Genre: New Adult

Buddy Review: Living Out Loud by Staci Hart

Posted February 28, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Buddy Review: Living Out Loud by Staci HartLiving Out Loud
by Staci Hart
Series: Austen Series #3
Published by Staci Hart on February 1st 2018
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Point of View:Alternating First Person
Pages: 324
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Add It: Goodreads
three-half-stars

Bestselling author Staci Hart brings you another installment of the Austen Series, inspired by the works of Jane Austen, with a heartfelt contemporary retelling of Sense and Sensibility.

When Annie Daschle arrives in New York City, the only thing she can control is her list.

Not her father’s death or the loss of her home. Not the hole in her heart or the defective valve that’s dictated so much of her life. But she can put pen to paper to make a list of all the ways she can live out loud, just like her dad would have wanted.

See the city from the top of the Empire State Building: Check.Eat hot dogs on the steps of The Met: Check.Get a job at Wasted Words: Check.

What wasn’t on her list: Greg Brandon. And just when she thinks she’s figured out where to put him, everything changes. In the span of a few staggering heartbeats, she finds herself caught in the middle of something she can’t find her way out of, with no clear answers and no rules.

List or no list, she realizes she can’t control anything at all, not even her heart.

Not the decisions it makes, and not the moment it stops.

​Living Out Loud is the third book in the Austen series by Staci Hart. The story follows Annie Daschle as she moves from a small town in Texas to the bright lights of New York City. After her father dies, Annie’s life is thrown for a loop and she’s determined to live every day like it’s her last so she makes a list of things she wants to do in New York. Landing a job at Wasted Words, a coffee shop/bar/bookstore makes Annie super happy because she led such a sheltered life back in Texas and she’s hoping to come out of her shell here in New York and meeting Greg has helped with that goal. A friendship that Annie treasures sparks up between her and Greg and once she lets herself open up more, things start happening for her and she gets so wrapped up making memories and developing relationships that she spends a good chunk of the book trying to figure out what’s real and what’s not. Rowena: Alright Ames, start us off. What did you think? Ames: I have to be honest-I was all over the place with this one.l I really enjoy the original Sense and Sensibility and so when I realized who’s story Annie’s was based on I got nervous! But I loved Greg. He was a great guy. But Annie… Annie was 18 and grew up sheltered due to a heart condition and I felt like in some situations she really showed her immaturity and that annoyed me. But I was engrossed enough in the story to keep reading through the annoyance. Lol What did you think Wena? Rowena: I was the same way. The beginning was slow for me and I kept waiting for something to happen instead of all that gloom and doom thoughts from Annie. Then once the story takes off, I started getting annoyed but then when Greg makes himself known, I cried. So yeah, I was all over the place too. Overall though, I thought​ ​this book was just okay. It was much too fluffy for what I was in the mood for and everything just seemed to happen perfectly for Annie at the same time that everything was so dramatic and just…meh. Ames: I agree, it was fluffy and that would have been ok but for Annie. She was just too…sunshine and rainbows for my taste. I have a really hard time believing that Greg who was ten years older than her would really have fallen for someone so naive and innocent. Despite that, I can see that he would be a good guy to grow up with. But it just seems unfair to him. The relationship could potentially be uneven, with him giving of himself all the time. I was happy with the way every turned out though. Annie learned some lessons that weren’t too painful and we were introduced to the awesomeness that was Greg. Overall, Living out Loud was an ok read and I’m going to give it a 3.5 out of 5. One last thing though, how awesome would it be to work at Wasted Words? Rowena: I thought the same thing, too. I thought that Greg gave a lot to the relationship and that Annie…didn’t because she was much too young and naive and that kind of got on my nerves. Greg made the book for me though. I loved him. I thought he was a great hero and that I felt bad that he couldn’t catch a break where Annie was concerned. Imagine, never falling in love and then when you finally do, it’s with someone so much younger than you, someone in a different place in life than you but your heart wants what it wants and homegirl just kept right on messing with your plans? Like I said, this book was not a bad book but it was a fluffy and much too sweet for what I wanted to read. Still, Greg was great and YESSSSS! I think it would be awesome to work at Wasted Words because that historical mixer? Loved it. I also loved that Annie was a huge Julia Quinn fan. Haha, that brightened me right up reading that. I’m giving this book a 3 out of 5.
Austen Series
Final Ratings
Ames: 3.5 out of 5 Rowena: 3 out of 5
three-half-stars

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Buddy Review: The Matchmaker’s Playbook by Rachel van Dyken

Posted December 28, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Buddy Review: The Matchmaker’s Playbook by Rachel van DykenThe Matchmaker's Playbook
by Rachel Van Dyken
Series: Wingmen Inc. Series #1
Published by Indie Published, Skyscape on April 5th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Point of View:Alternating First Person
Pages: 304
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Add It: Goodreads

Wingman rule number one: don’t fall for a client.

After a career-ending accident, former NFL recruit Ian Hunter is back on campus—and he’s ready to get his new game on. As one of the masterminds behind Wingmen, Inc., a successful and secretive word-of-mouth dating service, he’s putting his extensive skills with women to work for the lovelorn. But when Blake Olson requests the services of Wingmen, Inc., Ian may have landed his most hopeless client yet.

From her frumpy athletic gear to her unfortunate choice of footwear, Blake is going to need a miracle if she wants to land her crush. At least with a professional matchmaker by her side she has a fighting chance. Ian knows that his advice and a makeover can turn Blake into another successful match. But as Blake begins the transformation from hot mess to smokin’ hot, Ian realizes he’s in danger of breaking his cardinal rule.…

Ian Hunter is half of the partnership behind Wingman, Inc. – a campus-based matchmaking service for women. Ian has business rules that he follows from preventing his female clients from falling for him. But when his best friend’s roommate hires him to win over a guy, none of his rules help him when he’s the one who starts to fall… Ames: All right Wena! It’s almost the end of the year and we managed to review a book every month! Go us! Ok…what did you think of the Matchmaker’s Playbook? I have to say, this one wasn’t a winner in my book. Rowena: I’m so glad that we made an effort to read at least one book each month together and then buddy review it. Have we ever gone an entire year actually following through on this? I can’t remember. Anyway, yes, go us! I didn’t exactly hate the book because even though I wasn’t the biggest fan of how shallow and conceited Ian was, the story itself was compelling and once I buckled down to read it, I just kept right on reading until I was done. I love NA romances and I don’t see that changing but I didn’t exactly love this book. Sure, I was interested in what was happening in the story but I didn’t exactly love the hero of this book and that almost never happens. It’s going to be interesting to see Ian come to life in the movie being produced by Passionflix. What did you think? Ames: I agree that Ian was shallow and conceited. And I had a big problem with how he treated women. I thought he was a douche to be honest. LOL The only redeeming thing about this book in my opinion was Blake’s character. She was a tomboy through and through and I liked that she had no clue how to be feminine. I almost dnf’d this book about 25% of the way in but I was curious to see if Ian’s character improved or changed and I wanted to see how things played out for Blake. This was only the second Rachel Van Dyken book I’ve ever read and it was a disappointed compared to Fractured (which I LOVED). I am not giving up on this author but I’m going to be careful about which book of hers I’m reading. It would have been nice to have a few scenes from Blake’s POV. Rowena: The way that he treated women, the way that he thought women were dumb at the same time claiming to love ALL women. He really did come off as being a douche. Blake was probably the only thing that I liked about this book. Gaby yelled too much and so did Lex. I thought it was strange that they yelled all the freaking time. I wanted to tell them to shut up more than once. What was also pretty interesting was in my copy of the book, I bought the interaction copy, I guess because every so often, there were little snippets of gif like videos (I don’t even know how to explain it) with Ian, Blake and of course there were little cameos from the author, Rachel van Dyken. Whatever was happening in the book was brought to life through those little snippets. At first, it threw me but I got used to it and I think that, more than anything, was what kept my interest but the guy cast in the book looks nothing like Nick Bateman, who was cast to play Ian in the Passionflix movie. Overall, the book was just meh. I was disappointed that I didn’t really see Ian’s character grow. He was still the same selfish, shallow and super conceited douche canoe at the end as he was in the beginning. That was disappointing. I think I’d give it a 3 out of 5. What about you? Ames: I am going to agree with you. But 2.75 out of 5. I really can’t get past Ian’s character. Just thinking about how he thought of his clients…*shudder*. That’s too bad our final book of the year ended up being a dud, huh?
Final Grades
gif credits Ames: 2.75 out of 5 Rowena: 3 out of 5
Wingmen Inc. Series

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Buddy Review: Played by Jen Frederick

Posted October 25, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Buddy Review: Played by Jen FrederickPlayed
by Jen Frederick
Series: Gridiron #4
Also in this series: Jockblocked
Published by Jen Frederick on October 6, 2017
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Point of View:Alternating First Person
Pages: 278
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Add It: Goodreads

She's been playing it close...

Ara Martin and college football star Ty Masters have been best friends since the first day of school when Ty literally ran her over. She fell for him immediately, but having lived under the shadow of her famous father, she knows a relationship with irresistible Ty would only end in heartbreak. For four years, she’s kept her feelings hidden. But one drunken encounter weeks before graduation is about to expose Ara’s biggest secret and destroy her most treasured relationship. 

He’s been playing for keeps…

Ty is about to be drafted into the NFL, but his personal life is a mess. He’s got an agent he doesn’t like, a brother who can’t stop offering his opinion, and a beautiful woman he craves but can’t have. He can fire his agent and ignore his brother, but he’s not sure what to do about Ara. Ty’s been able to run down every quarterback he’s faced, but his sexy, stubborn best friend keeps slipping through his fingers.

Luckily, he's not one for giving up, and once he gets his hands on her, he's never letting go.

Played by Jen Frederick is the fourth book in her Gridiron series and it’s the story of Knox’s twin brother, Ty as he falls madly in love with his best friend, Ara. Ty Masters is on the verge of entering the NFL draft and he’s got a lot on his plates. He’s got an agent that he’s not a fan of, bad press following him everywhere he goes because of a jealous ex-girlfriend and some pent-up sexual frustration because he wants his best friend and she has made it more than crystal clear that he is staying in the friend zone. He’s also dealing with the pressure of measuring up or doing better than his twin brother did the year before. Everyone has an opinion and Ty is bound and determined to do it all on his own. Ara Martin is the daughter of a famous artist and like Ty, she’s determined to make her own way in the world on her own merit. She’s got a lot on her plate as well but the biggest hurdle of her senior year seems to be holding her best friend in the friend zone. Rowena: Alright, Ames. Let’s do this. Played was good but not my favorite of the Gridiron bunch. I loved Ty though. Like, a lot. Ha! What did you think? Ames: Same, it wasn’t my fave of the series but I still enjoyed it. I liked Ty – he was so gone for Ara. I like that he didn’t give up on her. And when he walks back into her apartments and says “Fuck the friendship seal”?? SWOON. I loved that. I like how blasé Ara was about telling the twins apart too. And I liked how they both grew. She was a coward but she ovaried up and he relied on his brother when he really needed to. Rowena: OMG, ME TOO! When Ty storms out and then comes back?? I read that part twice before moving on in the book. Swoon for real. I especially loved it because he was mad at her but he loved her too. Gah. Homie was going to fight for his girl. I really liked Fleur. She was a great friend and support system for Ara. She’s the friend that everyone needs in their corner. She was there when Ara needed to get drunk and forget her problems and she was also there when Ara needed a swift kick in the ass because she was being dumb. Seriously, I love Fleur. Same, and what she tells Knox at the coffee house? I wanted to stand up and applaud her. She had great reasons for being blase about telling them apart. Ara frustrated me more than Ty as far as them getting together but I’m glad she ovaried up and I loved the part where she calls Remy to help her and he’s like, nope. When he told her that he’ll still wear black with her on Wednesday? I laughed out loud. I loved it. Ames: I liked Remy! And Fleur. They were good secondary characters that made Ara and Ty get their heads on straight when they needed to. View Spoiler » That cracked me up. Rowena: LOL, yep. I loved how pissed he was that nobody told him. And I love his text messages to her,
“I know you think this campus is big enough that you can hide from me until graduation but you’re wrong. You might as well come home and face the music.”
I seriously love friends to lovers storylines and Jen Frederick does this one justice. Ames: I know. Haha It had some good moments but there was just something about it that didn’t fully hit the mark. Ty was freaking hot stuff though. I think that’s a good quote to show how Ty could recognize Ara’s BS and call her on it. At the same time be alpha enough to be uber hot and not come off as a douche. LOL All right, I’m giving Played a 4 out of 5. It’s a friend to lovers romance which is my ultimate fave and I liked the characters. There were swoony moments, LOL moments and good character growth. I know I said this wasn’t my favourite of the series but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a fun book to read. It totally was! Rowena: I’d give Played a 4 out of 5 rating because it was still an enjoyable book despite not being my favorite. There’s plenty to recommend it. I laughed, I happy sighed and I fell in love with the characters all over again. Good stuff.

Gridiron Series

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Review: Crushed by Lauren Layne

Posted March 28, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 10 Comments

Review: Crushed by Lauren LayneCrushed
by Lauren Layne
Series: Redemption #2
Also in this series: Isn't She Lovely
Published by Random House, Flirt on April 14th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Point of View:Alternating First Person
Pages: 304
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Add It: Goodreads
four-stars

Lauren Layne’s latest novel about the healing power of redemption tells the story of a crush gone wickedly wrong, proving that what you want isn’t always what you need.

Growing up in New York, Michael St. Claire never expected to spend his twenties wearing cowboy boots. But that was before he learned about his real father, a total stranger with a family in Cedar Grove, Texas. Once in the Lone Star State, Michael meets Kristin Bellamy, who is exquisitely refined and everything Michael always thought he wanted in a woman. The only problem is that Kristin is dating Michael’s new half brother, Devon.

Kristin’s mouthy, curvy sister Chloe has always been in love with Devon Patterson. So when Michael offers to help Chloe break up Devon and Kristin, Chloe agrees to a deal that seems too good to be true. Before long, Chloe finally gets her man, only to make a startling discovery: She no longer wants the guy she had to fight for—she wants the one who stood by her side.

After all he and Chloe have been through, Michael swears he’s damaged goods. Can Chloe convince him that love is worth the risk?

Crushed is the last book in the Redemption series by Lauren Layne and it’s a book that’s been sitting on my TBR pile for a long time. It’s also my March entry into the 2017 Totally Doable Reading Challenge that I’m participating in. I kind of cheated because the prompt for March was finish a series you started and I just started this series but it’s been sitting on my TBR pile for a while so it needed to get read and I’m including it. Michael St. Claire did the unthinkable. He fell in love with his best friend’s girl. He sat on that love for years and year because Olivia was Ethan’s girl but his feelings never went away. There wasn’t enough alcohol, girls or anything to distract him from where his heart belongs. When he finally can’t take it anymore, he kisses her and she kisses him back and things went to shit after that. On top of that, he learns some news that rocks his life right off its axis. Just like Olivia, Michael leaves New York to figure some shit out. He sets out to find….his real Dad. His real Dad that lives in Texas, a long way from where he was born and raised. He’s not sure what he’s going to do with the information yet but he’s got the summer to figure things out and in the meantime, he’s taken on some jobs. He’s a part time tennis instructor, personal trainer, and bartender. Lots of things to keep him busy. Busy while he plans out how to get close to Devon Patterson….his half brother. He’s got a couple of ways to go about this but the one way that holds the most appeal is through Devon’s girlfriend, Kristin Bellamy. Michael works that direction until he meets Kristin’s sister, Chloe. Chloe is nothing like her beautiful sister. She’s witty and she’s loud and Michael spends most of the time around her, wanting to shut her up but Chloe is in love with Devon and he figures that if they help each other out, he’ll get what he wants and she’ll get what she wants. Michael has no plans on giving his heart away again because he’s been there, done that and he’s learned his lesson. That way only leads to heartbreak and he’s had enough heartbreak to last a lifetime. Kristin is Michael’s usual kind of gal but Chloe is the sister that has captured Michael’s interest and nobody is more surprised by that than him. Chloe has been in love with her sister’s boyfriend since they were kids. Since before Devon became popular. She’s loved him since he was the little nerd, poring through Harry Potter books with her but once the braces came off, the baby fat came off, Devon moved on to the popular crowd and Chloe has never really gotten over her crush. That crush has turned into a wild love that hurts Chloe at every turn to see him with her sister. Her sister doesn’t deserve him but until he sees that for himself, she can’t do anything else but…wait. When Michael St. Claire becomes her personal trainer and her cohort in trying to get Devon to see her as more than just his girlfriend’s sister, things take a turn she wasn’t expecting. The quiet bad boy that seems to go through the girls in her hometown is not a fixure in her life and feelings are growing. This book is my second favorite book in the series. I took a break between Broken and Crushed because I wasn’t a fan of the premise of this story. The breaking up a couple, the fat heroine turned skinny but Lauren Layne takes care of us because I loved this book. I adored Michael and I loved Chloe. Chloe’s personality was bigger than her body and she was such a fantastic character that I couldn’t wait for her and Stephanie from Isn’t She Lovely to meet. I just knew that they were going to be fun together and I wasn’t wrong. The romance hit me with all of the feels that I love feeling while reading my books and I just adored seeing Michael and Chloe come into their own at the same time that they were falling in love with each other. They had so much in common, things that they didn’t know about each other but the reader did and goodness, I just loved how Layne brought these two together. It was fun. It was passionate and I just couldn’t get enough of these guys…all of them, except Kristin. This book ended the series on a high note and I’m super glad that I decided to pick these up. I don’t know what I was waiting on. This was a fun series and I highly recommend it. 4.25 out of 5
four-stars

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Review: Isn’t She Lovely by Lauren Layne

Posted March 15, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 8 Comments

Review: Isn’t She Lovely by Lauren LayneIsn't She Lovely
by Lauren Layne
Series: Redemption #0.5
Also in this series: Crushed
Published by Random House, Flirt on January 1st 1970
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Point of View:Alternating First Person
Pages: 288
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Add It: Goodreads
four-half-stars

The rules are clear—until they're broken. Lauren Layne puts a New Adult spin on Pygmalion, also the inspiration for Pretty Woman, and gives the classic love story its edgiest twist yet.

"Who knew that pretending you're not falling for someone would be so much more difficult than pretending that you are?"

Stephanie Kendrick gave up her whole summer to ace her NYU film school screenwriting course, so she's pissed to be stuck with a preppy, spoiled frat boy as her writing partner. Then again, with her piercings, black-rimmed eyes, and Goth wardrobe, Stephanie isn't exactly Ethan Price's type, either. He's probably got his eye on some leggy blonde with a trust fund... or does he?

As the summer scene kicks off in the Hamptons, Ethan is desperate to make his snobbish mother forget the pedigreed girl who broke his heart. While Stephanie's a stretch as a decoy, the right makeover and a pastel cardigan just might do the trick. She may not love the idea of playing Ethan's brainless Barbie girlfriend, but the free rent and luxurious digs make a tempting offer. So does the promise of a ready-made screenplay idea inspired by their charade.

But when Stephanie steps into Ethan's privileged world, the "acting" begins to feel all too real. The kissing and touching that were intended to fool the Hamptons crowd wind up manipulating "them." And Stephanie faces a question she's too afraid to ask: Is Ethan falling for the real her or for the dolled-up princess he wants to see?

Super Librarian Wendy is hosting this year’s TBR Challenge and March’s prompt was: Comfort Read (Favorite Author? Favorite Trope? Favorite Sub Genre?) so I chose to finally start a series by one of my favorite authors that has been sitting on my bookshelves for a long ass time. The Redemption series by Lauren Layne is a contemporary NA series that follows a trio of friends who are ripped apart by betrayal. They’re each trying to move on from the betrayal in the only way they know how and each book follows a different couple. Ethan Price is taking a summer class at NYU, taught by his god-father, so that he doesn’t have to be around his father’s company, interning with his ex-girlfriend. He’s not ready to see Olivia and deal with the aftermath of their break-up. When Ethan meets Stephanie Kendrick, she’s the last person that he wants to spend the summer with. She’s moody and attitudey and she dresses like an extra on a Marilyn Manson video but she’s got a mouth on her that never fails to make him laugh and she’s got some pretty great boobs as well. Stephanie Kendrick is taking a summer class to keep her from going to her father’s house for the summer. She doesn’t really feel like her father’s home is her home and she’ll do whatever it takes to not spend any time there. He’s got a new wife that is not her Mom and a step son that is okay but on principle, Stephanie hasn’t gotten too close to him. So she’s spending the summer in a screenwriting course and is paired up with rich, preppy boy Ethan Price who is too pretty for his own good but who can give as good as he gets when it comes to exchanging witty banter. When Ethan and Stephanie are paired up to write a screenplay together, they become friends. Well, not really since they both still don’t like each other but Ethan needs someone to play his girlfriend and Stephanie needs a place to crash so…a bargain is made and the party begins. Holy cow am I a bonehead for waiting so long to get this series read. I enjoyed the hell out of this book. The chemistry between Ethan and Stephanie was explosive and their banter was sexy and just so much fun. I zipped right through this book and if I were to name a gripe, it would probably be that the book ended. I enjoyed the ups, the downs, the getting to know you, the surprising jealousy and just every little thing in this book. Ethan was a great hero and Stephanie was pretty fantastic herself. They were characters with flaws and issues that needed to be addressed and you really see the growth in both of them. Lauren Layne hit this one out of the park and the minute I finished it, I jumped right into the next book, Broken. This was a lot of fun and I highly recommend it.
4.5 out of 5
four-half-stars

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