arc · new adult · new release · review · romance

Ache by S.M. Soto

Ache
by S.M. Soto

Rating: ★★★
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What happens when you fall for the boy next door?

Bea Norwood had the market on normal. Drama free life? Check. A single-mother who doubled as her confidant and partner in crime? Check. A neighbor and best friend she trusted more than anyone? Check. But that was until the day her mother remarried. The day that changed everything.

When her best friend’s cousin, Liam Falcon, is sent to live with his aunt and uncle to clean up his act, Bea finds herself falling for the boy next door. With their hearts so infinitely entwined, Bea turns to Liam as her only escape from her new step-brother’s daily torment at home. Bea thought their love could conquer anything. But she was wrong. Love was for fools, and she was the biggest fool of them all. When Liam left Lakeport, he took her heart with him, shattering the organ to pieces.

Six years later, Liam takes a trip back to Lakeport to visit his family, and to see HER. His first love. The girl who holds his heart. The same girl who shattered it six years ago without looking back.

Liam is hell-bent on seeing Bea again after six years, but what he finds tears his heart in half. Bea Norwood is a shell of the girl he fell in love with. Underneath the baggy clothes, and pale skin, he knows she’s still in there somewhere, he just needs to find her. Liam will stop at nothing to win his girl back, but sometimes, ignorance is bliss, and Liam isn’t prepared for Bea’s truth.

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

You can also read this review on Goodreads

Before heading into my review, I want to warn readers: approach this with utmost caution. Written in blunt and honest words, the depictions of harrowing real life circumstances will grip your heart without remorse and brutally tear your emotions into unrecognisable shreds, rendering you speechless and emotionally drained, as the heavy and heart-wrenching scenes aren’t eased in carefully or alluded to in vague detail.

Liam Falcon is the boy who captured my heart, and the man who saved my life.

I experienced a variation of emotions reading Ache, but the one that made a real stand is anger. Pure, intense vexation unrivalled by anything else. Bea’s mother is an irredeemable and irresponsible character wrapped up inside an impenetrable bubble of picture perfect husband and stepson, too blind to notice what occurred inside what is supposed to be a family home.

For six years. Fucking six no one noticed or interfered. And when Bea’s mother’s dream world shattered, life is hard and she abandons her daughter for the nearest hotel because her incompetent degenerate ass can’t cope. And Bea’s mother’s attitude made me realise something: Bea’s fear to admit her truth goes beyond being threatened. When your mother, someone meant to love and care for you, is too self absorbed and self centered to realise something is changing their child in irrevocable ways, then who will listen, or believe your truths?

Bea’s my sun, my moon, and all my stars – the entire universe combined.

Separated into past and present, both sections are interspersed with flashbacks that follow Bea and Liam’s romantic relationship as it undergoes an innocent beginning and traverses a heartbreaking separation, until it finally reaches the present day. I find flashbacks difficult to manage and introduce in romance as they disrupt the momentum and create a jarring effect. Bea and Liam’s connection could have easily been outlined in flashbacks without needing to separate it into two parts. I lost a connection to this couple’s relationship and discovered innumerous character and romance gaps by this timeframe division that make it difficult to consider this narrative second chance romance.

Our love was written in my scars, just as it was scattered across the stars.

S.M. Soto writes beautifully and brilliantly, but despite her writing ability, I wouldn’t recommend this. Readers might consider this difficult to read. I found the abuse pushed aside the second chance romance, dominating the scenes and actions of almost every character. Considering the abuse’s commanding presence, it disappointed me to never witness the heroine become a survivor—she remains a forever victim.

arc · contemporary · review · romance

Secrets by Aleatha Romig

Secrets (Web of Sin #1)
by Aleatha Romig

Rating: ★★★★
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I’m Sterling Sparrow. You’ve no doubt heard my name or read it on the top of tall buildings. There’s more to my business—my realm—than what is seen aboveground.

Within the underbelly of one of America’s largest cities lives a world where a man’s word is either his most valuable tool or his most respected weapon. When my father ruled that world and that city, he promised me someone who would one day make my reign complete.

Since that day, long ago, Araneae McCrie has been mine.

She just didn’t know.

My father is now gone.

The city and the underbelly are now mine.

The time has come for me to collect who was promised to me, to shred her life of secrets and make her who she’s always been—mine.

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

You can also read this review on Goodreads

2018 is becoming my year of introducing myself to different, fabulous authors. I haven’t read anything by Aleatha Romig, though I’ve heard about her romances—the twisted darkness she weaves throughout and the commanding men she writes about, she’s an author you’ll want to read!

Secrets is filled with everything a reader could want—lies, secrets, deception, all unexpected yet enthralling, complex characters and captivating dark, delicious romance. Sterling and Araneae are multi-faced, intriguing characters that will demand your attention within an intricate storyline.

I knew since that fateful afternoon that Araneae and I were meant to be, with too many factions at work, the timing was imperative and her ignorance of her fate necessary.

Araneae McCrie/Kennedy Hawkins is gorgeous, intelligent and selfless. She’s also shrouded in almost impenetrable secrecy. Ultimatums and warnings are thrown her way every moment, but she remains grounded and filled with independent sass. 

Sterling Sparrow is arrogant and demanding, enigmatic and sinfully wicked. Countless secrets and uncertainties surround this mysterious businessman. And he’s the only person capable of giving Araneae the information she covets. 

In all situations, Sterling Sparrow moved like a lion: majestic, strong, proud, and above all, powerful. He was the king of the beasts and everyone within his realm was either a peasant, present to do his bidding, or prey, waiting to be devoured.

Fiery tension and tangible chemistry is rife in Secrets. When Araneae and Sterling come together, they’re explosive and passionate. Always pushing and pulling. Defying each other. Bantering and engaging in battles of wits. 

I cannot wait to have more of Araneae and Sterling in Lies, as well as receiving answers to innumerous questions, especially to that cliffhanger.