Tag: Romance (page 1 of 31)

BOOK REVIEW: Kulti by Mariana Zapata

BOOK REVIEW: Kulti by Mariana ZapataKulti by Mariana Zapata
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

“Trust me, I’ve wanted to punch you in the face a time or five.”

When the man you worshipped as a kid becomes your coach, it’s supposed to be the greatest thing in the world. Keywords: supposed to.

It didn't take a week for 27-year-old Sal Casillas to wonder what she'd seen in the international soccer icon - why she'd ever had his posters on her wall or ever envisioned marrying him and having super-playing soccer babies.

Sal had long ago gotten over the worst non-break-up in the history of imaginary relationships with a man who hadn't known she'd existed. So she isn't prepared for this version of Reiner Kulti who shows up to her team's season: a quiet, reclusive shadow of the explosive, passionate man he'd once been.

KultiKulti by Mariana Zapata
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Someone who didn’t know me at all could only love me if I was half myself.


And this, ladies and Gents, is how you obliterate a reading slump. Sure, I struggled hard the first five percent. My eyes wouldn’t focus. My mind was on how I wasn’t feeling well enough and should be relaxing, watching television, and not forcing my eyes to focus on my tiny phone screen. And the utter exhaustion. Can we create an Olympic category where we get a medal for being able to read while pregnant and caring for a rambunctious two year old all day? I vote yes.

“You know your reputation is just what everyone else thinks of you, your character is what you really are.”


But, as with all my darling Mariana Zapata books, it happened. It was even simpler than normal, I’ll tell you. All it took for my ass to come back to the land of the living? This passage. This one RIGHT. HERE.

…I made the mistake of looking over my shoulder.
Those amber-moss eyes that I’d seen from across my bedroom walls for thousands of days in my childhood, were on me. On. Me. Not looking through me, not over me. But directly on me.


Yeah. My ovaries were gone. OH! And have I mentioned that reading a book that makes you want to throw up butterflies while pregnant essentially makes you ill? Like…that much emotion and that many feels paired with a wiggling fetus? GTFO. I almost died of spontaneous combustion. Twice.

That’s not to say I’m unbiased when it comes to the queen of the slowest of slow burns. I’m a sucker. I’ve always said-it doesn’t have to be new material. It just has to be done WELL. Let’s face it-MZ has a pattern…and I dig TF out of it. Yeah, to some it may be repetitive. But the fact remains that no matter my mood, this woman somehow brings me out of the depths of hell almost every single time I pick up her stories. I wasn’t reading-haven’t read since April, for instance. I tried to re-read my all time favorites. Zilch. I tried a couple new books I was super ecstatic to read. Nada. Then I decided to just give in and read the last sports romance my woman had available…and guess who’s on a steady reading schedule again? And I owe that to this girl who just followed her dreams, quit her job to write, and just….made magic happen. I hope, if she ever were to read this, she’d feel to the depths of her soul the gratitude I feel for her making NA/Adult Contemporary relevant at all to me. I love her and I’ll read whatever she writes. Loyal fan forever and always, always and forever.



Moving on from that, though, it begs to be said that I wasn’t going to read this. Yeah. I know. One of my favorite by MZ EVER, and I almost said no to it. There were so many reasons, honestly, but by far away the largest one was that I played soccer. So, okay, I’m 100% that bitch that physically cannot stand reading about something they know everything about and it being butchered all to hell. I played soccer since I was 6 so…yes. I was apprehensive. Thing was, I was good, too. I didn’t just play to play, I did it all and experienced heavy travel and played for some of the best teams my humble state had to offer.

But that’s why, again, MZ is my lady. What I love most about her books is this: Simplicity. She makes you feel like you’re going through the whole spectrum of your MCs’ lives, yet she only touches on the actual sports in the most pivotal moments that give the most impact, add the most heart, and doesn’t ever take away from all the character development she worked so hard to create. And you can never say she overdoes, undersells, or makes anything too OTT with the sports scenes. They just…embellish. And it’s just the cherry on top of the cake of absolute perfection. I swear. I never once felt like she didn’t know what she was talking about…and that is beauty in and of itself.

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When one door closes, another one opens. I might just have to do a little breaking and entering to get the right one for me.


And then, the other reason I was unsure whether to read this? A friend told me Kulti was an old grump and a total a-hole, nothing like Ivan or Aiden and not worth my time. *scoffs* well. Friend. If you’re reading this, I suppose you didn’t know me at all lol. Because if by old grump you meant Sexy AF Broody Protective Coach With a Hard On For The Girl Who Was in Love With Him As A Child then YES, he is a moody old sod. But hardly. I mean. Yum. I mean….Did you even READ the softball scenes? The tender moments of friendship? The protectiveness? The jelly feels? The way he clearly, CLEARLY wanted her to succeed? I just… I get the ‘he’s overly barky towards her when he need not be that way’ but have you ever had a coach that knows you can succeed and be even better? They are a lot like this….I hate to tell people who doubt that but, yes, it is possible to have a quiet brooding coach that only speaks in yell-and every single one of them I got was my absolute favorite and I never forgot them. Ya know why? I respected them and they respected me. Of course, I sure as hell hope none of them sported a boner for me. That’s only cool in my books because lol Yeah. Fantasy, amirite?

“This isn’t meant to be funny. Why are you smiling?”
“Because.”
“What?”
I rolled my lips over my teeth and gave him an even look. “I watched this one game where your teammate, Keller, got tackled and had four of his vertebrae dislocated. The camera zoomed in on you, and you were retying your cleats or something. I don’t know why I just remembered that. Two of my favorite things about you were that you never gave a single shit what happened to anyone else on the field, and that you never missed games unless you couldn’t walk. It’s impressive, really. It makes me feel really special that you care about me.”
“I care about things,” he argued.
“Oh? Like what?”
“Winning.”
I bit my lip to keep from laughing. “Okay.”
“My fish.”
His fish. Jesus Christ.



There are so many moments that I can’t possibly name them all, and I don’t want to. But I think it needs to be said that this book was so strong to me not because it was a typical MZ, but it almost felt ATYPTICAL. I loved their relationship. The taunting.
The being on the same level of play-athletically able to push one another and therefore further development and the story. The name calling. The friendship. Their activities together. And, of course, the slow burn. Maybe the slowest yet-and I loved every little bit of it. And, this is a pivotal moment-This is the first time I’m battling within myself to keep Kulti away from my number one spot of MZ books-which forever and always belongs to my wall of Winnipeg, Aiden…but it’s hard. I really am doing my best to fight my mind about why Aiden still reigns supreme…but I’m losing the battle to myself. And isn’t that just the worst problem to have? Two epic stories that can’t be topped by one another. What a humdinger of a predicament. But I’d battle myself every day if I could, because it means I fell just as hard in love with another of her books. Again. Huge problem. Hate it. #not.

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BOOK REVIEW: Say You Still Love Me by K. A. Tucker

BOOK REVIEW: Say You Still Love Me by K. A. TuckerSay You Still Love Me by K. A. Tucker
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Life is a mixed bag for Piper Calloway.

On the one hand, she’s a twenty-nine-year-old VP at her dad’s multibillion-dollar real estate development firm, and living the high single life with her two best friends in a swanky downtown penthouse. On the other hand, she’s considered a pair of sexy legs in a male-dominated world and constantly has to prove her worth. Plus, she’s stuck seeing her narcissistic ex-fiancé—a fellow VP—on the other side of her glass office wall every day.

Things get exponentially more complicated for Piper when she runs into Kyle Miller—the handsome new security guard at Calloway Group Industries, and coincidentally the first love of her life.

The guy she hasn’t seen or heard from since they were summer camp counsellors together. The guy from the wrong side of the tracks. The guy who apparently doesn’t even remember her name.

Piper may be a high-powered businesswoman now, but she soon realizes that her schoolgirl crush is not only alive but stronger than ever, and crippling her concentration. What’s more, despite Kyle’s distant attitude, she’s convinced their reunion isn’t at all coincidental, and that his feelings for her still run deep. And she’s determined to make him admit to them, no matter the consequences.

It seems crazy to me that reading about summer camp will elicit a feeling of nostalgia within me when I’ve never actually even been to a summer camp before. Books like this get me every. Single. Time. AND make me want to go back in time and experience these things for myself!

This is a book about Piper and Kyle and flashes back and forth between the present and the summer they met at Camp Wawa as teens. While at times the flashbacks made it feel like they slowed the book down a bit and were almost even jarring at times (adult Piper is VP at her dad’s multi BILLION-dollar company so it’s very Corporate compared to “simple” teen life outdoors at a summer camp) I obviously still loved reading about their time at camp and the two falling in love. Young love like that always makes me feel so happy and bubbly inside. It excites me and reminds what those initial feelings were like, all those years ago.

This is my first book by Tucker and it definitely won’t be my last, either! I loved her writing, her characters, and the twists that found their way into the story that kept my on my toes. If you’re looking for a sweet summer read that also packs a pretty big emotional punch, I’d highly recommend this one!

Huge thanks to Atria books for sending me a physical ARC in exchange for an honest review! ♥

BOOK REVIEW: The King by Jennifer L. Armentrout

BOOK REVIEW: The King by Jennifer L. ArmentroutThe King by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Purchase on: Amazon
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

As Caden and Brighton's attraction grows despite the odds stacked against a happily ever after, they must work together to stop an Ancient fae from releasing the Queen, who wants nothing more than to see Caden become the evil Prince once feared by fae and mortals alike.

Review:

The King was action packed, emotional and there was even more sexual tension between Brighton and Caden *fans face*.  When I finished that last page, I was shocked again that I read a novella.  At almost 200 pages, there was so much packed into this book and I even found myself crying because I was so emotionally invested.   The King was definitely a phenomenal follow up to The Prince!  So if you’re a fan of The Wicked Trilogy, fae or Jennifer Armentrout then you have to pick this one up!

The King was quiet for several moments, and then he looked at me. “If you knew that someone you…you looked fondly upon was doing something that would surely lead to their demise, would you not try to stop them?”
“Are you saying you look fondly upon me, King?”
His head tilted, and then he looked away.

The story started two years after The Prince ended.  Brighton was focused on hunting down the fae who killed her mother and nearly killed her too.  It didn’t matter that she had never hunt fae for The Order, she’d been trained just like everyone else.  So while Brighton was out for revenge and redemption, Caden seemed to turn up wherever Brighton was. 

Part of me hated how my body responded to him, how my heart swelled and raced whenever he was near. All of me wanted him, though, and I loathed that most of all.

Caden and Brighton traveled down a forbidden path that had me absolutely addicted.  He’s fae, she’s in The Order.  They should not be together, but their story was oh so seductive and sexy.  And when we learned both of their secrets, ohhhhhh it was so good!  With twists and turns, it was impossible to put this book down.  Especially since you can binge it in one sitting.  While one of the twists hurt my heart, the other one I saw coming!  But hold on because there are also some dark and twisted moments that left me horrified to read what unfold next.

This was insane. I was mad at him, and he was beyond frustrated with me, but this… God, this felt right, and I was so full of raw, painful need that I didn’t care what came next.

With lots of angst, my emotions were through the roof.  And while this story pulled at my heart, there was also moments of lightness since we got to spend time with our favorites.  Tink was hilarious as ever with his Amazon addiction and his antics with Dixon.  Ren, Ivy and so many others we cared for from The Wicked Trilogy were in the story too.  Plus I loved watching how much Brighton grew emotionally and physically.  And Caden.  Sigh.  He stole my heart even more.  Caden was beyond protective and while I knew he had to have a huge heart, well, I can’t say more other than he easily became one of my book boyfriends!

“Duty should never supersede what is right,” he said. “No matter the cost.”

So yes, I definitely recommend this book!  But start with The Prince.  And if you even want to go further back, then you can pick up The Wicked Trilogy.  They’re all so amazing!  Now I’m counting down the days until I can read the third and final book about Caden and Brighton.  That ending has me desperately wanting to know what happens next but also left me screaming and smiling I Knew It!!  Enjoy!

*I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book, provided by the author. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*

Reading Order & Links:
Amazon (click on covers) & iBooks (click on titles)

The Prince   #1

Reviews:
Jen
 
The King   #2

Reviews:
Jen

The Queen   #3

Reviews:

 

BOOK REVIEW: Bad Influence (Bad Love #3) by Charleigh Rose

BOOK REVIEW: Bad Influence (Bad Love #3) by Charleigh RoseBad Influence (Bad Love #3)
by Charleigh Rose
Purchase on: Amazon
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Allie

When I moved to River’s Edge, dating was the last thing on my mind.
I definitely didn’t expect to fall for him.
Jesse Shepherd.
Popular. Star athlete. Cocky as hell.
You know the type.
But as time passed, I realized there was more lurking beneath that gorgeous exterior.
Secretive. Angry. A little bit broken.
The more I peeled back his layers, the deeper I fell.
Until I slammed headfirst into his sea of lies.

Jess

I blew my shot.
Pissed everything away—college, lacrosse, my future—only to end up right back where I started in River’s Edge.
I was content to revel in my misery, spending my days drowning in a bottomless pit of booze and girls.
Until I saw her.
Allison Parrish.
Beautiful. Sarcastic. Perpetual bad attitude.
The pretty little distraction from the shit show that was my life.
But the sins of my past were closing in on me, and I learned the hard way that nothing gold can stay.

Review:

“So, we’re on the same page?”
“We’re not even reading the same book.”

Bad Influence is my newest obsession!  I found myself laughing, sighing, swooning and even crying.  I loved how much these characters meant to me and that every single time I pick up a book by Charleigh Rose, it becomes an instant favorite.  Her stories are emotional, sexy as hell and the characters always become embedded in my heart.  So if you love romance stories that will pull at your emotions, have fabulous banter and scenes that will have you melting into a puddle, then you definitely need to pick up one of her books!  

Love is real. Powerful. It has the potential to destroy you. To start wars and end lives. Love is a weapon. Love is dangerous, and I want nothing to do with it. – Allie

Within that first chapter I was sucked right in and my heart ached for Allie.  She tried her hardest to be emotionally strong and take care of herself, but she had been dealt a shit hand.  Her mother would rather be with her newest boyfriend and not be bothered by her.  And the way her dad died?  It was horrific, life truly sucks some times.  But Allie was a breath of fresh air to me.  She was fierce, loyal and had the hugest heart. Her sarcasm cracked me up and her taste of music made her feel like she was a long lost friend.  When Allie ended up working at the bar with Lo, I couldn’t wait to see what happened next!

I study him, once again sensing that there’s more to him than his persona. I want to swim in his depths, uncover every little hidden piece that the rest of the world doesn’t get to see.

Let it be known that I had already fallen in love with Jessie Shepard back in Bad Intentions.  You can easily read this book as a standalone, but I have so much love for Bad Intentions too!  Jessie was Lo’s younger brother and his smart mouth, Netflix obsession and take no shit attitude completely hooked me.  Jessie was the ultimate bad boy who was tortured, seductive, charming and hot as fuck. *fans face*  So when Jessie started showing up where Allie always seemed to be, you couldn’t knock the smile off of face.  The way they met had me giggling and smiling so hard.  

He moves toward me, and instinctively I step backwards until my back is flush with the door. “I want you. And I’m sick of playing this game.”
I swallow hard, feeling the warmth of his skin without even touching him. “That’s not why you’re here,” I say, calling his bluff. 
“No,” he admits. “But it definitely sweetens the deal.”
“You had your chance. The offer’s expired.”
“Is that so?” he asks, moving closer. “And what’s changed?” He pinches my chin between his finger and thumb and tilts it up so I’m forced to meet his gaze. 
“Everything.” I don’t know why my voice comes out as more of a whisper.

Both Allie and Jessie were hurt from their pasts and were trying their hardest to find their paths in life.  But while both of them were struggling with their own problems or demons, they kept running into each other.  And while there was a carnal attraction between them, Allie tried her hardest to fight it.  But this is Jessie Shepard we’re talking about, there was no escaping him.  His charm was impossible to resist and the sexual tension between them was intense.  Even the moments that had me laughing so hard I couldn’t catch my breath, were still sigh inducing.  

He moves past me, his chest skimming my folded arms as he leans in close to my ear. I hold my breath, suppressing the shiver that’s fighting its way through me, but my traitorous heart doesn’t get the message. “See you at home.”

This story toyed with my emotions in the best of ways.  I was enchanted with the push and pull that played with my heart and through it all,  I fell in love.  And while I know that Charleigh Rose’s stories are emotional, this one hit me hard.  I cried, and before I could even stop the tears from falling, I found myself sobbing.  This story reached deep into my heart and Jessie and Allie’s pain became mine.  

She pushes off the doorframe, making her way toward me. Her arms wrap around my middle, palms flattening against my stomach, cheek pressing against my back. I squeeze my eyes shut, allowing her touch to calm the storm inside me.

So yes, a million times yes I recommend this book!  Bad Influence was absolutely everything I look for in a romance story and I loved that we alternated between Allie and Jessie.  I loved how important the side characters were.  You have to meet Halston and Dylan, Allie’s friend.  Btw I would kill for Dylan’s story!  And I loved that we got to see all of our old favorites!  If you’re wanting to give Charleigh Rose a try, this is the perfect book to start with.  Her writing is addicting, her characters are consuming and Bad Influence is my new favorite Charleigh Rose book!

*I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book, provided by the author. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*

BOOK REVIEW: Fix Her Up (Hot & Hammered #1) by Tessa Bailey

BOOK REVIEW: Fix Her Up (Hot & Hammered #1) by Tessa BaileyFix Her Up (Hot & Hammered #2)
by Tessa Bailey
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

A brand new romantic comedy from New York Times bestseller Tessa Bailey!

Georgette Castle’s family runs the best home renovation business in town, but she picked balloons instead of blueprints and they haven’t taken her seriously since. Frankly, she’s over it. Georgie loves planning children’s birthday parties and making people laugh, just not at her own expense. She’s determined to fix herself up into a Woman of the World... whatever that means.

Phase one: new framework for her business (a website from this decade, perhaps?)

Phase two: a gut-reno on her wardrobe (fyi, leggings are pants.)

Phase three: updates to her exterior (do people still wax?)

Phase four: put herself on the market (and stop crushing on Travis Ford!)

Living her best life means facing the truth: Georgie hasn’t been on a date since, well, ever. Nobody’s asking the town clown out for a night of hot sex, that’s for sure. Maybe if people think she’s having a steamy love affair, they’ll acknowledge she’s not just the “little sister” who paints faces for a living. And who better to help demolish that image than the resident sports star and tabloid favorite?

Travis Ford was major league baseball’s hottest rookie when an injury ended his career. Now he’s flipping houses to keep busy and trying to forget his glory days. But he can’t even cross the street without someone recapping his greatest hits. Or making a joke about his… bat. And then there's Georgie, his best friend’s sister, who is not a kid anymore. When she proposes a wild scheme—that they pretend to date, to shock her family and help him land a new job—he agrees. What’s the harm? It’s not like it’s real. But the girl Travis used to tease is now a funny, full-of-life woman and there’s nothing fake about how much he wants her...

“I didn’t want to visit tickle town, but you left me no choice.”
“Stop calling it that.”
Georgie half laughed, half squealed, attempting and failing to twist onto her belly. “Oh my God. A naked man is tickling me by force. I never want to hear clowns are scary again.”


Holy sheeeeeeet this was good. So far this book weirdly seems to make people either fall madly in love or hate which is pretty impressive. I am strongly in the LOVE camp. Wow. This is my first book my Tessa Bailey and you can best believe she is staying on my radar now (I may have already ran to request an advanced copy of Love Her of Lose Her. Now, I think this book cover, similarly to The Hating Game, is going to make people think that they are going to find something else when they open this up. I know that I would have before reading the reviews that I did.

This book is NOT cutesy and fluffy and tame. This book is emotional, and filthy, and addicting. I listened to most of it yesterday while I was doing things at my desk at work and holy shit….you probably shouldn’t do that hahahah. I kept being super paranoid about my volume being too loud or my headphones suddenly being ripped from my computer which would have led to my coworkers being probably momentarily stunned and I would have had to run away and hide my blushing face for at least a week. Seriously though, the dirty talk. I’m sweating and fanning myself just thinking about it. If you’re not a big fan of that, I don’t think you will like this book, tbh. Travis is a very, in-your-face, tell-it-like-it-is-especially-sexually kind of character lol.

“The quiet got too loud once you’d come and gone.” Another long kiss that left her gasping. “How dare you.”

What I love most about this book though, is that it’s more than just some book about sex. Bailey gives us so, SO much more emotionally with ALL of the characters. Georgie was so relatable on so many different levels. Even if you’re not a youngest child, I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all been treated like a kid before, even long after we should have been. We’ve all been not taken seriously at one point in our lives and know how shitty that can feel, especially if it’s coming from someone you know and love. I appreciated that while Georgie and Travis started their “fake relationship” to help fix one another’s appearances, that they both kind of still ended up helping themselves in the process. Of course the fact that they could be real with each other and talk about what they were REALLY thinking or what they really WANTED out of life helped a lot…but Georgie especially ended up taking her life into her own hands just after Travis had stuck up for her to her family ONE time even. I do love a good H saves h story but who also doesn’t love stories that also feature the heroine saving herself, too?!

I also really loved when Georgie, Bethany, and Rosie started the Just Us League. I think that really went a long way with Bethany realizing how hurtful (even without meaning it) and unfair she was being to Georgie about being a clown and all that jazz. Also….can we just talk about how much I’m DYING to get Rosie and Dom’s story. Especially after that….charged….scene before they did the tough mudder. Wowwowwow. I am going to snatch that up so fast.

FINALLY I just loved Travis and Georgie together so much in general. I have always really liked the older brother’s best friend gets with young sister trope. It’s weirdly exciting and always steamy with the “no I shouldn’t be doing this but I literally can’t helping ripping you’re your clothes off right now” type of thing. Even though Travis seems like he has the possibility of being a douchey, macho character (his dick is called Two Bats but I’d like to think he didn’t name it that himself lololol), there was SO much more depth to him. I hurt for him so much hearing about how shitty his parents were to him and and how much it hurt him for people to objectify him day after day. I can’t even imagine what that must have felt like. Knowing that Georgie was there, rooting for him since high school made my heart fucking melt into a gooey mess. ALSO THAT PROPOSAL???!?!?! Sighhhh This a must read, you guys. Seriously.

Georgie’s heart was in her eyes. She could feel it. How much she showed him in that moment. Ten years of nursing an all-consuming crush she’d assumed was love, when she’d had no idea that this was what love felt like. This. This was it. So heavy at times it couldn’t be lifted, so light at others it made you capable of floating.

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