Genre: New Adult

Review: Heartland by Sarina Bowen

Posted February 4, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Heartland by Sarina BowenReviewer: Rowena
Heartland by Sarina Bowen
Series: True North #7
Also in this series: Bittersweet, Steadfast, Steadfast, Bittersweet, Keepsake, Bountiful, Speakeasy, Bittersweet, Steadfast, Fireworks, Keepsake, Bountiful, Fireworks, Heartland
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: January 28, 2020
Format: eARC
Source: Author
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: New Adult
Pages: 329
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

An emotional friends to lovers romance full of risky secrets and late-night lessons in seduction.

Dylan is my best friend, and the only person in my life who understands me. He doesn’t mind my social awkwardness or my weird history. The only glitch? He doesn’t know that I’ve been hopelessly, desperately in love with him since the first day we picked apples together in his family’s orchard.But I know better than to confess.Now that we’re both in college together, I’m seeing a new side of him. College Dylan drinks and has a lot of sex. None of it with me.Until the night I foolishly ask him to tutor me in more than algebra…and he actually says yes.

But the cool morning light shows me how badly I’ve endangered our friendship. And I don’t know if anything will be the same again.

Heartland is the seventh book in Sarina Bowen’s True North series and she just keeps bringing on the happy sighs and cute romances, doesn’t she? I really enjoyed this one and am keeping my fingers crossed that we’ll keep getting books for this series for a long time to come. I’m pretty anxious for Daphne’s story.

So Heartland follows Dylan Shipley and Chastity Campbell to college. They’re both going through different things. Dylan is going through a frustrating phase with his growly older brother and Chastity is still trying to catch up to the rest of the world after spending years living in a cult. To add to Chass’s plate, she’s got an unrequited crush on Dylan Shipley and he has no clue. It sucks for her though because she’s around to see him work his charm on every girl on campus, every girl, but her. Right now, he worked his charm right into her awful roommates pants and it’s become a thing. A thing she hates to witness because she knows Dylan. She knows that he’s a kind-hearted person and so she doesn’t understand why he has such bad taste in women. Things start to get really interesting when Chass brings up making some money together. Their new business adventure features the leftover goat milk from Dylan’s family farm that Dylan needs to move. Making caramel together brings them a lot closer and feelings spring forth, feelings that they don’t know what to do with.

Dylan was exactly the lovable nerdy hero that I hoped he would be when we first met him, as a young high schooler in Bittersweet. I thought he was super sweet to Chastity and when he finally gets his head out of his ass about Kaitlyn, I was glad. I wanted to smack some damn sense into him a time or two while reading this book but overall, I loved him. He was a good person who loved his family and struggled with trying to figure out his place in his family, in their family business and in his future. I loved seeing him grow into the man that he was in the end. It wasn’t easy for him but when he finally stood up for himself, I was so relieved because he needed to get all of that shit out so that he can figure out where to go from here. I loved seeing him work through his feelings about his future and his feelings about Chass.

Chass was a great heroine on her own but she was also a perfect match for Dylan. She was kind, she was strong and she was super smart even though she had trouble with her classes in school. I really felt for her when she was stuck seeing Dylan, the object of her affections, with everyone but her and seeing her find her way at school, at home and everywhere in between was a lot of fun for me. She really comes into her own and I was rooting for her from the very beginning. I loved seeing her make friends outside of Dylan at school and even when she was trying to move on from Dylan, and hurting Dylan’s feelings in the process, I just loved it.

Sarina Bowen writes light moments in angsty romances and I just adore her writing style. I will read whatever she writes because she writes the kind of books that I want to read. Heartland was another fabulous addition to this series and if you’re a fan of the other books, I’m confident that you guys will be fans of this book. Dylan and Chastity have what it takes to carry a romance on their own and I have every confidence that you guys will enjoy this one. Do yourself a favor and read this one! 🙂

Final Grade

4.25 out of 5

True North

four-stars


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Release Day Blitz: Heartland by Sarina Bowen

Posted January 28, 2020 by Rowena in Promotions | 1 Comment

Here at Book Binge, we are huge fans of Sarina Bowen and of Bowen’s True North series so we are super excited to celebrate Heartland’s release today with an excerpt from the book!

Release Day Blitz: Heartland by Sarina BowenHeartland by Sarina Bowen
Series: True North #7
Also in this series: Bittersweet, Steadfast, Steadfast, Bittersweet, Keepsake, Bountiful, Speakeasy, Bittersweet, Steadfast, Fireworks, Keepsake, Bountiful, Fireworks, Heartland , Heartland
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: January 28, 2020
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Genres: New Adult
Pages: 329
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: four-stars

An emotional friends to lovers romance full of risky secrets and late-night lessons in seduction.

Dylan is my best friend, and the only person in my life who understands me. He doesn’t mind my social awkwardness or my weird history. The only glitch? He doesn’t know that I’ve been hopelessly, desperately in love with him since the first day we picked apples together in his family’s orchard.But I know better than to confess.Now that we’re both in college together, I’m seeing a new side of him. College Dylan drinks and has a lot of sex. None of it with me.Until the night I foolishly ask him to tutor me in more than algebra…and he actually says yes.But the cool morning light shows me how badly I’ve endangered our friendship. And I don’t know if anything will be the same again.

Excerpt

“So why were you having a bad day, anyway?” Ellie asks. “Man trouble?”

“Not exactly. It’s more like a lack of man trouble. I kissed my hot algebra tutor. And I wasn’t supposed to.”

Her big eyes widen. “Which hot algebra tutor? You never said.”

“He doesn’t work at the lab,” I say hastily. “He’s a friend. And he wants to stay that way.”

“Oh.” She looks deflated. “That is a bummer.”

“Do you have a boyfriend?”

“No.” She makes a face. “It would be nice, though. This year is kind of lonely. My roommate is a total bitch.”

“Oh, I have one of those, too.”

“Yeah?” Ellie’s eyes brighten. “Does yours steal your clothes and then lie about it?”

“Um, no. She wouldn’t want any of my things. We have singles, anyway. Just a common bathroom.”

“Lucky! She must be easier to stand, then.”

“You’d think.” I take a gulp of mint tea.

“My roommate took my brand-new scarf. With the tags still on! And when I called her out on it, she tried to gaslight me.”

“Gaslight?” I feel my cheeks flush like they sometimes do when I don’t understand the idioms that people use.

“You don’t know Gaslight? It’s a movie from the forties.”

“Ingrid Bergman,” says Dylan’s voice. “We haven’t got around to the classics yet.”

I startle, sloshing my tea over my hand. And when I look up, Dylan is right there. Clear brown eyes. Tousled hair. Tight, muscular body that’s clothed in a nice sweater and ripped jeans. A handsome face that I finally kissed.

Pain slices through me. Because I’m never going to get over him. There will never be a day when I look at Dylan and don’t wish for more.

“Can I talk to you for a quick second?” he asks, taking the mug and grabbing a napkin off the table. He wipes the tea off my hand.

“Now is not a good time,” I say quickly. Because I don’t want to cry in the coffee shop in front of my only new friend.

Dylan actually rolls his eyes. “Fifteen seconds, Chass. Give a man a break.”

“I’d talk to you.” Ellie raises her hand like a school girl. “Pick me.”

And that’s just what I need—another girl in my life who’s swooning for Dylan. Because that always turns out well.

“Fine. Fifteen seconds.” I jump to my feet. Let’s get this over with.

Dylan takes my arm and tows me gently over toward the bulletin board, where nobody is currently reading the flyers for meditation circles and ski equipment sales.

“Look, I’m sorry,” is his opener. “You’re avoiding me. Not that I blame you. I’m sorry things got so out of control.”

“Which things?” I ask warily. Because I don’t want an apology for fooling around with me.

“Pick one!” Dylan raises his hands. “All the things. I shouldn’t have been so inappropriate.”

“But…” I know Dylan was in a serious state of drunken depression when he kissed me. It’s not like I was expecting to hear those kisses made him as happy as they made me. But would it kill him to be a little less patronizing? “Dylan, I’m not twelve years old. It was just a kiss or two. I don’t think I’ll need a full course of therapy to recover.”

He blinks. “Okay. Good?”

“So did you really need to drag me over here to apologize a third time? Did you apologize to all the girls you kissed during Spin the Bottle in seventh grade?”

I heard about Spin the Bottle and Seven Minutes in Heaven only last year, by eavesdropping on Debbie and her buddies at another bonfire. I’d been transfixed by their tales of who’d kissed whom over the years and how often.

At thirteen, Spin the Bottle would have sounded like heaven to me. Seven minutes in a closet with a boy? I would have lobbied for eight. I was always the most inappropriate girl in the bunch.

Yet somehow Dylan sees me as some kind of innocent child.

“No. Good point.” He crosses his delicious arms and smiles at me. “You are in a feisty mood today.”

“Is that so wrong?”

“No.” He shakes his handsome head. “Not at all. Are we going to hug it out?” He opens his big arms wide.

Oh boy. I can’t resist stepping into them. And when he pulls me in, I experience the familiar hormone rush that always happens when I’m close to him. Rapid heartbeat? Check. Goosebumps? Check. My nose lands against his flannel shirt.

My mouth is mere inches from his, of course. But this time he has no interest in kissing me. It takes all my willpower to give him a squeeze and then step back.

“Be well, Chass. I’ll leave you to your tutoring session, even if you’re basically cheating on me right now. But we’re still making caramels this weekend, right? I told Griffin we could use six gallons of goat’s milk. Don’t make a liar out of me.”

“I won’t,” I say quickly. I might be slightly irritated at him, but it will blow over. My capacity to forgive him for not loving me back is basically infinite. “We’ll leave right after Friday classes?”

“You got it. And this is for you. Share it with your friend.” He pulls something out of his pocket. “More market research.”

He puts a little box in my hand and then walks away.

As always, it takes me a second to get over my hormone rush. I stand there blinking for a long moment until I realize Ellie is grinning at me from the sofa. So I go back over to her and sit down.

“Wow…” she says, stealing a glance at Dylan’s retreating backside. “Is that hot hunk of Vermont male your algebra tutor?”

“Yes.” My voice is gravel.

“And your future ex-boyfriend?”

“Nope. I’ll never get that chance. He’s my best friend, but…” There’s no tidy explanation.

“But you want more. I would if it were me.”

I nod, miserable.

Teasers

True North

About the Author

About Sarina Bowen

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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Review: Switch Hitter by Sara Ney

Posted December 17, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Switch Hitter by Sara NeyReviewer: Holly
Switch Hitter by Sara Ney
Narrator: Erin Mallon, Jacob Morgan
Series: Jock Hard #0.5
Also in this series: Jock Rule

Publication Date: March 15, 2018
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Escape
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance, New Adult
Pages: 146
Length: 2 hours and 29 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: 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
three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

I knew something was wrong the second she walked in the door tonight; I just couldn’t put my finger on what it was.
Same hair color. Same legs. Same face.
Except…I look harder. At the small dimple beneath her lip that wasn’t there the last time we went out. And her laugh—that laugh isn’t as loud.
This isn’t the girl I’ve gone out with the past few weeks. It’s her twin sister, and they’ve switched places on me.
Only I’m not quite ready to let them switch back.

Switch Hitter is a sweet contemporary sweet novella I found while browsing the “Nice Guys” section of Audible Escape. I really liked the romance and especially the hero, who was, as advertised, a nice guy. I liked the banter they had and their chemistry, but the premise was kind of frustrating.

Amelia gets suckered by her twin sister, Lucy, into pretending to be her (Lucy) for a date. Amelia ends up having great chemistry with the guy, and she really likes him, but he thinks she’s Lucy. Dash wasn’t interested in the too-aggressive Lucy, but this new version is pretty amazing. As he tries to get to the bottom of her abrupt personally change, Amelia vows to walk away from him and never pretend to be Lucy with him again. Until Lucy calls and begs her to break things off with him for her…

I never understood why Amelia agreed to pretend to be Lucy. I ended up thinking less of Amelia for going along with Lucy’s plan. I wanted her to stand up to her twin and tell her no, but instead she kept going along with the whole thing. First the date, then breaking up with him. It was silly.

Despite that, I still enjoyed the story as a whole (mostly because of Dash). This is my first story by Ney, and I’m definitely interested in reading more.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Jock Hard

three-half-stars


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Review: Trade Me by Courtney Milan

Posted November 11, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

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
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: The Play by Elle Kennedy

Posted October 23, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: The Play by Elle KennedyReviewer: Rowena
The Play by Elle Kennedy
Series: Briar U #3
Also in this series: The Chase (Briar U, #1), The Risk (Briar U #2)
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: October 7, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Author
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: New Adult
Pages: 422
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

A brand-new standalone novel in the New York Times bestselling Briar U series!

What I learned after last year’s distractions cost my hockey team our entire season? No more screwing up. No more screwing, period. As the new team captain, I need a new philosophy: hockey and school now, women later. Which means that I, Hunter Davenport, am officially going celibate…no matter how hard that makes things.

But there’s nothing in the rulebook that says I can’t be friends with a woman. And I won’t lie—my new classmate Demi Davis is one cool chick. Her smart mouth is hot as hell, and so is the rest of her, but the fact that she’s got a boyfriend eliminates the temptation to touch her.

Except three months into our friendship, Demi is single and looking for a rebound.

And she’s making a play for me.

Avoiding her is impossible. We’re paired up on a yearlong school project, but I’m confident I can resist her. We’d never work, anyway. Our backgrounds are too different, our goals aren’t aligned, and her parents hate my guts.

Hooking up is a very bad idea. Now I just have to convince my body—and my heart.

The Play is the third book in Elle Kennedy’s Briar U series. We’re finally getting Hunter’s book. If you read the previous books in this series then you’ll remember Hunter. He got his heart broken by Summer in the first book and then he turned into a little playboy that pissed off the wrong guy and got his wrist broken in the second book but now he’s back and he’s finally getting his own person in the third book. I’m going to be honest and tell you guys that Hunter was not my favorite person in the last book, hell, even in the first book. He was super immature and I just wasn’t a fan but holy cow did he win me over in this book. I freaking adored him and I loved his friendship with Demi. I also really enjoyed the banter between Hunter and Demi and Hunter’s nickname for her. I cracked up every single time that he called her Semi.

That was the thing with this book that I just completely adored. The dialogue. I read a lot and not a lot of people can write realistic and really good dialogue between every character in their stories. Elle Kennedy can. I fall into whatever conversation happens in her books and that’s why I continue to love the hell out of them. This book is no different. Hunter and Demi were fabulous characters on their own but they were even better together and I really dug that.

Hunter’s character really came around for me. Like I said, I was not a big Hunter fan in the previous books but Elle turned things around for me where Hunter was concerned and I was here for all of his shenanigans. The whole celibacy thing cracked me up because it was SO extra but I really loved seeing Hunter have his teammates back, I loved seeing him care for Pablo and seeing him get closer with Demi. The whole psychology project that they were working on together was interesting and I enjoyed seeing Hunter play his role.

Demi was everything that I like in a New Adult heroine. She was strong, smart, and sexy without being boring and bitchy so I really appreciated Elle Kennedy’s efforts where Demi was concerned. I also liked that Demi was part Latina but an Americanized Latina. I know a lot of girls who come from diverse backgrounds but grew up in America so they don’t speak their native tongue as much anymore or they just never learned the language so I didn’t mind that we got a diverse heroine who was still pretty American. Demi could have been me, just Cuban instead of Samoan. I’m as brown as brown can be but I don’t speak Samoan often so I’m not exactly fluent in Samoan anymore.

There were two things that drove me crazy with this book and they were Demi’s parents and Demi’s ex-boyfriend. Actually, it was more Demi’s father than her mother but when he completely disregarded her feelings about sharing their family holiday with her cheating ex-boyfriend’s family, it pissed me off. Then when he shows up at school to tell Hunter off, that pissed me off too. I’m really glad that Hunter was able to get through to the father and make him see things from Demi’s point-of-view because I wanted to push Demi’s dad right off the roof. Don’t even get me started on Nico, the cheating ex-boyfriend. I just found him to be so miserably blah. I didn’t care for his character at all so when Demi was finally done with him, I was glad.

Overall, this book was a good one. It definitely engaged all of my feelings. My heart hurt for Hunter and finding out about his parents and home life. I was mad at Demi for her part in the shenanigans with Hunter’s celibacy. I was pissed to high heaven that Nico and his friends jumped Hunter and everything that happened with Nico but I rejoiced like crazy when they finally admitted to each other that they loved each other and I really loved when Demi became a part of the off-campus apartment dynamic. I enjoyed this one a lot though The Risk is still my favorite of the bunch. Still, if you’re a fan of Elle Kennedy’s books, a fan of the off-campus and Briar U series then you should definitely read this one. It’s good, I promise!

Final Grade

4.25 out of 5

Briar U

four-stars


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