Tag: Self-Published

Review: Forget You, Ethan by Whitney G

Posted August 14, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Forget You, Ethan by Whitney GReviewer: Rowena
Forget You, Ethan by Whitney G.
Published by Self-Published
Publication Date: August 2, 2018
Point-of-View: First
Genres: New Adult
Pages: 228
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three-half-stars

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer...

I've hated Rachel Dawson since I was seven years old. My next door neighbor and number one sworn enemy, she's the reason why almost all of our childhood fights ended with me setting something of hers on fire. (Or, vice versa.)

She snitched on me when I broke curfew.

I snitched on her when she lied about having a boyfriend.

We went back and forth like this throughout high school, both vowing to never talk to each other again when we went off to college.

But that was until she showed up at my apartment during my senior year and asked me for a temporary place to stay. Until I realized just how much between us had changed, and the line I thought we'd never cross became harder and harder to ignore...

**This is a standalone friends (to enemies) to lovers romance**

I feel like I’ve been waiting on this book for forever but boy was I glad to jump right into it right when I got it for review. I really enjoyed the last NA book that I read by Whitney G (Sincerely, Carter) so I knew that I had to get this one as soon as I could. This was super fast to read and while it was enjoyable, it was too much like Sincerely Carter IMO.

I mean sure, there are slight differences in that Ethan and Rachel hate each other growing up. They seem to really hate each other still but I didn’t completely buy it because why would they continue their letter writing for so long if they really hated each other? They were hate best friends and that was that. When Rachel goes away to college on board a ship, she and Ethan stay in touch through letters written by hand and Ethan kept track of where Rachel’s ship was in port so that he can send his letters to the right places. So, hate each other? Yeah right. I don’t think anyone goes to that much trouble for someone they hate.

Anyway, so it’s the start of their senior year in college and Rachel is done with college abroad. She’s going to finish up her college career on land and far, far away from a ship. When her housing situation falls through, she needs to find a new place to stay and that’s when she’s brought into Ethan’s vicinity again. Ethan, the boy next door that used to torment her throughout elementary, middle and high school. The boy that got on her nerves so much that she jumped at the chance to move far away from him and board a ship for college.

Ethan isn’t happy about the situation either. He comes home to find out that his roommate burned their house down so they have to move and the house that they’re moving into is bigger and cost more so they need a roommate and this is where the worst blast from his past shows up in the form of Rachel Dawson.

So, of course, they become roommates and of course, things get interesting and I found that while I enjoyed this book, it didn’t have the magic that Sincerely Carter had for me. Sure, I enjoyed Ethan and Rachel finding common ground with each other and I really enjoyed when they finally got together but something was missing to make me completely love it. Maybe it was how much they reminded me of Carter and Arizona (being best friends who didn’t see each other like that until they do) but with a lot more fighting?? I don’t know.

Whitney G did write an engaging book for them though. It didn’t take me long to read, the story was really easy to fall into but I guess because I kept comparing this one to Sincerely Carter, my enjoyment of the book as a whole suffered some. Still, it was a solid read.

Grade: 3.75 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Review: Midnight Valentine by J.T. Geissinger

Posted August 10, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Midnight Valentine by J.T. GeissingerReviewer: Holly
Midnight Valentine by J.T. Geissinger
Published by Self-Published
Publication Date: February 6, 2018
Point-of-View: First
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Fantasy
Pages: 316
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three-half-stars

A hauntingly powerful love story in the tradition of The Notebook and The Time Traveler’s Wife.

True love never dies.

Megan and Cassidy were childhood sweethearts who thought they would be together forever. Fate had other plans. Soon after they were married, Cass’s life was tragically cut short. Still grieving her soul mate five years later, Megan moves to the small town of Seaside, Oregon, hoping to rebuild her life.

Her first night there, she meets the town recluse, Theo. Withdrawn, guarded, and mysteriously silent since a terrible accident left him scarred, Theo takes an instant and inexplicable dislike to Megan. But as their paths cross again and again, Megan becomes convinced there’s more to Theo than meets the eye. When she discovers the reason for his silence, his nightmares, and especially his pointed dislike, Megan becomes convinced of something far more astonishing.

Is a second chance at a once-in-a-lifetime love possible, or is a broken heart the cruelest kind of liar?

I read and really enjoyed Burn for You by J.T. Geissinger, so I figured I’d try some of her other works. Her paranormal series wasn’t as successful for me, but I thought I’d enjoy Midnight Valentine since 1) It’s a contemporary and 2) It has stellar reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. Plus, the blurb was really intriguing. With the exception of the Epilogue, the story is told in first person from the heroine’s point-of-view.

After the death of her husband, Megan moves to a small Oregon coastal town to finally realize their dream of restoring an old bed-and-breakfast. Upon arrival in town she meets mute, scarred contractor Theo. Despite having never met him before, Theo seems to hate her and Megan can’t figure out why. She decides to go with another contractor, even though he comes highly recommended and she’s told he’s the best. What does being the best matter if the man can’t stand her, right? Except it seems the universe has other ideas. Strange coincidences keep happening until Megan finally has no choice but to hire Theo.

Though his eyes burn with hatred when he looks at her, they’re both drawn to each other. It seems like Theo knows her, but how can that be possible when they’ve never met? As Megan tries to deal with her grief and torment over the loss of her husband, she also tries to make sense of her strange desire for a man who seems to hate her..yet is drawn to her in spite of himself.

This is a hard book to review without spoilers. I really enjoyed the humor and wit of the heroine, Megan. Her sarcastic sense of humor had me laughing more than once. I also enjoyed the mystery surrounding Theo and why he’d turned mute. Toward the end, the book took a dark turn. Even though I saw it coming, I didn’t expect it to go that dark. The tone of the early parts of the book were light, despite the trauma Megan suffered. So the last quarter, by comparison, read almost like a different book.

View Spoiler »

None of what happened was a surprise as I’d figured it out early on, but the way it was told kind of killed it the story a bit. While I enjoyed Midnight Valentine overall, I wasn’t left feeling warm and fuzzy when I closed it. Still, it was very well written and I can’t deny I was pulled in by the story of Megan and Theo, both separately and together.

I’m conflicted about the grade. The first 1/2 was a solid 4 for me. The humor, the wit, even the slow burning romance. All of it worked. The last 1/2 pulled my grade down. Ultimately I’m giving it:

2.75 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Joint Review: Hot Single Dad by Claire Kingsley

Posted August 8, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Joint Review: Hot Single Dad by Claire KingsleyReviewer: Holly and Rowena
Hot Single Dad (Book Boyfriends 3) by Claire Kingsley
Series: Book Boyfriends #3
Published by Self-Published
Publication Date: August 22nd, 2017
Point-of-View: First
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 268
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Reasons I need to stop fantasizing about Linnea:

1. She’s too young for me.

2. She’s my daughter’s nanny.

I could stop there, couldn’t I? I’m already a cliché. The single dad who’s hot for the nanny. But it gets worse.

3. She’s my sister-in-law.

My wife died when our daughter was a baby, and Linnea was just a quiet teenager. I barely knew her. When my in-laws insist she move to Seattle to be my live-in nanny—after a string of caregivers who didn’t work out—I reluctantly agree.

I wasn’t counting on the smoking hot blonde with sinful curves, kissable lips, and shy smile.

Linnea is perfect for my daughter—fun, patient, and kind. She might be perfect for me too, but I can’t think that way. She needs to live her own life, not be saddled with my insta-family.

Being around her is a special kind of torture, but I have to keep this infatuation to myself. I can’t fall for my daughter’s nanny.

But it might be too late.

Rowena: Holly and I have been digging the Single Dad romances lately so when Hot Single Dad came on to our radar, we knew that we were going to read it and read it together. Claire Kingsley is a new to us author and we were happy to dive right in.

Caleb is a single Dad who works long hours at the hospital and needs a little help caring for his young daughter. When his late wife’s parents offer the services of their other daughter, Linnea, Caleb isn’t wild about the idea but he doesn’t turn them down. He figured he would get the help he needed and his young daughter Charlotte would get to know her Aunt Linnea. He didn’t figure that Linnea would turn his world upside down and that he would be so attracted to her. When Linnea returns that attraction, things get really interesting.

What a cute story this turned out to be. What did you think, Holly?

Holly: I was a little hesitant about going into this book because the blurb mentions an age gap and I hate when that’s the main focus of a story. That ended up being a small part of it, however, and I thought the story was really cute.

Rowena: Not me. I jumped right in and was super excited about it. While I didn’t LOVE it and want to shout about my love from the rooftops, I still really enjoyed the book. Caleb and Linnea’s romance was sweet and I liked how it unfolded. I loved seeing both of their relationships with Charlotte and gah, this book was just oozing sweetness.

Holly: I liked what a great dad Caleb was. He wasn’t some inept fool who needed a woman to do everything for him. He had it all handled, he just needed a babysitter for when he was at work.

Rowena: I agree with you about Caleb. He was a great father to Charlotte and I really liked that he loved spending time with her and treasured the time he had with her. He didn’t let Linnea take care of Charlotte while he was home. He didn’t lean on Linnea for anything. He took being a Dad seriously and he tried the best he could. What’s not to love about that?

What did you think about Linnea’s parents and that whole thing?

Holly: I didn’t like her parents at all, and that the aspect of the book that left me the least satisfied. The resolution with them left a lot to be desired.

Rowena: Same. I thought the Mom was really dumb and that part of the book was so small that it didn’t feel necessary.

Their awkwardness with each other when their feelings are first brought out into the light was cute. It could have easily been super cheesy and not fun but I enjoyed that. I really enjoyed how they became a team where Charlotte was concerned and I liked the relationship that Linnea formed with Charlotte.

Were you at all itchy about Linnea being Caleb’s sister in law?

Holly: I expected to feel kind of skeevy about the sister-in-law thing, but I didn’t. Maybe it was the way it was written, but the focus wasn’t on it so much that I felt like it was a huge deal. You?

Rowena: It didn’t bother me any. I enjoyed Caleb and Linnea together and the way that they were with Charlotte. They were two good people who fell in love with each other and I dug their story.

I give this book a 4 out of 5. You?

Holly: I’m giving it 3.5. As sweet as the story was, I felt a little disconnected from it somehow. I enjoyed it, but I had to reread it before we began our discussion.

Holly’s Grade: 3.5 out of 5
Rowena’s Grade: 4 out of 5

Book Boyfriends


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Review: Iron and Magic by Ilona Andrews

Posted July 30, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Iron and Magic by Ilona AndrewsReviewer: Holly
Iron and Magic (The Iron Covenant, #1) by Ilona Andrews
Series: The Iron Covenant #1, Kate Daniels #9.5
Also in this series: Magic Shifts, Magic Shifts, Magic Binds (Kate Daniels, #9), Magic Bites (Kate Daniels, #1), Magic Strikes (Kate Daniels, #3)
Published by Nancy Yost Literary Agency Inc
Publication Date: June 26, 2018
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 392
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four-stars

No day is ordinary in a world where Technology and Magic compete for supremacy…But no matter which force is winning, in the apocalypse, a sword will always work.

Hugh d’Ambray, Preceptor of the Iron Dogs, Warlord of the Builder of Towers, served only one man. Now his immortal, nearly omnipotent master has cast him aside. Hugh is a shadow of the warrior he was, but when he learns that the Iron Dogs, soldiers who would follow him anywhere, are being hunted down and murdered, he must make a choice: to fade away or to be the leader he was born to be. Hugh knows he must carve a new place for himself and his people, but they have no money, no shelter, and no food, and the necromancers are coming. Fast.

Elara Harper is a creature who should not exist. Her enemies call her Abomination; her people call her White Lady. Tasked with their protection, she's trapped between the magical heavyweights about to collide and plunge the state of Kentucky into a war that humans have no power to stop. Desperate to shield her people and their simple way of life, she would accept help from the devil himself—and Hugh d’Ambray might qualify.

Hugh needs a base, Elara needs soldiers. Both are infamous for betraying their allies, so how can they create a believable alliance to meet the challenge of their enemies?

As the prophet says: “It is better to marry than to burn.”

Hugh and Elara may do both.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Hugh. He was a villain in Kate’s world. Yet I could never hate him. Still, not hating a bad guy vs wanting him to get a happy ending? I’m happy to report it really worked. Not that I’m surprised. Andrews always pulls me in.

Hugh has been cast off from Roland after he failed to deliver Kate. He spends a few months wallowing in self-pity and trying to numb the pain of the giant void inside himself where Roland’s magic used to be with alcohol, until his Iron Dogs catch up with him and force him to see what’s been happening to them. They’re being hunted down and exterminated by Landon Nez, Roland’s Legatus of the Golden Legion. They used to be 1200 strong. Now they’re down to 400+.

With no money and no way to earn a living, Hugh accepts a mad bargain – in exchange for their protection, the White Warlock and her people will house and shelter them. Because neither side is really trustworthy, they agree to marry to seal the deal. Marriage to a harpy of a woman isn’t what Hugh ever envisioned for his future, but it isn’t long before he realizes there’s more to Elara than he previously thought. When their bonds of loyalty are tested, they’ll have to decide what’s important.

Hugh really is an anti-hero. He’s a right bastard, sure, but he also has heart and his soul bleeds. Elara is a monster, the same as her husband. She didn’t want the marriage any more than he did. But she can’t deny there’s something very compelling about the Preceptor of the Order of the Iron Dogs. As they come to know each other and learn to rely on one another, I found myself swept up in their story and the fight they find themselves in to protect their territory. I really hope the series continues. I’d love to see more from them.

I think to truly understand Hugh and why he’s so adrift, reading the Kate Daniels series first is a must. However, this an stand on its own if you haven’t read that series.

4.25 out of 5

The Iron Covenant

Kate Daniels

four-stars


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Sunday Spotlight: The Accidentals by Sarina Bowen

Posted July 29, 2018 by Holly in Features, Giveaways | 3 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

Sunday Spotlight

Sunday Spotlight: The Accidentals by Sarina BowenThe Accidentals by Sarina Bowen
Published by Self-Published
Publication Date: July 10, 2018
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 320
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A YA novel from USA Today bestselling author Sarina Bowen.

Never ask a question unless you’re sure you want the truth.

I’ve been listening to my father sing for my whole life. I carry him in my pocket on my mp3 player. It’s just that we’ve never met face to face.

My mother would never tell me how I came to be, or why my rock star father and I have never met. I thought it was her only secret. I was wrong.

When she dies, he finally appears. Suddenly I have a first class ticket into my father’s exclusive world. A world I don’t want any part of – not at this cost. 

Only three things keep me going: my a cappella singing group, a swoony blue-eyed boy named Jake, and the burning questions in my soul.


There’s a secret shame that comes from being an unwanted child. It drags me down, and puts distance between me and the boy I love.

My father is the only one alive who knows my history. I need the truth, even if it scares me.

Order the Book:

AMAZON | AUDIO | PAPERBACK | IBOOKS | KOBO | NOOK

Excerpt

After the last course—chocolate mousse—the three of us go tripping back across the cold lawn in the dark, Aurora in the lead. I’m the tiniest bit tipsy and wearing heels. So naturally I stumble on a frozen clod of snow and nearly fall. But Jake catches my hand to steady me. “Thanks,” I breathe.

Curiously, his warm fingers remain curled around mine until we reached the door of Habernacker.

I try not to feel ridiculously excited about it.

He lets go when we all reach the third floor. When Aurora opens the door, he follows us inside until we all collapse on the S.L.O., with me in the center.

“Oh! I forgot to steal my plate,” I realize.

“Me too.” Aurora sighs.

Jake reaches into his jacket and pulls out a plate.

“Well done, Mr. Jake!” Aurora laughs. “The party in the annex starts in fifteen minutes.” She heaves herself off the squishy couch. “I have time to redo my makeup.”

I watch her walk over to the stereo, where my phone is already ensconced, and turn on our Christmas playlist. Then she grabs her makeup bag off her desk and leaves the room.

When the door clicks shut, neither Jake nor I speak for a moment. The low chords of a Straight No Chaser song play through our little speakers.

Suddenly, it’s awkward. We’ve been circling each other for a while now—since the night he was trying to be nice and I wrecked it.
“You’re probably sick of a cappella by now,” I say, just to find something to talk about.

But Jake turns slowly toward me and says something unexpected. “Rachel, I need to ask you a question.”

My stomach does a little flip flop, and I turn to face those blue eyes I love so much. “What?” I whisper.

“Well…” He clears his throat. There is a very long pause, during which I hold my breath. “Will you come skiing some time?”

I exhale. “I guess so?” Another beat of silence passes. “That was your big question?” I ask, feeling like I’ve missed something.
His color deepens. “Well, no. I just…” His brow furrows, as if he’s trying to explain some point of astronomy. I love his look of concentration. I’ve missed it.

Jake’s blue eyes lock on mine, and I see how our own orbits might finally collide. This time, I will not send the moment winging back into space. Instead, I lean an almost imperceptible degree in his direction.

And that’s all it takes.

Reaching up, Jake cups his hand to the side of my face. I’m still processing the sweet touch of his fingers when he leans in farther, his lips brushing the sensitive corner of my mouth. His eyes are tentative, seeking permission. My heart thuds with expectation.

And then—finally—Jake kisses me for real. We come together the way a well-timed drummer kicks into the chorus of a song—swiftly, and without hesitation.

We broke apart a moment later, eyeing each other while I try not to smile. “Can I do that again?” he asks, his voice rough. “That was my real question.”

“Well, since you asked so nicely…”

Jake makes a low noise of approval, then draws me closer. I reach up for the back of his neck, my fingers grazing that golden patch of skin I’ve always wanted to touch. He kisses me again, his arm finding the velvet waist of my dress and encircling me.

My heart flutters, but not from fear. Warm lips tease mine gently apart. And when his tongue tangles with mine, I lose myself.

He tastes like champagne. Everything is wild and sweet, until the moment Aurora’s voice rings out. “Ay, caramba!”

I feel an unwelcome rush of cool air between us as Jake retreats.

“I did say I was going into the bathroom, right? And not on a trip to Fiji?”

Neither of us says a word; we only look sheepishly at Aurora.

“Just to be clear, now I’m ducking into the bedroom for my coat, which only takes a second.” She steps into the bedroom, and I hear the rustling of fabric. Then she peers dramatically around the door frame. “Good listening! Now I’m going to the party. Will I see you both there? Don’t answer that. We’ll speak later.”

Jake laughs. “Sorry, Aurora.”

“I’ve seen worse.” She departs, the door closing behind her.

And now I’m self-conscious. Rising, I decide to fiddle with the music playlist. “Do you want to go to the party?”

“I’ll go. But I’m not great at parties. It’s all shouting over the music, drinking warm beer out of a plastic cup.”

“Then let’s not.” My fingers shake as I adjust the volume. I go back over to the sofa and sit down.

“So.” He clears his throat. “Where are you going for break?” As he asks, he takes one of my hands in his, massaging my palm with his thumb.

His light touch is so distracting that I almost forget to answer. “Kansas City,” I manage. “To meet my grandfather for the very first time.”

“Um, what?” He squeezes my hand.

So I tell Jake the embarrassing highlights of my weird story—that I hadn’t met Frederick until this past summer.
“Wow. I’m sorry,” he says.

“Don’t be.”

“I guess I’m not that offended now that you wouldn’t introduce me. If the normal waiting period is seventeen years.”

My laugh begins with an unladylike snort. Ah, well. “With me it’s just all soap opera, all the time. Believe it or not, a year ago I was really a boring person.”

“I don’t see how.” He regards me with darting eyes. “You look beautiful tonight.”

“It’s Aurora’s dress,” I whisper.

But Jake doesn’t seem to care. He slips his arms around my waist. Scooting closer, he slides his lips from my forehead, down my nose and onto my mouth. And we begin again.

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

Sunday Spotlight: July 2018

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About the Author

Sarina Bowen

WEBSITE | GOODREADS | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | PINTEREST | INSTAGRAM

Sarina Bowen is the RITA® Award winning author of over two dozen contemporary and LGTB romance novels. She most recently hit the USA Today bestseller’s list in February, with Brooklynaire. Formerly a derivatives trader on Wall Street, Sarina holds a BA in economics from Yale University.

Sarina Bowen is a New Englander whose Vermont ancestors cut timber and farmed the north country since the 1760s. Sarina is grateful for the invention of indoor plumbing and wi-fi during the intervening 250 years. On a few wooded acres, she lives with her husband, two boys, and an ungodly amount of ski and hockey gear.

Sarina’s books are published in a dozen languages on four continents. In 2016, The Romance Writers of America honored HIM by Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy with a RITA award for Best Contemporary Romance, Mid-Length.


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