Review: Out of Love by Jewel E. Ann

Out of Love by Jewel E. Ann
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: September 27th 2020
Links: EbookPaperback • Goodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review

Conspiracies. Corruption. Serial killers.

You name it—I’m fascinated by it. My mom always blamed my overly curious and highly suspicious mind on my dad.

My incredibly overbearing dad.

Mr. No One Is Good Enough For My Daughter has been terrifying my dates since I turned fifteen.

College is my chance to be free from his control and date any guy I want.

I’m absolutely certain he would hate Slade Wylder—almost as certain as I am that I do too.

Since when have I shied away from trouble?

Slade fascinates me. He lives in a house I’m certain is haunted. His dog is trained as well as any guard I’ve ever seen. Rumor on campus is that he deals drugs. It would explain a lot.

But it doesn’t explain why he saves me from my darkest moment.

It doesn’t explain why I can’t stop thinking about him.

And the explanation I finally discover is far more dangerous than any rumor.

Leela and Hunt are determined to keep each other at arm’s length, which should be easy enough for two intelligent adults with reputations to uphold. The problem is all logic is lost when it comes to a passion that refuses to be ignored.

I have been such a huge fan of Jewel E. Ann’s ever since I read Look the Part and fell head over heels in love with that book and her writing! So I was crazy excited to read a new romance, this time set in college, with a good dose of suspense, and with plenty of twists and turns. I enjoyed Out of Love so much – the romance is engaging and fascinating. I enjoyed the main characters Livy and Slade, I LOVED Slade’s dog, and the college, new adult vibes were so much fun. I also didn’t realize this until halfway through the story, but Out of Love is a spinoff of JEA’s previous Jack & Jill series, featuring Livy’s parents and her aunt. Now I want to go back and try that series out!

Livy Knight is a bit of a wild child. She’s lived with her overbearing, overprotective father and now that she’s alone in college, she’s going to make the most of her freedom. It’s the start of a new school year and in one of her classes is the school’s biggest enigma and loner, Slade Wylder. There are rumors that he’s a dangerous man, but that doesn’t stop Livy from trying to get close to him, and his German Shepard Jericho. And luckily for her, Slade and Jerry live just down the street from her in an old, haunted firehouse.

I adored Livy and her feistiness! She never let Slade’s asshole ways get to her. And he can be a JERK. They fall in love a bit too fast for my liking, but I always enjoyed anytime these two characters were in a room together, because sparks flew. Slade and his strange job are a mystery to Livy, though it is fairly easy to predict what it is. The last third of the book is where all the craziness happens and everything starts to come together. I enjoyed the suspenseful aspect of this book, but I do have to say I loved the regular, college romance part just a liiittle bit more.

Overall, this is a great standalone if you want your new adult romances a little more exciting and with some action. The writing is great, the characters are fun, and again, I loved Slade’s dog so much! I don’t know why we don’t have more romance books with animal sidekicks, because they always steal the show.

*Trigger warning for sexual assault/attempted rape in Chapter 4


lacey


Out of Love is a standalone spinoff of the Jack & Jill series

Reading Order: Jack & Jill series

#1 ~ End of Day: EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads
#2 ~ Middle of Knight: EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads
#3 ~ Dawn of Forever: EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads


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Review: The One That Got Away by Karina Halle

The One That Got Away by Karina Halle
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: September 20th 2020
Links: EbookPaperbackGoodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review

Ruby Turner was never meant to be mine.

When I first met her she was a fresh, young American sports journalist trying to find her footing in a new life abroad. She was the one interviewing me for an article, yet I wanted to know more about her. She captivated me.

But she went home with Marco that night.
My agent.
My brother.

And I did what I could to pretend I was fine with it. After all, I’m Luciano Ribeiro. As the captain of Real Madrid, and Portugal’s National Team, it’s my job to be cool, calm, and collected, not easily rattled.

Only what I felt for Ruby over time, shook me to my very core. It made me do things I never imagined I would do.
It started with a stolen kiss in the middle of the night.
It led to a passionate tryst.
It created a burden of guilt that I had to carry, as Ruby came in and out of my life until she left for good, leaving her mark on me.

Now, seven years later, she’s back.
She was the one that got away.
I don’t think I’ll let her go this time.
But I might not have a choice.
Because my heart still belongs to her.
And her heart might belong to my brother.

I’ve been wanting a book for Luciano since he was first introduced in The Forbidden Man. We knew he’d loved and lost, and now we finally get his second chance romance in The One That Got Away. And even though he’s a spinoff character, this book still holds perfectly fine as a standalone, so if you’re in the mood for an angsty, second chance, soccer romance, you’ll want to give Luciano and Ruby’s book a try!

Seven years ago, Ruby and Luciano first met when Ruby arrived in Europe to create a new life for herself, starting with interviewing soccer players for her fledgling blog. With her luck, she gets five minutes with rising star Luciano Ribeiro, and they feel a connection from the moment they meet. Unfortunately, Ruby has already accepted a date with Luciano’s brother/agent Marco right before their meeting. So Luciano steps aside, even though he knows that Ruby should be with him, and their angsty, years-long romance begins.

Going into this, I expected a second chance romance that starts during the present day. So I was surprised when we start the book seven years ago and when our main characters first meet and fall in (forbidden) love. This did change up the dynamics for me and made it feel less like a second chance romance and more like any normal romance, albeit still a little forbidden and soccer related. Ruby is an interesting heroine – she begins the book doing something I would never have the guts to do, which is leave everything and everyone behind to start a new life in a completely different country. For that, I admired her, but I do have to say I grew frustrated with her reasons for not being with Luciano. I was hurting for these two but also wanted them to get over themselves and get back together.

It’s very much an up and down kind of emotional roller coaster with The One That Got Away. I COULD NOT put this book down – I finished it in a day, needing to know how the romance finally works out. If you love romances with a ton of push and pull, you’ll enjoy Ruby and Luciano. And if you loved some of Karina Halle’s past romance like Love, in English and The Forbidden Man, we get some lovely cameos with our favorite couples!


lacey


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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: 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: The Player Next Door by K.A. Tucker

The Player Next Door by K.A. Tucker
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: June 16th 2020
Links: EbookPaperback • Goodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review

From the international bestselling author of The Simple Wild and Ten Tiny Breaths comes a new second-chance, hate-to-love romance.

Scarlet Reed has returned to Polson Falls, convinced that twelve years away is long enough to shed her humiliating childhood identity as the town harlot’s daughter. With a teaching job secured and an adorable fixer-upper to call home, things in her life are finally looking up.

That is, until she finds out that Shane Beckett lives next door.

Shane Beckett, the handsome and charismatic high school star quarterback who smashed her heart. The lying, cheating player who was supposed to be long gone, living the pro football dream and fooling women into thinking he’s Prince Charming. Shane Beckett, who is as attractive as ever and flashing his dimples at her as if he has done no wrong.

Scarlet makes it abundantly clear that old wounds have not been forgotten. Neighbors they may be, but friends they most certainly are not. She won’t allow herself to fall for the single father and firefighter again, no matter how many apologies he offers, how many times he rushes to her aid, or how hard he makes her heart pound.

But as she spends more time with him, she begins to fear that maybe she’s wrong. Maybe Shane has changed.
And maybe this time she’s the one playing herself—out of a chance at true happiness.

I am such a big fan of K.A. Tucker, so when I heard she’d be releasing a new standalone with summer vibes, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it! Also, I’m always a sucker for both second chance romances and single parent romances. I ended up enjoying Shane and Scarlet’s story – it’s both sweet and dramatic, if that makes sense. If you want a summer read with a swoony hero and lots of unresolved tension, give The Player Next Door a try!

Scarlet has returned home after being away for twelve years to be a school teacher. She packed up and never looked back as soon as she could, not wanting to deal with heartbreak and her narcissistic mother any more. But she’s moved into the cute little house she always admired, not knowing that her next door neighbor is none other than the guy who broke her heart and caused her to want to leave: Shane Beckett. Who also happens to be the father of one of her new students.

This romance is a bit of an enemies to lovers one, at least on our heroine Scarlet’s side. She hasn’t forgiven Shane for breaking her heart over a decade ago and isn’t about to make it easy for him to try to get her to give him a second chance. I love a heroine who makes a hero work for her affections, though I do feel Shane could’ve groveled a bit more rather than say it was something that happened so long ago. There’s plenty of chemistry, of push and pull, between Shane and Scarlet to make this romance exciting and fun.

The main reason I’m not rating this higher is that I felt a bit disconnected from our main characters. I liked them, but I never truly connected with their stories. I may have rolled my eyes a bit at some of the miscommunication and it wasn’t quite as light and fluffy as I expected. But still, it’s a quick, sweet (which mostly comes from our charming hero and his son) romp with a dash of drama (from our heroine) that will make this a fun summer read!


lacey


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