Author: Casee

Books to Binge On: May 2021

Posted May 6, 2021 by Casee in Features | 2 Comments

Books to Binge On

Our Books to Binge On feature is pretty simple in its purpose. Every month, we put together a monthly new releases list of books that we’re all looking forward to. These are the books that we can’t wait to read and want everyone to add to their monthly binge-reading lists. Here are the books that we plan to binge on in May 2021.


The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren

Single mom Jess Davis is a data and statistics wizard, but no amount of number crunching can convince her to step back into the dating world. Raised by her grandparents–who now help raise her seven-year-old daughter, Juno–Jess has been left behind too often to feel comfortable letting anyone in. After all, her father’s never been around, her hard-partying mother disappeared when she was six, and her ex decided he wasn’t “father material” before Juno was even born. Jess holds her loved ones close, but working constantly to stay afloat is hard…and lonely.

But then Jess hears about GeneticAlly, a buzzy new DNA-based matchmaking company that’s predicted to change dating forever. Finding a soulmate through DNA? The reliability of numbers: This Jess understands. At least she thought she did, until her test shows an unheard-of 98% compatibility with another subject in the database: GeneticAlly’s founder, Dr. River Pena. This is one number she can’t wrap her head around, because she already knows Dr. Pena. The stuck-up, stubborn man is without a doubt not her soulmate. But GeneticAlly has a proposition: Get to know him and we’ll pay you. Jess–who is barely making ends meet–is in no position to turn it down, despite her skepticism about the project and her dislike for River. As the pair are dragged from one event to the next as the “Diamond” pairing that could make GeneticAlly a mint in stock prices, Jess begins to realize that there might be more to the scientist–and the science behind a soulmate–than she thought.

Casee: I’m not a huge fan of rom-coms, but I do love Christina Lauren. Her books are funny without being flighty.

Holly: I’ve only read a couple books by Lauren, but I really enjoyed them. I’m looking forward to this new release.

Rowena: I’ve been a fan of Christina Lauren for a few years now and I’m always excited to see new stuff from them so I’m definitely looking forward to this release.


Fallen Jester (Tin Gypsy #5) by Devney Perry

Leo Winter loves his life. He works when he needs money. He rides when he craves freedom. He frequents the local bar when he wants a good time. The Tin Gypsies might be a memory, but the bachelor life he lived with his motorcycle club still suits him fine. So when a one-night stand surprises him at a family barbecue and claims she’s pregnant with his child, he’s certain he’s died and gone to hell.

Cassandra Cline took one night off from her structured life. One. And now her wild fling with the local bad boy has turned her life sideways. Her dreams and academic career are circling the drain, and none of it would have happened if she’d stayed far, far away from Leo.

Except avoiding him is impossible, especially when she’s forced to move home to Clifton Forge, Montana. And he refuses to leave her side when a series of strange accidents put her and their baby at risk. But are they accidents? Or is she standing in the middle of a battlefield she doesn’t understand?

Her only allies are people she barely knows. And a man who has the potential to steal her heart.

If only he’d stop playing the fool.

Casee: I’m recently discovered Devney Perry. I just adore her stories.


Dream Spinner (Dream Team #3) by Kristen Ashley

Hattie Yates has finally met the man of her dreams. Yet years of abuse from her demanding father have left her petrified of disappointment. She’s already failed to reach her goal of becoming a professional ballerina—she can’t handle the terrible consequences of another dream becoming a nightmare. But when a stalker sets their sights on Hattie, there’s only one man she dares to hope can help . . .

Axl Pantera knows Hattie is the only woman for him. Yet despite the attraction burning between them, Hattie refuses to let him in. The former soldier is determined to woo her into letting down her walls. And when danger comes calling, he’s up against more than her wary and bruised heart. Axl will do anything to prove to Hattie that they’re meant to be, but first, he’ll need to keep her safe.

 
 
Casee: I will read anything this author writes, which I’m sure you have all guessed by now.


Shadow Storm (Shadow Riders #5) by Christine Feehan

A long-simmering feud between two families comes to a head in this gripping novel in Christine Feehan’s New York Times bestselling Shadow Riders series.

As the youngest member of the Ferraro family, Emmanuelle has watched each of her brothers find happiness in love while her own heart was shattered by a lover’s betrayal. For two years she’s stayed as far away from Valentino Saldi as possible—until she learns that he’s been shot during a hostile takeover of his family’s territory.

Emme’s first instinct is to call her brother Stefano for help, and soon the entire Ferraro clan arrives to bring Val back from the brink of death and protect the Saldis from further attack. With one choice Emme has re-exposed herself to Val’s intoxicating pull and dragged her family into the Saldis’ private war.

A deadly storm is brewing, and only time will tell who survives…

Casee: This is my favorite book in this series. After everything Emme went through in the previous books, I was so happy that she got her HEA.


Just Last Night by Mhairi McFarlane

Eve, Justin, Susie, and Ed have been friends since they were teenagers. Now in their thirties, the four are as close as ever, Thursday night bar trivia is sacred, and Eve is still secretly in love with Ed. Maybe she should have moved on by now, but she can’t stop thinking about what could have been. And she knows Ed still thinks about it, too.

But then, in an instant, their lives are changed forever.

In the aftermath, Eve’s world is upended. As stunning secrets are revealed, she begins to wonder if she really knew her friends as well as she thought. And when someone from the past comes back into her life, Eve’s future veers in a surprising new direction…

They say every love story starts with a single moment. What if it was just last night?

Holly: This is another author I’ve only read a couple times, but really enjoy. I’m definitely excited to read this.

Rowena: Mhairi McFarlane did it again. She wrote another engaging story that I was invested in from beginning to end. Definitely add this book to your TBR lists. It’s a good one.


The Promised Queen (Forgotten Empires #3) by Jeffe Kennedy

In The Promised Queen, the thrilling finale to Jeffe Kennedy’s Forgotten Empires trilogy, the fate of the world hangs in the balance as Con, Lia, and their allies sacrifice everything in a final bid to destroy the corrupt empire.

Claim the hand that wears the ring, and the empire falls.

Conrí, former Crown Prince of Oriel, claimed the hand that wears the Abiding Ring, but the prophecy remains unfulfilled. Queen Euthalia of Calanthe returned to her island kingdom, but broken in mind and body. With the blood of war unleashing ancient terrors, Calanthe isn’t the haven it once was.

Lia must use her magical bond with Calanthe to save their people while Con fights to hold off the vengeful Emperor Anure and his wizards. Con and Lia will have to trust in each other—and in love—to fend off ultimate disaster.

Holly: Finally! I feel like I’ve been waiting forever for this book. I really enjoyed the first book, but I waited to read the second so I could finish the trilogy out at once. I can’t wait to see how things turn out.


Wild Sign (Alpha & Omega #6) by Patricia Briggs

Mated werewolves Charles Cornick and Anna Latham must discover what could make an entire community disappear—before it’s too late—in this thrilling entry in the #1 New York Times bestselling Alpha and Omega series.

In the wilds of the Northern California mountains, all the inhabitants of a small town have gone missing. It’s as if the people picked up and left everything they owned behind. Fearing something supernatural might be going on, the FBI taps a source they’ve consulted in the past: the werewolves Charles Cornick and Anna Latham. But Charles and Anna soon find a deserted town is the least of the mysteries they face.

Death sings in the forest, and when it calls, Charles and Anna must answer. Something has awakened in the heart of the California mountains, something old and dangerous—and it has met werewolves before.

Holly: I adore Briggs. Charles and Anna are one of my favorite romance couples and I always look forward to new stories featuring them.

Rowena: I’m really loving anything Charles and Anna so this is definitely one that I was looking forward to reading.


Shield-Maiden: Under the Dark Moon (The Road to Valhalla #5) by Melanie Karsak

For Odin’s chosen, all roads lead to Valhalla.
With Gudmund dead, Hervor and Hofund are crowned queen and king of Grund. The pair soon discover that ruling a Viking land is not without difficulty. Enemies from without and within threaten the new rulers. While her dreams are the same, Hervor’s future becomes unclear. The gods have grown silent. Only Skadi whispers to Hervor now, and all her words are warnings. A dark moon is rising. Hervor must learn to rely on her inner strength to protect her family and face the tumultuous path the Norns have woven for her.

Dive into the thrilling final chapter of the Road to Valhalla series! Fans of Vikings and The Last Kingdom will love the Shield-Maiden: Under the Dark Moon by New York Times bestseller Melanie Karsak.

Holly: I discovered this series last month and binge-read the first three books. I took a break before continuing, but I’m looking forward to seeing where things go for Hervor and Hofund. I highly recommend this series for fans of Vikings.


The One We’re Meant to Find by Joan He

One of the most twisty, surprising, engaging page-turner YAs you’ll read this year—We Were Liars meets Black Mirror, with a dash of Studio Ghibli.

Cee has been trapped on an abandoned island for three years without any recollection of how she arrived, or memories from her life prior. All she knows is that somewhere out there, beyond the horizon, she has a sister named Kay. Determined to find her, Cee devotes her days to building a boat from junk parts scavenged inland, doing everything in her power to survive until the day she gets off the island and reunites with her sister.

In a world apart, 16-year-old STEM prodigy Kasey Mizuhara is also living a life of isolation. The eco-city she calls home is one of eight levitating around the world, built for people who protected the planet―and now need protecting from it. With natural disasters on the rise due to climate change, eco-cities provide clean air, water, and shelter. Their residents, in exchange, must spend at least a third of their time in stasis pods, conducting business virtually whenever possible to reduce their environmental footprint. While Kasey, an introvert and loner, doesn’t mind the lifestyle, her sister Celia hated it. Popular and lovable, Celia much preferred the outside world. But no one could have predicted that Celia would take a boat out to sea, never to return.

Now it’s been three months since Celia’s disappearance, and Kasey has given up hope. Logic says that her sister must be dead. But as the public decries her stance, she starts to second guess herself and decides to retrace Celia’s last steps. Where they’ll lead her, she does not know. Her sister was full of secrets. But Kasey has a secret of her own.

Rowena: I came across this book while browsing Goodreads and it looked like something I was in the mood for so on my list it went.


Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean

Izumi Tanaka has never really felt like she fit in—it isn’t easy being Japanese American in her small, mostly white, northern California town. Raised by a single mother, it’s always been Izumi—or Izzy, because “It’s easier this way”—and her mom against the world. But then Izzy discovers a clue to her previously unknown father’s identity… and he’s none other than the Crown Prince of Japan. Which means outspoken, irreverent Izzy is literally a princess.

In a whirlwind, Izzy travels to Japan to meet the father she never knew and discover the country she always dreamed of. But being a princess isn’t all ball gowns and tiaras. There are conniving cousins, a hungry press, a scowling but handsome bodyguard who just might be her soulmate, and thousands of years of tradition and customs to learn practically overnight.

Izzy soon finds herself caught between worlds, and between versions of herself—back home, she was never “American” enough, and in Japan, she must prove she’s “Japanese” enough. Will Izumi crumble under the weight of the crown, or will she live out her fairytale, happily ever after?

Rowena: I’m really into these kinds of stories where characters are of mixed heritage and they’re not enough of this or not enough of that and seeing them fumble their way into their own is something that I connect with as I’ve gone through those same things in my life so I understand and love seeing other people find their way. This is one of those kinds of stories and I’m looking forward to reading this one for myself.


Rosaline Palmer Takes a Cake by Alexis Hall

Following the recipe is the key to a successful bake. Rosaline Palmer has always lived by those rules—well, except for when she dropped out of college to raise her daughter, Amelie. Now, with a paycheck as useful as greaseproof paper and a house crumbling faster than biscuits in tea, she’s teetering on the edge of financial disaster. But where there’s a whisk there’s a way . . . and Rosaline has just landed a spot on the nation’s most beloved baking show.

Winning the prize money would give her daughter the life she deserves—and Rosaline is determined to stick to the instructions. However, more than collapsing trifles stand between Rosaline and sweet, sweet victory. Suave, well-educated, and parent-approved Alain Pope knows all the right moves to sweep her off her feet, but it’s shy electrician Harry Dobson who makes Rosaline question her long-held beliefs—about herself, her family, and her desires.

Rosaline fears falling for Harry is a guaranteed recipe for disaster. Yet as the competition—and the ovens—heat up, Rosaline starts to realize the most delicious bakes come from the heart.

Rowena: I’m all about baker featured romances and this one looks like a good one so count me in! I’m mighty curious about this determined single Mom baker and I’m already rooting for her to win so yeah, this one is on my list.


Heart and Seoul by Jen Frederick

From USA Today bestselling author Jen Frederick comes a heart-wrenching yet hopeful romance that shows that the price of belonging is often steeper than expected.

As a Korean adoptee, Hara Wilson doesn’t need anyone telling her she looks different from her white parents. She knows. Every time Hara looks in the mirror, she’s reminded that she doesn’t look like anyone else in her family—not her loving mother, Ellen; not her jerk of a father, Pat; and certainly not like Pat’s new wife and new “real” son.

At the age of twenty-five, she thought she had come to terms with it all, but when her father suddenly dies, an offhand comment at his funeral triggers an identity crisis that has her running off to Seoul in search of her roots.

What Hara finds there has all the makings of a classic K-drama: a tall, mysterious stranger who greets her at the airport, spontaneous adventures across the city, and a mess of familial ties, along with a red string of destiny that winds its way around her heart and soul. Hara goes to Korea looking for answers, but what she gets instead is love—a forbidden love that will either welcome Hara home…or destroy her chance of finding one.

Rowena: I enjoy Jen Frederick’s books and when I first learned about this book, I read the blurb and immediately needed to read it. Add this one to your wish lists, guys!


From Little Tokyo with Love by Sarah Kuhn

Celebrated author Sarah Kuhn reinvents the modern fairy tale in this intensely personal yet hilarious novel of a girl whose search for a storybook ending takes her to unexpected places in both her beloved LA neighborhood and her own guarded heart.

If Rika’s life seems like the beginning of a familiar fairy tale–being an orphan with two bossy cousins and working away in her aunts’ business–she would be the first to reject that foolish notion. After all, she loves her family (even if her cousins were named after Disney characters), and with her biracial background, amazing judo skills and red-hot temper, she doesn’t quite fit the princess mold.

All that changes the instant she locks eyes with Grace Kimura, America’s reigning rom-com sweetheart, during the Nikkei Week Festival. From there, Rika embarks on a madcap adventure of hope and happiness–searching for clues about her long-lost mother, exploring Little Tokyo’s hidden treasures with a cute actor, and maybe…finally finding a sense of belonging.

But fairy tales are fiction and the real world isn’t so kind. Rika knows she’s setting herself up for disappointment because happy endings don’t happen to girls like her. Should she walk away before she gets in even deeper, or let herself be swept away?

Rowena: Yeah, that sounds like something I can really dig into and enjoy so it’s on my list for sure. I’d love to read about the Nikkei Week Festival since I’m familiar with the festival and have enjoyed myself at them as well.


Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry by Joya Goffney

Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry by debut author Joya Goffney is the story of an overly enthusiastic list maker who is blackmailed into completing a to-do list of all her worst fears. It’s a heartfelt, tortured, contemporary YA high school romance with epistolary elements. Fans of Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and Kristina Forest’s debut I Wanna Be Where You Are will love the juicy secrets, leap-off-the-page sexual tension and the enemy-to-lover romantic arc.

Quinn keeps lists of everything—from the days she’s ugly cried, to “Things That I Would Never Admit Out Loud,” to all the boys she’d like to kiss. Her lists keep her sane. By writing her fears on paper, she never has to face them in real life. That is, until her journal goes missing…

An anonymous account posts one of her lists on Instagram for the whole school to see and blackmails her into facing seven of her greatest fears, or else her entire journal will go public. Quinn doesn’t know who to trust. Desperate, she teams up with Carter Bennett—the last known person to have her journal—in a race against time to track down the blackmailer.

Together, they journey through everything Quinn’s been too afraid to face, and along the way, Quinn finds the courage to be honest, to live in the moment, and to fall in love.

Rowena: As a fan of Jenny Han’s To all the Boys series and this kind of sounds like a similar premise and it sounds cute but embarrassing and like something I’m in the mood for so I’m adding this one to my list for sure.

What books are you looking forward to reading this month? Share in the comments!


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Monthly Reads: April 2021

Posted May 4, 2021 by Casee in Features, Giveaways | 6 Comments

It’s a new month so we’re back with a list of our Monthly Reads to share with each of you. This is where you’ll see what each of us has read and what our favorite books and our least favorite books of the month are. Check it out.

Casee

Spring has sprung, but my reading hasn’t. I read four books in April. I think I was just too busy to sit down and read.

Atone (The Disciples #2) by Cassandra Robbins | 3 out of 5
Repent (The Disciples #3) by Cassandra Robbins | 3.5 out of 5
Ignite (The Disciples #4) by Cassandra Robbins | 4 out of 5
Rebel’s Karma by Rebecca Zanetti | 3.75 out of 5

My favorite book of the month was Rebel’s Karma by Rebecca Zanetti. I really enjoyed Benny & Karma.

Holly

April was a fairly good reading month for me. I discovered some new authors and new series. I managed to finish 19 books.

Honor’s Splendour by Julie Garwood (reread) | 4.5 out of 5
The Bride (Lairds’ Fiancees) by Julie Garwood (reread) | 3.75 out of 5
The Wedding (Lairds’ Fiancees) by Julie Garwood (reread) | 4.5 out of 5
How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf (Naked Werewolf #1) by Molly Harper (audio) (reread) | 3.75 out of 5
The Princess and the Pea (Timeless Fairy Tales #0.5) by K.M. Shea | 3.5 out of 5
Beauty and the Beast (Timeless Fairy Tales #1) by K.M. Shea | 3.75 out of 5
Wildfire (Hidden Legacy #3) by Ilona Andrews (audio) (reread) | 4.5 out of 5
Not Quite a Husband (The Marsdens #2) by Sherry Thomas | 3.5 out of 5
Apprentice of Magic (The Fairy Tale Enchantress) by K.M. Shea | DNF
Repeat by Kylie Scott (reread) | 5 out of 5
Pause by Kylie Scott (audio) | 3.5 out of 5
Reign of Dragons (Dragon Dojo Brotherhood #1) by Olivia Ash (audio) | 3.75 out of 5
Fate of Dragons (Dragon Dojo Brotherhood #2) by Olivia Ash | 3 out of 5
Shield-Maiden: Under the Howling Moon (The Road to Valhalla #1) by Melanie Karsak (audio) | 4 out of 5
Shield-Maiden: Under the Hunter’s Moon (The Road to Valhalla #2) by Melanie Karsak | 3.5 out of 5
Shield-Maiden: Under the Thunder Moon (The Road to Valhalla #3) by Melanie Karsak (audio) | 3.75 out of 5
Snow Day by Julie Lipson (audio) | 3.5 out of 5
Wicked Wish (Dragon’s Gift: The Storm #1) by Veronica Douglas and Lindsey Hall | 3.75 out of 5
The Half-Life of Marie Curie by Lauren Gunderson (audio) | 5 out of 5
Hot as Hades by Alisha Rai | 4.5 out of 5

My favorite read of the month was Hot as Hades by Alisha Rai. It was just the story I was looking for at the time. My favorite listen was The Half-Life of Marie Curie by Lauren Gunderson. Though short, it really packed a punch. My least favorite was Apprentice of Magic by K.M. Shea. It was boring and irritating at the same time. The whole first half was just the heroine pretending to be super nice (while inwardly being snarky) and hating herself and her magic. I ended up DNF’ing it because it was so bad.

Rowena

April was a pretty busy month for me personally so though I didn’t read a lot, I did read 3 books and I enjoyed all of the books so I’m counting that as a win. Here’s what I read last month.

Wild Sign (Alpha & Omega #7) by Patricia Briggs | 4.25 out of 5
Not Quite a Husband (Marsden #2) by Sherry Thomas | 3.75 out of 5
Just Last Night by Mhairi McFarlane | 4 out of 5

My favorite read of the month goes to Wild Sign by Patricia Briggs. It’s another book that opens up a lot of different directions for the series to go in and I’m super excited to see where Briggs takes us after that ending. There were some issues that I had with Not Quite a Husband by Sherry Thomas but I did enjoy the story overall but because of that, it’s probably my least favorite read of the month.

Giveaway Alert

Three lucky winners will choose their prize (one book) from any of the books we logged this month. If you want to be entered to win, leave a comment on this post telling us what your favorite – and least favorite – reads of the month were.

Monthly Reads: April 2021

So…what was your favorite read of the month? And your least favorite? Use the Gleam Widget to enter! Good luck!


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Review: Come to Me Softly by A.L. Jackson

Posted April 28, 2021 by Casee in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Come to Me Softly by A.L. JacksonReviewer: Casee
Come to Me SoftlySeries: Closer to You #2
Also in this series: Come to Me Quietly
Publisher: NAL
Publication Date: July 1, 2014
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating First Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2021 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

From the New York Times bestselling author of Come to Me Quietly comes a scorching new adult romance in the Closer to You series.

A second chance at life…A second chance at love…

Jared Holt never thought he deserved either—until he found both in the arms of Aly Moore. Aly has loved Jared for as long as she can remember, and she’s more than ready for the future they’re making together. But Jared can’t help remembering his own family. And he’ll never forgive himself for what happened to them. How can he allow himself the very happiness he once destroyed?

To live a life worthy of Aly, Jared knows he has to stop running and finally put his past to rest. But when he decides to face his demons head on, he encounters more than he bargained for: a dangerous mix of jealousy, lies, and dishonest intentions. When those intentions threaten Aly, Jared loses all control, giving into the rage that earned him his bad boy reputation years before. And he’ll fight to protect her no matter what it costs…even if he destroys himself in the process.

This is the second book in the Closer to You series. Toward the end of Come to Me Quietly, Jared leaves Aly. And the very end of the book, he knows that he can’t live without Aly. He knows he’s not good enough nor does he think he deserves happiness after the accident that destroyed his life when he was sixteen. Jared has been doing his penance for killing his mother. Having someone good like Aly in his life has changed him. He still doesn’t think he deserves happiness, but now he knows that he can’t live without her.

Aly is devastated when Jared leaves her. View Spoiler » Now he’s back and he has an almost fanatical need to make her happy and to be sure that she never regrets taking a chance on him. Jared feels like he’s dishonoring his mother’s memory by being happy. It was so heart wrenching to read about Jared’s internal struggle. Jared just about broke my heart in this book.

Aly is sure that Jared needs professional help though he is having none of that. Jared is sure that all he needs in his life is Aly. He has his demons and being with her silences them. He wants nothing to do with therapy. Until he realizes that he could love the only family he has left. Aly and Christopher are all he has. Aly begs him to get help but he refuses. So she does the impossible. She asks him to leave. Holy hell, that was devastating. I could see these characters so clearly and they were on an emotional level that I don’t find very often. These two were born for each other. After Jared once again leaves Aly, he knows he has to decide which direction to go in his life; in both their lives.

I really struggled with reading this book. Not because this wasn’t a good book. Just like the first book, this one was amazing. It was just so emotional. There were times when I would have to put the book down after ten minutes or so because my heart felt like it couldn’t handle anything more. Jared and Aly’s story is a beautiful but tragic tale. The love each other deeply, but this book drives home the fact that sometimes love isn’t enough.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5

Closer to You

four-stars


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Review: Come to Me Quietly by A.L. Jackson

Posted April 19, 2021 by Casee in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Come to Me Quietly by A.L. JacksonReviewer: Casee
Come to Me Quietly by A. L. Jackson
Series: Closer to You #1
Also in this series: Come to Me Softly
Publisher: NAL
Publication Date: January 7, 2014
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2021 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Aleena Moore is content with her life. She has goals and dreams and an easy smile. She also has a secret she holds locked inside.

Jared Holt believes he doesn’t deserve to love or be loved. He destroys everything he touches. Haunted by the mistake that shattered his life, he’s fled from the memory of that pain.

Jared doesn’t know why he’s compelled to return, but finds himself drawn back to the place where it all began. The exact place where it ended. When he runs into his childhood best friend, Aleena’s older brother Christopher, he agrees to share Christopher and Aleena’s apartment while he looks for a place of his own.

Aleena is no longer the little girl Jared remembers from his past and evokes feelings in him he never wanted to feel again. Terrified of destroying her, he fights to keep her away. But her touch is something he can’t resist—the touch that sealed his fate.

Their pasts are intertwined and their futures uncertain. The only truths they know are the secrets they whisper in the night.

Jared Holt believes that he doesn’t deserve anything good in his life. Jared goes through the motions, but he’s been dead inside since the day he lost his mother. When he runs into Christopher Moore, his best friend while growing up, he can’t turn down his offer to stay with him and his sister. Jared doesn’t know why he’s come back to the place that haunts him. Then he sees her. Aleena Moore. Aly. The little girl that followed him around and he protected when she was younger is all grown up. Jared knows that it’s wrong to feel any attraction toward his best friend’s sister, but he can’t stop. Especially when they start meeting up in her room in the middle of the night just to talk.

Aly has always loved Jared. He left town when she was just fourteen, but she had loved him longer than that. Aly has loved Jared her entire life. She never expected to see him again, so when he turns up at the apartment she shares with her brother, she looks at it like it’s a gift. Until she starts getting to know him again, Aly doesn’t realize how scarred and tortured Jared is from the inside out. He blames himself for his mother’s death and has told himself that he doesn’t get to be happy. On the contrary, he needs to honor his mom the only way he knows how. By punishing himself. Night after night as they lay in her bed talking, Aly tries to get Jared to open up about that day so long ago.

As Jared and Aly become closer day-by-day, Jared realizes that he can never have what he wants. He can never have Aly. All he’s earned is a lifetime of misery. Aly makes him want to believe, but he knows he has to do his penance. Jared doesn’t get Aly and it kills him that he never will. When he leaves her, he expects to feel righteous for doing the right thing. What he comes to find out about himself is that he can’t give Aly up even if it means dishonoring his mom’s memory.

Oh my heart. It hurt while I was reading this book. Jared is one of the most tortured heroes I have read. He blames himself for something that happened when he was sixteen and has never recovered. He’s been in jail, lost his father, mother, and sister and if he doesn’t get his shit together, he will lose Aly. This book was so angsty. If you don’t like angst, I highly suggest passing this book up. I could only read for ten minutes at a time because this book was so incredibly emotional. A.L. Jackson has surpassed all my expectations, only getting better with each book I read.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5.

Closer to You

four-half-stars


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