Twice In A Blue Moon

Alright, so my lofty goal to publish a book review every two days has fallen to the wayside… But for a good reason! I’ve started a new job and that does kind of take priority at the moment. But I’ve been reading Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren this week and now have some free time to write.

I’ve really enjoyed Christina Lauren’s books in the past. They’ve done both of my favorite tropes – second chance romance and best friends to lovers – and I loved those books. Twice in a Blue Moon is another second chance romance. Tate Jone’s has spent most of her life hiding her identity from the world – she’s the daughter of one of the world’s most famous actors. While on a two week trip to London, she meets and falls for Sam Brandis and eventually reveals her deepest secret to him. Unfortunately, he betrays her trust and she’s never been quite the same.

Fourteen years later, she’s about to star in a movie that could earn her some major awards and Sam is back. Her brain says she should want nothing to do with him but her heart is saying something else…

So for me, the reason I love second chance romance (and friends to lovers) is that there’s already an intimacy present between the couple. What threw me in this book is that Tate meets and falls for Sam in less than two weeks. As a reader, I really love to understand the characters – their thoughts, why they make one choice over another. It gives the story more depth and helps me connect to the characters better. I feel more apart of the story. I think because the first time that Tate and Sam fall in love is so freaking fast – and also at the very beginning of the book, I don’t really get that chance to learn about Tate and then even less about Sam.

The two different time periods aren’t intertwined throughout the book. This really fast relationship and story line just didn’t give me enough time to really click and it affected the rest of my read. I didn’t really feel the intimacy between the two. Also I’m not gonna lie – Tate only knew Sam for two weeks when he was in his early 20s, but somehow recognized him almost instantly 14 years later. Like, I still stare at people that I went to school with and ponder whether I actually know them.

BUT – what did I like about this book? The second half of the book takes place on a movie set which was really interesting to read about. Reading about Tate and Sam did give a little more insight into their characters towards the end. And I really enjoyed the side characters that popped up – Charlie, Tate’s best friend, and Nick, Tate’s co-star and love interest in the movie they were filming. Plus the movie plot itself! I half want Christina Lauren to write that story. I’d definitely read it!

This just wasn’t one of my favorite Christina Lauren books unfortunately. They seriously do write some amazing romances, so I’m looking forward to seeing what else they have up their sleeves. 3.5 out of 5 stars for this one!

Addicted After All

“Did you ever dream we’d be cured or something?”

“I knew from the beginning that we’d be addicted after all.”

Damn if that doesn’t explain this book. Addicted After All by Krista and Becca Ritchie. Book 5. Lily and Lo’s last (solo) book. Oof. This one hits me in all my feels. Saying goodbye to these was hard but where we leave Lily and Lo makes me so happy and warm that I’m almost okay with it. Almost.

The Core 6 have moved in together, but the new living arrangements still come with challenges. The spotlight has not gone anywhere. The media is just as obsessed with this group as ever. And they’re seriously pushing everyone, Lo especially, to their limits. It hurt to watch the media and other cruel people poke at Lo’s weaknesses, the biggest one being Lily. But the fact that he was able to stand back up, brush off the dust, and look a little bruised but not really worse for wear – it just really highlights the growth of his character. The parallels between hearing about horrible things concerning Jonathan Hale and him causing Lo to ultimately fall to the ground and relapse – and now hearing such awful things about Lily, her addiction, and their son, it’s so apparent that Lo is so much stronger. He fall or stumble but he can pull himself up and keep moving forward. Ugh, this cinnamon roll.

And of course, Lily is pregnant. She’s learning to adjust to her crazy hormones – that basically want to make her jump Lo at every opportunity. And with the media and their judgmental ways already deciding that she won’t make a good mother. This book is a lot of Lily worrying about how her battle with her addiction is going to affect her son. She wants to prioritize her child over sex, but like I mentioned at the beginning, an addict is always and addict and she’s never going to be cured of this. And when she does give birth to an adorable Maximoff, she really struggles with a balance. There were absolutely times when she was knocked down and had a really bad day, but I think at least knowing that Maximoff needed her helped push her through. Lily is an amazing mom and there’s no way she’d ever abandon her child. So even when she struggles, there’s the light at the end of the tunnel reminding her to keep moving forward.

Also a big thing in this book – Jonathan Hale is giving up his title has CEO of Hale Co. and handing it down to someone in his family. This includes Lo, Ryke, Lily, and Daisy. At first none of them truly want the position but they absolutely don’t want anyone else to suffer either. So all four spend a fair portion of the book fighting against each other to impress the board. It’s no surprise that as the son of the CEO, Lo is at the center of all of this. He struggles with his feelings towards his father. Part of him wanted to do this for his dad because throughout the series, he talks about how Jonathan took Lo in when his own mother didn’t want him. Jonathan saved his life and Lo feels like it’s his time to pay back his dad. But certainly as the book progresses, I thought it was really interesting how Lo of all them started out making sure that he would win so that Lily and Ryke and Daisy wouldn’t be subjected to the corporate life to finding a new purpose and truly wanting the position.

There were so many great moments in this book. Rose has her baby too! Watching her and Connor navigate parenthood was such a treat. Daisy and Ryke are settling into their relationship – this book also comes right after Hothouse Flower. Lily has such love for her little sister’s love and seeing her share it with the world – such a Lily thing to do. #Raisy is alive. Addicted After All had so many sweet family moments too. Lo and Ryke have really hurdled the worst in their relationship and now they’re just strengthening their bond. And having him admit that Ryke saved his life and Rose saved Lily’s. Oof, my heart could not take it. It was pretty brutalized by this book, but I’m 100% okay with that.

Lily and Lo will never be cured of their addictions. That’s established in this book for sure. But after all the hardships these two have through together and apart, they’re stronger. They can hit a speed bump that may leave them a little dented – but they won’t be thrown from the vehicle. Lily and Lo have learned the strength to recover from their hurdles and I felt so, so proud of them and the happy stasis they reach by the end of this book. 5 stars for these two.

Lovers Like Us

I’m on to the next book in the Like Us series: Lovers Like Us by Krista and Becca Ritchie. More Maximoff and Farrow. In case you couldn’t already tell, I freaking love these two. They’re whole love story just warms my heart so much whenever I think about it, and it’s wonderful anytime I reread and watch them on their journey all over again.

Lovers Like Us starts right where Damaged Like Us ends. There was quite a media shit storm at the end of the last book and a shit storm between Maximoff and Jane versus the parents. Now it’s all about damage control – and boy do they come up with quite a plan. Most of this book focuses around a giant FanCon tour. The oldest five children of the famous families, Maximoff Hale, Sullivan Meadows, and Jane, Charlie and Beckett Cobalt, travel around the country on a bus with their bodyguards. Stopping in dozens of cities to meet fans and hopefully change the perception of the horrible rumor about Jane and Maximoff. However, while on tour, it becomes apparent that Maximoff may have a violent stalker and it’s absolutely a priority to keep him safe while continuing to travel around the country and meeting millions of strangers. It’s a bit of a nightmare situation.

I’ve mentioned this before, and I’ll mention it again, I seriously love Krista and Becca’s writing style. A lot of their stories focus more on character development along with the plot. Maximoff and Farrow are together, and in this book we can more of an evolution of their romantic relationship. They’re no longer a secret to the families and security team. They have a little more freedom and their relationship and it’s something that they’ll take advantage of.

Lovers Like Us covers a really interesting part of Maximoff and Farrow’s relationship – because it’s not a secret anymore (at least not in public) it’s almost like they’re at the very beginning stages of the relationship. They’re both trying to figure out how to fit into each other’s lives as boyfriends, not just client-bodyguard. Farrow learning to navigate the relationships Maximoff has with his cousins – most specifically Charlie. Those two are very caustic with each other and Farrow has learn to walk a thin line between letting Maximoff handle his personal issues with his cousin on his own while also being a pillar For Maximoff to lean on. Because as we learn in this book, Maximoff sometimes needs a person standing in his corner. And Maximoff has to learn how to be part of Farrow’s life. He spends a lot of his time with the security team and trying to make them see him less like a client and more like the boyfriend to Farrow will prove a challenge to him.

There are definitely some discussions of their sex life as well and thinking back on it, I think it’s really interesting to see how it kind of parallels just the levels of Maximoff and Farrow’s relationship too. As a celebrity, not a lot of Maximoff’s life can be private, but when it came to relationships and his love life, he certainly tried. Now Farrow is in his life. At the beginning of this relationship, Maximoff notes that he’s not overly concerned about whether he is Farrow’s forever guy – he’s just happy to be living in the moment with Farrow. But Maximoff does struggle with letting down certain barriers during sex, and it seems to match his intimacy with Farrow. He’s not willing to make his relationship public because he doesn’t want to subject Farrow to the masses. Farrow would lose his privacy and I think perhaps very subconsciously, Maximoff is worried that Farrow won’t want to stick around for that. It’s being completely vulnerable with Farrow to the whole world – his last guard. Lovers Like Us is this journey for Maximoff and Farrow to reach this absolute vulnerability with each other. That’s what I love about this book so much, is learning about this new level to their relationship. Seriously, this is the kind of romance that I love to read about – it’s not just about falling in love. It’s about staying in love and making it a lasting love.

Lovers Like Us is a perfect sequel to Damaged Like Us. We get to learn more about security and the famous families, and most importantly we get a lot of amazing #Marrow moments in this book that I absolutely adore. 5 stars!

Thrive

I’m still working on my reread of the Addicted/Calloway Sisters series, on top of the Like Us Series. In case you haven’t already noticed, I’m a big Krista and Becca fan. Next up to review is Thrive which is the fourth book in the Addicted Series and book six in the overall reading order. It’s been two years since the end of Addicted for Now and Thrive. Because Addicted series and the Calloway Sisters series could potentially be read as completely separate series, this allows readers to catch up.

This book is broken in to three parts: the months between Addicted After All and Kiss the Sky, the months during Kiss the Sky, and the months during Hothouse Flower. We get Lily and Lo’s perspective all of those events!

Usually in a couple’s book it focuses on their relationships with the others around them, so when it switches to another couple’s perspective around the same events, it can feel like it’d only be focused on the first couple’s problems and the second couple’s reactions to that. This still manages to show that more things were going on behind the scenes and makes the overarching story line richer. In Hothouse Flower, I read about Ryke’s thoughts on his relationship with his brother and root for him and feel so bad for how unfairly he felt Lo treated him. But then you read Lo’s reasoning behind his anger with his brother and suddenly I’m cheering for Lo and shaking my head at Ryke for not believing in his little brother more. And then it just makes me think about how there are so many different sides to a story.

Plus in this book, we get to see Rose and Connor’s love really solidify and Ryke and Daisy’s romance blossom all from an outside perspective and there’s definitely something to be said for that. There’s all these subtle things that couples do, that they would never mention in their own heads, but when someone else is watching them, you discover a new level to a relationship. Again, you just get more depth to an overall story and I truly love that, and that we get to see these interactions in this series.

We also get a lot of growth from Lily and Lo in this book. This covers the horrible rumors about Lo and Jonathan Hale in this book and how Lo handles it. He’s been sober for a while but I’d say he hasn’t really been put truly tested until this. Yes, Lily’s addiction becoming public news and being thrust into the spotlight is absolutely a challenge. But it wasn’t necessarily Lo’s personal challenge. So his foundation is a little unsteady and but he works so hard to make it solid for himself and for Lily.

Meanwhile, Lily is still dealing with the consequences of her addiction becoming public. Her sisters are hurting and so Lily is hurting. We see a lot of Lily’s guilt in this one, and like Lo, her foundation is a little shaky. A fair portion of this book is Lily trying to do right by her sisters, by going way out of her comfort zone. In high stress situations, she used to turn to sex and helping her sisters pushes her into that place. She spends a lot of this book learning to battle these challenges.

The time frame in this book covers almost two and a half years and really allows Lily and Lo to grow a ton. They were young adults (almost practically kids) when the series started and now their really entering into adulthood. That’s challenge enough but then we add in that these two are addicts and they’re trying their damnedest to build a strong, unbreakable foundation for their future. I think this a really awesome addition to the series. It gives the readers so much more depth to the beloved characters, an added layer of the story. 5 stars for Thrive!

Not So Nice Guy

R.S. Grey just posted the cover and synopsis for her next book, so naturally I’m in the mood for a reread of more of my favorites from her. This time it’s Not So Nice Guy. I love a good friends-to-lovers book, and this is a great friends-to-lovers. There’s just such an amazing bond between two characters when they start out as friends first. It gives their romance an added depth that I adore.

Sam and Ian are best friends. They’re both high school teachers, and met three years before the books starts at orientation. They immediately clicked – instead of paying attention to the sexual harassment policies and workplace protocol, these two were busy passing notes to each other and subsequently failing their orientation tests. Oops. But their friendship was solidified from then on. They trade food at lunch and have a standing West Wing Wednesday. Even if this wasn’t focused on their eventual romance, I’d be a little obsessed with Sam and Ian’s best friendship. These two are so close, that everyone they work with already assume that they’re together.

But even though they are best friends Sam secretly loves Ian and has buried her feelings for a long, long time. She’s not one for change, and telling Ian about her feelings would rock the boat in a major way. And when another teacher asks about their relationship, Sam’s quick to clarify – she and Ian are not together. And suddenly it’s a mad rush to get Ian’s attention – he’s fair game.

Ian didn’t care about that rumor. In fact, he liked the rumor. Because just like Sam, he’s been keeping a secret too: he loves Sam but he can’t tell her because she’s never indicated that she’s felt the same. But now Sam’s also fair game. And Ian’s kinda determined to win the race.

It’s always interesting to me to see how a friends-to-lovers romance unfolds. How do they managed to bust out of the friend zone? At first, both of them are just sticking with the status quo. But when their relationship status is suddenly everyone’s business, Ian adopts this take charge attitude. He’s not going to sit idly by, and wallow as all the male teachers turn all their focus on to Sam. He’s going to be sneaky (possibly terrorize a poor choir student) and sexy-as-hell. He needs Sam to understand that he wants a change in their relationship and he’s gonna make some big waves to rock their boat. I loved that Ian takes action in this book because it challenges Sam. There’s more depth to her character as we learn what her priorities are – does she firmly hold on to the present and past for it’s stability or does she go for it with Ian for what could be an incredible future together?

R.S. Grey is the queen of romantic comedy and, in my opinion, Sam is her funniest character. She’s just so silly. So many good lines from her “What was I supposed to do? Win with grace and aplomb?” “When I bribe, I bribe hard.” “‘Ian, let’s go. Grab your plate. Yes, take it – and your glass! Here I’ll help you.’ My arms are loaded up with stolen cutlery and dinnerware.” “There’s a chance I’m being a tad bit dramatic. I don’t think murderers coat their nails in baby pink nail polish.” Seriously, this is Sam’s head 80% of the time and I loved it. Ian also has his funny moments, but I’d say his is closer to a dry wit and it’s like the perfect balance to Sam’s ridiculousness.

All in all this is a super cute, quick read with absolutely hilarious moments and a swoon-worthy romance – 5 stars!

Damaged Like Us

Damaged Like Us by Krista and Becca Ritchie. I started my reread of this book this week – there are currently 5 books in the series and only 5 weeks until the next installment, Headstrong Like Us! It’s the perfect time to catch up!

This is the first book of the Like Us series – the introductory book. If you read the Addicted/Calloway Sisters series, you know who most of the characters are, but if you’re new, it’s a lot of people to keep straight. But I think Krista and Becca did an awesome job easing the characters into the storyline!

A big part of this book is all about the Famous Families and the bodyguards who protect them – so learning about how the security team operates and works with their clients so just so fascinating. Krista and Becca do an amazing job with their attention to detail. Like there was no question they don’t have an answer for. It’s so thought out and as a reader that tends to get nit picky on the details, I seriously appreciate all the effort they put into their books, this one included.

Now of course, on to the most important part – Maximoff and Farrow. I’m obsessed with these two. They might be my favorite couple (even above the parents!) and watching their bodyguard-client relationship start and watching it evolve into more — I was pulled in. I wanted to know everything about these two and how they eventually came together.

Maximoff is the oldest boy in the Famous Families and he loves responsibility. He’s headstrong and is used to a certain way of living. I don’t mean that in like he’s used to certain luxuries. In fact, we learn that because he’s famous, he does loose out on experiences. He was born famous and the media is just another parent to him. They raised him to know that he will never have true privacy and Maximoff is such a caring and thoughtful person that he would never want to subject someone else to that kind of harassment. So he’s never wanted or had a relationship and he’s been fine with that.

But then in comes Farrow, who is this know-it-all, maverick bodyguard. He’s known Maximoff for a while but as his bodyguard, he gets to see all the behind-the-scenes of Maximoff’s life. But Farrow is a bodyguard and he’ll fight for his client – and he’s determined to give Maximoff everything he wants, even if Maximoff doesn’t fully know what that is. He’s a rebel willing to bend all the rules for Maximoff and I swoon everytime I think about it. Farrow is like the best person to push at Maximoff’s buttons. He won’t pacify him, he challenges him, and Maximoff is a guy who will embrace any challenge gladly. Farrow is like the perfect challenge.

Maximoff will figuratively and literally fight for for everyone he cares about, but he needs someone who will fight for him with equal passion and that is absolutely without a doubt, 100% Farrow. Of course, as his bodyguard, Farrow would protect him from any physical harm. Maximoff has pointed out “it’s not their job to be emotionally invested in us.” But Farrow is a 24/7 bodyguard and he spends so much time around Maximoff, of course he’s going to be emotionally invested – he’s going to fight and protect Maximoff physically and emotionally. They are seriously perfect together, and this book does such an amazing job of highlighting all of that!

5 stars for Damaged Like Us!

Hothouse Flower

For five books, Daisy and Ryke have been side characters and now it’s finally time for these two to shine. Hothouse Flower is book 2 in the Calloway Sisters series by Krista and Becca Ritchie and book 5 if you read with the Addicted series.

These two have been like fifth wheels to Rose and Connor and Lily and Lo for a long time. In the past Daisy has flirted with Ryke and it seemed like she had a crush on him. But for the most part they’ve been following behind the other four, but not traveling together. They’re both lonely. And now that Daisy is officially an adult, maybe it’s time for them to not be lonely anymore.

Daisy is just struggling to figure out her identity. She’s a super model and in that world, she’s treated like an adult. But she’s the baby of her family and sometimes they treat her like she’s her age. But Daisy needs a balance – yes, there are some things that she missed out on in her childhood, but she’s not naive. She’s mature, but her carefree nature tricks others and so they just treat like an 18 year old who has no knowledge of the real world. She actually knows more about the world than most. Daisy’s also so kind and she’s not the kind of person to make waves if she’s upset so she kinda just takes it when people speak down to her. Hence, her struggle with her identity.

Ryke was the “yes” kid. He’s had no shortage of family drama. For basically his entire life, his parents have been feuding, and he’s been forced to keep his identity a secret. No one could know who his dad was – “Yes, dad.” And publicly his mom couldn’t even be his mom, because she was supposed to be Loren’s mom – “Yes, mom.” And he just took it, for the longest time. But he was able to break free from them and now he sees Daisy struggling with the same things that he did. He wants to be able to help her.

What did I love about this book? One – Krista and Becca’s ability to write such unique voices. We’ve spent so much time seeing these two from everyone else’s perspective and finally we can know what’s going on in their heads. From the outside, Daisy is so bubbly and wild and with Ryke’s excessive cursing and privacy, he doesn’t seem to be much more than a jock. But there is more depth to these two characters and we finally get to understand that in this book! Two – we get to see more of the brother-bond between Lo and Ryke. There’s some really important moments that we get from Ryke’s perspective. In the past, of course, we only understood Lo’s stance on his relationship with his brother and now getting Ryke’s take on it all – it gives the relationship so much more depth. Three – I was just so moved by Daisy and Ryke’s romance – it’s not until you start to read in their heads that you realize how truly lonely they were and how much they absolutely deserve to be with someone who cares wholeheartedly for them.

I was so in love in with Daisy and Ryke’s journey to each other – 5 stars for these two wild characters!