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!


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Review: In Harmony (Fenbrook Academy #2) by Helena Newbury

Everyone expects her to succeed...
Karen plays the cello like an angel, and it’s the only thing that makes her truly feel alive. But her father’s dream—for her to join a prestigious orchestra—leaves no time in her life for anything but music...not even love. Trapped on her path, she doesn’t know how to rebel.

Everyone expects him to fail...
Connor plays rock guitar like the devil himself, and his ability has got him all the way from a dead-end life in Belfast to a scholarship at Fenbrook Academy. But beneath his arrogance and charm, he doesn’t believe he has what it takes. He’s spent his time in New York drinking and partying, and the only future he sees is a return to Ireland as soon as he flunks out.

But what no one expects...
When Karen’s duet partner is injured, the bad boy guitarist and the shy, sheltered cellist are forced to team up. Neither likes the idea, but what begins as anger and distrust slowly spirals into love...and lust. If they can face up to their feelings, they might just have a chance together. If Connor will allow Karen to stop his fall, maybe he can show her a life she never thought possible...

This New Adult Romance is recommended for readers 17+

A nicely executed sequel that catches up with the lives of four friends studying at Fenbrook Academy, a college in NYC for dancers, musicians and actors. This novel centres around the cellist Karen, who is initially depicted as an uptight control freak with an irrational fear of public speaking. Through her perspective, the reader is invited to watch her grow out from underneath her father's tight control over her music career, to admire her new found sense of courage in standing up for what she wants, and to follow her intensifying romance with an Irish musician who is himself fighting personal demons. While focusing on Karen's journey, I loved how the author seamlessly continued the story of the other three main characters, Natasha, Jasmine and Clarissa, blending their different secondary storylines into Karen's and capturing the realistic side to life in the performing arts. Their solid friendship is reflected in the girls' continual support of each other through difficult times, despite what personal problems they may possess. Connor was a great male lead, totally swoonworthy towards the end as he fought through his insecurities and ditched the non-commitment lifestyle to give his relationship with Karen a real chance. Looking forward to more novels in this captivating series.


Monday, July 14, 2014

Review: Archer's Voice by Mia Sheridan

When Bree Prescott arrives in the sleepy, lakeside town of Pelion, Maine, she hopes against hope that this is the place where she will finally find the peace she so desperately seeks. On her first day there, her life collides with Archer Hale, an isolated man who holds a secret agony of his own. A man no one else sees.

Archer's Voice is the story of a woman chained to the memory of one horrifying night and the man whose love is the key to her freedom. It is the story of a silent man who lives with an excruciating wound and the woman who helps him find his voice. It is the story of suffering, fate, and the transformative power of love.

Mia Sheridan has not disappointed with this refreshingly romantic novel filled with strong characters who, by fighting for love despite all the curve balls life throws at them, execute a thoughtfully crafted plot that leaves you feeling hopeful and happy all over. Whether we have a physical voice or not, it is indeed our actions that speak louder than the words we craft. A thoroughly enjoyable must-read for 2014!


Review: Falling Into You by Jasinda Wilder

I wasn't always in love with Colton Calloway; I was in love with his younger brother, Kyle, first. Kyle was my first one true love, my first in every way.

Then, one stormy August night, he died, and the person I was died with him.

Colton didn't teach me how to live. He didn't heal the pain. He didn't make it okay. He taught me how to hurt, how to not be okay, and, eventually, how to let go.

A beautifully crafted novel that emotionally captures how we process grief and deal with mourning in the aftermath of losing a loved one. The flashbacks to Nell and Kyle's youthful and innocent teenage romance smoothly complemented the intense connection present between Nell and Colton, two broken souls who find love as they help each other come to terms with Kyle's tragic death. The novel lived up to everything the synopsis promised, and more. Heart wrenching, emotional, intense. Definitely worth reading. 


Review: Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover

At twenty-two years old, aspiring musician Sydney Blake has a great life: She’s in college, working a steady job, in love with her wonderful boyfriend, Hunter, and rooming with her good friend, Tori. But everything changes when she discovers Hunter cheating on her with Tori—and she is left trying to decide what to do next.

Sydney becomes captivated by her mysterious neighbor, Ridge Lawson. She can’t take her eyes off him or stop listening to the daily guitar playing he does out on his balcony. She can feel the harmony and vibrations in his music. And there’s something about Sydney that Ridge can’t ignore, either: He seems to have finally found his muse. When their inevitable encounter happens, they soon find themselves needing each other in more ways than one…

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover, a passionate tale of friendship, betrayal, and romance—and the enchanting music that inspires one young woman to put her life back together.

An amazingly crafted novel that has readers gripping onto every heart wrenching word up until the very end. It is a novel that captures the essence of how little control we have over whom and what the heart truly desires. Intense, heart breaking, emotional, captivating. A definite must-read for 2014.


A journey into this moment

Dearest fellow bibliophiles,

After a few years of being caught up with other projects and opportunities, I extremely excited to return to reading and reviewing all the latest YA, NA and romance novels.

I look forward to discovering a diverse range of wonderful and stimulating novels with you.


Scarlette xx

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