Reading Challenge: Rowena's 2019 GoodReads Challenge

Review: The Kingmaker by Kennedy Ryan

Posted January 15, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: The Kingmaker by Kennedy RyanReviewer: Rowena
The Kingmaker by Kennedy Ryan
Series: All the Kings Men #1
Also in this series: The Rebel King
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: October 28, 2019
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Point-of-View: Alterntaing First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 344
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2019 TBR Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-half-stars
Series Rating: five-stars

Raised to rule, bred to lead and weaned on a diet of ruthless ambition. In a world of haves and have nots, my family has it all, and I want nothing to do with it.

My path takes me far from home and paints me as the black sheep. At odds with my father, I’m determined to build my own empire. I have rules, but Lennix Hunter is the exception to every one of them. From the moment we meet, something sparks between us. But my family stole from hers and my father is the man she hates most. I lied to have her, and would do anything to keep her. Though she tries to hate me, too, the inexorable pull between us will not be denied.

And neither will I.

The Kingmaker is the first book in Kennedy Ryan’s All the King’s Men duet and it was also the last book that I read in 2019. I really, really enjoyed this one and I don’t say that lightly because this book is hella political and politics are not my jam. But Kennedy Ryan did her thing again because I ate this book up.

This story covers like a decade in the lives of the two main characters, Maxin Kingsman Cade and Lennix Moon Hunter. Lennix is a Native American young woman who lost her mother when she was young. Her mother went to Seattle for a pipeline protest and never came home. She was never found and Lennix doesn’t think enough was done to help her family get the closure they needed. She doesn’t know what happened to her Mom and I think that played a huge part in while she picked up activism at such an early age. She was a big spokesperson for the Native American people in her area and she led peaceful protests against corporate oil companies that wanted to build pipelines on her people’s sacred lands, pipelines that would contaminate their water. So it’s not a huge surprise that she despises everything that has to do with Warren Cade. Warren Cade is the head of Cade Energy and he’s doing everything that Lennix is fighting against.

Maxim is determined to be his own man. He refuses to back down from joining his father’s company because his father will not listen to Maxim’s ideas on how to build a better energy company using methods that will help with climate change. His Dad’s main focus has been money and he makes a lot of it in the oil business so he’s not willing to listen to Maxim. Maxim grew up listening to his father speak, seeing his father in action so he knows that his father is relentless and ruthless and Maxim wants no part of that. He’s determined to learn all that he can so that he can build a better world for everyone and he’s hell-bent on doing it on his own, without his father’s influence.

When Maxim and Lennix meet for the first time, Lennis is too young for him but he’s very interested. There’s chemistry in spades sizzling between them but Maxim is bummed that she’s so young. He knows that she’s going to grow up to be an amazing woman and he was right. When they meet up again four years later, Lennix is older and Maxim is still interested. They spend a week together in Amsterdam and they fall in love but their love is shortlived because their lives take them in opposite directions and they drift apart for some more years…and then Lennix finds out that Maxim was keeping a huge secret from her and she is determined to never let him close enough again.

Seeing these two meet, fall in love and then are torn apart, only for them to come back together years later with one of them fighting for a love that he knows is worth everything made for a really interesting romance. I fell hard for both Lennix and Maxim. They were both intense characters that were strong on their own but in my opinion, better together. Their love was strong and it was fierce and it never completely fizzled out after years and years of separation. Kennedy Ryan will pull at your emotional strings with this one because it’s not an easy romance but man was it a worthwhile one. This book isn’t getting 5 stars from me but that’s only because of that ending. I’m not a fan of cliffhanger endings and this has one so if you’re wanting to read this, there’s your warning…but on the bright side, the follow-up book, The Rebel King is available for you to immediately jump into if you need to.

Final Grade

4.75 out of 5

All the King’s Men

four-half-stars


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Buddy Review: Grumpy Jake by Melissa Blue

Posted January 13, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Buddy Review: Grumpy Jake by Melissa BlueReviewer: Ames and Rowena
Grumpy Jake by Melissa Blue
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: November 8, 2019
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 104
Add It: Goodreads
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four-stars

Bailey Thorne doesn't hate Jake the Rake, just despises him. She blames the rumor mill at her school...and, okay, him. His adorable son has only been in preschool, but Jake has already made an impressive dent in dating the unmarried faculty. She's had to hear of his every exploit from the broken hearts he's left behind. She was fine to loathe him from afar, but now his son has entered kindergarten--and she's the teacher. It's going to be a very long school year.

Jake Polaski was more than fine to avoid Ms. Thorne after it became clear she was not amused by his very existence. But then they get stuck in an elevator for an evening. He finds out that underneath that baleful glare she always gives him, lies a warm, funny and sexy as hell woman. He does his best to not be smitten after every exchange afterward. His son needs him rational, steadfast...and love is the most uncertain thing.

It was the elevator's fault. Had it worked like it should, Bailey would have gone on with her life without seeing why so many of her co-workers had fallen for the grumpy single dad. (It's his dry wit, his playful teasing and the drool-worthy cut of his jawline.) And now she's caught in the way he doles out smiles and the dark depths of his secrets. If nothing else, she knows from rumor there's a clock ticking on their affair before it implodes because things always do with Jake the Rake, but she can't seem to walk away first.

Rowena: Amy and I have been buddy reviewing books together for a few years now but we both weren’t reading much in the last few months of 2019 so we took a break but we’re back. Our first buddy review for 2020 will be on Grumpy Jake by Melissa Blue.

Grumpy Jake follows Jake Polasky and Bailey Thorne as they make that journey toward they’re happily ever after, together. Bailey is Jake’s son’s teacher and though they started off on rocky ground, getting stuck on an elevator sparks up a friendship that turns into a lot more than either of them thought.

So, Ames…what did you think?

Ames: I thought this was a cute novella. I like how its called Grumpy Jake but when Bailey noticed the rep Jake had with the teachers she was aloof towards him, so in a way she was almost grumpy too. Even Jake’s son noticed that she didn’t particularly care for Jake. haha For this being a novella, I thought there was a lot packed into the story and it was enjoyable.

What did you think, Ween?

Rowena: I really enjoyed this one. It was a quick romp that I thought was cute. I liked that Bailey was a teacher and we actually got to see her in action. I also liked that though this was a novella, there was still a lot of stuff packed into the story to satisfy the reader. I wasn’t expecting all the steamy love scenes but I wasn’t mad about them either. There wasn’t much that I didn’t enjoy about this one, if anything, I just wanted more because I didn’t want to depart from these characters so soon. I liked Jayden and I liked the relationship that formed between Bailey and Jayden and I loved that regardless of what was going on with her and Jake, that didn’t affect anything between her and Jayden. I just flat out liked this one.

Ames: It’s harder to review a book we enjoy than one we didn’t, don’t you think? Because I agree with everything you said. Seeing Bailey in her role as a teacher and how that impacts developing a relationship with a parent of one of her students was interesting to see. And sets up the conflict nicely. Jayden was super cute and my heart broke for his and Jake’s story. The heat factor was nice too. I wasn’t expecting that so it was a pleasant surprise.

Overall, I don’t have any complaints about Grumpy Jake. I like a grumpy hero because there’s usually a softy hidden underneath that exterior and I like how Bailey called Jake out on his behaviour. They were a good match.

Rowena: You’re right. I just flat out like everything about this book, I just wanted it to be longer. So I gave it a 4.25 out of 5, you?

Ames: I’m giving this one a 4 out of 5. A very strong novella and a great introduction to Blue’s writing.

Final Grade

Ames: 4 out of 5
Rowena: 4.25 out of 5

four-stars


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Review: The A.I. Who Loved Me by Alyssa Cole

Posted January 8, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: The A.I. Who Loved Me by Alyssa ColeReviewer: Rowena
The A.I. Who Loved Me by Alyssa Cole
Narrator: Regina Hall, Mindy Kaling
Publisher: Audible Studios
Publication Date: December 3, 2019
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Escape
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Science Fiction
Pages: 6
Length: 5 hours, 18 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
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four-stars

Listening Length: 5 hours and 18 minutes

A captivating romantic comedy with a thrilling sci-fi twist by award-winning author Alyssa Cole!

Trinity Jordan leads a quiet, normal life: working from home for the Hive, a multifunctional government research center, and recovering from the incident that sent her into a tailspin. But the life she’s trying to rebuild is plagued by mishaps when Li Wei, her neighbor’s super sexy and super strange nephew, moves in and turns things upside down. Li Wei’s behavior is downright odd—and the attraction building between them is even more so. When an emergency pulls his aunt away from the apartment complex, Trinity decides to keep an eye on him…and slowly discovers that nothing is what it seems. For one thing, Li Wei isn’t just the hot guy next door—he’s the hot A.I. next door. In fact, he’s so advanced that he blurs the line between man and machine. It’s up to Trinity to help him achieve his objective of learning to be human, but danger is mounting as they figure out whether he’s capable of the most illogical human behavior of all…falling in love.

I’m not much of a science fiction romance reader but for some reason, I wanted to read this one and I’m really glad that I did because I liked it. I listened to this audiobook on my flight to Chicago and then finished it on my flight home from Chicago. It was super easy to fall into and I thought all of the narrators did a fabulous job of bringing Trinity and Li Wei’s story to life. I would definitely listen to another audiobook that Regina Hall narrates.

So Alyssa Cole penned a sci-fi romance that really worked for me. It was fun, sweet and it even brought the steam. I was listening to the love scenes like, “Okayyy Li Wei.” Haha. It took a little while for me to figure my way around what was what, who was who, and you know, all of that jazz but once I figured things out, I was up and running. So Trinity is a woman who works for Hive, a government research company. She’s recovering from an accident that took her out. She’s trying to figure some things out when she meets her neighbor’s nephew, Li Wei. Li Wei is nothing like Trinity originally thought and the more she gets to know him, the more she wants to know about him. There’s chemistry sizzling between them and it’s not easy for either of them to walk away.

Trinity and Li Wei were pretty fantastic characters. I loved seeing them grow into their feelings for each other, and I thought Alyssa Cole did a great job of making me roll with an A.I. love story. I don’t normally read science fiction romances but this worked. I mean, sure it took me a little bit to warm up to the story itself but in the end, I was glad that I read it because the story was fun and it was interesting and that end? Yeah, I was a fan. I will definitely be reading more stories like this and definitely more stories by Alyssa Cole. This was one of the last reads of 2019 for me and it was definitely a good way to end out my year in reading. I definitely recommend.

Final Grade

4 out of 5

four-stars


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Review: Marriage on Madison Avenue by Lauren Layne

Posted January 7, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Marriage on Madison Avenue by Lauren LayneReviewer: Rowena
Marriage on Madison Avenue by Lauren Layne
Series: The Central Park Pact #3
Also in this series: Passion on Park Avenue, Love on Lexington Avenue
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, Gallery Books
Publication Date: January 28, 2020
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 288
Add It: Goodreads
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

From New York Times bestselling author Lauren Layne, comes the final installment of the Central Park Pact series, a heartfelt and laugh-out-loud romantic comedy that’s perfect for fans of Sally Thorne and Christina Lauren.

Can guys and girls ever be just friends? According to Audrey Tate and Clarke West, absolutely. After all, they’ve been best friends since childhood without a single romantic entanglement. Clarke is the charming playboy Audrey can always count on, and he knows that the ever-loyal Audrey will never not play along with his strategy for dodging his matchmaking mother—announcing he’s already engaged…to Audrey.

But what starts out as a playful game between two best friends turns into something infinitely more complicated, as just-for-show kisses begin to stir up forbidden feelings. As the faux wedding date looms closer, Audrey and Clarke realize that they can never go back to the way things were, but deep down, do they really want to?

Marriage on Madison Avenue is the final book in the Central Park Pact series by Lauren Layne and IMO, it was the weakest book in the series. I still enjoyed it but not nearly as much as I enjoyed Love on Lexington Avenue and Passion on Park Avenue. I was bummed out about not enjoying this book nearly as much as I was prepared to love it because it’s got the best friends to lover trope and a fake relationship trope that I’m super trash for but I was disappointed in a bunch of little things that I didn’t completely recover from by the end of this one.

Audrey Tate and Clarke West have been best friends for as long as they can remember. Since they were kids. They have amazing chemistry that everyone but themselves can see but they’ve never gone down that road before because they’ve always been such great friends and who wants to mess with that? Not these two for sure. Audrey is a social media influencer and when the haters start to talk about her in a not so great light, a fake engagement to her best friend seems like the way to fix her problems. When Clarke’s ex-girlfriend tries to come back into his life, he’s got his own reasons to want a fake engagement to his best friend. So Audrey and Clarke become “engaged” and plan to only keep up the ruse for a little while, just until the rumors about Audrey die down and Clarke’s ex-girlfriend goes away. Only things don’t go down the way that they planned and before they know what’s what, their engagement goes on longer and longer and starts to feel a lot more real with each passing day.

Here’s what I did like about this book. The book still had the strong female friendship that I adored in the previous books and I loved seeing how protective both of the previous heroes were over Audrey…even against Audrey’s own best friend. I loved seeing Alexis Morgan make an appearance in this one. I also still really enjoyed both Clarke and Audrey individually and the romance was still a good one even though I had some issues.

The lack of communication between Clarke and Audrey had me rolling my eyes down the street. You guys are best friends, you tell each other everything but you can’t tell each other that you’re in love with each other? Clarke, you let Audrey find out about your Dad’s deal on the day of your wedding? You guys love each other so much, have each other’s back but you let each other settle for a marriage of convenience instead of pushing each other to hold out for true love the way that you guys both deserve? On top of that, the way that their engagement kept getting bigger and bigger when they had every intention of calling it off made me mad too. They were wasting so many people’s time and it just annoyed the crap out of me. I would have much preferred the conflict to be more about Clarke and Audrey figuring out that they’ve been in love with each other for a long time without the drag out, knock down fake engagement that started to piss me off the longer it went on and the deeper Audrey and Clarke got into the planning of a fake wedding.

Despite my issues, Lauren Layne still kept my attention throughout this entire book and though I was still annoyed with both Clarke and Audrey, I was glad that they got their heads out of their asses and figured their shit out. I thought the ending was rushed but by the time that came around, I was ready for the happy ending so I wasn’t too annoyed with that. So while this book wasn’t one of Layne’s best, it wasn’t all bad. I came for the female friendships and wasn’t disappointed in the least in that department.

Final Grade

Grade: 3.5 out of 5

The Central Park Pact

four-stars


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Review: Getting Played by Emma Chase

Posted January 3, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Getting Played by Emma ChaseReviewer: Rowena
Getting Played by Emma Chase
Narrator: Andi Arndt, Zachary Webber
Series: Getting Some #2
Also in this series: Getting Schooled (Getting Some, #1), Getting Schooled (Getting Some, #1), Getting Played , Getting Schooled
Publisher: Audible Studios
Publication Date: June 11, 2019
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Escape
Point-of-View: Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 241
Length: 6 hours, 57 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2019 TBR Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Listening Length: 6 hours and 57 minutesProgram Type: AudiobookVersion: Unabridged

A magnificent new romance by New York Times best-selling author Emma Chase - available in audio first!

Dean Walker is all about keeping life simple. He's effortlessly talented and intelligent - spending his summers playing drums in the local band and the rest of the year teaching high school in the same Jersey town where he grew up. He likes his love life simple too, enjoying the commitment-free hook-ups his good looks and sexy charm have always made oh so easy.

Then he meets Lainey Burrows. And his simple, easy life gets turned upside down.

One wild one-night stand was all it was ever supposed to be, so Lainey is shocked when she discovers that her sizzling summer fling is also her son's new math teacher. But that's nothing compared to the most unexpected twist of all - their hot hook-up left Lainey knocked up, and now they're about to become parents. Together.

What ensues is an addictive, insatiable, sweet and tender romance that won't be simple, but it will be more than worth the fight.

Getting Played is the second book in Emma Chase’s Getting Some series. It’s another fabulous addition to the series too. Dean and Lainey were a great couple and I really enjoyed seeing them figure out how to be together after they get their one night stand news.

When I read the first book in this series, Getting Schooled, I knew that I was going to read Dean’s book and boy am I glad that I saw that one through because this was another fabulous contemporary romance by Emma Chase. Everything that Holly and Casee said about this book being good was true. I enjoyed getting to know both Lainey and Dean, I loved seeing the relationship that blossomed between Lainey’s son and Dean. I also really enjoyed seeing Garrett and Callie again. I loved that they were still a big part of Dean’s life and I adored seeing Dean with his grandmother. This was just a great small-town romance that delivered lots of heartwarming charm that I just ate right up.

Dean was a bit immature in the last book but seeing him really come into his own in this book was fan-freaking-tastic. I really enjoyed seeing him with his students, I really loved seeing him bond with Lainey’s son and I absolutely adored seeing him get excited about the changes coming his way with Lainey. The way that they transitioned their lives to include each other made for a great romance. This was another one of those straight-up contemporary romances where the two main leads know that they have feelings for each other and they figure out how to overcome the obstacles in their way so that they can be together.

Lainey was a great heroine. She was a fanastic heroine for Dean and I really loved that she was a mother first. She didn’t take her role as Jason’s mother lightly and I dug that about her. I loved the relationship she forged with Jason as well. She built a strong and solid foundation that gave Jason the support he needed from her. I loved that she was able to be honest with Jason about anything and everything and that Jason felt like they were a team that could tackle anything together. They supported each other and when Dean came along, Jason welcomed him into their little unit but his Mom was always first with him. It was just a lot of fun to read about a bunch of normal people trying to figure their shit out…together.

Overall, this was a great book and though there were spots in the book where I wanted to ring all of their necks, in the end, they all got it right and were stronger for their obstacles. Emma Chase continues to shine brightly as a fabulous contemporary romance author and I hope she writes Dean’s brother’s book next. I need to know Connor more. Fingers crossed. If you guys are in the mood for a fun and sweet contemporary romance, look no further than Dean and Lainey’s book. I promise, it’s good.

Final Grade

4.25 out of 5

Getting Some

four-half-stars


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