Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca

Review: The One for You by Roni Loren

Posted January 9, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: The One for You by Roni LorenReviewer: Rowena
The One for You by Roni Loren
Series: The Ones Who Got Away #4
Also in this series: The Ones Who Got Away , The Ones Who Got Away, The One You Can't Forget, The One You Fight For (The Ones Who Got Away, #3)
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: December 31, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Point-of-View: Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 352
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
five-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

The highly-anticipated fourth book in Roni Loren's unforgettable The Ones Who Got Away series.

She got a second chance at life.Will she take a second chance at love?

Kincaid Breslin wasn't supposed to survive that fateful night at Long Acre when so many died, including her boyfriend—but survive she did. She doesn't know why she got that chance, but now she takes life by the horns and doesn't let anybody stand in her way.

Ashton Isaacs was her best friend when disaster struck all those years ago, but he chose to run as far away as he could. Now fate has brought him back to town, and Ash doesn't know how to cope with his feelings for Kincaid and his grief over their lost friendship. For Ash has been carrying secrets, and he knows that once Kincaid learns the truth, he'll lose any chance he might have had with the only woman he's ever loved.

The One for You is the final book in The Ones Who Got Away series by Roni Loren. I’m so sad that this series is done and over with because it’s been such a great and emotional journey for me. When we first met these characters in The Ones Who Got Away, I wasn’t expecting to fall in love with these characters and their stories so much. I thought Roni Loren did such a fabulous job of telling these stories and giving these characters a voice that resonated with me in each and every single book. I just really liked this series and I can’t wait to see what Loren has planned next. I’m all aboard the Roni Loren fangirl train. 🙂

So this book features our last standing friend, Kincaid Breslin. Kincaid was the bubbly blonde that brought the four friends together again and pretty much held everyone to the words they’d given over a decade ago after the school shooting and their support group sessions came to an end. Each woman had written a letter, that they then buried and promised to revisit 10 years later. Well over time, the four friends each went their separate ways and forgot…Kincaid reminded them and helped each of them move forward with their lives. In this book, we see those three friends return the favor with Kincaid.

Over the course of the series, we see just how important the friendship between the women is to their stories as their romances are. These women have come a long way since that first book and I loved seeing their friendship solidify with each passing book. They became a family and that along with Kincaid and Ash’s story had me in tears for most of this book. I’m talking like ugly cry in the middle of the night because I couldn’t put this book down. I was all in my feels throughout this entire story. From the flashbacks to the here and now, I cried a lot. I’m a sucker for the unrequited love trope and Loren did a great job of showcasing the hurt feelings, the inability to move on, the frustration and just, everything. Every single chapter moved the story along and I loved how seeing the past collide with the present and then build and build and build until everything made sense. When things are finally all out in the open and there are no more secrets, no more confusion, when it’s all out on the table and both characters have to live with the choices they make? Swoon. I had all of the feels.

I loved Ash, I thought he was a great hero. I thought Loren did a great job of showing the reader how his childhood shaped who he was as a man. Though I spent quite a bit of the book, frustrated with Ash for not going after the girl, by the end, every choice he made, every time he bit his tongue, made sense. So when he swallows his pride and does the one thing he never thought he’d do…for Kincaid? OMG, the tears continued. There was no doubt in my mind that Ash belonged with Kincaid. There’s no doubt in my mind that Ash was devoted to KC back when they were kids and then again as adults.

Kincaid turned out to be my favorite of the four friends. I thought my favorite book was going to be Rebecca and Wes’ book because I absolutely loved theirs but nope. This book ended the series on such a high note that Roni Loren shot right to the top of my auto-buy list. This book is my first 5-star read of the year and Kincaid was a huge reason for that. I’m so glad that we finally got her childhood story. Her’s was not an easy story to tell but man, Kincaid came so far from that lost young girl with the neglectful mother and no real home to call her own. When she finally, finally gets the happy ending she’s always wanted, my heart was so full for both her and Ash that I stayed up for an extra 30 minutes just rereading my favorite parts of the book. I re-read the letters. Ash’s declaration. The epilogue. There’s a lot of good stuff in here and if you haven’t read this series yet, I highly recommend it. These characters really come into their own, moving forward after such a huge tragedy and it was all just so good. I’m going to miss these characters so much. Love this!

Final Grade

Grade: 5 out of 5

The Ones That Got Away

five-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , ,

Sunday Spotlight: The One for You by Roni Loren

Posted December 15, 2019 by Rowena in Features, Giveaways | 5 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. 🙂

I can’t believe that we’re already on Book 4. When I first heard about this series before the first book came out, I was mighty intrigued and I thought it was such an interesting concept though I didn’t know how Roni Loren would pull it off. Telling the stories of victims of a school shooting? That was different but I’ve got to say that Roni Loren has written fantastic stories for the survivors and I have eaten each and every single book that she’s written in this series up.

In The One for You, we are finally getting Kincaid’s story. I’m pretty anxious for this book to be released into the wild because Kincaid has completely won me over throughout this series. In the first book, I didn’t really care for her at first but now? Love the woman. I can’t wait to read her story and it’s a best friend trope along with the one that got away trope? Oh yes, sign me up!

My love for this series is real and that is why we’re featuring The One for You on our Sunday Spotlight for this week. Check out the excerpt below and see Kincaid meet up with her long lost best friend that she hasn’t seen in years. Enjoy!

Sunday Spotlight: The One for You by Roni LorenThe One for You by Roni Loren
Series: The Ones Who Got Away #4
Also in this series: The Ones Who Got Away , The Ones Who Got Away, The One You Can't Forget, The One You Fight For (The Ones Who Got Away, #3), The One for You
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: December 31, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 352
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: four-stars

The highly-anticipated fourth book in Roni Loren's unforgettable The Ones Who Got Away series.

She got a second chance at life.Will she take a second chance at love?

Kincaid Breslin wasn't supposed to survive that fateful night at Long Acre when so many died, including her boyfriend—but survive she did. She doesn't know why she got that chance, but now she takes life by the horns and doesn't let anybody stand in her way

Ashton Isaacs was her best friend when disaster struck all those years ago, but he chose to run as far away as he could. Now fate has brought him back to town, and Ash doesn't know how to cope with his feelings for Kincaid and his grief over their lost friendship. For Ash has been carrying secrets, and he knows that once Kincaid learns the truth, he'll lose any chance he might have had with the only woman he's ever loved.

Excerpt

Ash’s head was pounding from lack of sleep and absence of coffee as he stepped out of the tiny shower in the apartment above the bookstore. The hot water had helped wake him up some, but the headache was going to take something more drastic. Like a double shot of espresso from the coffee shop on the corner. Maybe a triple. It wouldn’t taste like his usual from his favorite shop in Brooklyn, but he couldn’t be choosy.

Not that many years ago, Long Acre didn’t have a coffee shop at all. If you wanted coffee, you had to go to Toby’s Diner and drink the weak, brown water they passed off as coffee. As a teen, he’d thought it was quality stuff. He and Kincaid used to stop there all the time after their evening shifts at the bookstore to meet Graham, order a pot of coffee, eat cheese toast—the cheapest thing on the menu—and get their homework done. Well, mostly it’d been Ash attempting to do his homework while Kincaid narrated everything about her day or the customers she’d helped in the store. He’d never met anyone who seemed to say every thought in her head even while doing a completely unrelated task. Some people worked to background music. He’d taken to working to the hum of her chatter. After a while, it’d become something he missed when he tried to work in silence.

He grimaced and dried his face on his towel, trying to wipe away the memory. No thinking about the past. Being back in Long Acre was bad enough. He didn’t need to do the memory-lane thing. That road was populated with a whole bunch of sites he didn’t want to visit ever again. That was one reason the little gourmet coffee shop was perfect. It was new, probably some transplant business owner from Austin looking for small-town life, and when Ash had stopped in the last two mornings, he hadn’t recognized a soul and no one had recognized him.

Ash finished drying off and knotted the towel around his waist. He felt around the edge of the sink. Dammit. Where had he left his glasses? He squinted through the steam trapped in the small room and didn’t see them. He sighed, wishing, not for the first time, that he was back in his New York apartment where he had defined places for everything.

He vaguely remembered pulling off his glasses when he’d gotten undressed by the bed, so he headed out of the bathroom, vision blurry but manageable. The apartment was just a studio with a small kitchen in the corner, a bed, and a table where he could eat and work at his laptop, but the layout was unfamiliar. Plus, the place was filled with boxes and dark, the curtains still drawn. He walked carefully, hoping not to stub a toe or knock something over. He finally located his glasses on the small bedside table and slipped them on. He reached for the lamp, but when he heard a sound off to his left, he only had time to register that someone was standing near the door before a woman’s shriek tore through the small room.

He lifted his palms as if it were a holdup and jumped back in surprise. But before he could get a word out, something heavy and solid crashed into his shoulder.

Oof. Pain rocketed down his arm and up his neck. The sound of breaking glass exploded at his feet. “What the fu—”

“I have pepper spray and know self-defense!” the woman shouted. “Don’t you move!”

“Me?” he asked incredulously. “You don’t move. This is my apartment. And if you have pepper spray, why the hell didn’t you use that instead?” He rubbed his throbbing shoulder and took a step toward the lamp to illuminate his unwelcome visitor, but sharp pain pinched the bottom of his foot. “Fuck.”

“Your apartment?” she said, affronted. “I don’t think so, squatter. This place is on the market.”

Ash’s foot was on fire with pain. The glass had nicked him, and he was losing his patience and possibly blood. “Look, calm down. I think there’s been a mix-up, but give me a sec. Let me turn on a light.” He kept his feet where they were and reached for the lamp again. He clicked it on, soft light flooding the room. He was ready to yell at whoever this stranger was for attacking him, but when he saw the blond woman standing there, pepper spray aimed, familiar just-try-me expression on her face, all his breath left him. “Kincaid?”

Kincaid’s face, which he hadn’t seen since their last awkward shared Christmas at the Lowells—an annual tradition that always involved a lot of tense, fake smiling at each other—was the picture of shock. Eyes widening. Lips parting. Her gaze slid down his body, which he now remembered was bare except for his tattoos and the damp towel around his hips. He cleared his throat.
Her attention snapped back up to his face. “Ash? What the hell?”

He grabbed the knotted towel at his hip, not trusting the thing to hold up. Apparently the universe hated him, so full frontal nudity was imminent if he didn’t take precautionary measures. “I could say the same to you. How’d you get in?”

“I have a key. I’m showing the place for the Lowells so they can rent it out.” She lowered the pepper spray and swept her other hand in his direction. “I was bringing flowers by to brighten up the place. I have someone coming over later to see it.”

Ash looked down at his feet where shards of glass glinted in the lamplight and a puddle of water had spread like some kind of abstract art, mixing with the blood from his cut and the scattered flowers. His foot was burning like hell. “Well, it’s not for rent anymore. I’m…using it.”

Her brow creased, and she glanced around, noticing the boxes for the first time. “Using it? You always stay at Grace and Charlie’s when you visit.”

God, he didn’t want to get into this with Kincaid. He’d always made sure to bring a date home for Christmas, and he’d been extra thrilled the last two years to bring a serious girlfriend home to prove to everyone how well he was doing. Without this town. Without his parents. Without Kincaid. That he was just fine. Now here he was, right back where he’d started. “I needed a place for a little longer to get some writing done. Someplace quiet.”

The Ones That Got Away

Giveaway Alert

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

Sunday Spotlight: December 2019

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 Roni Loren

Roni wrote her first romance novel at age fifteen when she discovered writing about boys was way easier than actually talking to them. Since then, her flirting skills haven’t improved, but she likes to think her storytelling ability has. She holds a master’s degree in social work and spent years as a mental health counselor, but now she writes full time from her cozy office in Dallas, Texas where she puts her characters on the therapy couch instead. She is a two-time RITA Award winner and a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author.


Tagged: , , , ,

Guest Review: One Dark Wish by Sharon Wray

Posted September 25, 2019 by Jen in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: One Dark Wish by Sharon WrayReviewer: Jen
One Dark Wish by Sharon Wray
Series: Deadly Force #2
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: January 1, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 448
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
two-stars
Series Rating: two-stars

Her life must be forfeit for his to be redeemed

Historian Sarah Munro is not used to being shot at, but that's just what happens while she's poking around cemeteries on Georgia's Isle of Grace, searching for the key to a centuries-old cipher. Her quest has unwittingly drawn the attention of two deadly enemies intent on destroying each other--and anyone who gets in their way.

Ex-Green Beret Major Nate Walker is on a mission of his own: to restore the honor of his men. To do that, he is required to stop Sarah--or one of his own men will die. Caught in the middle of a deadly rivalry, Nate can't afford to trust the woman standing in his way. But his heart says he can't afford not to...

Deadly Force Series: Every Deep Desire (Book 1)One Dark Wish (Book 2)

If you read the blurb for this book, it doesn’t sound overly complicated, right? A historian wants to solve a secret pirate cipher to both redeem her career and save her father. An ex-soldier is tasked with stopping her in order to save his men. Along the way, they fall in love. In practice, though, this book was…a lot. Way too much, in fact.

The characters in this book are reasonably smart and interesting. Sarah is good at her job and cares about preserving history. Nate is a protective alpha who has long carried the weight of the world on his shoulders. They were a nice match, with both appreciating the other for their strengths and loving each other despite their weaknesses. I thought their relationship was the best part of the book, although it does move WAY too fast. The bulk of the book takes place in a matter of days–I had to set that fact aside to really believe their romance.

The problem, however, is that the book has an excess of both characters and plot! Nate is part of a group of ex-Green Berets who are trying to get on with their lives after scandal forced them out of the military. Quite frankly, I couldn’t tell most of them apart as they were kind of forgettable. They mostly spent the book whining and moaning about their situation, about their orders, about life in general. They were supposedly a tight-knit unit, yet many of them didn’t seem to particularly trust each other. One of the big conflicts of the book is how Nate is going to be taken away permanently for reasons I won’t spoil. While one or two of the guys is pretty broken up about it and tries to save him, the rest seem pretty ambivalent. Nate is treated VERY unfairly, and Sarah seems to be the only one who truly tries to do anything about it. Way to pull together, team! The commanding officer is a secretive, cold-hearted bastard, too. I’m guessing he may get his own story in the future, but I certainly don’t care to read about him.

Most importantly, the plot of the book is overly complicated and illogical. There is SO much going on. There is a secret warrior organization whose motivations are very poorly outlined. There is some sort of gun runner who seems to have an absurd amount of power and influence.  There’s a very rich lawyer and Senator who help the team for flimsy and convenient reasons. There are several double crossers with their own agendas and stories. There is a historical mystery and the pirate cipher they are trying to investigate. Then there are back stories galore: what happened to the Green Beret team on the mission that got them in trouble as well as what happened in the following years, what happened during Nate’s time in a POW camp, a mystery about why both Nate and Sarah’s dad are having seizures, and the question mark that is Sarah’s father, all of which barely get grazed in this book. Not to mention what I assume are set ups for future books in the series, where we start to hear back stories for the other team members. I recognize that this is the second book in a series, which I didn’t realize when I started reading, and I acknowledge that some of this is likely addressed in past and future books. I’d still argue that cramming so much into one book is a bad idea. This book is looooong at a whopping 448 pages (!), meaning halfway through I was straight up bored, not to mention rolling my eyes at the nonsensical things that kept happening. I kept going, only to find out how Sarah and Nate could get their HEA, not because I gave a crap about the rest of it.

In short, I think the author is trying to tell a very ambitious story, which I appreciate. However, some ruthless editing and way fewer story threads would have improved this book tremendously. 

Grade: 2 out of 5

Deadly Force

two-stars


Tagged: , , , , , ,

Guest Review: Nothing to Fear by Juno Rushdan

Posted August 28, 2019 by Jen in Reviews | 3 Comments

Guest Review: Nothing to Fear by Juno RushdanReviewer: Jen
Nothing to Fear by Juno Rushdan
Series: Final Hour #2
Also in this series: Every Last Breath
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: August 27, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 448
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

The clock is ticking

Fearsome Gray Box operative Gideon Stone is devoted to his work and his team. He's never given reason to doubt his loyalty...until he's tasked with investigating Willow Harper, a beguiling cryptologist suspected of selling deadly bio-agents on the black market.

He knows she's innocent. He knows she's being framed. And he knows that without him, Willow will be dead before sunrise.

Thrust into the crossfire of an insidious international conspiracy, Gideon will do anything to keep Willow safe...even if that means waging war against his own. With time running out, an unlikely bond pushes limits―and forges loyalties. Every move they make counts. And the real traitor is always watching...

Hands down my favorite new series and author this year has been the Final Hour series by Juno Rushdan. I enjoyed Book 1 a lot, and that trend continued with Book 2 (with one caveat I’ll explain later).

Gideon Stone works with Maddox from Book 1 at the Gray Box, an off-the-books agency of the US Government. In Book 1 we learned that there is a traitor in the organization, and in Book 2 that traitor is ramping up their efforts. The pressure is on to find the traitor as soon as possible, so the inner circle starts investigating suspects. One potential suspect is Willow Harper, the team’s cryptologist. Gideon volunteers to investigate her, mostly because he’s always admired her from afar. He immediately realizes she couldn’t be the traitor, but when it’s clear she’s being set up to take the fall Gideon goes rogue to save her. He has to keep Willow alive and find the real traitor to clear her name.

This book is just as action packed as the first one, and I had a great time reading it. Unlike Maddox, the heroine from Book 1, Willow is not a shoot-em-up operative. Instead, she is a genius with technology. She does need Gideon for physical defense and some strategy–he’s the one who knows how this world works and has the skills to keep them alive. She isn’t weak or stupid, however. She contributes to the chase using her own skills, and she keeps up with Gideon.

The relationship between Gideon and Willow is lovely too. Both truly see and appreciate the other for their own strengths. Gideon sees Willow’s talent and spine of steel and values it, even though she isn’t able to kick ass in the same way he does. One of the problems Gideon had in past relationships was that he couldn’t be honest about his job or what it entails. Because Willow already knows the details, though, he is able to be free with her in a way he has never been before. Even better, Willow isn’t scared away by what he does, though it takes Gideon too long to realize that. He spends way too much time assuming he’s not good enough for her, and he does a lot of flip flopping as he gives in to his need to be with her but then pushes her away. He hurt her every time he did that, even though he thinks he’s helping her. I wanted more consistency from him and for him to acknowledge that Willow knows who he is but loves him anyway.

Now on to a spoiler that I feel is important to mention: Willow is autistic, a fact that is explicitly stated near the beginning of the book. While there is some discussion of her autism, particularly early in the book, it is not a defining characteristic of Willow’s, nor is it a major plot point. There are a few instances where it impacts the story, but for the most part Willow is able to keep up with the action as well as any other civilian suddenly dropped into an action movie would. There’s no fetishizing I could see, either. There is one deeply uncomfortable scene with an ignorant police officer near the beginning of the book. To me it read as a condemnation of the kind of idiotic views people hold about autism, but I don’t know how it would read as someone more familiar with ASD. In general, I am unqualified to pass judgment on how this book handles Willow’s autism, so I can’t say whether this portrayal is appropriate or not. If anyone with more experience in this area reads the book and has a different take, please do comment here!

Aside from the above concerns, I really liked this book. It’s got so much of my catnip–traitor in our midst, a couple on the run, secret government agency, and smart characters who bring out the best in each other. I am hooked on this series!

Grade: 4 out of 5

Final Hour

four-stars


Tagged: , , , , , ,

Guest Review: In Her Sights by Katie Ruggle

Posted August 9, 2019 by Jen in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: In Her Sights by Katie RuggleReviewer: Jen
In Her Sights by Katie Ruggle
Series: Rocky Mountain Bounty Hunters #1
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: March 26, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 336
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Five bounty-hunting sistersDeep in the heart of the RockiesFighting to save each other...and the men who steal their hearts

Bounty hunter Molly Pax fought hard for everything she has, turning the bail recovery business she shares with her sisters into an unqualified success. So when their sticky-fingered mother jumps bail and puts the childhood home up as collateral, Molly's horrified. To make matters worse, every two-bit criminal in the Rockies now sees her family's misfortune as their next big break.

She needs help, stat.

Enter rival bounty hunter John Carmondy: six feet of pure trouble, with a cocky grin to match. John's the most cheerfully, annoyingly gorgeous frenemy Molly's ever had the pleasure of defeating...and he may be her only hope of making it out of this mess alive.

Like Stephanie Plum but want her to actually get with, and stick with, a guy? In Her Sights might appeal!

Molly Pax owns a bounty hunter business with her sisters. They have built a life in spite of their truly deadbeat mom who has done nothing but drag them down their entire lives. When their mom gets them into the kind of trouble that could easily ruin everything they’ve worked for, Molly has to turn to rival bounty hunter John Carmondy for help. She and John have to work together, even though they hate each other…don’t they?

I thought this book was a lot of fun. Ruggle does a great job with characters and dialogue that are funny but not ridiculous. The banter between Molly and John is excellent, but my favorite part is probably the relationships between the sisters. Molly is totally devoted to her family, and in fact she’s more of the mother than their actual mother. She will do anything to save her family, and you get the sense that her sisters feel the same. I always love reading about strong families, and this was definitely a good one. 

I really enjoyed the progression of John and Molly’s relationship too. John is a giant teddy bear, contrary to what Molly thinks of him at first. The story is written in third person but is limited to Molly’s perspective, so like Molly we don’t totally know what John is thinking. Unlike Molly, however, as the reader we can immediately see John has a crush on her and she’s the one misinterpreting his actions. On the one hand I wanted him to just tell her upfront how he was feeling, but on the other hand I could understand why you wouldn’t be rushing to confess your attraction to someone who treated you like the enemy. It’s clear Molly is feeling an attraction, too, and once she finally recognizes it they make an adorable couple. 

I always love a good bounty hunter story, and this one fits that trope perfectly. It’s fun to see Molly and her sisters doing their jobs. They’re all smart and tough and capable, and I had a great time getting to know them.

Grade: 4 out of 5

Rocky Mountain Bounty Hunters

four-stars


Tagged: , , , , , ,