Format: Audiobook

Review: Trade Me by Courtney Milan

Posted November 11, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Trade Me by Courtney MilanReviewer: Holly
Trade Me by Courtney Milan
Narrator: Xe Sands
Series: Cyclone #1
Also in this series: Trade Me, Hold Me
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: January 19, 2015
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Escape
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: New Adult
Pages: 279
Length: 7 hours and 45 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars
Series Rating: three-half-stars

Tina Chen just wants a degree and a job, so her parents never have to worry about making rent again. She has no time for Blake Reynolds, the sexy billionaire who stands to inherit Cyclone Technology. But when he makes an off-hand comment about what it means to be poor, she loses her cool and tells him he couldn’t last a month living her life.

To her shock, Blake offers her a trade: She’ll get his income, his house, his car. In exchange, he’ll work her hours and send money home to her family. No expectations; no future obligations.

But before long, they’re trading not just lives, but secrets, kisses, and heated nights together. No expectations might break Tina’s heart...but Blake’s secrets could ruin her life.

Trade Me is the first book in Courtney Milan’s Cyclone series. I enjoy her historicals, but mixed reviews put me off reading this series when it was released (not to mention my own misgivings about authors who switch from historical to contemporary coughJulieGarwoodcough). When I saw it in the Audible Escape package, I decided to give it a try. Xe Sands narrated, and though I struggled with it in the beginning, I came to really enjoy the way she read the story.

Tina Chen is a struggling college student who is barely getting by. Between her own needs and trying to help her family out, she’s living under the constant strain of not having enough money. When golden boy Blake Reynolds, the son of a billionaire, makes an offhand comment about the “poor” in one of her classes, Tina snaps back at him. To her surprise, Blake offers her a trade – she can move into his house and live with his money, and he’ll take on her responsibilities. The catch? She’ll have to act as his girlfriend so his father doesn’t find out about their trade. Tina is torn, but the money is hard to turn down.

Blake is dealing with his own struggles, and having money isn’t making them any easier. He hopes this time away from his life will give him the chance to get things back under control. But he’s finding that Tina is better for him than he ever imagined. As they spend time together, they realize some of their secrets are easy to get past..while others may break them.

I really liked both Tina and Blake. The blurb made them sound more hostile than they were. It wasn’t so much “You could NEVER live my life”/”YES I CAN”, but more “you don’t understand”/”let me try”, which I actually appreciated more. I liked that both Blake and Tina had their own struggles. One might say the adage “money can’t buy happiness” applies here, but so does “..but it sure would help.”.

I enjoyed the romance and how these two came to care for each other as they got to know one another as their secrets were slowly revealed. This is where the novel truly shines for me. Tina and Blake were such an unlikely pair, yet their formed a true, strong connection that came across very vividly. They truly became friends, which made their jump into romance easy to believe.

I really liked Adam and Blake’s relationship, and the love/embarrassment struggle Tina had with her parents. Family ties can be both a blessing and a curse, and I think Milan really showcased that here. The love, pressure, guilt and happiness came through so well, I really connected with both Tina and Blake in this area.

Overall this was a great story with flawed, multi-faceted characters. Though I struggled with the ending, I can’t deny this was a smart novel and I really enjoyed the depth of the characters.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

Cyclone

three-half-stars


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Review: Death Knell by Hailey Edwards

Posted November 8, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Death Knell by Hailey EdwardsReviewer: Holly
Death Knell by Hailey Edwards
Narrator: Laurence Bouvard
Series: Foundling #3
Also in this series: Bayou Born
Publisher: Piatkus
Publication Date: December 4, 2018
Format: Audiobook, eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 320
Length: 10 hours and 41 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

War burned her. Famine nearly killed her. Now Death is at her heels.

After her two worlds clashed apocalyptically, Luce Boudreau needed some time out. But Destiny had other ideas. When bodies begin washing ashore down the Mississippi River, Luce discovers they are part of a gruesome, lethal message. Her final sister, Death, is trying to break through.

Every sign is clear: the end is coming, but earth will be destroyed - quite literally - over Luce's dead body, even if that means she'll be battling her own nature. And her coterie will stand with her, though Cole keeps standing one step too goddamn far away. Her mysterious new partner, Adam Wu, on the other hand, seems determined to keep her close at all times. And the more Luce learns about the new world she's part of, the deeper the secrets go. Who - if anyone - can she really trust?

As the final pieces of an ancient war come together, Luce's chance to fight back comes sooner than she expected. Death can come at her . . . she's eager to return the favour.

Death Knell is the third book in the Foundling series by Hailey EdwardsIt’s difficult to review this series without spoilers, but I hate to include them because much of what happens is a surprise. I’m going to try to avoid them completely, which means a shorter review. I expected a sort of light paranormal, filled with voodoo and witchcraft, but this series is filled with so much more than that. For the first time in a very long time, I haven’t been able to figure out where things are heading.

Luce Boudreau has come a long way in a very short time. From a small child found wandering the bayou to a woman with strong family ties and a deep sense of right and wrong, to someone she barely recognizes. She’s determined to overcome the revelations of her past and rise above her previous actions, but holding onto herself is difficult as she gains more power and more of her memories. Cole, the chief of White Horse Security, and his team have become strong allies and anchor her to the here and now, but every step she takes seems to lead to a cold, dark place within her.

The world is very interesting and I love how things are progressing with Luce as her past is slowly revealed and she learns more about herself, her coterie and her family. I am struggling quite a bit with how slowly information is parsed out. Luce isn’t in a big hurry to learn everything there is to know about herself and her past, but I am. I decided to take a break after this book and wait until book 5 is available before continuing, because the slow drip of info is driving me mad.

Still, it’s a lovely series and I like how things are shaping up. There are unexpected twists and turns, a whole cast of intriguing characters and enough emotion and depth to keep me glued to the pages, despite some annoyances. If you’re looking for something fresh, this is the series for you.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Foundling

four-stars


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Review: Bone Driven by Hailey Edwards

Posted November 7, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Bone Driven by Hailey EdwardsReviewer: Holly
Bone Driven by Hailey Edwards
Narrator: Laurence Bouvard
Series: Foundling #2
Also in this series: Bayou Born , Death Knell
Publisher: Piatkus
Publication Date: May 31, 2018
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 352
Length: 11 hours and 15 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

The bayou is burning, the battle is just beginning - and Luce Boudreau is smack in the middle of no-man's land . . .

Life as a cop in Canton Town, Mississippi, is never dull - particularly when hiding deep within you is a demon bent on the apocalypse. Luce is doing her best to pretend her two worlds aren't crashing into each other, but what should be a routine arson investigation takes a shocking turn when Luce discovers a link between the suspects and her own dark secrets. There's no turning back, even though her search for the truth threatens to burn her old life down around her.

Lines are being drawn in a war Luce barely understands, and she just might be on the wrong side of them. Now she must embrace her powerful destiny, or the ones she loves most will pay the ultimate price.

Bone Driven is the second book in the Foundling series by Hailey Edwards. I started it as soon as I finished the first because I wasn’t ready to let the story go, and because there were a lot of unanswered questions left at the end of Bayou Born. It picks up just where Bayou Born left off. I believe these need to be read in order.

Luce was found in the bayou as a child with strange markings on her arms and no memory of her past. She’s just discovered who she is and where she comes from, and who the men of White Horse Security are to her. Trying to deal with all the changes in her life and adjust to the reality of her past is very difficult, but she’s determined to hold on to her current self, and not let her inner demon take over.

I really enjoy Edwards’ writing style, and I like the way the story is shaping up. Luce is an interesting character and I really like her interactions with those she cares about. I can’t imagine dealing with the guilt and trauma her past brings, and I think in this regard Luce handles things extremely well. Luce’s relationship with Cole, the head of White Horse Security, and the other members of his team, is really intriguing. I love how things are shaping up and how we’re learning more about her – and them – as things progress. I can’t say a lot without including a lot of spoilers, but suffice it to say, I was anxious to see where things would go.

I did get frustrated with Luce as the story wore on, however, because she ignored so many things. She had a head in the sand mentality that really grated on me after awhile. Plus, these books are lengthy and move pretty slow in between all the action.

This moved slower than the first book, but I’m told it picks up steam in books 3 and 4, so I’m going to immediately start the next book, Death Knell. While parts of it frustrated me, I can’t deny I’m hooked on what’s going to happen next.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

Foundling

three-half-stars


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Review: Bayou Born by Hailey Edwards

Posted November 1, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Bayou Born by Hailey EdwardsReviewer: Holly
Bayou Born by Hailey Edwards
Narrator: Laurence Bouvard
Series: Foundling #1
Also in this series: Death Knell
Publisher: Piatkus
Publication Date: October 17, 2017
Format: eBook, Audiobook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 329
Length: 11 hours and 15 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 New to Me Challenge, New to Me Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Her beginning may be our end...

Deep in the humid swamps of the Mississippi bayou, a mysterious, half-wild child is dragged just in time from the murky waters. She has no memories, no family and is covered in strange markings, the meaning of which no one is able to decipher. Adopted by the policeman who rescued her, Luce Boudrou follows him into the force, determined to prove herself in the eyes of those who are still suspicious.

However, there's more of a battle ahead than Luce could possibly imagine. She may be an orphan without a past, but no one - including Luce herself - could ever be prepared for the truth of her dark, powerful destiny...

Brand new urban fantasy series by Hailey Edwards, bestselling author of the Gemini and Black Dog series. Perfect for fans of Jennifer Estep, Darynda Jones and Ilona Andrews.

Bayou Born is the first book in the Foundling series by Hailey Edwards. I learned about it on Twitter and decided to give it a try after being told “It has demons and dragons..oh my”. I alternated between listening to and reading this book. The narrator wasn’t bad, but some of the voices she used for the characters weren’t good. It started off slow and didn’t really pick up until around the 1/4-1/2 mark. After that I was glued to the pages.

Luce Boudrou was found in the swamp 15 years ago. Feral, with strange markings on her arms, Luce was – and remains – an oddity. She was adopted by the cop who found her, and she has since followed in his footsteps. When she and her partner are called out on a missing persons case and they find another woman who has the same markings as Luce, she hopes this means she’ll finally get answers about who she is and where she came from.

When White Horse security turns up and claims to have a contract to protect the Jane Doe, Luce ends up working pretty closely with the whole team, but most especially their growly leader, Cole. As the case heats up and her own best friend goes missing, Luce wonders if getting the answers she so desperately craves is going to satisfy her…or blow her world wide open.

This started out slow for me. There’s a lot going on to start and the world felt a little bogged down. Once I settled into the story, however, it didn’t take long before I was totally engrossed. The mystery of Luce’s background and her strange markings, along with the suspense of who the Jane Doe was, plus the other disappearances in town, really kept me on the edge of my seat. I can’t say a lot without spoiling things completely, but the various twists and turns made for a compelling read.

Luce is a smartass, and that comes across well on page. I liked her no-nonsense approach to things, and how well she dealt with remaining an outsider and an oddity in town. There were moments of true vulnerability that really got me. There were times I thought Luce acted the fool, and other things that didn’t make a lot of sense in context. Some of the inconsistencies in her character really drove me crazy, but not so much it hurt my enjoyment in the story.

There’s just a hint of romance in this book. If they’ll be able to overcome their past to move forward is still to be determined, and we didn’t get a lot of answers about who and what they are to each other here. I’m really looking forward to the 2nd book. In fact, I immediately started it after finishing this one.

Although this isn’t a perfect book, the twists and turns kept me on the edge of my seat. I can’t wait to see where Edwards takes us next.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Foundling

four-stars


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Review: Take This Regret by A.L. Jackson

Posted October 30, 2019 by Casee in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Take This Regret by A.L. JacksonReviewer: Casee
Take This Regret by A. L. Jackson
Narrator: Andi Arndt
Series: Regret #2
Also in this series: Lost to You
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: July 5, 2018
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Escape
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 299
Length: 9 hours and 25 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

There are some mistakes we make that we will regret for the rest of our lives. For Christian, it was the day he betrayed Elizabeth.

Christian Davison has a plan for his life. He is determined to become an attorney and to one day take his place as partner in his father’s law firm. Nothing will stand in his way, not even Elizabeth Ayers and their unborn child.

After Christian cuts her from his life, Elizabeth spends the next five years struggling to provide for her daughter and willing to sacrifice anything to give her child a safe, comfortable life. For five years, Christian has regretted the day he walked away from his family and will do anything to win them back just as Elizabeth will do anything to protect her daughter from the certain heartache she believes Christian will bring upon them.

When Christian wrestles his way into their lives, Elizabeth is faced with asking herself if it is possible to forgive someone when they’ve committed the unforgivable and if it is possible to find a love after it has been buried in years of hate.

Or are there some wounds that go so deep they can never heal? They say everyone deserves a second chance.

Lost to You and Take This Regret can be read as Stand-Alone Novels. Recommended reading order: Lost to You, Take This Regret, If Forever Comes

This book picks up where Lost to You ended. Christian and Elizabeth are both happier than they have ever been. Although Elizabeth had her reservations about being in a relationship with Christian, he’s proving that all her fears were for naught. Then she finds out she is pregnant and everything goes straight to hell. After telling Christian, he gives her an ultimatum. Him or the baby. Elizabeth is devastated, but chooses her child over the man she thought loved her more than life.

Fast forward five years. During a chance meeting at the grocery store, Christian lays on the child that he abandoned. After feeling a connection that he’s never felt before, Christian knows (again) what a big mistake he made all those years ago. Now he’s determined to get to know his child, even if he has to go against Elizabeth to do it.

I had a hard time with this book. How does Christian deserve redemption after deserting Elizabeth and Lizzie? It just didn’t compute in my mind until he started making amends and showing that he really had change. This book was about forgiveness and a relationship that was so intense, the feelings never died. I really ended up liking this book.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5.

Regret

four-half-stars


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