Thursday, April 25, 2019

REVIEW: Time by Penny Reid


"Utterly addictive, fascinating, hilarious, and absolutely electric chemistry!"

-- Samantha Young, New York Times Bestselling Author

New York Times bestselling author Penny Reid’s The Laws of Physics Trilogy is complete with TIME!


You know what is the best thing ever? The best thing ever is when you've been waiting for the final book in a series to be published and when it is, you're on spring break with all the time in the world to read it. This rarely happens but it happened to me with Time and it was the best day I've had in a long time.

If you've read this series, you've got to be like me and just so EAGER to see how things are going to work out with Mona and Abram. There were so many things I hoped to would happen, hoped to know more about, and I'm happy to say all of my hopes and expectations were exceeded. Mona and Abram were just as quirky, funny, sexy, and swoony as I wanted them to be. Their romance was just so gahhh wonderful. Their reactions to things were mature and measured and passionate and sweet. Their conflicts were easily overcome and their happily ever after was just right for them--though I would not complain if I got more of them at some point in the a lot more of them *smiles/begs*.

I not only loved everything about this final book, I loved the entire series. The ideas of intelligence, what it means to be a family, truth and honesty, love and romance, the discrepancy of how men and women are treated in the world and in their professions, the focus on consent, assault, and therapy--I could go on and on and on--all of these were woven into this final book and in a way that never felt like it was too much or too preachy or too anything (other than too short because I want more of these guys). And how much fun was it to see some of our favorite characters from other Penny Reid novels? SO MUCH FUN. 

In the last year or so I've become so enamored with all that Penny Reid writes and Time continues my complete adoration and solidifies something we all know--Penny Reid is a definite 1-click writer for me.

A (brokenhearted) physicist.
Now an infamous (who is LITERALLY EVERYWHERE!! UGH!) musician.
The worst has already happened.
Mona has learned that she has nothing figured out and plans are meaningless. After leaving her in Aspen, Abram is now breaking sales-records, rising to rock star fame almost overnight. Mona can’t seem to escape him. He is literally everywhere, or at least images of him are.
Just when she thinks things can't get any more confusing, Abram returns . . . What happens next? Only TIME will tell.

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I wrapped my arms around her body, lifted her off the ground, and kissed her lips. She was warm, and soft, and tasted like peppermint and honey. I bit back a groan. God, she felt good. Great. Celestial. Heavenly. I may have surprised her, but she responded immediately, enthusiastically, twisting her arms around my neck, opening her mouth and welcoming the invasion of mine. It wasn’t enough. It was a crumb, and I was starving. Desire—to tighten my hold, devour, take, keep, cherish, to never let her go—obscured thought and sight, and I slipped a hand under her shirt to touch the silky skin of her back, sliding my fingers upward until they rested under her bra strap. Mona lifted her chin, breaking our mouths apart, and I kissed the point of it, the elegant line of her jaw, the tender spot beneath her ear, the hot skin where Mona’s graceful neck met the slope of her shoulder. I was so hungry for her, I couldn’t stop myself from tasting every exposed inch. “Abram,” she said, her voice a breathless, disbelieving whisper, followed by a little laugh. Her fingers flexed at the back of my neck, pressing me closer. Every part of my body hummed and vibrated, unable to contain the immensity of now, of this divine feeling. “You’re here,” she said, her soft voice full of wonder and happiness, soothing the ravenous panic holding me hostage for the past six days. It had been a peculiar kind of madness, not being able to reach her while pretending all was fine, pretending she didn’t occupy my mind every second of the day. But receding now, it left a new kind of turmoil and urgency in its wake. We had no time. No, I corrected myself, We have time. We have the rest of our lives. “I need your fu—your phone number.” I spoke gruffly against her neck, squeezing my eyes shut and breathing her in, again and again, the heat and sweetness of Mona. I’d missed her, and that was a gross understatement. I’d been speeding toward this moment for days and being with her now felt like the aftermath of a head-on collision. Stupefied, frantic, but determined to enjoy every shared second remaining. My hands were shaking. We have time. Calm down. Calm down. Mona laughed lightly, the sound melodic, beautiful, and she pressed a kiss under my ear. “Why didn’t you just ask Leo? Or send me an email?” Leo. I worked to keep the darkness of my thoughts from showing on my face as I leaned away, letting her slide to the ground but unwilling to release her fully, fisting my unsteady hands into her T-shirt. “I couldn’t find an email for you anywhere, and neither could Marie. She tried calling your department for me. They told her all media requests had to go through the PR department at the university and it would take two weeks to a month for a response.” “Ah, that’s true. My email is on lockdown, otherwise it gets out of hand.” She nodded contritely. “But what about Leo?” “Leo.” I forced my jaw to relax and I lowered my voice but couldn’t completely disguise the intensity of my wrath. “Leo wouldn’t give me your number.” Mona’s hand moved to my face, her palm pressed against my cheek, the pads of her fingers softly stroking my beard. “What? Are you serious?” “Yes,” I ground out. “He said he was doing me a favor. So I flew to LA.” “You flew to LA?” I felt her body tense, and the moment realization dawned, her beautiful eyes growing impossibly large as they moved over my face. “You must be so tired and—but I wasn’t in LA, I was—” “Here. Yes. I found that out yesterday when I stopped by your department at Caltech and they told me you weren’t due back until Friday,” I rushed to explain, multitasking, using the time to devour the sight of her, soak and submerge in the reality of being here with her. Calm down. We. Have. Time.

Meet Penny Reid:
Penny Reid is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today Best Selling Author of the Winston Brothers, Knitting in the City, Rugby, and Hypothesis series. She used to spend her days writing federal grant proposals as a biomedical researcher, but now she just writes books. She’s also a full time mom to three diminutive adults, wife, daughter, knitter, crocheter, sewer, general crafter, and thought ninja.

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Tuesday, April 23, 2019

REVIEW: Method by Kate Stewart

We are celebrating the release METHOD by Kate Stewart! One-Click METHOD today!

Contemporary Romance
Stand Alone
Cover Designer: QDesign


Shel: If you’ve read the synopsis for Method you can see why my interest was piqued; this novel sounded interesting and different. Mila (great character name, btw) - despite how I imagine she’d describe herself-is an up and coming sommelier. She's good at her job and becoming a resource to many in LA. I think she’d think of herself as an average girl—she’s not. Lucas was a rising Hollywood star when they met—though he might just say he was an actor (way downplaying how the world saw him). His method acting technique (hence the title) garners him bigger roles and respect in the industry.

Court: Immediately, the writing grabs you in with the characters and their development is a really fun ride. I loved how many layers there is to them, and really just dove into this book and then could not put it down, at all!

Shel: Mila and Lucas meet and they really didn’t stand a chance. Their love story is fast. Intense. And their marriage? Based on rules to help them manage how Lucas dives into his roles and transforms from the man Mila knows and loves to whatever the character needs him to be. As you can imagine, this makes for some challenging times for these two—especially Mila, the person who shows us exactly how hard living like this can be. She and Lucas show us how they’ve gotten to the dire point shown in the prologue through interchanging his and her sections and by weaving in their past with their present. Each section of their present lives is a launching pad for a story that shows us something about their past (so if flashbacks aren’t your thing, prepare yourself). It’s through this we see one character begin to deteriorate and the other one go through the stages of grief as she tries to keep everything together. Throw in a significant loss—the death of a friend—and everything is compounded.

Court: It is. This is a highly emotional story, and we definitely needed all of the bits of the story that we got. I liked how it interwove the past and present, but sometimes it was a little bit hard to follow late in the novel when that started to happen a lot more. I figured it out, but just be a little aware of that, as she said, that there are some changes...they mostly follow chapter or are italicized instead so that helps a lot! The thing that kept us coming back though was definitely how intense they are. Their story is larger than life, and it just flowed that you wanted to know what secrets are they keeping and how in the world will this end the entire time - though without wanting it to end!

Shel: This romance is what I’ve come to know through Kate Stewart’s serious works (I read her romcoms first)-she delves into her characters and makes them complex and interesting. Method is part steamy love story, part Hollywood tragedy, and part deep dive into the impact of grief on a method actor and how much it touches every single person in his life. I thought the concept was interesting and the execution worked —I don’t think it could be done without using flashbacks.— I really felt like I was a fly on the wall for the birth and demise and aftermath of this relationship.

Court: There is few tropes I love more than something about a movie star and the person who loves the person they are behind the scenes...and it was a very interesting ride to see Lucas lose sight of who that is. Who is he when the cameras aren't rolling? Kate Stewart did an incredible job showing (not telling) us and taking us on a powerful journey. I really think her research into acting and Mila's job and knowledge of wines were very well done.

Shel: My one criticism was the Blake storyline. Sometimes I totally got how it fit and worked and other times things were alluded to and I didn’t always see the connection or reasoning. Overall this is a small quibble that didn’t impede my reading or enjoyment at all—but something I noticed. Perhaps if Stewart has a few more hundred pages, we’d get more of that and a more fleshed out section of events leading to the epilogue but that’s not the vision for this novel and would’ve probably packed on many more pages--something I'd be interested in seeing (of course). So all in all, a very good and interesting read. 

Court: I've thought a lot about this too. The conclusion I've come to is that it is a showcase of how very different men and women react and relate to things. Their friendship did not make sense most of the time, but ultimately it was a huge part of who they both were and I think I get it now. However, you'll have to read it yourself to see!!! 


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Hollywood is a temptress, a trickster, a soul-stealing devil. I married an A-list player, knowing I come second place to his craft. But Lucas and I are a golden couple, a modern-day fairy tale.

I’ve never doubted what we built...until the sudden death of Lucas’s best friend has scandal rocking the Hills and shaking the foundation of our relationship.

I chose Lucas as my safe haven...he chose the role of a lifetime.
For the next three months, I’ll share my nights with a stranger, watching as he buries his pain, immersed in his role and living as someone else.

We’ve done this before. I tell myself it’s just another movie, and he’ll return to me.

I should’ve known this time would be different.

To get my husband back, I’ll need the strength of ten men.

As it turns out, I’ll have to go through two.

About the Author:

A Texas native, Kate Stewart lives in North Carolina with her husband, Nick, and her naughty beagle, Sadie. She pens messy, sexy, angst-filled contemporary romance as well as romantic comedy and erotic suspense because it's what she loves as a reader. Kate is a lover of all things '80s and '90s, especially John Hughes films and rap. She dabbles a little in photography, can knit a simple stitch scarf for necessity, and on occasion, does very well at whiskey.

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Monday, April 22, 2019

REVIEW: Fumbled by Alexa Martin

A second chance doesn't guarantee a touchdown in this new contemporary romance from the author of Intercepted.

Single-mother Poppy Patterson moved across the country when she was sixteen and pregnant to find a new normal. After years of hard work, she's built a life she loves. It may include a job at a nightclub, weekend soccer games, and more stretch marks than she anticipated, but it's all hers, and nobody can take that away. Well, except for one person.

TK Moore, the starting wide receiver for the Denver Mustangs, dreamt his entire life about being in the NFL. His world is football, parties, and women. Maybe at one point he thought his future would play out with his high school sweetheart by his side, but Poppy is long gone and he's moved on.  

When Poppy and TK cross paths in the most unlikely of places, emotions they've suppressed for years come rushing back. But with all the secrets they never told each other lying between them, they'll need more than a dating playbook to help them navigate their relationship.

Source: Netgalley 
Published: April 23rd, 2019
Kindle Edition, 336 pages | Goodreads

Shel: I cannot recommend this series highly enough. Fumbled as such a wonderful balance of romance and comedy that instead of doing anything that will make my work week easier, I planted my ass on my bed and read my entire day away. I have no regrets. Court: I don't regret you telling me to read it immediately either...I literally devoured this book.

Shel: Poppy, our main character, is simply amazing. She's strong, funny, sassy, and wonderfully awkward--is it wrong that she reminds me of me? So many of the things she thought and said were things I've said, thought, or now have in my arsenal thanks to the great writing of Alexa Martin. I loved how Martin designed her character and her backstory and how nothing went down quite like I expected--it's refreshing to read something that surprises me! As much as I loved Poppy, TK was equally in my heart. Even though we don't know what he's thinking (Poppy is our sole narrator), you could just tell he absolutely adored her and that made me adore him for adoring her. And the secondary characters have me wishing that they were real and I could be friends with them--they were awesome. Court: YES! This world is one I love to live in. The characters are real to me, and feel like us. We hurt with them and we cheered them on to their happily ever after. I also loved that Alexa (It's okay if I call her Alexa, right?) is a real life football wife and some of these things she's either experienced first hand or witnessed and I really feel like that lent to the authenticity of some of the plot of this book. 

Shel: I am forever grateful for scrolling through social media, seeing rave reviews of Intercepted, loving it and being lucky enough to have an early look at Fumbled. I wish I could make Alexa Martin's fingers fly faster over the keyboard because I am so eager for what she writes next and am a forever fan! Court: YES! I really LOVE this series, and really just sports romance in general...but Alexa Martin scored a touchdown with us with this book, and we cannot wait to read more from her!

Sunday, April 14, 2019

REVIEW: Girls on the Verge by Sharon Biggs Waller


This novel feels especially important these days--these days of Draconian laws concerning women and their bodies --and I'm so glad that I took the morning to read it; I'll definitely be giving this one to my daughters and will be putting it on my classroom library shelves as soon as I can. The story of Camille is the story of many young women and it's one that needs to be told in the light of day--not under the cover of darkness or with shame. 

This story of an unplanned pregnancy and the fear, hopelessness, and confusion it can cause resonated with me. Every aspect of this--from the horror of the realization, the feeling of helplessness and hopelessness when you feel like you have no choice or that your choices are limited, the anger at people taking away safe options, and the loneliness you feel when it feels like you have absolutely no one to turn to-- captured so many of the emotions and thought processes that you undergo from the moment you discover that your pregnant...and you're not ready for it and you're certain this isn't what you wanted. 

While this novel's main focus is Camille and her journey, it wouldn't be the novel it is without including her best friend Bea (and how conflicted she is about all of this), and an acquaintace-friend Annabelle--the person who really saves the day...saves many days. How I wish every woman had an Annabelle and a Bea in their lives. Bea's struggle with Camille's choices is one I know many of my own friends would have and yet I hope, like Bea, they'd ultimately choose to support a friend in need (I can say, for me, that I did have friends who are supportive like Annabelle and Bea). And with the way society seems to be frothing at the mouth to take women's right to choose away, I feel like the Annabelles of the world are needed more than ever. The journey that these friendships take in a few short days feels like a journey that will solidify them in each other's life forever. 

The journey of this novel spans days but feels like it spans a lifetime--a before and after. It offers a look at something we don't see very often. It asks you to consider Camille's experience and to remember, if you're no longer (or weren't ever) a young woman, how being young, inexperienced, without a steady income can limit your choices. 

The subject matter may feel grim or sad, and I suppose it is, but I couldn't help but leave the novel feeling hopeful. The last scene in the novel offered me so much hope for Camille and the bright future she could have. Please pick up this novel and put yourselves in the shoes of these characters. Try to do so without judgement. Try to see what it feels like to be Girls on the Verge. 



Girls on the Verge is an incredibly timely novel about a woman’s right to choose. Sharon Biggs Waller brings to life a narrative that has to continue to fight for its right to be told, and honored.
Best Books of 2019 ―Cosmopolitan 

Camille couldn't be having a better summer―she kills it as Ophelia in her community theater's production of Hamlet, catches the eye of the cutest boy in the play, and nabs a spot in a prestigious theater program. But on the very night she learns she got into the program, she also finds out she’s pregnant. She definitely can’t tell her parents. And her best friend Bea doesn’t agree with the decision Camille has made.
Camille is forced to try to solve her problem alone…and the system is very much working against her. At her most vulnerable, Camille reaches out to Annabelle Ponsonby, a girl she only barely knows from the theater. Happily, Annabelle agrees to drive her wherever she needs to go. And in a last minute change of heart, Bea decides to come with.
Over the course of more than a thousand miles, friendships will be tested and dreams will be challenged. But ultimately, the girls will realize that friends are the real heroes in every story.

Friday, April 12, 2019

REVIEW: My Life in Shambles by Karina Halle

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My Life in Shambles by Karina Halle
Release Date: April 11, 2019

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Shel: I really really enjoyed My Life in Shambles; it’s exactly what I love about reading romance--a perfect escape from my fairly routine life. Court: Agreed. And Karina Halle can do it like no other!

Shel: Valerie our heroine is so relatable to many—she’s hit a rough spot and desperately needs an escape from everything and so she takes it (something we all wish we could do). She takes a chance to do something out of her comfort zone and it pays off—not only with sister bonding in Ireland but finding adventure and love with Padraig. Padraig, our fine specimen of a hero, has his own set of problems he’d like to rectify or escape from and Valerie is just the girl to help him with that. Court: NO JOKE! I am feeling the perils of life at the moment, so it makes things difficult to know you need something but can't quite figure out exactly what it is. This book captured that perfectly in a way that is needed and a good way to explore your imagination even when you can't actually cross the ocean to do it. My Life in Shambles is beautifully written and flows so well too from a critical stand point. This woman can write a book, which we've known for like forever...and I enjoyed it so much.

Shel: I love the chemistry of these two. I love their hearts—their compassion and kindness. I love how they treat each other, how they respect each other, and genuinely like each other. I love that the sex scenes are searingly hot. And I love how Karina Halle always shows us a little something about the things people live with and grapple with, things we don't always realize are as hard or emotional or as challenging as they are, and she does it in a way that rings true. Court: Yes. I felt all of hte feels that came our way...maybe I shed a few tears as I usually do in situations such as this (Don't judge me!) I liked that in the escapism portion of our book we got so much, but it blended well with the emotional side of things in ways that I wasn't expecting.

Shel: I just really like everything about Valerie and Padraig and this novel. It’s perfectly constructed—the exposition never felt long or drawn out, the tension and conflict built slowly and subtly, the romance was sweet but not too sweet, there was a good bit of humor, the oh shit moment was not too emotionally scarring, and the HEA was perfect. Court: Amen, sister. I also loved our supporting characters. Nan and Major and Sandra and Angie and Colin. They all meant so much to this story, and there's not much I love better than the best supporting cast there can be.

Shel: I can not recommend this book enough—it’s romantic and fun and emotional and the perfect thing to escape into for a few hours. Court: The perfect fantasy mixed in with some real feels...can't go wrong with this book or Karina Halle.

My Life in Shambles, a full-length contemporary standalone romance by Karina Halle.
When Valerie Stephens made the resolution to say yes to new adventures, she never thought she’d end up in the tiny town of Shambles, fake engaged to one of Ireland’s top rugby players. But there’s a first time for everything.
They say bad things happen in threes.
After my boyfriend broke off our engagement, and I lost my apartment, and was laid off from my job, I can more than attest to that.
They also say life happens when you say yes to new adventures.
So when my two sisters invited me to ring in the new year in Ireland, I decided to throw all caution to the wind and go for it. I was going to let “saying yes” be my new resolution.
Little did I know I’d spend New Year’s Eve having a hot and dirty one-night stand with Padraig McCarthy, one hell of a sexy Irishman. I also didn’t know that the brooding and intense sex god was one of Ireland’s top rugby players.
A rugby player with a proposition for me:
Come with him to his tiny hometown of Shambles and pretend to be his fiancé for a few days, just so that his ailing father can have some peace of mind.
It sounded simple enough.
It was anything but.
Not when a town gets up in your business, not when the media hunts you down, not when your past comes back in the picture, not when there are real hearts and feelings at stake.
Not when there are secrets that could break you.
They say life is what happens when you say yes to new adventures.
This is my life in Shambles.

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The rest of the evening starts to pass by in a bit of a blur. The food comes, and suddenly I’ve never been so hungry in my life. I don’t even pull any of that dainty eating nonsense, you know the type you do on a first date with someone, all tiny nibbles and delicate wiping of the mouth with a napkin. No, I fill my damn mouth with food, dumplings and spicy meats and rice. I eat with abandon, like there’s no tomorrow. Padraig does the same. It’s freeing. It’s funny. I keep making orgasm noises over it all and he keeps laughing, and we eat and eat, even feeding each other won tons at one point with shaky chopstick skills. Honestly, there’s never been anything sexier. When we’re finally finished, we’re both full, more drunk than before, and a little greasy. I try to pay the bill but he insists (although I don’t even think they charged him for anything), and then as we leave the restaurant he grabs my hand. I’m not a small-boned girl, but with his hand over mine, I feel like I’ve been reverted back to the hapless woman being led by an alpha caveman and I don’t mind one bit. The fact that his palm is warm in this snowy weather with the skin-to-skin contact sends consistent shivers down my back. We stroll down the streets and I almost slip a few times, my bad balance combined with the snow making for a dicey situation. But each time Padraig grabs me and keeps me upright, and I have to admit, it’s kind of fun to be constantly falling into him. It’s like having a wall of bricks for support, if that wall of bricks was shaped like a rugby god. I have no idea where we’re going. All I know is that it’s not even midnight yet. He takes me to a bar and then a club, both of which are packed to the doors and have crazy long lines, both of which we bypass with ease because he’s Padraig McCarthy. I’m not one for dancing and Padraig doesn’t strike me as the type either, but there’s something about the deep bass beats in this place, and the free-flowing champagne, courtesy of the club, that has us falling into a rhythm together. At first we’re dancing apart but it’s not long before the inches between us close. The heat from his body and mine brews, and the electricity is flowing in sparks and jumps, moving to the erotic pulse of the music, mixed with the hope and hedonism of the crowd on this once-a-year night. His hips bridge the gap, his strong palms running down the sides of my waist, my hips slowly swaying then grinding against him. I feel his erection burning through his jeans, the width and length taking my breath again, making me blush in such a way that I’m glad the lights are dim. I’m both a young girl, naïve and inexperienced and shy as the very touch and proximity to him hurls me toward a sexual awakening, and at the same time I’m an old soul who has found her equal in another, whose body wants to know this stranger intimately, who isn’t scared at what’s transpiring, but is hungry instead. Both of these sides are at war inside me, dancing around each other like a caduceus, until I’m dizzy with my feelings for him. This want, this yearning, this need for something new, something exciting and terrifying, it claws through me until I can’t ignore it anymore. I glance up at Padraig and see only his eyes. Those deep, dark haunting eyes that glimmer with the pulsating lights and yet radiate with something as wanting and wicked as the feelings inside of me. His hands go to the back of my neck and the small of my back. My chin tips up. The rest of the world fades away and I know when it comes back into focus, everything will be different. Everything will change. It takes a moment to change someone. Sometimes it just takes a kiss.

Meet Karina:
Karina Halle is a former travel writer and music journalist and The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today Bestselling author of The Pact, Love, in English, The Artists Trilogy, Dirty Angels and over 20 other wild and romantic reads. She lives on an island off the coast of British Columbia with her husband and her rescue pup, where she drinks a lot of wine, hikes a lot of trails and devours a lot of books.
Halle is represented by the Root Literary and is both self-published and published by Simon & Schuster and Hachette in North America and in the UK.

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