A demon hunter, a witch incarnate and a shape-shifter, a messed up trio in an even messier love triangle.The One Where my Debut Novel Instantly Lands at #1!
Title: The Happy Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez
Series: The Friend Zone, Book 2
Release Date: April 14th, 2020 (Forever Publishing)
Format: Kindle Edition (400 Pages)
Genre: Contemporary Romance
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Blurb: Two years after losing her fiancé, Sloan Monroe still can’t seem to get her life back on track. But one trouble-making pup with a “take me home” look in his eyes is about to change everything. With her new pet by her side, Sloan finally starts to feel more like herself. Then, after weeks of unanswered texts, Tucker’s owner reaches out. He’s a musician on tour in Australia. And bottom line: He wants Tucker back.
Well, Sloan’s not about to give up her dog without a fight. But what if this Jason guy really loves Tucker? As their flirty texts turn into long calls, Sloan can’t deny a connection. Jason is hot and nice and funny. There’s no telling what could happen when they meet in person. The question is: With his music career on the rise, how long will Jason really stick around? And is it possible for Sloan to survive another heartbreak?
This book had it all. I snickered, I rolled my eyes, I clapped, I sobbed and I whooped with joy at the end.
This book started off in a really cutesy fashion. It featured a widower, Sloane on her way to visit her dead fiancee grave when a stray dog jumps into her car. It was clear the dog Tucker was looking for protection. Immediately it spoke to the dog lover in me because I believe that dogs have an intuition about good people. When Sloane call the owner Jackson Waters, the reader gets a front row seat to a flirtation that turned into more.
I don’t want to give anything away about this story other than to say it dealt with grief after a major loss, learning to pick up the pieces, losing oneself and finding that individuality again. Another thing that was really important was the effect of people’s jobs and the requirements of said job on their romantic relationships. This book was so much more than what I was expecting. I thought it would be a fluffy rom-com but it was much more deeper about lifestyle choices and loss of individuality in romantic relationship. Both main characters were really good people who genuinely cared about the other, so I couldn’t help but cheer them on like Sloane’s best friend.
Consequently, I had to go and get The Friend Zone with I have not read. I read somewhere that this book was written first so I decided to start with this one. I recommend the opposite. Read the Friend Zone first. I will listen to the audiobook to get the background that I wish I had while reading this book.
Be prepared to laugh, shake your first, cry and hug the person closest to you in joy by the time you finish this book. It’s easily one of the best books I’ve read all year.
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Release Tour & Excerpt:
The Longer You’ll Stay by Logan Grey
Heartbelt Records, Book 2
Trading small town diners and familiar faces for skyscrapers and sold out venues, Travis Cherry took the risk of a lifetime by leaving Holdengate. Alone.
Or so he thought.
When the tour kicks off, he finds he’ll be sharing his bus, and the stage, with the one he left behind to pursue music.
Bailey McAlister finally has a second chance at following his dream, but can he convince Travis to give him a second chance too?
The life of a rock star is not all bright lights and a sea of cheering fans, and personal demons aren’t the only thing Travis and Bailey have to conquer to survive the cut-throat world.
*This is book two in a duet of the Heartbelt Records series.
This is an M/M story containing mature content.
As he settled into his spot, Bailey’s head jerked in his direction, and Travis froze, not only his body but his heart and breath and even his thoughts. It all stuttered to a halt as they stared at one another, and even though he couldn’t tell the color of his eyes from the distance, he could read the expression on his face loud and clear.
This isn’t over.
That was when acceptance hit him hard. He was going to spend at least the next two months on tour with Bay, on the same bus, day in and day out, with no escape from the other.
No… it was far from over.
Logan resides in Tennessee, convinced her southern twang is part of her charm. With two cats and a dog, her hands are full, and not just of treats like her pets would like to believe. As a full time author, she dedicates all of her time bringing to life different characters and developing new worlds for her readers to lose themselves in. And more often than not, she loses herself in them, which is her favorite place to be: with a cat in her lap, a snack in hand, and voices in her head.
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Title: Tough Guy by Rachel Reid
Series: Game Changers #3
Release Date: January 13, 2020
Format: Kindle Edition (363 Pages)
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Sports, Adult, LGBT
Blurb: They have nothing in common—so why does Ryan feel most like himself whenever he’s with Fabian?
Pro hockey star Ryan Price may be an enforcer, but off the ice he struggles with anxiety. Recently traded to the Toronto Guardians, he’s determined to make a fresh start in the city’s dynamic LGBTQ Village. The last thing he expects to stumble upon in his new neighborhood is a blast from his past in the fabulous form of Fabian Salah.
Aspiring musician Fabian loathes hockey. But that doesn’t stop him from being attracted to a certain burly, ginger-bearded defenseman. He hasn’t forgotten the kiss they almost shared back in high school, and it’s clear the chemistry between them has only intensified.
Fabian is more than happy to be Ryan’s guide to the gay scene in Toronto. Between dance clubs and art exhibits—and the most amazing sex—Ryan’s starting to feel something he hasn’t experienced in a long time: joy. But playing the role of the heavy on the ice has taken its toll on his body and mind, and a future with Fabian may mean hanging up his skates for good.
I loved book 2 so much that it was hard to avoid comparing Fabian and Ryan’s story to the consistent tension-filled relationship of Shane and Ilya.
Fabian and Ryan were acquaintances when they were younger but Fabian wasn’t solidly out of the closet then. They bumped into each other in Toronto and they reconnect. They are supportive of each other as they have history together. Fabian is a musician trying to launch his career and Ryan is struggling with his waning love for the sport that has been a focal point in his life for so long.
Rachel Reid writing has been really enjoyable. This series has been my first introduction to her work. I found all of the characters are memorable and their plights are relatable. Fabian and Ryan were sweet and their journey was low on angst. Simply put, this book is about two guys trying to find their way in the world as well as finding love. The writing remains engaging and the characters are likable. I think this story would have struck more of a chord if it came before Ilya and Shane. They were just too much of an act to follow. I would still recommend this book to anyone who loves sports romance or rocker romance.
Title: Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah
Format: Kindle Edition (401 Pages)
Genre: Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction, World War II (Russia)
Blurb: Can a woman ever really know herself if she doesn’t know her mother?
From the author of the smash-hit bestseller Firefly Lane and True Colors comes a powerful, heartbreaking novel that illuminates the intricate mother-daughter bond and explores the enduring links between the present and the past Meredith and Nina Whitson are as different as sisters can be. One stayed at home to raise her children and manage the family apple orchard; the other followed a dream and traveled the world to become a famous photojournalist. But when their beloved father falls ill, Meredith and Nina find themselves together again, standing alongside their cold, disapproving mother, Anya, who even now, offers no comfort to her daughters. As children, the only connection between them was the Russian fairy tale Anya sometimes told the girls at night. On his deathbed, their father extracts a promise from the women in his life: the fairy tale will be told one last time—and all the way to the end. Thus begins an unexpected journey into the truth of Anya’s life in war-torn Leningrad, more than five decades ago. Alternating between the past and present, Meredith and Nina will finally hear the singular, harrowing story of their mother’s life, and what they learn is a secret so terrible and terrifying that it will shake the very foundation of their family and change who they believe they are.
I considered DNF’ing this book a number of times except that I don’t like to not finish novels. I’m glad I finished it as I really enjoyed the last 40% of the book. It started really slow and I didn’t really care for the characters but my opinions shifted along the way.
I’m trying not to stand in judgment because war and loss must really break something in some people’s spirit and soul. Unless I have experienced that kind of torment, anguish and despair, I can’t really expect them to act like what I consider “normal” parents. The mother in me didn’t like Anya as a mother to young Nina and Meredith. I also blame her and her husband for her Children’s inability to connect with their significant other later in life. The mother in me later wept with Anya and was amazed at how she survived the horrific things the Nazi put them through and it helped put Anya’s behavior in a different context. I love Historical Fiction (and Romance) books and it never ceases to amaze me the amount of reserve inner fortitude most human beings have. World War II books have very similar themes of constant hunger, fear, bombings, separation from loved ones etc. Yet after all the horrific tales, the survivors still stand. They may be irreparable damaged but they are in my opinions still the victors of the war.
I think Anya’s husband should have bridged this gap a lot earlier. So I guess I will shift my judgment and blame on him because at the end of the day, the formative years of Nina ans Meredith was full of emotional neglect and he could have helped more. That play scene must have been very devastating to children who just want their parents love and admiration. I wish the author did flashbacks through out the book to build the two experiences of Anya instead of waiting late into the book to give us a glimpse into a mother’s pain. I loved the ending though it was a bit farfetched.
by Jane Harvey-Berrick and Alana Albertson
Publication Date: May 7, 2020
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Forgive me father for I have sinned.
Father Gabriel found me on the street selling my body to the highest bidder. He thinks he saved me, but he’s wrong. I will never be redeemed. But then again, neither will he.
Father Gabriel is a tortured man. Eighteen years ago, this former Navy SEAL made a mistake that caused the death of his best friend and Teammate. A man who was my father.
Father Gabriel is fighting for redemption every single day of his life, trying to atone for his sins—saving a life for taking one.
He never knew that his friend left a daughter behind. Now I will make him pay for the life he stole from me. He owes me and I will collect: his body, his soul, his tortured love.
I will break him. Ruin his life like he ruined mine.
I choose darkness over light. I choose to do wrong, because it feels so right. And I’m going to do it again.
This book called me to as soon as I read the blurb. I mean it’s a brooding guilt-ridden priest doing his best to atone for his sins while a scheming Lolita is bent of getting revenge on him. I also love the idea that unbeknownst to him, one of those roosters are coming home to roost.
Young Gabriel Thorne left 10 years ago with his best friend Luke to serve in the navy but he returned with his soul crushed and needed something to live for.
At age 39, Gabriel found purpose again serving the community as a Catholic priest but he was still plagued with nightmares from his time as a navy seal.
Father Gabriel encounters twenty year old Blue who is turning tricks and his savior complex takes over. Little does he know that Blue has set it up to cross paths because she came to exact retribution against him. This begins a game of cat and mouse intended to dismantle Father Gabriel’s life and ultimately destroy him.
The story started off really intriguing and I was invested. I liked Blue, she was battle tested by the streets and I love her tenacity. However, I have to admit that I didn’t find Blue so clever that a navy seal couldn’t see though her many machinations. I also didn’t find their chemistry compelling more than a priest reacting to his 10 year of celibacy itch. I’m also unsure if it was genuine lust and love or was it his desire to rewrite his past and make atonement. Still, I love that she tried it and went all in. I think I wanted more darkness and wanted Blue to really take it further than she did. She had him in the palm of her hands. I wanted a little more angst and emotional connection, and I wanted more time with Blue and Gabriel trying to figure this thing out. I think there was only 3-ish tantalizing sex scenes. We could have used so much more to show their heat together. I wanted a little more of the confessional scene type debauchery.
The ending was really a sweet and heartwarming conclusion to a story full of pain and remorse. They both came full circle but this what I loved most is that they healed individually before coming back together, both stronger than ever. Bravo for that! They were in a space where they could love fully and accept that love in return. Truly a great ending to this story.
About Alana Albertson
Alana Albertson is an award winning Latina author, the former President of Romance Writers of America’s Contemporary Romance, Chick Lit, and Young Adult chapters. She holds a Masters of Education from Harvard and a Bachelor of Arts in English from Stanford. A recovering professional ballroom dancer, Alana currently writes new adult romantic suspense, young adult, and contemporary romance. She lives in San Diego, California, with her husband, two sons, and five dogs. When she’s not spending her time needlepointing, dancing, or saving dogs from high kill shelters through her rescue Pugs N Roses, she can be found watching episodes of House Hunters, Homeland, or Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team.
About Jane Harvey-Berrick
Writing is my passion and my obsession. I write every day and I love it. My head is full of stories and characters. I’ll never keep up with all my ideas!
I live in a small village by the ocean and walk on the beach every day. Its on those beachside walks that I have all my best ideas.
Writing has become a way of life and one that I love to share.
Title: Girl Gone Viral by Alisha Rai
Series: Modern Love #2
Release Date: April 21st 2020 by Avon
Format: Kindle Edition (400 Pages)
Genre: Contemporary Romance, New Adult
Blurb: In Alisha Rai’s second novel in her Modern Love series, a live-tweet event goes viral for a camera-shy ex-model, shoving her into the spotlight—and into the arms of the bodyguard she’d been pining for.
OMG! Wouldn’t it be adorable if he’s her soulmate???
I don’t see any wedding rings [eyes emoji]
Breaking: #CafeBae and #CuteCafeGirl went to the bathroom AT THE SAME TIME!!!
One minute, Katrina King’s enjoying an innocent conversation with a hot guy at a coffee shop; the next, a stranger has live-tweeted the entire episode with a romantic meet-cute spin and #CafeBae is the new hashtag-du-jour. The problem? Katrina craves a low-profile life, and going viral threatens the peaceful world she’s painstakingly built. Besides, #CafeBae isn’t the man she’s hungry for…
He’s got a [peach emoji] to die for.
With the internet on the hunt for the identity of #CuteCafeGirl, Jas Singh, bodyguard, friend, and possessor of the most beautiful eyebrows Katrina’s ever seen, comes to the rescue and whisks her away to his family’s home. Alone in a remote setting with the object of her affections? It’s a recipe for romance. But after a long dating dry spell, Katrina isn’t sure she can trust her instincts when it comes to love—even if Jas’ every look says he wants to be more than just her bodyguard…
This one was very different from book 1 but I still loved it. If you don’t remember her, Katrina was introduced in book 1 as the silent partner and friend to Rhiannon, the heroine in book one of this series. We got the little tidbits about Katrina being a recluse, but not the full explanation as to why.
In this sequel, Katrina is trying her hand at making a love match. However, she isn’t finding that zing of attraction that she feels when she is around her bodyguard Jas. She is determined to find someone who returns her affections so when a chance meeting occurs with a handsome stranger at a cafe, Katrina tries to shoot her shot. What happens as a result exposes the very private Katrina on the internet. To buy time for the attention to die down, Katrina’s bodyguard Jas whisks her away to his family farm and that is when both characters really begin to open up and see what’s been in front of them the whole time.
The writing was really engaging and dynamic. The author deals with their mental health issues with sensitivity and grace, so I was really able to empathize with the main characters. Katrina and Jas were dealing with issues that made trusting others very difficult but they clearly don’t have trouble trusting with each other. Their subplots with their respective families added another layer of intrigue to this story. I learned a few cultural things thanks to Jas’s family. The grandfather reminded me of my own.
The pacing of this story made the romance more believable because these are very cautious and skittish individuals. Imagine a turtle slowly poking their head out of their shell and being to take steps. Each step revealed the characters were always aware of the other and tried their best to meet the other’s need. They were pretty good at communicating with the other. The dual pov made the romance more authentic because the reader got to follow the character’s mental and emotional journey.
I thought there was an excellent balance with the romance and their individual growth/healing. I am always a fan of love stories where the characters grow and make the choice to fight for their own happiness. I enjoyed the slow burn and ultimately the happy ending. This series proved to be a hit for me and I can’t wait for the next book.