Review: Heart Bones by Colleen Hoover

Heart Bones by Colleen Hoover
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: August 19th 2020
Links: EbookPaperback • Goodreads
Source: I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review

Life and a dismal last name are the only two things Beyah Grim’s parents ever gave her. After carving her path all on her own, Beyah is well on her way to bigger and better things, thanks to no one but herself.

With only two short months separating her from the future she’s built and the past she desperately wants to leave behind, an unexpected death leaves Beyah with no place to go during the interim. Forced to reach out to her last resort, Beyah has to spend the remainder of her summer on a peninsula in Texas with a father she barely knows. Beyah’s plan is to keep her head down and let the summer slip by seamlessly, but her new neighbor Samson throws a wrench in that plan.

Samson and Beyah have nothing in common on the surface.

She comes from a life of poverty and neglect; he comes from a family of wealth and privilege. But one thing they do have in common is that they’re both drawn to sad things. Which means they’re drawn to each other. With an almost immediate connection too intense for them to continue denying, Beyah and Samson agree to stay in the shallow end of a summer fling. What Beyah doesn’t realize is that a rip current is coming, and it’s about to drag her heart out to sea.

Heart Bones is essentially a beach read, Colleen Hoover style, which means it’s heartbreaking and intense. And since the only requirement I have for beach reads is that it takes place on the beach, this book worked for me! And even though I just said it was heartbreaking, Heart Bones was surprisingly an easy, enjoyable read. It didn’t hit quite as emotional as I’m used to from this author but it does have a twist towards the end in classic CoHo style. I wish it could’ve been longer because there was so much to explore near the end but I did like the unique storyline and the heroine’s journey in discovering love and family.

Beyah grew up in poverty with her single, drug-addicted mother. Food was never a guarantee for her and she was left to fend for herself way too young. Now, at 19, she has a volleyball scholarship waiting for her in Pennsylvania, but with her mother dying of an overdose and nowhere to go, she’s forced to live with her estranged father. So she joins her father and her new stepmother and stepsister to a beach house on a Texas peninsula. Her next door neighbor is rich boy Samson, who hides behind his camera with his secrets and mysteries. And it’s on the beach that Beyah learns what it’s like to trust, to love, and be loved, not just with Samson, but with a family she never expected.

As with all of Colleen Hoover’s books, the writing is solid. I always enjoy the way she builds her characters. Beyah is broken from her traumatic past but has an inner strength I admired. Her new family is wonderful – I genuinely loved that she forms a friendship with her stepsister, who is so kind and endearing. Samson’s character wasn’t as compelling as I hoped it would be. I was curious about his secrets and absolutely didn’t expect the twist towards the end with his character, but he’s definitely not a new favorite Colleen Hoover hero for me.

Still, I really enjoyed the story overall, though I wish it was longer. What Beyah and Samson go through will have your heart hurting. It’s almost a tragic kind of love between two broken souls (but there is an HEA, I promise!) with their romance having an end date once summer ends, though you can’t help but root for them anyway. If you love your beach reads on the sad, more emotional side, Heart Bones is pretty much perfect for you!


lacey


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Review: A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire by Jennifer L. Armentrout

A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: Blood and Ash #2 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: September 1st 2020
Links: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
Source: I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review

Is Love Stronger Than Vengeance?

A Betrayal…

Everything Poppy has ever believed in is a lie, including the man she was falling in love with. Thrust among those who see her as a symbol of a monstrous kingdom, she barely knows who she is without the veil of the Maiden. But what she does know is that nothing is as dangerous to her as him. The Dark One. The Prince of Atlantia. He wants her to fight him, and that’s one order she’s more than happy to obey. He may have taken her, but he will never have her.

A Choice….

Casteel Da’Neer is known by many names and many faces. His lies are as seductive as his touch. His truths as sensual as his bite. Poppy knows better than to trust him. He needs her alive, healthy, and whole to achieve his goals. But he’s the only way for her to get what she wants—to find her brother Ian and see for herself if he has become a soulless Ascended. Working with Casteel instead of against him presents its own risks. He still tempts her with every breath, offering up all she’s ever wanted. Casteel has plans for her. Ones that could expose her to unimaginable pleasure and unfathomable pain. Plans that will force her to look beyond everything she thought she knew about herself—about him. Plans that could bind their lives together in unexpected ways that neither kingdom is prepared for. And she’s far too reckless, too hungry, to resist the temptation.

A Secret…

But unrest has grown in Atlantia as they await the return of their Prince. Whispers of war have become stronger, and Poppy is at the very heart of it all. The King wants to use her to send a message. The Descenters want her dead. The wolven are growing more unpredictable. And as her abilities to feel pain and emotion begin to grow and strengthen, the Atlantians start to fear her. Dark secrets are at play, ones steeped in the blood-drenched sins of two kingdoms that would do anything to keep the truth hidden. But when the earth begins to shake, and the skies start to bleed, it may already be too late.

Ever since I finished From Blood and Ash, A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire shot up to the top of my most anticipated sequels of 2020. FBAA is one of my favorite books this year and the ending absolutely killed me. I NEEDED to read more of Poppy, Cas, and this epic fantasy world full of gods, magic, and vampires! Thankfully, this much-awaited sequel did not disappoint. I loved being back with our main characters, who have such great banter and chemistry together, and learning more about this new world Poppy is discovering.

AKOFAF literally picks up right where FBAA left off, with the wildest proposal ever. Poppy is rightfully hurt and angry at Casteel for his lies and betrayal, so their relationship, or what’s left of it, is on thin ice. Now to add in a marriage? It’s crazy – but it just might work. They both have something at stake and will do anything, even marry each other, to reach their goals. And in the midst of this marriage of convenience(!), Poppy also has to deal with being an outsider and despised by the Atlantians for being the former Maiden.

I was expecting a ton of angst and tension after what happened in FBAA and JLA dishes all of that out SO well. I was feeling so much for Poppy and Cas – they don’t want to want each other, but the lust and chemistry that developed while they were Poppy and Hawke is still there and only gets stronger the more time they spend together. JLA nails the push and pull of the romance, the longing, the heartache, and the love. Poppy and Casteel are both fantastic characters and there was never a time I didn’t root for them or want them to get their HEA. And I just gotta say, our vampire prince hero is even hotter this second time around! I loved him as Hawke but he’s way more compelling as Casteel.

We do get much more of the world-building, as expected in a fantasy sequel. There isn’t as much action and the pacing of AKOFAF is definitely slower, as it focuses more on fleshing out this fantasy world and developing Poppy and Cas’s relationship. But one of the things I love about JLA is that her writing is so easy to read. I never felt like there was too much info-dumping and despite how much more detailed and in-depth we get into the Atlantian world, I never felt like I was lost reading it all.

AKOFAF is a fantastic follow-up to one of my favorite reads of the year. Poppy is more of her badass self, the romance is steamyyy (I am HERE for all the hot fantasy romances!), and I just love this world JLA has created so much. If you thought the FBAA ending was awful (in the best way), prepare for AKOFAF’s! The cliffhanger will have you screaming!


lacey


Reading Order: Blood and Ash series

#1 ~ From Blood and Ash: Ebook • PaperbackAudible • Goodreads
#2 ~ A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads


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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: 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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Review: The Devil of Downtown by Joanna Shupe

The Devil of Downtown by Joanna Shupe
Series: Uptown Girls #3 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: June 30th 2020
Links: Ebook • PaperbackAudible • Goodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

The final novel in Joanna Shupe’s critically acclaimed Uptown Girl series about a beautiful do-gooder who must decide if she can team up with one of New York’s brashest criminals without losing something irreplaceable: her heart.

Manhattan kingpin.
Brilliant mastermind.
Gentleman gangster.

He’s built a wall around his heart…

Orphaned and abandoned on the Bowery’s mean streets, Jack Mulligan survived on strength, cunning, and ambition. Now he rules his territory better than any politician or copper ever could. He didn’t get here by being soft. But in uptown do-gooder Justine Greene―the very definition of an iron fist in a velvet glove―Jack may have met his match.

She wears hers on her sleeve…

Justine is devoted to tracking down deadbeat husbands and fighting for fair working conditions. When her mission brings her face-to-face with Jack, she’s shocked to find the man behind the criminal empire is considerably more charming and honorable than many “gentlemen” she knows.

Forming an unlikely alliance, they discover an unexpected desire. And when Justine’s past catches up with them, Jack may be her only hope of survival. Is she ready to make a deal with the devil…?

I’ve been such a huge fan of the Uptown Girls series – and Joanna Shupe – ever since I discovered the series earlier this year. Three kickass sisters who go against the grain by following their minds and hearts, and the rough men they fall for? Yes to all of that, and more. With The Devil of Downtown, we get the third, youngest, and final sister, Justine’s story, and of course she falls for the most powerful, most dangerous man in Gilded Age New York City: top gangster Jack Mulligan. I loved these two characters, and though I’m sad to see the series end, it went out with a bang.

Justine is a do-gooder. She’s like a vigilante private investigator, helping those in need who can’t help themselves. Her latest case leads her to Jack Mulligan, the kingpin of Manhattan’s underground. They end up working together on her case to find a missing/deadbeat husband. And from the very moment they meet, the two are intrigued with each other. Their chemistry is fiery from the get-go, which I’m not surprised about, given that this is a Joanna Shupe book. All the books I’ve read from her are STEAMY, and The Devil of Downtown is no exception. I loved Justine and Jack’s banter together, and there’s even a bowling scene that was hot. Who knew you could make bowling of all things sexy?

But Jack goes against everything that Justine stands for, with the less than savory occupation that he has as a gangster. They are two completely different people, but when they’re together, they’re so right. I was hooked onto their romance, which kept me on the edge of my seat. I wasn’t sure how Joanna Shupe would play out their romance, how they would end up with an HEA, but I was happily along for the ride. I honestly can’t say enough good things about Joanna Shupe’s books, her fantastic writing, her complex characters. She once again wrote another hit in the series I couldn’t put down. And though this is the end of the Uptown Girls, I’m already looking forward to what other Gilded Age romances she has in store for us!


lacey


Reading Order: Uptown Girls series

#1 ~ The Rogue of Fifth Avenue: Ebook • PaperbackAudible • Goodreads
#2 ~ The Prince of Broadway: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#3 ~ The Devil of Downtown: Ebook • PaperbackAudible • Goodreads


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