Monday, January 26, 2015

Review: Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker @kathleenatucker


Title: Ten Tiny Breaths

Author: K.A. Tucker

Series: Ten Tiny Breaths #1

Publication date: February 12th, 2013

ISBN: 9781476740324

Synopsis (according to Goodreads):
Just breathe, Kacey. Ten tiny breaths. Seize them. Feel them. Love them.

Four years ago Kacey Cleary's life imploded when her car was hit by a drunk driver, killing her parents, boyfriend, and best friend. Still haunted by memories of being trapped inside, holding her boyfriend's lifeless hand and listening to her mother take her last breath, Kacey wants to leave her past behind. Armed with two bus tickets, twenty-year-old Kacey and her fifteen-year-old sister, Livie, escape Grand Rapids, Michigan, to start over in Miami. Struggling to make ends meet, Kacey needs to figure out how to get by. But Kacey's not worried. She can handle anything--anything but her mysterious neighbor in apartment 1D.

Trent Emerson has smoldering blue eyes, deep dimples, and he perfectly skates that irresistible line between nice guy and bad boy. Hardened by her tragic past, Kacey is determined to keep everyone at a distance, but their mutual attraction is undeniable and Trent is determined to find a way into Kacey's guarded heart--even if it means that an explosive secret could shatter both their worlds.

Review:
This was another of my first giveaway wins from a long time ago. I had also accumulated the next installments in the series for review, but I just never got around to reading any of them. That had to change. Especially since I had heard nothing but good things about this little gem and the author who wrote it. I decided to give it a go.

Kacey is completely closed off from every single person in her life aside from her baby sister. She refuses to let herself get close to people because she is sure that the minute she does, they will leave her in some fashion. She struggles with flashbacks of the tragic accident that she was the sole survivor in. She takes her sister away to Miami to escape odd relatives who seem to have ulterior motives for keeping the girls around. On her way she finds herself in situations where she is presented with two new relationships she hadn't thought she'd ever struggle with again: friendship and love. But the demons of her past are always there to threaten any shred of happiness Kacey may find in her new surroundings. With the help of the hunk-next-door can Kacey finally put an end to her anxiety issues and fear to find true happiness?

However, the hunk-next-door, Trent, has his own demons and his own reasons for wanting to get close to Kacey. He has secrets that if Kacey ever found out about, it could destroy her world entirely.

This story was one of the hardest I have ever had to read. Not because it was a bad plot or a bad story but because the main character went through so much. The pain Kacey felt every waking moment was palpable and dripped off the pages to make even my own chest ache for her. Kacey dealt with so much and it seemed every time she found a bit of happiness or forgot her problems for even a nanosecond, something happened to drag her back into her pits of despair and fear. I loved when Kacey went into her "bitch mode" where she got snarky and sarcastic. The other characters always seemed so put off by it and I am sure they saw it as her defense mechanism, but I almost wished to see more of that side of her.

I could tell something monumental would happen with Trent and I almost resented the further I got into the story because I feared the grand revelation. Avoiding spoilers, let me just say... it's a doozy. I alternated between hating Trent and loving his patience with Kacey. I have not had such a rollercoaster love affair with a book boyfriend in ages. It shifted from chapter to chapter. I hated him in chapter so-and-so but flip the page and I was swooning. I wonder if I should sent K.A. an angry letter for all the heart palpitations she inflicted on me!

Ten Tiny Breaths is a story that sends it's readers on an emotional upheaval of love, hate, and absolute despair when it ends.


Available at:
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Saturday, January 17, 2015

Review: Masquerade by Nyrae Dawn

Title: Masquerade

Author: Nyrae Dawn

Series: Games #3

Publication date: January 7th, 2014

ISBN: 9781455576333

Synopsis (according to Goodreads):
A biker. A tattoo artist. A love to last a lifetime.

Maddox Cross has always had to be tough. When his father went to jail for murder, the teenager took care of his sister and mother. Now on his own and working security at a night club, Maddox wants to become a tattoo artist--a dream that comes closer to reality when he falls for the hottest, most tatted woman he's ever seen. She's wild and beautiful, and Maddox will do anything to be with her.

Bee Malone came to town to open up her new tattoo parlor, Masquerade. Since being kidnapped as a young girl, Bee has had trouble getting close to anyone. But when she meets Maddox, she sees that under his hard biker's body is the sensitive soul of an artist. What started out as a sizzling one-night stand soon becomes so much more.

Bee wants Maddox to join her tattoo business, but letting him into her life means revealing all her most intimate secrets. And as the past begins to intertwine with her present, Bee fears their love may not be as permanent as their ink...

Review:
I received an e-copy of this book from the publishers on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

So, this book has been sitting on my TBR list for a long time. I figured after reading the first two books, what better way to finish off a series AND get one of my review books reviewed than to continue on with my Nyrae Dawn marathon. I didn't see much of Maddox in the first two books so... interest was peaked.

Maddox has demons of his own from his father ruining Adrian's life much the same as his baby sister Delaney does. The difference is that Maddox feels what happened was his fault. The brooding man of few words felt that he should have spoke up and that possibly if he did the entire situation with his family and Adrian's could have been fixed. He takes the burden upon his own shoulders for what happened and with that he doesn't allow himself to dream of much anymore. He turns to tattooing and bed hopping as a way of coping. Little did he know that one of his conquests would be the tattoo shop owner he hopes to apprentice for.

Bee also has a way of keeping people away. She never allows herself to feel any sort of closeness with anyone ever again. She felt close to her birth parents and they were taken away when she was kidnapped, then she allowed herself to care about her kidnappers and they, too, were taken away. There is no stability for Bee aside from her new tattoo shop, Masquerade. When Maddox enters her life she is set to keep him away. She doesn't ever see her bedmates again after that one night. But Maddox has talent. He could be good for business and she can see he desperately needs the chance. Reluctantly she takes him on but the more time they spend together the deeper their emotions become.

Two people who are not looking for any sort of commitment may not have any other choice.

Finally, a female protagonist I loved. I liked her even more than Maddox. She was quick witted and sassy. I love sassy female leads. She gives Maddox a challenge which is clearly what the boy needs to get his head out of his butt. The only problem was that the emotional turmoil they both had seemed a little diluted. Maddox feels guilty for not speaking up when something was wrong in his family and Bee, while loved by her kidnappers and birth family alike, can't seem to trust anyone? Eh, not really strong enough reasons to be as closed off as they both are... at least to me. If Bee's kidnappers had mistreated her or Maddox had had a bigger role in what his father did then maybe all their issues would have made a little more sense. This book was a case of the characters being flawless but the storyline being lackluster. It was unfortunate.

However, Masquerade was translucent in its depth of love between Maddox and Bee. I found myself wanting to read more about their present and less about their pasts.


Available at:
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Friday, January 16, 2015

Review: Façade by Nyrae Dawn @NyraeDawn

Title: Façade

Author: Nyrae Dawn

Series: Games #2

Publication date: September 24th, 2013

ISBN: 9781455576319

Synopsis (according to Goodreads):
Can love save them?

After her father commits a crime that shatters her family, eighteen-year-old Delaney Cross is tired of pretending everything is all right. Packing up her car, she sets out to find the people her father hurt. Her search leads her to places she's never been--and into the arms of Adrian Westfall.

To the outside world, Adrian is a sexy, charming ladies' man. But his playboy persona is just an act. Secretly his soul is tortured by a memory too painful to share. Only Delaney seems to see through his façade to the real man underneath. And for the first time in his life, Adrian feels he can begin to open up about his past.

Together, Adrian and Delaney share a passionate love they never expected to find. Yet both still harbor their own secrets. When the dark truth is finally revealed, will it bring them closer together--or tear them apart forever?

Review:
After reading the first book in the series and taking the journey with Colt and Cheyenne I was anxious to see how the womanizing Adrian found love. I didn't much care for him as a character when he was introduced in the first book but I still wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Adrian is known for his parties. He is known as the guy who is chronically high and always down to have a good time. His house is known as the party house where people randomly show up and start to drink and sleep around without even getting his permission first. Why would they need it? That Adrian is a lie. Adrian gets high to mask the pain of losing someone near and dear to his heart. He finds himself in bed with random women in hopes of feeling good for even a second of his life. He allows the parties because the noise drowns out the voices in his head. Adrian is a sinking ship and he knows it. He doesn't know how to find his way back to reality so he wallows in his suffering. Until Delaney sneaks past his defenses and makes him feel things he had thought he would never feel again.

Delaney is an eternal optimist. She believes that she can right her father's wrongs if she is determined enough. Her mother hates her for how close Delaney was with her father before that tragic day when he was taken away from them. Her mother continues to harbor ill will toward her despite Delaney's attempts to make everything right. She hopes if she can apologize to Adrian for her father's role in his tragedy that everyone's lives can get better. But as she gets closer to Adrian she starts to wonder if telling him will solve anything. She doesn't know if she should risk the budding relationship the two are forming by revealing her awful truth.

Can Delaney's ever present optimism bring the downtrodden Adrian into the light once more or will she ruin everything and would the man even more?

I absolutely adored Delaney and Adrian's story. I didn't know how Delaney was ever going to tell Adrian what her father did after they started to find a connection between each other. I thought that once Delaney told her secret, Adrian would be gone. Now, of course, romance novels rarely ever end that way but I was worried. I knew if some guy's father was the source of all my heartache, I'd have a hard time not holding that against the guy I was interested in.

As I stated before, I really didn't care for Adrian when he was introduced in Charade. But I hoped that I would grow to like him as I got to know him a little better. My opinion of him did a complete 180. I found him to be the most charismatic male lead even with sexy, cocky Colt as his competition. Adrian was so wounded and destroyed I just wanted to wrap him in bubble wrap so he'd never hurt again.

Delaney's optimism was a little annoying at times. I don't know what my issue is with the female protagonists in this series. I don't outright hate them but there is always something about them that I find a little tedious. However, Delaney's peppy-ness didn't take away from my love of the story.

Façade is hands down one of the most harrowing love story I have read. My heart felt a little worn after reading it.


Available at:
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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Review: Charade by Nyrae Dawn @NyraeDawn

Title: Charade

Author: Nyrae Dawn

Series: Games #1

Publication date: October 22nd, 2012

ISBN: 9781480213982

Synopsis (according to Goodreads):
Nineteen-year-old Cheyenne tries to portray the perfect life to mask the memories of her past. Walking in on her boyfriend with another woman her freshman year in college threatens that picture of perfection.

Twenty-one-year-old Colt never wanted college and never expected to amount to anything, but when his mom's dying wish is for him to get his degree, he has no choice but to pretend it's what he wants too.

Cheyenne needs a fake boyfriend to get back at her ex and Colt needs cash to take care of his mom, so they strike a deal that helps them both. But what if Cheyenne's past isn't what she thought? Soon they're trading one charade for another--losing themselves in each other to forget about their pain. The more they play their game, the more it becomes the only things they have that feels real.

Both Cheyenne and Colt know life is never easy, but neither of them expect the tragedy that threatens to end their charade and rip them apart forever.

Review:
I am extremely unsure of this book simply based on cover appeal. This cover kind of looks like something I could have thrown together myself on my graphic software. But, determined not to be one of those readers, I decided to give it a shot anyway. What is the worst that could happen?

Cheyenne has more issues than any normal protagonist. Not only does she have abandonment issues, anxiety attacks, and a narcissistic determination to always been seen a certain way, but she also just got cheated on by her long-term boyfriend. Well, if that doesn't make a girl question everything and try to reevaluate her life, I don't know what would. Cheyenne is dead-set on being seen as fine. She doesn't want anyone to ever see how weak she truly is and in that mentality she decides she needs to find a fake boyfriend so her ex and his new woman know she has moved on. She doesn't want anyone's pity so when she sees a guy hassling her ex-boyfriend at her coffee shop sanctuary, she knows exactly who she wants to fill the role of her fake boyfriend. Not to mention from the guy's appearance, she is sure he could use the money she's willing to pay for his services.

Colt is nobody's charity case. So when Cheyenne approaches him and offers him money to pretend to be her boyfriend, he lets her know in no uncertain terms that he is not interested. But with a dying mom he starts to consider whether pretending to be the "Princess's" fake boyfriend wouldn't be a small price to pay for the cash he desperately needs.

A bargain is struck. Colt and Cheyenne pretend to be together but soon the act becomes less of a charade and more of a reality.

I absolutely loved Colt. He was just enough of an asshole to make me want to kick him while also wanting to swoon all over him when he had his sweet moments. I found myself a little annoyed with Cheyenne's desperation to appear unaffected and detached so people didn't know anything was wrong with her. Someone being that fixated on the public eye makes me think of them as a little shallow. I love how Colt tries to break her of that problem. Colt and Cheyenne seem to bring out the best in each other. They went through hell and back side by side and found a way to make it work when most couples in reality would have given up and shoved their significant others away. These two were a match made in literary heaven.

Charade is a new adult read that shows the power of love and what two people can overcome when they have it.


Available at:
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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Review: More Than This by Jay McLean

Title: More Than This

Author: Jay McLean

Series: More Than #1

Publication date: August 20th, 2013

ISBN: 9781490916637

Synopsis (according to Goodreads):
When Mikayla imagined her prom night, she envisioned a fairy-tale evening full of romance. So when betrayal and tragedy come in quick succession, Mikayla is completely destroyed. Suddenly, everything she loved and everyone she relied on are tragically, irrevocably gone.

Jake, a handsome boy she just met, happens to witness her loss. With no one to turn to, Mikayla is forced to depend on this near stranger and his family, and he in turn is determined to take care of her. But Mikayla--thrust into adulthood with no one to guide her--is desperate to contain her grief and hide what she considers to be her weakness. Mikayla and Jake both want more, but despite their growing closeness and intense chemistry, she tries to keep her distance and protect her heart. As he does everything in his power to win her trust, Mikayla must choose between remaining alone and safe or letting love in.

Review:
I received an e-copy of this book from the publishers on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I've found this fantastic feature on Goodreads that offers suggestions for books that are similar to others. So, on a whim I decided to let the suggestion fates choose my next book to read. I randomly went to a book I had loved and looked to see what books were listed as suggestions that I had for review. This was one of those gems. Low and behold, it was also the beginning book in a four book series! Well, if that doesn't drive me to try it out and see what I think, I don't know what else would!

Mikayla has an unimaginable tragic and emotionally wrecking prom night. She not only gets betrayed by two people she thought were her best friends and confidants but then she loses her entire family in a random act of violence in the same night. She is left with no clue how to survive without her family and the people she was closest too. The only saving grace is that Jake was there the night her world shifted and went to hell.

Jake noticed Mikayla the moment they entered the restaurant. He was inexplicably drawn to her and when her date turned out to be a class-A asshole, he was more than happy to take her under his wing and try to save her night from ruin. Little did he know that he would start developing feelings for her that are stronger than he ever imagined. Jake's appearance in Mikayla's life could not have come at a better time and despite Mikayla's resistance to getting involved with him after everything that happened in her life, their love may just be too strong to resist.

For the most part, I liked this book. I cried for Mikayla and her craptastic life and was rooting for her to get together with Jake. However, there were parts where I felt that the story could have gone a different way and would have made the characters a little more believable. Small critique since the story was almost tragically flawless in its portrayal. I kept waiting for Jake to get tired of Mikayla's shenanigans and move or at least try to since she was so steadfast to keep them from connecting fully. I would have liked a little more story behind Mikayla's family trauma instead of it just being mentioned in the beginning and end of the story. It would have made the story more than just a simply romance in the face of devastation.

Despite all this, More Than This was heart wrenching and tragic in a way that it could squeeze tears from stone easily.


Available at:
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Saturday, January 10, 2015

Review: Hell Without You by Ranae Rose

Title: Hell Without You

Author: Ranae Rose

Publication date: September 5th, 2013

ISBN: 9781492165590

Synopsis (according to Goodreads):
Time changes everything, except what's meant to be.

Seven years is a long time--long enough to transform Clementine from a small-town teenager with a broken heart into a woman ready to take on the world, but not long enough to make her forget about the man she was never supposed to see again. A temporary return to tiny Willow Heights thrusts her back into Donovan's life and home, unearthing heartbreak and obsession that have stood the test of time.

He left seven years ago too, for war and other things Clementine can only imagine. Coming back to the town where he grew up in the shadow of poverty and drug addiction makes no sense, and neither do Clementine's feelings for him. He could never forgive her for leaving, could he? Even if she had no choice.

Now, she has the freedom to choose... and so does he. Every day in Willow Heights makes it clearer: all he ever really wanted was her, and nothing will change that. Not even a taste of the hell that drove them apart in the first place.

Review:
I received an e-copy of this book from the publishers on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Out of all the review books I have, why did I choose this one? Uh, have you seen the cover? I mean, hot as hell is a more appropriate definition of it. Yes, I know... as a reviewer I have learned you should never judge a book by it's cover but what can I say? Cover appeal does tend to play a role periodically in my next book selection. I was in the mood for something titillating and exciting, so I chose this one to see if the story was as good as the cover art.

Clementine had never actually intended to come back to Willow Heights. She left it seven years ago to go to college and had planned to never look back. She had put her past behind her, or so she thought. When circumstances drive her to venture back to her hometown for a spell while looking for her dream job, she had forgotten how much of her life was centered around the town and it's inhabitants. One inhabitant in particular was her ex-boyfriend, Donovan. She left him behind and knew that he probably harbored ill feelings for her after her abandonment. When she lays eyes on the man she used to love, her heart starts to race just like it did when they were young and in love. She knows she has to stay away from Donovan or risk trouble with her family as well as risk her heart shattering all over again, but for some reason the fates have intervened and she is forced to share a house and even a bed with the only man she has ever loved.

As if Clementine's turmoil over Donovan isn't enough it seems there is a murderer on the loose and he has his eye set on Clementine and her family. When Donovan gets accused of the crime it is up to Detective Clementine to solve the case and put the true guilty party behind bars.

This book was actually physically painful to read. The back and forth between the protagonists seemed unrealistic. Some of Donovan's mental issues were referenced but never really described in detail. I would see rising action to a big scene to describe what went on in Clementine and Donovan's lives while they were apart and then it would never happen. Their past together is all well and good but can't a bit of their lives apart be also explained?

The relationship between the two seemed forced and all too easily resolved. Then instead of simply keeping the book firmly rooted in the contemporary romance category a murder mystery gets thrown in all willy-nilly. A murder mystery that was solved way too easily by the party confessing so all of Clementine's detective work was simply page filler that had no rhyme or reason.

I tried to find a redeeming quality in this book, but I just couldn't. I couldn't find anything in it that spoke to me or kept me reading. The only thing that made me finish the book was it's short length and my determination to give it a fair shake all the way to the end.

All I can say about Hell Without You is that it was kind of hell with this cast of characters. Unfortunate but... true.


Available at:
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