Saturday, December 31, 2016

My Favorite Books for 2016!!

What a year!!! I got to 'meet' some new authors through their books this year, and I love doing that. I read some old favorites that I know I am guaranteed a good read, and was sadly disappointed by a few others that I have come to love. C'est la vie in the life of books, right? Well, what books did I love? There were a TON this year and I feel like I was book blessed quite a bit. It was a great year overall, and I am so glad I got to document it this year on my own blog. I read/finished 103 books this year, which equaled out to a respectable 2 books a week, but my gosh...I feel like I need more time because there were SO many to read!! I know that doesn't sound like a lot....but it definitely was a busy year for me. I loved it!

I want to let you know this list is in NO way in any specific order because I am a rambler by nature, but I have some recurring favorite authors and some brand new ones to me as well. What an amazing year it was for me in the book world. I feel so book blessed.

Best of the Year
It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
This was on a few of my lists, so I think it needed to just be placed under the header of favorite of the year. It is best to go in blind with this one as it will make you catch your breath as you discover everything as it happens. I most definitely went in blind and am so glad. I have never openly cried so hard after reading a book like I did with this one. Sobbing. Sob-bing. I would love for everyone to read this book. It was life-altering, to say the least.
◆ Check out my review:
◆ Purchase:

A Love Letter to Whiskey by Kandi Steiner
This book BROKE me in October. I was down for the count. The hold Jamie and B had over each other was intense. So very intense. I loved how this one broke me, but it made it rough to pick up other books. No books were working and I was pretty much sad because while I crave ANGST like no other, and this book delivered it in spades....all the way up to the very last page. LAST. PAGE. I literally couldn't enjoy another book for a while after this one. She is on my list to check out in the new year...starting with Weightless.
◆ Check out my review:
◆ Purchase:

Closer by Mary Elizabeth
I hate cliffhangers....I do, but as addictive as Mary writes, this book could NOT be postponed. I am in love with the characters, the pure need they had and the trials they went through. The angst in this book was top notch and I could not settle down while reading this one. I really enjoyed being able to go through all the trials and tribulations that Teller and Ella went through, and that ending....OMG. Seriously, the wait is going to be agonizing. There is no denying that, but in true Mary Elizabeth fashion, amazing story. Book hangover alert.
◆ Check out my review:
◆ Purchase:

M/M Romance
Him and Us by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy
This duet was the perfect introduction to these two co-writers. I lived and breathed Jamie and Wes for 4 days as I read both of their books. I LOVE THEM!!! The way this story was told allowed me to read this spectacular romance from a very naive POV. It showed me the fear, the love, the excitement and the pain that came along with exploring something so new and unknown. I loved this and these books stuck with me ALL year. Thanks to Jenn at Garden of REden that suggested them to me.
◆ Check out my review:
◆ Purchase:

Best Conclusion to a Series
Sweetest Venom by Mia Asher
Having to wait for the conclusion to Easy Virtue and find out what was going on between Ronan, Law and Blaire....I figured I was going to get an epic conclusion. Well, I did. So much so that I had to walk around, and get myself back to sitting to read. I had SO much anxiety reading this book, I was breathing funny!!! This book was the first book that I can remember that made me actually have to remind myself to breathe. It was so heavy. To see past Blaire's faults and look into her heart was an amazing thing to be able to do and is a true testament to Mia's fantastic writing. She is a a must read author.
◆ Check out my review:
◆ Purchase:

Best Fairytale
The Vixen and the Vet by Katy Regnery
I love Katy's ease in which she tells a story and her ability to suck you right in. She is a phenomenal writer and I really enjoy her stories. No one can write innocence quite like her, but also make it sexy and hot as well. Her writing really stands up on it's own. I love her words and am so glad I can trust my heart to her and know she will take care of me. Her modern fairytale series is my favorite fairytale series that I have read.
◆ Check out my review:
◆ Purchase:

Best Paranormal Romance
It's You by Katy Regnery
Ok....seriously, this was THE BEST paranormal book I've ever read. I know that isn't saying much when I don't read PNR, but it says enough to where I loved that I was able to suspend my belief, fall in love with these characters that had otherworldly abilities and feel the need to check out more. Quite different than my norm, but glad that I was able to hand over my heart and mind and know I was in for a treat with her words. I literally cannot tell you how amazing Jack and Darcy's story truly was. I am still thinking about it.
◆ Check out my review:
◆ Purchase:

Best Second Chance
Undo Me by M Robinson
Again with the angst...this one was the perfect example of a second/third/fourth chance romance that really had me rooting for them. I was glued to my kindle while I read this one and am pretty sure that put M Robinson on my must reads list. This entire series is amazing....seriously, check it out.
◆ Check out my review:
◆ Purchase:

Best Opposites Attract
The First Taste by Jessica Hawkins
Andrew and Amelia could NOT have been any more opposite, but the fact that they both fought and then realized what was really happening made for a very fun and intriguing book. This book also made me dream of bathtub scenes for days. Andrew is a top BBF for me in Jessica's books, right after David Dylan from The Cityscape Series (Must Read/Favorite Triangle of all time). I love Jessica's brand of angst and always look forward to her stories.
◆ Check out my review:
◆ Purchase:

Best Forbidden Book
Author Anonymous by Ek Blair
This book was INSANE!! This was probably the most twisted, messed up story that I have ever read and it was so good. This was a selfish look at a forbidden side of a woman needing validation. The emotions I felt while reading this book were intense. I was angry. I felt bad. I was flabbergasted. I was shocked. It was definitely an intriguing book, one worth reading and discussing. My favorite thing about this book was the discussions that followed.
◆ Check out my review:
◆ Purchase:

Best Triangle 
Black Swan Affair by KL Kreig
I read this book immediately following A Love Letter to Whiskey and it added to my amazingly horrific book hangover that lasted a LONG time. It was rough, but clearly I worked hard on that hangover. Talk about angsty goodness....I love a triangle, but I love one even more when the author can make me feel BOTH sides of the love because that is the honest truth behind a triangle. I loved how much this one made me think and want and need. So good!
◆ Check out my review:
◆ Purchase:

 Best Series
Soul Series by Kennedy Ryan
Where to even begin with this one. I started this series in 2015, but finished it this year and their love stuck with me. The way Kennedy wrote was lyrical. Rhys and Kai were literally a match made in heaven, but they went through hell to get to where they are. Their love is most definitely beauty on the pages. I fell in love with her Bennett Series while waiting for the rest of this series to come out. Kennedy is a must read author of mine and I am anxiously awaiting more from her.
◆ Check out my review:
◆ Purchase:

Best YA
Lucas by Jay Mclean
For being my first book by Jay McLean despite being recommended to me on numerous occasions, I was very impressed. I do NOT like, nor do I enjoy YA, but for the record....Jay will be a must read for me. Her style was smooth and easy to read, and the fact that I was able to put myself in the position of Lucas and Laney and remember the first kisses, falling in love with your soul mate and finding out the hard ways when things go wrong, says a lot about Jay's ability to sweep me up right off my feet. I am looking forward to reading the entire Preston clan's series, but I know that I will be catching up on her More Than series soon. This book brought me out of my book funk after DNF'ing so many books after my book hangover from Black Swan Affair and A Love Letter to Whiskey. It came at just the right time!
◆ Check out my review:
◆ Purchase:

Best Sports Standalone and/or Series
Fighting Solitude by Aly Martinez
Quarry and Liv's story shook me and I am so thankful I took the time to check out Aly Martinez. Seriously, this book was everything for me. It left me speechless after I read it and knew that my emotions would come out jumbled had I tried to explain what it did to me. I loved this entire series by Aly, but Quarry and Liv's love was the one I was looking forward to. The twists it took rocked me and I was excited to see how their love came to. This is a must read series.
◆ Check out my review:
◆ Purchase:

The Baller by Vi Keeland
The Baller was a fun book to read and the banter between Delilah and Brody made me smile. I *love* banter on cocky men! I still smile thinking about how these two met! Vi Keeland was a fairly new to me author when I had read this book, but I have really enjoyed all her stories that I've read. They are always so well written and I have found that I can't stop smiling while reading her stories. Her co-written books with Penelope Ward are really great too. I have loved EVERY one of them that she/they have written.
◆ Check out my review:
◆ Purchase:

Cold Fury Hockey Series by Sawyer Bennett
How to even begin to describe this series. Every book, I attained a new book boyfriend! Hockey because a fun to sport to read about and this year I read many books that had that as the sport. All the men got progressively sexier, and I am not sure how that ever happened. Ryker is a favorite, but to single out one would be a travesty because the entire series is an amazing one!! Definitely check out the series.
◆ Check out my reviews for Sawyer:
◆ Purchase:

Best Action Packed Book
LOW by Mary Elizabeth
This book had me on the EDGE of my seat and my adrenaline racing the entire time I read this book!! Holy cow! I felt like I was the one on the run! So freaking good!! I knew Mary Elizabeth was a fantastic writer with the ability to emote feelings after I read Dusty and loved it. That was one twisted love I knew she was going to be an easy yes for another book. She didn't let me down with this one and she has become on of my go-to guaranteed good reads authors.
◆ Check out my review:
◆ Purchase:

Best Spin Off
Knot by M Mabie
Oh holy cow....this book, thissss book!!! I loved my introduction to M Mabie last year with her Wake Series, but this spin off solidified my love for her brand of angst. I loved Reggie and Nora and the fights they had with themselves and each other just to recognize what they already knew in their heart of hearts was their destiny. I love love loved this book. So much. It was so powerful and so moving. I am a huge fan of Mo's work.
◆ Check out my review:
◆ Purchase:

Best Epilogue
When I'm With You by Harper Sloan
Nate and Ember's story was SO good....this book was so perfect. I love the Hope Town series, and the fact that it spun off from her Corps Security series made it that much more fun to follow. I like Harper's ability to weave a story, crazy or not, and make you fall in love with the alpha male that is usually way over the top. Love. It. Nate was THE man and he was everything I wanted to see in him. Harper did an amazing job on his story, but his epilogue stuck out to me. Perfection.
◆ Check out my review:
◆ Purchase:

Wicked Ride by Sawyer Bennett
Falling in love with Bridger started back in the very beginning of the Wicked Horse series and I loved getting snippets of him in every book, but the conclusion and epilogue were AMAZING. I loved the epilogue in this book so much so that I even advocated just reading it....and I NEVER EVER do that!! Oh my gosh, it was awesome. But don't spoil it. Read the series and make sure you savor Bridger's story from cover to cover and don't ruin it by jumping to the epilogue. I love Sawyer Bennett if you haven't guessed.
◆ Check out my review:
◆ Purchase:

Favorite Couples
◆ Low and Poe by Mary Elizabeth in LOW
◆ Rhyson and Kai by Kennedy Ryan in Soul Series
◆ Jack and Darcy by Katy Regnery in It's You
◆ Andrew and Amelia by Jessica Hawkins in The First Taste 

Anything written in purple/blue is a hyperlink to a book or an author's page on Facebook. I love reading and reviewing books that I have loved and am thankful for all the love and the follows I've gotten this year. 

Thank you so much, 

Book Review for Swear On This Life by Renee Carlino


When a bestselling debut novel from mysterious author J.Colby becomes the literary event of the year, Emiline reads it reluctantly. As an adjunct writing instructor at UC San Diego with her own stalled literary career and a bumpy long-term relationship, Emiline isn’t thrilled to celebrate the accomplishments of a young and gifted writer.

Yet from the very first page, Emiline is entranced by the story of Emerson and Jackson, two childhood best friends who fall in love and dream of a better life beyond the long dirt road that winds through their impoverished town in rural Ohio.

That’s because the novel is patterned on Emiline’s own dark and desperate childhood, which means that “J. Colby” must be Jase: the best friend and first love she hasn’t seen in over a decade. Far from being flattered that he wrote the novel from her perspective, Emiline is furious that he co-opted her painful past and took some dramatic creative liberties with the ending.

The only way she can put her mind at ease is to find and confront “J. Colby,” but is she prepared to learn the truth behind the fiction?

REVIEW: 3.5 Stars
"Our innocence was beautiful, impossible to capture again, impossible to re-create."

I was so excited for the idea of this story!! I was so excited based on the synopsis alone, but seeing some of the reviews, I knew I was in for a good book. Unfortunately, I think this was the classic case of the hype not meeting my expectations and the buildup falling flat at the end. I hate to be negative, because my love for this book was most definitely there, so let me try to explain....

Hype for me is so hard to accept sometimes. Some authors/books I have loved and some I have not, all from someone "highly recommending" them to me. I understand that and know that way of thinking. I honestly do. I'm sure this review won't get many nods, and that is ok. That is the joy of blogging, and in turn, me being able to give my opinion. I *loved* Before We Were Strangers by Renee and felt it was worthy of my Favorites List in 2015, so I knew her writing style and was anticipating that greatness again. This book felt like it was a massive buildup, a heart-rendering book with the ability to crush me and make me *sigh* when it was all said and done. Ultimately, and honestly, it did when I think about the HEA and the love that these two characters had for each other. I am just sad that I felt a little disconnected by the time I finished it. It just.....ended.

The story within the story written by Jase felt like it was written with compassion and love, and I got caught up in that aspect of this book. But the actual characters of Renee's story, the "real life characters" felt a little forced and annoying at times. I won't pick apart the characters, because that is not mine to do, but some things didn't sit right with me. I didn't enjoy the fact that some things took foooorrrreeevverrrr to come to and others were buttoned up in one paragraph: her other relationship, her new writing career, etc. Quick. Done. Fin. It was just a little too inconsistent for me.

I loved the storyline within the story. It was beautiful. We got a young love that blossomed into this mind boggling kind of love that you never forget. You never let go and you constantly ache for that person and those feelings you 'remember' feeling deep down, even if you know that you have to move on. That is the love we had in this book. It was beautiful. I loved how deep Jase loved Emiline and their connection was soul deep. His love had purpose. It was true. It wasn't puppy love; it was an honest to goodness first and true love mixed up into a very sad and compelling story. I was engrossed. I was completely captivated and consumed by the book within this book. Heart strings were pulled. Gasps were had. Smiles were spread. It was all there. It was perfection in a shady world.

However, I didn't like Emiline in real life within the book. I didn't connect to her at all, which is weird because I loved Emerson in the story. Emiline almost felt selfish in her actions and words at some points, and I had a hard time reconciling that part with the Emerson side of her. That may just be a me thing. I can honestly say this book had a really good storyline and an honest and true love story behind it. I just wish it ended with a little more oomph than it had. I don't know how to explain it. I was talking with a friend today about it and I told her it kinda felt like we were rapidly gaining speed, going and going and then BAM! we hit a brick wall and it just....stopped. The HEA was there. The love was there. It was all there. But it ended so abruptly. Like I said, maybe it's a me thing....

One thing is for sure....Renee Carlino is the master at second chance romances with a deep, soul-crushing love. Beautiful love story. Beautiful.

"Each moment is a story in itself."


Renée Carlino is a screenwriter and bestselling author of contemporary women's novels and new adult fiction. Her books have been featured in national publications, including USA TODAY, Huffington Post, Latina magazine, and Publisher's Weekly. She lives in Southern California with her husband, two sons, and their sweet dog June. When she's not at the beach with her boys or working on her next project, she likes to spend her time reading, going to concerts, and eating dark chocolate. Learn more at



Saturday, December 24, 2016

Book Review for It's You by Katy Regnery

the most beautiful boy in the world kissed me.
I've never been able to forget.
Perhaps it was his jet-black hair,
or the changing copper-color of his eyes,
the intense way he looked at me...
or the fact that he awakened my passion for the first time,
at once otherworldly yet heartbreakingly real.

After that kiss, I never saw him again.

His name was Jack Beauloup.
Jack, my "Beautiful Wolf."

Twenty years passed.
He has returned.
For me.


Jack Beauloup and Darcy Turner share one, perfect kiss in high school before he vanishes from sleepy Carlisle, NH without a trace.

Twenty years later, Darcy, who has never forgotten Jack, is shocked when he suddenly appears as a guest at her cousin's wedding. Their attraction to one another is just as searing as it was in high school, but immediately there are a landslide of questions that need answers. Where did he go? Why did he disappear? And what made him return?

As they find their way back to each other, they will discover that the secrets Jack holds are enough to bind them for life, or rip them apart forever.

"I belong to you and you belong to me."

THIS BOOK!!! This book was worth going out of my comfort zone and trying something new. I know that Katy Regnery is always a safe bet because her writing is always so beautifully smooth and it flows exceptionally well, but it was still a different genre for me to try to enjoy. To be able to experience a new genre like this, with the beauty of Katy's words, was one I was excited about. Her words are so strong; her storytelling so spellbinding. This is the perfect story to recommend to anyone that doesn't read PNR because I can guarantee you it will produce some new fans.

I read this book with my EYES WIDE OPEN. Having never read a book about a wolf, I read this one with no understanding of how things were supposed to happen, what was considered 'the norm', so I literally read it while absorbing every single detail that happened. All the different sights and smells, reasons and meanings, little nuances here and there, that made me take note of everything going on. Eyes wide open. It was such a great experience for me. It was like seeing something for the first time; you just want to soak it all in.

I read the entire beginning of this book with a goofy grin on my face....but the funny part is, I couldn't calm myself down enough to focus on reading it at first. I likened it to having angsty anxiety....and I love that in a book. I really couldn't stop the smiles, and the "awwws" and the "oh my goodnesses".  I was IN LOVE with the storyline and the characters throughout this entire book. This book was a full-bodied book too, with well-rounded secondary characters with their own stories to tell as well. I can see Katy making more books out of some of the other characters. I know they have a story that we need to read. (hint hint)

I have said multiple times that I don't read PNR, but after reading this one, I can't wait to explore more!! I have been seeing everyone saying it was a magical book, and after reading it, I can 100% agree with this summation. It was enchanting. There is no getting around it. Besides the obvious flow of the book, the love story between Jack and Darcy is unrivaled. Their love, to me, was one that has a deeper meaning that anything you and I will ever know or understand. It was mythical....magical. Beautiful. Heartfelt. <sigh> I am so in love with them.

This does end in a cliffie, so where I was left off with this one would send anyone in a tizzy.....thank goodness the wait is very short!!! I need more of Jack and Darcy! I neeeed to find out what happens!!! I need to catch my breath....I will be thinking about them and wondering what has happened. 

"For what is bound cannot be broken."



Katy Regnery, award-winning and Amazon bestselling author, started her writing career by enrolling in a short story class in January 2012. One year later, she signed her first contract for a winter romance entitled By Proxy. 

Now exclusively self-published, Katy claims authorship of the multi-titled Blueberry Lane Series which follows the English, Winslow, Rousseau, Story and Ambler families of Philadelphia, the four-book, bestselling a modern fairytale series, the standalone novel, Playing for Love at Deep Haven and a standalone novella, Frosted. 

Katy’s first modern fairytale romance, The Vixen and the Vet, was nominated for a RITA® in 2015, and four of her books: The Vixen and the Vet (a modern fairytale), Never Let You Go (a modern fairytale), Falling for Fitz(The English Brothers #2) and By Proxy (Heart of Montana #1) have been #1 genre bestsellers on Amazon. 

Katy lives in the relative wilds of northern Fairfield County, Connecticut, where her writing room looks out at the woods, and her husband, two young children, and two dogs create just enough cheerful chaos to remind her that the very best love stories begin at home.




Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Book Review for Road to Nowhere by M Robinson

I once read that every warrior hoped an honorable death would find him. I always went looking for mine, but not even the Reaper wanted me.
I was trained to kill. I was trained to not ask why. To take orders and just march in line. Hooah motherfucker. 
Life or death.
Ride or die.
And I’m not only talking about the military. I’m talking about the life that led me on the road to nowhere.
My life.
I fought for my brothers. 
I fought for my family. 
I fought for my country. 
And I fought for her…

Never realizing I might die for them too. 

REVIEW: 4.5 Adrenaline Rushing Stars
"Death leaves a heartache no one can heal. Love leaves a memory no one can steal."

How do you write a review for a book that made you feel like you were barely hanging on to the edge of your seat by the time you finally put it down?? I don't even know what to say.....I just don't!! Other than waiting for the next book is going to be pure torture..... This was a cross between a hard-to-read shitstorm and a man coming to terms with what true love really means to him. Monica never lets me down with her storytelling and her ability to weave a story with so much depth to it with many different facets. It's why I love her writing.

I like that M Robinson took the time to write a story that had a seriously forbidden love story behind it, and I loved the way it played out. Every last bit of it. The love between Mia and Creed was one that we got to see grow for years. One of my favorite things about the way Monica writes is that her stories are FULL stories and we basically get to start from the beginning and watch it play out for the characters from the get-go. I have to say, she did a phenomenal job setting us up for a heart-wrenching story. Once the ball was rolling, I knew I was in for a long ride. I was drawn in immediately and it read with a cadence and flow that allowed you to feel the ups and downs, the happiness and the sadness. 

I almost feel lost waiting for the next book because of the way we were left off with this one, it makes me roll over in my mind repeatedly about what I think may have happened and what I think will happen.

As much as I wanted to say that this was Mia and Creed's story, it truly read as Creed's. The growth these characters had throughout this story was really well written. From the sassy 7 year old to the strong willed 15 year old, we ran the gamut of funny moments, confusing moments and heart-stopping moments through Mia's outlook, but Creed was the one that I hung on to his every word. He was a stand up guy that had one hell of a life to live through. I don't envy him at all, but I know that he will protect what is his with a vengeance. I *really* liked Creed and am super excited to get the conclusion!!

"Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, and all that fucking shit."

Kindle Unlimited Book


◆     ◆     ◆     ◆     ◆     ◆     

Best Selling Author M. Robinson loves to read. She favors anything that has angst, romance, triangles, cheating, love, and of course sex! She has been reading since the Babysitters Club and R.L. Stein.

She was born in New Jersey but was raised in Tampa Fl. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D in psychology, with two years left.

She is married to an amazing man who she loves to pieces. They have two German Shepherd mixes and a Tabby cat.



Monday, December 19, 2016

Chapter Reveal for Hate Story by Nicole Williams


Nina can’t let herself fall in love with the man she’s going to marry. Both of them have experienced the sting and sham of love and have no intentions of falling victim to it twice. Love is expensive—hate is free.

Three years. A million dollars. A solution to both of their problems. They planned it all, from the story of their first meeting to the date of their divorce. Nothing could go wrong.

But what they didn’t consider was chemistry, and Nina and Max have no shortage of it. After too many near-kisses, Nina convinces herself that hating Max is better than loving him, and the more she gets to know this soon-to-be-husband of hers, the more she discovers just how very much she truly, madly, and deeply . . . hates him.

This isn’t a love story. This is the other kind. 

Second thoughts. I was having them. 

Experiencing these any time before stepping into the lobby of the swanky hotel I was meeting him at would have been helpful. 

“Sure you’re ready for this?” my best friend, Kate, asked, surveying the lobby like he was going to be lurking there with a sign hanging above his head. 

“I’m sure.” 

It was a lie. I wasn’t sure I was ready, but I didn’t have a choice. The bills had gone from a pile to a pillar, and if I didn’t do something soon, I would lose the house. I couldn’t lose the house. Not ever. It was the only home I’d ever known. 

“You don’t have to do this, you know? There are other options. When I mentioned this a few months ago, it was just a far-off suggestion, not one I thought you’d actually run with.” Kate slowed down as we got closer to the hotel lounge where he was supposed to be waiting. 

“There are no other options that include me keeping the house. At least not ones that are any less illicit than this one.” I licked my lips out of nervousness. With the way things had been lately, it was a miracle they hadn’t turned into sandpaper. 

“You know you could go to jail, right?” 

My tongue touched my lips again. “Only if I get caught.” 

Kate shook her head, and her light hair whipped across her shoulders. She was everything I wasn’t. Tall, rail-thin, straight blond hair that cooperated, skin that looked like she’d been gilded in something ethereal, and dressed like life was one endless party. Our personalities were a stark contrast as well. She was effervescent, where I fell somewhere closer to the jaded end of the scale. She wrung the life out of each day, loved like she’d never been hurt, and laughed like she’d never known sorrow. 

What she saw in me that kept our friendship enduring, I didn’t know. I just hoped she hadn’t hung around when others bailed because she felt obligated. I didn’t want to be anyone’s pity penance. 

She snagged my arm when I walked in front of her, braking me to a stop when I was a few steps from the lounge’s entrance. “Do you know what he looks like?” 

I tempered my irritation before glancing at her. She was coming from a place of concern, but I was committed. I just needed to get this over with already. “No.” 

“About how old he is?” 

My armpits were starting to sweat. I hadn’t even seen him yet and I was already pitting out. “No,” I answered, lifting my arms a little for ventilation. 

“Do you know what he’s going to be wearing tonight?” Kate glanced over my shoulder, almost glaring into the lounge. 

“No.” I twisted from side to side to create as much of a breeze as I could. I so should have splurged for the clinical strength deodorant instead of this cheap dollar-store junk that was probably going to give me cancer one day. If my budget hadn’t been worked out to the last quarter, I would have. 

“Do you know anything about him?” Kate sighed, motioning at me like I was the lamb who’d just brayed as the first volunteer for the slaughter. “Other than, you know . . .” She swallowed. “What he wants?” 

My stomach rolled. I definitely knew what he wanted. 

“I know his name.” 

Kate waited a moment. “And his name is . . .?” 


Her nose wrinkled. “What kind of a name is that?” 

“Sturm’s his last name. I don’t know what his first is.” 

Kate’s nose went back to normal, but a high eyebrow took over its job of disapproving. She was especially expressive. That was another way we were different. Kate seemed to have no desire or inclination to hide what she felt, whereas I had every desire and inclination to hide. 

“So what is he expecting you to call him? Mister Sturm? Because this twenty-first-century feminist is so not okay with one of her best friends addressing this guy like that.” 

“Yeah, neither is this twenty-first-century feminist.” I flapped air in the direction of my armpits because they were only getting worse. 

“The same feminist agreeing to marry a man for money?” Kate drew her hand up to her hip and stretched into every inch of her nearly-six-foot frame. 

The word still sucked the air out of my lungs, but it had lost some of its potency. “Exactly—agreeing to marry him for money instead of lame reasons like love or feelings or to grow old together. How much more feminist does it get?” 

Kate looked down at me. “Eh, how about instead of marrying him for money, you could turn him into the authorities for trying to commit green card fraud?” She peeked over my shoulder and craned her neck to look into the lounge. “Besides, what is a million dollars really? That chick in that Indecent Proposal movie got a million and she only had to spend one night with him. Plus if you factor in inflation, since that movie’s almost as old as I am, you are getting the proverbial and literal shaft. In the ass.” 

I gave up the armpit sweat battle and hung my arms at my sides. Why did I care if this guy’s first impression of me was as a profuse sweater? I wasn’t asking for his approval or even expecting it. He was a business transaction to me. I was a means to an end to him. 

A case of two people embracing the capitalist spirit of America. 

“Yeah, but she had to sleep with the guy. That’s not part of our deal,” I argued. “But if it was part of the fine print, believe me, I’d ask for a hell of a lot more.” 

We had an agreement. Kind of. It was more a rough draft that had just as many amendments as it had bullet points, but I preferred having everything ironed out in advance. I wanted to know exactly what I was getting into before sinking up to my neck in it, which I was minutes away from doing. 

“So you’re saying you would sleep with him if the price was right?” Kate’s other hand flew to her hip. 

I gave her the most indifferent face I could. I might have been able to look the part, but I certainly didn’t feel the part. “Hey, Morality Police, I’m already agreeing to marry a guy so he can get a green card. Give me a break.” 

Kate’s phone chimed in her clutch. She’d wrangled up a couple of friends to meet her at this lounge tonight so she could keep an eye on me. I guessed she was worried the guy might not be on the up-and-up and might be using a green card as a cover for wanting to sell me off for internal organs or into the sex trade. I wasn’t worried about that, but I was thankful she was here for support if nothing else. 

After punching in a quick text, Kate circled her phone at me. “And what are you wearing? Did you think there was going to be a ribbon handed out at the end of the night for the most colorful outfit?” 

I glanced down at myself. I liked color. Lots of it. Living in a place like Portland, Oregon, a person had to find a way to fight off the perpetual gray. This was my chosen method. 

“I wanted to make sure he knew who I was,” I said, just barely peeking inside the lounge. Dozens of bodies, all of them different shapes, sizes, and colors, and all of them were dressed like they’d conspired to match. “If I’d known everyone would be in some shade of gray or blue, I wouldn’t have dressed in a green polka-dot dress, fuchsia shoes, and a blue checked scarf.” 

Kate bit her lip to keep from laughing. “You’re a fashion intervention begging to happen.” 

I stopped rubbing at a wrinkle in my dress. If an iron hadn’t been up to the challenge of smoothing it out, my thumb wasn’t going to do it. “I don’t care. I’m not here to impress him or earn his approval.” 

“Yeah, that’s obvious,” she mumbled just loud enough for me to hear. When I went to give her a little shove, she slid out of the way. “And if you’re not trying to impress him, why are you wearing the first dress I’ve seen you in since, god, probably when you wore that very one at spring fling of our senior year?” Kate was looking inside the lounge now, her gaze skimming the space like she was looking for something. Her friends must have already been there because she waved at someone before lifting her finger in a just-a-minute kind of way. 

“Because I didn’t think this place was a holey jeans and sneakers kind of place,” I argued, wondering why I was defending my wardrobe choices to someone who dressed by the less-is-more standard. 

“Let’s hope Mister Sturm is fashion blind.” The way she said it earned her another little shove. 

“He’s a single, foreign man who’s paying someone a hell of a lot of money to marry him.” I crossed my arms at her as she kept peeking into the lounge. “I think it’s safe to say I’m not about to come face-to-face with a guy who spends his nights flipping the pages of GQ. And if you call him Mister Sturm again, I’m going to pull your hair.” 

Kate winked at me. “My scalp’s a little sensitive from the hair pulling last night.” 

I rolled my eyes. “Alexander?” The last man du jour she’d mentioned to me. 

“Trenton.” She kind of sighed his name. Actually, it held the hint of a moan. God. I could never imagine sighing-slash-moaning some guy’s name. Ever. The closest I’d ever gotten to a sigh-moan was over the peanut butter pie my grandma had made for my last birthday. 

“Fine,” I said, interrupting the last notes of her moan. 

“Then I’ll slap your ass if you say it again.” 

She flashed a wicked smile my direction before giving her hips a shake. “Just as sensitive.” 

“God, fine,” I groaned. “Just stop. Your sex life nauseates me.” 

“Jealous is not a good look for you. Besides, someone needs to make up for your lack of it.” Kate waved at me like my sex life was visible for all to read. 

“At your rate, you’re making up for the entire city’s lack of sex life.” 

She nodded solemnly. “You’re welcome.” 

“Besides, sex is not all it’s cracked up to be.” At this point, I was stalling, but I was nervous. 

“Believe me, with the right person who knows what they’re doing, it is all, and more, it’s cracked up to be.” Kate bounced her brows. “Some guys just know how to use their dick better than others.” 

I frowned. “Wow. I’m about to orgasm all over the place.” 

Kate laughed as she slid in front of me and teased my hair with her fingers. 

“Oww,” I whined as she ripped and pulled at my hair. “And I hope you washed your hands with bleach after the last dick you touched.” 

She responded by smearing her hands down the sides of my face. “Most action you’ve ever seen.” She scrubbed them down my face one more time. “You’re welcome.” 

I stepped out of the reach of her filthy little paws and waved her toward the lounge. 

“I’ll be right there. Just give the signal if the guy turns out to be a serious creeper, okay?” She waited for me to nod, then she kissed the air in my direction. “Go get him, tomcat.” 

I didn’t know how to reply to that, so I went with an okay signal. 

I waited a minute after Kate had disappeared into the lounge. Then I waited one more before forcing my feet forward. It wasn’t like my dwindling courage was going to find its way back the longer I stalled. 

Taking in a slow breath, I pictured my house. The one I’d grown up in. The one that had housed a Burton for sixty years. The one that would probably be gutted or ripped down and replaced by whatever rich a-hole bought it at the foreclosure sale. I pictured relief from the stack of bills, the freedom to have choices, and a future that wasn’t already painted with bleak hues and dark strokes. 

Then I moved inside the lounge and took my first step toward my future husband.

◆     ◆     ◆     ◆     ◆     

Nicole Williams is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of contemporary and young adult romance, including the Crash and Lost & Found series. Her books have been published by HarperTeen and Simon & Schuster in both domestic and foreign markets, while she continues to self-publish additional titles. She is working on a new YA series with Crown Books (a division of Random House) as well. She loves romance, from the sweet to the steamy, and writes stories about characters in search of their happily even after. She grew up surrounded by books and plans on writing until the day she dies, even if it’s just for her own personal enjoyment. She still buys paperbacks because she’s all nostalgic like that, but her kindle never goes neglected for too long. When not writing, she spends her time with her husband and daughter, and whatever time’s left over she’s forced to fit too many hobbies into too little time.

Nicole is represented by Jane Dystel, of Dystel and Goderich Literary Agency.



Sunday, December 18, 2016

Book Review for Yours to Bare by Jessica Hawkins


No matter how cruel it's been to me in the past, I've never been able to flip fate the bird. I'm a romantic at heart. So when fate drops a leather-bound journal at my feet, I know I should walk away.

I don't. I pick her up, bend her spine, spread her pages. From the first word, I'm a goner. The owner didn't give me access to her most intimate desires, but I devour them anyway. Her private darkness, her candid, sensual poetry--it all goes down like warm milk. And from that point forward, I drink, eat, and sleep her.

I went to his apartment and let him take my picture. Just once, to see how it would feel. I'm not his to look at, to inspire, to touch, but when he watches me through his lens, it gives me a high I don't want to come down from...

My journal is the one place I can be myself--as long as I can tie it up and put it away when I'm finished. But when Finn undoes the bow, he pulls strings that could unravel each of us.

REVIEW: 4.5 Stars
"Fate doesn't stick around for happy endings -- it only gives you the opportunity to work for one."

FATE - That word meant a lot to Finn. He is a true believer, as am I...which is why I think I could easily fall into this story and did. Finn is an artist, as well as Halston, so they already had that certain depth to them. So for these two people to be connected on such an intimate level, so quickly and almost so effortlessly, that was amazing to see blossom. They lived and breathed raw lust, and the fact that it started with her words that inspired him are what made my head spin as their relationship went as intense as it had, so quickly. He found a certain truth behind her words. It was liberating and sexy, all in one. It's intimate the way he viewed her and that showed through his work. It was SO sexy. I got caught up in them and it set the tone for the book for me.

But as I was reading this story, trying to understand where it was going to go, I had to stop and realize ONE thing: this wasn't my story to expect anything. This wasn't my love life on the pages. It wasn't up to me to decide for it to go a certain way, even though this was my Finny Finn Finn. It was exhilarating. It was happy. It was messy. It was sad. It was hot. But most of all, it was real. Putting it into that perspective allowed me to follow along, a willing slave to Jessica's words. She's telling me this story of an emotionally stunted, but very capable woman that needs love and guidance. I had to accept that side of Halston, because that is the side that Finn fell in love with and I was at the mercy of his heart.

I was waiting for this big explosive ending, but I didn't get that. Nope. Not at all. Instead, I got this well manicured, perfect and very fitting ending for Halston and Finn. Because, in true Jessica fashion, she brought the characters to life and we lived their story. Lived their pain. Lived their love. It would have been a lot easier to hate Halston with her issues, the whole outlook she had, but then I had to stop and really look deep into both characters. In hindsight, everything led up to them meeting....they just ultimately had a hand in the way fate played out for them in the end.

As usual, Jessica forced me to face the tumultuous world of yet another character, flaws and all....with a stark realization that even though this is a book, it still brought out my own personal opinions, but then forced me to realize that life isn't always roses and it doesn't button up easily. I loved how this book showed the need they each had for each other and allowed them both to grow from it.

My Finny Finn Finn. Let me just get that out matter what, I am and always will be irrevocably in love with him. After having met him in Slip of the Tongue, I knew how much he wore his heart on his sleeve and this book solidified my love for him. The ugly side of falling in love, and the emotional turmoil you put yourself through as you learn what real love is like was definitely a learning curve for these two. Finn knew what it meant to take care of someone and make sure they were not hurt, but he needed to learn that not always does his 'ways' work for Halston. The entire theme of this book, hands down, was the unconditional love Finn has for Halston. This was an emotional book in all aspects, but I loved their story. The ugly and the beautiful.

"I've been sleeping for the last year, and she's the only thing that's made me feel awake."

This is available on Kindle Unlimited

Jessica Hawkins grew up between the purple mountains and under the endless sun of Palm Springs, California.

She studied international business at Arizona State University and has also lived in Costa Rica and New York City. To her, the most intriguing fiction is forbidden, and that's what you'll find in her stories. Currently, she resides wherever her head lands, which is often the unexpected (but warm) keyboard of her trusty MacBook.