Review: All I Ask by Corinne Michaels

All I Ask by Corinne Michaels
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: March 17th 2020
Links: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Teagan Berkeley is trying her best. A single mom raising a precocious teen, she may have given up on her dreams, but she’s accepted her life in her small beachside hometown. Now the one person who abandoned her when she needed him the most has returned, bringing back memories of what might have been.

Derek Hartz arrives in town with a teenage daughter-and he’s full of guilt over his failed marriage and the way he ended his friendship with Teagan. He’s determined to set things right with her, but first he needs to gain her trust, something he’s not convinced he deserves.

As Teagan and Derek open up to each other-and confess their deepest secrets-it’s impossible for them to deny what’s always been between them. But just when their happily ever after is within reach, their complicated history surfaces again and threatens to keep them apart. Forever.

I was so excited when I got an early copy of All I Ask. First, the cover is STUNNING. Second, two single parents! And third, it’s the (ex) friends to lovers trope. Which means all the angst and all the feels. So I am a bit disappointed that I couldn’t enjoy this book more. It’s not a bad read, just a frustrating one. You can tell Corinne Michaels knows how to write, but the miscommunication in this romance got on my nerves. It’s one of my biggest pet peeves when characters just don’t TALK to each other. The reason why our hero and heroine became estranged for over a decade was because they couldn’t express their feelings towards one another. This book is definitely a “it’s me, not you” kind of read, but if you also don’t enjoy reading about miscommunication, I would pass on it.

While the book is told in alternate POVs (IMO, there weren’t enough chapters from the hero), we also get two timelines: the past, when Teagan and Derek first meet in high school and fall in unrequited love, and the present, when they reunite for the first time in a decade as single parents. I have to say I wasn’t a big fan of the past chapters – they were boring and didn’t add all that much to the story because I could already tell how in love Teagan and Derek were through their present chapters. And, this is when they start keeping their feelings a secret and Derek uses his new fiancée to cope with the fact that he thinks Teagan doesn’t love him back. Did I also mention Teagan is pregnant by her deadbeat ex and Derek gets his fiancée pregnant? I guess no one uses condoms anymore. It just annoyed me to no end that they could’ve saved over ten years worth of hurt and heartache with a simple conversation.

The present day reunion is underwhelming. It starts off with some fantastic angst and I could just FEEL all the emotions and hurt from Teagan. Derek ghosted her, his best friend, like she didn’t mean anything to him. He stopped all communication with her and dropped off the face of the planet. I really wanted her to make him work towards earning back her trust and heart, but after maybe two conversations they start dating already. So that whole thing was anticlimactic. The thing is, I truly don’t believe Derek would’ve ever gone after Teagan, the woman he supposedly loved, if he didn’t become a widower. I never understood why he was okay living married but separated with his wife, a woman he didn’t love. So Teagan comes across as second best, his second choice, and that left a bad taste in my mouth.

The good things I did enjoy? The writing, which is solid, and Teagan’s daughter, who has such a personality. I’m sure I’m in the minority for this book, but I wanted more – more angst, more GROVELING, more chapters from the hero. And sadly, this just didn’t work for me.



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Audiobook Review: Starfish by Lisa Becker

Starfish by Lisa Becker
Series: Standalone
Audiobook Publication Date: December 10th 2019
Length: 8 hours and 33 minutes
Narrated by: Erin Mallon & Sebastian York
Links: Audible • EbookPaperback • Goodreads
Source: I received an audiobook in exchange for an honest review

Ambitious graduate Marin Collins accepts a four-month internship at a prestigious public relations firm to work on a tech account, but her plans are derailed when she’s assigned to go on the road with touring rock band Kings Quarters, hailed by Rolling Stone as the next big thing.

Enter Brad Osterhauser, the reluctant rock star who would rather be coding computer games than penning Grammy-nominated songs.

Traveling by bus, city to city with a group of practical joking bandmates and a greedy manager, Marin and Brad forge a friendship and forbidden romance over a shared love of Seinfeld episodes, stolen moments and Red Vines.

But when Marin’s accused of betraying her company and the band, will Brad come to her defense or believe she was disloyal to him for the sake of her career?

I adore rock star romances, but it seems like they’re being published few and far between, which means I don’t read them as often as I used to a few years ago. So when I had the chance to listen to Starfish, I was excited. It’s not really about the glam and glory life of rock stars – it’s a more realistic aspect to it, as the heroine is interning at a PR firm with a rock star band as a client. The book was surprisingly down-to-earth for a rock star romance, but I appreciated a different take on this trope.

When Marin Collins goes on tour with rock band Kings Quarters, she expects the rock star life to be all about sex, drugs, and rock and roll. It’s… not. It’s non-stop, on the road bus touring, lots of jokes and banter between bandmates, and a really sweet guitarist she can’t not fall for. But obviously as the band’s PR company’s new intern, she can’t exactly get involved with a client without losing her internship. So Marin and Brad try the friends route, which leads to a ton of longing, some back and forth between do we or don’t we, and lots of flirting. The romance is fairly low on drama but the audio was still an entertaining listen. It definitely helps that two of my favorite narrators, Erin Mallon and Sebastian York, narrate Marin and Brad!

If you’re looking for something that’s sweet and slow, Starfish is a great romance to try! I’m really glad I got to try this new-to-me author for the first time. I’m not sure if she’ll be writing any books for the other members of Kings Quarters, but I wouldn’t mind if she does!


lacey


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Review: Outmatched by Kristen Callihan and Samantha Young

Outmatched by Kristen Callihan and Samantha Young
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: November 19th 2019
Links: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review

What happens when a boxer finds chemistry with a geek?

Parker Brown can’t believe she needs to hire a fake boyfriend. When she landed her dream job in renewable energy, she thought she’d be entering a world at the forefront of progressive thinking. But the head boss prefers to promote employees who are “settled.” Thankfully, she’s found the perfect candidate, a fellow intellectual looking for some quick cash. What Parker gets is his protective big brother—Rhys Morgan. The tall, muscled ex-boxer with a foul mouth shows up just as her boss does, and now she’s stuck with the manipulative jerk.

Responsibility weighs heavily on Rhys. Now permanently out of the ring, he’s trying to hold together his late father’s gym and keep his younger brother, Dean, on the straight and narrow. To save Dean from himself, Rhys takes his place, ready to give this society girl a piece of his mind. Instead, he finds an opportunity. Even though they can hardly stand each other, posing as Parker’s boyfriend is a win-win deal. She gets to keep her job, and he’ll charm her star-struck boss into sponsoring his gym.

Problem is, they can barely keep their hands off each other. And what started as an easy deal isn’t so easy anymore. Because what future can a rough ex-boxer, afraid to open his heart, and a polished society geek, who has sworn off real relationships, possibly have?

They say opposites attract. These opposites are about to combust on impact.

When Samantha Young and Kristen Callihan announced that they would be writing a book together, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it! I had no idea these two authors had ever even though about collaborating but I’m so glad they did. Their writing meshed together well – they know how to write relatable characters and humor, both of which made me fall in love with Parker, Rhys, and their enemies to lovers romance. If you’re a fan of either of the authors (which I am), you will more than likely adore Outmatched!

Parker Brown needs a fake boyfriend to impress her sexist boss and keep her job. Rhys Morgan needs money to keep his gym running and out of the red. So it would be a perfect setup for them to come to an agreement wouldn’t it? Except that to say that these two get on each others’ nerves would be an understatement. It’s a bit difficult for them to pretend to be head over heels in love, but they make it work. The one thing that goes right though, is the insane chemistry between them. They hate each other, but they can’t get enough of each other. This is the perfect case of ‘opposites attract,’ with Rhys being a huge, grumpy ex-boxer and Parker being a tiny, adorable nerd. She comes from wealth, he does not. I loved the way they genuinely come to slowly understand the other better, their background and where they come from, and ultimately fall for each other.

I love a smol, dorky, nerdy heroine and a big, gruff, grumpy hero. Parker and Rhys make the sweetest couple in this fake-relationship romance, with lots of great banter and tension. Samantha Young and Kristen Callihan did a fantastic job with this collaboration and I hope they write more together! I absolutely wouldn’t mind a book for Dean, Rhys’ brother!


lacey


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Audiobook Review: Make Me Yours by Tia Louise

Make Me Yours by Tia Louise
Series: Standalone
Audiobook Publication Date: October 23rd 2019
Length: 7 hours and 48 minutes
Narrated by: Lucy Rivers & Teddy Hamilton
Links: Audible • EbookPaperback • Goodreads
Source: I received an audiobook in exchange for an honest review

He’s a billionaire single dad who needs help.
She’s a sassy single gal who needs work.
Live-in nanny? What could go wrong?

Remington Key: I left the Navy, scored a billion in tech, got married, and had a baby. I did everything by the book. Happily ever after, right?

Fast-forward four years, and I’m alone, raising my daughter, caring for my mother-in-law, and trying to keep my stuff together. How did this happen?

I was clearly drunk the night I offered a gorgeous girl in a bar $500 a day to be my live-in nanny. Or maybe it was my dick talking.

So what if I’ve been alone since forever? I’m focused on launching my new business, not bedding the sexy siren who sleeps down the hall.

At least that’s what I keep reminding myself…

Ruby Banks: Remington Key is distant, brooding, and drop-dead sexy. And when he scoops up his adorable four-year-old daughter Lillie and blows raspberries on her tummy while she squeals with delight, I totally swoon.

Bumping into him at our local pub that night slightly drunk and overly frustrated was a total accident. He needed help, and he offered me a ridiculous salary. I couldn’t say no. Right?

Now he’s given me the chance to pay off my debts and take control of my life. I can’t screw up this job. But as bad as I want to be good, I’m not sure I can fake it…

The way he watches me sends heat sizzling through my insides.
Our hands touch, our eyes meet, and I want to do very naughty things with my new boss.

Make Me Yours was such a sweet audiobook! This is actually my first Tia Louise book and now I’m thinking I need to read/listen to her others, especially Make You Mine. Obviously I went into this as a standalone, but it has characters that interconnect with MYM, so I’m sure if you enjoyed that read, you’ll enjoy this one too!

I was so looking forward to listening to this story because 1) it’s a single dad romance 2) it’s a falling-for-the-nanny romance and 3) it has Teddy Hamilton narrating the hero’s POV. These three things made the perfect combination and I just adored listening to Remi and Ruby’s story! We have a widowed hero and single dad who has been celibate since his wife passed, but when he meets the heroine, he feels a connection that he wants to pursue, something I LOVE in my heroes. Of course, it’s a little touchy when they make a deal – Ruby is hired to be Remi’s live-in nanny so she can pay her debts and he can get some space from his overbearing mother-in-law – but it’s clear from the get-go how meant to be they are. The chemistry is on fire and I so enjoyed seeing these two fall for each other!

Also, how can I not enjoy an audiobook that’s narrated by the lovely Teddy Hamilton? I first listened to his narration in Him/Us by Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy and he has never disappointed me since. He did a fantastic job at narrating Remi’s voice. Lucy Rivers was new to me and she did a great job with Ruby’s voice. I would definitely listen to another audiobook of hers.

If you’re looking for a sweet audiobook that’s low on drama, Make Me Yours is the perfect choice. I already can’t wait to get to Make You Mine and I hope this isn’t the last time we see all of these characters.


lacey


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Release Day Review: Soul in Darkness by Wendy Higgins

Soul in Darkness by Wendy Higgins
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: February 12th 2019
Links: Ebook • Goodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review

People travel from afar to the small isle in the Aegean Sea hoping for a single glimpse of Princess Psyche. Their adoration for the mortal woman is so all-consuming that citizens begin to shower her with the very gifts and offerings they once left at the alter of Venus, goddess of love and beauty.

But gods are known for their jealousy.

Cupid, the god of love, takes pleasure in causing strife and mischief in the lives of humans. He uses love as a weapon, humoring in the weakness of people at the whims of their feelings. When his mother Venus approaches him about punishing the human girl who dares to steal her offerings and affections from the people, Cupid gladly accepts.

Psyche’s punishment is to be given to a mysterious creature who only comes to her in the dark of night under the pact that she will never lay eyes on him. She is terrified of this stranger, who the oracle described as a serpent. Her mate, however, is masterful in his dealings with his bride. He takes his time, morphing her fears into different sensations completely.

Based on the Roman/Greek mythology of Cupid and Psyche from Lucius Apuleius, New York Times bestseller Wendy Higgins brings the tale to life, weaving layers that show exactly how a sacrificial lamb can be enchanted by an unseen monster.

Y’all, I loved this book something fierce. It is SO, so good, and definitely up there as one of my favorite reads of the year. I love mythology retellings, especially Greek/Roman ones, and this Cupid/Psyche retelling was brilliant and beautifully written. I fell so hard for the story and felt for the struggle Psyche faces with her unknown husband. It’s a pure, romantic read I highly recommend!

“It has been decided. Hers will be a funeral wedding to a dar-deeded winged serpent. Many call him a monster. Your dear Psyche will call him Husband.”

Psyche is the princess of her small island and is considered to be the most beautiful woman to exist. Unfortunately, this angers Venus, the goddess of love and beauty, as her worshippers have turned to worship Psyche instead. To appease Venus and to save her people, Psyche is forced to marry a monster. The rules are simple: the monster will be her husband, she will spend her nights with him, and she must never lay eyes on him or touch him.

“You can have my body, creature of the night, but you will never have my soul.”

I knew the basics of Psyche and Cupid going into this book, so I appreciated even more the author’s unique take on that story. Wendy transports you to this wondrous, ethereal world of gods and monsters, and she makes you fall in love with Psyche and her mysterious husband. Psyche may have been forced into her marriage, but she doesn’t take it lying down. She uses the little power she has to make a life for herself in the new house she lives in with her husband, and takes any bit of independence he gives her. The husband is not so much a monster after all. He is kind, thoughtful, generous – the kind of husband Psyche never dreamed he would be. But who exactly is he? And why was she chosen to be his bride? There’s more at play than what she knows, and slowly, as she starts to fall for her mysterious husband, the truth starts to unravel.

The chemistry between Psyche and Cupid is intense. I was afraid going in that it would lie more on the YA side of steam, with fade-to-black moments, but rest assured this is not the case in Soul in Darkness! I lived for the sexy moments between these two fascinating characters. They both are placed in impossible situations but manage to make something beautiful and lasting out of it.

“Your beauty will never fade in my eyes, Psyche.” His words and voice rolled over me, sweet and heady. “My wife. My princess. The one who shot me with her love.”

I’m incredibly happy with this retelling and I hope Wendy Higgins decides to do more in the future. Her writing captivates you and makes you believe in the love between her characters. I swooned for Cupid and cheered for Psyche – my heart ached at how romantic their love story was. If you love any type of retelling, you absolutely must read Soul in Darkness!


lacey

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


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