Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Review: Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover

When Tate Collins meets airline pilot Miles Archer, she knows it isn’t love at first sight. They wouldn’t even go so far as to consider themselves friends. The only thing Tate and Miles have in common is an undeniable mutual attraction. Once their desires are out in the open, they realize they have the perfect set-up. He doesn’t want love, she doesn’t have time for love, so that just leaves the sex. Their arrangement could be surprisingly seamless, as long as Tate can stick to the only two rules Miles has for her.

Never ask about the past.
Don’t expect a future.

They think they can handle it, but realize almost immediately they can’t handle it at all.

Hearts get infiltrated.
Promises get broken.
Rules get shattered.
Love gets ugly.


Speechless. Heartbreaking. Breathtaking. 

Colleen Hoover has delivered another spectacularly emotional and heart-wrenching novel that readers will rapidly devour in just one sitting. Each page leaves you hanging, anticipating for the next beautifully written line in Miles and Tate's epic love story. It is a story that appears doomed from the beginning, doomed by Miles' tragic past and Tate's unrequited love. 

The characters are flawed and wrecked - Miles by his shattering inability to open himself up to love; Tate by her uncontrollable hope in Miles. This can be frustrating at times, perhaps even bordering on irritating when Tate seems to drop everything (including her self-respect) for a man who knowingly and repeatedly crushes her tattered heart. Miles has his moments of sweetness but the dramatic contrast between his past, when he loved Rachel deeply and unreservedly, and now, when he is conflictingly cold towards Tate, perhaps leaves some readers less than impressed with his behavior. While he is to some extent justified by his soul-crushing past experiences, there seems to be little time for complete redemption at the end. By forgiving Miles so quickly at the end, Tate also appears a little too easy to please, and perhaps a little foolish for being able to so rapidly open her heart up to the same man who left it broken many times before. Nevertheless, they constructed a beautiful love story from the ugly ruins.
Told in alternating chapters by Tate in the present day and Miles six years earlier, the reader is magnetically drawn to uncovering the explosive events of the past and to observing Miles' journey to rediscovering love with Tate. With so many twists and turns in the plot, the author cleverly leaves readers doubtful of whether a happily ever after is obtainable for the two. Of course as is with every romance novel, it does eventually come, albeit a little rushed. 
Beautiful writing. Deeply emotional. Happy ending. 

Another must-read for 2014.


Friday, August 1, 2014

Review: Searching for Someday by Jennifer Probst

Kate has given up on love—at least for herself. She is both blessed and cursed with the ability to sense a romantic connection between two people—a gift that her family passed down for generations. When Kate launches her own matchmaking company, Kinnection, with her two best friends in a cozy New York town, she has to put aside her own romantic disasters to make her business a success.

But when a furious man stalks into her office and accuses her business of being a scam, Kate is given the ultimate challenge to prove herself. Slade puts himself in her hands and asks Kate to find him love. Enraged at his arrogance but stubbornly eager to prove herself, Kate agrees, dedicating herself to the journey of finding him love... only to find herself falling for him along the way.

Spicing up a fun romantic storyline with some magical powers (that ironically involve a unlucky-in-love heroine bringing soul mates together), the author delivers a light and enjoyable read. A promising start to a new series but I struggled to connect deeply with either Kate or Slade. They were not the most likeable of characters at some points in the novel, particularly in Slade's treatment of Kate and her unrealistically quick forgiveness of him as well as her conclusion of love for the guy when he has treated her poorly. Nevertheless, it had all the elements of romance and the author's polished writing skills leaves the reader interested for more in this series.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Review: The Do-Over by MK Schiller

Arrogant womanizer Kyle Manchester hates blind dates; however, when best friend, Brad calls in a favor, insisting Kyle take out his girlfriend’s sister, Kyle reluctantly agrees. Attorney Lanie Carmichael’s appearance is no surprise. She is dowdy, awkward, and dressed in so many layers she resembles a wedding cake, but not in an edible way. Her brazen attitude though, astonishes him, especially when she explains she has no interest in gorgeous Kyle. Lanie Carmichael is in love with Brad, and wants Kyle’s assistance in winning his best friend’s heart.

Kyle gradually accepts, justifying that the mystery of Lanie has sparked his natural, thirsty curiosity. As an ambitious journalist, he also can’t resist the Pulitzer worthy scoop she offers him. However, as Lanie sheds more layers, both emotionally and physically, Kyle begins to examine his life choices, and his true feelings for this enigmatic girl. With Kyle’s support, Lanie begins to unravel the secrets of her past, and the deep pain that has quietly defined her life. As they each learn more about themselves and each other, both question how a relationship built on fraudulent lies between two broken people could ever survive.

A very satisfying read, but not without its own share of heart breaking moments intricately weaved into a lightly humorous read centered around flawed by likeable characters with whom the reader can connect. Despite their misgivings, I was rooting for both Kyle and Lanie for the entire novel. Lanie's characterisation epitomises the devastating impacts of family rejection and parental notoriety, an interesting issue which the author delved into beneath the surface the unique romantic plot. A definite must-read for those who love relatively light and humorous romances where a player is reformed.


Friday, July 25, 2014

Review: Before Jamaica Lane (On Dublin Street #3) by Samantha Lane

One simple lesson in seduction between two friends can turn into so much more…

Despite her outgoing demeanor, Olivia is painfully insecure around the opposite sex—usually, she can’t get up the nerve to approach guys she’s interested in. But moving to Edinburgh has given her a new start, and, after she develops a crush on a sexy postgrad, she decides it’s time to push past her fears and go after what she wants.

Nate Sawyer is a gorgeous player who never commits, but to his close friends, he’s as loyal as they come. So when Olivia turns to him with her relationship woes, he offers to instruct her in the art of flirting and to help her become more sexually confident.

The friendly education in seduction soon grows into an intense and hot romance. But then Nate’s past and commitment issues rear their ugly heads, and Olivia is left broken-hearted. When Nate realizes he’s made the biggest mistake of his life, he will have to work harder than he ever has before to entice his best friend into falling back in love with him—or he may lose her forever…

This third installment in this successful series is the tale Nate and Olivia's friends-to-lovers romance. A happily ever after was never in doubt but the emotional journey there seen through the eyes of Olivia leaves the reader hanging onto every word and desiring to find out what happens next. While the storyline is seemingly familiar in this day and age of new adult publishing, the strength of the characters in this series and the flow of the narration gives the novel that extra stand-out spark. Nate's broken past and his denial of love for Olivia was realistically depicted against a backdrop of family and romantic drama amongst the other secondary characters. All the heartache, friendship, humour and romance reverberates through the reader as the author brings the loveable characters from 'On Dublin Street' back to life once again. Very nice to read on a lazy afternoon when you crave a romantic storyline that is not too heavy, not too light, but just right.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Review: Unforgiven by Elizabeth Finn

A mistake made long ago…

Pain buried so deep…

When Bailey Trent returns home to her small little Ozark mountain town after being away for nearly six years, she knows she’ll face the ghosts of her past. It does not mean she’s prepared to come face to face with the cruelest of those memories.

Darren Cory’s life is a shell of what it once was, and when he’s forced to endure the cause of his agony, hatred abounds quickly. But hating Bailey destroys him too.

Can Darren find a way to move past the pain and forgive the woman he once cared so much for before his anger consumes them both? Or will he drag them into the hell of an unforgiven past.

Hatred comes quickly, while forgiveness takes time to give. This is the case with Darren as he struggles to work through his mixture of confusing emotions towards Bailey - the woman he is supposed to intrinsically hate for her reckless driving which led to his sister's death, but at the same time he cannot suppress his romantic intentions towards her. Both main characters were equally flawed in different areas, but they ultimately show that love can prevail if you are prepared to forgive the past, fight for the other person and together pave a path for a brighter future. Unique plot, broken characters, a chance for redemption and love.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Review: Fighting Redemption by Kate McCarthy

Ryan Kendall is broken. He understands pain. He knows the hand of violence and the ache of loss. He knows what it means to fail those who need you. Being broken doesn’t stop him wanting the one thing he can’t have; Finlay Tanner. Her smile is sweet and her future bright. She’s the girl he grew up with, the girl he loves, the girl he protects from the world, and from himself.

At nineteen, Ryan leaves to join the Australian Army. After years of training he becomes an elite SAS soldier and deploys to the Afghanistan war. His patrol undertakes the most dangerous missions a soldier can face. But no matter how far he runs, or how hard he fights, his need for Finlay won’t let go.

Returning home after six years, one look is all it takes to know he can’t live without her. But sometimes love isn’t enough to heal what hurts. Sometimes people like him can’t be fixed, and sometimes people like Finlay deserve more than what’s left.

This is a story about war and the cost of sacrifice. Where bonds are formed, and friendships found. Where those who are strong, fall hard. Where love is let go, heartache is born, and heroes are made. Where one man learns that the hardest fight of all, is the fight to save himself.

War has the potency to scar all of those involved, whether directly or indirectly: from the courageous soldiers who sacrifice their lives for peace and freedom, to their supportive families who bear the emotional toll of their absence while anxiously anticipating their return. An immediately engaging opening seamlessly blends in with the heart stopping epilogue to round out a well-structured storyline that keeps readers guessing at every turn. Wonderful to read a deep, intense and emotional novel by an Australian author.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Review: The Mischievous Mrs. Maxfield by Ninya Tippett

The wrong girl is sometimes The Right One.

Charlotte Samuels thought she’d be stuck waiting tables at Marlow’s until all her debts are paid off—in about ten thousand years or so.

She definitely didn’t expect a marriage proposal from the arrogant Brandon Maxfield who was mysteriously blackmailed by his father to make her his wife if he didn’t want his least favorite cousin to run Maxfield Industries.

Charlotte’s instinct was to say HELL NO! but she’s stumped by a few obstacles:

1. His old man Martin Maxfield is dear to her heart and has been recently deteriorating in health.
2. She gets a million dollars if she stays married to Brandon for a year.
3. She rather likes the opportunity to teach the attractive but awfully rude man a few lessons he didn’t think he needed from a ‘teenage gold-digger’—his term of endearment for her on their first date—er, business meeting.

So what’s a girl got to do, right?

Sure, she’s young and a little rough around the edges but there’s something her would-be husband didn’t know about her yet—she’s nothing like he ever expected.

Thrust into the glitzy world a standard-issue Mrs. Maxfield would fit perfectly and rule with impeccable social grace, Charlotte will either have to force herself into the mold or break free of it, risking what little she has left for everything that she can gain.

*Currently free to read in Wattpad

Wow. Wow. Wow. I am speechless. What can I say?! Aside from being perhaps a little lengthy, this is one of the best novels I have read all year, and I don't say that lightly for just any plain old book. This amazingly refreshing read by Ninya Tippett is yet to published as print but I don't think it will stay that way for too long given how heartwarming her romance plot is, how beautifully inspiring her prose is and how enriching her characters are. 

From the very first line of the book, I immediately warmed to Charlotte, whose outlook on life is inspiring and heart breaking for a girl who has endured so much suffering at the hands of an abusive alcoholic father and an abandoning mother in the past.  Despite a few shortcomings in her character, such as her inability to fully trust those she loves, she nevertheless gives a whole new definition to making lemonade when life gives you lemons. Her personality is absolutely adorable and empowering to others and the advice she gives is invaluable. After starting off as a handsome but arrogant playboy who immediately assumed the worst of Charlotte, Brandon developed into a devoted and loving husband who couldn't let Charlotte go even if she tried to escape. Many times throughout this novel, I was swooning at the realistically adorable romance between these two wonderful characters. Their journey to love after a rather difficult start is enough to restore the belief in fairytales of even the most cynical of readers. 

A recurring motif of hero and villain was seamlessly blended into this well-planned storyline and reflected through the drama of the secondary characters. These other characters added realism and complexity to a story that mainly followed Charlotte's personal growth and discovery as she marries into socialite life. They all had their own downfalls, conflicts and personal journeys, all of which were cleverly conveyed to the reader through an exciting and consistent plot. The author's fluidity throughout the entire novel reflects an incredible talent in crafting a whole new world from words. A gripping must-read!