Publisher: Rennie Road Books

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
Add It: Goodreads
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four-half-stars
Series Rating: four-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
Add It: Goodreads
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four-stars
Series Rating: 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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Summer Reading Challenge Review: The Year We Hid Away by Sarina Bowen

Posted July 25, 2018 by Casee in Reviews | 8 Comments

Summer Reading Challenge Review: The Year We Hid Away by Sarina BowenReviewer: Casee
The Year We Hid Away (The Ivy Years, #2) by Sarina Bowen
Series: The Ivy Years #2
Also in this series: The Year We Hid Away (The Ivy Years, #2), Blonde Date (The Ivy Years, #2.5), The Year We Fell Down (The Ivy Years, #1), 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)
Publisher: Rennie Road Books
Publication Date: June 1, 2014
Point-of-View: First
Genres: New Adult
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three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

She’s hiding something big. He’s hiding someone small.

Scarlet Crowley’s life was torn apart the day father was arrested for unspeakable crimes. Now the shock has worn off, but not the horror.

It’s a safe bet that Scarlet is the only first year at Harkness College who had to sneak past TV news trucks parked on her front lawn just to leave town. But college will be Scarlet’s fresh start. Clutching a shiny new student ID — with a newly minted name on it — she leaves it all behind. Even if it means lying to the boy she’s falling for.

Bridger McCaulley is a varsity hockey star known for being a player both on and off the ice. But a sobering family crisis takes that all away. Protecting his sister means a precarious living arrangement and constant deception. The only bright spot in his week is the few stolen hours he spends with Scarlet.

The two form a tentative relationship based on the understanding that some things must always be held back. But when grim developments threaten them both, going it alone just won’t work anymore. And if they can’t learn to trust one another now, the families who let them down will take everything they’ve struggled to keep.

I’m just going to put this out there from the jump…I didn’t enjoy this book. It just wasn’t my cup of tea. It was too sweet, for lack of a better word. At first the college thing really pulled me out of the book because my kid is going to college in 29 days (less by the time you read this review). I just kept imagining my own kid in these characters places and it was laughable. So that kept distracting me. The first person was surprisingly easy to read. By now I’m on my third book and third FP person book of the challenge and it’s a breeze. Moving on…

Scarlett Crowley formerly known as Shannon Ellis has escaped hell to go to college. During her junior year in high school horrific allegations begin coming out against her father when a boy in a neighboring town commits suicide and leaves a note detailing his abuse at her father’s hands. Then Shannon’s life comes to a screeching halt. All her friends desert her, she loses her position as the starting goalie on the hockey team, and basically becomes a pariah at her school. When the time comes to go to college, she embraces it.

Now known as Scarlett, she is thrilled with her new life where no one knows her or her past. She even meets someone. Bridger McCaulley seems to have secrets of his own, but Scarlett doesn’t begrudge him that. She obviously has secrets of her own. They begin a sweet romance that is tempered by responsibility on both parts.

Bridger has all the feels for Scarlett but his secret is about three feet tall and attends elementary school. He’s breaking all the rules by having her live in his dorm, but there is nothing else to do as he had to take Lucy out of their mother’s house. He is walking a tightrope and Scarlett is the only escape he has from the insanity that his life has become. The his separate lives collide.

Scarlett thinks she’s doing a pretty good job keeping everything separate, then her two worlds collide. So I did admire these two for what they were going through, but I had a hard time with a few things. Like if Scarlett wanted to not be known, why did she only go two hours away from home? How long did Bridger thing he could get away with having Lucy at his dorm? I’ve seen a dorm and he’s lucky he lasted that long. It’s crazy. The romance was sweet, it really was. Bridger’s absolute devotion to Lucy was so sweet. Everything was sweet, sweet, sweet. Unfortunately sweet doesn’t do it for me these days.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The Ivy Years

three-half-stars


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Review: Speakeasy by Sarina Bowen

Posted May 31, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Speakeasy by Sarina BowenReviewer: Rowena
Speakeasy (True North, #5) by Sarina Bowen
Series: True North #5
Also in this series: Bittersweet, Steadfast (True North #2), Steadfast, Bittersweet, Keepsake, Bountiful (True North, #4), Bittersweet (True North, #1), Steadfast (True North, #2), Fireworks (True North #6), Keepsake (True North, #3), Bountiful (True North, #4; Brooklyn Bruisers, #4.5)
Publisher: Rennie Road Books
Publication Date: May 29, 2018
Point-of-View: First Person
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Add It: Goodreads
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four-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Sometimes you fall for Mr. Right. And sometimes for Mr. Right Now…

May

Did you hear the one about the girl who walks into a bar and catches her live-in lover kissing someone else? No? You’re the only one in town who missed it. Luckily Alec is there to wrap me up in strong arms and carry me out the door before things get too ugly. And that’s not all Alec is good at. Our unexpected chemistry makes him the perfect rebound guy.

Alec

I should know better than to hook up with my rival’s little sister, but the fiery look in May’s eyes really turns my crank. She needs cheering up, and I’m just the guy for the job. It’s not like I’ll fall in love. Not even after a string of scorching hot trysts, and the realization that we’re good at the same things: wild nights and familial disappointment. I don’t do love, never have, never will. So this is the perfect arrangement, for both of us. Nobody would approve, but nobody has to know…

Sarina Bowen is always a welcome addition to my to be read pile. She is one of my favorites and May, the heroine of this book is one of my favorite people from Bowen’s True North series so I was stoked to read that she was getting her own book and even more excited when I got this one for review.

The last time we saw May, she was in a relationship with Daniela and it wasn’t the best of relationships for May. Daniela had no fans in May’s family and a huge reason why was how this book actually starts. With Daniela not treating May with the respect that May deserves. May finds out that Daniela is cheating on her when she stops by Alec’s bar because she saw Daniela’s car outside in the parking lot while she’s making her way home. She wasn’t expecting what she found in the Gin Mill and she sure as shit didn’t know what she would have done without Alec Rossi there to help her out of that jam.

Alec felt bad because he should have said something to May a week ago when he realized Daniela was using his bar to cheat on her. He let it go and now May is here and about to catch her girlfriend macking it down with another woman. That’s not a scene he wants May to be a part of so he tries to deflect her attention but isn’t quick enough. He’s a little late on being there for May but he can be there for May now so that night starts a friendship that he wasn’t prepared for and wasn’t expecting.

Alec wasn’t my favorite character in previous books. He came off as a little jerk-ish but I really came around with his character in this book. I connected with his character through every part of his story and that low key surprised me because early reviews of this book that I read, the bloggers weren’t huge fans of his so I went into this book, not expecting much but I’m glad that I read this for myself because I thought Alec was a wonderful hero and a fantastic partner for May. I thought the growth in his character was pretty spot on. He had a lot of crap that he was dealing with and he was so stubborn about a lot of it but boy was I glad to see him grow, learn and then really run with the opportunities presented to him.

I really enjoyed the friendship that blossomed between Alec and May. Seeing Alec be there for May and then realize how much he likes being around her was fun for me. They had the kind of chemistry that makes me happy and I ate their interactions together right up with each turn of the page.

Seeing May really come into her own was a treat because I feel like I’ve been rooting her on for such a long time and then for her to get the news about first Daniela and then Lark, she was catching no breaks. She was lucky to have stumbled into the friendship she had with Alec and when she finally stood up for herself with her family, I cheered because it was a long time coming. I loved Griff so much in his book, his grumpy self really worked for me but in this book, he annoyed me with the way that he treated Alec and then the way that he treated May. I wanted May to hurry up and stand up for herself and while it happened, it took a little while to get there and I was anxious about it.

Sarina Bowen has written wonderfully romantic stories for the characters in the True North series and they continue to hit me right in the feels. This book was no different and I closed this book with a huge smile on my face. I seriously cannot wait for more from these guys. I’m crossing my fingers for more books featuring Benito, Dylan, Daphne (though I can wait on theirs) and anyone else that Sarina Bowen can think of. I’m here for it all.

Grade: 4.5 out of 5

True North

four-half-stars


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Review: Brooklynaire by Sarina Bowen

Posted February 19, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 5 Comments

Review: Brooklynaire by Sarina BowenReviewer: Rowena
Brooklynaire (Brooklyn Bruisers #4) by Sarina Bowen
Series: Brooklyn Bruisers #4
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), Bountiful (True North, #4; Brooklyn Bruisers, #4.5), Rookie Move (Brooklyn Bruisers, #1)
Publisher: Rennie Road Books
Publication Date: February 12th 2018
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Add It: Goodreads
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four-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

A sexy new standalone from USA Today bestseller Sarina Bowen.

You'd think a billion dollars, a professional hockey team and a six-bedroom mansion on the Promenade would satisfy a guy. You'd be wrong.

For seven years Rebecca has brightened my office with her wit and her smile. She manages both my hockey team and my sanity. I don't know when I started waking in the night, craving her. All I know is that one whiff of her perfume ruins my concentration. And her laugh makes me hard.

When Rebecca gets hurt, I step in to help. It's what friends do. But what friends don't do is rip off each others' clothes for a single, wild night together.

Now she's avoiding me. She says we're too different, and it can never happen again. So why can't we keep our hands off each other?

I couldn’t request this book for review fast enough. To say that I’ve been anxious for Becca and Nate’s story is putting it mildly because I did a happy dance the minute that I got the email that it was sent to my kindle and I stopped reading a book that I wasn’t all that interested in anyway to jump into this one. So, there was a lot of hype going in. A lot, a lot of hype. Sure it was all in my head but I needed this book to be perfect, especially since I had just DNF’d my very first book by this amazing author and…Sarina Bowen delivered, yet again.

Nathan Kattenberger is in love with Becca Rowley and has been for years. It doesn’t matter that he’s her boss. He flat out loves her and has been loving her from afar for so long. It’s getting harder and harder to keep his feelings for her at bay because when she gets hurt, Nate steps in to lend a helping hand because even though Becca works for him, she’s also one of his closest friends and has been with him since the beginning. She knew him before he became the billionaire that he is now, so he knows that she cares for him and not his money.

Becca is still smarting from Nathan transferring her to Brooklyn to manage his hockey team instead of keeping her in Manhattan, working for the company that she started off with. When he hired Lauren, a more sophisticated admin to run his software company, she was hurt because she loved her job in Manhattan but she went to Brooklyn because Nate wanted someone he trusted to run the office for the hockey team that he bought, the Brooklyn Bruisers. That was two years ago and even though Becca loves her job now, it still burns a bit. If Becca knew the real reason Nate transferred her, she’d be blown away because she has no clue that Nate has been carrying a torch for her, all these years. When she gets hurt and Nate starts taking care of her, things start to change and well, heat up.

In the last three books of this series, Becca and Nate have been on the outside of the story being told and they captured and held my interest in every single book. I wanted to know more about Nate’s feelings for Becca and I could not wait until Becca found out how Nate felt about her. I wanted them to be front and center for what feels like forever so getting this book was such a treat for me.

Nate was a fantastic hero. I loved how fierce his love for Becca was and how he tried to do right by her at every turn. He wasn’t the most perfect of heroes since he did get things wrong a lot of times but he proved to be a good listener and he respected Becca and learned from his mistakes. It was nice to see a different take on the boss and employee storyline and I thought Sarina Bowen did a fabulous telling Nate’s story. I really enjoyed seeing his friendship with Stew from beginning to end though I wish that we could have seen more of Stew in the book.

Becca was pretty great herself. She was capable and strong and she reacted to finding out about Nate and his feelings for her the same way that I imagine, I’d react. Completely blown away and then really uncomfortable with all of that money. I connected with Becca’s character and really loved getting to know her.

The romance between Nate and Becca was fantastic. It was sweet and it was steamy and it was everything that I hoped it would be. Sarina Bowen keeps winning me over with these stories and this series and I just never want it to end. I’m curious to see if we’ll be getting a story for Alex cause I’d love to see how her story turns out.

Yeah, I loved this one. So good!

Brooklyn Bruisers Series

Grade: 4.75 out of 5

four-half-stars


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