Review: The Mixtape by Brittainy Cherry

The Mixtape by Brittainy Cherry
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: July 1st 2021
Links: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Since the death of his twin brother, Oliver’s caught between pleasing his fans and finding himself. Emery finds him first.

Emery has never felt more alone. Raising her daughter is both her pleasure and her pain as she struggles to hold on to her job as a bartender and keep a roof over their heads. With no one to help them—no support system—any unexpected expense or late bill could turn their whole world upside down.

Reeling from the death of his twin brother and bandmate, rock star Oliver Smith is trying to drink his problems away. Apparently he isn’t very good at it; they follow him wherever he goes. Also in hot pursuit are the paparazzi, who catch Oliver at his lowest low.

He could have walked into any bar in California, but he walked into hers. Emery helps Oliver lose the crowd, and they find themselves alone: two people whose paths are marked with loss and pain. However, they hold an unshakable hope for healing. They find solace together, but can their love withstand the world?

The Mixtape is a down-to-earth rock star romance between a single mother and one of her rock star idols. It’s emotional and heartbreaking, as with most Brittainy C. Cherry books. I’ve been enjoying her books a lot lately and this one was fantastic in audio. If you’re a fan of rock star romances and books with a ton of feels, you need to read this book!

Oliver is a part of a rock star duo with his twin brother, and when twin dies in an accident, Oliver is left reeling and devastated. Being in the public eye doesn’t help matters either. Everyone and their mother seems to have a negative opinion on Oliver and he can’t deal with his grief and public scrutiny on top of it. He finds himself drunk in the middle of a bar when he meets Emery, a single mom who helps him during this painful time. They form a connection over their trauma and loss and they help each other heal all while falling for each other.

Oliver and Emery’s stories are heart-wrenching. I hurt for both of them, from the loss of the most important person in Oliver’s life to Emery’s hurtful and toxic family. Their romance is sweet and all about healing two broken people. I adored Emery’s daughter Reese, who adds a brightness to the story that’s much needed. The Mixtape took me on an emotional journey and I enjoyed it so much.


lacey


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Release Day Review: Tryst Six Venom by Penelope Douglas

Tryst Six Venom by Penelope Douglas
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: June 3rd 2021
Links: EbookPaperback • Goodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review

𝑨𝒘𝒂𝒚 𝒈𝒂𝒎𝒆𝒔, 𝒃𝒂𝒄𝒌 𝒔𝒆𝒂𝒕𝒔, 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒍𝒐𝒄𝒌𝒆𝒓 𝒓𝒐𝒐𝒎 𝒂𝒇𝒕𝒆𝒓 𝒉𝒐𝒖𝒓𝒔… 𝑮𝒆𝒕 𝒓𝒆𝒂𝒅𝒚!

𝘾𝙇𝘼𝙔

Marymount girls are good girls. We’re chaste, we’re untouched, and even if we weren’t, no one would know, because we keep our mouths shut.

Not that I have anything to share anyway. I never let guys go too far. I’m behaved.

Beautiful, smart, talented, popular, my skirt’s always pressed, and I never have a hair out of place. I own the hallways, walking tall on Monday and dropping to my knees like the good Catholic girl I am on Sunday.

That’s me. Always in control.

Or so they think. The truth is that it’s easy for me to resist them, because what I truly want, they can never be. Something soft and smooth. Someone dangerous and wild.

Unfortunately, what I want I have to hide. In the locker room after hours. In the bathroom stall between classes. In the showers after practice. 𝑀𝑦 ℎ𝑒𝑎𝑑 𝑠𝑤𝑖𝑚𝑚𝑖𝑛𝑔. 𝑀𝑦 ℎ𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑢𝑝 ℎ𝑒𝑟 𝑠𝑘𝑖𝑟𝑡.

For me, life is a web of secrets. No one can find out mine.

𝙊𝙇𝙄𝙑𝙄𝘼

I cross the tracks every day for one reason—to graduate from this school and get into the Ivy League. I’m not ashamed of where I come from, my family, or how everyone at Marymount thinks my skirts are too short and my lipstick is too red.

Clay Collins and her friends have always turned up their noses at me. The witch with her beautiful skin, clean shoes, and rich parents who torments me daily and thinks I won’t fight back.

At least not until I get her alone and find out she’s hiding so much more than just what’s underneath those pretty clothes.

The princess thinks I’ll scratch her itch. She thinks she’s still pure as long as it’s not a guy touching her.

I told her to stay on her side of town. I told her not to cross the tracks.

But one night, she did. And when I’m done with her, she’ll never be pure again.

Tryst Six Venom is Penelope Douglas’ very first F/F romance and I have been DYING to get my hands on it ever since she started teasing about it. It’s a bully romance set in high school, and normally I don’t gravitate towards these kinds of reads but I trust Penelope Douglas and I trust her process. TSV ended up being a gripping, entertaining, emotional read – I highly recommend it especially if you love Punk 57 or Bully!

Good girl Clay comes from a wealthy family. Bad girl Olivia comes from the wrong side of the tracks. They hate each other, they’re on the same lacrosse team, and Clay has made Liv’s life hell their entire time in high school. Unfortunately, Liv can’t retaliate since the rich kids at their school don’t experience any kind of repercussions. So she keeps to herself and works hard to survive long enough to graduate and go to an Ivy League out of the state.

The relationship between Liv and Clay is toxic. At least at first. It’s full of turmoil and angst and anger and hurt. There’s so much to unpack between them but underneath it all is also an unwanted attraction. Liv is out and Clay is confused and scared about her sexuality. All she knows is that she just wants Liv.

It’s a roller coaster of emotions when you read TSV. My heart HURT for these two, not just regarding their budding love and romance but also for both of their wrecked homes. Clay’s brother passed away years ago, leaving her parents a mess. Liv and her brothers have lived day by day making ends meet ever since their parents died. I loved the fact that Penelope Douglas was able to make me so invested in the secondary characters! I fell in love with Liv’s brothers (who I wouldn’t mind books for. Especially Macon!!!) and I found myself rooting for Clay’s parents to get back together. It was a fantastic cast of well-rounded, developed characters.

The main reason why I’m not rating this higher is that I did struggle to get into the story in the beginning. The hate was so real and brutal, and I had no idea how Clay and Liv would be able to move past all the hurt and heartache. But I always tell myself to trust in PD and before I knew it, I was hooked. I really enjoyed Clay and Liv and their romance. Their chemistry is insane and I’m always in awe of how PD can unravel her characters and build them back into something even better. If you love your NA romances on the more intense and angsty side, you can’t go wrong with this.


lacey


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Review: The Wreckage of Us by Brittainy Cherry

The Wreckage of Us by Brittainy Cherry
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: October 20th 2020
Links: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Never in a million years did I think it would be Ian Parker who saved me…

I know I should stay away from Ian Parker.

But when my drug-dealing stepdad kicks me out, I have nowhere to go. Squatting in an abandoned shed on Ian’s grandpa’s farm seems like as good a plan as any.

Ian finds me there, of course, and he insists on me moving into his spare room. I should say no, but the appeal of a roof and a warm bed is too much. Not to mention Ian’s brown eyes and strong arms.

We’re nothing alike, but the spark between us is undeniable. My life is finally looking up.

Until I call the cops on my stepdad and unintentionally get my pregnant mom arrested.

Now I have to sacrifice my dreams to take care of my mom’s baby. She’s the only family I have left. Meanwhile, Ian’s band is taking off; his dreams are coming true.

Ian is my one chance at love. I just hope he doesn’t become the one chance that got away.

When I went into The Wreckage of Us, I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t even read the blurb, just dove right in. But I knew, since it was a Brittainy C. Cherry book, I would get an angsty romance, and that’s exactly what I got! It’s a new adult romance set in a small town, with a heroine down on her luck and a hero who wants to chase his dreams of stardom. It’s kind of a rock star romance too, with Ian becoming a musician. If you’re a fan of Brittainy Cherry’s books, I highly recommend this one. It’s got her signature jerk hero, plenty of drama/angst, all wrapped up in a great, entertaining package. I enjoyed this romance so much!

At eighteen, Hazel has just been kicked out of her home, leaving her homeless and jobless. Her luck turns though when she’s hired on the town’s ranch, owned by Ian’s grandfather. This puts Hazel and Ian in close proximity, though to say they don’t get along would be an understatement. They get off on the wrong foot from the get-go, especially with Ian acting like the ass that he is. But slowly, as they work on the ranch each day and get to know each other better, Ian falls for Hazel and shows her he’s not quite the jerk he seems to be.

While their romance is growing and steaming up, Hazel is given responsibility of her newborn sister. This forces her to stay in their small town all the while Ian’s music is taking him around the world and onto the stage. I loved the angst and tension during these parts, mainly because I knew how devoted Ian and Hazel were to each other. Their love is fierce and powerful, and not even thousands of miles that separate them can break the bond they have with each other.

If you’re looking for an emotional read, Brittainy Cherry delivers in The Wreckage of Us. I was aching for Hazel and Ian as they go about their long distance troubles, but also swooning over Ian’s adoration for Hazel. Hazel is a tough, strong heroine who doesn’t give up easily, which was my favorite thing about her character. This was a solid romance with a young but everlasting love, and I would love to see the rest of Ian’s band get their stories!


lacey


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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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