Review for The Devil In Denim (New York Saints #1) by Melanie Scott

The Devil In Denim by Melanie Scott

TITLE: The Devil In Denim
SERIES: New York Saints #1
AUTHOR: Melanie Scott
NARRATOR: Eileen Stevens
PUBLICATION DATE: August 26, 2014 (book) / November 20, 2014 (audio)
PUBLISHER: St Martin’s Paperbacks (book) / Audible Studios (audio)
PAGES: 342 pages / 10 hours & 9 minutes
FORMAT: Audiobook
SOURCE: Review copy via Audible
RATING: 5 bows

Maggie Jameson grew up knowing that she would run the New York Saints one day. She’s been preparing for that since childhood and has just finished up a degree tailored towards that goal. The she gets thrown for a loop when she learns that her dad has sold the Saints. She’s furious and has no problem telling Alex Winters, the new owner, that in person. How could this happen? The Saints are her life, baseball is her life, and she’s a bit lost without it. Alex, on the other hand, knows he needs Maggie’s help. He bought the Saints knowing he’d need her help to win the guys on the team over. No one can say no to the great Saint Maggie. But instead of a complacent girl, he finds a fiery spirit who is determined to show Alex just how angry she is. The big problem, besides the obvious? They are both hot as hell for each other and fighting it gets continually harder. But dating is a bad idea, right? The longer they spend in each other’s company, the more they question that. Can they make this crazy thing work? Or will the baseball deal and Maggie’s ire get in the way?

Maggie was that character you sympathize with instantly. How can you not? Her dream is literally taken right out from under her with no warning what-so-ever. She has just gotten finished with her college degree and her dreams are set, then just like that, the team is gone. Alex offers her a job, but she’s in no mood to tolerate him. He actually makes a good offer, but she was supposed to be CEO, the shot-caller and that’s not going to happen now. This sends her in a bit of a tail-spin. What’s she going to do now? All she ever wanted was to work for the Saints. That’s it. There was no back-burner plan or other forgotten dreams. I think she takes it a damn sight better than I would have. I would have spent a month hiding in my apartment, not just a day or two. I’d have cried and cried and cried some more and buried my problems in great ice cream and even better fictional worlds. Not Maggie, though, she bravely faces the world and tries to figure out what to do next. That decision would have been a bit easier if Alex wasn’t so damned pretty attractive. He is smart and charming and he gets to Maggie no matter how hard she tries to fight it. After she agrees to work for him, she is even more certain that sleeping with the boss is a bad idea. It is, right? There is no way they could make that work….no matter how much she wants to, right?

Alex was a character I was unsure about to start out with. This is the man that ruthlessly yanks Maggie’s dreams away. We have to hate him, right? But he quickly wins you over. He’s witty and charming and just plain fun. Not to mention he’s smart as hell. You don’t get to where he is without a hell of a lot of brain power. Plus, he’s head-over-heels for Maggie and it’s obvious before even he knows it. I love a guy who is totally smitten with the heroine. That guy who’ll go far out of his way to make sure she’s cared for, but who doesn’t compromise on what he needs. I also can’t help but love a guy who tells it like it is. There is more than one scene where he says something that he knows Maggie won’t want to hear, but he says it anyway. Cold hard truth over candy-coated lies.

I’ll admit that I love the story line that starts off as hate and then turns into love. It’s a fine line or so they say. Watching Maggie become so irritated at Alex was amusing as hell and a bit endearing. Watching that morph into unwilling attraction and then possibly more? Even better. It’s the type of story you can’t help falling in love with. The writing is great. The smut is just the right level of smutty, if that makes sense. It’s not over the top like in erotica or some of the worse new adults, but it’s not quite as understated as in young adult. I think most contemporary romances are, but it’s been so long since I read one that I honestly don’t remember. Either way, I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. I used any possible excuse to fire up my Audible app just to get a few more minutes in. Just one more hour….two….three….damn, am I done already?

Audio Notes:
This was narrated by Eileen Stevens, who I wasn’t the biggest fan of. She also does the narration of Wilde’s Army and Wilde’s Meadow by Krystal Wade and I didn’t particularly care for her when I listened to those. Here, however, she is excellent. I think this is proof that sometimes even a skilled reader can’t improve a poor story. So, not to self, make sure to never judge the narrator of a poor story too harshly because there is only so much they can do. ANYWAY, she handles this perfectly, seamlessly switching between the male and female perspectives and always making it obvious which character is speaking. She makes a point to differentiate speakers and, trust me, that makes all the difference in the world. When you read a book, it’s always obvious who is speaking, but when you lose the punctuation marks, it because tricky sometimes to know when a sentence ends and things can run together with bad narrators. None of that here! Eileen does a wonderful job and I’ll keep my eyes open for more of her work.

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

5 bows
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Review for I Want It That Way (2B Trilogy #1) by Ann Aguirre

I Want It That Way by Ann Aguirre

TITLE: I Want It That Way
SERIES: 2B Trilogy #1
AUTHOR: Ann Aguirre
PUBLICATION DATE: August 26, 2014
PAGES: 352 pages
SOURCE: Blog tour via NetGalley
RATING: 5 bows

Nadia is a smart and determined girl. She wants to be a special ed teacher and she’s working her ass off to make it happen. However, this means she doesn’t have time to be the typical college party girl. Between classes and working at the local daycare, she barely has time to eat and sleep, much less worry about her love life. But when she meets Ty, the grumpy single dad downstairs, she wonders if she can’t make time. Ty’s life is centered around Sam, he’s son. Becoming a single dad at 20 was a crazy loop, but he can’t bring himself to regret the heartache that came along with it because he has Sam. Between work, night school, and parenting, he also doesn’t have time for a romantic relationship. But he can’t help noticing Nadia, even when he shouldn’t. Can these two make time for each other or will this opportunity pass them by?

Nadia is that girl that’s so easy for me to relate to. All her parents hopes and dreams are centered on her because she is the smart one. She has the brains to make it out of their podunk town and do something great with her life. And she will, if it kills her. Determined to live up to those high expectations, she excels at school, pouring all her energy into learning how to be the best special ed teacher she can be. If it wasn’t for her friends and roommates forcing her out sometimes, she wouldn’t have any normal college experiences. She’s not the average party girl anyway, preferring to sticking to a light buzz over idiot-level drunk. I really could understand her plight and sympathize with her once her desire to get to know Mr Hot Ginger a little better…or a lot better.

Ty, AKA Mr Hot Ginger, is a total sweetheart, even if he does have his grumpy asshole moments. Hey, not guy is perfect and we all get frustrated at times. He’s a hard worker and loves his son enough to sacrifice his whole world on him. It’s rare to see a single father so determined to make everything right for his son. When he really starts to give in to Nadia and allow their friendship to blossom, he really becomes swoon-worthy. He’s cranky and difficult at times, but with the load he’s dealing with, how could he not be? He’s also determined to do what he thinks is right by his son, even when it might not be the right thing.

One of the things I really loved about this was the lack of a traumatic past for either character. Okay, Ty has a kid, so he has a tinsy bit of drama, but fans of NA will really know what I mean. Neither character was abused or assaulted or neglected. Both characters came from decent homes where their parents genuinely want to see them succeed. That was such a refreshing take. Finally, an NA where it’s just about two people in this age range finding themselves and each other. And it focuses a lot of attention on their connection and need for each other on a mental and emotion level as well as the need to rip each other’s clothes off. The tension is there, but it’s not all sex, sex, and…oh yeah, more sex!

There is also no love triangle aspect (or a cliffhanger). This could have easily gone down that path, with Nadia and her roommate Max, we are saved that headache. Which is a real relief for me because even though sometimes I get past the triangle enough to love the book, I always hate recommending things with triangles. It feels like love triangles in themselves double the drama level and I like to keep that level as low as possible.

The issues both characters face are very real and easy to relate to. Though Nadia wants to be with Ty, is she ready to be a mom at 21? Is Ty ready to let go of his past and allow himself the opportunity to move on? Both dilemma’s make the reader really thing and sympathize with the characters because there is no easy answer or easy way. No matter how much Nadia loves Sam, helping raise him won’t be easy. And neither will getting Ty to forgive himself for his past fuckup. You just can’t help but root for him.

From the moment I heard about this novels, their premise, and their Backstreet Boys titles, I wanted in. I wanted to read them as soon as possible and I’m so grateful for Kelly at Inkslinger PR for providing me with the opportunity to read and review it. It’s perfect. There isn’t a thing I would change (and that’s really saying something for me). If you are a fan of NA or contemporary romance or are just looking for a story with a little heart, give this a try. You won’t be sorry!

****Thank you to Inkslinger PR and Harlequin HQN for providing me with an eARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review****

5 bows
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Review for Virgin by Radhika Sanghani

Virgin by Radhika Sanghani

TITLE: Virgin
AUTHOR: Radhika Sanghani
PUBLICATION DATE: August 5, 2014
PUBLISHER: Berkley Trade
PAGES: 304 pages
SOURCE: Publisher via NetGalley
RATING: 3.5 bows

Twenty-one year old Ellie is a virgin and she is sick of feeling like a pariah because of it. She’s determined to shed this particular label and move on to the world of sexually active-ness. She’s not a virgin due to religious beliefs or the need to save herself for “the one,” she has just lacked the opportunity to break her hymen. Can she find someone to shag or will she remain untouched for the rest of her uni days?

Okay, normally I go through my thoughts on characters and their relationships and that such nonsense, but here I only really have one comment. This novel is revolutionary in many ways, but it felt very immature to me at moments. I needed to get that out there first, before I go into character description.

Ellie is a very smart character who is portrayed as hilariously funny, but she didn’t come off that way to me. Maybe my humor is different than hers, but half the time she was amusing and the other half she was annoying. I can relate to her in a many ways, being a size 12 with self-confidence issues and a general awkwardness around people. Yay, finally a lead character who isn’t portrayed as a stick, yay for a normal size woman. But she just seemed ignorant in a lot of ways that I wouldn’t expect a twenty-one year old who hasn’t lead a sheltered life to be. For someone who claims to have scoured magazines for tips on how to do sexual things well and general life tips, she sure doesn’t know much. I read Cosmo as a teenager and I know they have much more information in there than she seems to know. Now I could be completely wrong because I’m not a virgin and haven’t been for a very long time, nor am I a 21 year old college student, but she just irritated me a lot.

She spends a lot of time with her two friends, Emma & Lara. They are different, each with good and bad qualities. I won’t go into a lot of detail, but they were both a good influence on her in the end. Then there is Jack, the main guy in this story. He is far from perfect, but he seems to be a straight forward enough guy. He is nice to Ellie, they go on several dates and spend more than one evening making out. He was generally not a jackass, which is why I don’t understand the ending. He was sweet to her and patient, never pushing her further than she wanted to go, and then he turns out to be a clueless idiot? Maybe I’m out of touch with these university kids just a few years younger than me, but when you go on dates and makeout, you are more than friends, yes? Unless there is some sort of discussion spelling out the friends with benefits plan, you assume a romantic relationship, right? I know I would.

Despite those issues, this novel really has some shining moments. It gives you a no holds barred account of Ellie’s attempts to transform herself into what society expects. We get the gory details of everything from bar flirting to her very first Brazilian wax (something I hope never to experience). Even though I wanted to yell at her for some of the questionable decisions she made, I got to see them and feel them with her, which is truly a remarkable experience. Most authors aren’t brave enough to give an in detail description of a Brazilian wax (again, never never never) or a first trip to a sex shop. We get it all from Ellie’s embarrassed perspective, until she finally gets some confidence.

In the end, though Ellie bugged me, I would highly recommend this novel. It was truly raw and unlike anything I’ve ever read. The best way I can describe it is a grown-up version of The Confessions Of Georgia Nicolson and that in itself is a high compliment indeed because I loved those books. It’s does lack a traditional happy ending, but I like the girl power message it leaves you with. If you are unsure, give it a try and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

****Thank you to Berkley for providing me with an eARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review****

3 bowshalf a bows
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