Ruin by Rachel Van Dyken

Ruin

Ruin

By Rachel Van Dyken

★★★★★

I’m not your typical girl. I’ve been running away from the memories that haunt me for so long that depression has become my only comfort. I was content in the darkness…until Wes Michels offered to be my light.

I didn’t know that time wasn’t my ally — that every second that ticked past was one step closer to the end of something that was beginning to mean the end of myself. He tried to warn me. He promised me all he was able to offer–each moment as it came–but it would never be enough.

Sometimes when you think it’s the end, it’s only the beginning. Wes thought he could save me, but in giving me everything, he ruined me. Because after one kiss, one touch, I couldn’t–I wouldn’t ever be the same.

And from that moment on, his heartbeat became my own.

1

Kiersten Rowe has convinced her Uncle JoBob that she can make it on her own away at college.  The past two years she has been barely living.  Depressed and plagued by night terrors after the death of her parents, Kiersten wants to try to start living again.  Now at the University of Washington she is about to find out how to live, how to face her fears and most importantly what it means to fall in love.

Weston Michels may be rich and hot, not to mention the star quarterback but life is definitely all sunshine and rainbows. No one knows how he became  an RA his senior year, especially after rumors of an alleged rape or why he seems to travel in an entourage.  Weston seems to be keeping secrets

Absolutely one of the best books I have read all year.  I have to admit I was started to feel a little disappointed as I searched for a book to add to the short Favorites of 2013 list I have going.  2012 seemed to be a year full of so many good books I wasn’t even able to narrow down my top 10 without a lot of deliberation and quite a few tears.  2013 has not been the same, while there have been a few books I have loved very few have actually jumped out and made me think about them long after I have finished them.

Ruin is that book.  It is an emotional book that had me not wanting it to end.  I loved the fact that unlike so many New Adult books that are out right now this book did not follow the same formula of the twenty-something guy who has vowed that he will never fall in love.  He will live a long happy life as a womanizer even though at the ripe old age of 23 or 24 I am not quite sure if he really has the maturity to decide that love is not in the cards for him.  Wait til your thirties or hell even your forties before you make the decision to live without True Love.

Ruin is not like that.  I hate to say too much because I do not want to give anything away, even if you can pretty much guess what it’s all about.  I absolutely loved Wes from the very beginning and my favorite parts of the story were definitely the parts from his POV.  This is romantic, sweet and at times bittersweet.  I laughed and I cried and at one point almost thought I wasn’t going to be able to finish it because it was so sad.

Ruin

Ruin

I am glad I finished the book and I loved it, even the sad parts.  It is definitely a story I recommend highly.  This is the second book this year by Rachel Van Dyken that I have read and loved, so she is an author I will keep coming back to.

 

Parting Shot by Mary Calmes

As a huge fan of Mary Calmes and her Matter of Time series I was ecstatic to finally have the opportunity to check out her new book Parting Shot.  Parting Shot tells the story of Duncan Stiel and Aaron Sutter and I have to be honest, I loved it!  I’ll admit I wasn’t ready to let go of Sam and Jory when the final book was over but Duncan and Aaron had me just as invested and I ate their story up.

Parting Shot

 

Parting Shot

By Mary Calmes

★★★★1/2

Life has never been easy for Duncan Stiel. His childhood was the stuff of nightmares, and his day job as an undercover police officer forces him to hide his true self and occasionally lands him in the hospital. So when he finally meets the perfect man, it comes as no surprise that everything falls apart around him. What Duncan doesn’t expect is that the hardest hurdle to get over before he can make a life with Aaron Sutter is the one inside himself.

Everyone thinks Aaron has it all—looks, money, fame, and success beyond measure. Everyone, that is, except Aaron. At the end of the day, the cameras stop flashing, friends go back to their own lives, company business is handled, and Aaron is always alone. The moment he meets Duncan Stiel, Aaron knows he’ll do anything to hold onto the larger-than-life detective. But when he realizes money won’t buy him the ultimate happiness, Aaron needs to find the strength to give Duncan something much more important—his heart.

What was it that I liked so much about this story?  First it’s the fact that Ms. Calmes has a great voice, she has the ability to suck a reader in from the very first page and keep you going straight through til the end.  It isn’t the first time I have found myself devouring one of her books in one sitting.  I love the combination of a hot steamy romance along with a good plot.  This isn’t just about sex, there is actually a story going on with a couple of twists and turns and a lot of laughs.

We only got brief glimpses of Duncan in earlier books (Acrobat and But For You) but now we get to see who he really is and what makes him tick.  From the little we learned of him in Acrobat I couldn’t stand him, in But For You I was intrigued but in Parting Shot I really liked him.  I wish we could actually have seen more interaction with him and Sam Kage but I was just happy that Sam made a brief appearance in the book.

We’ve seen a bit of Aaron Sutter throughout the Matter of Time books and I have never cared for him.  Even in But For You when he was being somewhat redeemable I didn’t feel any connection towards him.  Parting Shot completely changed my opinion of him.  I fell in love with Aaron and definitely found myself understanding him better.

Duncan and Aaron make a great pair and I loved seeing them together, they balanced each other nicely.  I wouldn’t mind seeing more from Duncan and Aaron in the future and I am very interested in seeing where they go from here.  If you are a fan of the Matter of Time series you definitely need to check out this book.

I love Mary Calmes and can’t wait to see what she comes up with next!

Tie

For more about author Mary Calmes check out her website  here.

To purchase a copy of Parting Shot at: | ➸Amazon  |➸Barnes and Noble |➸Dreamspinner Press

Elite by Rachel Van Dyken

Elite

By Rachel Van Dyken

★★★★★

When I won the annual Eagle Elite College Scholarship lottery, I was thrilled. After all, my grandma had just died and I wanted to take care of my aging grandpa — he couldn’t be a farmer in Wyoming forever. And graduating from Eagle Elite meant opportunity.
But I wasn’t counting on meeting Nixon.

Nor was I counting on the rules of the Elect.

1. Do not touch The Elect.

2. Do not look at The Elect.

3. Do not speak to The Elect.

And worst of all? Don’t discover the secret they hide, because in the end, you may just realize… it’s about you.

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Wow! Wow! Wow!  Holy baby Jeebus that was good.  I am truly surprised at how much I enjoyed Elite and I can not wait for the sequel Elect to come out (I am not sure I will make it to November).   I could not put this book down, I actually told my entire family to leave me alone so that I could read it in peace.  It took me almost two hours to make dinner because I was reading and cooking at the same time.

So the official blurb of the book was pretty cryptic, I had no idea what this book was really about and I have to admit that drove me crazy.  I wasn’t sure if the Elect were going to turn out to be Demons, Vampire’s, Immortals or what (obviously I have been reading a lot of paranormal).  I conjured up scenario after scenario of what I would do had I been in Trace’s shoes which of course had me completely addicted to story, determined to figure it out.

Once I found out what and who the Elect were it just kept getting better and better.

Tracy “Trace” Rook has won the prized Elite lottery, entrance to the most exclusive college in the world Eagle Elite.  Coming from a ranch in Wyoming after being raised by her grandparents following her parents death at the age of six, Tracy has absolutely no idea what to expect.  From the moment she arrives on campus she is thrust into a world unlike anything she could have imagined.

Her first encounter is with what she learns is the Elect, four extremely good-looking, arrogant and mean guys who seem to have nothing better to do than to point out her place at the bottom of the totem pole.  She is not to look at them, speak to them and definitely not touch them.  Her safety depends on whether or not she can follow these rules.  While Trace has no idea what this means she soon finds out that Nixon Abandonato the Elect’s “fearless leader”  controls everything and everyone.

…I tried to jerk away. His face lit up with a smile, and honestly, it was like staring at a fallen angel. Nixon was gorgeous. He was an ass, but he was a gorgeous ass. “You feel this?” His hand continued moving up my arm until he reached my shoulder, and then his hand moved to my neck and his thumb grazed my trembling  lips. “Memorize it now, because as of this moment, you can’t touch us. We are untouchable. If you as much as sneeze in our direction, if you as much breathe the same air in my atmosphere, I will make your life hell. This touch, what you feel against your skin, will be the only time you feel another human being as powerful as me near you. So like I said, feel it, remember it, and maybe one day, your brain will do you the supreme favor of forgetting what it felt like to have someone like me touching you. Then, and only then, will you be able to be happy with some mediocre boyfriend and pathetic life.”

It’s hard to put into words everything I want to say about this book without giving too much away.  I try not to do too many spoilers because most of the time the mystery in these types of stories are what really makes or breaks it.  I honestly believe you have to just sit back and enjoy the ride when it comes to this book because knowing too much would ruin the experience of unraveling the many mysteries and secrets of the book.

I’m thinking the easiest way is to break it down like this:

Plot: Loved it!  ★★★★★ (Can’t say any more than I did above).

Characters: ★★★★★ The story is all from Trace’s POV which worked great because it added to the whole enigma of Nixon, his friends and the school.

Trace (The Heroine): ♥♥♥♥ I could feel her pain and confusion throughout the entire story.  There were times when I wished she could have been a tad bit stronger when faced with the cruelty of the students but I loved how she stood up to Nixon on more than one occasion.  I am looking forward to seeing how she grows and develops in the next book and I really want to see her establish her rightful place at school.

Nixon (Our Hero/Antihero): ♥♥♥♥ As much as I want to hate him for his cruelty to Trace I pretty much got over it 30% in the book.  Learning who he really is and getting an idea of why he does the things he does changed my mind about him.  He’s despicable but I still fell in love with him (what does that say about me?  I’m not quite sure yet) and again I can’t wait for more of him in the next book, from the look of it Elect (Eagle Elite #2) is from Nixon’s POV.

Chase (The Best Friend/Right Hand Man): ♥♥♥♥  Yep the author just had to throw a little love triangle in there for us.  I really loved Chase as well even though I felt one of his reprehensible actions in the beginning of the book never got addressed properly.  I liked that Chase had a sensitivity and sincerity that was evident from the very beginning, it was easier to like his character right away not to mention he’s funny and charming and loyal.  While I love to root for the underdog when it comes to love triangles I don’t think I want to see Chase with Trace, he makes a perfect best friend but I don’t think he’s the one for her.

Monroe (Nixon’s Beautiful Twin Sister): ♥♥♥♥ I wasn’t sure about Monroe at first.  I loved her because she seemed so nice and accepting and seemed to sincerely want to be Trace’s friend right from the beginning but I couldn’t help waiting for her to stab her in the back.

Romance: ★★★ I just wish it had been slightly steamier.  As New Adult I expected a little more in this area (it felt more Young Adult to me) so I am hoping for a bit more in the next book.

So when all is said and done this is definitely a must read for me, I definitely recommend this to those who love New Adult books.  I will be stalking Amazon for the sequel so I can see what happens next.  I will also be checking out more books by this author.

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*Thanks to Forever (Grand Central Publishing) and NetGalley with providing a copy of this book for honest review!

To find out more about author Rachel Van Dyken click here.

To purchase Elite:  ➸Amazon |  ➸Barnes and Noble | ➸ Google Play | ➸ Kobo

Lick (Stage Dive#1)

Lick (Stage Dive #1)

By Kylie Scott

★★★★☆

Evelyn Thomas wakes up the morning after her Twenty-first Birthday on the bathroom floor of her cheap Vegas motel.   With one of the worst hangovers she can ever remember and a sore butt cheek she tries to remember what happened after the tequila shots.  Her memory a complete blank and limited clues to what happened she is surprised by the incredibly hot guy with long hair and tattoos who seems to want to help her feel better.  Who in the world is this guy?

Something winked at me from my left hand, snagging my attention. A ring, but not just any ring. An amazing ring, a stupendous one.

“Holy shit,” I whispered.

It couldn’t be real. It was so big it bordered on obscene. A stone that size would cost a fortune. I stared, bemused, turning my hand to catch the light. The band beneath was thick, solid, and the rock sure shone and sparkled like the real deal.

As if.

“Ah, yeah. About that …” he said

After the discovery of the very large diamond ring on her left hand, the tattoo on her butt of the name David and the extremely pissed off man–who claims to be her new husband storming out of her motel room–it becomes obvious Evelyn’s life is about to change. Maybe no one ever has to know about any of this.

Unfortunately what happens in Vegas does not always stay in Vegas.  

Getting off the plane back home she is surrounded by paparazzi, turns out Evelyn’s new husband is none other than David Ferris, guitarist and Rock God of the band Stage Dive.  Now with a barrage of photographers and angry fans convinced she’s the cause for the rumors of the bands imminent breakup Evelyn isn’t sure what to do.  David offers to have her come to L.A. to stay with him until their annulment can be finalized and Evelyn reluctantly agrees.

Now in L.A. Evelyn is thrown into a world she knows nothing about.  From skanky groupies, obnoxious band-mates, callous lawyers and snide PA’s Evelyn isn’t sure being in L.A. is such a good idea.  David on the other hand uses her being there as an opportunity to see if he can get her to change her mind on their marriage or at least get her to remember why they got married in the first place.

It’s not fair that you remember and I don’t.”
“No,” he said, his voice hard, cold, in a way I hadn’t heard it. He looked over at me, jaw set. “It’s not fair that I remember and you don’t, Evelyn.”

Evelyn realizes she’ll probably never remember what happened in Vegas but the more time she spends with her husband the more she realizes she should give him, them, a chance.  If only David didn’t have so many secrets about his past.  Just because Ev finds herself trusting David doesn’t mean he trusts her and ultimately this may be the thing that destroys them.

I have to admit I liked this book a lot more than I originally thought that I would.  It was an interesting spin on the whole rocker romance theme that we are seeing so much of.  It was a fun and easy read, while part were a bit predictable I still very much enjoyed it.  I liked most of the characters although I wished we could have seen a little bit more of the band to get a feel of who they were as a group.  Of course this is obviously the first in the series so we will get a chance to see all of the band-mates, it just would have been nice to get a better feel for them right off the bat.

I got a good feel for Evelyn’s character and could definitely understand most of her actions throughout the story even if I felt she needed a bit more maturity.  As for David, I really liked his character.  In the beginning when we first meet him he seems so sweet and attentive.  Ev not remembering them getting married obviously hurts him and leads him to be a jerk to her but after things start to come together it becomes pretty obvious why he behaves the way he does and you can really see he cares about Ev.

The comic relief in the story is definitely David’s best friend and band-mate Mal.  I loved his character.  The right amount of obnoxious, cocky, charming and sincerity.  I can not wait to see more of Mal and what happens when he finally meets a woman who will make him change his womanizing ways.

Lick is definitely a must read if you like “Rockstar Romance”.  I can’t wait to see more from this series in the future!

cartier

Find out more about Author Kylie Scott here.

Purchase a copy of Lick (Stage Dive #1) at: | ➸Amazon | ➸Barnes and Noble  |➸Kobo

The Winning Season by Alison Packard

The Winning Season

The Winning Season

By Alison Packard

★★★★1/2

Published July 15, 2013 by Carina Press

From the moment I first read about Matt Scanlon and Kelly Maxwell in Love In The Afternoon I could not wait to read their story.  Finally it’s here and it’s definitely a winner, I loved it!

Kelly Maxwell has finally landed her dream job as publicist for the San Francisco Blaze. But the team’s newest member, handsome bad boy catcher Matt Scanlon, is refusing every interview. She’s got to get him to open up before the season ends, or she may not be back next year. And after everything she overcame to achieve her dream, Kelly’s not about to let that happen.

Matt Scanlon just wants to be left alone to rebuild his life and his career. After a year of masking the pain of a recent loss with hard partying and fast women, he finally hit rock bottom and was traded to a team he’s loathed his entire life—a team with little to no chance at the post-season.

Butting heads is getting Kelly and Matt nowhere but annoyed, and with the team’s schedule on the road, they can’t avoid close quarters—or their surprising attraction to one another. As the season winds down, Matt finds his growing feelings for Kelly have brought his numbed emotions back to life. But when betrayal shatters their fragile trust, winning it all seems more impossible than ever.

baseballI loved the characters in this story.  

Matt, once a “Golden Boy” of baseball has now become the “Bad Boy” of baseball.  For the past year he’s been off the rails, drinking, fighting, sleeping with too many women.  His baseball career is quickly going downhill and he’s traded to the Blaze, the team he hates, the team where Kelly Maxwell works.  He hates how he treated Kelly the night he met her, he said things he never would have said if he wasn’t so far gone.  Now faced with seeing Kelly every day, forced to essentially work with her Matt has to deal with his growing attraction to Kelly, letting go of the pain he’s been in for the past year and hopefully getting his new team to the World Series.

Matt is hot and funny and has just the right amount of arrogance.  You can’t help but like him and want to see him redeemed not only with his fans and with Kelly but also with himself.  The mystery around what caused Matt to lose his way seems somewhat predictable until we find out the entire story and then it becomes heartbreaking.

Kelly is funny and smart and tough.  She has her own demons she’s fighting and although she seems to have it all together and not need anyone, Matt is just what she needs.  Matt challenges her and understands her.  Having a man who can pretty much get any woman he wants want you is the self confidence booster that Kelly truly needs.  If anyone can get Matt to open up it’s definitely Kelly.

I loved the tension between Matt and Kelly.  There is a great deal of buildup between the two characters and when they finally give into their attraction it’s great.  I felt the author did a perfect job of building heat and sexual tension without dragging it out too long.

There is also a great group of supporting characters who I really hope to see again in their own books.  JT the backup catcher and Matt’s only friend on the team.  Angie, Kelly’s best friend at work.  I’m definitely interested in finding out more about these two and seeing where they end up.

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If you read Love In The Afternoon you should definitely read The Winning Season, just as good if not better this is a great contemporary romance story.  If you haven’t read Love In The Afternoon it won’t take away from this story at all but I definitely recommend it to see not only that first meeting between Matt and Kelly but to also meet Sean and Kayla.

The Winning Season

Find out more about author Alison Packard at http://alisonpackard.com/

Purchase The Winning Season at amazon   button_buy_barnes_noble Released July 15, 2013!

Find out more about Alison’s debut novel Love In The Afternoon.

*Thanks again to NetGalley and Carina Press for a great read!

Mission One of Auggie The Alien

Mission One of Auggie the Alien

by Leah Spiegel and Megan Summers
★★★★★

Cute and Funny Read!

Auggie’s human mother and Alien father send him to Earth to observe and interact with humans to see if it’s possible for them to coexist. Auggie is placed with his maternal grandparents (his Grand MA who doesn’t originate from Massachusetts and his Grand PA who isn’t from Pennsylvania) and enrolled into Mrs. Malumrector’s 4th grade class.

His “mission, and ultimate goal, was to first and foremost blend in”. How will he complete his mission? By completing 3 goals.
1. The Sleepover
2. Being invited by more than one buddy to a ‘social outing’.
3. Getting Invited to a birthday Party
Not necessarily in that order.

Unfortunately while Auggie tries his hardest to fit in he finds that it’s not as easy as he was hoping. His teacher doesn’t understand him, the other students think he’s weird, even his grandparents aren’t quite sure what to think of him. On the bright side, he does have his new bestfriend Left Hand Chuck, his new puppy “Pop-A-Squat” and Miss ‘Wise One with Guidance’ Phelps the guidance counselor.

From air mattresses, the P and the J, 3D movies, slang and Ripley’s Aquarium, Auggie does his best to navigate this new world around him. After all his experiences and all of the people he meets and connects with could it be that maybe “blending in” is the goal he should be trying to work for?

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Although this is not my typical read I have to admit I really enjoyed the story of Auggie the Alien and his experience here on Earth. His precociousness had me laughing quite a bit. It was cute to see how a young alien interacts with humans both his own age as well as adults.

The author did a wonderful job painting the picture of Auggie’s interactions and making them so believable, endearing and funny.  His banter with his teacher as well as his grandfather made up for most of the funniest scenes and I truly found myself laughing out loud repeatedly.  If you are looking for a great book to give to a kid who loves to read, this is perfect!

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Find out more about Leah Spiegel and Megan Summers here.

To Purchase a copy of Mission One of Auggie the Alien: | ➸ Amazon, | ➸ Barnes and Noble |

*Thank you to Leah Spiegel for providing me with a copy of this book for honest review!

 

Heart of the Race

Always a fan of a good Mary Calmes story!

Heart Of The Race

By Mary Calmes

★★★★☆

Varro Dacien spends his life riding toward the next adventure. Brian Christie, his best friend and touchstone, the one person who’s always truly seen him, plays sidekick on these madcap adventures and subsequent trips to the hospital until he can’t take it anymore. While Brian can see Varro, Varro has never caught on that he’s breaking his best friend’s heart.

Without Varro, Brian builds himself a life that’s all about just getting by, doing his best to ignore the hole in his heart and his life. Without Brian to balance him, Varro pushes harder and takes more risks to reach that ultimate high. His job racing high-octane bikes on suicide-level courses makes it easy to get that rush… until it’s no longer enough and Varro realizes it’s not the race, but who’s waiting at the finish line that truly matters. Now he just has to convince Brian to be there.

Racing Bike

Originally part of Dreamspinner Press 2013 Daily Dose Anthology: Make A Play featuring 30 different stories by some of the best authors in M/M Romantic Fiction, this story called to me mainly because it was by one of my favorite authors, Mary Calmes.  This is a short easy read and like most of her works it’s a sweet love story.  If you are a fan of Mary Calmes I am sure you will enjoy it.

A sucker for a good GFY/OFY story I enjoyed seeing two best friends become more and fall in love.  Who better to fall in love with than the person who you trust the most in the world?  As Brian paints us the picture of  growing up knowing he’s in love with Varro and doing his best to keep his feelings from destroying their friendship while secretly wishing his straight best friend felt the same way about him, you can actually feel his heart ache.  Varro being absolutely oblivious to the way his best friend feels is almost maddening.    He needs Brian in a way that most need air but he can’t seem to open his eyes enough to realize Brian is the one person who makes him whole until it’s almost too late.

There’s angst, heartbreak, humor and romance.  There isn’t an over abundance of sex making this more of a contemporary love story. My one and only complaint really was that it was way too short.  I loved the characters but there was definitely room to expand the story more and to get a more in depth look at them.  I would honestly be happy to see more of Varro and Brian.

Nothing fires the blood like a little friendly competition. Anything from a meeting of the minds to full-body contact, these men are making a play. There are no losers in the game of love.  Over 1,500 pages of fiction selling individually for a total $80.20 or as a bulk package for $54.99.

Purchase the entire Make A Play Anthology from Dreamspinner Press or Heart of the Race separately at Amazon and Barnes & Noble