Review for Lila & Ethan: Forever And Always (The Secret #4.5) by Jessica Sorensen

Lila & Ethan: Forever & Always by Jessica Sorensen

TITLE: Lila & Ethan: Forever And Always
SERIES: The Secret #4.5
AUTHOR: Jessica Sorensen
PUBLICATION DATE: December 24, 2013
PUBLISHER: Forever Yours
PAGES: 87 pages
SOURCE: Publisher via NetGalley
RATING: 5 bows

Lila wants Ethan to be with her forever. Everything is better with him next to her. But Ethan has serious commitment issues and though she knows he loves her, she’s not sure he’s in this for the long haul with her. Ethan loves Lila more than anyone else in his life, but he’s terrified that they’ll end up like his parents, screaming at each other for not wanting the same things. He loves Lila too much to put her through that, but it’s clear that she needs some reassurance and he’s not so sure he knows how to give it to her. Can they figure out what their future holds or are they more short-term than either of them ever anticipated?

Lila and Ethan are the same characters we know and love from the first four novels. There isn’t really anything new added to them here that we didn’t already know. Lila has issues with her parents and a past drug addiction. Ethan has serious issues with commitment. Here we get a glimpse of that road trip they’ve been planning and it’s priceless. Preppy, perfect Lila on a road trip where the next bathroom break is questionable, much less the next opportunity to shower? Like I said, priceless. She copes better than you’d expect, but it’s still amusing to watch. For Ethan’s part, well, he’s just as fascinating as ever. He’s no Micha…in fact, he’s Micha’s opposite in a lot of ways, but he’s still a Sorensen male and, therefore, incredibly swoon-worthy.

As with most novellas, this is fast-paced and too the point. Somehow, though, Sorensen manages to completely draw you in for a mere 85 page novella. For those 85 pages, all you care about is how Ethan and Lila are going to solve their problems. It usually takes a bit longer for me to become enraptured in a novel. I may be biased because I adore this series and all it’s characters, but still, it’s addictive. You have to know what Ethan is going to do to reassure Lila that he isn’t going anywhere.

What you really need to know is that if you loved The Temptation Of Lila & Ethan, you’ll love this additional glimpse into their heads. If you haven’t read The Temptation yet, I suggest you do that first. I don’t know how much sense this makes going in blind. Either way, I’m always floored by Sorensen’s ability to never let me down. I’ve yet to read a book by her that I didn’t love and this is no exception!

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

5 bows
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Review for Before We Fall (Beautifully Broken #3) by Courtney Cole

Before We Fall by Courtney Cole

TITLE: Before We Fall
SERIES: Beautifully Broken #3
AUTHOR: Courtney Cole
NARRATOR: Shannon Gunn & Bunny Warren
PUBLICATION DATE: December 3, 2013 (book) / November 4, 2014 (audio)
PUBLISHER: Forever (Grand Central Publishing) (book) / Hachette Audio (audio)
PAGES: 336 pages / 11 hours & 50 minutes
FORMAT: eARC / Audiobook
SOURCE: Publisher via NetGalley / Purchased from Audible
RATING: 2 bows

Dominic Kinkaide is a world famous actor. He’s very good and it’s mostly due to the fact that he likes to bury himself in his roles. A tragic accident in high school has haunted him for his entire adult life and acting helps him forget. Acting and fulfilling his dark fantasies. Jacey Vincent is just trying to make it by until she can finish her business degree. After that, she’ll be home free, but until then, she’s stuck working as a waitress for a catering company in a skimpy outfit. That is until she and Dominic are thrown together for a possession charge even though both claim the weed wasn’t theirs. Regardless of their guilt, they are both stuck with community service hours at Joe’s. The two hate each other and then respect each other and then something more. But can Dom escape his demons enough to make things work with Jacey or is his life as doomed as he believes?

I’ll go ahead and get this out of the way now. SPOILERS AHEAD. I REPEAT, THIS REVIEW WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS. I’ve been trying to do spoiler free reviews, but I can’t do that with books that severely irritate me and, sadly, this book did just that. So, knowing that there are SPOILERS AHEAD, you may proceed.

Dominic was a character that didn’t annoy me instantly, but the more I learned, the more I disliked him. To be fair, I’m not a huge fan of the Alpha Male character. He’s a dick and his logic over why he won’t fornicate is stupid. I just wanted to shake him. Then, we finally learn about his past and what happened with Emma and I wanted to fucking shot him.
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I get the undeniable rage that comes with the knowledge that you’re girlfriend and best friend got drunk and got it on. That’s fine and they both deserve to be shunned for such behavior. That reaction I was fine with. The next one, not so much. Emma realizes that she is pregnant as a result of that night and Dom flips shit and demands an abortion. The first issue I have with that is a very controversial one. I don’t believe in abortions. The whole right to choose thing is bullshit. You had a choice, to have sex or not. Period. You chose to have sex, knowing that no method of birth control is 100% effective. That was your choice. Now that is done and a human being is growing within you. I know there are extenuating circumstances sometimes and that’s fine, but that is how I feel regardless. Even with that, you are so sure that there is no possibility this child is yours? Condoms are not 100%. That baby could very well be yours and you are demanding it be murdered. I would have been sympathetic towards him due to his situation, but that it is too much. You were right, jackass, you are partly to blame for Emma’s suicide. There is a good possibility that she would have done it anyway because she couldn’t live with her mistake, but we’ll never know.

I wasn’t anymore in love with Jacey. She’s better than Dom, but not so much so that I can see her as a role model for him to emulate. Then there was the whole Brand thing. It’s obvious he’s in love with her and she knows it, but she just doesn’t feel that way about him.
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That’s all I really need for her, one massive eye roll gif. Everything she does gets that reaction from me. Her comments on her job and how she needs it.
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Her knowledge that there is more to Dom and her need to “help” him.
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Every single thing about her just rubbed me the wrong way.

Brand is probably the only character I liked out of the whole novel. He was nice and normal and went out of his way to help Jacey. She doesn’t really deserve it, but he’s dedication is admirable all the same. I generally like the nice guys who never win. I want them to win, even if I like the asshole or two on occasion.

This has a love triangle and characters I hate. I’ll have to emphasis again how important characters are to me. If I don’t like them, the probability of me enjoying the novel are slim. And these characters were not for me. It just wasn’t the novel for me. I do, however, plan to read the others in this series. This series is about Jacey’s family/friends and the next novel is about Brand, so I’m all for that! I am really disappointed in this. I really enjoyed Cole’s Dante’s Girl and had high hopes for getting to read this, but, as I keep saying, it just wasn’t for me. Dominic’s character irritated the fuck out of me and there was no getting around that.

I really enjoyed Shannon’s voice, but Bunny irked me. This is probably because of the source material as I know a narrator can only work with what they are given, but still, she bugged me. They had good pacing, though, and brought me through the story well enough. I’m not overly talented at commenting on audio yet, but I’m working on it! Shannon did a decent job of differentiating between characters, but Bunny didn’t. It’s obvious she tries, but I still had a difficult time determining who was talking.

****Thank you to Forever (Grand Central Publishing) for providing me with an eARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review****

2 bows
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Review for The Ever After Of Ella & Micha (The Secret #4) by Jessica Sorensen

The Ever After Of Ella & Micha by Jessica Sorensen

TITLE: The Ever After Of Ella & Micha
SERIES: The Secret #4
AUTHOR: Jessica Sorensen
PUBLICATION DATE: December 3, 2013 / December 2, 2014
PUBLISHER: Forever / Hachette Audio
PAGES: 272 pages / 7 hours and 2 minutes
SOURCE: Publisher via NetGalley / Purchased
RATING: 5 bows

Ella’s life is finally going well. She has moved past most of her issues and has learned how to breathe through her problems. Then a box shows up containing her mom’s old journal and suddenly she isn’t so sure she can have her happily ever after. How can she live out that reality if she’s never seen what it looks like? Micha will always be there for Ella, but he’s been offered an opportunity to go on tour that he isn’t sure he can say no to. He can’t leave Ella behind and he isn’t sure she’d want to pack up and hit the road for three months. Faced with the reality of balancing their dreams with their fears, can Ella & Micha make things work or will their relationship finally fall to pieces?

There isn’t much new to say about either Ella or Micha. They are both the same characters we remember and love. Ella is the same sweet, fiesty girl. She just has a better handle on her issues. She’s moved on enough to not spend every waking hour thinking about her past, even though things do pop up occasionally. And then there’s Micha. He just might be my favorite male character, ever. He’s so fucking devoted to Ella that you can’t help but love the guy. He’s sweet and caring and determined to help Ella through whatever she is going through. I really don’t have words for him. He’s perfect. He is the perfect book boyfriend. He’s hot, he sings, he plays guitar, he is so fucking in love with Ella that it hurts. He’s just perfect, okay?

This lives up to Sorensen’s previous works. It’s just the right level of heartbreaking and uplifting. Ella & Micha have been through quite enough, so I was a little nervous to start this because I didn’t want to see them put through anymore drama. They’ve had enough problems. For all of you worried about that particular problem, fear not! This is Sorensen’s least traumatic novel (at least that I’ve read thus far). No epic breakups or terrible revelations or spirals in unimaginable depression. Just Ella & Micha working towards making their wedding happen. And it was absolutely perfect. This is exactly what you want to see for Ella & Micha, a future with just enough imperfections to make it believable, but still perfect.

All you really need to know is that this is the novel for Ella & Micha you have been waiting for. Sorensen manages to write a novel that is even better than it’s predecessors, which is a feat because I love The Secret Of Ella & Micha. Even though you thought the pair got their happily ever afters at the end of The Secret and The Forever, here they really do get that picturesque ending that we all dream about. I hope their future is filled with many happy days.

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

5 bows
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Review for Dangerous Dream (Dangerous Creatures #0.5) by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Dangerous Dream by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

TITLE: Dangerous Dream
SERIES: Dangerous Creatures #0.5
AUTHOR: Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
PUBLICATION DATE: December 17, 2013
PUBLISHER: Little, Brown Books For Young Readers
PAGES: 46 pages
SOURCE: Publisher via NetGalley
RATING: 3 bows

They finally made it, they are graduating high school. This novella follows Ethan, Lena, Link, and Ridley through the former three’s high school graduation. They battled the world and still somehow made time for homework and studying. Woooohhoooo! Now, as things are wrapping up, everything isn’t perfect in Caster-land, with obvious tension between Rid and Link, can they finally settle their issues or is their relationship doomed to failure?

I knew in the last two novels that Ridley was starting to get on my nerves. She was one of my favorite characters in Beautiful Creatures and Beautiful Darkness, but things starting going badly in Beautiful Chaos and I’m sad to say they haven’t improved yet. Ridley persistently gets on my nerves now and being in her head made it ten times worse. She’s selfish, sometimes stupid, and has that “I’m a bad girl so I have to play the bad girl role…even if I don’t want to!” attitude that made me want to punch her in the face. Add to that the over-the-top arrogance and I’ve just had enough. She gets herself in a lot of trouble here. A LOT of trouble. She gets in deep with the wrong crowd and now she owes favors to the worst kind of people.

Everyone else was fine. You get just a bit more from Ethan and Lena before the perspectives switch and they were just as delightful as ever. Even Link was awesome. I really liked getting his perspective. You’d think he’d annoy me, being an almost stereotypical southern gentleman, but he plays the role with such enthusiasm that it’s impossible to not love him. He oozes southern charm in such an obliviously blatant way that it just works for him. Creating such a character seems like a difficult task because there are so many ways it could backfire, so this little novella made me appreciate him that much more.

I do question the writing on the front. This says “A Beautiful Creatures Story” on the cover but it’s boasted as the beginning novella to the Dangerous Creatures saga, so which is it? All you really need to know is that if you loved the previous books and all the characters involved, then you will enjoy this as well. If you didn’t enjoy them, the steer clear of this as well!

****Thank you to Little, Brown Books For Young Readers for providing me with an eARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review****

3 bows
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Review for Mine To Tarnish (Mine #0.5) by Janeal Falor

Mine To Tarnish by Janeal Falor

TITLE: Mine To Tarnish
SERIES: Mine #0.5
AUTHOR: Janeal Falor
PUBLICATION DATE: December 2, 2013
PUBLISHER: Chardonian Press
PAGES: 128 pages
SOURCE: Purchased
RATING: 4 bows

Katherine has always fought to keep her mouth shut and her opinions to herself. A woman has one place in this world, silently standing beside her husband, bearing magical-blooded sons. If this goal cannot be accomplished, said husband has the right to do whatever he wants to her, including physical abuse, mental abuse, or even murder. Katherine has just been sold to a cruel, smelly old man who she cannot tolerate the idea of belonging to. She does the unthinkable, she runs. And in running she discovers a new world and a renewed resolve that woman are more than objects to be used and abused.

Katherine is reminds me so much of how I’d be in her situation. I’m too independently minded to allow this shit and the very concept that I must keep my mouth shut because my opinions are completely invalid makes my blood boil in a way nothing else does. I don’t consider myself a feminist, but fuck we have rights! Wants, needs, and thoughts all our own. This novella was a bit appalling in how these men treated the woman. We take a lot of things for granted, but there were times when things weren’t much better than that. I believe there are still places in the world today where the men think the same way…..::coughs:: back to Katherine. She’s so strong and determined to get away from her new master that it was impossible to believe that she wouldn’t succeed. She is constantly landing herself in trouble for her inability to accept that she is a lower class being.

Like I said, this is a bit appalling. These woman are spelled and abused in all manner. They aren’t even allowed to sit unless given explicit permission to do so, instead forced to stand next to her husband or father while he lounges comfortably. The idea that any father would now only allow this kind of abuse, but promote it is unthinkable. Katherine’s own father treats her terribly. Katherine’s running away is admirable to me, trying to escape her fate rather than grinning and baring it as she is meant to. Once she gets out and we meet the tarnished, things improve considerably. Finally we see men who don’t follow this ridiculous belief and Katherine is even more empowered by them. They help her run and you get a light romance between her and a tarnished man. I hope they get the revolution going, but don’t die in the crossfire.

This is a novel that really makes you think about the common rights we take for granted. It had me enraptured, dying to get to the next bit of the story to find out if Katherine succeeds in her evasions or if she is caught and punished. I recommend it to everyone wanting something magical and empowering, if a mite depressing at first. I can’t wait to dive into the next one!

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Review for A Date Of Godlike Proportions (The Blooming Goddess Trilogy #2.5) by Tellulah Darling

A Date Of Godlike Proportions by Tellulah Darling

TITLE: A Date Of Godlike Proportions
SERIES: The Blooming Goddess Trilogy #2.5
AUTHOR: Tellulah Darling
PUBLICATION DATE: December 20, 2013
PAGES: 28 pages
SOURCE: Purchased
RATING: 5 bows

Theo and Festos are finally going on their second date. After several thousand years of waiting, there is a lot of pressure on them for this to go well. Festos is over the moon excited and Theo is terrified. Can they make it work.

Theo & Festos? Bring. It. On. This was way too damn short. Can I have more? Please?

Our poor dear Sophie is unconscious, healing from the knife wound to the gut from that crazy bitch and Theo doesn’t want to leave her side, but the rest of the crew more or less drag him out of the house for this epic date. He’s determined to be difficult because he’s scared it’ll turn out badly, even though it’s obvious to anyone with eyes that Festos still loves him. These two are so fucking cute together.

Seriously, more please? No? Well, I already have the next book in the series so I’ll get more soon enough. This tinsy little novella gives you just enough of a taste to whet your appetite for more. I’m gonna tear through the book I’m reading now to get the My Life From Hell. I can’t fucking wait!

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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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Review for Sneaking Candy by Lisa Burstein

Sneaking Candy by Lisa Burstein

TITLE: Sneaking Candy
AUTHOR: Lisa Burstein
PUBLICATION DATE: December 9, 2013
PUBLISHER: Embrace, an imprint of Entangled Publishing
PAGES: 280 pages
SOURCE: NetGalley
RATING: 5 bows

Candice Salinas is a creative writing grad student who just wants to be taken seriously. Since her fellowship only covers her tuition, she started writing (and self-publishing) erotic romance novels as Candy Sloane to make ends meet. And, surprise, she is relatively successful, making enough off her novels to pay her rent. But her asshat faculty advisor would disapprove and no one would take second look at her serious writing if they knew she was moonlighting as an erotic romance writer, nevermind that she kinda loves doing it (pun intended). Then James walks into the picture, as if she needs more drama. The hot barista a local coffee shop, he’s finally taken interest in her like she’s fantasized about for quite some time. But, unfortunately, he is now a student in one of the classes she teaches to earn her fellowship. The relationship is strictly forbidden, but sometimes Candy sneaks into her brain and she can’t help sneaking around with him. With so much to lose, will Candice strike out or will things work out for the best?

Candice is that character with split personalities, one minute being the level-headed, if somewhat insecure, Candice and the other being the confident Candy who goes after what she wants. While I can understand jumping between the two roles, I also became a bit annoyed when she was being overly dickish to James, who was a complete sweetheart. She usually feels a great deal of remorse and apologizes, but I still wanted to strangle her when she was getting out of hand. What made me love her, despite the drama, was how this was more about her becoming more confident in both personalities. She starts out somewhat proud, but embarrassed about her romance novels, and completely lacking the confidence needed to stand up behind her books and proclaim that there was nothing wrong with writing them and that it didn’t make her a “lesser” author like some asshats like to imply. But she grows and learns and by the end is ready to stop hiding her secondary persona. I am woman, hear me roar, type of thing.

Then we have James, the sweetest guy imaginable. He genuinely likes Candice, regardless of which personality she is displaying and puts her with her hot and cold crap. One minute she is all over him and the next she is cold as ice, claiming this can’t happen because she is his teacher and it’s not worth losing her career over. Somehow, despite Candice’s attempts to push him away, he still remains by her side when she needs him, proving time and again that they need to give it a try regardless of the fact that it would be highly frowned upon. He’s got that great ability to deliver witty comebacks when necessary and walk away when Candice is being absurd. And, of course, he’s hot enough to catch anyone’s eye.

This does have a slight love triangle, but it isn’t one of those massively annoying ones where the girls is leading two guys on because she can’t decide. She likes both in the beginning and, once she gets to know both better, it’s pretty obvious she only really likes one of them. No cliffhangers to be found either, since it is a stand alone. And, not instalove. In fact, the characters haven’t even said those three magical words to each other by the end of the book. They like each other and are attracted and really want to try the whole relationship thing, but the L word is never mentioned. So we are joyously free of the three main hang-ups I have these days.

It’s definitely a different from any other NA novel I’ve read because neither character harbors a disturbing past. There are no abusive exes or parents or attempt rape or anything sinister like that lurking in shadows of this novel. Not that I’m downplaying those elements in a NA novel because I’ve deeply loved many of those stories, but it’s absent here. Plus the idea of a serious writer moonlighting as an erotica author is fascinating. I’ve always wondered if any of the erotica authors feel a little embarrassed of their profession. I’m not implying that there is anything to be embarrassed about, more that I can see where it would steam from. I imagine introducing yourself to strangers as a professional erotic romance writer can be daunting because there is a stigma attached to it. Well there is a stigma attached to romance in general, but erotic romance especially. It was interesting to explore Candice’s feelings about her in-the-closet profession, becoming more and more proud of who she really was and the message her novels sent. Sure, they were smutty, but they still made people feel things and told a story that her readers loved, so what more can you ask for? For writing to be worthwhile, must it be dull and dry? I certainly hope not, for my sake as well as Candice’s. I love that, by the end, she is proud of her Candy novels and is ready to stop hiding them from the world. I love books that support that type of message, you know? That one that say be yourself regardless of what the world things. Fuck your parents, fuck your colleagues, and, most importantly, fuck the naysayers. If it is what makes you a happy and you can legitimately make a living off it, then go for it. We need more novels with that message.

It’s also very funny. Readers searching for something that will make you giggle and snort constantly, this is it. Penis jokes and double entendres galore, all of which had me giggling or smiling or somehow showing my glee. There are double entendre alerts every few pages and all of them at least made me smile. Here is a novel that isn’t afraid to show its pervy side. Speaking of pervy, we get a great few steamy scenes that does Burstein credit. The undeniable chemistry between Candice and James heats up every scene between the two, even the ones where they aren’t getting along.

This novel shines because of its originality, it’s humor, and the “be yourself” theme behind the story. It’s creative and different and exactly what I was looking for. Lisa Burstein is definitely an author to watch because it’s apparent she is going to do great things!

****Thank you to Embrace, an imprint of Entangled Publishing, providing me with an eARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.****

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Review for Bitter Sweet Love (The Dark Elements #0.5) by Jennifer L Armentrout

Bitter Sweet Love by Jennifer L Armentrout

TITLE: Bitter Sweet Love
SERIES: The Dark Elements #0.5
AUTHOR: Jennifer L Armentrout
PUBLICATION DATE: December 1, 2013
PUBLISHER: Harlequin Teen
PAGES: 105 pages
SOURCE: Invitation from publisher, E-ARC provided via NetGalley
RATING: 5 bows

Jasmine and Dez were always meant to be. As Gargoyle Wardens, they have been officially paired to mate, as long as she accepts the proposal. But when he disappears the day after the announcement is made, Jasmine is sure she’ll never be the same without him. Now, three years later, he waltzes back into her life expecting to pick up where they left off. Good luck, buddy. Jasmine is beyond pissed off because she has spent the last three years grieving the loss of him and isn’t sure she can ever trust him again. How do you trust someone who just walked out of you? How can you truly believe that he’ll never do that again? She agrees to give him a chance to prove he’s back for good within the seven days she is allowed to deliberate over whether to accept the proposal to mate or not, using him shamelessly to experience things that she would never be allowed to do on her own. Things like traveling to New York or learning to drive. Can he convince her to trust him again?

I’ll be completely honest, when I got the email requesting I read and review this, my answer was immediate. You’re with Harlequin Teen and you want me personally to read and review a novel from your publishing house?

Yes, I’d love too. Oh, it’s about Gargoyles?

Even better. Oh, it’s by Jennifer L Armentrout?

Gimme gimme gimme…I mean, ::coughs:: I would be delighted to review this for you. To say I was overjoyed at this opportunity was a massive understatement. I could post a hundred flailing happy gifs and it still wouldn’t equal my level of excitement. But, instead of doing that, let’s get down to the review, shall we?

Jasmine’s character is one I could immediately sympathize with. She just wants to be free, but the antiquated views of the male Wardens (aka gargoyles) keep her caged in the mansion she calls home. They believe that whole women are the weaker sex and must be protected at all costs. The idea that maybe if they trained them to fight then they would constantly be the causalities of demon attacks is preposterous. No, it’s better to hide them away and homeschool them until they are old enough to be “mated” and then keep them barefoot and pregnant. Jasmine is about as irritated with this idea as I am. The only upside in this is that there are so few females that they get their pick of any male. The males make an offer and the female gets 7 days to make a decision, yes or no. If she says no, the male must accept it and move on. The downside, beyond the chauvinist outlook, is that virtually none of the mated couples are love matches. Jasmine is a romantic, so that’s very disheartening.

Holy crap. I just realized part of why I loved this so much (apart from JLA’s typical awesomeness) while I was writing that. It’s just like a fucking historical romance novel: sheltered women, men running society, lack of love matches.

Seriously, I’m a bit mind blown at the similarities. I didn’t think I could fall in love with this anymore, but I was wrong.

Dez, our leading male, was cocky, lovable, and oddly vulnerable. I think Jennifer really has writing swoon-worthy males down to a science. Amazing body?  Just the right amount of witty banter?  Cocky, but not annoyingly so? Completely head over heels for our heroine?  And tada! There you have it, a swoon-worthy male. I was a bit unsure about him in the beginning, but his obvious devotion to Jasmine won me over. It’s clear that he’ll do whatever it takes to get her back. I almost wish this had been just a tinsy bit longer just to draw out their relationship a bit.

You get a peak of Layla, Zayne, and Roth, the stars of this series. Dez and Jasmine are secondary characters. I’m a little sad about them not being the main love birds, but I can understand why their story is in the background. Once they get over this little issue, I think they won’t have any major conflicts and conflicts are the center of all novels. Layla is definitely going to be an interesting character to follow and I’m already so in love with Roth that I’m foaming at the mouth for me. Smartass demon who bucks the rules? YES PLEASE!

The writing is exactly what you’d expect from Jennifer. She has that amazing ability to write a wholly believable story, even when it’s a preposterous concept. The Warden lure, though only briefly explained, is fascinating. I’m really excited about reading more of this particular supernatural being we don’t see often (or ever) in YA. It’s probably the most original idea for a young adult novel that I’ve read all year.

There is no question that this is a novella everyone will enjoy. It has romance, a bit of action, a little suspense, and a whole bunch of JLA awesomeness. It’s a new spin of a supernatural creature that doesn’t get much attention these days. Grab your copy December 1st so you can experience this breath-taking story for yourself.

****A huge thank you to Lisa Wray at Harlequin Teen for giving me the opportunity to read this and for providing me with an eARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you just doesn’t seem strong enough, but it’s all I can say, so from the bottom of my heart, I sincerely thank you!****

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