arc · review · romance

ARC Review | Dirty Headlines by L.J. Shen

Dirty Headlines

by L.J. Shen

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SYNOPSIS

Célian Laurent.
Manhattan royalty.
Notorious playboy.
Heir to a media empire.
…And my new boss.

I could have impressed him, if not for last month’s unforgettable one-night stand.
I left it with more than orgasms and a pleasant memory–namely, his wallet.
Now he’s staring me down like I’m the dirt under his Italian loafers, and I’m supposed to take it.
But the thing about being Judith “Jude” Humphry is I have nothing to lose.
Brooklyn girl.
Infamously quirky.
Heir to a stack of medical bills and a tattered couch.
When he looks at me from across the room, I see the glint in his eyes, and that makes us rivals.
He knows it.
So do I.
Every day in the newsroom is a battle.
Every night in his bed, war.
But it’s my heart at stake, and I fear I’ll be raising the white flag.


REVIEW

You can also read this review on Goodreads!

First she got into my bed, then under my skin, then into my heart.

I have a confession to make: I’m cheating on Vicious with Celian.

I’ve said it before: L.J. Shen is my Queen of Asshole Heroes.

First, Vicious. Now, Celian. I know, I shouldn’t compare these two ruthless men because fundamentally they’re both very different, yet at the same time they’re eerily similar. They both share an obsession, a deep-rooted love for the women they want. They’re cold and mean. Assholes, inside and outside the boardroom. I could continue comparing these two wonderfully amazing fictional personas, but that would ruin the reading experience.

In short, if you loved Vicious, you’ll love Dirty Headlines.

Célian Laurent was the biggest jerk to ever walk on planet earth, and he carried that title like a badge of honor.

Dirty Headlines is flourishing with signature asshole personas, a unique heroine who doesn’t bend over backwards (I’m staring at you, Indigo Bellamy), an insane amount of titillating chemistry, tantalizing drama, unexpected storyline turns and comedic value. It is lighter, less angst-driven than any of her previous novels, but that doesn’t deteriorate this upcoming release’s value. It only furthers it.

Where to begin?

Celian Laurent is perfect. I know, how does an asshole be perfect? Guess what, L.J. Shen has the answers. Underneath his no-nonsense attitude and imposing personality is someone intelligent, brutally honest, ruthless and oftentimes humorous. He is rude, crude and has the filthiest mouth imaginable that’ll leave you blushing and fanning yourself vigorously. Beyond this persona though is someone with integrity, honorability and vulnerability. Celian Laurent is complex and somewhat damaged.

My heart is not a lonely hunter. My heart feels. It beats. It loves. It breaks.

Judith Humphry is going to become my next favourite heroine. I’m inspired by her ambition and determination to succeed in journalism. Enamoured by her fierce loyalty and incredible amounts of carefree love. She isn’t shy, or awkward or terrified to stand up against Celian, making her impressive as she doesn’t bend over backwards for his possessive and demanding attitude. I adored her witty and quirky sense of humour, her strong-willed manners.

First she got into my bed, then under my skin, then into my heart.

Some authors are meant to write.

And the amazing Leigh Shen is one of those. She’s established this reputation as someone capable of writing beautifully constructed sentences that are both concise and poetic. She’s also mastered the ability to transform cold-hearted bastard heroes into loveable characters, who are the perfect matching piece to the sassy, usually quirky heroines she writes.

She’s capable of changing writing styles and genres without disrupting the quality. It is indisputable proof that she’s a gifted storyteller and character creator; her future stories will continue to become better and better.

Dirty Headlines is rife with burning hatred and fierce passion and all-consuming obsession. It is the perfect enemies to lovers story, as it begins with delicious smut goodness before thrusting is into love-hate scenes, creating mouth-watering tension. It is light, filled with comedic value, humorous situations and references to various films and shows.

The girl was a lioness at work and a lamb in bed, the perfect combination for a predator like me.

Within the office environment, Celian and Judith are equal, but inside the bedroom Celian’s dominance and commanding presence, along with that sinfully filthy mouth, shined. They have intense chemistry, a captivating romance that is both dirty and romantic. They’re a complicated, but entertaining mess of emotions and passion.

Despite the missing angst-ridden story lines we’re used to, Dirty Headlines is still an enrapturing and addicting read. A perfect enemies to lovers office romance with a hint of slow burn.

review · romance

Review | Dating You/Hating You by Christina Lauren

Dating You/Hating You

by Christina Lauren

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SYNOPSIS

All’s fair in love and work. The first standalone romance by New York Times and #1 international bestselling author Christina Lauren (Beautiful Bastard) is a sexy, compulsively readable romantic comedy that dives headlong into the thrill and doubt of modern love.

Despite the odds against them from an embarrassing meet-awkward at a mutual friend’s Halloween party, Carter and Evie immediately hit it off. Even the realization that they’re both high-powered agents at competing firms in Hollywood isn’t enough to squash the fire.

But when their two agencies merge—causing the pair to vie for the same position—all bets are off. What could have been a beautiful, blossoming romance turns into an all-out war of sabotage. Carter and Evie are both thirtysomething professionals—so why can’t they act like it?

Can Carter stop trying to please everyone and see how their mutual boss is really playing the game? Can Evie put aside her competitive nature long enough to figure out what she really wants in life? Can their actor clients just be something close to human? Whether these two Hollywood love/hatebirds get the storybook Hollywood ending or just a dramedy of epic proportions, you will get to enjoy Christina Lauren’s heartfelt, raucous, and hilarious romance style at its finest.


REVIEW

You can also read this review on Goodreads!

When Beautiful Bastard was originally Twilight FanFiction under the title, The Office, I fell in love with Christina Lauren’s writing then. I loved the intense chemistry and enemies-to-lovers passion they incorporated, the constant push and pull, the fiery independent heroine and the exacting, womanising hero that deserved to have some notches taken down.

It pains me to say this: Dating You/Hating You isn’t my jam. Cup of tea. Whatever. I was hoping this would be similar to Beautiful Bastard. Instead, reading this made me feel like a university student all over again, having to dissect every minute detail and source the meaning behind every word, because this story went from contemporary romance to work environment politics.

So, you can imagine how conflicted this story makes me feel.

Simply put, Evelyn Abbey is my former almost-girlfriend-turned-archnemesis-turned-tentative-ally whom I would now very much like to permanently seduce.

Dating You/Hating You lacks the fluidity CLo’s other stories have. Rather than showing you anything, it explains every single detail imaginable, with little bits of dialogue weaved throughout to slice through the dryness. You are essentially reading a wall of text.

Using dual perspective, we learn and understand the characters and their motivations. We follow Evie Abbey and Carter Aaron as they traverse through the tough waters of Hollywood’s talent agencies, hating and loving each other within an office setting as they compete each other for the same position.

Evie Abbey
Where to begin? One of my favourite things about CLo is the amazing fact that they write intelligent, incredibly confident and highly independent heroines. They are fiery, often times stubborn, but ambitious and aspiring characters that you can’t help but idolise.

Evie is emotionally immature. While it is admirable that she’s a strong advocate for women’s rights, she highlights the difference in treatment between genders and mentions unequal salaries, unequal representation, etc. a lot.

Before crucifying me, Evie is someone who brings up the topic whenever something inconvenient happens. To me, that kind of behaviour shows she’s incapable of recognising the difference between an issue involving sexism and an issue involving the workplace.

She’s always very quick to accuse others, especially Carter, when something doesn’t benefit her. And she’s always assuming Carter is betraying her by not divulging every decision he makes.

Carter Aaron
Carter is an adorable and quirky humorous mess.

And that’s about where his appeal ends. He is awfully passive, kind of weak really, as he never steps forward to praise Evie’s work ethic and credibility in front of Brad Kingman. I do love a brilliant female character. However, I also love when the lead male character is on equal footing with some backbone and observational skills, rather than being a flimsy wet noodle.

“I’m notoriously married to my job.”
“That’s super convenient because so am I. It’ll be like we’re cheating on our jobs with each other.”

Chemistry, romance and storyline, or lack thereof…
I was head cheerleader of Team Evie and Carter before the office antics started. They meet each other while attending a mutual friend’s Halloween party, cute things happen and then that spark quickly fizzles when they become sworn enemies.

Dating You/Hating You would work wonders as a romantic comedy film.

But the office antics these two engaged in didn’t make me laugh, or my mouth twitch slightly. Whatever chemistry and romance Evie and Carter shared disappeared as swiftly as it started. It lacked the iconic push-pull, the constant bickering and the anticipated arguments that you find in enemies-to-lovers romance.

Regarding the ending: I predicted everything.

And it totally undermined the entire feminist subplot being pushed throughout.

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Excerpt Reveal | The Naked Truth by Vi Keeland

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“May I get you something to drink while you wait for the rest of your party?” the waiter asked.

I would normally wait to see what the client did and follow his lead on alcohol. But tonight was not the norm.

I rubbed at my stiff neck. “I’ll take a vodka cranberry, please.”

I hoped it would help calm my nerves and release some of the tension in my jaw before I gave myself a full-blown headache. Taking out my phone, I started to scroll through emails to distract myself while waiting for my drink and dinner companion.

My head whipped up at the sound of Gray’s voice behind me. “Sorry I’m late.”

My heart unexpectedly fluttered, and I fought against the feeling of excitement. “Are you really? Because I get the sense you don’t have any manners after the way you interrupted me a million times today.”

He completely ignored my attitude as he took the seat across from me. “Traffic is a bitch getting downtown at this time. Next time we’ll have dinner at my place.”

“There won’t be a next time.”

Gray’s mouth curved into a smug smile as he snagged my gaze. “Sure there will. There’ll be plenty of next times. And eventually you’ll stop pretending you don’t enjoy my company.”

I hated that my body reacted to him. Right from the very start, we’d had a crazy chemistry between us that was difficult to dull.

I sighed. “What are you doing, Gray? Why did you come to my firm?”

He lifted the cloth napkin in front of him and laid it across his lap. “Isn’t that obvious? I need new legal representation.”

“At my firm? And you’d prefer that representation come from an associate instead of my boss’s boss—the head of our securities division? Or even from Pittman, who would gladly hold your hand and provide you whatever legal advice you need from his fifty-plus years of experience?”

“Loyalty is important to me. I want someone I can trust with my business.”

“And you’ve decided that’s me? An associate with five years experience who just got off probation with the Bar Association for violating attorney-client privilege?”

The waiter arrived with my drink. “Here you go, ma’am.” He turned to Gray. “May I get you something to drink? Or would you like to wait until the last of your party joins you this evening?”

“It’s just the two of us. I’ll have a Macallan, neat, please.”

“Coming right up.” The waiter walked around to the other side of the table and started to remove the third place setting.

I put my hand out, stopping him. “We actually do have another party coming, so you can leave that.”

“Very well.” He nodded.

Gray waited until the waiter was out of earshot. “I didn’t invite anyone else to dinner.”

I sipped my drink and offered a saccharine-sweet fake smile. “I did. Figured an important client like you should have more than one attorney to answer his questions.”

Just as I set down my glass, I saw the other man I was waiting for enter the restaurant. He scanned the room, looking for me, so I held up my hand and waved.

“Perfect timing. There’s Oliver now.”

Gray glanced at the man heading toward us and back to me. Instead of being pissed off, the jerk was amused. “That’s cute. You invited a chaperone because you don’t trust yourself with me.”

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