Tag: Rennie Road Books

Summer Reading Challenge Review: The Year We Hid Away by Sarina Bowen

Posted July 25, 2018 by Casee in Reviews | 6 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
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
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)
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: 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
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
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
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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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Joint Review: Bountiful by Sarina Bowen

Posted December 6, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 6 Comments

Joint Review: Bountiful by Sarina BowenReviewer: Holly and Rowena
Bountiful (True North, #4) by Sarina Bowen
Series: True North #4
Also in this series: Bittersweet, Steadfast (True North #2), Steadfast, Bittersweet, Keepsake, Speakeasy (True North, #5)
Publisher: Rennie Road Books
Publication Date: October 20th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 315
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-half-stars

No last names. No life stories. Those were the rules.

Once upon a time a cocky, copper-haired tourist sauntered into Zara’s bar. And even though she knew better, Zara indulged in a cure for the small-town blues. It was supposed to be an uncomplicated fling—a few sizzling weeks before he went back to his life, and she moved on.

Until an accidental pregnancy changed her life.

Two years later, she’s made peace with the notion that Dave No-Last-Name will never be found. Until one summer day when he walks into her coffee shop, leveling her with the same hot smile that always renders her defenseless.

Dave Beringer has never forgotten the intense month he spent with prickly Zara. Their nights together were the first true intimacy he’d ever experienced. But the discovery of his child is the shock of a lifetime, and his ugly past puts relationships and family out of reach.

Or does it? Vermont’s countryside has a way of nurturing even tortured souls. The fields and the orchards—and hard-won love—are Bountiful.

We first met Zara in Bittersweet, book 1 of this series. She and Griff, the hero of Bittersweet, had been having a fling, but he broke it off before he met his heroine, Audrey. Later Zara turned up pregnant and refused to say who the father was. Turns out he was a summer fling she couldn’t find when she ended up pregnant. Professional hockey player Dave Beringer is unexpectedly back in town and shocked to discover the girl he never forgot is more than just a good memory..she’s the mother of his child. Figuring out a new normal when he never expected to have a kid is going to be rough…especially since he still isn’t over his attraction to his daughter’s beautiful mother.

Holly: I didn’t really connect with this book. I really loved the previous books in the series, but this one fell a little flat. I didn’t dislike it, but it didn’t grab me the way I thought it would.

Rowena: I had no problem connecting with this story. I thought it was wonderfully written and I really enjoyed seeing Zara and Dave come together again. I loved seeing two worlds that I am so in love with come together with Zara and Dave. It was so good to see Leo, Patrick and Dave’s other Brooklyn Bruisers teammates interact with Griff, Audrey and the rest of the True North gang.

I’m trying to remember if there was anything that I didn’t like about this book…nothing is coming to mind.

Holly: Maybe it was my reading mood, but I just didn’t fall into it the way I have the other books in the series (and the Brooklyn Bruiser’s series, for that matter). It moved slowly for me in places, and I didn’t understand the way Zara acted some of the time. Plus, there was a lot of build-up around their relationship and how they’d make it work, and then it just kind of…fizzled. I think I expected more bang after the way the tension was built up.

Rowena: What didn’t you understand about the way Zara acted? For me, I thought she handled the whole seeing Dave again and being honest about Nicole with him, really well. Sure, she needed a hot minute to get herself together but for the most part, I thought she handled giving Dave a chance great. She was unsure but knew that she couldn’t deprive her daughter of relationships that were her right to have. I really liked Zara. I liked her a lot more as a mother than I did a bartender. Her reasons for being so mute on who the father was in the previous books were good reasons and I thought she was a fantastic mother to Nicole.

Holly: The way she was so hot and cold with Dave is what threw me. She wanted him. She wanted to be with him. She wanted him as the father of her child. Then she didn’t want to be with him or start a relationship with him. Her pulling back halfway through the book made the I-Love-You’s seem to come out of nowhere, even though we’d had basically the entire book.

Rowena: When she explained why she felt the way that she did with Dave, I bought it and fell in line with how the both of them felt for each other. But you’re right, she was a bit hot and cold with Dave.

Holly: Sure, I get that she didn’t trust in a relationship with a guy she barely knew who was only going to be in town for a few months. But she refused to even have that conversation with him. He’d bring it up and try to discuss their future and she’d run scared. I get she was afraid, but I was surprised and slightly disappointed she wasn’t willing to even talk about it. Then, bam, all the angst is done? I just didn’t buy it. And honestly, Dave had more reason to be wary of a relationship than Zara. If he was willing to work at it with her, why couldn’t she do the same?

Rowena: We saw it differently then because I got it. Dave’s internal issues were about not trusting himself to be a good father because of his childhood and his past whereas Zara’s internal issues were about someone else letting her down time and time again. It was natural for her to see Dave being the kind of father she had growing up, especially since he told her himself that he was never going to have a family. It took her a little bit to get herself together and come around to the idea so I understood it. Because more than anything, she was trying to protect Nicole.

Holly: Eh, I disagree. Yes, she was let down in the past, but she had brothers, uncles and her mom who were all there for her. They didn’t let her down. So her claim that everyone in her life (that’s me adding dramatic flair..lol) let her down doesn’t hold water. And again, it’s not that I don’t think she had a valid point when it came to Dave, but her refusal to even discuss their future is what threw me off.

Rowena: She never claimed that everyone let her down. Just her Dad. She was scared that Dave was going to be just like her own Dad to Nicole. He perpetuated that by telling her that he never wanted to have a family. He was pretty adamant about that. He changed his mind and she didn’t trust it. What’s not to understand about that? Since her refusal to discuss it didn’t last all that long, I wasn’t mad about it. And you shouldn’t be either. Get over it, Holly. LOL.

Holly: But it did last a long time! Basically the whole entire book. But you’re right, I probably should get over it since it all worked out in the end. I should..but I probably won’t. Ha.

Rowena: I’m rolling my eyes at you. Seriously.

Holly: That’s not to say I didn’t like Zara. Because I did. But her hot and cold attitude threw me off. It just didn’t jive with the Zara we knew from previous books.

Rowena:Dave handled finding out he was a father pretty realistically, I think. I thought he did a lot of growing up over the course of this book and when he falls in love with Zara, I believed him. I loved that there wasn’t a thing that he wouldn’t do for Zara and Nicole. She needed him to deflect some attention away from her for an afternoon? Done. She needed him to step in and watch Nicole so that she can rush around for Audrey and Griff’s wedding? Done. He wasn’t the perfect hero but he was a good man. He loved deeply and I truly adored watching him bond with Nicole.

Holly: Dave was great. I loved how patient he was with Zara and how, even though he needed a minute to get his life figured out after she dropped her bombshell on him, he really stepped up. He was scared, but he did what he needed to do. I think where Zara lost me was that she seemed so confident and in charge, but kept pulling back from Dave.

Rowena: You think we’re going to get a book for Dave’s sister, Bess? I totally want that book….but not before Becca and Nate. Ha!

Holly: I really want Becca and Nate. I think we need to start a petition that their book is next. But yes, I definitely want Bess to get a book. I adored her.

Rowena: I think their book is next, at least in the Brooklyn Bruisers series so I’m not too worried about that. But yes, Bess is like LL Cool J…she needs love.

Holly: She does need love. So does May. I didn’t like her girlfriend at all. Maybe Bess and May will end up together.

Rowena: I can so get behind a Bess and May pairing. May’s boo thang was annoying af and she deserves way better than that. I’m curious if they’ll both get their own stories told.

Overall, I thought Sarina Bowen wrote another fantastic romance about two people who didn’t think they’d ever see each other again but did anyway. The sparks between Zara and Dave were bright and extra sizzling. Their romance was a sweet one and I loved the hell out of it. I loved this book just as much as I loved the other True North books and more than I loved Rookie Move. It was fun, sweet and I wanted to cuddle it close when I was finished with the book. So stinkin’ good.

I really enjoyed this book so I’m giving it a 4.75 out of 5.

Holly: I didn’t dislike this book, but it didn’t grab me the way I thought it would and Zara’s actions threw me. I’m giving it 3.5 out of 5.

Holly’s final Grade: 3.5 out of 5
Rowena’s final Grade: 4.75 out of 5

True North Series

Brooklyn Bruisers Series

four-half-stars


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