Thursday, December 29, 2022

REVIEW: You Had Your Chance, Lee Burrow by Piper Rayne


I've seen Piper Rayne books float across my feed for some time now and I decided to try one out. You Had Your Chance, Lee Burrow had lots of things I enjoy in a romance: football, enemies to lovers, and a workplace forbidden romance. 

In this new series, we start with Lee and Shayna--he's a star quarterback and she's a newly hired athletic trainer--and we know instantly that there's a history between them. It's quickly revealed that he did her dirty in college and while he wants to ask for forgiveness and try to move past it, she's holding on to her grudge like the armor she hopes it will be. You see, they're both wildly attracted to each other, still after all of these years, and she really, really doesn't want to be. She wants to hate him and she tries really hard, but it turns out her anger is no match against his sincerity. So despite her desire to ignore him forever, she grudgingly forgives him and this opens the door to a friendship and relationship that is absolute no no--their contracts forbid it. Weeks and months go by, their relationship transitions into something deeper and that leaves them in a serious conundrum. 

Readers who love a strong heroine will love Shayna and if you love a man who knows how to really apologize and have his actions reveal his true sincerity, you'll love Lee too. These two were fun to read and their friends were quite entertaining and I suspect we'll be seeing lots more of them all as this new series continues. 

USA Today Bestselling Author, Piper Rayne, begins the Kingsmen Football Stars series with an enemies-to-lovers, second chance story set in the world of professional football.

You Had Your Chance, Lee Burrows by Piper Rayne is now live!

Lee f’ing Burrows

The Kingsmen’s star quarterback.

Legendary throwing arm.

Six-pack abs.

Kissable lips.

Oh, but don’t forget, he’s also a lying, heartless egomaniac who broke my heart in college.

It took me years to build myself back up after his deceit, and now I have the dream opportunity to prove myself working as a sports therapist for a professional team.

The hurdle? Or mountain to be more accurate…

The job is with the San Francisco Kingsmen.

Back when I was a na├»ve college girl, I felt lucky that he even noticed me. Now eight years later, he’d be lucky if I gave him the time of day.

Which I won’t. Not ever.

Some people don’t deserve a second chance and Lee Burrows is one of them.

Now if someone could only tell him that because he’s hell-bent on scoring the winning touchdown and won’t accept that it’s game over for us.

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Narrated by Callie Dalton & Joe Arden



Meet Piper Rayne

Piper Rayne is a USA Today Bestselling Author duo who write "heartwarming humor with a side of sizzle" about families, whether that be blood or found. They both have e-readers full of one-clickable books, they're married to husbands who drive them to drink, and they're both chauffeurs to their kids. Most of all, they love hot heroes and quirky heroines who make them laugh, and they hope you do, too!

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REVIEW: By a Thread by Lucy Score


I had so much fun reading By a Thread. It was a great balance of humor and heart and I found that I just could not get enough of Ally and Dominic. He was the grumpiest grump who grumped, or at least he appeared to be -what with his impressive and constant scowls, lack of gratitude (ie entitlement), and his general gruff demeanor -but he met his match with Ally. Ally, my queen. She took crap from no one, had the hugest heart, and a stubborn streak a mile long. I loved how independent she was, while also shaking my head at how that stubborn independence never seemed to be her friend. 

Through some parental scheming, Ally ends up working at Dominic's company and is a thorn in his side from day one. They constantly antagonize each other, while lusting after each other, and even though they put up a respectable effort, they could not seem to stay away from each other. Their relationship wasn't the easiest but it sure was fun to read--to see Dominic soften and show his kinder side and to see Ally relinquish some of the tightfisted control she had on everything was actually a relief. You couldn't help but root for them to get to the end without any heartache; unfortunately that's not really how this genre works and so there was heartache to be had but that make the forgiveness and making up that much sweeter...and that epilogue? So very sweet. 

By a Thread was the novel I didn't even know I needed when I picked it up and now I can't stop thinking about how enjoyable it was and am so looking forward to reading more Lucy Score. 


I got her fired. Okay, so I’d had a bad day and took it out on a bystander in a pizza shop. But there’s nothing innocent about Ally Morales. She proves that her first day of her new job… in my office… after being hired by my mother.

So maybe her colorful, annoying, inexplicably alluring personality brightens up the magazine’s offices that have felt like a prison for the past year. Maybe I like that she argues with me in front of the editorial staff. And maybe my after-hours fantasies are haunted by those brown eyes and that sharp tongue.

But that doesn’t mean that I’m going to be the next Russo man to take advantage of his position. I might be a second-generation asshole, but I am not my father.

She’s working herself to death at half a dozen dead-end jobs for some secret reason she doesn’t feel like sharing with me. And I’m going to fix it all. Don’t accuse me of caring. She’s nothing more than a puzzle to be solved. If I can get her to quit, I can finally peel away all those layers. Then I can go back to salvaging the family name and forget all about the dancing, beer-slinging brunette.

Ha. Hold my beer, Grumpy Grump Face.

Author’s Note: A steamy, swoony workplace romantic comedy with a grumpy boss hero determined to save the day and a plucky heroine who is starting to wonder if there might actually be a beating heart just beneath her boss’s sexy vests.

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

REVIEWS: Life's Too Short and A Part of Your World by Abby Jimenez

I've decided to link these together for two reasons: 

1. I'm lazy 

2. I am still thinking about these novels long after I've read them, so naturally that means I should review them, right?

In both Life's Too Short and A Part of Your World, Abby Jimenez does what I'm coming to understand is what she does best: she makes me so dang anxious that I have to put the book down only to immediately pick it back up because I have to know what's going to happen next. Ughhhh. She writes such angsty plots and I want to be angry about it because she gets me so twisted up, but I can't stop reading her books. 

In the case of Life's Too Short, Vanessa and Adrian are neighbors who are polar opposite. She's got this larger than life, live in the moment, joyous personality--she's almost toxically optimistic. As you get to know her, you realize why this is and you also get to see her less than happier moments but for as much as she's got on her plate, it's inspiring to read a character who sees the world as she does. Adrian, meanwhile, is more steadfast and routine. He's more careful and methodical. He's a lawyer; she's a travel/social media influencer. Together they co-parent Vanessa's niece in the most perfect way possible (see story for details, lol).  Through getting to know them, we learn about how their upbringings deeply influenced who they are now and why they react to things the way they do. As they fall in love, the dreaded implosion looming over their heads had me cringing as I turned each page, just waiting for the inevitable to happen. It did. It was awful and yet I made it out alive because that happily ever after made it all okay. 


When Vanessa Price quit her job to pursue her dream of traveling the globe, she wasn't expecting to gain millions of YouTube followers who shared her joy of seizing every moment. For her, living each day to its fullest isn't just a motto. Her mother and sister never saw the age of 30, and Vanessa doesn't want to take anything for granted.

But after her half sister suddenly leaves Vanessa in custody of her baby daughter, life goes from "daily adventure" to "next-level bad" (now with bonus baby vomit in hair). The last person Vanessa expects to show up offering help is the hot lawyer next door, Adrian Copeland. After all, she barely knows him. No one warned her that he was the Secret Baby Tamer or that she'd be spending a whole lot of time with him and his geriatric Chihuahua.

Now she's feeling things she's vowed not to feel. Because the only thing worse than falling for Adrian is finding a little hope for a future she may never see.


Similarly, A Part of Your World has characters who are very much opposite of each other: Alexis is an ER doc who comes from a line of world famous doctors and Daniel is a groundskeeper/mayor of a small town who comes from a line of men and women who did the same. She comes from a world of privilege while he lives hand to mouth. They meet because of an minor accident and one thing leads to another and within weeks they're inseparable. She's coming off of a horrible relationship and is given the responsibility of continuing the family legacy; he's lonely and wants the responsibility of continuing the family legacy. So as seemingly opposite as they are, they really have similar things happening in their lives. They fit well together, and despite Alexis's desire to keep him at arm's length, she just can't. She lies to herself (and him) and tries to keep her heart out of it, but some part of her knows that he's the best thing for her and she can't quite let go...until she does and it's absolutely heartbreaking. Gahhhh the angst. The sadness. The lost love. His devastation. Her depression. Her awful parents. His awful mother. The wonderful town of Wakan. *sobs* But once again, Abby Jimenez finds a way to get them back together again, thank god, and we get the happy ever after that Alexis and Daniel deserve. And now with new characters, I can't wait to see how she tortures me next. 

I love the way her novels refer back to other characters and I love the angsty love she puts me through--I'm a sucker for her writing and hope she's got something great coming our way. 

After a wild bet, gourmet grilled-cheese sandwich, and cuddle with a baby goat, Alexis Montgomery has had her world turned upside down. The cause: Daniel Grant, a ridiculously hot carpenter who’s ten years younger than her and as casual as they come—the complete opposite of sophisticated city-girl Alexis. And yet their chemistry is undeniable.

While her ultra-wealthy parents want her to carry on the family legacy of world-renowned surgeons, Alexis doesn’t need glory or fame. She’s fine with being a “mere” ER doctor. And every minute she spends with Daniel and the tight-knit town where he lives, she’s discovering just what’s really important. Yet letting their relationship become anything more than a short-term fling would mean turning her back on her family and giving up the opportunity to help thousands of people.

Bringing Daniel into her world is impossible, and yet she can’t just give up the joy she’s found with him either. With so many differences between them, how can Alexis possibly choose between her world and his?


Friday, December 23, 2022

REVIEW: A Merry Little Meet Cute by Julie Murphy & Sierra Simone


A Merry Little Meet Cute is a cute romp that follows a disgraced former boy bander trying to rehabilitate his image and a porn star trying out an acting gig in a mainstream Christmas film. Both Nolan and Bee have secrets to keep while doing this film and it's those secrets that we know will be their downfall, if they're found out.

Bee never stood a chance at keep her secret truly secret; Nolan knew who she was from the moment he saw her, seeing as he's her biggest fan. Nolan's secrets, while less salacious, took longer to be revealed but as you'd expect, they do all come out to play at some point. In the meantime, their getting to know each other, the building chemistry, and the general shenanigan of the crew and their families keep things interesting. 

All of the characters in A Merry Little Meet Cute were fun--I could easily see all of them having their own short stories or full length novels. Murphy and Simone have definitely created a world that would be easy to revisit with some of the secondary characters and while nothing in this novel was earthshatteringly new, it was a fun comfort read. 


Cowritten by #1 New York Times bestselling author Julie Murphy and USA Today bestselling author Sierra Simone—a steamy plus-size holiday rom-com about an adult film star who is semi-accidentally cast as a lead in a family-friendly Christmas movie, and the former bad-boy pop star she falls in love with.

Bee Hobbes (aka Bianca Von Honey) has a successful career as a plus-size adult film star. With a huge following and two supportive moms, Bee couldn’t ask for more. But when Bee’s favorite producer casts her to star in a Christmas movie he’s making for the squeaky-clean Hope Channel, Bee’s career is about to take a more family-friendly direction.

Forced to keep her work as Bianca under wraps, Bee quickly learns this is a task a lot easier said than done. Though it all becomes worthwhilewhen she discovers her co-star is none other than childhood crush Nolan Shaw, an ex-boy band member in desperate need of career rehab. Nolan’s promised his bulldog manager to keep it zipped up on set, and he will if it means he’ll be able to provide a more stable living situation for his sister and mom.

But things heat up quickly in Christmas Notch, Vermont, when Nolan recognizes his new co-star from her ClosedDoors account (oh yeah, he’s a member). Now Bee and Nolan are sneaking off for quickies on set, keeping their new relationship a secret from the Hope Channel’s execs. Things only get trickier when the reporter who torpedoed Nolan’s singing career comes snooping around—and takes an instant interest in mysterious newcomer Bee.

And if Bee and Nolan can’t keep their off-camera romance behind the scenes, then this merry little meet cute might end up on the cutting room floor.

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

REVIEW: Smoke and Steel by Kristen Ashley

You've got to love that Kristen Ashley has a new MC series, right? I mean I do. I love the crossover and I love meeting these new characters. In Smoke and Steel we get to know Hellen and Core. Initially they're connected due to a favor their MC is doing but that seemingly resolves itself and we're left with Hellen and Core working together to help out her "friend" (the quotation marks are there for a reason, you'll see when you read). 

As with all of my KA reads, Smoke and Steel is such a comfort read. I know I'm going to find two characters who are lovable and flawed. I know I'm going to laugh at their friends' antics and worry when things go south. I know I'm going to get some wisdom, I'm going to recognize some of my own failings and insights, and I'm going to be so immersed that hours will go by and I'll have no idea. All of this happened in this novel. I laughed, I frowned, I caught the sads and the swoons and am so happy to have a whole new cast of characters to get to know and love.

I don't think Kristen Ashley fans will be disappointed when they pick up this novel; I think they'll find it's everything they expect it to be and will leave them ready for more of the series. 


She wasn’t a white dress type of girl…

Hellen Moynihan didn’t have dreams. She had goals. She knew who she was and what she wanted. She also knew what she didn’t. So when her long-term boyfriend didn’t make the grade, she moved on. And when her best friend’s boyfriend showed signs of being a scam artist, Hellen was on the case.

And he wasn’t a white hat type of guy…

Dustin “Hardcore” Cutler didn’t have dreams or goals. A troubled past led Core to do something irredeemable. The only thing he and the men of the Resurrection MC could do was vow to live their lives making up for an unforgiveable act.

And they did.

This duty leads Core to being a part of a covert protection detail, looking after Hellen Moynihan when trouble is coming to town.

At first, Core finds this dynamo of a woman intriguing, but he’s decided she’s off-limits.

Then Hellen and her friend wade into a multi-state swindling scheme.

Suddenly, off-limits for Core is out the window.

He’s got no choice but to get up close and personal.

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

NEW RELEASE & OUR REVIEW: Drama King by Penny Reid


Snowed in with her off-limits celebrity client. What could go wrong?

Drama King, an all-new forced proximity, mistaken identity, romantic comedy from New York Times bestselling author Penny Reid, is now available!


Drama King was the perfect read for this dreary weekend. I picked up Beth and Cyrus's story and before I knew it, I was half way through it and nowhere near ready to put it down. From their first meeting, I knew I was going to enjoy them: he was a complete gentleman when she had an unfortunate alcohol/antihistamine reaction on a fake blind date (I promise it'll all make sense, just go with it) and then the next day when they discovered she'd be on his security team, her insistence on owning up to her new boss about what happened between them the night before, endeared her to me. From jump, he was intrigued by her and while she was equally interested in him, she decided that work and professionalism were more important than any interest she may have (much to his chagrin). The vast majority of the novel was watching them purposely and inadvertently antagonize each other. His inability to charm her or provoke a reaction was maddening to him and her thinking he thought less of her because of their initial fake blind date made for lots of funny and frustrating interactions. I loved every second. Things built and built and built until Beth felt the need to remove herself from the job; of course this led to both of them having to identify and confront some of the feelings they'd suppressed and by the very end, when an accident forced them together one last time, all the truths came out to play which led to their happily ever after.

I really enjoyed Homecoming King and I loved Drama King and I cannot wait to read the third book in this series. Each book has such warm and funny characters. There's a great mix of action, depth, humor and emotion; everything is perfectly paced and leaves you completely satisfied while somehow still wanting more. 

Stuck with her off-limits, taciturn, hunky movie star client during a sudden snowstorm on Christmas Eve, an extremely capable and highly professional bodyguard must keep him alive and warm without letting the tension building between them get too hot.

Bathsheba (Beth) Ryan can’t thank her best friend enough for helping her land the job of her dreams. After being relegated to second-string security for politicians in DC, being hired as an undercover personal security specialist by a giant Hollywood studio is exactly the kind of action she’s always wanted.

Until she meets her first assignment.

Cyrus Malcom can’t thank his agent enough for arranging a blind date with seemingly the woman of his dreams. After spending the past several years playing all the parts and climbing all the ladders, the lonely mega movie star finds himself actually enjoying a night on the town for the first time in ages when he meets the gorgeous, funny, and genuine Ryaine O’Rourke.

Until she shows up at his studio meeting the next day with a completely different name.

A world-wide press tour and too many late-night parties later, Beth simply needs to get through a short, one-day visit during the Christmas holiday, and then she’ll be free of Cyrus Malcom’s confusing hot looks and cold shoulders for good.

But just as they leave the airport, it starts to snow . . .

‘Drama King’ is the second book in the Three Kings Series, is a full-length, contemporary romantic comedy, and can be read as a complete standalone.

Download some holiday cheer today!

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Meet Penny Reid

Penny Reid is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author of the Winston Brothers and Knitting in the City series. She used to spend her days writing federal grant proposals as a biomedical researcher, but now she writes kissing books. Penny is an obsessive knitter and manages the #OwnVoices-focused mentorship incubator / publishing imprint, Smartypants Romance. She lives in Seattle Washington with her husband, three kids, and dog named Hazel.

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Monday, December 12, 2022

REVIEW: Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin

I first came across this title when two of my go to book bloggers posted it as a really good read. Very rarely do I disagree with either of these two and so I got on the waitlist on the Libby app and 6 weeks later finally got to read it. I have many disjointed thoughts about this novel so forgive me for being all over the place.

One thing I should've realized (by reading the blurb, which I did in a very cursory way) was how much the gaming world would be part of the plot; I feel like at points the gaming world was almost a character. As someone who isn't a gamer but appreciates it, I learned more about games and gaming than I've ever known before. Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow is like a mini history in the evolution of games and gaming and while it wasn't heavy handed it was definitely something I probably didn't appreciate as much as gamer would.

One thing I anticipated was a love story and there's definitely that but not in the way I was expecting. This wasn't a bad thing, just was in a headspace that expected a more traditional love story and this wasn't that. Once I got my bearings, I recognized it for the love story it was. The love between these characters was both conventional and not but really what I felt for and between all parties involved was how deep their affection and care went. Even when they weren't speaking to each other, the love was always there and they always knew it, even when they didn't want to admit it. I really liked that; there was romantic love and a love between friends that really felt more like family and that made the heartbreaking moments even more devastating when they happened.

One other thing I appreciated about this novel was the inclusion of conversations and experiences of people of color and of a character who lived in and with extreme pain. While having nonwhite main characters is, thankfully, not a new thing, I really enjoyed reading from and about their perspectives and seeing the world through their eyes. Additionally, having a character live in and through pain was something I don't really read ever, so including that experience was something unique and educational for me. 

All in all, there were sections of this novel about a long, enduring, at times frustrating, friendship between these three friends that were easier than others to read. Sometimes I felt a little lost and other times I sped through the pages. I like that it spanned such a large portion of their lives and didn't shy away from the challenging seasons we have when we have lifelong friendships. I liked that I was reading something that I normally don't read about. I liked the exploration of the challenges that some of us may have. And so while my rating would range from a 3 in some places and a 5 in other, I can settle on a 4 and feel like it's accurate; I'm still thinking of these characters days later and I know it'll be a while before I put them to rest. 



NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER • In this exhilarating novel by the best-selling author of The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry two friends—often in love, but never lovers—come together as creative partners in the world of video game design, where success brings them fame, joy, tragedy, duplicity, and, ultimately, a kind of immortality.

"Utterly brilliant. In this sweeping, gorgeously written novel, Gabrielle Zevin charts the beauty, tenacity, and fragility of human love and creativity.... One of the best books I've ever read." —John Green
On a bitter-cold day, in the December of his junior year at Harvard, Sam Masur exits a subway car and sees, amid the hordes of people waiting on the platform, Sadie Green. He calls her name. For a moment, she pretends she hasn’t heard him, but then, she turns, and a game begins: a legendary collaboration that will launch them to stardom. These friends, intimates since childhood, borrow money, beg favors, and, before even graduating college, they have created their first blockbuster,
 Ichigo. Overnight, the world is theirs. Not even twenty-five years old, Sam and Sadie are brilliant, successful, and rich, but these qualities won’t protect them from their own creative ambitions or the betrayals of their hearts.
Spanning thirty years, from Cambridge, Massachusetts, to Venice Beach, California, and lands in between and far beyond, Gabrielle Zevin’s 
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow is a dazzling and intricately imagined novel that examines the multifarious nature of identity, disability, failure, the redemptive possibilities in play, and above all, our need to connect: to be loved and to love. Yes, it is a love story, but it is not one you have read before.

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

REVIEW: The Frat Boy by Nikki Sloane


Oooookay, Nikki Sloane, I see you. I see you amping up the steam in every book in this series and omg, we are all winners in this. Seriously, I think this is the hottest book in the series and that's saying a lot considering the steamy sexy times in the previous novels. 

In The Frat Boy, we get to know Madison and her antagonist, Colin. From their first meeting they're at each other's throats, which just amps up the tension between them and makes their story that much more fun to read. Because of the fall out of a cheating incident at a Greek competition, these two end up being ousted from their houses and without any family support, must find a place to live and a way to pay for it. Enter Nina and Scott (from It Takes Two) and their burgeoning adult film business. Madison and Colin sign on as their two newest stars and the scenes they end up 'acting' out are really really hot. Because of their close proximity and new jobs, their animosity evolves into a grudging respect and then friendship and true lovers. As things evolve, we learn why they have to be so independent and we also learn that their new jobs aren't things they find particularly shameful. 

I really enjoyed Colin and Madison and their story. I liked that Nikki Sloane didn't make sex work a shameful thing, and while I'm certain there were romanticized parts, she took adult films out of the shadows of shame and showed what body positivity and sex positivity could look like. This was a fun, sexy, sweet read and I'm wondering if we have at least one more 'neighbor' to get to know in this series. 

The Frat Boy by Nikki Sloane is now live!

Colin Novak is the big man on campus. Huge—if the rumors are to be believed. Nearly every girl at Davidson University has had a ride on him . . . everyone, except me.

Which is fine. This frat boy may be irritatingly hot, all carved muscle with a deceptively wholesome smile, but that's irrelevant. He's a Sig.

When I catch his fraternity cheating at the Greek Week tournament, he denies it--causing our rivalry between houses to escalate. Colin and I may have started the mud fight, but it grows into an all-out war, and ends with us expelled from our houses.

Now I'm homeless and it's all his fault.

So, while answering an ad for a leading role at an adult film company wasn't part of my career path, the work comes with a lot of perks. Steady salary. Accommodations close to campus. A safe place to explore my fantasies.

Except when I show up for my audition, my partner is none other than my new archenemy—Colin. And our sexual chemistry is explosive.

We hate how attracted we are to each other, and I despise that I want every scene to be with him. Because the longer we live together, the more I see he's not who I thought he was.
This frat boy was so easy to hate . . . but what if he's even easier to love?

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Meet Nikki

USA Today bestselling author Nikki Sloane landed in graphic design after her careers as a waitress, a screenwriter, and a ballroom dance instructor fell through. Now she writes full-time and lives in Kentucky with her husband, two sons, and a pair of super destructive cats.

She is a four-time Romance Writers of America RITA® & Vivian® Finalist, a Passionate Plume & HOLT Medallion winner, a Goodreads Choice Awards semifinalist, and couldn't be any happier that people enjoy reading her sexy words.

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Monday, December 5, 2022

REVIEW: Meant To Be by Jennifer Probst


 Meant To Be is a novel that shows us how impactful a chance meeting can be, how grief can be a sustaining state of being for quite a while, how guilt can contribute to not so great decisions, and how love can be a healing balm to all. 

Chiara and Sebastian meet at a club and seem to immediately click but due to various reasons they part amicably ways that evening. Fast forward through the years and surprisingly they're in each other's lives in ways no one could've predicted. It's only after a tragedy hits and a chance meeting at a club do Chiara and Sebastian find themselves actively in their lives at first. It's not initially by choice, and there are many tense moments, but as the pages turn, these two work through their mutual grief and guilt. It's not always pretty and sometimes you want to shake some sense into them, but they find their way to a sweet and happy ending. 

Meant To Be has an unusual beginning and interesting dynamics between characters and I have a feeling we'll be seeming much more of all these characters--it'll be interesting to see where and how they all end up. 



Two broken hearts discover an unpredictable path to healing in an emotional romance about fate and second chances by New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Probst.

It’s been two years since Chiara Kennedy lost her dearest friend, Rory. Chiara misses everything about her. Rory’s widowed husband is another story. Sebastian Ryder is a man Chiara had secretly wanted, let slip away, and hoped to never see again. Then fate throws them together for an unexpected one-night stand and a morning after of new challenges.

Sebastian had a soul mate in Rory. Shutting down after his tragic loss, he kept a cool distance from everyone—including Chiara, with whom he once shared a deep if fleeting affection. That was over and done with a long time ago. But when they meet again, old emotions resurface along with a heart-wounding past that haunts them both.

As Chiara and Sebastian grow closer, finally getting to know each other, Chiara struggles with feelings of guilt even as she cherishes her second chance with Sebastian. Will fate allow them to overcome the past, or are they destined to always wonder if they are truly meant to be?

Friday, December 2, 2022

REVIEW: Cruel North by J.B. Salsbury

He let her go once.
This time he wants to keep her.

Cruel North, an all-new surprise pregnancy, forced proximity contemporary romance with sizzling chemistry from New York Times bestselling author JB Salsbury is now available!


I've been eagerly anticipating Hayes North's story in this series because he's been such a butthead in every single one of his brothers' stories and Cruel North did not disappoint. As a matter of fact, I picked up the novel to just get a few pages in, you know to kinda get a feel for the story, and the next thing I knew it was an hour later and I was a third of the way into Hayes and Vanessa's love story.

As established in every story prior, Hayes had a mean streak a mile long and a marathon deep and he didn't spare anyone. So, imagine my delight when we meet Vanessa and she takes absolutely none of his bull and never ever backs down from him. Also imagine my delight in how much he respects her for that. As we find out early on, unbeknownst to him, he has a child with Vanessa and when said child pops up in his life 17 years since the last time he saw Vanessa, needless to say, he's stunned. It takes him a minute ...or days..before he can get his mind right and in the meantime, Vanessa makes him work for every inch he gains. I loved her fierceness from page one and I really appreciated her fight and resistance on behalf of her and her daughter's emotional well being, as she felt alone and abandoned raising her daughter all by herself. 

And then, I had lots of mixed feelings about both Vanessa and Hayes. I was Team Vanessa from the start but as I saw things from Hayes's eyes, I actually began to feel for him and how hard all of this was for him. I cannot imagine missing the first 17 years of my daughter's life and then finding out about her, feeling attacked for something I didn't even know about, and also feeling a deep sadness for all that I missed. I soon found myself rooting for Hayes, hoping that he could find a way to be in their lives. Which, truth be told, I'd never thought I'd feel because I'd detested him so much in earlier books. As a matter of fact, by the end of this novel, I found it hard to reconcile the Hayes that I ended with to the Hayes I started with; he'd changed quite a bit, thanks to Vanessa and Haven. 

Cruel North was such a fun read--reading their backstory and then seeing their chemistry and current story unfold was a page turner and so satisfying. I have no idea if there's any hope for more books in this series but I wouldn't mind a few more--I've come to really enjoy this family and their banter and teasing and would hate to not have a few more pages with them. 

Cruel North is an angsty second-chance, enemies to lovers romance where the most hated man in the North Brothers world finally gets brought to his knees.

A teenage girl with my eyes and a familiar glare, strolls into my life and she’s calling me Dad.

Vanessa was my high school girlfriend and the smartest person I knew. She had a plan, a future, and she swore nothing would get in the way. Until she became pregnant. I thought we agreed on our plan. I sent her the money. Then she disappeared.

Her parents told me she was in South America for a year. They told me she needed space. I never heard from her again.

Seventeen years later and she’s back. I’m staring into those green eyes that used to tempt and taunt me. But it’s not just about us anymore. We have a daughter.

Wanting to get to know her, I convince them to move in with me for one month. I’m so angry with Vanessa and she seems to be equally upset. Every insult from her smart mouth invites me to engage. The brutal chemistry between us ignites old embers. I wish I could hate her. Instead, I want her.

But too much time has passed, and I fear some hurts run too deep to heal.
At the end of thirty days, I’ll have to let them go.
Unless I figure out a way to keep them.

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“Let’s go.” I open the passenger side door to my car, and when Haven climbs in, I give Hudson a chin lift, thanking him for having my back.

He nods back with a look that says I better be nice.

Fuck me. My own twin acts like I’m the enemy here. Like I’d hurt my own daughter?

I climb behind the wheel and fire up the engine, grateful for the steady hum of the supercharged V8 that cuts through an uncomfortable silence.

“Nice ride,” Haven says and touches all the buttons and knobs. “Is this real leather?” She runs her hands along the seats, and I notice that she has long elegant fingers that are exactly like Vanessa’s.

“Yes.” I force my eyes to the road, feeling oddly uncomfortable with such precious cargo.

“I have a Jeep,” she says. “It’s a piece of shit.”

I’m not great at conversation on a good day, so I grunt like a fucking caveman.

“So what’s it like?”

I see out of my peripheral that she’s facing me. “What’s what like?”

“Being a millionaire.”

I lose the battle with my eyeballs, and they dart toward her before I wrangle them back to the road. Vanessa’s family has a net worth equal to mine. I can’t imagine Haven grew up without.

I clear the discomfort from my throat. “I hear you’re a pretty good athlete.” My tone sounds like I’m accusing her of something, and I don’t know why. Maybe I should’ve just let Hudson take her home. I suck at this.

“I am. I’m good at a lot of things.”

Confident, like her mom. Good.

“Oh yeah?”

“Mm-hm.” She doesn’t elaborate.

I take the bait. “Like what?”

She shrugs and looks casually out the front window. “You want the condensed version of my life so that you don’t have to actually invest?”

“No,” I say dryly and grip the steering wheel tighter.

The uncomfortable silence is back and goes on for so long that I start to sweat. I flip on the AC and aim the vent right at my face.

“Listen, uh… Haven… I…” I sound like an idiot who can’t string two words together. “I’ve been thinking—”

“About how you wanted my mom to abort me?”

Fuckin’ hell. “No.”

“About how you abandoned her and left her to have a baby alone at—”

“Jesus, no.”

“About how you’re a rich selfish asshole who couldn’t even be bothered to look for the woman who carried your unwanted child to see if maybe she needed anything like money for food or clothes or a safe place to live or—”

“Haven, stop.”

“—or money so that kid could play sports and afford equipment so she wouldn’t get made fun of for wearing the wrong shoes or sweatpants to games.”

“What are you talking about? Your mom’s family is wealthy.”

“Yeah, well, thanks to you and your mighty sperm, they disowned her.” She tilts her head, just like her mother does before she delivers a brutal tongue lashing. “Ohh, you didn’t know that, did you?” She makes a tsking sound. “You would’ve if you looked for us. Ever heard of Google, asshole?”

“That’s enough.”

“Hey, you’re the one who wanted me to ride with you—”

“I get it. You want to hurt me. I’d do the same in your shoes.”

She slams her mouth closed without response. She faces forward and crosses her arms at her chest. “Whatever.”

“We need to… get to know each other. The three of us have a lot to talk about.”

“I have nothing to say to you.”

I cough out a laugh. “Could’ve fooled me.”

“Are we almost to Uncle Hudson’s house?”

He gets to be Uncle Hudson, and I’m Asshole? My jaw ticks. “Yes.”

I use the rest of the time in the car to breathe in and out and try to calm my temper. Vanessa’s parents disowned her. I shouldn’t be surprised, and yet, I am. She’s their only child, for fuck’s sake.

I have a million questions and worry I won’t get the chance to ask Vanessa if we can’t even be in the same room without fighting. Time feels like it’s slipping away, and I don’t know how to grab onto it. But I know I have to try.

I pull up to Hudson’s building. Haven makes a reach for her seatbelt.

“I have a proposition for you.”

Her hand freezes on the buckle, and her eyes narrow.

My God, it’s like looking in a mirror. “One month in New York. Rent free, all expenses paid, you and your mom.”

She eyes me cautiously. “What’s the catch?”

Here’s where I might lose her. “You live with me.”

“Yeah, right.” She snorts. “Mom will never agree to that. I’m pretty sure she hates you.”

She’s not exactly my favorite person right now either. “Leave the convincing to me.”

Her smile is a little wicked. “You’re either really brave or really stupid.”

“I’m not stupid.”

Her brows pop high on her forehead. “You clearly don’t know my mom.”

I don’t respond because she’s right. But she’s also wrong. I got the fiery Vanessa Osbourne to care for me once. A month in New York shouldn’t be too hard.

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About JB Salsbury

JB Salsbury, New York Times Best Selling author of The Fighting Series, lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with her husband and two kids. She spends the majority of her day lost in a world of battling alphas, budding romance, and impossible obstacles as stories claw 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 write her first novel.

Since 2013 she has published six bestselling novels in The Fighting Series and won a RONE Award.

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