Series: Woodlands

Review: Unrequited by Jen Frederick

Posted February 16, 2016 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Unrequited by Jen FrederickReviewer: Rowena
Unrequited by Jen Frederick
Series: Woodlands #4
Also in this series: Undeclared, Unraveled, Unspoken, Unraveled
Published by Pear Tree
Publication Date: April 13th 2015
Genres: Romance, Contemporary, New Adult
Pages: 300
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

Winter Donovan loves two things: her sister and her sister's ex boyfriend. She's spent her whole life doing the right thing except that one time, that night when Finn O'Malley looked hollowed out by his father's death. Then she did something very wrong that felt terribly right.

Finn can't stop thinking about Winter and the night and he'll do anything to make her a permanent part of his life, even if it means separating Winter from the only family she has.

Their love was supposed to be unrequited but one grief stricken guy and one girl with too big of a heart results in disastrous consequences.

I’m still all about the Jen Frederick right now. I can’t get enough of her stuff and Unrequited was another great story that I fell right in with from the very beginning.

We finally get Finn’s book. Finn has been slowly spiraling out of control, drowning in booze and babes ever since his father died. He hasn’t taken the news of his father’s death too well but one hook up with Winter Donovan and he’s starting to sit up and take notice of just what he’s doing. All of the meaningless hook ups, all of the booze and all around irresponsible behavior isn’t doing much for him and seeing Winter again, hanging out with her again has changed Finn’s outlook on everything but it’s a little too late to come to that discovery because now that he’s decided he wants Winter…she’s not on board with his plan.

Winter has had a crush on Finn ever since she was a teenager and he was her sister’s boyfriend. It’s not anything she thought would ever become something so she was safe in her crush but it’s been years since she’s seen him and she just couldn’t help herself…she had to have one night with him. Never mind that she’s still thinking about that one night with Finn weeks later. Never mind that he seems to want to pick up where they left off. She can’t think about any of those things because Ivy comes first and she needs her right now.

Oh man, this book was full of angst and a whole lot of swoony Finn things. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about the whole ex-girlfriend’s little sister thing but Frederick won me over with Finn and Winter. I adored both of them and connected with Winter more than I thought I would. Her whole family loyalty and going above and beyond for her family (even when they weren’t worthy of that loyalty) was well written. I connected with her struggle to keep her family happy at the same time she was trying to be happy for herself with a guy that she had big time feelings for.

I loved seeing how constant Finn tried to be with Winter. No matter what was thrown at the two of them (and there was a lot of things thrown at them), he proved time and time again that she was first wife. She struggled with her feelings for Finn because of her sister but she wasn’t dumb about them. I loved that Finn understood her struggle and wanted to be there for her. He wanted to put her first and ugh, OMG I loved Finn.

Finn was everything I was hoping he would be. He was strong and steady and he knew what he wanted. I loved that his love for Winter never wavered and I loved seeing him win her over.

Winter was a great heroine, it would have been easy to get mad at her for the way she kept Finn at arms length for a bit but I understood why she did what she did. I understood what motivated her but when she finally wises up to her dirty rat of a sister, I was glad that she stood up for herself. I was glad that she was finally living her life and not one that would make things easier for her sister.

This was an emotional book for me and I really enjoyed it. I loved seeing the Woodlands gang, I loved seeing Finn and Adam’s friendship and I really loved the romance between Finn and Winter. Their love wasn’t perfect but it was still pretty great. I can’t wait for Adam’s book and I’m mighty curious to see which girl he ends up with….those love scenes are going to be interesting considering Adam’s choice of jewelry. Haha.

Grade: 4 out of 5

Reading Order:

Undeclared
Unspoken
Unraveled
Unrequited

four-stars

Review: Unraveled by Jen Frederick

Posted February 15, 2016 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Unraveled by Jen FrederickReviewer: Rowena
Unraveled by Jen Frederick
Series: Woodlands #3
Also in this series: Undeclared, Unraveled, Unspoken, Unrequited
Published by Jen Frederick
Publication Date: January 20th 2014
Genres: Romance, Contemporary, New Adult
Pages: 280
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

From the USA Today Bestselling Author Jen Frederick comes another sexy romance in the Woodlands series.

Twenty-five-year-old Sgt. Gray Phillips is at a crossroads in his life: stay in the Marine Corps or get out and learn to be a civilian? He’s got forty-five days of leave to make up his mind but the people in his life aren’t making the decision any easier. His dad wants him to get out; his grandfather wants him to stay in. And his growing feelings for Sam Anderson are wreaking havoc with his heart…and his mind. He believes relationships get ruined when a Marine goes on deployment. So now he’s got an even harder decision to make: take a chance on Sam or leave love behind and give his all to the Marines.

Twenty-two year old Samantha Anderson lost her husband to an IED in Afghanistan just two months after their vows. Two years later, Sam is full of regrets—that she didn’t move with her husband to Alaska; that she allowed her friends to drift away; that she hasn’t taken many chances in life. Now, she’s met Gray and taking a risk on this Marine could be her one opportunity to feel alive and in love again. But how can she risk her heart on another military man who could share the same tragic fate as her husband?

Unraveled is the third book in the Woodlands series and it was another enjoyable story. I’ve been reading a lot of Frederick books lately and I’m really enjoying everything that I’m reading so I’m hoping she doesn’t ever stop writing fantastic books.

This book follows Noah and Bo’s Marine brother Gray as he figures out his life and where his life goes from here. He’s at a crossroads and he’s trying to figure out if he’s going to stay in the Marines and re-enlist or get out and figure something else out. He’s got some leave time so he takes off for the Woodlands to think things through. He wasn’t expecting Sam Anderson though.

Sam Anderson lost her husband to the war two years ago and she wants to move on with her life. She’s done waiting for Will to come home, she’s done playing the grieving widow so when she meets Gray Phillips, she starts to feel again. She feels alive and the more time she spends with him, the more she comes into her own.

I enjoyed Gray’s character before Unraveled so I was pretty excited to finally dig into his own book. I was not disappointed in his story. There were times when I wanted to kick him in the nuts for being a jackass. He wasn’t the perfect hero who did all of the right things and made all the right decisions but I didn’t even care, when all was said and done, I adored him. He was a great hero to Sam and he more than made up for his boneheadedness. I loved that he had Bo and Noah to steer him in the right direction where his relationship with Sam was concerned. I will say that after I read the first love scene between Gray and Sam, I texted Ames and told her that I wanted to bang Gray because ….HOT DAMN! He put it down for Sam. Haha.

There were times when I wanted to shake some sense into Sam as well but I think overall, their imperfections made me like them both even more. Their stories and their romance was fun and perfect for what I was in the mood for. I loved, loved, LOVED the way that Gray was trying to win Sam back and I just love how their love for each other came around. It was a fun romance with an emotional pull as well and I enjoyed it.

I definitely recommend.

4 out of 5

Reading Order:

Undeclared
Unspoken
Unraveled
Unrequited

four-stars

Review: Unspoken by Jen Frederick

Posted September 22, 2014 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Unspoken by Jen FrederickReviewer: Holly
Unspoken by Jen Frederick
Series: Woodlands #2
Also in this series: Undeclared, Unraveled, Unraveled, Unrequited
Published by Jen Frederick
Publication Date: September 16th 2013
Genres: Fiction, Romance, General, Contemporary, Coming of Age
Pages: 312
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-half-stars

 Whore. Slut. Typhoid Mary. 
I’ve been called all these at Central College. One drunken night, one act of irresponsible behavior, and my reputation was ruined. Guys labeled me as easy and girls shied away. To cope, I stayed away from Central social life and away from Central men, so why is it that my new biology lab partner is so irresistible to me?
He’s everything I shouldn’t want. A former Marine involved in illegal fighting with a quick trigger temper and an easy smile for all the women. His fists aren’t the danger to me, though, it’s his charm. He’s sliding his way into my heart and I’m afraid that he’s going to be the one to break me.
Impulsive. Unthinking. Hot tempered.
I allow instinct to rule my behavior. If it feels good, do it, has been my motto because if I spend too much time thinking, I’ll begin to remember exactly where I came from. At Central College, I’ve got fighting and I’ve got women and I thought I was satisfied until I met her.
She’s everything I didn’t realize I wanted and the more time I spend with her, the more I want her. But she’s been hurt too much in the past and I don’t want to be the one to break her. I know I should walk away, but I just can’t.

This is the second book in Frederick’s Woodlands series. I had some problems with Undeclared, the first book, that I feel were cleared up in this book. Though it isn’t perfect, it was a solid read with emotionally compelling characters.

AnneMarie (AM) had a fun first few months at college. Then she had sex with the wrong boy and turned down an even worse one, and her life has been hell ever since. Central College is smaller than many high schools, which means the same kind of ridiculous cliques and dramas exist there. She expected a different experience when she signed up for the school. Now she lives off campus and mostly keeps to herself or her best friends, to keep from being harassed by the lacrosse team.

When Bo signs them up as partners in science, she’s leery of him. He has a bad reputation and she isn’t interested in being harassed by someone new. But Bo isn’t what she expected. He’s kind, compassionate and caring. All her preconceived notions are blown out of the water the more time they spend together. Lucky for her he isn’t looking for a relationship, because she won’t settle for less and Bo isn’t good for her heart.

Bo has been kind of skating by since he left the Marine Corps. He followed his best friend Noah to college, but he gets his kicks in the underground fights he participates in.  He doesn’t generally do relationships, but the more time he spends with AM, the more he rethinks his stance on them. She’s independent and fierce..and just a little bit broken. Which means they have a lot more in common than she thinks.

These two are…pretty freaking awesome. I loved how they each found something in the other they didn’t even realize they were missing. Bo struggles with a fear he’ll turn abusive like his alcoholic father. AM calms him and brings forth a protective streak he didn’t realize he had. Bo is refreshingly light-hearted most of the time. He had his dark, broody moments, but his interactions with AM were mostly light-hearted and sweet. They had a great rapport and their sarcastic and witty responses to each other spoke to me on a level we probably shouldn’t discuss.

There’s no doubt AM was damaged by what happened to her. More because she felt like she couldn’t trust her judgement, I think, than the actual experience (though the way she was treated by the lacrosse team was pretty horrible). Still, I had to admire her for working hard to get over it. I really like how Frederick dealt with the issue of AM being bullied. She really came into her own as the novel progressed and I like how the situation was dealt with at the end.

Frederick built a college setting that was believable and easy to imagine. I felt like I was there with AM and Bo. I did struggle with how juvenile the actions of the students were, though. At times it felt more like high school than college.

The real draw here, despite the great world-building, is the relationship between AM and Bo. The friendship they developed was solid, which made their fall into love so much sweeter. They faced their demons together, but grew individually. I loved them.

4.5 out of 5

four-half-stars

Review: Unraveled by Jen Frederick

Posted February 4, 2014 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Unraveled by Jen FrederickReviewer: Holly
Unraveled by Jen Frederick
Series: Woodlands #3
Also in this series: Undeclared, Unspoken, Unraveled, Unrequited
Published by Jen Frederick
Publication Date: January 20th 2014
Genres: Fiction, Romance, General, Contemporary, Coming of Age, Family & Relationships, Love & Romance
Pages: 280
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

From the USA Today Bestselling Author Jen Frederick comes another sexy romance in the Woodlands series.

Twenty-five-year-old Sgt. Gray Phillips is at a crossroads in his life: stay in the Marine Corps or get out and learn to be a civilian? He’s got forty-five days of leave to make up his mind but the people in his life aren’t making the decision any easier. His dad wants him to get out; his grandfather wants him to stay in. And his growing feelings for Sam Anderson are wreaking havoc with his heart…and his mind. He believes relationships get ruined when a Marine goes on deployment. So now he’s got an even harder decision to make: take a chance on Sam or leave love behind and give his all to the Marines.
 
Twenty-two year old Samantha Anderson lost her husband to an IED in Afghanistan just two months after their vows. Two years later, Sam is full of regrets—that she didn’t move with her husband to Alaska; that she allowed her friends to drift away; that she hasn’t taken many chances in life. Now, she’s met Gray and taking a risk on this Marine could be her one opportunity to feel alive and in love again. But how can she risk her heart on another military man who could share the same tragic fate as her husband? 

Gray Phillips is at a crossroads in his career with the Marines. It’s time to either re-up or get out and he isn’t sure which way to go.  His father is encouraging him to get out and get a degree, but his grandfather is pushing him to stay in (both are career Marines). His father finagles 45 days leave for him and he decides to spend it with two of his buddies that are already out, Noah and Bo.

Gray isn’t interested in any kind of relationship. Since his girlfriend of 4 years cheated on him while deployed he’s all about casual – but safe – sex. He doesn’t really plan to hookup while he’s on leave but he feels an instant connection to bartender Sam Anderson and ends up basically dry humping her in the hallway at the bar the first time they meet. He’s interested in finding a private place to take things further until he notices her wedding ring. Disgusted, Gray gives her a piece of mind and storms off.

Sam Anderson is a war widow. Her childhood best friend and husband of two months, Will, was killed in Afghanistan. For 2 years, as she’s been mourning him, she’s been nothing but Will’s Widow. She’s trapped in the role of his dead wife by her grief and the expectations of his family, their mutual friends and, in fact, the whole town.

Until Grayson Phillips backs her against a wall and brings her to orgasm in no time flat, she’s been completely numb to life. Now Sam is slowly waking up and realizing her life didn’t end when Will’s did. And she wants Gray to be the one who shows her what she’s been missing. Who better for a rebound than a temporary Marine?

As things heat up between the sheets, Sam feels her heart beginning to warm as well. Can her rebound turn into something long lasting? Will Gray let her close enough to find out?

I come from a family of military members. My husband is a former Marine, as are several members of my extended family and I have a lot of friends still in the Corps. We have National Guard, Army and Air Force connections as well. As a result, I really connected with the story.

Gray’s confusion over whether to stay in the Corps or get out is a familiar one. I felt Frederick did an excellent job of showcasing his internal debate without bogging the story down. His new promotion and his concerns about the responsibilities it comes with made him a more likable character. His was silly and kind of immature at times, but that wasn’t all there was to him. His need to protect those under him balanced his need to live life.

I also felt Sam’s struggle to move on from her grief was realistic. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut when everyone expects you to be in it. That Gray woke her up made perfect sense because he was someone new – someone who didn’t know her as Will’s Widow. She’s been in a holding pattern since her husband died – she quit school and kind of withdrew from life. It was good to see her coming back to life.

“Mom says I’m an old soul.” No, Bitsy, I thought, you’re so bright, shiny and new my heart aches at your beauty. I wished I still had that look. Instead, I felt dull and used and, after last night, rejected.

Some parts of the story were problematic. Specifically Sam’s behavior. Her thoughts and actions were contradictory at times. I didn’t doubt that she loved her husband, but I didn’t necessarily feel the connection she felt to him. We were told the connection existed rather than getting to experience it ourselves.

She was really wishy-washy in her thoughts and feelings, too. Gray humiliated her and upset her, but still she was stuck on the idea of being with him. I understand that, since he was the first person she felt anything for since her husband’s death, it might be hard for her to separate her emotions. But I would think she’d shy away from him, not seek his company. Especially since he humiliated her on more than one occasion.

I did love her loyalty and her willingness to put herself out there. It isn’t easy to give of yourself when the possibility of rejection is so huge, or when the risks of it being short term are so high. She, better than anyone, knows a relationship with a military man is a bad bet, but she didn’t let that stop her from opening her heart or embracing her feelings.

I loved the interactions between Gray and his Marines, both past and present. There were several times I laughed out loud at their antics. Like when Gray’s ex spreads it around that he’s gay.

Ruiz looked upset and near bursting with something to say.
“What is it, Ruiz?”
“Why not me instead of Hamilton? Don’t you think I’m attractive? Fun to be with?”
We both stared open mouthed at Ruiz. Hamilton recovered first. “Dude, what?”
Ruiz looked offended. “Just wondering why Hamilton?”
“Oh Jesus H., Ruiz really?” I ran my hand over my recently shorn head.
“Yeah, I mean he’s not better looking than me.”
“That’s not what your mom said last night, Ruiz,” Hamilton shot back, offended that Ruiz thought that he was better looking.

Anyone who has spent time with Marines (or members of any branch of the military for that matter) would recognize the behavior as authentic. As a matter of fact, I read portions of it to my husband and he said “so chick has spent some time with Marines then?”.

Though the subject matter was dark, there was humor in the novel, too, even outside of Gray and his friends. He has a somewhat bawdy sense of humor, and that made for some hilarious commentary.

“I’m sorry,” I told my dick. “But hang in there, someday we’re raw dogging her until we both can’t see straight.”
“Are you talking to your penis?” Sam called from the bed. She didn’t sound near breathless enough. I hurried back and flopped down beside her, my erection hitting her on the hip.
“Yup, I’m consoling it and telling it to stay inside the condom.”

The beginning moved slow, but as the story progressed I found myself drawn in. Despite some small annoyances, this was an emotionally compelling book. The ending really sealed the deal for me and made those small frustrations worth the read.

4 out of 5

This book is self-published. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

four-stars

Lightning Review: Undeclared by Jen Frederick

Posted December 16, 2013 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Lightning Review: Undeclared by Jen FrederickReviewer: Holly
Undeclared by Jen Frederick
Published by Jen Frederick
Publication Date: May 1st 2013
Genres: Fiction, Romance, General, Contemporary, Coming of Age, Contemporary Women
Pages: 350
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-half-stars

For four years, Grace Sullivan wrote to a Marine she never met, and fell in love. But when his deployment ended, so did the letters. Ever since that day, Grace has been coasting, academically and emotionally. The one thing she’s decided? No way is Noah Jackson—or any man—ever going to break her heart again.

Noah has always known exactly what he wants out of life. Success. Stability. Control. That’s why he joined the Marines and that’s why he’s fighting his way—literally—through college. Now that he’s got the rest of his life on track, he has one last conquest: Grace Sullivan. But since he was the one who stopped writing, he knows that winning her back will be his biggest battle yet. 

The premise of this really intrigued me. Penpals turned best friends? Sexy Marines? Sold.

While the base idea is compelling, I really struggled with the inconsistency of the characters and the sometimes disjointed story.  The hero was especially hard to get a handle on. At times he was a mature former marine who knew where he was going and what he wanted out of life. Then he was an immature college boy. The heroine’s insecurities were understandable considering her age and upbringing, so I think I expected the hero to guide her more. Instead he sort of fumbled his way along.

Perversely, I was able to give him a pass most of the time, because I know a lot of Marines. It’s hard for many of them to make that jump from four years of structure to being totally on their own.

While I had some problems with the book, as a whole it was an interesting read. I’m looking forward to reading the next book. If the author tightens up her writing just a bit, I could fall right in to her stories.

3.5 out of 5

This book is self-published. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

three-half-stars