Reading Challenge: Rowena's 2019 A-Z Reading Challenge

Review: From Lukov, with Love by Mariana Zapata

Posted February 14, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: From Lukov, with Love by Mariana ZapataReviewer: Rowena
From Lukov with Love by Mariana Zapata
Narrator: Callie Dalton, Teddy Hamilton
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: February 1, 2018
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Romance Package
Point-of-View: First
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 524
Length: 14 hours, 55 minutes
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Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2019 A-Z Reading Challenge, Rowena's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-half-stars

If someone were to ask Jasmine Santos to describe the last few years of her life with a single word, it would definitely be a four-letter one.

After seventeen years—and countless broken bones and broken promises—she knows her window to compete in figure skating is coming to a close.

But when the offer of a lifetime comes in from an arrogant idiot she’s spent the last decade dreaming about pushing in the way of a moving bus, Jasmine might have to reconsider everything.

Including Ivan Lukov.

I had a really quiet weekend at home so I listened to a couple of audiobooks and this was the first of them. I have enjoyed pretty much all of the Mariana Zapata books that I’ve read so far and that didn’t change with this one. I adored Ivan Lukov and loved getting to know Jasmine Santos, or as Ivan referred to her, “Meatball”. I really enjoyed their banter back and forth and the way that they bickered with each other over everything under the sun. They had that hate vibe going pretty strong for a good chunk of this book and I was so here for it.

We hear this book through Jasmine’s POV so early on, we are not fans of Ivan Lukov. He’s arrogant and an asshole and he gives not one shit that he pisses Jasmine off. In fact, he seems to enjoy pissing her off. Jasmine and Ivan are professional ice skaters who skate doubles but at the moment, they don’t have partners so when Ivan approaches Jasmine to skate with him for a year, she balks because, hell no. She doesn’t even like this punk ass…but holy cow, Ivan presents an opportunity for Jasmine to go after the dream that has been out of her reach since her last partner left her in the most humiliating way possible. He is giving her a chance to win with him, a decorated Olympian in her corner and even though she doesn’t trust him, she’s in. OMG, she’s in.

A huge chunk of this story is told while Jasmine and Ivan are practicing. They have a lot of work to do in not a lot of time so immediately, they get to work. They practice and practice and practice and when they’re not practicing, they hang out and they become friends. They still bicker back and forth but there isn’t the edge of hate surrounding it so it’s easier for the two of them to be around each other. Jasmine doesn’t have a lot of friends but one of her best friends is Ivan’s sister and while Jasmine’s family knew and loved the sister, they didn’t know Ivan but Ivan becomes more than Jasmine’s partner in the short time that they’ve become partners. He’s become her best friend and what a ride it was, seeing them come full circle with each other.

This was such a fun romance. I thought Mariana Zapata did such a fine job of bringing Jasmine and Ivan together. They came so far with each other and when they finally get together, it was so satisfying and I absolutely loved that their bickering didn’t end when they both realized that they loved each other. They kept right on bickering over every little thing because they could. Because that was their way.

There were times when I thought Jasmine was really stubborn and shouldn’t have been but when all was said and done, I really liked her. I liked her smart mouth and prickly personality. I loved the way that she was with Ivan, with her siblings and with her Mom. My heart hurt for her where things were concerned with her father but I thought Zapata did well in making us understand her way of thinking and I loved that she wanted to be better for her family. Everything that she went through in her life humbled her and I loved that she knew that she was going to get it right this time around when she makes the decision to partner up with Ivan.

Then there was Ivan. swoon I wanted to kick him in the nuts for a good chunk of the beginning of the book but when he wins me over, he completely won me over. Getting to know him was such a treat and seeing him with all of his pets and then seeing him with Jasmine and coming to realize how much Jasmine meant to him? Gah, I was a sucker for all of it. I was a sucker for him. Gah, he was a great hero and this was a great romance. I’m not the biggest fan of professional ice skating but I’ll be watching the next Winter Olympics just so that I can picture Ivan and Jasmine skating around and winning shit.

Mariana Zapata delivers another fabulous contemporary romance featuring two ice skating champs that I really enjoyed. I should also mention that I really loved the narrators for this audiobook. Kudos to Callie Dalton and Teddy Hamilton. I loved that Teddy Hamilton read for the parts of Ivan and that Callie Dalton read for most of the book since the book was in Jasmine’s POV. The entire story flowed so well with the two of them narrating and it made for a very enjoyable reading experience. I definitely recommend this one to everyone.

Grade: 4.25 out of 5

four-half-stars


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Review: Thirty Day Boyfriend by Whitney G

Posted February 14, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Thirty Day Boyfriend by Whitney GReviewer: Rowena
Thirty Day Boyfriend by Whitney G.
Narrator: Erin Mallon, Zachary Webber
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: November 2, 2017
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Romance Package
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 119
Length: 2 hours, 40 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2019 A-Z Reading Challenge, Rowena's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
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three-stars

I should've never agreed to this arrangement...

Thirty days ago, my boss—Mr. Wolf of Wall Street, came to me with an offer I couldn’t refuse: Sign my name on the dotted line and pretend to be his fiancée for one month. If I agreed, he would let me out of my employment contract with a “very generous” severance package.

The rules were pretty simple: No intimate kissing, no actual sex. Just pretend to love each other for the press, even though I’ve secretly wanted to knock that sexy smirk off his face since the first day we met.

I definitely didn’t need to think twice about this. I signed my name and started counting down the seconds to when I would never have to deal with his special brand of ass-holery again.

I only made it to one minute...

We argued the entire four-hour flight to his hometown, failed to make a convincing impression with the welcoming press, and right when I was about to knock that arrogant look off his face in real life? He purposely dropped his bath towel in front of me, distracting me with his nine-inch cock to "show me who the bigger person was" in our relationship. Then he gave me his trademark smirk once again and asked if I wanted to consummate our marriage.

Tragically, this is only day one. We still have 29 more days to go...

Thirty Day Boyfriend was the second audiobook that I listened to last month and it didn’t take me any time at all to get this one read. The book itself is pretty short but I thought Whitney G did a solid job of packing the punch short stories need to keep me interested, and satisfied. I wish I could say that I enjoyed this one more than I did but well…

So, Thirty Day Boyfriend is an office romance where the boss falls in love with his administrative assistant and then proceeds to be a dickhead when he thinks she doesn’t want him back. He’s a Billionaire CEO who is richer than every damn body and is it like a requirement for all billionaires to be complete assholes because there were far too many times when I wanted to kick Nicholas in the dick over the course of this book. If it’s not a requirement of billionaire characters than it’s definitely a requirement for a Whitney G hero because more often than not, I want to punch her heroes in the ballsack and that wasn’t any different with this one.

Emily was a strong character that I enjoyed and was cheering on from the very beginning. I loved that she was a normal woman trying to live her normal life and solve her normal problems. Seeing her deal with Nick’s strong personality and hold her own against him was great even though Nick’s god complex got on my hot damn nerves but still, it was nice to see Emily stand up for herself and put Nick in his place whenever she felt he needed the smackdown.

I will say that Whitney G’s redeem game is strong because by the end of this book, Nick was out of the dog house and I actually really liked him and Emily together. When we find out the real deal about everything and seeing everything fall into place made the story pick right up so that was good but all of the shenanigans that Nick plays when Emily is trying to find another job, the shit that he made her do, the way that he talked to her while she was employed for him pissed me off so I can’t give this book more than 3 stars. So it’s a problematic but still solid read.

Grade: 3 out of 5

three-stars


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Review: Merrily Ever After by Jenny Holiday

Posted February 6, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 3 Comments

Review: Merrily Ever After by Jenny HolidayReviewer: Rowena
Merrily Ever After (Bridesmaids Behaving Badly, #2.5) by Jenny Holiday
Series: Bridesmaids Behaving Badly #2.5
Also in this series: One and Only (Bridesmaids Behaving Badly #1), It Takes Two (Bridesmaids Behaving Badly #2), Three Little Words (Bridesmaids Behaving Badly #3)
Publisher: Forever
Publication Date: December 4, 2018
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 104
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-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Elise Maxwell is loving her first Christmas with her husband, Jay Smith. So far, newlywed life has been filled with laughter and lots of steamy marital "bliss." But when Elise discovers she's accidentally, against-all-odds pregnant, happily-ever-after screeches to a halt. Although she sees it as a Christmas miracle, Elise knows her new husband might not agree...

Jay never wanted to be a father. In fact, he's avoided it his entire life, worried he'd repeat the patterns of his own messed-up childhood. He's madly in love with Elise and, until now, he thought they were on the same page about not having children. But her surprise pregnancy changes everything. Elise is suddenly committed to parenthood, and Jay knows he can't lose her. Facing his deepest fears will be difficult, but with a little holiday magic, Jay might be able to prove to Elise that - as a family - they're destined to live merrily ever after.

Merrily Ever After is the third book in Jenny Holiday’s Bridesmaids Behaving Badly series but it’s a short romance so instead of being book 3, it’s actually book 2.5 in the series. Merrily Ever After is the Pinterest Bridezilla from One and Only‘s story. It’s not the story where we see Elise fall in love with Jay but it’s a story from after their wedding that was nicely tied into the rest of the other books.

Elise has endometriosis and because of this, she is thought to never be able to have children. It’s something that she was upfront with Jay about from the beginning and it was something that Jay was on board with considering he didn’t want to have kids anyway. Elise and Jay were secure in their love for each other and they were both on the same page about not ever having kids. Elise because she knew she couldn’t have them and Jay because of his past with both his father and Cam’s father. But somewhere along the way, Elise changed her mind and when the unthinkable happens, Elise is scared to shake the foundation of her relationship with Jay by telling him that…she’s pregnant.

Elise is equal parts shocked and happy with the news but she’s also pretty scared for Jay’s reaction. He’s made no qualms about his desire to never have kids and that hasn’t changed so that is what Elise is up against in this story and man did Jenny Holiday pack a punch with this one because I cried. Elise and Jay were a beautiful couple that I was so happy to see front and center since up until now, they’d been in the background but they definitely held their own. I was just as invested in their story as I was in all of the other ones and reading this one made me all the more excited for Gia’s story.

Holiday really worked her magic with this series. She has cemented herself on my auto-buy list so I welcome her to the party going on there. Elise and Jay were so much in love with each other and seeing them try to find their footing after the shock of where they are now hurt my heart but I trusted Jenny Holiday to fix my heart and was rewarded for my trust. She fixed me right up and had me smiling like a crazy person in the end.

This was a pretty great short story and kudos to Holiday for not making it feel like we were getting a rushed short romance. She did well with the amount of pages she had to get it all out there and I applaud her efforts. This was a damn good short story and seriously, I can’t wait to jump into the next one.

Grade: 4.75 out of 5

Bridesmaids Behaving Badly

four-half-stars


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Review: It Takes Two by Jenny Holiday

Posted February 5, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 3 Comments

Review: It Takes Two by Jenny HolidayReviewer: Rowena
It Takes Two (Bridesmaids Behaving Badly #2) by Jenny Holiday
Series: Bridesmaids Behaving Badly #2
Also in this series: One and Only (Bridesmaids Behaving Badly #1), Merrily Ever After (Bridesmaids Behaving Badly, #2.5), Three Little Words (Bridesmaids Behaving Badly #3)
Publisher: Forever
Publication Date: June 26, 2018
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 385
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-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

In this hilarious romantic comedy, USA Today bestselling author Jenny Holiday proves that what happens in Vegas doesn't always stay in Vegas...

All's fair in love and war

Wendy Liu should be delighted to be her best friend's maid of honor. But after years spent avoiding the bride's brother - aka the boy who once broke her heart - she's now trapped with him during an endless amount of wedding festivities. Luckily she's had time to perfect her poker face, and engaging Noah Denning in a little friendly competition might just prove that she's over him for good...

Noah Denning is determined to make his little sister's wedding memorable. But it seems Wendy is trying to outdo him at every turn. Challenging each other was always something he and Wendy did right, so when she proposes they compete to see who can throw the best bachelor or bachelorette party in Sin City, Noah takes the bait - and ups the stakes. Because, this time around, he wants Wendy for keeps. And when you're fighting for love, all bets are off.

It Takes Two is the second book in the Bridesmaids Behaving Badly series by Jenny Holiday and it’s another freaking winner for me. It’s Jane’s best friend Wendy’s book and they’ve been best friends since they were kids. Also? Wendy is in love with Jane’s older brother Noah. Wendy and Noah were close when they were young and they had a moment together that Wendy has never forgotten and her young heart was broken when Noah stood her up for the prom. She hasn’t ever gotten over the realization that he meant more to her than she’ll ever mean to him so she hardened herself to tender feelings for anyone and she distanced herself from Noah. Wendy is a drifter who travels from country to country and she’s planning a huge trip that will take her away from her work as a lawyer for six months but she’s pretty excited about it. But first, she has to get through Jane’s wedding and that is something she’s not as thrilled about because Jane’s wedding will bring Noah back into her world and she won’t be able to run away on a trip.

Noah left their hometown of Toronto behind when he got a full ride scholarship to NYU and even after he graduated from school and then law school, New York became his home and he never moved back to Toronto. After the death of his father, Noah had to grow up pretty fast and he became responsible for himself, for Jane and even their mother, who spiraled into depression. All he’s ever known in his life is responsibility and the only person who ever really understood why he was the way that he was, was Jane’s best friend, Wendy.

Being back home is a trip to Noah but a good one because he realizes how long it’d been since he really had a conversation with Wendy. He remembered how close they’d been as children but how distant Wendy was as an adult. Seeing these two circle each other throughout the book had me in my feelings so much.

Wendy was strong and she was a no-nonsense type of woman who didn’t suffer fools gently. She’s not the same little girl that Noah stood up at prom for an extra shift. She’s also still pretty pissed at Noah for standing her up, even after all of these years so seeing her snark at him and seeing him snark right back at her even as he didn’t understand where the snark was coming from made for an entertaining ride. This book was filled with so much drama and so much heart that I ate up every single word. I was so invested in Wendy and Noah’s story and I really, really loved seeing them both battle their way toward their happy ending. I really enjoyed One and Only but I freaking loved It Takes Two. I loved these characters so much that I immediately jumped into the next one. Seriously, this book is good stuff and the only reason this book doesn’t get a 5 star rating is because there were a few times in the story where I wanted to smack some sense into Wendy’s attitude toward Cam. I understood where she was coming from and even sympathized with her but Cam was an innocent and her attitude around him made me want to smack her because he didn’t deserve it. Other than that, I freaking loved Wendy. I freaking loved Noah. I freaking loved them all.

Grade: 4.75 out of 5

Bridesmaids Behaving Badly

four-half-stars


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Review: One and Only by Jenny Holiday

Posted February 4, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 7 Comments

Review: One and Only by Jenny HolidayReviewer: Rowena
One and Only (Bridesmaids Behaving Badly #1) by Jenny Holiday
Series: Bridesmaids Behaving Badly #1
Also in this series: It Takes Two (Bridesmaids Behaving Badly #2), Merrily Ever After (Bridesmaids Behaving Badly, #2.5), Three Little Words (Bridesmaids Behaving Badly #3)
Publisher: Forever
Publication Date: February 27, 2018
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 337
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-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Miss Responsibility meets Mr. Reckless

With her bridezilla friend on a DIY project rampage, bridesmaid Jane Denning will do anything to escape - even if it means babysitting the groom's troublemaker brother before the wedding. It should be a piece of cake, except the "cake" is a sarcastic former soldier who is 100% wicked hotness and absolutely off-limits.

Cameron MacKinnon is ready to let loose after returning from his deployment. But first he'll have to sweet talk the ultra-responsible Jane into taking a walk on the wild side. Turns out, riling her up is the best time he's had in years. But what happens when the fun and games start to turn into something real?

One and Only kicks off Jenny Holiday’s Bridesmaids Behaving Badly series and it was released early last year. I’d been hearing many great things about this series so I bought the books last year but never got around to actually reading them…until now. I’m kicking myself for waiting so long to read these because I really enjoyed Jenny Holiday’s writing, the characters she introduces us to in this series and the romances for each couple. I also really, really enjoyed the friendship between Jane, Wendy, Elise, and Gia. They were total squad goals.

So in this book, we get Jane’s romance. Jane is a bridesmaid for her friend Elise’s wedding and her normally sweet-tempered friend has turned into a Pinterest Bridezilla with a to-do list for her bridesmaids that is low key driving Jane insane. So when Elise starts going on and on about her fiance Jay’s bad boy brother coming to town and is sure that he is going to ruin their wedding, Jane jumps at the chance to babysit him for Jane. Babysitting the brother will get Jane out of Pinterest Wedding Hell and so she’s totally in.

Jane picks Cam up from the airport and already she can tell that he’s trouble. He looks like he’s bent on causing trouble and like he can’t wait for it all to happen but not on Jane’s watch. Jane is dedicated to becoming Cam’s cockblocker and she takes it seriously because Getting Married Elise is a scary person right now.

Cameron was a complex character who had a reputation that he wasn’t that proud of. I mean, technically, everything that was said about him was true but they weren’t the entire truth and after a while, defending yourself got tired so Cam let everyone think what they wanted to believe of him and in a way, he started to believe them too. After his latest screw up, he had every intention of coming back to Canada and tearing shit up. Of forgetting what his life had become…but meeting Jane is proving to be an even better distraction.

Over the course of the week leading up to Jay and Elise’s wedding, Cam and Jane spend a lot of time together and while they’re both dealing with their own internal issues, they spend a lot of time being there for each other and give each other the break from life that they both desperately need. I thought Jenny Holiday did a wonderful job of bringing these two together. I loved seeing them get to know and then understand what the other is going through and then become each other’s rock. They both needed each other and didn’t even know it. Their romance was a lot of fun and I could not wait to jump into the next romantic adventure of the next friend, Wendy. This was a good one!

Grade: 4.5 out of 5

Bridesmaids Behaving Badly

four-half-stars


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