Review: The Truest Thing by Samantha Young

The Truest Thing by Samantha Young
Series: Hart’s Boardwalk #4 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: August 18th 2020
Links: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
Source: I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review

Nine years ago, Emery Saunders moved to Hartwell to start her life over as a bookstore owner. Her inability to trust people made it hard for her to find a place in the small community until Jessica Lawson moved to town and befriended the shy beauty.
But there was one person in Hartwell who tried to befriend Emery long before Jessica arrived…

Jack Devlin has his secrets. One of them is that he fell hard for Emery the moment she appeared in Hartwell. Another is that his father blackmailed him into covering up a dark family tragedy. It forced Jack to sever his relationships to protect the people he cared about. Yet, staying away from Emery has not been easy throughout the years and he hasn’t always succeeded. When Jack’s mixed signals hurt Emery once again, she puts him out of her heart for good.

Until the Devlin family secret is finally revealed, freeing Jack from his father’s machinations. What Jack wants more than anything is to repair his relationships, starting with Emery.
However, Emery isn’t ready to forgive and Jack’s not ready to give up.
And when the town’s latest scandal ties Jack and Emery together, Jack is not above using their new reality to prove to Emery once and for all that their love is worthy of the legend of Hart’s Boardwalk.

It’s been a long time coming for Emery and Jack. When they were first introduced in the Hart’s Boardwalk series, I knew I need their romance asap. It’s been a few years, but The Truest Thing is finally here and it was just as angsty and tortured like I expected! Though book three, Things We Never Said is still my favorite of the series, I’m so glad we get to read this much awaited story and would highly recommend it for longtime fans of the series.

Emery moved to the small boardwalk town of Hartwell nine years ago to open a bookstore/coffee shop. She was insanely shy around others and never made any friends, at least not until the heroine from book one moved in, but from the moment she met Jack, a local resident, there was something there between them. Unfortunately, the town player who never wanted to settle down and the new shy, awkward resident meant that neither could come forward and act on their chemistry. To make matters worse, a few years later Jack turned his back on his friends and the community to work with his evil, heartless father. But through it all, Emery saw who Jack was deep down and never stopped rooting for him.

Usually, this kind of dynamic – the town manwhore hero and the shy virgin heroine – doesn’t work for me. It’s not my favorite thing to read in romances, but somehow Samantha Young made it work. I never really hated Jack for all the hurtful things he did, though I do feel like he could’ve groveled a bit more to Emery. Emery didn’t come across as a pushover and I was rooting for her to find her inner strength and go after what she wanted. I enjoyed the way these two characters finally were able to be together, though it’s certainly not an easy road. The nine years they’ve known each other have been fraught with drama, hurt, and heartache, but we all know that Jack and Emery are everything to each other.

I love this cast of characters Samantha Young has created and am so sad to say goodbye to them. I love the small town community and the setting of Hartwell, which is brought to life through the author’s writing. For anyone who has been waiting for Emery and Jack, wait no more. It’s an angsty, emotional, and steamy final book to the series!


lacey


Reading Order: Hart’s Boardwalk series

 

#1 ~ The One Real Thing: My Review • Ebook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads
#2 ~ Every Little Thing: My ReviewEbook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads
#3 ~ Things We Never Said: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
#4 ~ The Truest Thing: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads


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Review: You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria

You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: August 4th 2020
Links: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

RITA® Award Winning author Alexis Daria brings readers an unforgettable, hilarious rom-com set in the drama-filled world of telenovelas—perfect for fans of Jane the Virgin and The Kiss Quotient.

Leading Ladies do not end up on tabloid covers.

After a messy public breakup, soap opera darling Jasmine Lin Rodriguez finds her face splashed across the tabloids. When she returns to her hometown of New York City to film the starring role in a bilingual romantic comedy for the number one streaming service in the country, Jasmine figures her new “Leading Lady Plan” should be easy enough to follow—until a casting shake-up pairs her with telenovela hunk Ashton Suárez.

Leading Ladies don’t need a man to be happy.

After his last telenovela character was killed off, Ashton is worried his career is dead as well. Joining this new cast as a last-minute addition will give him the chance to show off his acting chops to American audiences and ping the radar of Hollywood casting agents. To make it work, he’ll need to generate smoking-hot on-screen chemistry with Jasmine. Easier said than done, especially when a disastrous first impression smothers the embers of whatever sexual heat they might have had.

Leading Ladies do not rebound with their new costars.

With their careers on the line, Jasmine and Ashton agree to rehearse in private. But rehearsal leads to kissing, and kissing leads to a behind-the-scenes romance worthy of a soap opera. While their on-screen performance improves, the media spotlight on Jasmine soon threatens to destroy her new image and expose Ashton’s most closely guarded secret.

If you’re a fan of the show Jane the Virgin, you’re gonna want to try You Had Me at Hola! There’s Latinx rep, telenovelas, actor main characters, and a ton of on- and off-screen steam. It was my first book from Alexis Daria and I really liked her writing. I loved the telenovela aspect and that we actually get to read the script (which is a dramatic second chance romance I was super into) and see how the actor characters play it out. While I did have my issues with parts of the book, I still would recommend it if you’re looking for a romance with great Latinx characters who are making their way into Hollywood.

Soap opera actress Jasmine Lin Rodriguez has just landed the lead role on a Latinx romantic comedy show, to be streamed on a Netflix lookalike, so you know it’s a big deal. She’s paired up with a famous telenovela star in his own right, Ashton Suárez. They get off on a bumpy start after he accidentally spills coffee on her during their first meeting, and try as they might to create some chemistry between them while filming, something seems to be missing. So they agree to work on their lines behind the scenes, and that’s when things really heat up.

Jasmine and Ashton’s romance was sweet. I liked the fact that the hero is the one who is awkward and a bit shy when it comes to the romance. Ashton has his reasons for being very wary and closed off from relationships. He doesn’t want to be in the limelight because of a secret he’s keeping that he wants to be kept hidden. Unfortunately, I think Ashton took this a bit too far for too long. I got frustrated with how hot and cold he was with Jasmine and wasn’t a fan of the way he didn’t understand that his pursuit of Hollywood came with the cost of his privacy. He sadly took too long for my taste to realize he had something good with the heroine.

Luckily, Jasmine wasn’t as frustrating for me. I loved her character! I enjoyed her ambition and how much she loved being a lead role on a Latinx rom-com. I adored her relationship with her family and close cousins – the female friendship in this book was lovely and family plays a huge and important part to both Jasmine and Ashton’s lives. And one of my favorite aspects of this book was actually the show, Carmen in Charge! I’ll admit, at times I was more invested in the show’s romance than the off-screen romance. It’s a second chance romance with a ton of angst and I 100% would not mind if it turned into a real book or show. I do wish I could’ve loved You Had Me at Hola more but I would still highly recommend it if you want some fantastic Latinx characters!


lacey


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Review: One Hot Italian Summer by Karina Halle

One Hot Italian Summer by Karina Halle
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: July 28th 2020
Links: EbookPaperbackGoodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review

An author finds inspiration in Tuscany in the form of a hot Italian single dad…
This summer is going to be a scorcher.

A writer who’s blocked–I’m a total cliche.

Lucky for me, my agent has a cure that’s an even bigger stereotype–a month at her villa in Tuscany, with nothing to do but find my muse.

When he walks right in the front door, adorable son in tow, it feels like fate has finally done for me what it does for every other cliche’d girl I’ve seen in the movies. Except that he’s completely off-limits. In this case, business and pleasure can never mix.

Because Claudio is my agent’s ex.

Still, he’s smart, charming, and wickedly sexy, plus a great father to Vanni. He’s fast becoming the cure to all my writing woes. And it’s clear he wants me as much as I want him.

As the hot Italian summer wears on, it becomes harder and harder to resist. Succumbing to the heat even just one time could ruin my career.

Or he could be exactly what I need.

Holy. SWOOOON!!! One Hot Italian Summer was pure romance heaven and I loved it! Karina Halle has been killing it with her recent releases and this latest one is now a new favorite of mine. You will 100% get swept off your feet and wish you were in Italy once you read Grace and Claudio’s romance. It’s feel-good, steamy, and so sweet, I couldn’t help but adore every moment I read it.

Grace used to be one half of an author duo, but after the death of her writing partner, she’s feeling adrift and experiencing writer’s block. Her new agent offers a solution: Grace will take a much needed vacation from Scotland and stay in her agent’s villa in the Italian countryside. It’s perfect… until she finds herself naked (so she can take a dip in the pool) in front of a gorgeous stranger and his son. Turns out, Claudio and Vanni are Grace’s agent’s ex-husband and son, and all three of them will be staying in the Tuscany villa together for the time being.

Grace and Claudio have SO much tension between them from the get-go. You can clearly tell how much they want each other but are trying so hard not to act on their lust and chemistry, not just because of Vanni but also his mother. But there’s nothing more romantic than spending time together in the Italian countryside, where the sun is shining, the food is decadent, and the hero is a hunk, a sculptor (there’s a pottery scene a la Ghost), and can speak to you (dirty) in Italian. These two fall and they fall hard. It’s actually Claudio that dives in headfirst regarding the romance, and I loved that so much. He knows Grace is The One for him and will do anything to make her fall in love with him.

This book is the definition of the heart-eyes emoji. Grace is a lovely, relatable heroine, Claudio is swoony and sweet, even Vanni is hilarious and adorable! Karina Halle always writes such incredible romances that take place around the world, and this time she had me wishing I could live in Tuscany… and fall in love with a gorgeous Italian single dad. If you’re looking for the perfect summer romance, look no further than One Hot Italian Summer.


lacey


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Review: From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout

From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: Blood and Ash #1 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: March 30th 2020
Links: Ebook • PaperbackAudible • Goodreads
Source: I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review

A Maiden…

Chosen from birth to usher in a new era, Poppy’s life has never been her own. The life of the Maiden is solitary. Never to be touched. Never to be looked upon. Never to be spoken to. Never to experience pleasure. Waiting for the day of her Ascension, she would rather be with the guards, fighting back the evil that took her family, than preparing to be found worthy by the gods. But the choice has never been hers.

A Duty…

The entire kingdom’s future rests on Poppy’s shoulders, something she’s not even quite sure she wants for herself. Because a Maiden has a heart. And a soul. And longing. And when Hawke, a golden-eyed guard honor bound to ensure her Ascension, enters her life, destiny and duty become tangled with desire and need. He incites her anger, makes her question everything she believes in, and tempts her with the forbidden.

A Kingdom…

Forsaken by the gods and feared by mortals, a fallen kingdom is rising once more, determined to take back what they believe is theirs through violence and vengeance. And as the shadow of those cursed draws closer, the line between what is forbidden and what is right becomes blurred. Poppy is not only on the verge of losing her heart and being found unworthy by the gods, but also her life when every blood-soaked thread that holds her world together begins to unravel.

Oh. My. Gosh.

What was that ending????

I need book two STAT.

WOW. What an incredible read. I’ve been a fan of JLA since Obsidian, but From Blood and Ash without a doubt is her best work to date. This new adult fantasy romance was absolutely incredible. The world-building is fantastic and not at all too much info dumping. I loved our main characters Poppy and Hawke. To be honest, about 80% of the book was a solid 4 star read for me, until the last 20% blew everything out of the water. The last hundred pages is truly EPIC. I could not put this book down and would highly recommend it for anyone who loves fantasy romance or wants to get in to the subgenre!

Poppy is known as the Maiden. She’s basically the “chosen one,” waiting for the day of her Ascension, where humans ascend to become immortal and powerful. Since losing her parents, she’s been kept under lock and key, unable to communicate with anyone other than her guardians and bodyguards. Her life is… not her own. But when she gets a new bodyguard after the tragic death of her last one, her life starts to get turned upside down, no thanks to Hawke.

I won’t get too much into the details of this book, because I truly believe it’s so much better to experience the story if you go into it blind. The twists and turns that happen in the last 100 pages are jaw-dropping. I’m in awe of how JLA was able to blow my mind away! Poppy made a kickass heroine, so headstrong, intelligent, and caring. I loved how she knew how to defend herself and would kill to protect those she loved. Hawke is a bit of a mystery, gorgeous and alpha and so intrigued by Poppy. They made a fantastic couple together with lots of great banter.

I am now currently dying to get my hands on the sequel. JLA really did us dirty with that cliffhanger. Just kidding, I still love her. FBAA is now one of my favorite reads of 2020 and I can’t wait to see what else JLA has in store for us in this world!


lacey


Reading Order: Blood and Ash series

#1 ~ From Blood and Ash: Ebook • PaperbackAudible • Goodreads
#2 ~ A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire: EbookPaperbackGoodreads (Sept. 1, 2020)


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Review: Deal with the Devil by Kit Rocha

Deal with the Devil by Kit Rocha
Series: Mercenary Librarians #1 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: July 28th 2020
Links: EbookHardcoverPaperbackAudible • Goodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Deal with the Devil is Orphan Black meets the post-apocalyptic Avengers by USA Today and New York Times bestselling author duo Kit Rocha.

Nina is an information broker with a mission—she and her team of mercenary librarians use their knowledge to save the hopeless in a crumbling America.

Knox is the bitter, battle-weary captain of the Silver Devils. His squad of supersoldiers went AWOL to avoid slaughtering innocents, and now he’s fighting to survive.

They’re on a deadly collision course, and the passion that flares between them only makes it more dangerous. They could burn down the world, destroying each other in the process…

Or they could do the impossible: team up.

This is the first book in a near-future science fiction series with elements of romance.

I’ve been wanting to read Kit Rocha’s fantasy/post-apocalyptic/dystopian romances for years. I own a bunch of their Beyond books in audio but for some reason haven’t gotten to them yet. But when I saw they were writing a new dystopian romance series, about mercenary librarians of all things, I knew I had to get my hands on it. Deal with the Devil is the first in this epic new series and I enjoyed it! It’s action-packed and there is plenty of romance to go around. It’s a solid first installment, with great world-building, and I already can’t wait to read more from this series.

Reading Deal with the Devil reminded me of how much I enjoy dystopian books and that I don’t read enough of them regularly! I liked the way the authors set up this futuristic, survivalist world where it’s every man and woman for themselves. The characters are intriguing (again, MERCENARY. LIBRARIANS. Who don’t hesitate to kill to protect those they care about!) and I was honestly surprised, in the best way, by how much fun they were. While there are serious moments, there is still a ton of great banter between our Librarians and Silver Devil soldiers. Nina and her librarian squad are kickass (she literally kills multiple men in the very first scene). Knox and his band of supersoldiers were fascinating to read about, and the ticking time bomb on their lives had me on the edge of my seat.

I’m so glad I finally got the chance to read one of Kit Rocha’s books. They balanced out the suspense, action, and romance perfectly well in this and I cannot wait for more romances between the Librarians and Devils. I do wish we’d gotten more of the librarian aspect of the series title in the book, but hopefully we’ll get more in future releases.


lacey


Reading Order: Mercenary Librarians series

#1 ~ Deal with the Devil: EbookHardcoverPaperbackAudible • Goodreads
#2 ~ The Devil You Know: Ebook • Goodreads (Aug. 31, 2021)


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