Release Day Review: Furious Rush by S.C. Stephens

Furious Rush by S.C. Stephens
Publication Date: August 23rd 2016
Links: EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Too fast, too furious-and way too hot to handle . . .

Mackenzie Cox has a lot to prove. Daughter of a racing legend, she is eager to show the world that she has inherited her father’s talent in the male-dominated sport of professional motorcycle racing. The last thing Kenzie needs is to be antagonized by her rival team’s newest rider, Hayden Hayes. Plucked from the world of illegal street racing, Hayden immediately gets under Kenzie’s skin. His insinuations that Kenzie is a spoiled princess who was handed her career fuels her desire to win, and much to her surprise, Kenzie soon learns she performs better when she’s racing against Hayden.

As Kenzie and Hayden push each other on the track, the electric energy between them off the track shifts into an intense–and strictly forbidden–attraction. The only rule between their two ultra-competitive teams is zero contact. Kenzie always does her best to play by the rules, but when her team slips into a financial crisis, she has no choice but to turn to Hayden for help. The tension simmers during their secret, late-night rendezvous, but Kenzie has too much to lose to give in to her desires. Especially when she begins to doubt that Hayden has completely left his street life behind…

“Race me or chase me, Kenzie.”

I love sports romances, but I don’t typically come across ones about motorcycle racing, so I was super intrigued when I read the blurb for Furious Rush (and saw that gorgeous cover!). S.C. Stephens’ books have been a hit-or-miss for me in the past, but this book was definitely somewhere in the middle. I enjoyed some parts, especially the racing, but some characters annoyed the crap out of me. I did think it was pretty cool that this book felt like Romeo and Juliet but with motorcycle racing (and no deaths). So if you’re looking for an exciting, unique sports romance with a steamy forbidden love, I’d say give this book a try – hopefully some of the things that bugged me won’t bug you too!

Mackenzie Cox is the daughter of a former racing legend, so she’s got big shoes to fill. But more than that, the fate of her father’s motorcycle racing company rests in her hands, because it’s in dire need of some money. If she can win her races, she’ll be able to keep the company afloat. She’s focused and her head is in the game… that is, until Hayden Hayes enters the equation and makes her lose her strict control.

“Racing gives me a high… but you make me feel alive.”

A former illegal street racer, Hayden’s just signed on to race for Kenzie’s opposing team, a team that she’s forbidden to fraternize with. But what happens when Hayden becomes the only one who’s able to push her harder than ever before and make her a better racer? As they secretly meet up on the track, the chemistry between them kicks up – but then feelings get involved, and soon enough, they’re falling head over heels for each other. But what happens when their secret is found out?

I loved the idea of Hayden and Kenzie being on opposing sides, of being ‘enemies’ in motorcycle racing and then falling for one another. Hayden is a huge jerk in the beginning – he’s totally sexist and a horndog – but he grew considerably better as the book went on. I loved that he didn’t even try to fight falling for Kenzie – he wanted to be with her and that was that. I was surprised by how freaking sweet he turned out to be and how devoted he was to Kenzie!

Kenzie, on the other hand, put up one hell of a fight, so much so that it grew tedious at times. But I didn’t hate her, and my main problem with Furious Rush were the secondary characters. Sometimes secondary characters can make or break a novel for me, and the ones in this book very nearly made me want to DNF. Kenzie has the worst friends ever – they make so many idiotic, rash decisions that I wanted to choke them. Her father is even worse, but since he’s supposed to be somewhat of an antagonistic characters, I won’t get too mad about that.

Kenzie and Hayden’s romance and their thrilling races were the highlights of the novel for me. It was almost exhilarating reading about them racing each other, because they give their all for every race. I really enjoyed the way their romance developed but I can’t say I’m excited for their sequel. The ending left me with a bad feeling… but I’m probably going to read the next book just to see how it’ll turn out. I’m really hoping the series only gets better!

3 hearts
lacey

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


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Blog Tour + Top 5 List & Giveaway: Furious Rush by S.C. Stephens

Furious Rush tour

Welcome to today’s stop on the blog tour for Furious Rush!
Check out S.C. Stephens’ Top 5 songs/artists below!

Top 5 Songs/Artists

  1. Imagine Dragons. I love all their songs, but when I saw them in concert, I was blown away. The lead singer performs exactly how I picture Kellan performing. It was a surreal experience.
  2. Linkin Park. The sound of this band (on a lot of their songs) is exactly how I imagine the D-Bags sounding. LP will always hold a special place in my heart. Plus their concerts are amazing! They sound just as good live.
  3. OneRepublic. These guys were on constant repeat while I was writing the Thoughtless trilogy. I love them with all my heart. And I got to stand thisclose to Ryan Tedder during a meet and greet. Awe-some.
  4. Old Dominion.  My honey-boo has been slowly getting me into country music. I just picked up their album, and I love every song! I also love the fact that the scratch and sniff bacon sticker on the cover smells like cotton candy (the album is called Meat and Candy—haha!).
  5. Every Avenue. I cried the day this band broke up, and I did an all-day Twitter celebration on the day of their last concert. A fan turned me on to the band after Thoughtless was released, and I was amazed by how well their lyrics fit the story—its uncanny! These guys are also the only band I have gotten autographs from. Thanks to a reader, I was able to get a copy of Effortless signed by every single member. Best. Gift. Ever.

Furious Rush by S.C. Stephens
Publication Date: August 23rd 2016
Publisher: Forever
Format: Trade Paperback & eBook
Price: $12.99 USD (TP) / $4.99 USD (eBook)
Add to Goodreads

The first in an emotion-fueled, New Adult series from the #1 bestselling author of the Thoughtless novels!

Too fast, too furious—and way too hot to handle…

Mackenzie Cox has a lot to prove. Daughter of a racing legend, she is eager to show the world that she has inherited her father’s talent in the male-dominated sport of professional motorcycle racing. The last thing Kenzie needs is to be antagonized by her rival team’s newest rider, Hayden Hayes. Plucked from the world of illegal street racing, Hayden immediately gets under Kenzie’s skin. His insinuations that Kenzie is a spoiled princess who was handed her career fuels her desire to win, and much to her surprise, Kenzie soon learns she performs better when she’s racing against Hayden.

As Kenzie and Hayden push each other on the track, the electric energy between them off the track shifts into an intense—and strictly forbidden—attraction. The only rule between their two ultra-competitive teams is zero contact. Kenzie always does her best to play by the rules, but when her team slips into a financial crisis, she has no choice but to turn to Hayden for help. The tension simmers during their secret, late-night rendezvous, but Kenzie has too much to lose to give in to her desires. Especially when she begins to doubt that Hayden has completely left his street life behind…

Buy Links:
Amazon EbookAmazon Paperback • Audible
B&N • BAM • Google Play • iBooks • IndieBound • Kobo

about the author button

S.C. Stephens is a #1 bestselling author who spends her every free moment creating stories that are packed with emotion and heavy on romance. In addition to writing, she enjoys spending lazy afternoons in the sun reading, listening to music, watching movies, and spending time with her friends and family. She and her two children reside in the Pacific Northwest.

Website • Facebook • Twitter • Goodreads

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Twenty-Five (25) trade paperbacks of FURIOUS RUSH by S.C. Stephens

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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Teaser Excerpt + Giveaway: Furious Rush by S.C. Stephens

Furious Rush Teaser

Furious Rush is releasing SOON! Check out a fabulous excerpt below, and enter to win an ARC!

Furious Rush by S.C. Stephens
Publication Date: August 23rd 2016
Publisher: Forever
Format: Trade Paperback & eBook
Price: $12.99 USD (TP) / $4.99 USD (eBook)
Add to Goodreads

The first in an emotion-fueled, New Adult series from the #1 bestselling author of the Thoughtless novels!

Too fast, too furious—and way too hot to handle…

Mackenzie Cox has a lot to prove. Daughter of a racing legend, she is eager to show the world that she has inherited her father’s talent in the male-dominated sport of professional motorcycle racing. The last thing Kenzie needs is to be antagonized by her rival team’s newest rider, Hayden Hayes. Plucked from the world of illegal street racing, Hayden immediately gets under Kenzie’s skin. His insinuations that Kenzie is a spoiled princess who was handed her career fuels her desire to win, and much to her surprise, Kenzie soon learns she performs better when she’s racing against Hayden.

As Kenzie and Hayden push each other on the track, the electric energy between them off the track shifts into an intense—and strictly forbidden—attraction. The only rule between their two ultra-competitive teams is zero contact. Kenzie always does her best to play by the rules, but when her team slips into a financial crisis, she has no choice but to turn to Hayden for help. The tension simmers during their secret, late-night rendezvous, but Kenzie has too much to lose to give in to her desires. Especially when she begins to doubt that Hayden has completely left his street life behind…

Buy Links:
Amazon EbookAmazon Paperback • Audible
B&N • BAM • Google Play • iBooks • IndieBound • Kobo

Now here’s an excerpt from Furious Rush! ❤

excerpt button

Honda Boy was holding his helmet under an arm while he flirted with the girls surrounding him. He was blond, with a short, shaggy hairstyle that probably took a lot more effort to create than it looked like. I could tell from the way the girls around him were tittering like teenagers that he was charming; with seemingly little effort on his part, he had all of them eating out of his hand. When a break in the crowd gave me a clear view of his face, I realized another thing: He was smokin’, someone-hold-on-to-my-ovaries- before-they-explode hot.

There was a perfect symmetry to his rugged features that made it seem unreal that he was standing just a few feet away from me. He should be plastered on a billboard somewhere, half-naked, selling overpriced cologne to men who wanted just a fraction of his sex appeal. As if he could feel my eyes on him, he turned his gaze my way. Our eyes met and locked, and I was helpless to turn away. There was something carnal about him, primal and dangerous. Exotic. I was instantly captivated, and I hated that I was. This guy was neck-deep in a world that twisted my stomach, a world that spat in the face of my sport. My career.

As his light-colored eyes bored holes into mine, one edge of his lip curved up in a devilish crooked grin that was both playful and promising. He was practically shouting, with just that one deadly smile, that he would satisfy my every desire, satiate every craving I could possibly have. My heart started thudding in my chest as sensations that had been dormant for far too long swirled to life in- side me. Luckily for me, the big man taking the guy’s bets clapped him on the shoulder, breaking our stare down. Once I was free of his steamy gaze, I instantly turned around so my back was to him.  Jesus, was I breathing harder? Ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous. I was twenty-two, not twelve.

“Damn,” I heard Nikki say. “You were right. I should have bet on him from the get-go. I didn’t really get a good look at him before, but he is freaking hot!”

Inhaling a deep breath, I attempted to force my body back in line with my brain. “This guy is undefeated?” I asked Nikki. “Really?” She nodded in answer and I had to close my eyes for a second. A face like that with racing skills to boot? Jesus.

Clearing my throat, I nonchalantly asked, “What did you say his name was again?” I could at least label the guy in the fantasy I was surely going to have later.

“Hayden… something. He’s been around for a while, from what I gathered.”

I risked a glance over my shoulder at… Hayden. He’d slipped his helmet on, thankfully, although his visor was popped up. The big guy taking bets had been joined by a skinny Hispanic guy who seemed to be giving Hayden instructions. Or maybe a pep talk. The little guy was acting out the race that was about to happen with his hands, complete with swerving and explosions. God, I hoped there weren’t going to be explosions. While he was going through his dramatic highlights, the big guy looped a camera over Hayden’s helmet.

When the two competitors were ready, they backed their motor- cycles onto the street. A cheer ripped up and down the sidewalk as the hopeful gamblers prepared for another round of racing. I didn’t want to feel anything but contempt for what I was witnessing, yet the energy of the spectators, the roar of the bikes—I couldn’t help the zing of excitement that raced up my spine. Against my will, my mouth twisted into a wide grin, and a yell of encouragement left my lips. Hayden’s helmet swiveled my way as he revved his engine. My pulse quickened as our eyes met. Then he winked at me and slammed his visor shut.

As the riders moved into position, Nikki grabbed my arm. “Come on. We can watch the action from the van.”

I had no idea what she was talking about. Before I could ask her, though, she yanked me toward a black van parked on the sidewalk. The back doors were open, and a giant monitor attached to a swinging metal arm was sticking out above the hovering crowd. The screen was split in two, each half showing the footage from one racer’s helmet cam. Hayden and his opponent were both looking straight ahead, and the dual feeds showed similar stretches of barren road. Looking down the street, I saw that the pair were stopped at a crosswalk, waiting for the light to change.

Returning my eyes to the monitor, I found myself holding my breath as I waited for the signal to change colors. When it turned green and the bikes surged forward, I stepped closer to the van, like that would somehow release my pent-up energy. In unison, the crowd around me started hooting and hollering. Swept up in the moment, I bounced on my toes and prayed for speed. But after watching the screen for just a few seconds, I was struck with the harsh reality of the situation I was watching. This was no closed-off track with well-defined paths. This was down and dirty, anything goes, just get to the finish line first racing.

The bikes blew through red lights like they meant absolutely nothing. The streets were fairly empty at this early hour, but they blurred past the few vehicles on the road like they were standing still; they had to be going 100 miles per hour, easy. They dodged obstacles by hopping onto the sidewalk, they fishtailed around slick corners, and they came close to colliding with oncoming traffic more than once.

I turned to Nikki with shock clear on my face. “This is insane! Someone’s going to get hurt. Maybe killed!”

Nikki’s face was pure elation as she watched the screens. Her expression changed as my words sunk in, then she looked at me like I had a foot sticking out of my head. I supposed it was odd to hear that type of statement coming from someone who routinely hovered around the 150 mark on the speedometer while riding, but that was a completely different kind of environment. Believe it or not, what I did was safe, relatively speaking. Millions of dollars were spent to make it that way. This was not safe. At all.

“They’re breaking every traffic law there is,” I added, feeling like a giant stick in the mud. Someone needed to be the voice of reason here, though, because everyone was clearly out of their ever loving minds.

Nikki smirked at my comment. “It’s a race, Kenzie. They can’t exactly drive cautiously. Why do you think this happens so late at night?”

“Because it’s illegal,” I deadpanned. I got a couple of odd looks from the crowd after saying that, including a particularly nasty glare from Hayden’s bet collector. Maybe this wasn’t the best place to be talking about the law. Shutting my mouth, I quickly refocused on the screen.

Just as I noticed a familiar section of street come into view on the monitor, one side of the screen started wobbling, then the camera showed asphalt, sparks, spinning scenery, and a rapidly approaching telephone pole. The crowd around me hushed as it became clear that Hayden’s competition wasn’t going to finish this race. I heard Hayden’s bike rounding the corner seconds later, then Nikki was once again pulling me along like a rag doll. She shoved us into a good position to see the finish line right as Hayden’s Honda whizzed past. He was alone. Cheers erupted mixed with a few groans from the people who’d bet on the other guy.

Just as I was wondering if anyone was going to go check on the Ninja rider, Nikki grabbed my shoulders and started shaking me with uncontainable joy. “We won, Kenzie! We frickin’ won!”

“Great,” I said, clenching my teeth so I wouldn’t bite my tongue.

Releasing me, Nikki let out a squeal of excitement. “I just made enough money to pay you back and cover my loss. See, aren’t you glad you came?”

I narrowed my eyes into poisonous daggers that would hopefully drill some sense into her. “I hate you,” I murmured.  Nikki held a hand over her heart. “I know by hate you mean love, and I love you too, Kenzie. Now let’s collect my winnings and go home so you can rest up. Big year this year!”

I opened my mouth to scold her with some biting remark about how I’d wanted to leave ages ago, but she turned on her heel and left me there, gaping. Just as I was forcing the muscles in my jaw to relax enough to contract, Hayden pulled up next to where I was standing on the sidewalk. It felt like the world suddenly shifted into slow motion as I turned my head to look at him.

He was still hunched over his bike, hands on the grip and throttle; the only indication that he was looking at me was the direction of his dark helmet. Then, like some freaking Prince Charming in a fairy tale, he slowly removed his helmet and tucked it under his arm. I swear the air around me condensed as his tilted smile came into view. Jesus Christ, this guy was sex on a stick.

Reaching up, he roughly ran a hand through his sweaty dirty- blond hair. The short, sexy shag he’d had going on earlier was destroyed from the helmet, but somehow after just a few scruffs of his hand, the carefree style was back to utter perfection. I kind of wanted to mess it up again, run my hands through the strands, grab a handful and clench it tight while I outlined those incredibly kissable lips with my tongue.

Whoa. No. I didn’t want that.

His penetrating gaze studied my face for a moment. There was something there in his eyes that I couldn’t quite grasp. Interest, sure, but almost… sadness too. Then he smiled, and the look vanished so fast, I was sure I’d imagined it. “Haven’t seen you here before,” he said, his voice low and easy, like he hadn’t just risked his life. “I hope you bet on me. It would be a shame to see someone as beautiful as you… lose.”

His grin turned suggestive, and warning signs started flashing in front of my eyes. Danger! Do not proceed! Rocky road ahead! Turn back now! The warnings flared even brighter when he stood from his motorcycle and began approaching me.

When he was directly in front of me, so close that I could smell the subtle spicy aroma of his cologne, my heart was hammering so hard, I was positive he could hear it, positive he could see my T-shirt lifting and releasing like a frantic hummingbird was hiding under the fabric. What the hell was he doing to me? Was I nervous or excited? Because the sensation was so similar to both, I honestly couldn’t tell.

Extending a hand, he smoothly said, “Name’s Hayden. Hayden Hayes.” I was just about to lift my hand and touch him—my fingers even twitched in response—when he added, “And what should I call you, sweetheart?”

Sweetheart? With those two simple syllables he had just dumped a bucket of ice water over my head and killed any fantasy I might have had about him. I lived, worked, and breathed in a world where men looked at me like I was a second-class citizen. To prove my worth, I had to work harder, longer, and with everything I had inside me, all the fucking time. I felt like he’d just tried to take all of that hard work away from me with that one demeaning word.

“Leaving,” I said, walking away.

YOU’RE INVITED!

It’s a virtual-party!!! Please join S.C. Stephens (and some pretty awesome authors) on Facebook for a pre-release celebration of Furious Rush on August 22nd! There will be prizes! There will be fun!

RSVP Here!

about the author button

S.C. Stephens is a #1 bestselling author who spends her every free moment creating stories that are packed with emotion and heavy on romance. In addition to writing, she enjoys spending lazy afternoons in the sun reading, listening to music, watching movies, and spending time with her friends and family. She and her two children reside in the Pacific Northwest.

Website • Facebook • Twitter • Goodreads

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Five (5) ARCs of FURIOUS RUSH by S.C. Stephens

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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Best Books of 2015 + Giveaway!

Can you believe it’s already the end of 2015!? It went by SO fast, and yet it’s been an amazing year filled with so many incredible books. I read over 300 books this year (what!?) and I STILL have a never-ending TBR, which I’m sure will last me my lifetime. So to celebrate the end of the year, I’ve compiled my list of my top 15 books of the year, PLUS a fantastic giveaway to win one of the books below and a $15 gift card! It was so hard to narrow down to 15, but I really tried. So here they are alphabetical order (except for one)! Let me know in the comments what your favorite books of 2015 are!


1. Kulti by Mariana Zapata

Kulti by Mariana Zapata

My Review • Ebook • PaperbackAudible • Goodreads

KULTI!!!!! Hands down, Kulti is my absolute FAVORITE book of the year!!! This book is the only one out of order because it’s seriously the BEST book I’ve read this year. It was just so easy to choose my all-time favorite, because Kulti is that amazing and more. This was my first read from Mariana Zapata, but I know it won’t be my last. I adored EVERY single word of Kulti – the hilarious, sassy heroine, the moody, sexy hero, the friends to lovers romance between them, even soccer. This is simply romance at its finest.

“Every single thing that has ever happened in my life has led me here, Sal. Destiny is a ladder, a series of steps that takes you where you’re supposed to go. I am the man that I am, and I have done the things that I’ve done, to get me to you.”


2. Risking it All by Tessa Bailey

Risking it All by Tessa Bailey

Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads

I went on a Tessa Bailey reading marathon this year and literally read every single one of her books, and Risking it All is seriously my FAVORITE of them all! BOWEN!!!! I’m obsessed with this alpha bad boy. The love he has for his heroine, the way he’ll do anything for her and to protect her, his dirty mouth… it takes my breath away. Risking it All was the perfect bad boy-good girl read!

“Ah, sweetheart, I don’t fuck around with virgins.” His head dipped, teeth closing around her ear and tugging. “But I’ll get down on my knees and eat that untouched pussy like a motherfucker.”


3. Zack by Sawyer Bennett

Zack by Sawyer Bennett

My Review • Ebook • Audible • Goodreads

Zack is my faaavorite Sawyer Bennett book to date! This was the perfect forbidden love story between a widowed single father and his son’s babysitter. It was sweet, charming, emotional, surprisingly funny, and seriously hot as hell. It’s also a hockey romance (who doesn’t love those!?), so for fans of sports romances, you definitely need to read this book (and series). Each of the books in the Cold Fury Hockey series can be read as a standalone, but I highly recommend read them in order.

“You were what has been missing all my life.”


4. The Friend Zone by Kristen Callihan

The Friend Zone by Kristen Callihan

My Review • Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads

I still cannot get over how freaking HOT that cover is. Just look. at. it. I adore every one of the books in the Game On series, but The Friend Zone is without a doubt my favorite of the series so far. It’s a friends to lovers book, which is my all-time favorite trope, so how could I not love it!? It’s a fantastic NA sports romance with hilarious characters and the sweetest, most heart-warming romance there is. Gray just makes me SWOON!

“The fact is, Ivy, for me, there is one absolute truth. The sum of my existence equals you.”


5. The Master by Kresley Cole

The Master by Kresley Cole

Ebook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads

I have to admit, I’ve already reread The Master at least five times over the course of the year. I wasn’t a big fan of the first book in The Game Maker series, but when I read this second one, it blew me away. I was seriously addicted to Cat and Maksim’s story! Cat is one of my favorite heroines ever, because she’s just so hilarious and sassy and doesn’t hold back from Maksim. And holy god, Maksim!!! He is sex on a stick. If you’re looking for a fantastic erotic romance, you absolutely NEED to read The Master!

“You aren’t done with me yet?” He pinned my gaze with his own. With a surprisingly smooth accent, he told me, “Nunca voy a terminar contigo.” I’ll never be done with you.”


6. Aflame and Corrupt by Penelope Douglas

Aflame by Penelope Douglas Corrupt by Penelope Douglas

Aflame: My Review • Ebook • Audible • Goodreads
Corrupt: Character Q&A • Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads

I’m cheating here a little, including two Penelope Douglas books, but I had to! Aflame and Corrupt are my two favorite reads from Penelope this year. First off, I am so, so happy she decided to write Aflame. Even though I was hesitant to read it, it really did feel like the right direction for Tate and Jared, and I couldn’t be happier with the way their story continued in Aflame. This book is the perfect ending to one of my all-time favorite couples, but mainly, I just LOVED reading about Tate and Jared again.

“For better or worse, you’ve been my other half since I was ten years old, and I can’t imagine a future I’d want without you in it. You’re the love of my life.”

As for Corrupt, this book totally messed with my mind. It left me speechless in the best way possible – I had such high expectations since the second this book was announced, and I wasn’t disappointed. Rika and Michael’s story consumed me, and I honestly still can’t get it out of my mind. It’s an unforgettable, gritty, thrilling read, and if you like dark erotic romances, you absolutely MUST read this book.

“Our scrapes and bruises, tattoos, scars, smiles, and wrinkles told our stories, and I didn’t want a pristine piece of wallpaper. I wanted her and everything she was.”


7. Manwhore series by Katy Evans

Manwhore by Katy Evans Manwhore +1 by Katy Evans Ms. Manwhore by Katy Evans

#1 ~ Manwhore: My Review • Ebook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads
#2 ~ Manwhore +1: My Review • EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads
#2.5 ~ Ms. Manwhore: My Review • Ebook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads

Malcolm. Freaking. Saint!!! AHHH!!! This gorgeous billionaire stole my heart and took my breath away! Katy Evans knows how to write alpha-males, and she hit it out of the ball park with Malcolm Saint. If you love heroes who will sweep you away, you absolutely must read the Manwhore series. I am obsessed with this series!!

“Do you know what I’d do for you?” A huskiness enters his voice as he circles my chin with his thumb. “You’re the only heaven I will ever know, Rachel”–He looks into my eyes–“and if you were a hell, I’d sin my whole life just to stay with you.”


8. Bad Habits series by Staci Hart

With a Twist by Staci Hart Chaser by Staci Hart

#1 ~ With a Twist: My Review • Ebook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads
#2 ~ Chaser: My Review • Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads

I’m so happy to have discovered Staci Hart this year. She’s a new-to-me author and I LOVED her Bad Habits series. Each of the books in the series can be read as a standalone, but I highly recommend reading them in order, because each is very closely connected to each other. With a Twist is a charming friends to lover romance and Chase is the sexy older brother’s best friend trope. All of the characters in the series are written so well that they felt real to me, and I can’t wait for the third and final book!

“I’ve been around the world, and I thought I’d seen everything it had to offer until that night, until I saw you. In all my life, I’ve never seen anything so beautiful, not standing in the Blue Mosque or the Taj Mahal. Not in the streets of rome or canals of Venice. Making you smile gives me life. Making you laugh gives me hope. Making you happy is all I want, other than to keep you.”


9. November 9 by Colleen Hoover

November Nine by Colleen Hoover

My Review • EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads

What’s a top favorite list on Booklovers For Life without Colleen freaking Hoover!? And it just so happens that November 9 is #9 on my list! You guys, I loved this book. It was such a unique, addicting read. CoHo’s writing is flawless as always, and the fascinating storyline (the main characters meet once a year) kept me riveted to the pages. If you haven’t read Colleen Hoover’s books yet, you really need to get on that. Her books are NA at its finest!

It took four years for me to fall in love with him.
It only took four pages to stop.


10. Off-Campus series by Elle Kennedy

The Deal by Elle Kennedy The Mistake by Elle Kennedy

#1 ~ The Deal: My Review • EbookPaperback • Audible • Goodreads
#2 ~ The Mistake: My Review • Ebook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads

The Off-Campus series just might be my favorite sports romance series of the year. I LOVED The Deal – this is a must-read NA book. I didn’t think Elle Kennedy could top it, but I was so wrong. The Mistake, Logan’s story, is definitely my favorite of the series so far. Logan is hilarious and so adorable, and the way he makes his mistake up to Grace makes for an incredibly entertaining read. This book – and series – is well-written, funny, heartwarming, so freaking sweet… You absolutely need to read it if you haven’t already. (And btw, The Score is SOOOO GOOD!)

“I need you. I can’t stand the thought of being without you.” He releases a shaky breath. “You’re the last person I think about before I go to sleep, and the first person I think about when I open my eyes in the morning. You’re it for me, baby.”


11. Elements of Chemistry series by Penny Reid

Attraction by Penny Reid Capture by Penny Reid Heat by Penny Reid

#1 ~ Attraction: My Review • Ebook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads
#2 ~ Heat: My Review • EbookPaperback • Audible • Goodreads
#3 ~ Capture: My Review • EbookPaperback • Audible • Goodreads
#1-3 ~ Elements of Chemistry Bundle: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads

I’m so ashamed to say that I only started reading Penny Reid this year. I have seriously been missing out! She writes the best, SMART romances with witty characters and fantastic stories. The Elements of Chemistry series is my favorite of hers yet – I loved Katy and Martin’s journey of a romance. I loved the way their characters developed and grew over the course of the series. Their story is funny, sweet, addicting, and so much fun to read.

“Why do people care about each other? What is attraction? I can’t give you a list of reasons why I react to you like I do. This isn’t an equation to balance. You’re the one I’m always thinking about. It’s you. It just is.”


12. Fuel the Fire by Krista & Becca Ritchie

Fuel the Fire by Krista & Becca Ritchie

My Review • Ebook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads

Rose and Connor make up my all-time favorite power couple!!! I adored them in Kiss the Sky and fell in love with them even more in Fuel the Fire. This book was… phenomenal. I’m so glad Rose and Connor got a second book, but I’m going to miss them so much! They are unique and endlessly fascinating and I could honestly read about them forever. And just for the record, the Addicted/Calloway Sisters series is my FAVORITE NA series of all time, so if you haven’t started it yet, I can’t recommend it enough!

There are rare people who will fuel the fire inside of you, who will awaken a dormant passion, who will challenge you, who will push you and better you. She alone is my rarity.


13. The Hotter You Burn by Gena Showalter

The Hotter You Burn by Gena Showalter

My Review • Ebook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads

I had no idea what I was in for when I started The Hotter You Burn – I found myself utterly charmed by this book. Gena Showalter has written an absolutely delightful, feel-good, heartwarming romance that I can’t recommend enough! It’s equal parts wickedly sexy and heartwarmingly sweet. The humor in this book had me giggling so hard, and it was just so easy to fall in love with the characters and story. I can’t wait to read the other books in The Original Heartbreakers series after reading this gem of a novel!

“There is nothing I won’t do for you, and nothing I won’t do to keep you. You’re it for me. My one. My only.”


14. Archangel’s Enigma by Nalini Singh

Archangel's Enigma by Nalini Singh

My Review • Ebook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads

Naasir’s book was a long time coming, and Nalini Singh did NOT disappoint. This book was captivating, sensual, heart-pounding, and unputdownable. I don’t read paranormal romances much these days, but reading Archangel’s Enigma reminded me of all the reasons why I love that genre. Naasir stole my heart and I was swept away by his and Andromeda’s romance. The romance is truly one of the best I’ve read from Nalini Singh, which is saying something, because her romances are top-notch.

“If you’re mine, you’re mine. And I’m yours. Today, tomorrow, always.”


15. Untamed by S.C. Stephens

Untamed by S.C. Stephens

My Review • EbookPaperback • AudibleGoodreads

Untamed is the book that surprised me the most this year. I didn’t like Kiera and Kellan in Thoughtless, and I honestly thought I’d never pick up another book in that series again. But Untamed had me curious since it was Griffin’s story… and it simply blew me away. It took me a while to get into it, since Griffin is just so crass, but by the end of it, I nearly wanted to cry, I was so emotional. This book was surprisingly so much more meaningful and heart-wrenching than I’d expected, and I applaud S.C. Stephens for the incredible way she wrote Griffin’s character development. I’ve never felt more proud of a character than I had when I with Griffin when I finished his story.

I’d been handed fame on a platter and hadn’t appreciated it until it was too late.


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2 winners (open internationally):
Your choice of TWO of the listed favorite books (paperback or ebook) + $15 GC!
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lacey


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Early Review: Untamed by S.C. Stephens

Untamed by S.C. Stephens

Untamed by S.C. Stephens
Series: Thoughtless #4 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: November 3rd 2015
Links: EbookPaperback • Audible • Goodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

#1 New York Times bestselling author S.C. Stephens brings us the next book in her Thoughtless series!

The spotlight doesn’t only shine. Sometimes it burns.

Being the bad-boy bassist for the world’s hottest band has earned Griffin Hancock some perks: a big house, a fast car, and most importantly his incredible wife, Anna. The one thing it hasn’t brought him is the spotlight. Anna tells him to be patient, that his talent will win out. But Griffin is through waiting for permission to shine.

Without warning, Griffin makes a shocking decision and takes the gamble of a lifetime. Suddenly he’s caught up in a new level of lights, cameras, and chaos. One that pushes his relationship with Anna to its limits. Anna has always found his unpredictable behavior sexy, but lately he’s seen an ache in her eyes–and it has his soul in knots. Just as the recognition Griffin seeks is finally within reach, the thing he loves most in life could be slipping through his fingers…

HOLY SHIT!!!!! I am SHOCKED, utterly shocked, at how much I loved Untamed. I can firmly say I was NOT a fan of Thoughtless (I loathed Kiera and Kellan), but I liked Griffin for the most part, so I thought I’d give his book a chance even though I hadn’t finished up the series… and I’m so glad I did. This book was so much more than I expected, so much more emotional and meaningful, and I loved it. Untamed is jam-packed with hilarity and heart-wrenching moments (I even freaking teared up at some parts, and I am NOT a crier for books), and I am just so impressed with the way Griffin is portrayed. I applaud S.C. Stephens for her wonderful storytelling and brilliant character development – especially since I almost DNF’ed this book. So if you’re like me, and feel like giving up on this – on Griffin – I promise that if you keep reading, he will surprise you in the best of ways and it will totally be worth it in the end.

Fuck being lead guitarist. I could be lead everything.

Griffin, bassist for the D-Bags, is rude, obnoxious, and from the other members’ POVs, he doesn’t really contribute to the band. He’s kind of there to always make a mess of things. And his way of thinking is just… awful. It’s practically pornographic and very, very arrogant. I almost couldn’t keep reading Untamed, Griffin was so idiotic and ridiculous. But somewhere along the way… I felt sorry for him, which I’m guessing is the author’s intention. Griffin is tired of living in the shadows of lead singer Kellan Kyle, who gets all the fame and glory. All he wants is just a little spotlight on him, but time and again, everyone refuses to give him even five minutes of it. They all have zero faith in him, and I felt so sad for how he never even gets a chance to really prove himself. My feelings about Griffin – amazingly – slowly changed from annoyance to sympathy, and he went from being a moronic character to someone with depth and issues.

I’d had it all, and now… I had nothing.

Oh, Griffin made my heart hurt. He makes a life-changing decision that not only affects him and the band, but also his pregnant wife and daughter. He’s a literal train wreck waiting to happen – actually, not even. He’s a train wreck that is HAPPENING. I wanted to reach into the pages and strangle him for the dumb, desperate decisions he makes, but when things start spiraling out of control and he starts to lose everything, I wanted to cry for him. His fall from the top hurts, and I almost couldn’t keep reading because of how my heart broke at how hard he crashes to the bottom.

“…more people care about you than you think. But… it’s like your ego is a force field… it pushes people back, instead of letting them in. You’d see the world differently if you opened yourself up to the possibility that…”
… “That what?” …
“That you’re an imperfect person… just like the rest of us.”

The best part about Griffin is definitely the way he is with his family, no matter the horrible decisions he makes. He adores his wife, daughter, and the upcoming baby, all of whom I adored as well. I don’t really remember how I felt about Anna when I read Thoughtless, but I absolutely loved her in Untamed. She’s a kickass woman, mom, and wife, and she’s the only person who endlessly supports Griffin, even when it seems like she shouldn’t. I truly enjoyed reading about her character, and I loved that she and Griffin were just perfect for each other. She’s pretty much the only woman who could handle Griffin, and for that I admire her.

I’d been handed fame on a platter and hadn’t appreciated it until it was too late.

This book is definitely eye-opening, both for Griffin and the reader. Griffin’s heart-wrenching fall from the top and his climb back up is a tumultuous journey that is truly incredible to witness. S.C. Stephen’s writing had me feeling like I was there right alongside Griffin through his ups and downs. And as emotional as this book is, it’s also pretty freaking hilarious. I laughed so much at all the insanely ridiculous, inappropriate things Griffin says and does. Also, I’ll admit, Kellan and Kiera grew on me later on in Untamed – they were pretty much the only supporters of Griffin, besides Anna. Plus, I was highly amused by how Griffin thought they were annoying.

Untamed is so worth the read. Griffin makes HUGE changes in his character as he learns to be the person his family and band deserve. I’m honestly so proud of Griffin right now after finishing this book – and I’m so impressed with the way S.C. Stephens was able to make me change my feelings towards him! The way he learns to appreciate the life he has is just beyond incredible and I’m so glad to have read his story.

“Mrs. Anna Hancock… you are my best friend, my partner in crime, my reason for living, and the only thing that really matters to me. Forever only scratches the surface of how long I’ll love you.”

4.5 hearts
lacey

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


Reading Order: Thoughtless series

Thoughtless by S.C. Stephens Thoughtful by S.C. Stephens
Effortless by S.C. Stephens Reckless by S.C. Stephens Untamed by S.C. Stephens

#1 ~ Thoughtless: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#1.5 ~ Thoughtful: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#2 ~ Effortless: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#3 ~ Reckless: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#4 ~ Untamed: EbookPaperback • Audible • Goodreads


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