Release Day Review: Checkmate: This is Effortless by Kennedy Fox

Checkmate: This is Effortless by Kennedy Fox
Series: The Checkmate Duet #4  (full reading order below)
Publication Date: April 25th 2017
Links: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review

Courtney Bishop is as sugary sweet as her famous blueberry muffins.
Southern belle at heart, Cali girl by choice.
She barged into my life and easily became my best friend.
All was great as roommates and just friends, but then I fell for the girl who could chop firewood, deliver baby calves, and bail hay without breaking a sweat.
She’s the perfect mixture of sugar and spice, and I love her.

Being more than friends and trying to build our future isn’t as easy as it sounds.
Moving forward and creating memories is all I want for us, but when the past continues to come back and haunt me, I’m not so sure she’ll stay for the ride.

Loving her is easy, but losing her will break me. Burning passion combined with an undeniable chemistry constantly pushes and pulls us together. In the end, I’ll prove we’re worth the fight, even when the game is far from over.

Checkmate, sweetheart.

Checkmate: This is Effortless was a highly anticipated read of mine ever since I read that god-awful cliffhanger from This is Reckless. I needed to see how Drew and Courtney would deal with the bitch drama that is Mia. While I didn’t quite enjoy this one as much as I did Drewtney’s first book because of all the hectic, filler drama, I was still glad to have read this and finally get to see how Drewtney ended up. If you were a fan of the Checkmate Duet series, you will most likely love Drew and Courtney’s conclusion!

Mia has gone off her rails and is determined to ruin what Courtney and Drew have. This woman is CRAZY, thinking she and Drew still belong together. But Drewtney is as strong as ever, despite Mia’s antics to scare Courtney off. Courtney does get scared, but Drew, mister Deputy, is working hard to make her feel as safe as possible. Drew is as sweet as ever – I really enjoyed how he was trying to handle Mia all the while making sure Courtney knew how much he loved her. Courtney is relatable with her fears and struggles with Mia, although I did get frustrated at how she relied on Drew a little too much.

The main reason why I didn’t love this book was because of how the drama with Mia seemed to drag on forever. I felt like Drew and Courtney could have dealt with Mia so much sooner than they did, which would have cut down the book length. And when Drewtney weren’t worried about Mia, they were having sex. I love a good steamy scene, but all the sex seemed to hinder the story progression.

Still, the ending of the book was definitely my favorite part. I was happy to see how Drewtney’s relationship concluded, and I’m excited for more in the series! I love the girl group that is Viola, Courtney, and Kayla and can’t wait for the dog-lover of the group to get a book with her uniformed man!


lacey


Reading Order: The Checkmate Duet series

   

#1 ~ This is War: EbookPaperback • AudibleGoodreads
#2 ~ This is Love: EbookPaperback • AudibleGoodreads
#3 ~ This is Reckless: My Review • Ebook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads
#4 ~ This is Effortless: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads


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Release Day Review: Too Hard to Forget by Tessa Bailey

Too Hard to Forget by Tessa Bailey
Series: Romancing the Clarksons #3 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: April 25th 2017
Links: EbookPaperback • Audible • Goodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

The third book in New York Times bestselling author Tessa Bailey’s Romancing the Clarksons series about four siblings on a cross-country road trip, perfect for fans of Gena Showalter and Julie James!

This time, she’s calling the shots.

Peggy Clarkson is returning to her alma mater with one goal in mind: confront Elliott Brooks, the man who ruined her for all others, and remind him of what he’s been missing. Even after three years, seeing him again is like a punch in the gut, but Peggy’s determined to stick to her plan. Maybe then, once she has the upper hand, she’ll finally be able to move on.

In the years since Peggy left Cincinnati, Elliott has kept his focus on football. No distractions and no complications. But when Peggy walks back onto his practice field and into his life, he knows she could unravel everything in his carefully controlled world. Because the girl who was hard to forget is now a woman impossible to resist.

I am the BIGGEST sucker for angst – and if Tessa Bailey writes it? It goes without saying that I’ll probably love it. I’d been DYING to read Peggy’s story ever since I heard it was going to be a second chance romance with an older hero who would have some major groveling to do. I love me some good grovel, and Tessa Bailey didn’t disappoint. I loved this book so, SO much. I adored Peggy and Elliot and their angst-filled, intense, steamy romance. If you’re a fan of second chance romances or groveling heroes, you need this book in your life!

One more mile to campus and she would be sharing oxygen with Elliott Brooks. Coach Elliott Brooks. The man she’d let ruin her for all others.
This weekend, Peggy would be returning the favor.

Back when Peggy was in college and in the cheerleading team, she couldn’t resist the allure of the football coach, Elliott Brooks. She had plans to seduce him, but fell in love with him instead… but he never reciprocated her feelings, and pushed her away. Now, years later, during a stop along the Clarkson family road trip to New York, Peggy is back at her old college and ready to make Elliott remember exactly what he threw away. And yeah, maybe she’s never been able to forget about him, despite her several ex-fiancés, but she’s determined to make Elliott suffer for all the hurt he caused her. But is all this effort worth it on a man who will never love her back?

Because whatever she’d felt for Elliott the man? She was declaring it dead. At one time there’d been more than sexual dependency and her need for approval between them, not that Elliott would admit it. But he’d slowly killed the good. She’d be damned before trying to revive it, when he didn’t want it back.
I’m over you, Elliott Brooks.

Elliott’s life revolves around football and it’s been his sole focus for years… except for that one period when he was obsessed with a certain cheerleader named Peggy Clarkson. But he pushed her away years ago and never expected to see her again… so when she shows up out of the blue, he’s knocked right on his ass and doesn’t know what to do with himself anymore. Then Peggy decides that she truly is O-V-E-R him, and what’s a man to do but fight for the only woman he’s ever loved and not let her go a second time?

“Miss you?” He grated the incredulous question, dropping his mouth to her temple. “You left me without a soul. I can barely remember the days since you left. They passed without me feeling a single thing. Because you are feeling for me. You’re the only thing that keeps me from being numb. Twice in my life you’ve turned me back into a living, breathing man, and missing you… missing you, Peggy, doesn’t even begin to cover it. You revive me.”

Too Hard to Forget is my new favorite read of Tessa’s. It’s my favorite so far in the series, and it’s up there at the top with Risking it All for me. This book had my heart in constant palpitations – the angst, the tension, the frustrations, the steam, all of it had me utterly hooked and infatuated with Peggy and Elliott’s story. From their torturous flashback scenes to their tension-filled, erotic present, their story was everything I could have hoped for and more. I adored Peggy and how she knew when to let go and stop fighting for a man who wouldn’t fight for her. Elliott had me frustrated and hot and bothered at the same time, but I truly fell in love with him when he realized how much he loved Peggy and was willing to move heaven and earth to prove his love to her. This man does some major groveling – you won’t be disappointed!

I had crazy high expectations for this second chance romance, but Tessa went above and beyond my expectations. I completely loved it! It’s got all sorts of tropes to love – a second chance romance, an age gap, opposites attract, a groveling hero… honestly, how could I NOT end up loving it? If you’re a fan of Tessa Bailey and her dirty, delicious reads, you’ll definitely want to get your hands on Too Hard to Forget!


lacey

Quotes are taken from the arc and are subject to change in the final version.


Reading Order: Romancing the Clarksons series

 
  

#1 ~ Too Hot to Handle: My Review • EbookPaperback • Audible • Goodreads
#2 ~ Too Wild to Tame: My Review • EbookPaperback • Audible • Goodreads
#3 ~ Too Hard to Forget: EbookPaperback • Audible • Goodreads
#3.5 ~ Too Close to Call: EbookGoodreads (June 13, 2017)
#4 ~ Too Beautiful to Break: EbookPaperback • Goodreads (Sept. 5, 2017)


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ARC Review: Going Nowhere Fast by Kati Wilde

Going Nowhere Fast by Kati Wilde
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: April 18th 2017
Links: EbookGoodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

The brakes are off in this sizzling-hot new adult romance from the author of the Hellfire Riders MC Romance series…

One promise.
Two hearts.
Three rules.
Four weeks to break them all.

When Aspen Phillips’ best friend invites her on a month-long road trip, she has serious mixed feelings. Sharing their tight quarters will be Bramwell Gage, overprotective brother and all-around jerk. Bram may be ridiculously sexy, but he’s made no effort to hide how he feels about Aspen—that she’s trash who’s no good for his sister. But Aspen is determined to get along with the uptight millionaire—and to keep her promise, concealing a secret about his sister that Bram can never know.

But after a scorching kiss reveals that Bram’s feelings toward her run much hotter than she believed, Aspen’s emotions swerve into a complete 180. Suddenly the girl who has nothing has everything—but only as long as the truth about his sister remains hidden. Because when all the secrets and promises unravel, she risks losing it all…

I’m a huge fan of Kati Wilde’s Hellfire Riders MC series, so when I heard that she was going to write a new adult book, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it! I didn’t realize there would be a connection between Going Nowhere Fast and the Hellfire Riders MC series, so that was a lovely surprise. Going Nowhere Fast is a sexy, intense, angsty enemies-to-lovers romance I completely devoured. I enjoyed it SO much. If you love dirty books with seriously hot chemistry in them, I highly recommend this one!

Aspen and her best friend’s older brother, Bram, do not get along. One could even say that they hate each other. But only for Bethany, Aspen’s best friend and Bram’s little sister, would they agree to go on a month-long trip together, just the three of them. But when Bethany cancels on the trip, dealing with issues that Aspen won’t let Bram be privy to, the road trip get a whole lot more intense… and tension-filled. Bram blackmails Aspen into continuing on the trip so that he can entice Bethany to join them from wherever she is. And despite their disdain for the other – Bram sees Aspen as a bad influence on Bethany and Aspen thinks Bram sees her as trash – there’s an undercurrent of sexual tension between them that they can’t ignore the longer they’re around each other.

“You’re so fucking wrong for me,” he grinds out. “But I can’t stop wanting you.”
Then he kisses me—despite the ragged hole he just ripped through my chest, I kiss him back, because I can’t stop wanting him, either.

The second I picked up Aspen and Bram’s book, I couldn’t put it down. It wrought with delicious, undeniable chemistry. These two are seriously HOT together, not that I expected anything less from Kati Wilde. Bram has one dirty, dirty mouth, and I loved it. These two take hate fucking to a whole new level… until the hate turns into something more.

…this isn’t hate fucking. With hate fucking, he only ends up owning me.
But what we’ve done this time . . . now he owns my heart, too.

I loved Aspen and Bram’s enemies-to-lovers romance. There was a fine line between love and hate between them, and I loved seeing both of them toe the line. If you’ve enjoyed the author’s previous books, I encourage you to give Going Nowhere Fast a try, because this new adult book is just as amazing as her adult books. Plus, there are quite a few cameos from the Hellfire Riders 😉 I really hope Kati Wilde writes more NA books, because this was fantastic!


lacey

Quotes are taken from the arc and are subject to change in the final version.


Don’t miss Kati Wilde’s Hellfire Riders MC series!

Reading Order: Hellfire Riders MC series

   
   
   

#1 ~ Wanting It All: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
#2 ~ Taking It All: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
#3 ~ Having It All: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
#1-3 ~ Saxon & Jenny: EbookPaperback
#4 ~ Betting It All: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
#5 ~ Risking It All: Ebook • Goodreads
#6 ~ Burning It All: Ebook • Goodreads
#4-6 ~ Jack & Lily: EbookPaperback
#7 ~ Breaking It All: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
#8 ~ Giving It All: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
#9 ~ Craving It All: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
#10 ~ Faking It All: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
#11 ~ Losing It All: Goodreads (release date TBA)


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Release Day Review + Excerpt: The Thing About Love by Julie James

The Thing About Love by Julie James
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: April 18th 2017
Links: EbookPaperback • AudibleGoodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

The New York Times bestselling author of Suddenly One Summer blows the covers of two FBI agents who can’t hide who they are from each other…

FBI agents Jessica Harlow and John Shepherd have a past. The former lawyer and cocky Army Ranger clashed during their training at Quantico and gladly went their separate ways after graduating from the Academy. Six years later, the last thing either of them expects is to be assigned to work as partners in a high-profile undercover sting.

For both of them, being paired with an old rival couldn’t come at a worse time. Recently divorced from a Hollywood producer and looking for a fresh start, Jessica is eager to prove herself at her new field office. And John is just one case away from his dream assignment to the FBI’s elite Hostage Rescue Team. In order to nail a corrupt Florida politician, they’ll have to find a way to work together—a task that becomes even trickier when they’re forced to hole up at a romantic beachfront resort as part of the investigation. Suddenly, the heat behind their nonstop sparring threatens to make the job a lot more complicated…

It’s been a long time since I picked up a Julie James novel (even though I don’t know why, because I’m a big fan of her work), but reading The Thing About Love reminded me of all the reasons why I love her and her books. She writes such fantastic contemporary romances starring FBI agents in a realistic, believable light. If you want contemporary romance done right, plus a little enemies-to-lovers trope and suspense, The Thing About Love will be the perfect read for you.

Six years ago, Jessica Harlow and John Shepherd first met at the FBI Academy in Quantico, where they ended up with the wrong first impressions of each other and clashing from the get-go. To say they didn’t get along would be an understatement, so it was a relief to graduate and go their separate ways. But now, when John moves back to Chicago after leaving his cheating girlfriend and receives what might be his last undercover assignment before joining the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team, he is paired up with none other than his old nemesis, Jessica Harlow.

“John,” she said, her light blue eyes widening in surprise.
“Hello, Jessica.”
Nearly fifteen thousand special agents in the FBI, spread throughout the United States in fifty-six field offices, and she had to show up in Chicago for what was quite possibly his last undercover assignment.
As his new partner.
And here he’d thought HRT tryouts had been hell.

Newly divorced, Jessica is also looking for a fresh start in Chicago. She’s not happy about John being her partner, but she’s determined not to let their past get in the way of their assignment. But the more she’s around John and the closer she gets to him, she finds that her first impression of him might not have gone the way she thought it did. She gains a new perspective on John… and it’s one she finds herself falling for. But with John joining HRT and leaving Chicago in a few weeks, can they make a relationship between them work?

“Do you know how long I’ve waited for you to look at me this way?”
She assumed he was teasing her. “What are you talking about? You didn’t even like me for most of the time we’ve known each other.”
He bent his head before turning to go, his voice low and confident in her ear. “Or may I’m just that good of an undercover agent.”

I absolutely adored this book. The Thing About Love was sweet, funny, kickass – I had the best time reading it. Jessica and John had me grinning and giggling in spades. My heart was honestly so happy the whole time I was reading their story. I loved both their characters and how they made me laugh and swoon. Their banter is the absolute BEST – I loved it! If you’re ever in the mood for something light-hearted and fun about two undercover FBI agents who hate to love and love to hate each other, I highly recommend this book!


lacey

Quotes are taken from the arc and are subject to change in the final version.


Now here’s an excerpt from The Thing About Love! ❤

excerpt button

Steeling himself, John turned around and smiled as Jessica approached. “Yes, Agent Harlow. How can I be of service?”

In response to his dry tone, she threw him a glare so cold it could’ve frozen all nine circles of Dante’s Hell. Fittingly, just nine of the many places he would rather be than stuck working with her on this investigation.

“Look, I’m not thrilled about this, either.” Keeping her voice low, she came to a stop next to him at the elevator bank. “I thought you were supposed to be on the Hostage Rescue Team already.”

“And I thought you were supposed to be in L.A.”

There was a quick flash in her eyes before she shrugged off his question. “Change of plans.”

The elevator arrived at their floor, and they both stepped inside. She hit the button for the seventh floor, where the public corruption squad was located. Standing on the opposite side, he pressed the button for floor five.

They faced off as the doors shut. She folded her arms across her chest and studied him with those crystalline blue eyes that could so cleverly mask her emotions.

As he knew well.

“We’re going to have to figure this out,” she said. “We’re supposed to be business partners in this.”

Thank you, yes, being a professional, he was aware of that. He took a step closer. “It’s called “undercover” work, Harlow. If I can pretend to be a gun-buying, murder-for-hire thug, I think I can handle playing some rich investor-type who wants to skirt a few measly zoning laws.” Even a rich investor-type who was apparently masochistic enough to get in bed with the likes of her.

Professionally-speaking.

“Measly zoning laws?” she repeated.

Ooh, now he’d gone and pissed her off. How nice it was, really, that they could pick up like this, right where they’d left off.

She drew in closer, tilting her head back to meet his gaze. He was over a foot taller than her, although he noticed that she was heightening a bit with those expensive-looking three-inch heels she wore.

“Our target in this investigation is the mayor of the thirteenth largest city in the United States. That’s a pretty big deal in my book.” She gestured to his facial scruff and hair. “And while I appreciate that this . . . Sons of Anarchy motif you’ve got going might ingratiate yourself with the gun-buying, murder-for-hire, organized-crime thugs of the world, that’s not quite going to fly with this sting operation.”

“’Thirteenth largest city in the United States?’” he scoffed. “Just how many hours did you spend reviewing the case files last night?”

She smiled sweetly as the elevator arrived at her floor. “Enough to get the jump on you.”

Then the doors sprang open, and she gave him a friendly wave, once again stepping into the role of Ms. Congeniality. “So glad we got to catch up like this, Agent Shepherd. We’ll talk again soon.”

He watched her stride confidently down the hallway as the elevator doors closed between them.

Enough to get the jump on you.

Not for long, sweetheart.

Time for him to get cracking on that case file.


Don’t miss Julie James’ FBI/US Attorney series!

Reading Order: FBI/US Attorney series

  
  

#1 ~ Something About You: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#2 ~ A Lot like Love: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#3 ~ About that Night: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#4 ~ Love Irresistibly: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#5 ~ It Happened One Wedding: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#6 ~ Suddenly One Summer: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads


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Release Day Review: Goodbye Paradise by Sarina Bowen

Goodbye Paradise by Sarina Bowen
Series: Hello Goodbye #1 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: March 21st 2017
Links: Ebook • Goodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review

Most people called it a cult. But for twenty years, Josh and Caleb called it home.

In Paradise, there is no television. No fast food. Just long hours of farm work and prayer on a dusty Wyoming ranch, and nights in a crowded bunkhouse. The boys of the Compound are kept far from the sinners’ world.

But Joshua doesn’t need temptation to sin. His whole life, he’s wanted his best friend, Caleb. By day they work side by side. Only when Josh closes his eyes at night can they be together the way he craves.

It can never be. And his survival depends on keeping his terrible desires secret.

Caleb has always protected Josh against the worst of the bullying at the Compound. But he has secrets of his own, and a plan to get away — until it all backfires.

Josh finds himself homeless in a world that doesn’t want him. Can Caleb find him in time? And will they find a place of safety, where he can admit to Josh how he really feels?

Warning: Contains a hot male/male romance, copious instances of taking the Lord’s name in vain, and love against the kitchen counter. This book was previously released under the title: In Front of God & Everyone.

I love anything Sarina Bowen writes, but I have to say I think this is the most adorable M/M romance I’ve ever read. I had all the heart eye emojis while reading Josh and Caleb’s lovely, emotional, heartwarming story. I seriously ADORED this book! If you’re looking for a sweet, unique M/M romance, you’ll definitely need to read Goodbye Paradise!

Josh and Caleb grew up in Paradise, and for the past two decades, they’ve been living in this cult, working as laborers and getting few benefits from it. One perk of the job though, is the fact that Josh can be around his best friend Caleb… and he can long for him from afar. No one can know that Josh has got a crush on his best friend, who’s a guy, because they’ll be sure to kick him out of Paradise and leave him homeless. But that day comes sooner than later when the cult finds little use in Josh anymore. But when Caleb escapes so he can stand by Josh’s side, can they possibly start a new life together from practically nothing?

As they make their way to Massachusetts to find a woman named Maggie who left Paradise years ago and made a home for herself, Josh and Caleb are once again side by side, but now out in the open. It’s here that Caleb finally makes his move and shows Josh that it’s okay to love a man, because he loves Josh back. Despite how much Josh tried to keep his feelings hidden, loving Caleb was as easy as breathing and there was nothing that could stop him from being with the man he’s loved for so long.

I reached up, circling him in my arms, pulling him down beside me. “I love you.” I could say that without guilt. Because loving someone wasn’t a sin. Other things… sure. But love could never be a crime.

I absolutely adored everything about Josh and Caleb’s story. The raw and beautiful love they have for each other was so simple and easy… it was everything surrounding them that made their lives difficult. But these two are nothing if not hardworking and persistent, and even before the end of the novel, I knew Caleb and Josh would survive and thrive in their new lives.

Goodbye Paradise brought out ALL the feels and emotions out of me. My heart honestly couldn’t stop overflowing with happiness over Caleb and Josh’s love for each other. They are absolutely perfect for each other – I can’t imagine a sweeter couple than them! I almost wish this book was longer, because I didn’t want to let go of their story. I loved this book – and I can’t wait for more M/M from Sarina Bowen!

“I’m so hard for you right now. That’s never going to change. Whether I’m stupid or smart, and whether you still love me anymore, or not. I never could help loving you. It’s just the way that I’m wired.”


lacey

Quotes are taken from the arc and are subject to change in the final version.


Reading Order: Hello Goodbye series

 

#1 ~ Goodbye Paradise: Ebook • Goodreads
#2 ~ Hello Forever: Goodreads (release date TBA)


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