Series: Apartment 2B

Review: The Shape of My Heart by Ann Aguirre

Posted January 23, 2015 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: The Shape of My Heart by Ann AguirreReviewer: Holly
The Shape of My Heart by Ann Aguirre
Series: Apartment 2B #3
Also in this series: I Want It That Way, As Long As You Love Me
Published by Harlequin
Publication Date: December 1st 2014
Genres: Fiction, Romance, New Adult, Coming of Age, Contemporary
Pages: 384
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Goodreads
four-half-stars

Some people wait decades to meet their soul mate. Courtney Kaufman suspects she met hers in high school—only to lose him at seventeen. Since then, Courtney's social life has been a series of meaningless encounters, though she's made a few close friends along the way. Especially her roommate, Max Cooper, who oozes damaged bad-boy vibes from every pore. 
Max knows about feeling lost—he's been on his own since he was sixteen. Now it's time to find out if he can ever go home again, and Courtney's the only one he trusts to go with him. But the trip to Providence could change everything…. 
It started out so simple. One misfit helping another. Now Max will do anything to show Courtney that for every heart that's ever been broken, there's another that can make it complete.

Courtney and Max made out once or twice at various parties, but it didn’t go any farther than that. Which is good, since they end up roommates. When Max is called home to attend a funeral, he can’t face it alone and asks Courtney – who has become one of his best friends –  to go with him.

Courtney has no problem helping Max out, especially since she’s never seen him so tense. Most people see Max as nothing more than a motorcycle-riding bad boy, but she knows he has hidden depth. Neither is prepared for how close they get during their trip, or how much their attraction for one another grows.

I love Max. I just need to put that out there right up front. He was such an awesome guy. He grew up on the wrong side of the tracks, but he did his best to pull himself out a bad situation. He was determined to make something of himself, and he wasn’t afraid to put himself out there. I wanted to wrap him up and put him in my pocket I loved him so much.

Courtney was also a great character. Her parents are very wealthy and she grew up with a lot of money, but she didn’t look at their money as hers. Yes, they were paying her way in college, but she didn’t consider their achievements her own. That was a big deal when it came to her mess up with Max. She didn’t tell him how wealthy her parents were, so he was blindsided when they went to visit for the first time. He felt, justifiably, angry that she’d kept something so huge from him. I might not have been able to forgive her for making him feel so bad about himself, if not for the fact that she just didn’t see their wealth as her own. Yes, they made money. No, that didn’t reflect on her at all.

Her views were a little ..let’s say sheltered, but Max was quick to point out what a princess she was being. And she was quick to accept responsibility for the way she was acting and to try to change her behavior. She was going to prove to Max she was worthy of him, which I thought was great considering she could have been a spoiled rich girl instead, trying to force him to come to her.

Her sorrow over the loss of her high school boyfriend, and her subsequent addiction to pain killers, was really well done. I actually felt her sorrow, and I thought her stint in rehab really shaped the person she became and the choices she made in her relationship with Max. She really grew over the course of the novel, and I ended up with a lot of respect for her.

Max is the reason I loved the book, though. He was a little self-conscious and hesitant about his feelings for Courtney at first, but once he was in, he was all in. He didn’t try to make her work for it, or hide what they had. He also didn’t let her get away with anything. When she was unsure about their relationship, he reassured her. When she pulled back or tried to use humor to cover her feelings, he called out. Max also did some growing over the course of the novel, but he had less to do in general. He was pretty darn perfect right from the start, to be honest. I just adored him.

The secondary characters were all wonderfully drawn. We saw the original roommates and the couples from previous books, plus a few new friends they made along the way. Max’s family made an appearance, and so did Courtney’s. Each added flavor to the story, rather than detracting from the main plot and characters.

Although there were times I wanted to beat some sense into Courtney, I can’t deny I was emotionally sucked in from beginning to end. I loved the two of them separately, and I really loved them together. I laughed, I cried, I wanted to scream in frustration and joy – this was a stellar read all the way around.

4.5 out of 5

four-half-stars

Review: As Long As You Love Me by Ann Aguirre

Posted November 20, 2014 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: As Long As You Love Me by Ann AguirreReviewer: Holly
As Long As You Love Me by Ann Aguirre
Series: Apartment 2B #2
Also in this series: I Want It That Way, The Shape of My Heart
Published by Harlequin
Publication Date: October 1st 2014
Genres: Fiction, Romance, New Adult, Coming of Age, Contemporary, General
Pages: 384
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

Most people dream about getting out of Sharon, Nebraska, but after three years away, Lauren Barrett is coming home. She has her reasons—missing her family, losing her college scholarship. But then there's the reason Lauren can't admit to anyone: Rob Conrad, her best friend's older brother. 
Football prowess and jaw-dropping good looks made Rob a star in high school. Out in the real world, his job and his relationships are going nowhere. He's the guy who women love and leave, not the one who makes them think of forever—until Lauren comes back to town, bringing old feelings and new dreams with her. 
Because the only thing more important than figuring out where you truly belong is finding the person you were meant to be with.

Rob isn’t the guy you see just reliving his glory days from high school, but no one really expected much out of him and he hasn’t really gone far. He didn’t go to college, he’s still working construction with his dad, and he has no plans to secretly go off to college or get a higher education. He is really good with his hands and excels at carpentry, and someday he’d like to do that full time.

Lauren struggles with social anxiety, which has only gotten worse since she went away to college. In order to deal with the overwhelming panic she felt being around so many strangers, she started drinking pretty heavily. When she realized she was starting to like being drunk a little too much and her anxiety wasn’t lessening at all, she deliberately flunked out of college so she could go home. She’s been in love with Rob most of her life, but she didn’t expect him to see her as anything but his kid sister’s best friend. Especially since he has a girlfriend when she gets back.

As they spend time together, working on his house and teaching her to drive, Rob realizes there’s more to Lauren than he ever thought. When he’s offered the chance of a lifetime, Lauren breaks it off. She knows she won’t be able to deal with his new life with her anxiety, but she doesn’t want him to give it up for her.

It was interesting to see a pretty-boy hero who isn’t very smart. He isn’t dumb, he definitely has common sense, but he isn’t book smart.He’s not very confident and kind of has low self-esteem.  I think too often we see the dumb jock from high school totally redeemed as this super smart guy who was just misunderstood. My heart hurt for him, because he wasn’t so dumb that he didn’t understand all the snide remarks and put-downs he overheard through the years.

Lauren’s “ultimate sacrifice” rankled, because I hate it when a character makes decisions for others, but it was hard to be angry at her when she clearly had a mental health problem. Her emotional and mental growth through the book was one of the better parts for me. She realized she couldn’t continue to live her life alone and afraid, and she chooses to do something to improve herself.

The side-plot featuring Rob’s ex-girlfriend was also well done. I really enjoyed the secondary characters and the small-town setting.

This book was surprising in its emotional depth and character development. Though it has some flaws, I was pulled in from page one.

4 out of 5 

four-stars

Review: I Want It That Way by Ann Aguirre

Posted November 18, 2014 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: I Want It That Way by Ann AguirreReviewer: Holly
I Want It That Way by Ann Aguirre
Series: Apartment 2B #1
Also in this series: As Long As You Love Me, The Shape of My Heart
Published by Harlequin
Publication Date: September 1st 2014
Genres: Fiction, Romance, New Adult, Coming of Age, Contemporary, General, Western
Pages: 384
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-half-stars

Nadia Conrad has big dreams, and she's determined to make them come true. But between maintaining her college scholarship and working at the local day care to support herself, dating's the last thing on her mind. Then she moves into a new apartment and meets the taciturn yet irresistible guy in 1B…. 
Daniel Tyler has grown up too fast. Becoming a single dad at twenty turned his life upside down—and brought him heartache he can't risk again. Now, as he raises his four-year-old son while balancing a full-time construction management job and night classes, the last thing he wants is noisy students living in the apartment upstairs. But one night, Nadia's and Ty's paths cross, and soon they can't stay away from each other. 
The timing is all wrong—but love happens when it happens. And you can't know what you truly need until you stand to lose it.

Nadia is studying to be a special-ed teacher. Her school and work schedules don’t allow for much in the way of personal relationships, especially romance. Her relationship with her best friend is suffering, and she isn’t feeling as close to her other roommates as she’d like. Which makes the connection she feels to man who lives below her an unwelcome surprise. She’s already juggling too many balls; adding a single dad to the mix has ‘bad idea’ written all over it. But she can’t seem to help herself…and neither can he.

Ty is barely keeping his head above water. Between work, school and taking care of his son, he has zero free time. Since his ex ran out on him, he’s reluctant to get involved in even a casual way with someone, and he refuses to even consider opening himself up to more. But like Nadia, he can’t seem to stay away.

I liked Nadia, but I didn’t feel much of a connection to Ty. This is one of those times the first-person POV worked against the story. That isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy the book, because I did. I just wish we saw more emotion and personality from Ty.

Nadia was better drawn than he was. We saw her hopes, dreams and fears for the future. Her interpersonal relationships were fleshed out better, which gave us a better sense of her as a whole. She’s described in a later book as a type-A personality, and that’s definitely true. She’s stubborn and anal, but she wasn’t annoying.

There were two things that really bothered me. Both are spoilers, so beware when reading on.

View Spoiler »

Despite those two things, the story was very engaging. Although I didn’t develop strong feelings toward Ty, Nadia and the other secondary characters made for an entertaining, if romance-lite, tale.

3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars