Review for Welcome To Paradise (The Kincaids #1) by Rosalind James

Welcome To Paradise by Rosalind James

TITLE: Welcome To Paradise
SERIES: The Kincaids #1
AUTHOR: Rosalind James
NARRATOR: Emma Taylor
PUBLICATION DATE: August 15, 2013 / May 19, 2015
PUBLISHER: Independent / Audible Studios
PAGES: 340 pages / 12 hours 32 minutes
FORMAT: Audiobook
SOURCE: Review copy via Audible
RATING: 4 bows

Mira Walker and her boyfriend, Scott, have entered a competition to win a million dollars. They are going on a reality show where they have to live like it’s 1885. That means no modern electricity, no modern plumbing, and spending each day working to do things exactly the way they did it then. Mira is hoping this experience will bring her closer to her boyfriend and inspire her to once again be excited about her job. Gabe Kincaid has also entered the competition with his twin brother Alec. He is sure they have a better shot at winning than Mira and Scott because everyone wants to knock Scott’s lights out from moment one. As the competition starts to heat up, all the contestants are thrown many unexpected twists and soon it’s unclear who will win this competition and the money. One thing is certain, the more time Mira spends here, the more sure she is that she doesn’t want to go back to the life she had before entering this competition.

Mira was someone I sympathized with pretty quickly. It was clearly from the first moment you see her alone with Scott that he was an asshole. It was equally clear that she just doesn’t realize the extent of his dickheadedness. It’s fascinating to realize how few people really see the signs of mental abuse and don’t recognize that backhanded compliments for what they are. Just because Scott has a nice attitude most of the time doesn’t mean he isn’t breaking her down mentally. You hear an insult enough times, you start to believe it. Beyond that, it’s clear that this girl has never been appreciated in her life. Her parents are lackluster, to put it nicely, and she really seems to have no one really in her corner. We don’t hear her talk of her friends back home or siblings. Her parents don’t really care and her boyfriend is a jackass. And yet, she seems to have a relatively positive attitude towards life. I don’t know how she manages it. The one thing I know for sure is that she deserves better than Scott.

Gabe is her opposite in a lot of ways. He is confident and has the love and support of an entire family. He’s a successful doctor with a level head on his shoulders and a knight-in-shining armor complex. I like him immensely more than Scott. He’s smart and sweet and just a little cocky, but not in an obnoxious way. Even though we do get a bit of time in his head, I don’t feel like I know him as well as I know Mira. Beyond his love for his brother and his concern for Mira, I don’t feel like I know very much about him.

What was really fun about this was that it didn’t feel like your typical romance novel. For half of the novel, the focus was more on setting up the living situation and getting used to the way things ran back in the day over pushing Mira & Gabe together as fast as possible. Sure, they were aware of each other and the attraction was there, but it was on a smaller scale than most romance novels use. I rather enjoyed that. I’m more than a little fascinated by how the world worked when things were slower and harder to get. Just the act of lighting the stove and getting food started took hours to accomplish. Washing the cloths? Let’s just say I won’t be complaining about hauling all my stuff to the laundromat anytime soon.

Despite the slow start on the romance end, it does heat up at moments. This novel is definitely not without steam. You know what was awesome about that? There was nary a single comment on the largeness of a certain part of Gabe’s anatomy. Rosalind James, if you ever read this, thank you from the bottom of my heart for that. In face, I’m not sure his size was mentioned at all and I’m very grateful for that. It also didn’t spend pages going on and on about how hot Gabe was. His attractiveness was mentioned on more than one occasion, but I didn’t feel like I was getting beat over the head with that particular observation.

Basically, this is an interesting contemporary romance that doesn’t focus overly much on the romance aspect. That is an odd thing for me to say and mean it as a compliment, but I do. It was a nice change to read listen to a story that wasn’t solely about the characters need to get hot and sweaty with each other. I make it sound like I read only erotica, which is far from the truth. I read mostly YA and romance, but a lot of it seems to put too much focus on the physical aspect of the relationship lately and it was wonderful to see something else. But I think anyone who enjoys contemporary romance will love this!

Audio notes:
Emma Taylor does a pretty great job of narrating this. She has great pacing and voice differentiation. I wouldn’t say she is my favorite female narrator because I refuse to give that rank to anyone who I’ve only listened to one book by, but she does rate pretty high up. I have no complaints at all about her performance.

****Thank you to Esther Bochner at Audible for providing me with an audio copy in exchange for an honest review****

4 bows
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Review for Letters To Nowhere (Letters To Nowhere #1) by Julie Cross

Letters To Nowhere by Julie Cross

TITLE: Letters To Nowhere
SERIES: Letters To Nowhere #1
AUTHOR: Julie Cross
NARRATOR: Erin Spencer
PUBLICATION DATE: August 1, 2013 / March 20, 2014
PUBLISHER: Long Walk Press / Long Walk Press
PAGES: 288 pages / 10 hours 30 minutes
FORMAT: Ebook / Audio
SOURCE: Gifted from Julie Cross / Purchased
RATING: 5 bows

All Karen has ever wanted was to be an elite gymnast, but that’s not the path she is on. To please her parents, she compromises and instead trains towards the goal of competing in college gymnastic. Then, after a horrible car accident, Karen is left orphaned and all their plans go to hell. She ends up living with her coach and his oh-so-attractive son. So, on top of trying to decide which path in life to take and grieving the loss of her parents, she also has the added bonus of fighting an unwanted attraction to her new housemate and just dealing with boys in general. When you are in an all girls gymnast group and do school online instead of in a traditional classroom, you don’t get many encounters with the opposite sex. Despite the fact that she knows a relationship with Jordan is out of bounds, she can’t help the desire to spend time with him. Jordan makes her feel normal and he understands what she is going through. What is more important: staying in the lines of normal or being able to finally breath again?

I have to applaud Karen’s dedication to her sport. I don’t know that I have ever been as dedication to one thing enough to spend so much time perfecting it. Okay, maybe I’m that dedicated to reading, but that’s not really the same, is it? This girls spends hours at the gym every single day conditioning and training and practicing just to make sure every single move is perfect. If you didn’t see inside her head and watch her go through emotions like a normal human, I’d think she was a machine. Beyond being driven to be the best gymnast she can be, she is also pretty damn smart and driven to do well with her school work. How anyone can manage to succeed in online school and really take the information in is something else that is beyond me. I’m not a self-teaching person. I cannot learn on my own. I need a real person to explain things to me. Even if it’s just reading straight from the text book, that’s what I need. So maybe I’m fascinated by Karen because she is so different from me. That, plus the enormous grief that I cannot even really begin to comprehend. How she manages to get up in the morning astounds me, much less practicing for meets and doing schoolwork without turning into a ball of helplessness and tears on the floor. This is all my rambling way of saying that I admire Karen a great deal. She has a strength that I envy.

Jordan….oh Jordan. What is there to say about Jordan? I love him? A bunch? The way he connects with Karen is adorable. The way he goes out of his way to help her is swoon-worthy. Want to know what else I love? He’s not perfect. He is flawed and has secrets and problems all of his own. He’s smart and sweet and just a touch cocky. Also. there is a reason why he is in such good physical shape. I hate novel’s where the boys are overly buff with no logical reason to be that way beyond the fact that they are trying to play to every girl’s fantasy. Newsflash! Washboard abs don’t just magically appear out of nowhere! Trust me, if you could wish you’re body into shape, I would look A LOT different right now. Regardless, Jordan is just the type of character I love to read about.

I have wanted to read this for well over a year now. Early last year I was awarded a eARC of Third Degree, Cross’s NA romance and I feel in love with that novel. It was absolutely perfect and I immediately wanted to read everything else Cross had written. I didn’t even make the connection that this was the same Julie Cross that wrote the Tempest series until I was adding her books to my GoodReads TBR pile. Since then, I have vowed to read all of her work and I’m happy to say that I’m over halfway there. I just need to read the rest of this series and Whatever Life Throws At You and I’ll all caught up…..until she finishes whatever she is working next comes out. I don’t mean Halfway Perfect. I’ve read that. You should read that as soon as it comes out. That novel has me trying to come up with legitimate excuses to miss work work on May 8th and make the crazy 10 hour drive it would take me to get to New York City to attend it’s launch. You can read more about that here….and if you are in NYC and able to attend, well I kinda hate you because I would love to go. My point is that I had high expectations for this. Julie was nice enough to gift me a copy and I planned on reading it the old fashion way until I saw that there was an audio copy available on audible and I immediately bought that. I’m happy to report that this exceeded those expectations.

I really found this world utterly fascinating. Not only is Karen 100% committed to her sport, but so are the other girls on the team and all the things they go through to succeed in a sport that has a very limited number of spots that can be attained. The chances of actually making it big in gymnastics is slim and even knowing that, they give it their all. The spend the vast majority of their waking hours training and when they aren’t training, they still do things in a specific way to better their gymnastic abilities. They are all on crazy diets and have regular meetings with nutritionists and it just astounding me. Cross has intimate knowledge of this world and it really shows through. I don’t think anyone outside this community would really understand the trials and tribulations of it well enough to portray it to an outside.

Normally, I worry a little when starting a novel that has a heavy focus on anything athletic. I have never been a fan of any sport and, despite my efforts to be more active now, that has not changed. I always worry that the focus will be so heavy on the sporting aspect that I lose the parts that I like or that I won’t understand the rules of the sport and simply can’t follow the plot because of that. It doesn’t make sense when I put it like that, but it’s like me watching a football game. I literally know nothing about football. I know that a touchdown is a score but that is the end of my knowledge on that subject. So when someone starts throwing around terms (ie punting or gaining fields or whatever) that are widely understand without explaining it, I’m immediately lost. I need it explained in the simplest terms possible and it’s hard for an author to do that successfully. I knew that probably would be an issue here because Cross is great at putting things in terms I can understand, but the apprehension was still there. I worried for naught though because that wasn’t an issue. The sports aspect was beautifully interwoven with the other issues Karen was facing.

Basically, this novel is the same level of perfection I have come to expect from Julie Cross. It’s smart, it’s emotional, and it has those perfectly flawed characters that we can all relate to. No one here is perfect, not even the coach who should have all the answers and that quality grounds the novel in a way that nothing else can. I have already bought the next novella in this series and I look forward to seeing Karen and Jordan’s journey continue.

Audio Notes:
This is my first Erin Spencer and I’m definitely satisfied with her. At first, I wasn’t sure if I’d like her. I didn’t immediately love the sound of her voice, but the more I listened, the more I felt like it suited Karen. She has great pacing and pronunciation. There was nothing about her narration that irritated me. Conversely, there was nothing about her narration that made me go super fangirl-y about. I’d give her 4 out of 5 stars for her performance. She’s great and I’ll definitely keep an eye out for her work in the future.

5 bows
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Review for The Liberator (Dante Walker #2) by Victoria Scott

The Liberator by Victoria Scott

TITLE: The Liberator
SERIES: Dante Walker #2
AUTHOR: Victoria Scott
PUBLICATION DATE: August 27, 2013
PUBLISHER: Entangled Teen
PAGES: 331 pages
SOURCE: Purchased
RATING: 3 bows

Dante Walker has officially jumped sides. He is no longer a badass collector of souls for Lucifer. Instead, he liberates souls for God. He’s first assignment? Liberate Aspen’s soul. Aspen is exactly like he was before he jump sides and it is hard to fight the desire to lapse into his old ways of partying and sinning. He has to stay strong because if he fails this assignment, he’ll have to say good-bye to his liberator cuff and Charlie AKA the love of his life. Can he keep his cool or will he blow his chances to stay on Team Heaven?

Dante is still a character that irritates me. Actually Dante may irritate me more here than he did in The Collector. Everything about him bugs me. As a Collector, I kept hoping I would see him actually be the “man” he claimed to be. You know, the bad guy? Swearing and being a general jackass. Once he became a Liberator, I knew that wouldn’t happen. Call me crazy, but I hate censored swearing. When something happens, all the real words help and anything else sounds stupid. Either commit or don’t do it at all. I obviously curse like a fucking sailor and I hate moments when I have to reel that in for work or other reasons. I like colorful language and, in the end, they are just words. Either way, Dante drove me up a damn wall. He’s so fucking cocky and annoying and I really began to hate him here.

Charlie wasn’t much better. She goes all stupid in the beginning, doing things that are so far out of character that I had a very difficult time believing she would do them. Charlie is the “good girl” and that mentality is ingrained. It’s not something that you can just shrug off. I was never a huge Charlie fan, but I liked her well enough in The Collector and I wanted that to continue here.

Then we have Aspen, the soul Dante is meant to Liberate. I don’t have an opinion on her. I don’t feel like we know enough about her by the end to really form an opinion. All we get is what Dante sees and thinks and I feel like there is much much more to her than that. She is hiding things and I wanted to slap her and tell her to let go. She also jumps onto the Charlie bandwagon very quickly in my opinion. Chick is basically a heathen. She shows no religious affiliations, but I’m supposed to believe that she just trusts Dante enough to believe his and Charlie’s story and the existence of deities? Okay, this may have been more a problem for me and my atheist ways than the average reader, but I felt like she needed more convincing.

The whole God/Devil thing is actually a bit difficult for me. The fact that Dante rarely ever calls them by their names, instead referring to God as Big Guy and Lucifer as Lucille, drove me fucking nuts. Dude, you are agent of God now, at least say his damn name properly. I’ve read angel and demon books before and I have no problems with them, so I can’t say exactly why this irritated me, but it did. Dante also plays that whole tortured, I don’t deserve to be saved because I’m a “bad” guy card here that made me want to scream.

Really, I should have never requested the eARC of book 3 of this series, The Warrior. While I enjoyed The Collector, I didn’t love it like everyone else did. I did love Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott (and I’m desperate for the sequel), but this series just irks me. I did give in, however, and was approved for it, so I had to muddle through this one first. I figured it would be the same 4 star level The Collector was, but it irritated me a lot more. Or maybe I was just more forgiving when I read The Collector? I really don’t know, but either way, this got on my nerves.

It gets 3 stars because it wasn’t horrible and it had it’s good moments. The writing is pretty good. It just wasn’t for me. I took me almost a month to finish it and that speaks volumes. Basically, if you liked The Collector and Dante in it, you’ll like this. If Dante irritated the fuck out of you in The Collector, then that is only going to continue here.

3 bows
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Review for Tears Of Tess (Monsters In The Dark #1) by Pepper Winters

Tears Of Tess by Pepper Winters

TITLE: Tears Of Tess
SERIES: Monsters In The Dark #1
AUTHOR: Pepper Winters
PUBLICATION DATE: August 28, 2013
PUBLISHER: Independent
PAGES: 377 pages
SOURCE: NetGalley
RATING: 4 bows


Tess Snow is living a relatively perfect life, with a single semester left to go in college and a perfect sweet boyfriend. But when said boyfriend surprises her with a trip to Mexico, everything goes downhill fast. Tess is kidnapped and sold, with no one to rely on for rescue but herself. She’s pushed into a world where women are mere possessions, meant to be used and abused at their owner’s discretion, and she refuses to bow to her new master. She certain of one thing, she will escape this hell and find her way back to Brax, her perfect boyfriend.

If I had any self-control at all, I would never have downloaded this from NetGalley. I have more E-ARC’s than I know what to do with and several books that need to be read and reviewed before February 5th, a fast approaching deadline. But I have no self-control and the book I’m supposed to be reading is boring me, so when I saw this up on NetGalley, I was way too eager to have an excuse to read something else. My sister is in love with this book and has been singing it’s praise for a while now, so I knew it’d be something I would enjoy. So color me happy when I was instantly approved. I started it immediately, so drawn in by this dark world of kidnapping and sex slaves. It is unquestionably addictive. It’s described as a dark romance, but I feel like “dark” isn’t a strong enough term. This novel is brutal and cruel and heartbreaking, especially considering shit like this really happens. But let’s not go there because then this review will digress into a bitter diatribe about the injustices of this world.

Tess starts out as a meek girl with sexual desires above what her boyfriend is willing to give. Now why any red-blooded male would turn down his girl’s offer of more, kinkier sex, I have no idea, but whatever. After she is kidnapped, Tess start showing a stronger side, constantly fight her captors at every turn. In the end, the feisty spirit doesn’t really do any good, but at least she’ll know she did everything she could, right? Because that has to be better than just taking it all passively, right? Then once she arrives to meet her new master, she’s immeasurable terrified and pissed off and maybe just a bit turned on by this possessive, controlling man. He takes control of her life, simultaneously trying keep her fire high while trying to break her spirit. Tess’s reaction to him is a bit disturbing, because although things turn out well, it could easily have not. I get that she desperately desires the while masochistic element in the bedroom, but seriously? In this environment, I can’t believe you were seriously turned on by this jackass. That could have led down a completely different and much more dangerous path, idjit.

Q is someone I want to like, but I don’t think I do. In the beginning, you hate him for obvious reasons. This asshat is her new master and he is borderline abusive towards her, though never fully stepping over that line. By the end we learn that he has spent a fortune on rehabilitating women who have been sold into slavery abused, before returning them to their families, which is fucking wonderful. Seriously, sir, bravo. You are doing the world a great service and it’s appreciated and all that jazz, but I’m not sure that justifies his reaction to Tess. Not only does he treat her like a master would trade his slave, but he also allows bad things to happen to her in his presence. Seriously bad things, and even though he tries to repair the damage, there are some things that can’t be undone. What really pisses me off is how his dark desires are rationalized away at the end. This whole ordeal is forgiven because Tess enjoyed it, which is great for her, but what if she hadn’t? What if she had been repulsed by his advances and felt violated instead of exhilarated? He goes on and on about how this is the first time he has ever given into his urges with a “slave,” like somehow that makes it okay, but I don’t think it does. If a child molester fights his urges for ten years before abusing some poor innocent child, do we commend him for holding out for so long or do we punish him for finally falling prey?

I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy it or that I wouldn’t recommend it, just that it pointed out some very disturbing ways it could have went wrong. Really, this novel was stay-up-all-night-to-finish-it addictive and I think I really enjoyed the majority of it. The first half was fascinating and terrifying, following Tess through her kidnapping and captivity in Mexico. The second half was fascinating trying to figure Q out with his multiple personalities. I don’t think we get enough of him to understand completely, but we get enough to throw mental sympathy his way. I’m not sure it’s enough to really excuse his behavior, Tess’s reactions notwithstanding, but enough that I can consider forgiving him.

This is a complicated novel that will most likely make you think more than anything else. After finishing it, I can’t help but wonder if this type of thing will ever truly stop. As long as there are people out there with the cash to make such purchases, it’ll continue and that’s just depressing…and terrifying. No human being is a possession, regardless of their gender. We are all sentient beings with rights and no one on this fucking planet has the power to take that away. It’s a powerful issue and I imagine many people will shy away from reading something that delves so deep into the subject with no qualms about showing the darker side or the things we’d rather not see, like abuse and rape. This is a heart-wrenching portrayal of one woman’s struggle to survive her circumstances and then to figure out what she really wants out of her life. It’s addictive and horrifying. It’s one of the very few dark romances I’ve read and though I tread carefully in this genre, I’m definitely adding Pepper Winters to my authors-to-watch list!

****Thank you to Pepper Winters and Black Firefly for providing me with an eARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review****

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Review for Infinityglass (Hourglass #3) by Myra McEntire

Infinityglass by Myra McEntire

TITLE: Infinityglass
SERIES: Hourglass #3
AUTHOR: Myra McEntire
PUBLICATION DATE: August 6, 2013
PAGES: 336 pages
FORMAT: E-ARC / Hardback
SOURCE: NetGalley / won from Rex Robot Review
RATING: 4 stars

Dune has been obsessed with the Infinityglass ever since he was a child. He’s collected every scrap of data possible to help Hourglass find this mythical object that can theoretically fix the rip in the space time continuum. Now, it appears that the infinityglass is a person, not an object and Dune is off to New Orleans to help her understand how important she is. Hallie has never been normal. Being the daughter of a gangster who specializes in acquiring items that were lost in time keeps her pretty isolated. Dune somehow manages to keep pace with her and notices what she says more than her looks or what she is trying to project. Can the duo save the world or will the rips take over for good?

I was a little skeptical when I learned that this final installment of the Hourglass trilogy was going to have a new character. Hallie is a completely new character and I don’t remember much about Dune from the previous books so it almost felt like I was starting something completely new. It was an interesting juxtaposition between familiar and unfamiliar because there were some characters from the previous books and familiar aspects, everything also felt new and shiny. I think Hallie and Dune are great leading characters, but I definitely didn’t love either of them the way I did Emerson. You don’t get much out of Em for this entire book, except a tinsy epilogue from her perspective. Even though I enjoyed the new characters, I felt a little cheated out of getting more of my favorite character. Em is really what hooked me into the series, with her spunk and vulnerability; without her, I would not have loved Hourglass as much.

Regardless of how much I missed Em, this story is still very captivating. It’s fast paced and you don’t get much down time, with something always running amuck. It lulls a bit between the action, but it’s all very entertaining. I had a minor issue with the ending. It all went almost exactly as I had imagined, but it felt just a bit rushed. This are going and going and going and then you realize that there are about 30 or so pages left and things still haven’t wrapped up. I felt like it deserved a bit more explanation or time to let it settle. The book wasn’t even 300 pages so there was definitely room to make a few more pages to let everything sink in before ending it forever.

I can truly say that I am saddened to see this series end. These characters and the witty writing are unique in a world of carbon copies. McEntire has managed to create wholly original characters that are easy to love and even easier to miss once it’s all over. I hope everyone else enjoyed this series as much as I did and I cannot wait to see what’s next for Myra McEntire.

****Thank you to Egmont USA for providing me with an eARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review****

Review for The Deepest Night (The Sweetest Dark #2) by Shana Abe

The Deepest Night by Shana Abe

TITLE: The Deepest Night
SERIES: The Sweetest Dark #2
AUTHOR: Shana Abe
PUBLICATION DATE: August 13, 2013
PUBLISHER: Bantam Books, an imprint of Random House Publishing Group
PAGES: 320 pages
SOURCE: NetGalley
RATING: 4 stars

Eleanore Jones has always been different and she finally knows why. It is because she is a dragon. Seriously people, it is because she can transform into a dragon. While she is still devastated by Jesse’s untimely death, she tries to carry on with her life at Iverson’s, the boarding school she attends. Then she learns that Lord Armand’s older brother, who was thought to be killed in war, is actually a prisoner of war and she is destined to save him. Though she is not sure she is up for the task, she wants to help Mandy in any way she can, so they start creating a plan to rescue brother dearest, though things never go as planned.

Lora/Eleanore is exactly as I remember her. Strong and clever, with the ability to know when to back down and when to fight. She has been through so much and yet she is still striving to continue and to better herself. She’s still a bit too stubborn and refuses Mandy’s help most of the time, but an all together enjoyable character that you cannot help but to root for.

I fell a bit more in love with Mandy in this one. In the first one, I liked him, but I was 100% team Jesse. In this one, you see how much he is trying to help her and what he is willing to sacrifice to keep her safe and happy. Unfortunately, that is part of why this gets 4 stars instead of 5. Even though Jesse is dead, he is still a big part of this story because he is now a star who guides Mandy, which means, the love triangle aspect is still very much in play. For the entire story, Lora fights her attraction to Mandy because she loves Jesse and then we get a handful of shots from Jesse’s perspective, watching from above which just makes it worse. It would be one thing to kill Jesse and let Lora get over it and be with Mandy. I wouldn’t completely agree with that option, but it would be better than ending book 2 with no more resolution on the triangle front than we had at the end of book 1. What’s worse is that now I don’t even know who I want her to be with more! I can’t pick a team. X_X

The writing is just as eloquent and beautiful as before. Abe has this amazing ability to write on a higher level but not make it come off as pretentious or condescending. I don’t know about you, but I have read one too many historical fictions where it feels like the writer is just using those big words and old time phrases to say “Hahahahahaha I’m smarter than you!” and this doesn’t come off that way at all. The storyline kept me guessing and on the edge of my seat wondering if these two crazy kids would pull it off and how they would accomplish it without getting caught.

I really enjoyed this and I cannot wait to get my hands on book 3, which isn’t listed on Goodreads yet, but the authors website says she is writing. Please hurry and finish it? This doesn’t end with a cliffhanger, just a sense that the story isn’t quite finished yet.

****Thank you to Bantam Books, an imprint of Random House Publishing Group for providing me with an eARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review****

Review for Out of Play by Jolene Perry & Nyrae Dawn

Out Of Play by Jolene Perry & Nyrae Dawn

TITLE: Out Of Play
AUTHOR: Jolene Perry & Nyrae Dawn
PUBLICATION DATE: August 6, 2013
PUBLISHER: Entangled Teen, an imprint of Entangled Publishing, LLC
PAGES: 320 pages
SOURCE: NetGalley
RATING: 4 stars

Bishop Riley does not have a problem. Yes, he likes to take a few pills sometimes to take the edge off, but an addict wouldn’t be able to manage it, right? Even after he wakes up in a hospital, having nearly ODed on pills, he still does not see a problem, but everyone around him does and that is how he ends up in the middle of Alaska with nothing to do but think on how he has fucked up. Penny Jones loves nothing more than Hockey and she plays like hell on the men’s team for her high school, but with an aging Gramps with mild dementia and a mother who is never home, she has a lot on her plate. So when the new renters show up, the last thing she wants to do is add “babysitter” to her to-do list. But there is something about the surly tenant that catches her attention and the more time she spends with him the more she realizes that maybe there is more than meets the eyes.

Initially, I did not like either of the main two. Bishop was obviously a pill-head who did not want to admit it and Penny seemed like one of those girls that can get any guy to do whatever she wants by simply batting her eyelashes and asking nicely. I abhor those types of girls and was instantly hateful towards her because within the first half of the book she has the entire hockey team drooling over her; Bishop showing mild interest; a pizza guy drive 5 miles out of his way to deliver her a pizza; a McDonalds employee giving her free food; and a music shop owner staying open late just for her. It was infuriating. The further you go with the story, though, the more you realize they are all fawning over her because she is genuinely nice to all of them and does not lead them on in any possible way. She is strong and stubborn and goes after what she wants regardless of if it is what anyone else tells her she should want. The more I read the more I thought that maybe she was exactly the kind of character we should be seeing more of. She is smart and caring and works her butt off for what she has, but at the same time, she isn’t perfect. She has a temper from hell and is just a little self-conscious.

Bishop also grew on me quite a bit, similar to the way a fungus grows on you. I found him highly annoying because I have little tolerance or patience for drug addicts. They all think they do not have a problem when they do and then they refuse to try to fix it. I realize that addiction is a difficult thing to cope with but I have problems, some things in my past are incredibly difficult to think about and you definitely do not see me guzzling alcohol or popping pills to cope. If I can do it, I feel like so can the rest of the world. So the excuses you give don’t necessarily fall on unsympathetic ears, but rather on the ears of someone who will tell you to grow the fuck up and deal with is like a big boy. I finally started to like him when he became more honest with himself about the fact that it really was a problem and had the desire to make it better. Once he realizes that he is not good enough for Penny and that he needs to get things in order if he really wants her that is when I started to like him.

Penny and Bishop together make quite an amazing match. He pushes her to do what she really wants, not what others want for her, and she pushes him to do better and be better. It was interesting to watch and learn more about each of them. The writing and plot were interesting, and though there was one too many deaths for my liking, I think the ending manages to be both happy and realistic, which is the best kind for NA. Bishop doesn’t magically get better, cured by Penny’s love and Penny’s issues with her mom don’t just vanish, but somehow they manage to make it work and what more can you ask for?

I can honestly say that I have never read either author’s work before this but will definitely be adding some of their titles to be to-be-read pile. This book was exactly what I was looking for. If you want a NA more about what’s happening now then the fucked things that happened in the past and that doesn’t read like erotica, then this is the right one for you.

****Thank you to Entangled Publishing for providing me with an eARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review****