan, is going to take him away from Evan for a long ass time and basically drops Evan in Tucker’s lap and Evan, who suffered from abandonment issues wasn’t bothered about it.

Holly: That whole thing with Evan was not well done. They had no on-page time to make me think they were going to forge a relationship, and why was Bodhi so effing irresponsible? I just couldn’t.

Rowena: It was a total dick move, a move that I didn’t think he was sorry enough for. Sure, his Dad was a controlling dick but I don’t think anyone deserved that kind of emotional bomb. Nobody in this book, for sure.

Holly: I really didn’t like the short timeline for their romance. They met, went through an intense few hours together and BAM, two days later they were in LURRVVE? Nope.

Casee: I agree that the timeline was much too short. I think being together in the fire and almost dying was supposed to show how magnified feelings are. Obviously, it didn’t work very well for us.

View Spoiler »

 

Rowena: I was also not moved all that much with the grand gesture in the end with Bodhi showing up at the family reunion. A whole lot of the book had me looking like this:

Holly: Also, the way Breeze was immediately into Bodhi and focused on how hot he was, and how to get him to kiss her, and all the fantasy why they were fleeing from a fire? That was annoying af.

And I know I’m probably just old af, but she lost her car in the fire. She didn’t think to, Oh, I don’t know, contact her insurance agent?

Rowena: Haha, I thought the same thing as Breeze and Bodhi are making their way to the Bay. I kept thinking, “When are you going to deal with your busted up car?”

I did really like Breeze’s Mom and Step-Dad. They were pretty great. I laughed out loud when they turned up the sex scenes of their show so that Bodhi and Breeze could hear through the walls.

Holly: I liked Breeze’s parents, too, but why were they described as these hippy people who lived in the neighborhood eyesore and refused to sell out, who were, in fact, selling out. I didn’t understand why that part was included in the book. It made no sense.

Casee: Alrighty then. I’m giving this one a 3. What about you guys?

Rowena: Overall, this book made me feel super old because I was grouchy throughout most of this book and I didn’t think the author did a good enough job of making me suspend belief over a lot of shit that happens in this book. The fire stuff, the Mommy issues, the Daddy issues, the super quick romance that blossomed overnight (literally), it was super easy for me to stop reading the book and roll my eyes over what was happening. So yeah, I had a lot of issues connecting with both Bodhi and Breeze. I had issues with the author’s writing style and though there were parts of the book that I enjoyed, this isn’t a book that I will reread. I give it 2.75 out of 5.

Holly: I’m giving it 2.5. I did like the romance itself if I didn’t think too hard about it, and I liked the beginning and Breeze’s parents. The rest was pretty blah.

Final Grades

Casee: 3 out of 5
Holly: 2.5 out of 5
Rowena: 2.75 out of 5

two-half-stars


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Throwback Thursday Review: Down London Road by Samantha Young

Posted July 25, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Throwback Thursday Review: Down London Road by Samantha YoungReviewer: Holly
Down London Road by Samantha Young
Series: On Dublin Street #2
Also in this series: On Dublin Street , Down London Road (On Dublin Street, #2), Before Jamaica Lane (On Dublin Street, #3), Before Jamaica Lane, Castle Hill, Fall From India Place, Fall From India Place, Fall from India Place , Castle Hill, Echoes of Scotland Street , Moonlight on Nightingale Way, Moonlight on Nightingale Way, One King's Way, One King's Way, One King's Way, On Hart's Boardwalk (On Dublin Street #6.7) , On Hart's Boardwalk, Echoes of Scotland Street
Publisher: NAL
Publication Date: May 7, 2013
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance, New Adult
Pages: 369
Add It: Goodreads
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four-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Johanna Walker is used to taking charge. But she’s about to meet someone who will make her lose control...

It has always been up to Johanna to care for her family, particularly her younger brother, Cole. With an absent father and a useless mother, she’s been making decisions based on what’s best for Cole for as long as she can remember. She even determines what men to date by how much they can provide for her brother and her, not on whatever sparks may—or may not—fly.

But with Cameron MacCabe, the attraction is undeniable. The sexy new bartender at work gives her butterflies every time she looks at him. And for once, Jo is tempted to put her needs first. Cam is just as obsessed with getting to know Jo, but her walls are too solid to let him get close enough to even try.

Then Cam moves into the flat below Jo’s, and their blistering connection becomes impossible to ignore. Especially since Cam is determined to uncover all of Jo’s secrets... even if it means taking apart her defenses piece by piece.

*** Every Thursday, we’ll be posting throwback reviews of our favorite and not-so-favorite books. Enjoy! ***

I recently re-read this book and it was just as good as the first time. Although I enjoyed most of this series, Down London Road remains my favorite.

This review was originally posted on May 3, 2013.

We first met Johanna Walker in On Dublin Street. She was Joss’s good friend and co-worker. She was also a shameless gold digger. She was portrayed as a blond bimbo who was just looking for a man to take care of her. Yet even in that story we see there’s more to her, since she takes care of her younger brother, Cole.

Here we finally learn what’s behind the bimbo mask Jo wears. Yes, she dates older, wealthy men. But she’s never been with someone she didn’t genuinely care about. And who can blame her for wanting stability and wealth when she has her younger brother to think of?

Until she meets Cameron McCabe at an art show. Cameron seems to see right through her, into her very soul. They have an immediate attraction and Jo, for the very first time ever, craves a man who won’t be any good for her family. Until Cam opens his mouth and ruins it by jumping to conclusions about her and making her feel bad about herself.

Thanks to his harsh words, she starts seeing herself in a new light, and what she sees isn’t good. When Cam gets a job bartending with her, then moves into the flat below hers, she’s forced to admit she wants him, even if he is a total jerk. But when Cam realizes he was wrong about Jo and presses her to explore what’s between them, she’ll have to choose between doing something for herself and the stability of providing for her family..

The truth about Johanna isn’t that she’s a gold digger. She’s just desperate to provide a good life for her brother. She grew up with an abusive father who finally disappeared when she was around 10. Since then she’s been caring for her younger brother, as her mother is nothing but a drunk. And not a functional drunk, either, a bed-ridden one. Jo dropped out of high school at 16 to get a job to support them and she’s determined that Cole with have a better life than she did.

Because she’s uneducated, she knows there isn’t much hope of her providing a stable life for Cole….unless she can find a man. She might be dumb, but she’s pretty and that’s enough to get her what she needs. The interesting thing is that though she takes gifts from her boyfriends, she doesn’t ask them to support her. She doesn’t have them pay her bills, or give her cash. They buy her gifts she later sells on ebay for money, but she won’t take money from them direct. She also works two jobs.

In this, Young did an excellent job of showing us both sides of Jo. The insecure girl who has a fear of poverty and the strong, independent woman who only wants the best for her younger brother (who is really more like her son). I’m not sure she would have worked quite so well if there hadn’t been such a good balance between strong and vulnerable.

Cam hits every one of her insecurities right in the heart. He judges her and makes her feel less than she already does. She’s used to people thinking the worst of her, but for some reason his scorn really cuts her to the quick. Although it was hard to read those parts with Cam being such a jerk at times, I feel they were necessary to force Jo to really look inside herself and find her worth. She has to look inside herself to find out why his opinion of her matters so much, and what she can do to live up to his expectations.

That isn’t to say she changes for him. I think this book is as much Jo’s personal journey as it is a romance. She doesn’t want to change to be the person he wants her to be, but she wants to stop being the insecure woman who jumps at her own shadow. Cam was merely the catalyst for this transformation.

Cam is a tough character to like in the beginning. His disapproval of Jo and her lifestyle is understandable in one respect, as he isn’t too far off the mark about her. Yet he goes too far, jumping to conclusions and saying things that are way out of line. But we see there’s more to him than the judgmental jerk we meet in the beginning. Jo sees flashes of kindness in him almost immediately and as the story progresses he’s revealed as a strong, steady man who knows himself and is willing to put himself out there for those he cares about.

Aside from the fact that Jo and Cam are both dating other people, there’s added drama that comes from Jo’s life. Her alcoholic mother, gone but not forgotten abusive father and surrogate uncle who abandoned her. She has to overcome all of these obstacles in order to have happiness with Cam. I liked that her self-awareness grows as she does.

This is a novel of multi-faceted characters filled with emotion and depth. Highly recommended.

4.5/5

On Dublin Street

This book was provided by the publisher for an honest review.

four-half-stars


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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
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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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