A Lie for a Lie

Holy heck did I love A Lie for a Lie by Helena Hunting! I’d fly through a chapter at work, be productive for a little, then read another chapter. And here I am at the end of the book. RJ and Lainey are seriously too sweet for words. I’ve got a toothache (in a good way)! Second-chance romances are probably my favorite trope out there and this one was perfect. Lainey and RJ meet on a flight up to Alaska and fate pushes these two to spend more and more time together during their trip. Staying a little outside of the city of Kodiak, they wind up in each other’s paths and get to know each other. (combine those two sentences)

RJ’s just tired of women who want him for his fame and money – he just wants some peace from the crazy. But he wouldn’t say no to a real connection and he finds that in Lainey. Lainey is innocent and a little naive at times, but she’s adventurous and smart but most importantly she has no idea how well known RJ is in the sports world. There are some rescue attempts but RJ recognizes how much Lainey wants to be independent and that plus their amazing chemistry, makes them the perfect match. The sexy times are fire and I swooned through all of their domestic bliss. And when they separated, my heart broke as much as theirs did.

But, but, but they’re a perfect match! Fate pushed them into each others the first time and fate pushes them into another chance encounter about a year later! There’s a lot of hurt feelings, misunderstandings, and distrust. Something that I really appreciated about this book was that even though both RJ and Lainey told lies, they’ve grown in the year they’re apart and learn from past mistakes – namely communicating. So many times, I just want to tear my hair out while I’m reading because the characters are just poor communicators, and that’s just not these two.

Lainey has learned how to truly be independent and even when RJ comes barreling back into her life, she’s adamant about holding on to this new found freedom. But RJ is perfect for her which means he understands her and doesn’t just try to bulldoze her. I love these two together. Seriously, like so much.

I also think it’s really important that this book was all about actions speak louder than words. RJ had a lot of explanations and apologies to give when he and Lainey reunite – but she’s not trusting of him. After everything they’ve been through, I don’t think some flowery words should really fix everything. And it’s also about the right actions – sending gifts like flowers and chocolate may seem romantic but really it needs to proving that he hears what Lainey is saying and respects her. I fully support this.

This was a super cute read, and I’d recommend it in a heartbeat! 5 star read!

Kiss the Sky

After three amazing books in the heads of Lily Calloway and Loren Hale, Krista and Becca Ritchie finally let us take a peek into the minds of Rose Calloway and her boyfriend Connor Cobalt – and can I tell you how much I love Rose and Connor? I love them. A lot.

Kiss the Sky is a spin-off of the Addicted Series, so if you were ever opposed to reading about Lily and Lo (but really why would you?) this is the jumping off point. This book could be read as the first in the Calloway Sisters series, and you would still enjoy it without having read Addicted to You, Ricochet, or Addicted for Now. But truly, Kiss the Sky is so much fuller after reading the first three books in the Addicted series.

This book also holds a special place in my heart, because this was the first book I picked up. I devoured it, and how excited was I, to find out there were already more books earlier in the series? (Very excited).

We start Kiss the Sky a few months after the end of Addicted for Now. Lily’s sex addiction is now public knowledge. The Calloway family and their friends are all under the media’s spotlight. It’s salacious news and it’s hurting all the sisters. Rose’s own fashion company is floundering. So as the older sister, she’s come up with an idea to gain more control of the whole situation – a reality show featuring her, Lily, Daisy, Connor, Loren, and Ryke. As if that wouldn’t be challenging enough, Rose has to deal with living with Connor. They’ve been dating for over a year, but she’s still a virgin, and she’s still a little hesitant to take their relationship to the next step – it could get a little awkward when you’re sharing a bed.

Connor Cobalt – conceited, arrogant, cocky, narcissistic. All of these words, and more, describe this man. The way he carries himself, his confidence, his intelligence, people think he might be a god. Connor thinks he’s a god. So if he’s not human, then he shouldn’t have to deal with silly things like human emotions. He acknowledges that they exist, but not for him, which makes him a little untrustworthy. He’ll go for what he wants and feelings like guilt and remorse won’t hold him back. Connor wants Rose, and he has to learn how to open himself up to her on a deeper, emotional level before she’ll open herself up to him. 

Kiss the Sky is Rose and Connor’s romance – and one thing I appreciate is that these two have already been dating for a year when the book starts. We, as the readers, don’t have to sit through the back and forth of will-they-won’t-they? Instead we can watch as they strengthen and fortify their relationship. But even with challenges being thrown at them from all angles, Rose and Connor continue to learn how to be in a relationship with each other and how to balance family and friends at the same time. I love seeing these two work together. They flirt-fight constantly and it can be jarring to some and hard to see their feelings for each other… But as Rose says “I like competing against you. But I like being your teammate more.” And really. SAME. They flirt-fight so much that it makes the moments when they work together so, so much sweeter.

Also a huge applause to Krista and Becca for writing different characters. I can’t tell you how many times characters start to blend together because tonally they all sound the same. Krista and Becca work really hard to create very unique voices for their characters. Rose and Connor are the “nerd stars” of the Core 6 and are super smart. Especially Connor. He is absolutely one of a kind and just reading his thoughts and internal monologues, it’s almost impossible not to be impressed.

Rose and Connor are like the ultimate power couple and I absolutely enjoyed reading their book – five “nerd stars” from me.

Hotshot Doc

R. S. Grey – queen of romantic comedy. I discovered her a few years ago with her summer Olympic themed books and never turned back. Also I follow her on Instagram and I’ve been obsessed with her life and watching her adorable daughter Halle grow up. I know that life is so much more than what people post, but I really dig her aesthetic. Anyway, she writes amazing standalone romances and they’re quick reads for me, so I chose to reread one of my favorites – Hotshot Doc.

I also chose to use Audible with this book, which is super different for me – I tend to get really annoyed that the narrators don’t sound exactly the way I think the characters should sound. But I’ve been busy with life, and I figured this would be a good way to multitask. Listen to a book and do my laundry? The dream. And I have to say I actually really enjoyed listening to this one, and I’m considering giving Audible another chance. The narrators really nailed the way I imagined the main characters, Bailey and Matt, would sound. 10/10 would recommend listening to the audiobook for this one!

I wouldn’t necessarily classify this as an enemies-to-lovers romance, because Matt just seems kind of annoyed with everyone in his life, not just Bailey, and if everyone’s his enemy then, eesh, that’s a tiring life. There were some cringe moments for poor Bailey on her way to proving herself with Matt, but from the beginning he definitely has a sweet spot for her and I loved it. It was in those moments where Matt would really think about how his attitude effected those around him and eventually, we do start to see a change in him.

Bailey and Matt. I loved these two. Matt’s like this scary, angry surgeon at the hospital that Bailey works at. Mostly, she hears the horror stories from ex-surgical assistants (and she tries to make them feel better by drawing devils horns on pictures of Matt). But when Bailey’s surgeon retires pretty unexpectedly, she’s in desperate need of a job – and her only option is Matt. Matt, since he can’t seem to hold on to a surgical assistant for long, is in desperate need of someone to help him in the OR – and his only option is Bailey. Seriously, it’s adorable when they realize they’re predicament.

I really liked the way their romance built up. There was definitely an attraction between the two but it takes a little bit before there’s real tension and it breaks. And even then it still manages to follow a realistic time frame. The tension builds up again until you’re begging these two to do something and that just makes it that much sweeter when something finally happens.

There were plenty of swoon-worthy moments in here. Matt is one helluva hero – making sure to respect Bailey and follow by her rules, yes yes yes. But also he knows when to push her out of her safety zone and help her experience life more and also yes yes yes.

Also a shout-out to Bailey’s hilarious younger sister, Josie. This bookworm child added some great moments to the book with her purity and innocence. Ugh, protect that one always. Bailey is determined to give her sister an decent life and Josie just wants to make life easier for her sister and I loved this sister bond.

I’ll end this with some of my favorite lines from the book, because seriously no one has a sense of humor like R. S. Grey.

“There was this instant connection. You get it. You probably feel the same way when you get a new medical device, this sort of excitement down in your loins.”

“What sane gluten-eating American turns down homemade baked goods?”

“Oh right, that isn’t Casanova standing across from me; it’s Dr. Beep Boop Robot.”

“What is it about jet black, slightly rumpled, grip-it-while-he’s-kissing-you-senseless hair that turns brains to goop?”

“Choosing Harry Potter over her own flesh and blood?! I would the same, but how dare she?”

I loved this romance. It’s one of my favorites from R. S. Grey so 5 stars from me!

Addicted for Now

Today is October 10th, which for fans of the Addicted Series – it’s Lily and Loren anniversary. That makes it the perfect excuse to review another Lily and Lo book – Addicted for Now by Krista and Becca Ritchie.

We start this book right where Ricochet left off, with Loren coming home from rehab. .Lily and Lo are back together, but they’re determined not to backslide into their addictions – and it’s a real challenge for both of them. Lily shares a bed with Lo, and as he equates it, it’s like him climbing into bed with a bottle of whiskey. It’s very risky but that certainly is a different obstacle to face a sex addict versus an alcoholic. 

But while it’s so important that neither of them enables each other, they’re facing a huge problem. Someone knows about Lily’s addiction and is threatening to reveal everything to the world. As revenge against Lo. Lily now has to come to grips with what kinds of consequences her past will cause, not just herself but her family and the people attached to her family (Ryke and Connor). Lo has to deal with past – he was an angry, spiteful person when he was drunk, and he did some destructive things, things he’s not proud of.

And interspersed between Lily and Lo’s romance are some great (and some not so great) family moments. Lily’s closer relationship with her sisters is something that she loves but at the same time, if her addiction is revealed to the public then her sisters will also be hurt. It’s like an explosion going off near Lily, the tighter she holds on to her sisters then closer they are to the blast and will be hurt almost as much as Lily. Grappling with the guilt is really hard for Lily and throughout the book she does things that she’s not wholly comfortable with just for the sake of doing right by her family. 

We also meet more of Jonathan Hale in this book, through Lo’s point of view. Understanding why Lo is the way he is requires a look into the Hale residence and Jonathan’s parenting. He’s as vindictive and spiteful as Lo and enough confidence behind his actions to make him dangerous. He will do whatever it takes to get what he wants, but I think, feels little remorse for the people he may trample to get there – and Lo was trampled a lot. But Lo is also what little family Jonathan has and he cares about his son, in his weird way. It was really interesting learning more about their dynamics throughout the book.

Ricochet gave us the little peak at what recovery is like – for Lily at least. But this book title tells it all – Lily and Lo are addicted for now. They’re not magically healed, they still struggle, and they have they’re low days. They have so many more hurdles to jump, but damn it they’re trying so hard. #LILOforlife They have each other, and they’ll fight together to make sure they’re only addicted for now, and not forever.

5 stars for Addicted for Now!

The Play

Did not expect The Play by Elle Kennedy to pop into my Kindle library yesterday morning (totally forgot I preordered that months ago), but 24 hours later, it’s finished and I’m here with my review. I’m gonna try really hard not to spoil anything major but just in case I slip, you’ve been warned!

I wish Briar University was a real place because damn there are so many hot hockey players to choose from. I want all of their stories. I’m fairly certain I read somewhere that The Play, which is Hunter Davenport’s story would be the last in the series, but all my fingers are crossed that Elle Kennedy will consider returning to those boys in the future.

After two books of questionable Hunter Davenport behavior, he’s finally learned his lesson after breaking his wrist and costing a super important game last season. Now he’s the team captain and is determined to be the best damn captain to his boys – which in his head means no sex for the whole season. I admire his initiative, truly, but oh Hunter, there are better ways to make sure a girl doesn’t distract you from your playing. C’est la vie.

We’re also introduced to Demi Davis. I love Demi. She admittedly doesn’t have many girl friends, but I would be one of them. All of the Cheerleaders, Surgeons, Children, Magicians Who Kill episodes that pop up in this book? Yes. Drinks a Bud Light, then some super special craft beer. “It tastes exactly like the other one.” Amen sister. I want to be this girl’s best friend. She’s feisty and has a sense of humor that matches Hunter’s and these two together are super cute. Even just their friendship was awesome to read about. Demi starts out this book with a long time boyfriend which makes her a little less tempting for Hunter, but let’s be real, he’s not immune to this beautiful woman. I really liked the fact that she kept this boyfriend for a fair amount of the book because it gave more page time to let Hunter and Demi establish their friendship before it went anywhere romantic.

Also I wish Briar was real because they’re class assignments sound a hell of a lot more interesting than the ones I was given in school. The two are paired up in a psychology course, participating in a patient-doctor role playing project (but nothing kinky people!) It’s the perfect set up to learn more about these two characters. Demi loves this class and secretly wants to make a career out of this. Hunter’s super familiar with the disorder he’s assigned to act and we get to learn a little more about his family life.

Through this class assignment we also learn the common struggle between Demi and Hunter – she’s ignoring her passions to follow her dad’s path and he’s ignoring his passions to not follow his dad’s path. It was a really interesting arc to watch evolve as they worked through some smaller things like shitty boyfriends and trying to stay faithful to a vow even if it has zero effect on a hockey player’s performance (seriously, though could’ve told you that myself, Hunter).

I really liked the pacing in this book too. Even though it might’ve felt a little slow burn to some, since Demi isn’t single to start out, but knowing that she’d eventually get with Hunter, I was just on the edge of my seat, desperately wanting to read faster so I knew how these two would get together. Nico seemed like a decent guy to Demi, so I was curious as to how they would break it off. It was a real page turner for me. And even after they do split, Hunter was determined to stick to his guns and then it was what’s it gonna take to push Hunter over the edge? I loved that about this book.

My only complaints about this book were:

The stereotyping – there’s just a lot of referring to a group of people by one giant, vague noun like “jock” or “sorority girl.” I just think it’s been well established that literally any person could be anything and there shouldn’t be this one label for a character. There were a few times when Demi would think about how nuts it was that she was dating a jock. Yes, hockey is a big part of Hunter’s life, but we learned a lot more

I’m not exactly sure how to explain my second compliant, but basically there’s a lot of the characters talking about how they were just kids during their senior year of high school, but now they’re in their twenties so they’re mature, grown adults now. “In their twenties”? They’re 20, 21 years old. This might just be me projecting but I have fully entered my mid-twenties at this point and I still feel like a kid.

There were also a lot of side characters in this one, and it got just a tad confusing keeping up with all of them. I loved Pax, Demi’s friend, who we’re introduced to at the beginning of the book, but then he disappears until almost the end. I would’ve loved to see more of him. And all of these characters just makes me want more books about them so nosy me can learn about everyone’s lives, but that’s mostly just a selfish wish on my part. You hear me, Elle Kennedy? Never stop writing about Briar University. Kthanks.

But I’ll end with this: Elle Kennedy never fails to deliver an adorable, swoony couple that also makes me laugh, so here are a couple of A plus lines.

“What’s a boner between friends?”

“Is there a font for snide?”

“Your body is two feet away. Where’d you learn to dance? Puritan Camp?”

Overall, it was another awesome trip to Briar University, appearances from my faves from the older books, and an emotionally grown Hunter Davenport. A 4.5 star read for me!

And finally, just two words: Pablo. Eggscobar.

Ricochet

So I’m really, truly terrible at sustaining a blog it seems. My excuse this time is a promotion, two new jobs, and school. I’ve had literally no time for myself this summer and I’ve learned my lesson. So the fall is now when I can finally take a break and I’ve written up a bunch of review in advance so I refuse to slack off like I have.

Krista and Becca Ritchie are starting off this awesome release binge. Four of their books are coming out in the next six months (one is already released and the next will be out next month). As prep, I’ve been doing a big old reread of all of their series starting with the Addicted Series, so today my review is on Ricochet. I reviewed Addicted to You way back when and Ricochet is a sequel novella.

Following the events in Addicted to You, Loren Hale is now in rehab for three months – and now Lily Calloway has to learn to battle her sex addiction so that she can stay loyal to her boyfriend. Ricochet by Krista and Becca Ritchie covers the three months that Lily and Lo learn to be away from each other. This book is all from Lily’s perspective, and we learn more about much Lily is struggling with her addiction.

Both she and Lo have finally acknowledged that they have some serious issues and the time for enabling is long gone. And now more people are in on their secret. Rose Calloway is spending her time balancing school, helping Lily wade through the struggles of withdrawal, and searching for a therapist to help her sister through her addiction. And Ryke Meadows is bouncing between helping Lo in rehab and keeping an eye on Lily for Lo while he’s away.

This was a great book for building on the side characters a little more. Lily is determined not to cheat on Lo and so she focuses on her family and friends. We get to see more of Daisy, the youngest Calloway sister, who celebrates her sixteenth birthday on a yacht with her socialite friends and her older sister. We get to see Rose’s relationship with Connor blossom and the chemistry between Ryke and Daisy start to simmer a little.

Even though Lo doesn’t really have a lot of “screen” time (though he does make a phone call or two to Lily), I think that was smart. Lily and Lo were starting to crumble by the end of Addicted to You. Now they’re able to build a much stronger foundation so that they can be stable pillars for each other once they are reunited.

I really loved this book because it’s such a  great dive into Lily’s character and understanding so much more about how she copes with stress and life, but also how determined she is to get better, both for herself and for Lo. Another 5 star read from Krista and Becca!

Meet Cute

Well, between re-watching Game of Thrones episodes, studying for an exam for grad school, and obsessing over new Taylor Swift album theories, I still managed to finished reading Helena Hunting’s latest release, Meet Cute!

I’ve read quite a bit from Helena Hunting already – parts of her Pucked series, and the Shaking Up series, and The Good Luck Charm – all of which I really enjoyed, so I’ve been really looking forward to this book!

This is a standalone novel – we follow Kailyn, currently a lawyer, previously a massive fangirl of former actor, Daxton Hughes. They have an adorable meet cute in law school, and eventually become friends. But then Dax betrays Kailyn and they go their separate ways after graduation. Years later, Dax suddenly becomes the guardian to his kid sister, Emme, and Kailyn is conservator of Emme’s trust – so she’s there to help Dax navigate his new role. This is the perfect recipe for Kailyn and Dax to reconcile and fall in love. And any meet cute that begins with “You’re Daxton Hughes. I love you!” is just pure gold.

I will be honsest, from the synopsis that I initially read about the book, I was expecting a little more Hollywood with filming and premiers and all the other cliches in a Hollywood romance. This wasn’t really the case as Dax ditches his acting roots for a lawyering job, and once I got over that switch in my mind, I really enjoyed that it made the book seem more realistic.

I thought this was a fairly standard romance book and I did find myself predicting the general direction the book was going – of course these hi jinx are likely going to be played out, of course the aunt winds up being a problem. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy reading a book like this! Plus Helena Hunting has an amazing way of layering in humor and it was definitely those lines and moments that had me laughing out loud.

“Does Emme wear thongs?”

“She’s thirteen.”

“That doesn’t mean anything these days.”

Oh the horrors of underwear shopping for your little sister. There were enough moments like these that balanced out the more… expected plot points. Other honorable mentions include Dax finding his mother’s collection of sex toys and Kailyn requesting Dax use breath mints (I DIED laughing at these exchanges, the pettiness!)

While the circumstances for Dax’s new guardianship are rather sad, Helena Hunting does a good job of balancing it out with her special brand of humor, and focusing on building the relationships between Kailyn, Dax, and Emme. So it does have the light-hearted moments alongside the more – it keeps the story grounded in reality for me which I kind of prefer.

Also, I was low key obsessed with the Taylor Swift mention in the epilogue! #swiftieforlife

Overall, I thought this was a great, quick read. Maybe this wouldn’t necessarily happen in real life, it felt real enough for me and I really enjoyed falling in love with Kailyn and Dax!