Review for Untamed (Unbeautiful #2) by Jessica Sorensen

Untamed by Jessica Sorensen

TITLE: Untamed
SERIES: Unbeautiful #2
AUTHOR: Jessica Sorensen
PUBLICATION DATE: February 27, 2015
PUBLISHER: Independent
PAGES: 296 pages
SOURCE: Via Author
RATING: 5 bows

In Unbeautiful, Emery tried to escape her family’s boundaries. She moved out and went away for college. Unfortunately, since she refuses to return home, her family has brought their rules and restrictions to her. The ex-boyfriend reappears with strict family orders that she will date him and the one guy she thought she could trust has betrayed her more than anyone. Ryler is her new bodyguard and the fact that he has been working for her father this entire time just breaks her heart. She was out on her own and her family still manages to control every part of her life. Her father has a creepy way of knowing exactly what is going on in her life and now she knows why. Ryler has been reporting back to him with her every move. But Ryler didn’t betray her as much as she thinks and he has no choice but to follow her father’s orders. The sooner he finds that gold information that the feds are looking for and can get out of this situation, the better. But the more he sees the abuse they put on Emery, the more he knows he needs to find a way to get her out of this life as well. Can they both escape their pasts or will it continue to haunt them?

Emery and Ryler are pretty much the same characters we fell in love with in Unbeautiful. We get to see a little more of Emery’s crazy side and a lot more of her worries now that the secrets are out in the open, but she’s still that girl who has been abused by her family in unbelievable ways. Ryler is much more tortured here because he’s new “job” requires him to lie to Emery and the tension between them is killing him. Gone is that easy way they had with each other before the truth was known. Gone were are the days when Emery would confide in him. She sees him as the enemy now and he is desperate to change that.

This is definitely not one of those books you can jump into without reading the first one. If you don’t read Unbeautiful first, you’ll be confused beyond belief. This series has quite a bit more mystery and suspense than I’m used to with Sorensen, but she wears it well. Unbeautiful left us with so many unanswered questions and Untamed does it’s best to answer most of them. We finally find out what really happened with Emery’s brother and how her father is so all-knowing when it comes to her new life. We do (eventually) get to see things heat up again between Ryler and Emery. That doesn’t happen for a while. It takes a lot for Emery to trust Ryler again, after what feels like the ultimate betrayal.

I was a little surprised to learn that this was just a duology. I’ve come to expect much longer series from her and I worried a little that she wouldn’t be able to condense everything that needed to be covered into just two books. That worry was stupid of me. I should know by now that Sorensen is capable of writing goal that she sets her mind to and this is no exception. Though I was still left with a question or two, I was completely satisfied with this story. I now genuinely hope that Ryler and Emery don’t get another story because that would mean more turmoil for them and they deserve some peace and quiet.

This is one of those series that you spend your weekend hiding in your house to finish reading because you have to know what happens next. I read Untamed in a single day. I stayed super late Saturday night to finish Unbeautiful and get quite a ways into Untamed before collapsing from exhaustion. I got up the next morning and immediately pick it back up to keep going. I am not a fast reader, so for me to finish something in a single day is an accomplishment and that only happens with things I truly cannot put down. I should surprise no one, least of all me, that it happened here because Sorensen knows how to write exactly what I like to read. She’s truly a master of her craft and I bow down to her brillance. Emery and Ryler’s story is heartbreaking, almost to that Nova & Quinton level, and you cannot help but feel for them and hope that they get the best ending possible. And they do get it, so what more could you want? You get suspense, mystery, tension, romance, and an happy ending?

****Thank you to Jessica Sorensen for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review****

5 bows
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Review for The Temptation Of Lila & Ethan (The Secret #3) by Jessica Sorensen

The Temptation Of Lila & Ethan by Jessica Sorensen

TITLE: The Temptation Of Lila & Ethan
SERIES: The Secret #3
AUTHOR: Jessica Sorensen
PUBLICATION DATE: October 22, 2013
PAGES: 400 pages
SOURCE: Purchased
RATING: 5 bows

Everyone believes Lila Summers has the perfect life. She is a very pretty girl with rich parents who always has a smile on her face. That is exactly what she wants you to think. Beneath that facade, though, Lila is a very troubled girl. Her life has recently started spirally out of control, more than normal. When she hits the bottom, only one guy is there for her. One guy who drags her ass out of the places she shouldn’t be. That guy is Ethan Gregory. Ethan has sworn to never love again. His first love went way wrong and that put him on the path to no strings attached hook-ups and friendship for his lifetime. That’s what Lila is, a friend. She can’t be more. He won’t let her. But the more he fights his attraction, the hotter it burns, and soon it’s too much to fight. Can they make things work or will things end in disaster.

Damn. I thought I knew Lila & Ethan pretty well from their parts in the two previous Ella & Micha books. I was wrong. I knew they had damaged past. That’s pretty much a given because Sorensen likes her main character’s twisted, but I wasn’t expecting it to be so bad for Lila. I wasn’t expecting Lila to have a drug habit or a set of parents that are the biggest assholes on the planet. This novel proves that sometimes mental abuse is worse than physical abuse. Lila had it so rough and drugs/drinking are the only way she knows how to cope. Those habits cost money, though, and that’s something she doesn’t have anymore. Daddy cut her off since she refuses to come home and play the role he puts her in. She doesn’t have any skills to really get a job on and she’s having to sneak out her windows to avoid the landlord because she’s so behind on rent. She genuinely believes there is no way out for her. And she refuses to try to get help. She won’t even tell Ella about it, even though Ella is her best friend. She doesn’t want to drag Ella into her shit when Ella just got her stuff together. The only one who is there for her is Ethan. Non-judging, sweet, helpful Ethan. The nice guy who acts tough.

Ethan, in typical Sorensen fashion, has a bad past that he blames himself for. It’s funny because when you think about Sorensen’s hero’s as a unit, they have so much in common and you’d think we’d be sick of hearing basically the same story over and over again, but we’re not. She writes it in a way that they all feel unique and different. Anyway, Ethan is that sweet guy underneath the bad boy exterior that reminds me a lot of Micha. It’s no wonder the two are best friends, they are so similar, even though Ethan does his best to hide it. I feel bad about his first experience with love. It went so wrong, but there was nothing he could have really done to prevent it, which he realizes eventually. Still, I had the urge to slap him in the head a few times to knock some sense into him.
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He’s just so damn stubborn! We’ve all got issues, dude, but you’ve got to get over them because avoiding shit isn’t living. On my list of Sorensen heroes, her rates third….forth….Quinton…Kayden…Luke….Okay, I don’t know exactly where he rates, but it’s below Micha! Micha is still my favorite.

Lila and Ethan’s journey is a bit difficult for me to read. I really thought they’d be a lighter read on the drama end than the rest of the characters because they seemed to be less damaged than any of the others.
Community wrong gif
I am just floored by that. This novel was great, right up to Sorensen’s normal level of awesome, but I’m still sad that Lila & Ethan couldn’t have better pasts. Or at least handle it better. Lila with the drugs was just shocking as hell. The way her mom handled the school situation was also appalling. Woman, you should have been outraged, not hassling your daughter. The really sad thing is that there are real people out there in this world like Lila’s parents. Real people who abuse their children and don’t think twice about it. What is the point of having a kid if that is how you are going to treat them? I’m the first to admit that I’m iffy on the subject of having kids, but I know one thing for sure, I’ll do a damn sight better than that.

As for writing and plot, well, it’s Jessica Sorensen, so really, what is there to say? She’s fantastic. She knows how to hook my so I don’t want to stop reading. She knows exactly where to place the twists and turns to keep me begging for me. She knows exactly where to stab the needle to cause the most pain, both for me and the characters. She’s sadistic and it’s amazing. Speaking of sadistic, even though Lila & Ethan’s story ends rather well, she manages to throw in a Ella & Micha cliffhanger, so be prepared for that.

Lila & Ethan’s story is all you’d expect it to be and so much more. As I said, Sorensen, really knows how to bring you pain, something I should have learned by now. This novel is as heartbreaking as the rest of her NA works, but she makes it (mostly) all better by the end. We get that happily ever after that we rarely see in a set of character’s first novel. Typically, that moment doesn’t really happen until the second (sometimes the third) novel for that particular set of characters. It’s all you could want in a new adult romance, so get to reading!

5 bows
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Review for The Promise Of Amazing by Robin Constantine

The Promise Of Amazing by Robin Constantine

TITLE: The Promise Of Amazing
AUTHOR: Robin Constantine
PUBLICATION DATE: December 31, 2013
PUBLISHER: Balzar + Bray, An Imprint Of HarperCollins Publishers
PAGES: 384 pages
SOURCE: Edelweiss
RATING: 4 bows

Wren is average. She is ranked somewhere in the middle of her high school and the only comment her teachers ever have about her is that she is a bit too quiet. She is sick of it and desperate to change. Speak up more, live in the moment, and not let people push her around. She definitely gets people’s attention when she performs the Heimlich on a guest at a wedding at her parents catering hall and saves his life. Grayson was that guest and he can’t get Wren out of his mind ever since. He used to be the big man on campus at St Gabriel’s, but after being expelled for selling term papers, he’s a bit lost. Not sure who he is anymore or who he wants to be, he only knows that Wren saved his life and he has to find out more about her.

Wren was a character I could instantly sympathize with. I can completely understand that feeling of being labeled “average” when it’s anything but accurate and letting people walk all over you because your too quiet to speak up. I enjoyed watching her try to step out of her comfort zone, especially when Grayson was around. There were moments when I wanted to slap her because, as much as I like Gray, I couldn’t believe she was buying his bullshit. That whole mall thing would have sent me over the deep end and no amount of kisses and sweet-talk could have convinced me to forgive him at that exact moment. I get that she a bit under-experienced when it comes to boys, but come on lady, open your eyes and demand answers in a now-or-never fashion and he either fesses up or moves on. Speaking of her experience with guys, can I just say that I love the fact that she isn’t a virgin and is still portrayed as a “good” girl?!? Too many times in YA, a girl can’t be the goodie goodie if she dares to have sex and it’s sickening. But that’s not to be found here, with Wren being an honors student, a great worker at her parents catering hall, and a loyal friend.

Grayson was a bit of a jackass in the beginning. In fact, I think Wren’s first description of him was something similar because he was doing obnoxious tricks at the wedding she was “waitressing.” He improves though. I am delighted to say that this is told in duel perspectives, so we get to see Gray’s side of things as well. The more time I get behind his eyes, the more I just wanted to hug him. He seems so lost. He has basically lost his identity because everything changed when he got booted from St Gabes, his friends even ignored him all summer. But they are back now, demanding his help with “Operation Amsterdam,” a scheme that would bring shame to anyone with a lick of sense. I thought it was a weed selling business, because Amsterdam always implies marijuana, but oh how wrong I was. I think the truth is much worse than that. That’s really sayings something for me because I’m extremely anti-drug. He’s out of the game and doesn’t want to get back in, especially because of what Wren would think if she found out, but his friends are pressuring (and threatening) him to come back for just one last score. I think he is trying to grow up and move on, but they just won’t let him.

What is really adorable here is the interactions between the entire cast. Grayson is so sweet to Wren and I love them together, her presence pushing him to be better and his pushing her to step out of her comfort zone. Even though it felt a bit insta-lovey, I still enjoyed the two pairing up. But it isn’t just them I enjoyed, I liked the banter between Wren’s entire group of friends and family, as well as seeing Gray’s half-siblings. Wren and Jazz do that whole movie quotes/references thing that puts me in nerd-girl heaven.

One bit of advice though? When you are doing a reference or a quote, don’t go back and say what you’re quoting. In a real conversation, if I quote The Princess Bride, I know enough to know that my friends will understand the reference and I know there is no need to explain it. I felt like the book was almost dumbed-down a bit to make sure everyone understood the film references and that brought down the magic level a bit. It may sound a little silly, but it took me out of the moment and if it bugged me, I’m sure it’ll bug someone else too. Another minor issue was the insta-love I referred to early. I know they are teenagers and become connected because she saves his life, but saying the L word within two – three weeks is a bit too soon. I think it would have been entirely feasible to just leave that out and the novel would have progressed fine. The attraction was enough to bring the two together and keep them together, no need to throw love in the mix. Maybe just a hint of it, but no declarations until the end, please! The final issue is just my personal thought, but it felt like Gray used too much teen-speak. Maybe I’m too adult now to know how “kids” really talk these days, but there were a few moments when Gray’s inner monologue (or dialogue) felt wrongly worded.

Despite the minor problems, this book really gets massive amounts of love from me. Wren and Gray’s journey to one another is adorable, while still managing to have enough drama to provide adequate conflict. It’s filled with sweet romantic moments, humorous dialogue, and an addictive quality that made it impossible to stop reading. I devoured this book in just a few days and considering this is exam week and all my spare time has been ear-marked for studying and taking my exams, that’s really saying something. Anyone who enjoys contemporary YA’s will love this. It reminded me quite a bit of Anna & The French Kiss and that alone should recommend it!

****Thank you to Balzar + Bray, An Imprint Of HarperCollins Publishers, for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review****

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