arc · new adult · review · romance

The Perfect First by Maya Hughes

The Perfect First
by Maya Hughes

Rating: ★★★★
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“How long do you last in bed?” Those were her first words to me, swiftly followed up with, “And how big would you say you are?”

Persephone Alexander. Math genius. Lover of blazers. The only girl I know who can make Heidi braids look sexy as hell. And she’s on a mission. Lose her virginity by the end of the semester.

I walked in on her interview session for potential candidates (who even does that?) and saw straight through her brave front. She’s got a list of Firsts to accomplish like she’s only got months to live. I’ve decided to be her guide for all her firsts except one. Someone’s got to keep her out of trouble. I have one rule, no sex. We even shook on it.

I’ll help her find the right guy for the job. Someone like her doesn’t need someone like me and my massive…baggage for her first time.

Drinking at a bar. Check.

Partying all night. Double check.

Skinny dipping. Triple check.

She’s unlike anyone I’ve ever met. The walls I’d put up around my heart are slowly crumbling with each touch that sets fire to my soul.

I’m the first to bend the rules. One electrifying kiss changes everything and suddenly I don’t want to be her first, I want to be her only. But her plan was written before I came onto the scene and now I’m determined to get her to re-write her future with me.

*ARC provided by author/publisher in exchange for an honest review*

You can also read this review on Goodreads

Maya Hughes has started an addictive series featuring irresistible footballers in Fulton U. Despite the countless sports romances floating around, the unique creativity and authentic quality of this narrative prevents it from becoming reused material. With innumerous sweet moments, intense chemistry and stomach-aching humour, The Perfect First ensures your attention is captured and thoughts consumed by this endearing romance of perfect firsts.

I was tired of being me, and the only way to change that was to stop being afraid of what I wanted.

Persephone Alexander’s innocence is charming and refreshing, though her chaste nature doesn’t mean she’s naive. Unashamed and unassuming in conversation, her lack of tact creates an amusing meet cute situation that left me guffawing in absolute delight! Quiet, fierce rebellion unveils itself, as Seph’s determination to experience certain moments before she’s suffocated by an authoritative father’s demands comes to fruition, making me invested in this heroine’s transformation from introverted to free-willed with confidence.

I’d give her the other firsts, as many as I could, because if I gave her too much, I wouldn’t be able to stop myself from never wanting to stop.

I love a conceited football hero—the cockier, the better—however there’s no denying that hidden sweetness and kind-heartedness creates an irresistible character with dimension. Despite Reece Michaels odd but entertaining meet cute with Seph, he isn’t deterred by the unusual situation. By starting a friendship, Reece provides Seph more than firsts; he also brings friendships and connections, both encouraging and heart-warming gestures that allow this quirky heroine to flourish into a self-assured woman who understands her self-worth.

She’d gotten so fully and completely under my skin, I didn’t know how I’d existed before I met her.

“Sweet” isn’t an accurate definition to truthfully encapsulate the undeniable connection between Seph and Reece. Intense and unbreakable, the friendship they form transitions into an undeniable, romantic bond full of immense affection and charming chemistry that latches itself to your mind, ensnaring your full attention. It tugs on your heart-strings, dousing you in all the good feelings that come with reading a humorous, contemporary romance. Wherever Maya Hughes directs this series, I’m keen to have more of these footballers!

arc · new adult · review · romance

Gluttony by K. Webster

Gluttony (The Elite Seven #6)
by K. Webster

Rating: ★★★★
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My life has been served to me on a gold platter to be devoured by my silver spoon.

Money, money, and more money. It’s the backbone of the Goddard name. I’m the only son, so it’s all mine for the taking.

But sometimes money isn’t enough. I always want more, yet nothing seems to satisfy me.

My father has made sure I become a part of The Elite Seven. Where most candidates are chosen, I was given my place. Everything comes at a price, though. Luckily, I can afford any price—no one has more money than God.

The Elite Seven have their initiations. My assignment is personal and beneath me: steal a car and send a warning. It’ll hurt my best friend in the process, but we both made a pact going into this. There’s no line we won’t cross.

My task makes an ugly turn and I nearly take a life. Such a small, unimportant person—someone no one would even notice was gone. She’s a problem my money and power can easily sweep under the rug.

It’s what my father wants. It’s what my brothers want. But when she finally opens those big, innocent brown eyes, I realize I’ve found what I’ve been searching for my entire life. I don’t want my little problem to disappear…I want to keep her.

Accept your sin wisely, for the tasks given to earn your place are not for the weak—they’re for The Elite.

Money is my legacy, but I want something money can’t buy.
I am Baxter Samuel Goddard V.
I am Gluttony.

*ARC provided by author/publisher in exchange for an honest review*

You can also read this review on Goodreads

K. Webster delivered an enthralling installment featuring a lead character who embodied his assigned sin and was more complex than expected, confronted unexpected matters within a secret society and established a relationship that flourished and bloomed. Gluttony maintained a perfect balance of romance and intrigue, furthering the story-line surrounding the Elite Seven without disrupting the momentum or disregarding the burgeoning relationship between God and Zemira.

“I hate how we got here, but I’m not hating that we’re here.”

I assumed nothing more than some entitled, self-absorbed and conceited asshole in Baxter Goddard, but his character captured my attention, leaving me riveted and captivated. Hidden complexity is waiting to be discovered beneath his superficial over-indulgent and materialistic personality, an undeniable pleasant surprise that made this story great. Brimming with self-hatred and intense insecurity, God expressed selfishness and selflessness in equal measure. But, Gluttony goes beyond this—it focuses on God’s growth as he traverses the ramifications of destroying someone’s life… almost.

Zemira is in my blood, in my veins, in my soul. Burning through me like lava—hot and explosive. Changing me. Evolving me. Hiding the ugly parts and molding me into something new.
I yearn to be new and whole and better.
I crave to transform into someone a girl like Zemira deserves.

Zemira Coleman is perhaps my favourite heroine in this series. Despite the hardships she has experienced, Zemira’s strength, outlook and philosophies are awe-inspiring. Her kindness and stability manage to balance God’s chaotic, perturbed life, the perfect counter and lesson that exhibits there’s more to life than money and power. She’s also, quite easily, the only developed character within this series. Unorthodox, though somewhat romantic—perhaps because it is the only developed romance in this series—God and Zemira have a connection that is unique and refreshing as they inspire and support each other through difficult situations.

Me, the girl with nothing, gave the man with everything something worth having: love.

Gluttony transcended my expectations, showcasing what this series should have achieved. K. Webster’s writing is fantastic, a combination of compelling and enthralling, as she balances the romance and darkness within a shorter format without wavering. Shame we needed to wait five sequels to have this moment.

arc · new adult · review · romance

Boyfriend Bargain by Ilsa Madden-Mills

Boyfriend Bargain (Hawthorne University #1)
by Ilsa Madden-Mills

Rating: ★★★★
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Wanted: one hot guy with rock-hard abs and a big stick.

Broke and desperate, Sugar Ryan has no use for arrogant, bad boy athletes . . . until she’s forced to bargain with the cockiest of them all.

If only he knew she was alive.

Her mission? Get on this hockey player’s radar any way possible.

Zack Morgan is the king of the ice and the bedroom—but nothing prepares him for the mystery girl who shows up everywhere he does—frat parties, his favorite bar, and finally his front door with an offer he can’t refuse. The only rule in her boyfriend bargain: no falling in love.

But after one (um, two) smoking-hot hookups, he’s done with pretending and vows to make their fake relationship real. Too bad she can’t trust a player with a reputation for breaking hearts.

Will this hockey star score his forever girl or will their Boyfriend Bargain end in heartbreak?

*ARC provided by author/publisher in exchange for an honest review*

You can also read this review on Goodreads

I have an absolute, obsessive attachment to brilliant sports romances. Boyfriend Bargain isn’t an exception—an honest narrative with perfect amounts of all-consuming endearment, delightfully cute moments and heart-wrenching emotions that capture and ensnare every facet of your being. Featuring a sinfully cocksure hockey player and awe-inspiring determined heroine, Boyfriend Bargain won’t disappoint!

“There’s something going on between us that’s …I don’t know…interesting. I knew it the moment I saw you.”

Sugar Ryan didn’t grow up with luxuries, but that hasn’t diminished her resolution to succeed in life. Her shy, quiet albeit fiery nature and fierceness, together with an unrivaled determination to successfully become a lawyer by attending Vanderbilt, makes this young woman’s formidable intelligence an astonishing inspiration.

Quickly becoming one of the NHL’s greatest contenders, Zack Morgan is surrounded by adoring fans, a rain of love and shower of praise. He isn’t without his own troubles however—hidden demons difficult to push away lurk within the shadows, an incessant pressure, a quiet “shame” that becomes a hindrance in maintaining a seeming perfect life.

I told her not to be afraid to fall…because I’m falling for her…so hard.

Intense chemistry and noticeable sexual tension simmers between Z and Sugar. Despite establishing a relationship of pretense and convenience, the connection between them is fierce and fervent, an undeniable bond of sincerity, hope and encouragement. I loved the commanding and domineering presence that brewed within Z, especially within the bedroom, the assertive nature soothed by some intimacy.

Boyfriend Bargain is filled with witty banter, heartfelt emotions and two characters who have a deep, earnest connection. Ilsa Madden-Mills transforms this into a narrative with substance and profundity, making this more than “just another sports romance”. Beautifully written and wonderfully constructed, the Hawthorne University series doesn’t disappoint!

arc · new adult · review · romance

Wrath by Claire C. Riley

Wrath (The Elite Seven #3)
by Claire C. Riley

Rating: ★★★
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I’m a motherless son to a father who hates me. Fury has lived and breathed in my black heart for so long, it’s a part of my soul now. The only thing that’s ever mattered to me is protecting my twin sister, Sabella, from my father’s temper.

So when the chance to join a secret society presents itself, there’s no question I’ll do whatever it takes to become a member and earn my place in the ranks of only the most Elite.

With a taste for the deviant, I’m drawn to the darkest of desires, and no one ever leaves my bed unscathed. My task: seduce Patience Noelle, St. Augustine’s sweetheart and the mayor’s beloved daughter—then break her heart.

Sinning is what I live for, and deviance is my passion. Failing has never been an option.

But what happens when my sin becomes my curse—when destroying the only woman I’ve ever wanted is my key to protecting my sister? Accept your sin wisely, for the tasks given to earn your place are not for the weak…they’re for The Elite.

This isn’t just my chance, it’s my legacy and reckoning.
I am Samuel Gunner.
I am WRATH

*ARC provided by author/publisher in exchange for an honest review*

You can also read this review on Goodreads

The Elite Seven continues as dark, deranged and dangerous as before. I’m learning to expect the unexpected; don’t assume we’ll receive answers and romance isn’t a priority in this series. I wanted to love Wrath—a man hellbent on enacting revenge on an unloving father with a penchant for sexual deviance used to conquer and destroy an innocent woman called to me. However, the execution was lackluster.

I don’t love like most. I love darkly, cruelly, and brutally, or not at all.

Driven by hatred and fuelled by vengeance inspired by harrowing childhood experiences, Samuel Gunner won’t stop until the Elite Seven notices his presence. But when they finally notice, in an unexpected turn, Samuel is torn between protecting Sabella, his twin sister and luring the mayor’s sweet daughter, Patience.

Patience Noelle is an endearing, innocent woman caught within this devious game. I admired the attitude she showed Samuel, creating an enemies to lovers vibe with an irresistible and delicious chemistry between two opposites. Intense and heated, the encounters between Samuel and Patience are sexually deviant, passionate and filthy. And the way Patience manages to keep Samuel grounded—the rare occurrences of sweetness to soothe the raging bitterness—makes my heart flutter tenfold!

I’m not the good guy, and I’ve never claimed to be. I’ve surrounded myself with rage and darkness, embracing the hateful side of myself for so long, it’s become a living thing inside me.

I loved these two characters together, but the moments we witness between them is awfully limited, making it difficult to fully appreciate their chemistry. Reading the beginning and ending of this novella made me lose interest—Samuel’s backstory was far too descriptive, a massive information dump essentially that could’ve been disclosed through flashbacks or passing remarks. And the crude sex scenes featuring other woman to highlight Samuel’s deviant nature wasn’t really necessary.

Wrath sets a different tone for this series. It is lengthier, written with gripping scenes and tantalising encounters that made this difficult to step away from; however, it is missing more moments between Samuel and Patience, as well as deeper insight into the Elite Seven. In saying that, if you are into mind-numbing and jaw-dropping dark romances; a dominant hero; an endearing heroine, I recommend picking up this series because while it does lack in certain areas, it is good for what it is!

arc · new adult · review · romance

Pride by J.D. Hollyfield

Pride (The Elite Seven #2)
by J.D. Hollyfield

Rating: ★★★★
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The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.

But who said the devil was a he?

In my world, she was out to cause havoc on all our lives.

She’ll use the one thing I care most about to control me—force me into her Elite world, filled with sin, deceit, and power. And under her spell, I’ll lead a sinister brotherhood of seven at one of the most prestigious universities in New Orleans.

Seven tasks set forth by the devil herself, promising nothing less than the forbidden fruit of power. What they don’t understand is it will all end in bloodshed and regret.

They call me the alpha. The one in charge. The one with pride bigger than any task I could be given. And my pride won’t let me be anywhere but at the top of the food chain until she gives me what I truly want.

My task is Meghan Thorne.

She’s too pure for me to touch, too good for me to ruin—and the only thing standing in my way to freedom.

Accept your sin wisely, for the tasks given to earn your place are not for the weak…they’re for The Elite.

As they say, pride comes before the fall.

I am Mason Blackwell.

I am Pride.

*ARC provided by author/publisher in exchange for an honest review*

You can also read this review on Goodreads

I can’t get over how twisted and deranged this novella is. J.D. Hollyfield pulled this series along, giving us deeper glimpses into The Elite Seven’s corrupt and devious world while skilfully keeping this intertwined with Lust. Sinfully delicious and compellingly manipulative, Pride will captivate your attention in its darker, more erotic entirety. I can’t seem to turn away from this enormous clusterfuck!

With the thirst for revenge and hate flowing inside me, there was no room for anything else. I could barely see passed the retribution I set to viciously achieve. But then she came along.

Having bounced from home to home, Mason Blackwell is used to monsters lurking within the shadows. When the Elite Seven approaches Mason—using his younger sister as incentive and collateral—to complete dishonest tasks and assume his position as Pride, he is pulled further into this darkened secret society of influence, manipulation and unfathomable benefits. Despite his assigned sin, Mason is selfless, swallowing his pride and egotism to protect Evie and his newfound family of brothers.

But the deeper I plummet into the abyss of our forbidden attraction, the heavier my emotions become, and I know it’s no longer just physical between us.

I didn’t know what to expect from Megan Thorne—it wasn’t a seeming innocent teacher hiding intense sultriness and unexplored kinkiness. She’s naive, loyal with fault and wholly inexperienced when dealing with romantic relationships. However, she’s an admirable sexually liberated and intelligent woman with so much goodness within this crazy world.

It is kind of difficult to consider this a romance; I wasn’t expecting it to be so though after reading Lust. Mason’s relationship with Megan is more defined and despite their initial encounter being unrealistically over the top, everything that happens afterwards between them will ignite your Kindle. It is intense, explosive and downright filthy.

Seeing some teasers for Wrath is making me excited to find out more about Samuel Gunner—Wrath, the next Elite Seven, in this strange albeit fascinating world.

arc · new adult · romance

The Risk by Elle Kennedy

The Risk (Briar U #2)
by Elle Kennedy

Rating: ★★★★
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Everyone says I’m a bad girl. They’re only partly right—I don’t let fear rule me, and I certainly don’t care what people think. But I draw the line at sleeping with the enemy. As the daughter of Briar’s head hockey coach, I’d be vilified if I hooked up with a player from a rival team.

And that’s who Jake Connelly is. Harvard’s star forward is arrogant, annoying, and too attractive for his own good. But fate is cruel—I require his help to secure a much-coveted internship, and the sexy jerk isn’t making it easy for me.

I need Connelly to be my fake boyfriend.

For every fake date…he wants a real one.

Which means this bad girl is in big trouble. Nothing good can come from sneaking around with Jake Connelly. My father would kill me, my friends will revolt, and my post-college career is on the line. But while it’s getting harder and harder to resist Jake’s oozing sex appeal and cocky grin, I refuse to fall for him.

That’s the one risk I’m not willing to take.

*ARC provided by author/publisher in exchange for an honest review*

You can also read this review on Goodreads

It’s official—I need more Jake Connelly and Brenna Jensen.

Elle Kennedy doesn’t disappoint whenever she writes amazing stories about these near-perfect and wonderfully captivating hockey players. I’m not sure how she does it, or why we even deserve these fictional boyfriends, but we’re indeed blessed, fellow college and sports romance loving friends. The Risk is such a good combination of sexy and sweet, with an emotionally satisfying and joyously humourous setting. It uses the enemies to lovers trope without fault, while adding forbidden romance and pretend dating to make this epic.

She’s bold and fierce, and those qualities combined with her beauty make her a force to be reckoned with.

Relationships aren’t Brenna Jensen’s top priority. She’s content keeping hookups casual, shattering eager hearts and moving forward in life. But Jake Connelly is proving himself to be difficult to resist with an irresistible charm and delicious self-assuredness that draws her towards him. When Brenna finds herself caught within an impossible situation, she enlists Jake to be her pretend boyfriend, but for every fake date, he wants a real date.

I mean, my heart certainly knows what it wants. It wants Jake Connelly. But news flash—my heart is reckless and stupid.

Brenna is my newest favourite heroine in this series. She’s sassy, witty and confident, despite the survivor’s guilt she harbours and the awful things she experienced from her past. Beneath her fierceness there’s a guarded sense of vulnerability we receive glimpses of. And a wonderfully compassionate, somewhat unexpected loving heart that makes this woman real and easy to appreciate. I didn’t think it would be possible to love her more, but that happened. From her teenage struggles, strained relationship and questions of self-worth, watching Brenna overcome these hardships but still be one boss lady made me admire her tenacity.

Being Harvard’s hockey team captain, Jake is naturally cocky without being overbearing; a womaniser with a hidden sweet, romantic side. And despite having secured a position with Edmonton’s Oilers next season, Jake is determined to push his college team to victory. I adore a cocksure, assertive athlete without the douche attitude—it only makes this hero even more appealing and irresistible. Jake will have your undying attention and affection, stuttering and stammering and falling all over yourself because you’re smitten as hell. I, along with Brenna, couldn’t resist everything about him—his wit and charm, his charisma and confidence and passion for everything he dedicates himself to.

“I like having you like this,” I whisper. “On your back. Legs spread.”

Chemistry between these two has been brewing for such a long ass time and even when they’re bickering and disagreeing on something, the banter is absolute perfection. They have this perfect amount of push and pull, hard and soft, honesty and hesitancy with some of the hottest and sexiest scenes together that is brimming with so much passion it singes the pages. I almost spontaneously combusted reading that secretive bedroom romp!

I love that this author constantly raises the question and concern of misogyny inside the world of sports journalism. Sadly, Brenna experiences this dreadful behaviour firsthand while trying to enter the field. And even worse, real life women are subjected to unwarranted sexism everyday. We’ve all heard the “jokes”, the mumbled comments and unacceptable outbursts. Brenna and other women attempt to dismantle the toxic environment, something I’m grateful for and profoundly proud of.

I’m officially his groupie. But that’s okay, because he’s my groupie. We root for each other.

The Risk lived up to my expectations, but there’s little things that pulled my rating down. I was loving every moment until we started heading towards the epilogue. Jake annoyed me when he thought out of his arse instead of with what is an intelligent brain (sometimes), but I still forgave his choices (I’m weak for Connelly, don’t judge me). I felt the epilogue wrapped up quickly and focused more on personal achievements rather than relationship progression. Damn it, I want more Jake, okay?! Otherwise, this is such a perfect treat, as always, from Elle Kennedy. It reminded me so much of her other series, Off-Campus, as it emanated a similar vibe. I’m dying to have more Hunter and wouldn’t object to Brooks, so I can’t wait for The Play!

arc · new adult · new release · review · romance

Lust by Ker Dukey

Lust (The Elite Seven #1)
by Ker Dukey

Rating: ★★★
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I was born with wealth, athletic ability, and looks that could melt the panties off a nun.
I had a clear path to success.
Until fate dealt me a cruel blow, leaving me empty and in need of purpose.
My only focus now is to become part of The Elite—a secret society in one of the most prestigious colleges in the world.
But everything comes at a price, and with The Elite, you have to earn your place.
Lucky for me, being sinful is in my DNA.
The only obstacle to full initiation is my task: seduce the un-seducible, the forbidden, and lure her with the sins of the flesh. Easy for a man like me…in theory.
She started as my task, but what happens when the lines between lust and love blur, and the need for power rages war with the need for her?
Accept your sin wisely, for the tasks given to earn your place are not for the weak—they’re for The Elite.
This is my life, my chance, my legacy.
I am Rhett Masters.
I am Lust.

*ARC provided by author/publisher in exchange for an honest review*

You can also read this review on Goodreads

What a ride! And interesting introduction to what will become a captivating series centered around a secret society promising an unrivaled amount of wealth, prestige and benefits. I wasn’t really sure what to expect—maybe a dark, erotic romance of intrigue, debauchery and manipulation. However, this isn’t dark, or even erotic as the romance is pushed aside to create the foundation for the series.

I would still take lust over love every fucking time. Fuck love.

Chastity Griffin appears to be shy and timid, but there’s inextricable boldness and feistiness hidden beneath her appearance. She’s smart and sweet, with a touch of innocence about her demeanor, but there’s this admirable sensuality about her, too. It balances the dark wildness and teetering instability within Rhett.

Rhett Masters is desperate to escape from reality. Crushing guilt after losing someone and his father’s insufferable attitude have pushed him towards drowning in women, drugs and liquor. Conceited, arrogant and feeling an unhealthy amount of invincibility, nothing is forbidden or dangerous. Rhett embodies lust, however, more so through reputation than action.

My entire high school years were built on my reputation of panty peeler, pussy realtor, heart stealer.

It is one reason for pulling my rating down. I assumed this short story would be filthier, more forbidden and teeming with an intense amount of eroticism, finished with a dash of passion and romance to sweeten the connection. And that is my second reason for lowering my rating—the romance is minimal. When Rhett and Chastity are together, the pages explode with sexual tension and witty banter. You can sense unexplored chemistry between them that would have made an excellent forbidden romance.

Lust is a violent desire, destructive and uncontrollable.

I can say one thing for certain—I’m excited to continue delving deeper into this world of secret societies and sinfully devilish assignments. Ker Dukey’s writing is fantastic, the emotions will roll you over straight away, the pacing of this short story is decent and the concept of this series captivating.

arc · review · romance

ARC Review | Pretty Venom by Ella Fields

Pretty Venom (Gray Springs University #3)

by Ella Fields

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SYNOPSIS

Callum Welsh perfected the art of hating me when we were two kids who believed we’d be forced into marriage.
He thought I wanted it, but my only wish had been for him to leave me alone.
Then one afternoon, he stole my first kiss.
Despite all he’d done, everything changed after that.

As the years passed, our hearts thawed, and he no longer hated me.
In fact, he loved me enough to make me his wife.
Until I ruined everything with one stupid mistake.

That hatred returned in the form of cruel words and even crueler deeds.
But we weren’t kids anymore.
I could handle his brand of venom.
He would be mine again, even if it cost me the remains of my heart.

Warning: contains cheating and an anti-hero who might make you throw your kindle.


REVIEW

You can also read this review on Goodreads!

Ms Ella Fields, if you ever read this review: please never change. Your writing is so lyrical. Poetic. It is captivating and enthralling, the way you use words to draw your reader into your characters’ story. Please don’t stop incorporating difficult subject matter into your stories and showing how your awe-inspiring characters overcome these challenges. And don’t stop putting us readers through the emotional ringer, please, because as hard as it is the journey is always worth it!

One of my favourite things about Ms Fields is that in a world filled with endless romance, she’s created this amazing reputation for herself. She’s an excellent wordsmith, a brilliant writer who writes about flawed characters without hesitation. Her romances explore difficult subject matter (cheating and mental health, for example) that some readers turn away from, but that’s why these stories resonate with me. It is because they’re about real life. And the way she handles these subjects is always done so with care and utmost poise.

We live in a world where hatred is easier than forgiveness. Where we often make mistakes that leave us quietly drowning in immense guilt. Where sometimes our happily ever afters never come, or events don’t unfurl the way we expect it to. Pretty Venom demonstrates a terrifying albeit realistic version of real love, with frayed edges, bruised and tattered surfaces and the heart-aching emotions we undergo.

It was unbearably easy to make someone your enemy, to brush them off and discard them as if they’d never meant a thing to you.

I believed Bittersweet Always owned my heart, but Pretty Venom has stamped its ownership. It is everything. It is so much more than anticipated. It is brutally honest, intense in its emotions, all consuming in its passion and raw in its portrayal.

If you make someone your world, do not complain when the ground crumbles beneath your feet.

Callum and Renee meet at the sweet, tender age of fourteen. But rather than become best friends or easy acquaintances, they share a mutual distaste for each other by swapping insults whenever possible. Until an innocent kiss turns this relationship from intense hatred to passionate romance.

Everything appears to be filled with bliss, but one life altering decision changes the way they perceive each other during college. Callum and Renee’s once seeming perfect relationship starts to crumble, crashing and burning along the way, turning these lovers back into enemies as they become unstoppable forces in hurling insults and hurting each other again.

Even after they’d torn your heart to shreds and used it as a weapon against you, you could still love that same person with a ferocity that bordered on magic. And maybe that was the crux of it. Love was magic. Capable of making you believe the impossible was always possible.

I initially hated Renee, especially in Suddenly Forbidden because her attitude appeared awfully petty and filled with undeserving malice towards someone innocent. But me and her formed this easy going relationship in Bittersweet Always, because that is when Renee unveiled her vulnerability, making her characterization more complex and realistic, rather than remaining toxic and the dreaded bitter ex-girlfriend. Underneath her independence and fierceness is someone hesitant and sometimes emotionally dependent. She clings to Callum, as her experiences with friendships, or rather lack thereof, makes befriending others difficult and her trust towards people virtually nonexistent.

She’s real. Human, making her endearing, an absolute character. Renee is unapologetically herself and she doesn’t turn away from the financial privileges she’s been bestowed. Neither does Callum.

“No.” His chuckle was dark, sinister. “I don’t want you, but I could have you if I did. Isn’t that right?”

Oh Callum Welsh, where to begin? I love asshole characters, especially when they’re written so flawlessly. Imperfections become perfection. Toxicity becomes near attractive. They become someone you’ll love to hate/hate to love. Callum is in his own league.

While Callum’s actions and words are venomous, he has his reasons. It is also difficult to detest someone you’ve loved since the first book.

In true Ms Fields fashion, Pretty Venom will draw you into its centre and never let go. You’ll reach the end, begging to read more. To have more of Gray Springs University. If you enjoy steam filled, angst ridden enemies-to-lovers romance, you will love this. But, really take into consideration the author’s warning because there are parts that will have you screaming and cursing and wanting to throw your Kindle.

arc · review · romance

ARC Review | Shameless King by Maya Hughes

Shameless King (Kings of Rittenhouse #1)

by Maya Hughes

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SYNOPSIS

A deliciously steamy enemies with benefits romance.

Declan McAvoy. Voted Biggest Flirt. Highest goal scorer in Kings of Rittenhouse Prep history.
Everyone’s impressed, well except one person…

After a blow out in high school, Makenna Halstead and I were happy to never have to cross paths again. Except life has a way of knocking you straight in the teeth with a puck when you least expect it. She hasn’t just returned to my life, she crashed into it like a wrecking ball…into my college kingdom, into my class, and smack dab into the seat next to mine. My new lab partner to be exact.

For years we hated each other… I may be King on the ice, but she is the Ice Queen. She has no problem calling me out, doesn’t back down, and her piercing blue eyes have me picturing more than than just my arms wrapped around her.

Now we’re stuck with each other and there’s no getting around that fact that we have to work together. My hockey career hangs in the balance. Problem? Oh, yeah.

I can’t deny it. I want her. More than I ever thought I could want a woman. I’ve got one semester–only four months–to convince her everything she thought about me was wrong.

Will my queen let me prove to her I’m the King she can’t live without?

Only one way to find out…


REVIEW

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I hadn’t planned on him at all, but sometimes life had a way of interfering with the best laid plans.

Hockey romance became my favourite with Ms. Kennedy’s Off-Campus series, featuring delicious muscled college students. And Kristen Callihan’s Game On series made me fall in love with sports romance. It is always exciting discovering new authors, especially when they promise an upcoming hockey sports romance.

So, when Maya Hughes appeared on my radar, I almost died of happiness. Shameless King features my sacred triad: college setting, sports romance and enemies-to-lovers trope. I couldn’t want anything more. So why not five stars? Because after some deliberation, I realised some things prevented me from wanting to rate Shameless King that.

» Too much repetition during the beginning.

» Character development could have been more rounded. Relationship wise, Declan and Makenna showed significant progression and this was demonstrated well. However, their individuality felt flat and two-dimensional at times.

» Declan’s personal issues were kind of awkward, making it difficult for me to fully wrap my head around it. It could have become a significant point of contention with some more work, rather than leaving it as what feels to me to be a minor background annoyance.

Outside of these points Shameless King is still an enjoyable read that matched my criteria. I’ve been desperate for another hockey romance.

Seeing her this open and needy and demanding, all wrapped into one beautiful package, made my cock throb in anticipation of giving her everything she needed.

Something readers either don’t mind or absolutely detest is an overwhelming amount of character introductions. And that happens in Shameless King.

In between meeting the five Kings of Rittenhouse and various side characters, Ms. Hughes doesn’t divulge too much information, leaving an air of mystery to surround these vastly different personalities. While Declan wasn’t my ideal candidate, Ford one hundred percent is, with his shy and mysterious personality. I cannot wait for his book!