arc · review · romance

Hush, Hush by Lucia Franco

Hush, Hush
by Lucia Franco

Rating: ★
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I knew the rules:

Never reveal my true identity.
Play the game, give the illusion.
Don’t get close to the clients.


The dark and glamorous lifestyle of the rich and shameless open my eyes to a lavish world of sin and wealth, and a man I can’t have.

A man I desperately want—James Riviera.

We’re treading a fine line as we live the ultimate double life until we make a startling discovery that tests both our loyalties.

I only had to follow the rules, but rules are meant to be broken.

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

You can also read this review on Goodreads

So, this review took me much longer than expected. Complete, utter disappointment isn’t accurate enough to describe my thoughts or feelings on this. Hush, Hush is horrendous to read. Sex workers are shamed and criticised; drugs are abused to cope with sexual situations that border sexual assault, with the acts glamourised to somehow excuse everyone’s behaviours; everyone’s emotions are belittled over and over; constant lies and secrets infiltrate every scenario because the characters are too childish to function somewhat normally for two seconds. It made me so uncomfortable to read this toxic representation of supposed romance.

I’m disheartened by this hero and heroine’s characterisation, and some low rated reviews on this “romance” because they perpetuate an enormous societal issue: slut shaming. Everyone, it’s fucking 2019 (incase you forgot), though we continue to criticise sex workers and women’s sexuality, fiction or reality. Sex workers become “others” without morals, dignity or integrity and somehow that allows us “normals” to have authority to ridicule someone’s life choices? How do sex workers differ from us, when we both effectively sell our time and bodies for labour in exchange for money and goods? Our word choice carries connotations that affect others’ understanding of messages and approaches to subjects. Calling the heroine a slut, whore or prostitute (derogatorily) almost every chapter dehumanises her and distances us “normal women” by forcing us into bad girl versus good girl contests. Referring to female sex workers as prostitutes isn’t uncommon, but this gross trend enforces a solemn reminder how terrible our understanding of this industry is.

“It’s time to pregame,” she says dropping a pill into my hand. “We’re celebrating this birthday in true New York City fashion—with a few shots and some Molly.”

Substance abuse is an issue within most societies and the author’s casual, unaffected approach to opioid reliance and glamorisation of said usage without significant commentary is distressing. Furthermore, the reliance is encouraged because the heroine isn’t comfortable with fucking strangers—there’s no dubious consent here. She doesn’t want to fuck everyone, consumed by anxiety despite her actions, but she’s forced into sitautions that push her into washing down percoset with wine because she’s desperate to earn quick money. It is more worrisome that there’s limited discussion on soft or hard limits with clients—filling in some questionnaire isn’t enough when you don’t know your client, or even meet them beforehand. I can’t even begin to explain the dangers that surround this scenario, especially as violence against sex workers is at an increase.

“The universe is cruel for putting us together, but I don’t feel bad because what I feel when I’m with you is what I’ve been wanting all along, I just never knew it until I met you.”

Aubrey Abrams is dull and vain; too self-absorbed, floating within a conceited bubble to consider how her constant lies belittle everyone’s feelings, or how her selfish actions make an impact on their lives in irrevocable, significant ways. She’s a compulsive liar, an unapologetic cheater and slut-shamer extraordinaire—a shit human really with little, if any, regret. For example, when Aubrey’s asked to be exclusive with a specific client, in exchange for millions of dollars, she accepts but without any intention of honouring the conditions: to stop dating her boyfriend and escorting. However, when the truth is unveiled, she has the audacity to accuse this client of acting unreasonable and controlling. She’s unconcerned with hurting this client and rather than feel remorse for cheating on Daniel, her boyfriend (who admitted to having been cheated on before), she’s more concerned about Natalie’s reaction. Zero self-awareness, much?

I know I should look at the dissolution of our clandestine agreement as a blessing in disguise, but it’s also undeniably heartbreaking. We were hopeless from the start.

Rude doesn’t begin to cover the horrid nature of James Riviera, an abhorrent hero with a sexist attitude used so casually, it is outright sickening. James’ unfortunate loveless marriage doesn’t condone his continuous blatant cheating, an act fuelled by an unloving wife with a hate for kink; nor does it excuse his blasé usage of sexist slurs like slut or whore to belittle Aubrey, an escort who doesn’t adhere to his conditions. I find it ironic that James reiterates the values of family, but does a shit effort at following through with said announcements of significance by cheating on his wife (she isn’t innocent in this, however it doesn’t excuse his behaviour) and lying to his daughter.

Hush, Hush could’ve delivered a narrative that dismembered misinformed criticisms of escorting created and supported by sexism. Instead, it shames women’s life choices and sexuality; glamourises substance abuse; condones cheating (there’s a massive lack of self-reflection on this) within a myriad of various other issues that makes this a backwards narrative. Sex work becomes a convenient excuse to purport a forbidden age-gap romance and create a suitable enough reason to introduce drama. Hush, Hush also had the slowest introduction between the two leading characters and was filled with useless conversations that held no plot importance whatsoever—it was boring filler. I’m sorry.

arc · review · romance

ARC Review | The Earl of London by Louise Bay

The Earl of London

by Louise Bay

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SYNOPSIS

I believe in love. It just doesn’t believe in me.

I date. I’m all for giving guys a chance. I’ve just never met the one.

Until on a spring morning in the English countryside, a tall, dark stranger emerges from the mist. Logan Steele is all tousled hair, hard chest and lips so perfect I want to reach out and touch them just to check they’re real. I’m sure that’s a thunderclap of chemistry I feel between us.

Did I mention he’s an Earl with a self-made fortune?

A billionaire who works tirelessly for charity?

And he’s so hot, watching him is like staring at the sun.

But like I said, love isn’t rooting for me.

When I find out Logan Steele is out to destroy everything I’ve dedicated my life to protect, the chemistry disappears and the hope that had blossomed my chest turns to rage.

It no longer matters that he quickens my pulse just saying my name, weakens my knees with a single touch and that he might just be the greatest kisser that ever lived.

I might believe in love but Logan Steele is definitely not the one.


REVIEW

You can also read this review on Goodreads!

Whenever I’m finished reading this author’s most recent release, I fall in love with England, over and over again. In unique ways, this story provides an intriguing historical romance meets modern England vibe, with an enemies to lovers theme weaved throughout, an antagonistic hero and passionate heroine reminiscent of Jane Austen’s novels.

I knew who I was and what I was capable of. I understood that however amazing tonight had been, this was where it ended. Because it was all I had to give.

During my trip to England, I also fell in love with its countryside. From green endless forests and rolling hills, to the beautifully crafted quaint houses, it is difficult to find fault with it.

I totally understand Darcy Westbury’s irrevocable love for her hometown and the strong, childhood memories she associates with it. However, whenever she was questioned as to why she wanted to preserve her home’s natural state, words seemed to escape her. I couldn’t understand her obsession with keeping everything as is.

Darcy’s personality became tolerable maybe halfway through, when her strong, admirable characteristics started to shine. But, the only reason her character became easy to like is because she changed her opinions on Logan Steele. Prior to changing, she comes across as awfully immature and condescending, turning everything into some kind of debate or pettish game simply because she cannot accept change.

She was all fire on the outside and cool breeze on the inside, and I wanted to dive in and experience it all.

Logan is someone you’ll either love or hate. In some aspects, he comes across as unfeeling and disinterested, especially within business, as his childhood has transformed him into someone determined, arrogant and self-centred. He isn’t difficult to understand. Rather he is difficult to love because, similar to Darcy, he doesn’t change until halfway. Before that, he is crass. An awfully cliche wealthy businessman.

Thankfully, I haven’t been reading many cliche stories, so my patience for this was high. I don’t mind a manwhore anyway; I do mind reading what he does with others in explicit detail though. And this was almost borderline.

Personalities aside, Darcy and Logan transform as individuals, as well as together. They have interesting chemistry that’s quite tantalizing (ignoring Logan’s constant usage of “good girl”).

review · romance

Review | Midnight Blue by L.J. Shen

Midnight Blue

by L.J. Shen

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SYNOPSIS

It should have been easy.
I needed the money. He needed a babysitter to keep him from snorting himself to death.
I was cherry-picked especially for him. Responsible. Optimistic. Warm. Innocent.
The worst part is that I should have known better.
Alex Winslow. British rock star. Serial heartbreaker. Casanova with whiskey eyes.
“Don’t get near the devil in a leather jacket. He’ll chew you up and spit you out.”
Guess what? I didn’t listen.
I signed the contract.
World tour. Three months. Four Continents. One hundred shows.
My name is Indigo Bellamy, and I sold my soul to a tattooed god.
Problem was, my soul wasn’t enough for Alex Winslow. He ended up taking my body, too.
Then he took my heart.
Then he took my all.


REVIEW

You can also read this review on Goodreads!

Before you cringe at my rating, I promise I enjoyed this. I really, really, really did. L.J. Shen is an amazing writer, there’s no denying it. She strings together sentences so beautifully, they become lyrically and poetically enthralling. While weaving a unique tongue-in-cheek sense of humour, and writing some memorable quirky heroines and angst-ridden asshole heroes, she’s established a reputation for herself as an amazing story-teller and character creator.

She’s my Queen of Asshole Heroes.

Some aspects of this made me swoon with stars in my eyes, or giggle in absolute delight. They just didn’t happen enough, hence my rating. I also experienced moments where I really wanted to throw my Kindle, but I’m awfully attached to my little piece of brilliant technology. However, my biggest issue is Indie, who’s both endearing and infuriating in equal measure.

“Life is full of secrets, and narrow-minded people, and sugar-coated, empty conversations that hold no weight. What’s real is what’s inside us. What’s important is what we feel.”

Travelling is one of my greatest hobbies, so to read about the characters on tour, jumping from continent to continent, exploring the various cities they visited, it feels as if you’re travelling around the world, watching relationships transform and experiencing the same moments as Alex and Indie.

Asshole heroes have a spot in my heart. Brooding, arrogant assholes are enticing because they are mean, dangerous and oftentimes the antithesis of everything wholesome in life. Alex Winslow isn’t just an asshole, he is an outright knob. I don’t care that he abuses booze and drugs, or that he is unsettled. I care that he harboured this fascination and obsession with Fallon, his ex-fiancee.

Indigo Bellamy is an interesting character. She’s full of contradictions. She’s neither tough nor sassy, but rather a pushover and doormat. I actually adored her during the beginning and ending. To watch her personality go downhill during the middle was disappointing and depressing because she could’ve been such a good character!

For more than 3/4 of this, Alex continuously tells Indie, in blatant and brutal honesty, that they have an expiration date, because he’s too busy chasing his ex-girlfriend. I know they tried to redeem Alex towards the end using a decent excuse to explain his treatment towards Indie, however no matter the reasoning he is still a giant knobhead.

“I waited for many things, but a few minutes later, I heard the door open and shut, and knew he’d left me there, like the disposable fuck doll he’d wanted me to feel like.”

I can’t stop myself from comparing Indie to Millie, the starring character of L.J.’s other novel, Vicious. They both have vibrant coloured hair, share similar creative and exuberant personalities (Indie sews, Millie paints), a quirky style of fashion and they have asshole men charging into their lives.

However, the biggest difference between them is Millie actually doesn’t take Vicious’ bullshit, whereas Indie rolls over despite everything Alex has said and done. Oh and another thing: Vicious is actually a loveable asshole because at least he cares about Millie, whereas Alex is just a five year old dressed up like an adult.

Then you came in, walked away, and guess what? Now I know. I know I’m incomplete and my soul, which I thought was dying, is actually in Los Angeles, riding a French bike in a ridiculous dress.

During the end chapters I actually started to fall in love with Alex and Indie. Despite the heartache and struggles they’ve been through, they grow and change into better characters. Indie gains confidence from somewhere and begins standing up for herself. Alex starts recovering from substance abuse, coming back down to humanity after suffering from an addiction.

I seem to have this love-hate relationship with literally every character this author writes. Will it ever stop me from reading her brilliant writing? Hell no. I love immersing myself in the worlds she creates.

review

Review | Want You by Jen Frederick

Want You

by Jen Frederick

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SYNOPSIS

Bitsy

I might be only nineteen, but I know what I want. It’s Leka Moore. I don’t care that he took me in when he was barely more than a kid himself. I don’t care that he raised me. I don’t care everyone thinks being with him is wrong. I know we belong together, and the only person I need to convince is him.

Leka

I found her in the corner of a dark alley. If I hadn’t taken her with me, she would’ve died that night—or maybe worse. Before I knew it, she became the light in my dark life, the haven from the madness. I watched her grow up. I tried to teach her right from wrong. Now that she’s an adult, I’m feeling things that no good man should ever feel. But then…I’ve never been a good man. I have a chance at redemption by saving her from the greatest danger of all—me.


REVIEW

You can also read this review on Goodreads!

Trigger warning:
Rape, rape and more rape.

I won’t hesitate here: I did not enjoy this story.

I love a good dark romance. I understand violence and degradation happen, because they’re recurring themes and features within the genre. Rape, sad to say, is still an ongoing issue in society and because it is such a dark, harrowing topic oftentimes it is featured in dark romance to dehumanise and demonise the antagonist.

But this? Kind of went too far.

Every woman, but three (including the female protagonist) either fell into: being a whore, prostitution, raped beyond belief, degraded, etc. Not one woman possessed a feeling of self-worth or agency, including Bitsy, to become the voice for every female character.

Poverty, hunger and homelessness will push humans towards making questionable actions and saying horrible things; police brutality and corruption happens everywhere around the world, but the way these topics were approached and handled was done with nonchalance.

Bitsy’s maturity levels are nonexistent. While she refuses to grow up, Leka is forced into it, too fast, too messily, to compensate for Bitsy’s inability to be an adult for two seconds.

I wouldn’t consider their “romance” romance, but rather a dysfunctional, toxic codependency with an emotionally stunted dynamic that even Dr. Phil couldn’t analyse. Bitsy harbours an unhealthy obsession and attachment towards Leka, who’s essentially a combination of father figure, older brother, perfect saviour and strange partner.

She’s initially nothing more than a girl Leka saves, making this coming-of-age narrative turn into some kind of forbidden romance. In the beginning, she’s some sweet, little girl who’s attached towards her saviour. But the minute she turns nineteen, Bitsy becomes this sudden, uncontrollable sexual fiend who enters a never ending push-pull game with Leka.

In no way does a smooth transition happen between teenage Bitsy and adult Bitsy. It is odd. Rough around the edges. And her sudden transformation feels a combination of expected and unexpected.

I also hate every male character, including Leka, who possesses no redeemable qualities whatsoever. I don’t care that he maintains a virgin status at 26. I don’t care that he cares about Bitsy. He is an awful human being with zero compassion for everyone around him until poor little Bitsy is threatened by some madman who, by the way, doesn’t seem to care about the danger surrounding her.

I’m disappointed that this story didn’t work me, because the synopsis was intriguing. I expected Want You to focus on Bitsy and Leka’s relationship as adults, with flashbacks weaved throughout to solidify their relationship, and create this connection between the reader and the characters. Instead, the story explored them as children/teenagers more so than as adults. I understand the decision to do this, as it does show that the main characters have history, but the time they have as adults is fairly limited.

 

arc · review · romance

ARC Review | Yard Sale by Charleigh Rose

Yard Sale

by Charleigh Rose

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SYNOPSIS

Mollie
I was freshly fired from my job and betrayed by my boyfriend.
It was a new low for me.
A one-night stand with an arrogant stranger was just what I needed.
I didn’t know that he was a famous snowboarder, or that he’d give me the best sex of my life.
I wasn’t ever supposed to see him again.
Fate had other plans.

Cam
I was young and rich with the whole world at my fingertips.
I was in my prime.
A one-night stand with a hot little tourist on the rebound was the perfect way to spend my weekend.
I didn’t know she’d leave in the middle of the night, or that I’d wake up wanting more.
I never thought I’d see her again.
Now she’s back.
She’s been keeping a secret.
One that will change everything.


REVIEW

You can also read this review on Goodreads!

Why has it taken me this long to finally read something written by Charleigh Rose?! Someone slap me, because I have been doing a disservice to myself.

Yard Sale contains an extended epilogue, as well as the enthralling excerpt to Charleigh Rose’s upcoming release, Rewrite the Stars. While the extended epilogue features characters from Bad Habit and Bad Intentions, you don’t need to have read those stories to follow along the extended epilogue. I haven’t read either story, yet the brief amount of information we’re given is enough to follow along and appreciate where the characters are at in life!

And the excerpt for Rewrite the Stars is so intriguing. Who would’ve thought a romance set amongst the carnival could be capturing? I’m keen to read Evan and Sebastian’s interesting romance.

”Love doesn’t wait until you have your shit together. It just happens.”

Of course, there is also Camden and Mollie’s sweet and passionate encounter. From scorching and tantalizing scenes, to tender moments, it is easy to fall in love with this couple.

Needing a distraction after losing her job and her boyfriend, Mollie wants a rebound. And who is more perfect than Camden, a charming and tattoo covered professional snowboarder?

I normally don’t find novellas enjoyable because more often than not the pacing is off and everything is rushed. But Charleigh Rose did wonderfully keeping an even pace and unfurling details bit by bit, keeping the transition from lust to love believable.

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.”

We hope you enjoyed this sneak peek of THE NAKED TRUTH.

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arc · review · romance

ARC Review | Love Machine by Kendall Ryan

Love Machine

by Kendall Ryan

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SYNOPSIS

She says she needs some help … in the bedroom.

Come again? No, really come again.

Sweet, nerdy, lovable Keaton.

She’s my best friend and has been for years. Sure she likes numbers and math, and thinks doing other people’s taxes is fun. And I like … none of that stuff. She’s obsessed with her cat and reads novels I’ll never understand, and yet we just click. There’s no one I’d rather share breakfast burritos with or binge watch hours of Netflix. She’s my person. And so when she takes off her glasses and asks me to help her improve her skills in the bedroom, I barely have to think about it.

Of course I’ll help her. There’s no one better for the job.

I’ve been there for her through everything, why should this be any different?

But what happens when she’s ready to take her new-found confidence and move on?


REVIEW

★★★★

You can also read this review on Goodreads!

It is no secret that Kendall Ryan is my go-to author for light, sweet and fluffy romance. Some would consider her stories repetitive, but to me it is a sure thing guaranteed. I know what to expect. I know I will have something wholesome awaiting.

She’s also somehow converted me to friends-to-lovers. Perhaps my least favourite trope. Ever. Because it is too cute and airy and frilly and fancy. But after reading dark, twisted romances, or stories that didn’t enthrall me, sometimes witnessing a friendship blossom into something sweet is needed!

The embers of attraction were always there, I’ve come to realize. All it took was one little kiss to blow on the ashes and make them roar to life.

Post embarrassing encounter during her friend’s bachelorette party, Keaton is feeling dejected. She’s intelligent and confident within her working environment, but she feels inside the bedroom she’s lacking few too many skills.

Using much loved spreadsheets to organise a list and enlisting her long term best friend, Slate, during a drunken night of texting, Keaton is determined to become a confident woman amongst the sheets.

But not everything is as easy or as simple as it seems, especially when intense emotions become involved, and both Keaton and Slate are left questioning themselves. While Slate is determined to prove to Keaton that he is interested in settling down, Keaton would rather maintain their close friendship.

I’m drunk on the sight, the sound, the scent of her, how stunning she is in her passion. And when our eyes meet, a wave of tenderness and desire threatens to drown my heart.

Despite having been best friends since college, Keaton and Slate have never been attracted to each other. Not until Keaton requests Slate become her “sex tutor”, anyway. It seemed awfully strange to me that they never shared this mutual attraction until they decided to cross the friendship boundary.

I also couldn’t ignore Slate’s reason for becoming a womaniser. One bad relationship, no matter how long or short it lasted, shouldn’t be enough to taint someone’s view on dating.

Besides those two negatives, I still enjoyed this sweet, fast-paced read.

arc · review · romance

ARC Review | Kandiland by T.L. Smith

Kandiland

by T.L. Smith

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SYNOPSIS

He was forbidden, my boss and incapable of loving me.

People talked about him, whispered about him in passing.

He was the king of his town.

And I was a visitor.

I was by no means a smart girl. Never loved with my head, always with my heart.

That fact alone almost killed me once.

I should have listened the second time around.

But the king of this small town, had me starving. Had me craving his taste.

My name is Kandi, and he called me his Kandiland.

The king declared I was his medicine, and with each dose, he became better and better.

He was the perfect liar.

And I was his perfect Kandi.

Together, we were explosive, and toxic in every way.


REVIEW

You can also read this review on Goodreads!

“Don’t fall for me, Kandiland. I’ll only break you.”

I wasn’t expecting more than a forbidden romance between an employee and her overbearing, handsome boss. Kandiland is so much more than that. It is about loss and desire, deceit and self-confidence. Mystery, suspense and intrigue is weaved through the romance, making this a well-rounded, intense story.

Huxley is self-made. Dangerous and haunting, yet alluring, Huxley’s decisiveness makes him formidable, a force of nature who owns virtually the entirety of Candy. With a brooding persona, he epitomises the quintessential “bad boy”.

Brimming with self-confidence and usually self-assured, Kandi is attempting to nurse a wounded heart. Something about the elusive and seeming emotionless Huxley alights her senses and causes her bruised heart to flutter once again.

But these wanting feelings are leaving Kandi confused and suffering a sense of betrayal towards her deceased husband, Jarod. When your heart already belongs to another, it couldn’t possibly become someone else’s, right?

His eyes are like a storm as it comes over you, one that’s so intense you’re afraid of what it’s about to bring.

Together, Huxley and Kandi are explosive.

They share an intense connection and exciting chemistry. On the outside, they are vastly different from each other, but beyond their external appearances, their pasts share something in common.

Both Huxley and Kandi are vulnerable in unique ways.

Huxley’s desire to maintain ownership over every aspect of his personal life and affluent career is driven by his impoverished childhood. Kandi is drawn towards the quiet rural town of Candy as it allows her the chance to maintain a connection with Jarod, but this need to remain faithful towards her deceased husband makes her incredibly wary of loving another.

“Not everything different is bad, and sometimes you should embrace it.”

Kandiland focuses on two broken people finding love in each other and learning that it is okay to allow yourself to be vulnerable again. Kandi is bright, an independent free spirit who loves with her heart. While it is often her downfall, it is difficult to not be in awe of her ability to do so. To love others so open and freely after everything she has been through signifies her strength.

T.L. Smith’s characters and perfectly imperfect. Kandiland is my first read by this lovely author and it won’t be my last!

arc · review · romance

ARC Review | Mister Tonight by Kendall Ryan

Mister Tonight

by Kendall Ryan


SYNOPSIS

Last night was the most embarrassing night of my life.

I was that girl.

You know, the highly intoxicated chick celebrating her thirtieth birthday with her two best friends—who are happily married. And the more I drank, the more I wanted to do something reckless to celebrate.

By reckless, I mean the sexy and alluring man dressed in a business suit standing near the bar. You know his type—tall, dark, handsome. I was sure he was out of my league, but I’d had just enough alcohol that things like that no longer seemed to matter. I’m not fat, mind you, but you can tell I like french fries, so there’s that.

He took me home, and I enjoyed the hottest birthday sex of my life. Well, until it came to a screeching and rather unwelcome halt.

There’s nothing quite like being interrupted mid-ride with a little voice asking, “What are you doing to my daddy?”

Just kill me now . . . or so I thought.

Come to find out, the man I rode like a bull at the rodeo is my new landlord.


REVIEW

★★★★

Read on Goodreads

Mister Tonight embodies everything Kendall Ryan is good at: delivering swoon-worthy heroes, sassy heroines, and sweet and sexy romance.

To celebrate turning 30, Kate spends the night hanging out with her two best friends, sipping cocktails and finding Mister Tonight. Focusing on her career, leading a carefree lifestyle and being a commitment-phobe means Kate doesn’t have time, or really any desire, to find Mister Forever.

When she meets Hunter, an alluring and handsome man dressed in an impeccable suit, Kate realises she’s found the perfect candidate for Mister Tonight. He is charming and humorous, with cringe-worthy pickup lines and an irresistible personality.

Hunter’s near perfection will leave her questioning her easygoing lifestyle.

I wasn’t committed to being a stable role model for his daughter, and it wouldn’t be fair to him or her to blur the lines in our relationship, especially when things inevitably went south.

What appears to be the greatest, wildest night, filled with passion and steam, quickly turns into an embarrassing and horrifying nightmare. When Hunter’s daughter interrupts them, Kate is quick to escape, hoping she’ll never see her handsome one night stand again.

Fate is interesting. And it has an even more interesting sense of humor. Kate’s newest landlord and neighbour happens to be Hunter.

Rather than shy away from dating, Hunter is interested in finding someone worth it. But his ideal woman cannot just be intelligent, humorous, independent and beautiful. She also needs to embrace his four-year old sassy and outgoing daughter, Maddie.

Kate isn’t interested in commitment. Hunter is. They’re both adults though and prepared to enter an easygoing relationship of friends with benefits. No complications. No expectations.

Until things become a lot more complicated when feelings begin to surface.

“Mister Tonight, huh?” he asked, recalling Jessie’s words.
I rolled my eyes. “Obviously, that didn’t’ work out.”
“I’d say it worked out perfectly.”

Single dad romance doesn’t normally interest me. But there was something intriguing and enticing about Hunter. And his undying love for his daughter melted my bones! They have a sweet, tight knit bond that is unbreakable.

I also love how sweet Kate and Hunter are together. Despite having commitment issues and being wary about stepping into being a parent, Kate eased into that position wonderfully.

Mister Tonight isn’t drama filled, or as angsty as some of Kendall’s other stories. It is one hundred percent sweet and fluffy and the right amount of steamy.