Monday, 30 May 2016

Grin & Beard It (Winston Brothers #2) by Penny Reid


Sienna Diaz is everyone’s favorite “fat” funny lady. The movie studio executives can’t explain it, but her films are out-grossing all the fit and trim headliners and Hollywood’s most beautiful elite. The simple truth is, everyone loves plus-sized Sienna.

But she has a problem, she can’t read maps and her sense of direction is almost as bad as her comedic timing is stellar. Therefore, when Sienna’s latest starring role takes her to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park she finds herself continually lost while trying to navigate the backroads of Green Valley, Tennessee. Much to her consternation, Sienna’s most frequent savior is a ridiculously handsome, charming, and cheeky Park Ranger by the name of Jethro Winston.

Sienna is accustomed to high levels of man-handsome, so it’s not Jethro’s chiseled features or his perfect physique that make Sienna stutter. It’s his southern charm. And gentlemanly manners. And habit of looking at her too long and too often.

Sienna has successfully navigated the labyrinth of Hollywood heart-throbs. But can she traverse the tenuous trails of Tennessee without losing her head? Or worse, her heart?

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Kristine's Review:
Reviewed: May 2016.

Have you ever had that moment where you're so in awe of an authors work that you feel a sense of trepidation every time you pick up one of their books? When Grin & Beard It landed on my kindle it was with a sense of both heady excitement and nervous trepidation, I was desperate for this book, but what if it didn't live up to my expectations? I was clearly foolish to be concerned, within the first page Sienna's voice gripped me, she was quirky and forthright, captivating almost immediately, there was something about her that was both enticing and yet so incredibly real, it's a hard task, making a Hollywood starlet still seem like the girl next door, well not the boring girl next door, but the one you desperately want to be friends with.

"I honesty don't know. It's everything about you, I guess. Everything together that makes you impossible to leave, impossible to forget."

If Sienna Diaz is all sexy, confident, friendly and outgoing, Jethro Winston is somewhat of an enigma, he's the black sheep of the Winston clan, he's definitely had the most colourful past, and yet has truly changed his ways becoming an upstanding member of the local community. When Sienna and Jethro meet there's a connection for sure, but Reid writes it so eloquently that it's slow burn at it's finest, their increased interaction purely stroking the flames of attraction, slowly building so that the more they spoke with one another, the more they interacted, the more that spark deepened into something real, something beautiful, the more I fell in love with both the characters and with Reid's words.

"Our past would always be part of us, but it would never wholly define us, either together or as individuals. Each moment was a decision. We could either live up or down to people's expectations, or blow them completely away. We had no control over what other people decided to think, but we did have control over our own actions, who we wanted to be, and how we lived our life."

Therein lies the beauty of Reid's books, it's experiencing everything from those first twinges of attraction, to the sly smiles and longing looks, it's the sweet words and the tender moments, it's the burning desire and lust, so explosive that it jumps off the page. It's all of those moments, and all of the others in between, it's the feeling of completely losing yourself in the story, in the small town that the Winston brothers call home, the sheer brilliance of Sienna, a woman that has been content playing the role everyone expects her to for so long that she's started to forget why she started this journey in the first place, a woman who is unquestionably a Hollywood megastar and yet uncharacteristically down to earth, she's found something in Jethro that she's never experienced before, from the undeniable attraction, to the butterflies to the constant need to just be near them, she's sure of herself, confident, has that thing, that x factor that makes someone impossible to forget, in so many ways she's Jethro's polar opposite, and yet in others they mesh more perfectly than either dreamt possible. There's a moment for every reader when you connect with a book, when you lose yourself in the author's words, when you forget time, forget what you need to do, forget everything that exists outside of the characters and their connection, that moment was instantaneous with Grin & Beard It, it was effortless in everyway, just like Jethro when he speaks to his feelings for Sienna, everything about this story was impossible to leave, impossible to forget, I was invested, captivated, utterly enchanted by the full of life lady and the mountain man who found each other unexpectedly, and in the midst of their normal lives found something extraordinary. Penny Reid once again reminded me why she is an automatic purchase author for me, her stories fanciful and yet full of universal truths, adults meeting and embarking on their something more, no angst for the sake of building drama, no silly miscommunication that leaves me tugging my hair out, her sheer brilliance reliant purely on her ability to captivate her reader, something she has done EVERY SINGLE TIME I pick up her books.

"Happy to hear it. Because when I'm with you, I feel like I'm both flying and falling."

About Penny Reid:

Penny Reid is a USA Today Best Selling Author of romantic fiction. When she’s not immersed in penning smart romances she works in the biotech industry as a researcher. She's also a full time mom to three diminutive adults (boy-8, girl-6, and girl-4 months), wife, daughter, knitter, crocheter, sewer, general crafter, and thought ninja.

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Monday, 23 May 2016

Coast (The Road #3) by Jay McLean


One life-changing summer.
One boy.
The boy.
The boy who offered me safe touches and heart-stopping smiles - smiles he shared with his son.
We filled our days with porch-step kisses,
filled our ears with laughter,
filled our hearts with love.
Deep, soul-aching, desperate love.
But love is misleading.
It's an invisible, fleeting moment.
Somewhere between false adoration and pure hatred comes an emotion, a vulnerable need, a single desire.
It lives within the ones who miss it, who crave it,
who know better than to expect it.
Love is relentless.
Even when that love turns to hate, turns to loathing,
turns to pain.
Love should heal you.
But it can also break you.
Believe me, I know...
Because I'm Becca Owens - a broken girl...
...And he's Josh Warden - the boy who broke me.

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Kristine's Review:
Reviewed: June 2016.

It's no secret that I've long been a fan of Jay McLean's work, in fact Kick Push and More Than Enough both earned the coveted PLATINUM lipstick in 2015, to say that she set the bar high for whatever would follow would be an understatement. Kick Push has been ever present in my thoughts since turning the last page last year, Josh and Becca never far from my mind, two characters that absolutely owned me, decimated my heart, ravaged my soul, two fictional characters that became something so much bigger, their presence in my life, the impact their journey had on me was real, tangible, and in turning the last page, the overwhelming sense of loss that plagued me, the sense of grief of having to say good bye, if only for a little while until I could COAST with them once more.

"Because it teaches me that if I stand tall, brave and unwilling to back down, then the chaos, the destruction - it can't attack me. It can't touch me. It makes me feel alive and invincible."

 Where Kick Push was essentially Josh's story, Coast is most definitely Becca's, a young woman who was abused and denigrated by the very person who should of been her protector, after leaving Josh in order to find herself, to find a way to heal, to rebuild the parts of her that had been broken over and over again, she finds herself confronting her fears, and facing him once again, the man she loved, the man who loved her, the man who reminded her of her worth when she felt worthless, and yet had the ability to leave her broken when she didn't think it was possible to be anymore more broken that she had previously felt, an albeit brief history they shared that shaped both of their lives so dramatically. In those quiet moments, as recognition washed over Josh's face, as Becca bravely forged forward, as my heart surged, threatening to break out of my chest, I knew with certainty that the author was about to claim my heart and soul again.

"Because it's not fair that you should have to love me broken, especially when I can never make you whole."

There's something about modern day fairy tales that we like to tell, where a damsel down on her luck is rescued by the tatted up badboy/heart of gold alpha and they ride off into the sunset, what I adore so much about this series is that not only is Josh Warden inherently a good guy, a great guy even, but that the author dares to challenge the norm, when Becca could of folded, could have crumbled under the weight of so much pain, of haunting memories, of nightmares she instead realised that heroes need to save themselves, Becca walks away despite the pain, knowing that the only way she truly has any chance of healing is to allow time to do just that, to take the steps to start the process, the work through everything that haunts her and rediscover who she is, outside of the labels that have been given to her. Coast isn't about quick fixes and happily ever afters, it's a journey from that very moment that Becca starts truly living again, it's a story of redemption, of second chances, of third chances, of I love you's, I need you's, I forgive you's, it's a story that's real and heartbreaking and honest, it's a story about the love between a father and son, between a man and woman, between father and daughter, it's a story about the family you make and the family you are given, it's a story of falling down seven times and getting up eight. Coast is so much more than contemporary romance or new adult, it's more than sexy scenes, angsty moments, and tender caresses. It's a story that left me boneless and breathless, a story that eviscerated me time and time again and yet left me absolutely mind numbingly, desperate for more, a tale about two people and the life they created together, as well as the lives they created apart was in so many ways an ode to living to the fullest, to jumping the hurdles that are inevitably put in  front of us, of staring our fears in the face - telling them you won't beat me today, it's remembering what comes after you kick and you push.

"We fall. We get back up. We kick. We push. Again and again. Because the joy of success is greater than the depression of failure." 

Finding a book that absolutely speaks to your soul is life changing, it's the moment that the story eviscerates your heart, when all you can do is smile and say thank you because feeling something that deep, that real, that inherently, that it leaves you gasping for air, it leaves you staring at the wall wondering what you just read, simultaneously causing searing pain and joyous relief, that moment is opening a book by Ms McLean, it's silently offering up your heart, saying take this but please be careful with it, it's saying I trust you to take me on the journey these characters need to go on, it's saying I will follow you wherever you need to go.

If you haven't had a chance to read Kick Push, now's the time!

GPI's Platinum Lipstick Review of Kick Push

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About Jay McLean:

Jay McLean is an international best-selling author and full-time reader, writer of New Adult Romance, and most of all, procrastinator. When she’s not doing any of those things, she can be found running after her two little boys, playing house and binge watching Netflix.
She writes what she loves to read, which are books that can make her laugh, make her hurt and make her feel.

Jay lives in the suburbs of Melbourne, Australia, in a forever half-done home where music is loud and laughter is louder.

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Sunday, 22 May 2016

Seeking Faith by Lauren McKellar & Losing Faith by Jennifer Ryder - Review


The inseparable are well and truly split.

Mack, Faith and Lacey, joined at the hip since they were kids, are about to graduate high school. You might think this sounds like a book about coming-of-age and taking that leap into adulthood.

It is—except one of them doesn’t make it …

Mackenzie Carter has one solid thing on the agenda for her future—get out of town and focus on her post-school studies. After all, she’s wanted to be a vet since she was a little girl, and nothing, not the thought of being apart from her two best mates or the idea that maybe she’s got more-than-friendly feelings for a sexy local surfer can alter that … can it?

Graduation changes everything.

Almost three years later, and Mack’s high school dreams are just that—figments of her imagination, thanks to the guilt that haunts her on a daily basis. Will a faux relationship with Byron Leckie be the thing she needs to get her life back on track? Or will it make everything worse?

One thing is for certain. When these two collide, the damage will be fierce. After all, graduation was never meant to end like this.

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Kristine's Review:
Reviewed: May 2016.

Mackenzie Carter had a comfortable life, she was loved by her family, surrounded by her two bestfriends Lacey and Faith, the end of year twelve and graduation is in her sights and her university study options after school are already narrowed down to moving to Sydney to follow her dream, only she's not sure if it's her dream anymore or everyone else's. Embarking on her final push towards end of year Mack is both ready and unsure, on the cusp of adulthood, that dichotomous age where you know everything and nothing at all. Certain truths are always true though, bestfriends tell each other everything, and its never okay to fall for your bestfriends boyfriend. When graduation night ends in unexpected tragedy, Mack's world tilts on it's axis, three bestfriends are torn apart, the lives of those around them broken, staying was never part of the plan, leaving is truly the only option, when Mack leaves everything behind determined to start again, she thinks her days in their small town are over, only the past has a way of coming back whether your ready to deal the memories it brings or not.

Byron Leckie had the seemingly perfect life, loved by all, hottest girlfriend in town, good friends, plans for the future, the last thing he expected was to develop feelings for his girlfriends best friend, despite doing the right thing and abiding by the cardinal rule of never coming between friends, that year changes the trajectory of his life forever, when tragedy strikes on graduation night Byron is broken, being the good guy didn't save anyone and his close knit group of friends was torn apart. Chasing memories of guilt and years of heartache when he runs into Mack again years later he finally has the chance to write the wrongs of the past, to fix some of whats broken, and bring one of the towns favourite daughters home.

Losing someone too soon, too young is tragic, the mystery surrounding Faith's death only intensifying the feelings of guilt, one night three years ago changed everyone's lives, in Seeking Faith McKellar takes the reader on a journey of guilt and shame, of pain and heartbreak, of ultimately forgiveness and love, the inherent sense of suspense woven through each moment held me captive, intrigued almost immediately and desperate for more I devoured Seeking Faith, McKellar begs the question of what happens after the storm, after the sadness and after the hurt, she's examines survivors guilt in the subtlest of ways, as both Mack and Byron wade through a sea of emotions, some beating them down, others buoying them to continue. Set across a picturesque backdrop of coastal life, interspersed with the vibrant canvas of bustling Sydney McKellar held me captive from the first page until the very last page.


About Lauren McKellar:

Lauren K. McKellar is the writer of contemporary romance reads that make you feel. With a passion for all things fiction, she is a hybrid-published best-selling Australian author of young and new adult books.
In addition to her fiction work, Lauren edits manuscripts for both publishing houses and a host of successful independent authors, working on both structural and line elements. She loves working collaboratively to achieve a common end goal.
Lauren lives by the beach in Australia with her husband and their two dogs. Most of the time, all three of them are well behaved.

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The inseparable are well and truly split.

Mack, Faith and Lacey, joined at the hip since primary school, are about to graduate high school. You might think this sounds like a book about coming-of-age and taking that leap into adulthood.

It is— except one of them doesn’t make it …

Lacey Marone had two solid things on her agenda for her future — working in the Pepperoni Palace until she figured out what the hell to do with her life, and getting together with her bestie’s older brother, Quade, who she’s crushed on since she was a kid.

Then graduation night changed everything. Almost three years later, Lacey won’t rest until she discovers the truth surrounding Faith’s death. She’s outcast by those who want to move on from the tragedy, as if the town’s sweetheart never existed.

Years after losing Faith, Quade Kelly returns home to Runaway Beach, determined to mend ties with his parents and cement a future in his hometown teaching at the local primary school. Quade soon learns that his sister’s ghost lives on, thanks to Lacey, the girl who still owns a piece of his heart.

Lacey is hung up on her quest for answers. Quade wants to bury his failures of the past. The pull between them can’t be denied but can the past be forgotten?

Truths will be uncovered and hearts will be cracked open wide. After all, graduation was never meant to end like this.

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Kristine's Review:
Reviewed: May 2016.

Lacey Marone had a pretty sweet deal, final year of high school, one third of the best bitches, loving and supportive family and the beginnings of a new relationship with the only boy that's ever caught her attention, Quade Kelly. The boy who she's loved from afar for as long as she can remember is just as smitten with her, no longer destined to admire the object of her affection from afar, her best friend Faith's older brother, with plans to tell everyone about their new relationship after graduation Lacey is excited for what's to come, when tragedy rocks their tight knit community the last thing on her mind is announcing her big news. At a time when Lacey should be surrounded by those she loves, she's left alone, heartbroken, desolate, when Quade leaves without an explanation and Mack disappears into the night, the girl who once had everything now has a gaping black hole in her life, grieving for her dead best friend, grieving the lost of the relationship that was just beginning, grieving her other best friend, she turns her efforts to educating teens about the dangers of drinking and alcohol and the roads at night, while searching for some clue as to what happened to Faith that fateful night that everything fell apart.

Quade Kelly had a good life, older brother to Faith, whom he adored, loving family, good friends, and a new relationship with Lacey, the girl who had always been there and yet was suddenly everywhere he looked. Brother to the prodigal daughter, when she dies Quade is adrift, blame for her tragic death falling squarely on his shoulders, shrouded in guilt and pain he leaves everything he knows behind. Returning home three years later, ready to rewrite the past that crushed him, try to rebuild the relationship that crumbled with his parents, try to reconnect with the girl he never forgot.

The sense of suspense and intrigue ran through Losing Faith, Lacey's need to discover what happened to her best friend, using her pain to fuel her quest to uncover the truth, Lacey is strong, sassy, confident, she refuses to be bullied by those in town who just want to forget Faith every existed, strongly supportive of her parents, and their family business, there is so much about her that I truly adored, independently I adored by Lacey and Quade, but together I wanted more, I wanted more from Quade, I wanted more strength from Lacey, I wanted to feel their connection, the strength of his apology, I wanted to know with certainty that she exorcised some of that anger and grief, I wanted to feel Quade's ability to admit that the way he left effected more than just him, that taking off unexpectedly broke something inside of Lacey, that running away was something he regretted, and more than anything was desperate to fix, to make right. I wanted passion, and need, I wanted to feel that inherently through their actions and their words, rather than being told how deeply they felt for one another.

Losing Faith running concurrently to Seeking Faith explores the side of what happens after tragedy strikes to the people left behind, the town left in its wake. Lacey shows herself to be the rare combination of adolescence and adult, clinging to rewriting the past, dogged by the uncertainty of not knowing the hows and whys of that fateful night, desperate to ensure that it never happens again, that drive and dedication is what I cheered on relentlessly while reading.
Exhilarating at times, Lacey and Quade's story had me intrigued, and while there were moments that's utterly captivated me, I struggled to truly feel connected to Lacey and Quade as their relationship reconnected and gained strength. Dive into Losing Faith and discover all the secrets and lies that hide behind the smiling faces left behind.

About Jennifer Ryder:

Jennifer Ryder is a bestselling author with five novels in the Spark Series published to date. She loves to write about boys on dirt bikes, detectives and strong females who aren’t afraid to fight for what they want.

Living on a rural property in New South Wales, Australia, she enjoys the best of city and country. Her loving husband is ever willing to provide inspiration, and her two young cherubs, and sheep that don't see fences as barriers, keep life more than interesting.

Jennifer placed third in the International Stringybark Erotic Short Fiction Award 2013.

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Thursday, 19 May 2016

A Way To Get By by T Torrest - Review


What happens after The Ballad of Brenda and Eddie?

This is not a romantic comedy.
This is not a fairytale.
This is not what you’re expecting.

Lies, secrets, betrayal.
Marriage, divorce, sex.
Love, heartbreak, money.

Best friends.
Old enemies.

Soul mates.

Happily Ever After comes in many forms.
A WAY TO GET BY is the story of how Brenda and Eddie found theirs.

***For ages 18+ ***READ WHEN YOU’RE IN THE MOOD FOR: Angsty, surprising, heart-breaking, infuriating true love.***

WARNING: This book is told in dual POV with a non-linear timeline.

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Kristine's Review:
Reviewed: May 2016.

My initial reaction upon finishing A WAY TO GET BY was "OMG...what did I just read...phroawwwww..." and now weeks later, I still have no idea how to explain how I feel about this book, my brain is a mess of conflicted emotions. I went into the AWTGB blind, I had read the blurb when it was first revealed but had only a vague recollection of it by the time I began, brief memories of lies and divorce and love and heartbreak, that in itself was intriguing, in an age where as a reader of predominantly contemporary romance I expect my books to be heavy on the love, I may have become entitled, I may have come to expect a certain chain of events, a predictable formula, and yet within moments of turning the first page I sat spell bound, utterly unprepared for what was unfolding before me. Am I being deliberately vague? Definitely, there's no way for me to write this review, doing this story justice that won't take away some of what makes it so special, so captivating, so riveting.

T Torrest ensured I was a fan way back with Remember When, she absolutely cemented that with the subsequent releases in the trilogy, when Down The Shore and Breaking The Ice were released I dove in reckless abandon, desperate for more of her words, I'll be honest, I absolutely thought I had her writing style pegged, I *knew* the kind of the story she was bound to release, it would no doubt meet the high expectation she had previously set, and it did, but it absolutely exceeded it as well, A Way To Get By is unlike anything I have read recently, the depth of emotion, the raw unquestioning angst, the pain and devastation of marriage breakdown, the grief of no longer having the future you planned, of what comes when I Do isn't forever, and you have to begin anew. For fans of Torrest, this will be an automatic #1click, for those new to the author, I implore you, set your expectations by the door, sit down with Eddie and Brenda and let them remind you that sometimes life isn't what you envisioned, sometimes you just need to find a way to get by.

About T Torrest:

T Torrest is a fiction writer from the U.S. She has written many books, but prays that only a handful of them will ever see the light of day. Her stories are geared toward readers of any age that know how to enjoy a good laugh and a dreamy romance.

Ms. Torrest was a child of the eighties, but has since traded in her Rubik's cube for a laptop and her Catholic school uniform for a comfy pair of yoga pants. She's a pop-culture junkie, a movie aficionado, and an enthusiast of talking about herself in the third person. A lifelong Jersey girl, she currently resides there with her husband and two sons.

She also really digs it when she hears from readers, and is known to use words like "dig" in a non-sarcastic way.

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Tuesday, 17 May 2016

The Spiral Down by Aly Martinez - Review


Standalone M/M romance.

I was afraid to fly.
He made me soar.

After years of climbing the ladder of success in the music industry, I finally had everything I could want.
Yet I still found myself wandering through life alone.

Captain Evan Roth was the one man I never saw coming.
Tall, dark, mysterious… Straight.

We were both damaged beyond repair and searching for something so elusive we weren’t sure it even existed.

But, when two broken souls collide in midair, falling is a given.

I just never expected to crave the spiral down.

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Kristine's Review:
Reviewed: May 2016

When I say I loved The Fall Up it would be an understatement, see I didn't just love it, I adored it, I fell in love with Aly Martinez in that moment, The Fall Up earned itself a PLATINUM LIPSTICK and cemented it's place on my Favourite Books of All Time List, to say I was excited for The Spiral Down again would again be an understatement, to say I had high expectations...well again massive understatement, I may have squealed when I opened my kindle to find it waiting for me, it was with excitement and trepidation that I turned to the first page... I'll be honest in those first pages I didn't particularly like Henry Alexander, sure he was funny as hell, but in those first moments when he was cocky and the consummate playboy I didn't particularly like him, I told myself I wouldn't fall under his charms, I was resolute, I was determined, Evan Roth was going to be my main man and I was going to quietly...okay nothing I do is quietly...dislike Henry... I'm quite stubborn when I want to be, it's my Taurean pride at stake after all...but as much as I fought it, as much as I tired...I JUST COULDN'T HATE HENRY! He was so darn suave, and confident, and funny, so damn funny that I found myself laughing out loud and his quips and quick witted come backs, his relationship with Carter, with Levee, with Sam, but what truly dragged me over to the dark side was the pulling back of layer after layer of this complex man, I may not have been a huge fan of Henry Alexander every moment, but Henry Gilchrist...well he stole my heart.

"But there was one thing I knew; I wasn't wrong for being who I was."

Now, I might be going against the grain here, I know The Spiral Down was supposed to be Henry's book, but Evan Roth was the hero for me, everything about him absolutely dragged me in, I was invested immediately, I was desperate to learn more about him, it was like a shot to the nervous system, I was hooked, I craved his point of view, his words, his thoughts, and the more I read, the more I discovered, the more I fell in love with him, his inner most thoughts struck a chord deep inside and I got it, I got him, I relished that feeling, revelled in the way his words resonated.

"Or, more likely, he'd be the earthquake that was going to break me down before swallowing me whole. Either way, I wasn't going to be left standing. I just had to decide how long I wanted to fight."

There is so much here I want to tell you about, so many scenes that I have highlighted and earmarked, words of prose, of exquisite dialogue, under the cocky bravado, under the high flying life of affluence, under the perfect comedic timing, and under the scorching hot interludes was a story that touched my heart. Abandonment issues, lost love, hurt feelings, desperation for something bigger than anything they've even known. There's a ethereal quality watching Henry and Evan's story unfold, watching their connection go from one of raw lust to something deeper, something more intrinsic, something so all consuming that it left them feeling simultaneously strong as a lion and weak as a mouse. No longer able to deny their connection, no longer able to tell themselves it was animalistic lust, or explosive chemistry meant with certainty that failing to discuss the changing dynamics of their relationship was no longer possible.

"I miss him. His laugh. His randomness. The way he can captivate me from across a room. The rush I felt when we were together. It was the closest thing to flying I've ever experienced with my feet on the ground."

I wanted to hate Henry, truly I did, I wanted to be unaffected by his charms, but the heady combination of Evan and Henry, of Levee and Sam, of Carter, the raw explosive chemistry that leapt off the page and incinerated everything in sight, the heartbreaking honesty of facing everyone of your fears, everyone of your past hurts, the terrifying fear of opening yourself up to someone else, of giving them your heart and asking them not to break it left me reeling as I turned the last page, The Spiral Down isn't just MM, nor is it rock star romance, nor is it anyone thing, it's requires no labels because none of them can do it justice, put simply this is a book about soaring without wings.

Start back where it all began The Fall Up

About Aly Martinez:

Born and raised in Savannah, Georgia, Aly Martinez is a stay-at-home mom to four crazy kids under the age of five- including a set of twins. Currently living in South Carolina, she passes what little free time she has reading anything and everything she can get her hands on, preferably with a glass of wine at her side.

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Game Maker (Game #2) by BJ Harvey - Review


From the USA Today bestselling author of the Bliss series comes a new spin off series featuring your favourite Bliss series characters who are yet to meet their match. This time it is Zach and Danika's turn.

I’m a gamer by nature and by profession. I’m all about strategy, performance, and coming out on top.

Five months ago I threw caution to the wind, and in the first miscalculated step of my twenty-one-year life, I made a move on my brother’s best friend.

The first mistake we made was keeping our relationship secret. The next was going off half-cocked when a train wreck of epic proportions hit us.

Now our secret is secret no more. As I struggle to deal with all of the swirling emotions, conflicted feelings, and the multitude of burned bridges that I need to mend, the one person who can help me through it all is the same man I need space from.

To fix it I’ll have to pull on my big-girl panties, focus on what I truly want in life, and put everything I have into winning the most important game I’ll ever play.

Life is a game, and it is what you make it.

Coming out unscathed is a whole other matter.

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Kristine's Review:
Reviewed: May 2016.

Danika Roberts spent her a good deal of her adolescence standing on the sidelines idolising her brothers best friend Zach Cooper, from childhood hero to object of her affection, Zach caught her eye early on and she never out grew the swarm of butterflies in her belly when he was near. Danika isn't just Zander's little sister anymore, she's grown up in everyway possible, she's carved out a successful like for herself, with her dream job as a professional gamer and an apartment she loves and a friend and roommate she adores in Abi. Life is good, no scrap that, life is great, granted she spends more time at work than she should, and she doesn't really have a raging social life, and her love life is pretty much non existent... anyway Dani is happy with where she is and knows where her priorities lie, especially when the man she's always looked to as her ultimate doesn't look at her as anything more than her brothers little sister.

Zach Cooper is an inherently good guy, growing up a only child with a single mother he knows all about the bonds of family, when he met Zander Roberts they became firm friends, the brother he always wanted, with Zander came three sisters including the baby of the family, little Dani. When a kitchen fire brought him face to face with a career he never dreamed of he found his calling, for over five years he's been a fire fighter with the CFD, which pretty much guarantees that women swoon in his wake, unfortunately the girl who caught his eye he can't have.

"That's what makes it so hot. You have no f*cking idea how irresistible you are or what it's doing to me having you this close and not being able to touch you."

When Dani and Zach realise that they weren't alone in their mutual infatuation thing quickly heat up, starting something on such rocky ground could have dire consequences, sneaking around and basking in the joy and excitement of a new relationship is half the fun, but falling for the one person that's supposed to be off limits can be devastating.

"That's me, the cliché man falling for his best friend's baby sister. The thing is, I have no plans to stop doing it."

Game maker is the perfect blend of everything I adore about Rom Com's, Dani's voice is both young and vibrant, and yet at times she has a wisdom beyond her years, the characters in the Bliss and subsequently the Game series have wildly different voices, in what has become an ensemble cast creating clear and developed character's that don't bleed too heavily into one another is a feat not to be underestimated, getting inside the Roberts girls minds in this new series has been equal parts sweet and hilarious, the sassy no nonsense heroine's that Harvey seems to create somehow still feel fresh and new, never the author to write about the poor lost girl awaiting a big strong man to save them, she has instead created a slew of characters, both male and female that compliment each other instead of merely completing one another. Where Dani had a level of naivety that comes with age, it's Zach standing steadfastly beside her knowing what he has found, knowing how special a connection  like theirs truly is, despite the set backs, despite the fears and doubts.

Right now, I need to hear the words because I can't fight with only one hand while the other is desperately trying to hold onto the one thing I'm fighting for."

I expected a fun, sexy adventure, which Harvey never fails to deliver, but what surprised me was how earnestly I felt the fear and trepidation, the self doubt, the honeymoon stage of any relationship is always meant to be the most fun, but when obstacles stand in the way, whether imagined or created, the worry that hangs in the air shrouds that happiness and excitement over something new. There was a rawness here that I haven't often experienced, Game Maker felt real, dream jobs and fire fighters aside, watching the relationship bloom before my very eyes ensured I was invested, that I truly cared for Dani and Zach, it meant I felt what they felt, cheered them on, and rallied behind them when needed.
There's something exhilarating about diving into romantic comedy, it's akin to the flutters in the belly before something good happens, it's trepidation and excitement, it's familiarity and ease of contentment knowing that the authors KNOWS how to knock it out of the park, it's their wheelhouse, but most of all its turning the last page, smile wide, belly aching from giggling, sated and yet desperate for more that comes with BJ Harvey's words.

About BJ Harvey:

BJ Harvey is the USA Today Bestselling Author of the Bliss Series. She also regards herself as a smut peddler, suspense conjurer and a funny romance thinker upper.

An avid music fan, you will always find her singing some hit song badly but loving every minute of it. She’s a wife, a mom to two beautiful girls, and hails from what she considers as the best country in the world—New Zealand.

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Sunday, 15 May 2016

Wasted Words by Staci Hart - Review


Some universal truths refuse to be ignored.

Peanut butter and jelly are a match made in heaven. Spaghetti and meatballs are best friends forever. And guys like Tyler Knight don’t go for girls like Cam Emerson.

She knew from the second she met him that he didn’t belong on her bookshelf, the six-foot-six ex-tight end with a face so all-American, it could have sold apple pie. So she shelved him next to the supermodels and rock stars and took her place on her own shelf — the one with the flannel-clad, pasty-faced comic book nerds. Most of her boyfriends have existed between the pages of books, but rather than worrying over her own lacking love life, she puts all her energy into playing Cupid, using her job at the book bar, Wasted Words, as her stomping ground.

Tyler Knight always looks on the bright side. His career-ending injury turned into a job as a sports agent. A horrible breakup led him to Cam, his quirky, smart roommate who is far more beautiful than she realizes. She’s made it perfectly clear she’s not interested in him — not like that at least — but if she ever changes her mind, he won’t hesitate. Because he doesn’t see the lines she’s drawn between them, as much as she insists that they’re there. Deep down he knows that despite their differences, they’re a match well made.

*A romantic comedy inspired by Jane Austen’s Emma*

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Kristine's Review:
Reviewed: May 2016.

There was nervous excitement picking up Wasted Words, I stumbled upon Staci Hart last year when the cover of With A Twist  stopped me scrolling my newsfeed, literally reaching through social media, grabbing my collar while screaming STOP STOP STOP LOOK AT ME!!! For anyone who follows me they know with certainty that the Friends to Lovers trope is my ultimate, from that moment on I was enamoured, my love of Ms Hart's covers wasn't relegated to only that title, as Chaser and Last Call hit the interwebs I was once again enchanted, the author's ability to catch every aspect of the characters and bring them to life not only on the cover but again in her words held me captive, she made me fall in love with this quirky group of friends, with their lives, with their sorrows and their triumphs, when whispers of Wasted Words began I was intrigued, for lovers of the Bad Habits series Cam was a newly introduced character, even in the brief mentions she was quirky and fun and I couldn't wait to discover more about her.

Cam has her world carefully organised like the books she loves, everything on its right shelf grouped with their suitable partners, she's friendly and outgoing, loved by those who know her, with a knack for match making Cam derives joy out of nudging people in the direction of their soul mates, finding ingenious ways to get people to connect organically leaving them none the wiser to her meddling ways, being able to zero in on possible love matches comes naturally, but when she turns her hand to pushing her bestie / roommate into the path of another woman things begin to change.

"It was in the mundane moments that I noticed her...
"I wondered, and not for the first time, if she would ever date me. If she'd let me kiss her. If she'd kiss me back." 

Tyler had the world at his feet until an on field injury ended his dreams of going pro in the NFL. Years later Tyler has recovered and moved on with his life, he has a dream job as a sports agent, after being unlucky in love Tyler somewhat removed himself from the dating market, no longer actively looking for love, content focusing primarily on work, his spare time spent with his roommate and closest friend, the pocket rocket that is Cam, frequenting her work Wasted Words, taking part in her singles nights, spending weekends camped in front of the television together, going to NFL games, their bond unbreakable, when Tyler is introduced to someone who would usually make perfect sense for him he's rattled that he isn't excited in the way he should be.

"All this time, I had my eyes peeled for a match for Tyler, and now I found one. I just couldn't figure out why I felt woozy about it."

Built on a solid foundation of friendship, everything about Tyler and Cam should be easy, it should be effortless, their connection is undeniable, their chemistry, explosive but when love doesn't come in the shape and form you expect it there can be dire consequences. All of the emotions that bubble up inside telling you how right this is, can't change your head telling you that it can end in disaster. Waging a war on heart and head is tricky when you don't know who you want to win. There's a beautiful message in Wasted Words that reminds us to look outside of what we've conditioned ourselves to believe, Hart urges the reader to question the imaginary shelves we put ourselves on, to question the fences we build to keep people out, to prevent the chance of future hurt.

"This is supposed to be easy. When you fall for someone, shouldn't it be easy? I don't feel like we're the same. We're not equals."

Ultimately the beauty of Wasted Words is in more than just the witty banter, which Hart writes with perfect comedic timing, more than the sizzling chemistry between Tyler and Cam, which abounds, more than the urge to climb into your kindle and butt their heads together urging them to open their eyes, to see what's right in front of each other, which happened more than once, the beauty of this story was in those moments where I connected with Cam, when I felt her fear and trepidation, when I felt her confidence slip and her anxiety increase, it was in those moments when she became a friend, someone I wanted to wrap my arms around, and not just read about her. It was the moments when she was lost inside her own head trying to navigate her way out of past hurts. It was in the moments when Tyler stood sure and proud, when he knew what he wanted and went after if, when he said the perfect words to have me swooning and wanting to climb within the pages for very different reasons to those previously. Friends to Lovers isn't a new trope, and it's certainly not new to me, Hart crafted Wasted Words in a way that left it feeling fun and fresh, she made loving not only the hero and heroine but all of the characters...wait well not ALL of the characters but you'll need to read the book to find out, effortless. Eloquent, refreshing and a pleasure to lose myself in, Wasted Words was everything I hoped for.



About Staci Hart:

Staci has been a lot of things up to this point in her life: a graphic designer, an entrepreneur, a seamstress, a clothing and handbag designer, a waitress. Can't forget that. She's also been a mom, with three little girls who are sure to grow up to break a number of hearts. She's been a wife, even though she's certainly not the cleanest, or the best cook. She's also super, duper fun at a party, especially if she's been drinking whiskey. Her favorite word starts with f and ends with k.

From roots in Houston, to a seven year stint in Southern California, Staci and her family ended up settling somewhere in between and equally north, in Denver. They are new enough that snow is still magical. When she's not writing, she's sleeping, cleaning, or designing graphics.

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Toward the Sound of Chaos by Carmen Jenner - Review


Jake Tucker is broken. At twenty-two, he went in to the Marine Corps a naïve, troubled youth. Nine years and four tours later, Jake finds himself back on US soil, though his mind remains firmly planted in the sands of Afghanistan with the men he left behind.

Wounded, chewed up and spat out by war, Jake has only his dog, Nuke, PTSD, and survivor’s guilt to keep him company. He’s lived every day for nine years wondering when it will be his last, but there’s little comfort in the fact that he’s still standing when his platoon isn’t.

Ellie Mason doesn’t have time for broken. She’s too busy trying to put food on the table. And keeping up with the demands of her autistic son, Spencer, is sometimes like fighting behind enemy lines. As if navigating the minefields of single parenthood isn’t enough, Ellie finds herself drawn to the quiet Marine who’s just as lonely as she is. But she’s loved damaged men before, and it left her wounded.

Set against the picturesque backdrop of Fairhope, Alabama, Ellie and Jake find themselves running toward the sound of chaos.

Love is war.

Only the strong survive, and surrender is inevitable.  

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Kristine's Review:

Reviewed: May 2016.

I have been a long time fan of Carmen Jenner's work, her ability to seamlessly create worlds that I want to be part of, worlds that both excite and terrify me, characters that are robust and developed, characters that leap off the page demanding that you LOOK at them, that you SEE them, that you see beyond the pretty smiles or ripped abs, beyond the bad boy or nice guy façade, that you see beyond the carefully constructed image they want projected to the world, there's something inherently thrilling about discovering a characters secrets, knowing that you as a reader dug below the surface and uncovered deeper meaning, that feeling of knowing you might be one of hundreds or thousands reading the same book but in some way it was written just for you. That's the feeling that washes over me EVERY TIME I pick up one of Jenner's books, it's a feeling of exhilaration and anticipation, a feeling that floods your belly with butterflies, a feeling of something BIG is just out of reach, a feeling a warmth that settles around you like a soft blanket on a chilly day, it's knowing with absolute certainty that the author will test your resolve, will make you think, will make you question what you would do in that situation, but most importantly will make you FEEL. Turning the first page of Toward the Sound of Chaos was equal parts filled with anticipation and trepidation, I've made no secret of struggling to connect with darker or heavier tropes of late, from the glorious cover to the intriguing blurb I knew that Ms Jenner wouldn't be pulling any punches here, the authors tag line asks the reader what's a happily ever after without a little torture? In the moments when my heart was falling in shards, shattered and broken at my feet, when my soul wept, when my emotions were battered and bruised, when I sat there questioning everything, needing to believe in the good and the just, echoes of the tagline floated through my mind, reminding me, begging me to see the world through a different lens, to feel every moment of this story about a broken man returned from war, of a woman who's life is dedicated to loving and protecting a little boy that so much of the world doesn't understand.

Funny how those things never leave you. Even now, seven thousand  five hundred miles away. I still hear those words I whispered into the darkness."

Jake Tucker returned from War a broken man, memories of his service haunt him, his body covered in reminders of being chewed up and spat out by conflict and oppression, he's returned from War but he's very much still living the agony and torment Stateside, returning to normal day to day life is something returned Vet's often struggle with, the horrors and atrocities of War branded on their minds, ensuring that forgetting all that they've seen and done is not possible. The dichotomy of the warring sides of his character ever present, the Marine who served his country, who ran towards chaos instead of away from it, the serviceman whose courage and gallantry saw him become a respected and trusted leader juxtaposed with the battered and broken man who returned home, the man shackled by his memories, by the sights and smells of fighting a War that has no winners or losers, scarred physically and emotionally by things most of us will never understand, Jake Tucker returned home a hero and yet doesn't feel like one, therein lying the greatest problem, swamped by feelings of inadequacy, of loss, of ruin, a man changed by all he has seen and lived through struggling every day just to continue breathing.

"Every f*cking cry for help or scream of terror, of loss, of agony from nine years' worth of service, I hear it all on a loop in my head. Afghani, American, man, woman, child, it don't make no difference, because terror sounds the same in the dark, no matter whose lungs it's ripped from."

Ellie Mason knows a thing or two about having a past you want to forget, business operator and single mother to young son Spencer she knows all to well what it's like to put the needs of others before her own.  Rearing a child with Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder can be challenging to say the least, raising a child is filled with pot holes and landmines on most days, equal parts joy and desperation, trial and error, Ellie has had to readjust her life and her parenting techniques to best suit Spencer's needs. Living in a small town, a blessing and a curse, fighting small town mindsets and challenging ideas about her sons treatment needs is a constant battles, modifying her own behaviour and actions to best create a stable and structured environment that allows Spencer to thrive her only priority. The love and fierce maternal protective instinct for her child has been Ellie's guiding light, with only a couple of friends, she's been steadfastly relying solely on herself.

"That woman is a walking time bomb and the more I talked to her, the more I didn't care that I'd be swallowed up by the blast once it went off. And it was sure to detonate. Anything that came from this, anything we built would be blown to smithereens because if she was a time bomb, I was a nuclear weapon."

From side glances, and sly looks, Ellie and Jake meeting was destined to shake both of their foundations, it's often said that our souls can recognise it's mate, it's in those quiet moments where they co-exist that we find sheer beauty, fleeting as they may be. The instant connection, the click of recognising something deeper than the smiles on ones face,  the immediate knowledge that this person knows of struggle and heartache, that they inherently understand what it's like to wake up every morning and donne your mask for the world, to wear your scars and fears as a shield to protect you. From shaky breaths and lost looks, to longing glances and heart breaking need, the quietest moments in Toward the Sound of Chaos were the most thrilling, the moments that rely purely on the author's ability to convey her message, that allow two battered and bruised people who are desperately wading the river of life, praying to come out unscathed. It's those moments of eloquent prose, where this reader wasn't tantalised by gratuitous sex or heart stopping violence that the story clearly shone through, where I lost my heart, it was in those quiet moments that I had to set down my kindle, suck in a deep breath and just reflect, the only way to quiet my trembling hands, to slow my beating heart was to concentrate on the sound of my own breath, it was in those moments that I found beauty and peace in the chaos and the silence.

"You've spent so long building that wall around yourself, that you don't even know that every day since we met I've been chipping away at the thing and I finally made a hole. I let the light back in."

Military Romance as a trope is not new to contemporary romance, it's not new to this blogger, the realities of war is something I will God willing never need to face, I have family, friends and acquaintances that have served, that continue to serve, but so far in my short life I have not experienced first hand what PTSD and the lasting effects of the horrors of wartime have on not only the serviceman or woman but their families and friends. While I have family members and friends that fall somewhere along the Autism spectrum I don't truly understand the struggles of raising an ASD child, I don't understand the pain and heartache of not being able to hug your child for fear of setting off an episode, I don't understand having to stick to regimented schedules as to avoid causing confusion and stress on a child who's biggest concerns should be shirking their vegetables and playing outside, and yet I felt Jake's fear and guilt, I felt his pain, I felt Ellie's anguish and heartbreak, her sorrow, throughout Toward the Sound of Chaos I felt it all in spades, I felt it in my bones, in my heart, in my soul, and in those quiet moments, where the melancholy and sorrow threatened to overwhelm me, I felt the light break through, I felt the hope for a better day tomorrow, I felt overwhelming love and joy.  As I sit here reflecting on a story that examines the horrors of war, the struggles of a single parents just trying to muddle through, the story of a little boy with big eyes and a bigger heart, the story of the rainbow that comes after the rain, I'm once again reminded that sometimes the most beautiful fairy tales are the ones that come along in the middle of an ordinary life.

About Carmen Jenner:

Carmen Jenner is a thirty-something, USA TODAY and international bestselling author of the Sugartown, Savage Saints, and Taint series.
Her dark romance, KICK (Savage Saints MC #1), won Best Dark Romance Read in the Reader’s Choice Awards at RWDU 2015.
A tattoo enthusiast, hardcore MAC addict and zombie fangirl, Carmen lives on the sunny north coast of New South Wales, Australia, where she spends her time indoors wrangling her two wildling children, a dog named Pikelet, and her very own man-child.
A romantic at heart, Carmen strives to give her characters the HEA they deserve, but not before ruining their lives completely first … because what’s a happily ever after without a little torture?

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