Tuesday, June 30, 2015

NEW + GIVEAWAY: Searching for Always by Jennifer Probst

 

SFA_BLITZ

Today we are celebrating the release of SEARCHING FOR ALWAYS by Jennifer Probst. This is the 4th book in the Searching For series and it is published by Gallery Books. Check out the teaser and giveaway below.

SearchingforAlways
 

SEARCHING FOR ALWAYS Synopsis:

New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Jennifer Probst sparks a blissful mind-body connection as her “sexy, satisfying” (Kirkus Reviews) new series continues! She’s an expert in helping others de-stress, but Arilyn Meadows is running on fumes. Along with her job counseling singles seeking soul mates at the Kinnections agency in Verily, New York, she’s a yoga teacher, animal shelter volunteer, anger management therapist, and helping hand to her beloved grandfather. No time to find Mr. Right—but after discovering her yogi boyfriend in a compromising asana, Arilyn would rather dog-sit for her honeymooning friend Kate than risk her heart on another downward dog. And when police officer Stone Petty—radiating masculinity and bad-boy attitude—is sent to her for mandatory lessons in cooling off when the job gets too hot, Arilyn vows to ignore his seductive glances and sexy grin. But there’s no halting their sizzling flirtation—a red-hot, high-speed chase that’s breaking all the limits.  

Add the book to Goodreads

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PURCHASE SEARCHING FOR ALWAYS

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes

SFA_Teaser2 copySFA_RescuePet    
a Rafflecopter giveaway
 

AUTHOR INFORMATION:

Jennifer Probst

Jennifer Probst - Bio: Jennifer Probst wrote her first book at twelve years old. She bound it in a folder, read it to her classmates, and hasn’t stopped writing since. She took a short hiatus to get married, get pregnant, buy a house, get pregnant again, pursue a master’s in English Literature, and rescue two shelter dogs. Now she is writing again.

She makes her home in Upstate New York with the whole crew. Her sons keep her active, stressed, joyous, and sad her house will never be truly clean. She is the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of sexy and erotic contemporary romance. She was thrilled her book, The Marriage Bargain, was ranked #6 on Amazon's Best Books for 2012. She loves hearing from readers. Visit her website for updates on new releases and her street team at www.jenniferprobst.com.

LINKS:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

InkSlinger PR Blogger Banner - New

NEW: Miss Match by Laurelin McGee



Title: Miss Match
Author: Laurelin McGee
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release DateJune 30, 2015
Summary:
Welcome to the sexy, crazy, wildly unpredictable world of modern matchmaking, where fixing up strangers is part of the job—but falling in love is an occupational hazard…

He's The Perfect Catch.

Blake Donovan is tall, handsome, rich, and successful—so why would a guy like him need a matchmaker? Andrea Dawson has no idea, but a job is a job. After being blackballed from a career in marketing, Andrea agreed to use her unique profiling skills to play matchmaker out of pure desperation. But when she meets her highly eligible—and particular—first client face to face, she wonders what she’s gotten herself into…

Is She His Perfect Match?

Blake knows exactly the kind of woman he’s looking for—and it’s the total opposite of Andrea. Though smart and undeniably sexy, she is simply too headstrong for a man who’s used to being in charge. Still, Blake’s blood pressure rises whenever she’s near him. How can he explain the smoldering attraction that sizzles between them? And how can Andrea deny she’s feeling it, too? Maybe, just maybe, they’ve finally met their match…

Amazonhttp://amzn.to/1Gnv8Sb
Amazon UKhttp://amzn.to/1Excctc
iBookshttp://apple.co/1IQD1wz
B&Nhttp://bit.ly/1xXPYUq
Google Playhttp://bit.ly/1BQzXvD



About the Author
Laurelin McGee is the pseudonym of Laurelin Paige and Kayti McGee.

Laurelin Paige is the NY Times and USA Today Bestselling Author of the Fixed Trilogy. She's a sucker for a good romance and gets giddy anytime there's kissing, much to the embarrassment of her three daughters.

Kayti McGee is a Kansas City native who now calls Colorado home. When she isn't writing, she's making up recipes to go with her favorite books.


Monday, June 29, 2015

NEW + GIVEAWAY: Fighting for Forever by J.B. Salsbury




Title: Fighting for Forever
Series: Fighting #6
Author: JB Salsbury
 Release Date: June 23, 2015



Blurb

Slut. Hooker. Whore.

The taunts never bothered me. They only see what I allow them to see, and a Las Vegas stripper is the perfect cover.

My life had direction. I had a mission—until the man I needed vanished and is presumed dead.

It’s time to move on—give up the dream for revenge—and no one shows me that more than the mop-headed fighter with eyes the color of the ocean.

If anyone can teach me just how sweet life can be, it’s him. But first, I’d have to let go.

Mase. Baywatch. Mayhem.

I’m known by many names, but there’s only one that stirs panic and worry in my gut every time I’m called it.

Brother.

I’ve bailed him out of trouble for years, so when he turns up in Vegas and asks for me, I’m prepared for the worst. And the worst is exactly what I get in the form of a lilac-eyed beauty named Trix.

She’s everything I hate about Vegas: a stripper, loose with her body and her morals. But there’s something about her, a complexity that she buries deep, and I’m determined to uncover it.

The deeper I go, the less I understand. When I finally learn the truth, we engage in a battle where life and death hang in the balance. Fighting could kill us both, but if we win, forever is the prize.









Links to Buy

AMAZON US / UK






Also Available


AMAZON US / UK



AMAZON US / UK



AMAZON US / UK 



AMAZON US / UK



AMAZON US / UK






Author Bio


JB Salsbury, New York Times Bestselling author of the Fighting Series, lives in Arizona with her husband and two kids. She spends the majority of her day as a domestic engineer. But while she works through her daily chores, a world of battling alphas, budding romance, and impossible obstacles claws away at her subconscious, begging to be released to the page.
 
Her love of good storytelling led her to earn a degree in Media Communications. With her journalistic background, writing has always been at the forefront, and her love of romance prompted her to sink her free time into novel writing.
 
For more information on the series or just to say hello, visit JB on her website, Facebook, or Goodreads page.



Author Links







Giveaway

REVIEW: Beneath These Chains by Meghan March


Meghan March – Beneath These Chains
Release Date: 6/16/2015

About Beneath These Chains
I was raised on the streets, so I know things are rarely as simple as they appear—especially this rich girl showing up at my pawnshop demanding a job.
She’s the most tempting thing I’ve ever seen, and I’ll be damned if I can make her leave.
Shit just got complicated … but when it comes to her—I want complicated.
We’re both fighting our own demons, and our only chance at a future is to let go of the past.
But will we be strong enough to break free from beneath these chains?

Published June 16th 2015 by Meghan March LLC
Source: Author in exchange for honest review




Shel: You know I love a good book set in Nola and Meghan March has given me THREE good books set in Nola! The third book in this series, Beneath These Chains is about Con's brother, Lord, and Vanessa's friend, Elle, and I have to say this one is the sweetest one of the bunch, I think. With the first two books in this series there was a lot of heart-racing angst, and while there is definitely some push and pull in this book, I found it to really be low angst, high heat, and I really enjoyed the sweetness between Lord and Elle. Court: I LOVED this one, and exactly for why you said. These two aren't even really acquaintances, but it was somewhat of a change of pace because of Elle...and her unorthodox ways or getting a job, and pushing into even the smallest wedge of where she wants to be. I have liked Lord's presence in this series, and these two definitely continue the tradition of a strong alpha hero getting knocked down by a strong independent woman. 

Shel: A running theme in all three books in this series seems to be about characters lacking trust in others; at least one of the main characters in each book has been so badly burned by an important person in their lives that they have a hard time being open and vulnerable enough to let a potential love interest get close. All of them resist, initially, the idea of anything more than a fun or casual relationship with their alpha male but as we all know, resistance is futile. The thing that I think I liked about Lord and Elle's story is that both Lord and Elle knew when to be stubborn and when to give in. Both of them were good at reading the signals of the other, both tried to be respectful of the other, and the bullshit that you might expect in a modern day romance was at an all time low (and I really appreciated it!).  I liked that even though Elle was freaked at the idea of a serious relationship with Lord, she gave him a chance (to be fair, his alpha-ness wouldn't have it any other way) and was honest every step of the way. Court: I did appreciate the lowness of the angst, but I also greatly appreciated the underlying mystery and suspense of "who-dun-it" that we have come to know from Meghan March. I really love the dynamic that they fall into, and just really enjoyed the story. The dialogue was tight, the pace was swift, but solid (we were given the information we needed to know, when we needed to know it!) and the writing was beautiful, fun, and showed us this world we love from the angle of Lord and Elle. I love these two, and I love Lord even more. He's the best type of hero that we love. I definitely wish I could read this one for the first time again. 

Shel: This book is part of a series but you can read it without having read the others. So if you like a strong woman who refuses to be slut-shamed, a very alpha male, hot sex scenes, and enduring kindness seen in both characters...all set in Nola, I highly suggest this book. Court: <------ what she said over there. I love Meghan March, and I love these characters! Can't wait to see what happens next with Lucas.


PURCHASE:
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/beneath-these-chains-meghan-march/1122103246?ean=2940151507950



SNEAK PEEK:
Chapter 1
Lord
I fucking hated people who stole from me. Which was ironic, considering the only thing that had kept me from starving as a kid had been picking pockets and snatching purses. I dropped my elbows to the desk and rubbed a hand over my buzzed head.
“Goddamn, karma’s a bitch.”
“She the bitch you fucked last night, bro?” The leather of my office couch creaked as Mathieu sank his tall, lanky frame into it.
“How many times do I have to tell you not to call women ‘bitches,’ boy?”
My words were met with a long sigh from Mathieu. Ever since he’d walked into Chains and tried to grab a guitar and run back out the door—only to be tackled to the ground by yours truly—he’d been a fixture in my life. To be fair, his choices had been to work off the price of what he’d attempted to steal, or go directly to the nearest cop shop. The entire situation had been such a blast from the past, I’d caught myself smiling when I should’ve been glaring and scaring the piss out of the kid. But apparently I’d done an okay job of it because he’d decided starting a rap sheet at seventeen wasn’t a good plan. Thank fuck. Almost two years later, the kid was my right hand.
And now that Chains was mine, someone was stealing from me—but not just someone. An employee. Someone I should’ve been able to trust. The cameras I had installed on her day off had already paid for themselves.
I rolled my head from side to side, cracking my neck. I hated firing people. It never got easier. And this time? This time it was going to be even worse … because there would be tears. And quite possibly claws.
Pushing up from the chair, I strode to the door without looking at Mathieu. Over my shoulder, I tossed, “You might want to stay here; Brianna’s ass is about to get canned.”
“For real?” His words followed me out, but I didn’t bother to reply.
Every time I stepped foot onto the shop floor, a feeling of pride surged through me—pride that I’d helped build this business into one that was not only honest, but profitable. At least, it was profitable when one of my employees wasn’t skimming off the till and messing with my bank deposits.
Finger twirling in her long, dark extensions and gum snapping between her teeth, Brianna flipped the pages of a magazine with a giant black Sharpie in one hand, circling shit. Probably shit she wanted to buy with the money she’d been stealing from me. The store was empty, which made what I was about to do a little easier.
“Bree, need a few minutes.”
Her head popped up, lips pursing as she took me in. “You can have all the time you need, boss.” Her gaudy fake eyelashes batted at me in what I assumed was supposed to be a sexy move. I stowed the urge to tell her to save it for someone whose dick got hard at the sight of her … but since I was about to fire her, why add insult to injury? The woman had been unsuccessfully trying to add her notch to my bedpost since I’d hired her. Bringing her on had been a mistake, and I’d known it from the minute she’d walked in the door, but a friend had called in a favor.
“Boss? You had something to say?” she prompted.
I watched her, not speaking.
She stopped the hair twirling and capped the Sharpie, resituating herself on the stool and folding her hands in her lap.
“Lord?”
“You’re done.”
Bree’s dark eyes flew wide. “Done? You mean done for the day?”
“Done. For good. Get your shit and get out.” 
Bree lost the innocent pose as she crossed her arms and stared me down. “Not until you tell me why.”
In two long strides, I closed the distance between the register and me and pressed my hands to the counter.
“I gave you a job. Gave you a paycheck you didn’t have to suck a dick to get. But that wasn’t enough for you. You had to have more, and instead of coming to me and asking for a raise, you decided to make it happen yourself.”
The color faded from her face, leaving her mocha-colored skin sallow. “Wh-what?”
“Get your shit.”
“I swear, I didn’t—”
“Don’t fucking lie to me. I can show you the tape if you want to see what I saw.”
Her lower lip started to wobble. It wasn’t going to work. I’d given her the benefit of the doubt, hoped I was wrong or it was just a one-time thing. But she’d gotten too bold.
“But I need this—”
 I cut her off. She wasn’t even going to deny it. Not that she could. We both knew she’d done it, and I wasn’t in the mood to listen to her beg or justify her actions. Even though she didn’t know it, I’d already given her a second chance. And all that had done was cost me even more than I could afford to lose. “I needed someone to work the shop—someone who wasn’t going to fuck me over and steal from me. You weren’t capable of that, so you’re out. Now get your shit.”
“But—”
“Save your breath, Bree. I ain’t listening unless you’re here to tell me you’ve got all the money you’ve taken, and you’re putting it right back where it belongs.”
Her face twisted into an angry glare even as the tears started falling. “You … you don’t understand.”
“No, I really don’t understand.” I crossed my arms and waited her out. When she realized the water works weren’t changing my decision, she spun off the stool, grabbed her giant purple purse from behind the counter, and stalked toward the door.
“You get all self-righteous with me about a little cash while you basically steal from people? Giving ‘em twenty dollars for their shit? Like you’re one to judge.”
A little cash? She’d skimmed enough to buy a nice used car, and I’d been too trusting to even realize it until the numbers hadn’t added up in a big way.
She slowed near the guitars at the front of the store and malicious glee lit her eyes.
She wouldn’t.
Oh, but she did.
Bree grabbed a guitar and swung it toward the rack as the chimes above the front door jangled. Wood crashed against wood, and two female screeches erupted.
Shit … if she injured a customer…
I charged Bree and ripped the guitar from her hands before she could swing again. A swirl of red hair caught my attention as the other woman dodged out of the strike zone.
Bree struggled against my hold, and I wondered if I was going to end up with a face full of the acrylic claws tearing at my arms. “Let go of me, you asshole!”
 “Whoa, boss. Getting the door for ya.” Mathieu bolted across the shop and yanked the door open again. I hustled Bree out and set her free on the sidewalk.
She spun to face Mathieu and me. “You’re gonna regret this,” she hissed. “I swear, you will.”
A soft laugh came from the open door. “From what I’ve seen, I highly doubt it.”
Bree opened her mouth to spew something else, but I shut her down. “Get gone. I don’t ever wanna see you near my shop again.”
Bree’s flinty eyes narrowed as she shouldered her purse. “Fuck you, Lord. You think you’re better than me? Not a chance. You’re just thievin’ street scum. Fuck you.”
“And now she’s getting repetitious,” the husky female voice commented from behind me.
Lip curling in disgust, Bree turned and marched toward the corner, never looking back.
“Her exit could totally use some work, but all-in-all, that was one hell of a welcome.”
I turned to survey the woman standing in the doorway of Chains. Even without a photographic memory, I didn’t think I’d ever forget this particular pose: one arm braced on the doorframe and the other propped on her hip, a green dress hugging curves that had my entire body sitting up and taking notice. Matched with her long, curling red hair, she was a goddamn knockout. What the hell is she doing here?
“You lost, sweet thing?”
She stepped onto the sidewalk and tore the HELP WANTED sign off the bottom corner of the front window. Holding it between two fingers, she smiled. “Nope. I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. I’m your newest employee.”





About Meghan March:
Meghan March is the author of contemporary and erotic romance novels.
Meghan March has been known to wear camo face paint and tromp around in woods wearing mud-covered boots, all while sporting a perfect manicure. She’s also impulsive, easily entertained, and absolutely unapologetic about the fact that she loves to read and write smut. Her past lives include slinging auto parts, selling lingerie, making custom jewelry, and practicing corporate law. Writing books about dirty talking alpha males and the strong, sassy women who bring them to their knees is by far the most fabulous job she’s ever had. She loves hearing from her readers at meghanmarchbooks@gmail.com.

Catch Up on the Beneath Series:

Beneath This Mask (Beneath #1)
He loves me, and he doesn’t even know my real name. 

The limelight that follows him could expose everything I’m hiding. But even knowing the risks, I can’t force myself to stay away. 

I’m going to break his heart, but mine will shatter right along with it. 

Will we lose it all when I reveal what’s beneath this mask?

Goodreads:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22458416-beneath-this-mask

Buy Links:


Beneath This Ink (Beneath #2)
I’ve always known she was too good for me, but that never stopped me from wanting her.
And then I finally had her for one night.
A night I don’t remember.
I figured I’d blown my shot.
But now she’s walked back into my life, and this time, I have the upper hand. I want my second chance.
Will she be able to see the man beneath this ink?

Buy links:


Contest Alert!
Starting June 16th, readers can enter the contest to win a Coach Purse from Meghan March!
Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/bc4d7a90111/?

NEW: Priest by Sierra Simone

Priest cover 
 Synopsis: There are many rules a priest can't break. A priest cannot marry. A priest cannot abandon his flock. A priest cannot forsake his God. I've always been good at following rules. Until she came. My name is Tyler Anselm Bell. I'm twenty-nine years old. Six months ago, I broke my vow of celibacy on the altar of my own church, and God help me, I would do it again. I am a priest and this is my confession. ***Priest is a standalone, full-length novel with an HEA. For mature audiences
only.***
  Priest Teaser 
     Purchase Links: 
Kobo ~ https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/priest-17 
Add to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25507389-priest 

 Rafflecopter giveaway (Signed paperback of Priest & $20 Amazon Gift Card):

 About the Author 

Sierra Simone is a former librarian who spent too much time reading romance novels at the information desk. She lives with her husband and family in Kansas City.
Social Me-dia Links:
Instagram: https://instagram.com/thesierrasimone
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheSierraSimone
Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sierra-Simone/497450453680395?fref=ts Facebook fan page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/953848401332729/
Goodreads author page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7369992.Sierra_Simone?from_search=true&search_version=service
Goodreads fan group: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/166241-sierra-simone-books

Saturday, June 27, 2015

REVIEW: The Opportunist by Tarryn Fisher

Olivia Kaspen has just discovered that her ex-boyfriend, Caleb Drake, has lost his memory. With an already lousy reputation for taking advantage of situations, Olivia must decide how far she is willing to go to get Caleb back. Wrestling to keep her true identity and their sordid past under wraps, Olivia’s greatest obstacle is Caleb’s wicked, new girlfriend; Leah Smith. It is a race to the finish as these two vipers engage in a vicious tug of war to possess a man who no longer remembers them. But, soon enough Olivia must face the consequences of her lies, and in the process discover that sometimes love falls short of redemption.

Kindle Edition, 278 pages
Published November 14th 2011Source: Purchased
Purchase this novel: Goodreads | Amazon



Shel: Dear Tarryn,

I first fell for your prose in Mud Vein and devoured it in Marrow. I've been eager to start your Love Me With Lies series but SOMEONE (I'm looking at you Court) was a little hesitant to start it. I'm happy to report that she finally gave in and not only read it with me but then that little shit and her supersonic reading rate sped past me and finished it a day before I did. Court: *hangs head in shame* I did. I asked her repeatedly to wait. Do you have any idea how many times it was on the calendar? A lot. And just like Thoughtless, I said "PLEASE WAIT" a little longer. Love triangles hurt. They scare me. But it turns out, I am definitely that little shit, and was so wrong. I loved it so much, that I stayed up half the night to finish it! 

Shel: To be honest, I didn't really know what all of the hoopla was about with this series because I wanted to go in blind-- I've tried to remain willfully ignorant just so that I could enjoy it the way everyone else has. BUT NOW I KNOW. Now I know why so many people seem to have very strong opinions about Olivia, Leah, and Caleb. I also know that with two books to go in this series I should reserve final declarations about these characters until I finish reading the last word in the last book. Court: Hell yes. I am still in shock by how they would surprise me at the most surprisingly places! 

Shel: So, here's how it went down:

I read.
Lose my shit.
Text Courtney using both words and gifs to try to explain my crazy.
Read more.
Annoy Jaime and Jennifer with my thoughts.
Text Courtney.
Receive texts from Courtney that indicate that I'm going to lose my shit as I near the end.
Respond to texts accordingly.
Read more, more, more.
Pause.
Tweet how my mind has been fucked.
Text Courtney gifs of my various mental states.
Send same gifs to Jaime and Jennifer.
Finish the book at 1:30 AM.
More texts and messages and rambles of the OHMYFUCKINGSHIT variety. 
Court: Yep. It went pretty much exactly like that. But, omg, it was so much fun! We have fun texting angsty things to each other, hahahaha! 

Shel: And now? Now I'm calm.
Why?
Well, first of all because I know I have two more books to go and I know I need to save my energy for rounds 2 and 3. Second, I've had a full day to really absorb some things and I guess I'm feeling relieved. I had no idea what to expect and I guess part of me worried that I wouldn't like it since I knew it was different than Mud Vein and Marrow. Guess what? I liked it. I liked how completely fucked up Olivia and Leah and Caleb were/are. I liked how messy their relationships were and how that messiness seemed real, normal......honest. I liked that I disliked them all at points and yet I could find redeeming qualities in them all. Court: Right! I loved each one for different reasons from the get go. Each scene either made me smile, laugh, gasp, yell at my phone "NO! Don't do that!" and a plethora of other craziness that I really shouldn't put out in the universe for others to realize how crazy I am! I told Shelley, in not so many words that while I love Caleb, I have a major girl crush on Olivia. Her character in both the past and present looks that we get, is stunning. She is honest, in her head, if the only place...and I can't wait to read more about these people! 

Shel: I also liked the idea of Noah. I've heard that I'll learn more about him as I read and I'm very curious about this dude. We get a little bit of insight at the end of The Opportunist but I feel like there's more to know. Court: Dude, right? Ain't nobody mentioned by accident. He'll have a purpose, even if it's just to rip my heart out and stomp on it.

Shel: I'm not sure if I'll get this wish, but I wish I knew more about Olivia--more about what makes her tick. Maybe by seeing how others view her in the next two books, I'll have a more rounded picture of who and why and how and what...or maybe I won't. Maybe Olivia is and I should leave her alone. Court: aww, I know how you feel. I feel that way about Caleb.  

Shel: Finally, Tarryn, I was telling someone today that I could feel your emotions almost bleeding through the words in sections. This isn't a new phenomena when it comes to your work; every one of your novels have these places that I feel you reaching in between the spaces of the words and letters, reaching through my flesh and bones, until you are inside me and I'm there with you and it's crazy and wonderful and strange and beautiful. Court: Right. This one is softer, for lack of a better word, than the harsh reality of Marrow, but on pace with Mud Vein for the ability to rip my heart out, squish it around for a wee bit, and then put it back like "oops, sorry, I...uh, yeah" like one does when they almost knock something off at a store of breakable things...and have to walk out awkwardly with the store owner knowing what you almost did. I couldn't stop reading it. I devoured it. I love the writing and how things are slowly revealed to me in the past, but the present there are clues being given as well. I got so much from each scene, that when things get crazy toward the end....what I thought I knew was DEAD WRONG. And I am soo excited about it! 

Shel: From this first novel to the most recent, I see the essence of you, of your style, and with each book your writing gets stronger and stronger until one day I suspect it will be almost superhuman in its ability to crawl inside of our hearts and heads and show us the world. How fucked is it that I'm looking forward to that? Court: Honey, I feel the same way. I am so excited to begin Dirty Red, and know that I will have yet another all nighter. I am also nervous. But, the writing definitely will keep us coming back every single time. Tarryn's ability to weave together words in a way that makes me sad and cry, but yet make me at peace with what has transpired is a bit legendary. 

Until next time,
Shelley & Courtney

Friday, June 26, 2015

REVIEW + GIVEAWAY: Under the Lights by Dahlia Adler




Under the Lights (Daylight Falls #2)
by Dahlia Adler
Publisher: Spencer Hill Contemporary
Release Date: June 30th 2015
Genre: GLBT, Young Adult/New Adult, Contemporary

Synopsis:

Josh Chester loves being a Hollywood bad boy, coasting on his good looks, his parties, his parents' wealth, and the occasional modeling gig. But his laid-back lifestyle is about to change. To help out his best friend, Liam, he joins his hit teen TV show, Daylight Falls...opposite Vanessa Park, the one actor immune to his charms. (Not that he's trying to charm her, of course.) Meanwhile, his drama-queen mother blackmails him into a new family reality TV show, with Josh in the starring role. Now that he's in the spotlight—on everyone's terms but his own—Josh has to decide whether a life as a superstar is the one he really wants.

Vanessa Park has always been certain about her path as an actor, despite her parents' disapproval. But with all her relationships currently in upheaval, she's painfully uncertain about everything else. When she meets her new career handler, Brianna, Van is relieved to have found someone she can rely on, now that her BFF, Ally, is at college across the country. But as feelings unexpectedly evolve beyond friendship, Van's life reaches a whole new level of confusing. And she'll have to choose between the one thing she's always loved...and the person she never imagined she could.


Shel: I'm sure you've seen it--those reviews that say "this would be the perfect beach read"? Guess what? I tested the theory with Under the Lights and it IS a fantastic beach read. I'm not exaggerating even a little when I tell you that I started it on the beach and the next thing I knew I was a third of the way through the book and I had no idea what the hell was going on on the beach around me; I was completely absorbed in the stories of Josh and Vanessa. Court: It also qualifies as a great comfort read, where you're just lazing around the house...and need something that will really just hit you in the sweet spot. This is that book. 

Shel: Under the Lights may appear to be this fun, light read and I absolutely concur with that but if that's all you 'get' when you read this, then you're missing out on some fantastic conversations and moments about what it might feel like when you don't fit in all the boxes that everyone else wants to put you in. Things like when Van talks about how some only think she's on a her show because she can "fill some sort of racial quota" or when she's starting to explore her sexuality and she feels like she can't talk to anyone about it because they identify her as straight. Or, when Josh realizes that he's been lost for a while and how unhappy he is...these are just some of the moments that are woven into this seemingly fluffy novel about young stars in Hollywood and it's these type of moments that elevate it. Not to ramble about this, but sometimes I think we expect salient points about things like diversity or how we think of women in our world to be in literary fiction and I think having it woven so naturally in a lighter read makes this important. Why? Because when we can read a novel no matter if it's high art or low comedy (and everything in between) and it seamlessly includes characters who are not white, heterosexual, WASPS it is so much more reflective of the world that we live in and it shows us how normal diversity is in the real world and should be in our literature.  Court: But it was unassuming at the same time...because these kids are just trying to make it in the world, and be their own person and they are going through the same things all of the rest of us are even as they're trying to be starlets in the public eye. I think their diverseness is even stronger for us today because the stars are the people who have a voice to make these issues known...and can be people kids look up to without being perfect. So, for me the setting was perfect. Then...we see the normal side of things...where Josh and Van are just trying to find ways to be accepted by their own friends, and not used. There is so much to love about these characters, and while I was thrown for a bit by the converging story lines...I enjoyed Josh by the end just as much as I was hoping that Vanessa would get her happy ending.

Shel: ..stepping off my soapbox now...

Shel: While Under the Lights definitely gives us those serious, introspective moments, it also gives us many light-hearted diversions--mainly in the form of the back and forth between Van and Josh--or infuriating ones (JOSH can be a real prick sometimes--BUT! I think he serves an important foil to Van and I actually liked him..sorry, not sorry?). And, I'll admit that early on in the novel I found myself asking why these two and their very different lives were sharing their stories in the same book; they honestly seemed to have such different end goals. But between their frienemy status and the epiphanies they both have by the end, I can see how and why Van and Josh sharing their narratives in this book works. Court: I am not sorry either in liking Josh. He's the antihero of this book, and had something to prove to us and to himself. And I enjoyed it. I jumped the gun on seeing your thoughts on this topic, but I think it'll be a big one for readers of this book. Josh and Vanessa both were powerful voices in this story. I honestly hope to see more of Josh in the future, but we will see! 

Shel: There are so many things I enjoyed about this novel: the exploration of long distance friendship (and what happens when you're the one left behind), the way women and men are treated and perceived in Hollywood (and to be frank, the world) based on who they date, the sweet and confusing feelings of falling for someone you didn't expect to fall for, and something I think was important throughout: the value of true friends and finding new ones in people you'd least expect to find friendship in. Court: ALL THE FEELS FOR THIS PARAGRAPH! READ IT AGAIN, THEN MOVE ON! 

Shel: One of the highest compliments I feel I can give is when I want to recommend a book to my students and BOTH books in this series will be ones I'll be proud to have on my bookshelf in my classroom as recommended reads. Court: And I hope that many of your students as they begin their life journeys have these series' in their arsenal because they're perfect! 




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I'm an Associate Editor of Mathematics by day, a Copy Editor by night, and I blog at The Daily Dahlia, YA Misfits, and the Barnes & Noble book blog. I also write contemporary YA (The Daylight Falls duology) and NA (The Radleigh University series). Rec-ing books is approximately my favorite thing in the universe, with macarons being a close second. Come say hi on Twitter, where I'm @MissDahlELama!