Publisher: Rennie Road Books

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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Goodreads
three-half-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)
Publisher: Rennie Road Books
Publication Date: May 29, 2018
Point-of-View: First Person
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-half-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)
Publisher: Rennie Road Books
Publication Date: February 12th 2018
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-half-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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Review: Good Boy by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy

Posted January 2, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 4 Comments

Review: Good Boy by Sarina Bowen and Elle KennedyReviewer: Holly
Good Boy (WAGs, #1) by Sarina Bowen, Elle Kennedy
Series: WAGs #1
Also in this series: Stay
Publisher: Rennie Road Books, Self-Published
Publication Date: January 31st 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 269
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Goodreads
four-half-stars

Hosting her brother’s wedding for an MVP guest list is the challenge of Jess Canning’s life. Already the family screw-up, she can’t afford to fail. And nobody - absolutely nobody! - can learn of the colossal mistake she made with the best man during a weak moment last spring. It was wrong, and there will not be a repeat. Absolutely not. Even if he is the sexiest thing on two legs.

Blake Riley sees the wedding as fate’s gift to him. Jess is the maid of honor, and he’s the best man? Let the games begin. So what if he’s facing a little (fine, a lot) of resistance? He just needs to convince the stubborn blonde that he’s really a good boy with a bad rap. Luckily, every professional hockey player knows that you’ve got to make an effort if you want to score.

But Jess has more pressing issues to deal with than sexy-times with a giant man-child. Such as: Will the ceremony start on time, even though someone got grandma drunk? Does glitter ever belong at a wedding? And is it wrong to murder the best man?

Caution: May cause accidental aspiration of tea or coffee. Do not read in a public place where loud laughter is inappropriate. Contains hot but hilarious hockey players, puppy cuddling and a snarky pair of underwear.

I somehow missed this series when it was first released. I ended up reading Stay first, then picking this one up recently when it was on sale (along with the audio) for the Kindle. I’m so sorry I skipped this one the first time around. Blake was hilarious. I loved him. I liked Jess, too, but Blake really stole the show. I thought, based on the way he acted in Stay, that he’d be manic and annoying. That wasn’t the case, though. He was just a big, lovable guy.

Blake and Jesse hooked up while they were taking care of Jess’s sick brother. Blake is anxious for a repeat, but Jess isn’t about it. Which just means he has to convince her. Since she’s maid of honor and he’s best man at her brother’s wedding, he has plenty of time.

Jess has always felt like the underachiever in her family. So telling them she wants to change careers – again – isn’t high on her list of favorite things to do. But she’s finally settled on nursing school and she’s feeling really good about it. Blake is a distraction she doesn’t need. When they’re living in the same city and she doesn’t know many people, it’s hard to avoid him. And let’s be honest..she doesn’t really want to.

This book was so good. As I said, I adored Blake. He was such a sweetheart. For all his talk of being a player, at his core he was a stand-up kind of guy. He’d do anything for his friends and often sacrificed his own happiness for those around him. Jess always felt inadequate next to her overachieving family. I liked how she came into her own. She gained confidence in herself and stopped worrying so much about measuring up to her family. Together they were wonderful. Great chemistry and a solid foundation. I couldn’t get enough of them.

4.5 out of 5

four-half-stars


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Review: Man Hands by Sarina Bowen and Tanya Eby

Posted December 26, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Man Hands by Sarina Bowen and Tanya EbyReviewer: Holly
Man Hands (Man Hands, #1) by Sarina Bowen, Tanya Eby
Series: Man Hands #1
Publisher: Rennie Road Books, Self-Published
Publication Date: December 11th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 180
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
three-half-stars

He puts the "screw" in screwball comedy...

BRYNN

At thirty-four, I’m reeling from a divorce. I don’t want to party or try to move on. I just want to stay home and post a new recipe on my blog: Brynn’s Dips and Balls.

But my friends aren’t having it. Get out there again, they say. It will be fun, they say. I’m still taking a hard pass.

Free designer cocktails, they say. And that’s a game-changer.

Too bad my ex shows up with his new arm candy. That’s when I lose my mind. But when my besties dare me to leap on the first single man I see, they don't expect me to actually go through with it.

TOM

All I need right now is some peace and quiet while my home renovation TV show is on hiatus. But when a curvy woman in a red wrap dress charges me like she’s a gymnast about to mount my high bar, all I can do is brace myself and catch her. What follows is the hottest experience of my adult life.

I want a repeat, but my flying Cinderella disappears immediately afterward. She doesn’t leave a glass slipper, either—just a pair of panties with chocolate bunnies printed on them.

But I will find her.

Sarina Bowen is a favorite of mine. I always enjoy her books, especially when she partners up with others. I didn’t connect with this one as much, though. There were some really funny parts, and I liked both Bryn and Tom, but it wasn’t as engaging as previous reads.

Bryn is in a rough place. The ink is barely dry on her divorce, and thanks to her ex-father-in-law, she’s also out of a job. She writes a food blog, but it isn’t paying the bills. When her two best friends drag her out to a swanky party, it’s the last things she wants. But they have designer cocktails and the house is beautiful, so….

Things are going great until she spies her ex with a younger, slimmer version of herself wrapped around him. Bryn loses her mind. Rather than running, her friends talk her into jumping the first man she sees, and no one is more surprised than Bryn herself when she actually does it.

Tom is feeling pretty low himself. The last season of his home improvement show didn’t end well and he’s trying to keep a low-profile while he’s on hiatus. Having a sexy, curvy woman jump him – literally – isn’t what he had in mind, but he can’t deny she’s sexy as hell. They have an amazingly sexy encounter and then..poof. She disappeared. Now Tom can’t think about anything else. Too bad things don’t go quite the way he imagined when he finally tracks her down again.

This novel is quite a bit more campy than other books by Bowen. The humor felt forced some of the time, and the situations were all really over-the-top. Plus, Bryn cried a lot. Like, All.The.Time. She showed quite a bit of growth over the course of the novel, but I couldn’t help but feel like she needed to take some time to be alone before jumping onto into another guy relationship. I really liked Tom and how down-to-earth he was despite being a “celebrity”, but the way his “situation” from the previous season of his show was drawn out was kind of frustrating. I’d have preferred to just know why he was feeling the way he was, rather than been teased by it.

Although some of the comedy was over-the-top, I enjoyed the quiet moments between Tom and Bryn. Tom was really down-to-earth and I think he centered Bryn a bit. I liked them together.

If you’re looking for a sweet contemporary romp, this book is for you.

3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars


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