Not Pretending Anymore by Penelope Ward and Vi Keeland ~ Review & Teaser (@PenelopeAuthor, @ViKeeland)

I really enjoyed this read and how Declan weasled his way into Molly's apartment and her life. They were such good friends that turned into something more, it was so entertaining to read about!
Not Pretending Anymore
Title: Not Pretending Anymore
Author: Penelope Ward and Vi Keeland
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published: April 10th 2021

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Finding a good roommate through a classified ad isn’t as easy as it sounds.
I was starting to lose hope.
Until a knock at my door came and God answered my prayers.
Except…uh…wrong prayer, God.
I’d definitely requested the big guy find me a drop-dead gorgeous man on more than one occasion...just not as my roommate.
Declan Tate talked me into interviewing him anyway.
While he was amusing and charismatic, I wouldn’t have been comfortable living with a man, so I regretfully declined.
Then cupcakes showed up at my door—freshly baked by Declan and just as sinfully delicious as he was.
You could say he was persistent.
I eventually folded. It wasn’t like I had another viable candidate anyway.
Plus, I was interested in someone else. And Declan was into another woman. So it wasn’t like anything would happen romantically.
After he moved in, the two of us became the best of friends. We even started to give each other advice on getting our crushes to notice us.
Eventually, Declan concocted an idea: we should pretend to be a couple to make our love interests jealous.
I was hesitant, but went along with it anyway. To my utter shock, his crazy plan worked.
Now I was dating the supposed man of my dreams, and my best friend had the woman of his.
But there was one problem.
I couldn’t stop thinking about Declan.
Those feelings we were trying to fake?
Yeah…I wasn’t pretending anymore.

Penelope Ward and Vi Keeland sure know how to tell a story and they had me hooked right from the opening chapters! I was laughing about how much effort Declan was putting in to get a room at Molly’s! They were so much fun to read about, so you can imagine that I devoured this book!

It was interesting that Declan and Molly liked other people and they were using each other to secure these other relationships. I could see them trying hard to find love, and they didn’t notice that they were falling for one another. They didn’t talk about their feelings and there were some obstacles that drove them apart.

Although Declan was a fun and outgoing person, he had an issue that he needed to work through himself. The authors handled this issue well and I could see why he struggled like he did. He had good support from his sister and was able to find some answers from his parents also. He just needed the courage to step up and grab what he wanted.

Ward and Keeland delivered this story perfectly! I loved the friends to lovers read and how they took their time realising their feelings for one another, and how far they would go to be happy! It was such an enjoyable read that I didn’t want to end!
The first teaser really moved me, the second one... there was definitely lust in the air!

“There are definitely worse problems to have. You’re living with a gorgeous man and dating another.”
I smiled, though neither scenario was what I wanted. I didn’t want to live with a man or just date one. I wanted to be someone’s ride or die.
I want love.

Kindle Page 108

God, she smelled so damn good. Where the hell was a caveman’s club when I needed it?
Molly walked toward her bedroom. When she got to the door, she stopped and spoke without looking back.
“Hey, Dec?”
“Maybe you should lock your door tonight. That margarita really went to my head.”
I smiled. “You too, babe. You too.”

Kindle Page 140

Vi Keeland is a native New Yorker with three children that occupy most of her free time, which she complains about often, but wouldn't change for the world. She is a bookworm and has been known to read her kindle at stop lights, while styling her hair, cleaning, walking, during sporting events, and frequently while pretending to work.  She is a boring attorney by day, and an exciting smut author by night!

Penelope Ward is a New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal Bestselling author. She grew up in Boston with five older brothers and spent most of her twenties as a television news anchor, before switching to a more family-friendly career. She is the proud mother of a beautiful 10-year-old girl with autism and a 9-year-old boy. Penelope and her family reside in Rhode Island.             

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Sick Heart by J.A. Huss ~ Review & Teaser (@jahuss)

I always love a read that J.A. Huss delivers and this one was quite a sizzling and action packed read. I loved getting to know Cort and Anya and I look forward to more reads from this particular part of her world!
Sick Heart
Title: Sick Heart
Author: J.A. Huss
Genre: Dark Sports Romance
Published: March 28th 2021

Buy Now - Amazon USAmazon Aus


Cort van Breda has won 35 death matches as a fighter in an MMA circuit so deep underground there are no rules and only the winner gets out alive.
They call him the Sick Heart.
They say he’s a shameless monster.
They say he’s a ruthless killer.
They say he’s as twisted as the man who owns him.
They say a lot of things about Cort van Breda.
But in our world violence is money, and money is winning, and winning is life, and life is the only thing that matters.
Except… he wasn’t meant to win that last fight.
And I wasn’t meant to be his prize.
But he did.
And I am.
And now his sick heart owns me.

WARNING: This is a sweet love story adrift in an ocean of evil. It is about two survivors dealing with their darkest secrets while they fight to change their lives. It is for mature readers only and has descriptions of deeply disturbing situations. There will be pearl clutching.

It’s been a while since I’ve read a J.A. Huss book, and I’ll tell you that it was exciting to get back into her dark and twisted world once again! Huss introduced us to another part of her dark world through illegal boxing. It’s a deadly and scary world, where no one is safe. People are all pawns and for those in charge are expendable.

I loved the way the story began, and it had me questioning what was going on, as it’s not a usual beginning to a Huss read, but after a while I understood and was excited for the direction of this story. There were some moments that had me cringing, but it wasn’t long before we were thrown into crazy action and some steamy moments!

Cort and Anya were both very strong characters, stuck in a world that they can’t get out of. Cort was very successful in his world, and was doing everything he could to secure his freedom and that of those he help close. Anya knew that it was easier to keep to herself so she could get through the dark world she was in. When backed against the wall she could be fierce. I enjoyed watching her show more strength throughout the read and stand on her feet to face those stronger than her.

This was such a great read, and I cannot wait for more. I enjoyed getting to know both Cort and Anya, as well as Cort’s entourage. There were some sizzling scenes woven throughout the read, and I was constantly on edge wondering what would happen next! I am so excited to continue more books in this world!

These two had insane chemistry, and every little moment pulled them closer together.

When I turn to her, she’s already looking at me. And when I kiss her, her mouth is already open.
I know this is the Lectra. But I don’t care.
I kiss her back with force, angling my body towards her, then over her, until she’s practically lying back on the steps. And before I can think too hard about it, or talk myself out of it, I slip my hand between her legs.

Kindle Page 219

“There she is.” A cool hand flattens on my forehead. “Anya? Can you hear me?”
Who is that?
“Anya,” he whispers. “Wake up. It’s been almost two days. You have to pee. There’s no way you don’t have to pee.”
I try to laugh, because that’s true. I really do need to pee. But the pain that shoots through my face is enough to make me choke. And at the same time, the coughing is still happening.
“Can you open your eyes? Come on, Anya. Enough is enough. You need to come out of this. Maart wants to call for a ’copter to take you to the mainland. And you can’t leave now. Not yet.”

Kindle Page 246

J.A. Huss
JA Huss is the New York Times Bestselling author of 321 and has been on the USA Today Bestseller’s list 21 times in the past four years. She writes characters with heart, plots with twists, and perfect endings. 

Her books have sold millions of copies all over the world, the audio version of her semi-autobiographical book, Eighteen, was nominated for a Voice Arts Award and an Audie Award in 2016 and 2017 respectively, her audiobook, Mr. Perfect, was nominated for a Voice Arts Award in 2017, and her audiobook, Taking Turns, was nominated for an Audie Award and Voice Arts Award in 2018. In May 2018 MGM Television optioned five of her books (Slack, Guns, Come, Come Back, and Coming For You –collectively called THE COMPANY) for a TV Series. She and Johnathan are partners in that TV series project —in fact, they started out writing the teleplay for The Company and soon after found themselves writing novels together too.

Johnathan McClain is her first (and only) writing partner and even though they are worlds apart in just about every way imaginable, it works.

She lives on a ranch in Central Colorado with her family.

Other reviews featuring J.A. Huss
Bossy Brothers series
Jesse #1
Joey #2
Naughty Things series
The Dirty Ones
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Tall, Dark, and Handsome series
The Sexpert #1
Pierced #2 
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The Devil Wears Black by L.J. Shen ~ Review & Teaser (@lj_shen)

I've read a few of L.J. Shen's reads now, and every time she releases something new, you can bet I'm going to pick it up. I don't always love her work, but she always writes stories that you can be swept away in. 
The Devil Wears Black
Title: The Devil Wears Black
Author: L.J. Shen
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published: March 9th 2021

Buy Now - Amazon USAmazon Aus

From USA Today bestselling author L. J. Shen comes a second-chance romance about love, loss, finding yourself, and getting lost in the right person.

Maddie Goldbloom stitched up a plan to ensure everything in her life was perfect—from a career in fashion to a chic NYC apartment to a pediatrician boyfriend.

When her ex, Chase Black, storms back into her life with an outrageous request, her immediate reaction is to refuse him. But he only wants to fulfill his father’s last wish. So even though he’s the man who broke her heart, playing his fiancĂ©e shouldn’t be hard, especially if it means she gets to watch the arrogant devil squirm a bit.

What ensues is a chain of events that detonates Maddie’s life—and when Chase’s walls come down, they both are forced to face reality.

They say keep your enemies close. But what if your enemy is also the man you love?

I’ve read a few of L.J. Shen’s reads, and at times they are hit or miss. For me, The Devil Wears Black was an ok read, as I found it hard to connect with the characters.

Maddie was trying hard to find the perfect guy after Chase dumped her. She was dating a nice guy when Chase stormed back into her life. I could see that she liked him but was so hurt by the way that he treated her but was still willing to help him out.

Chase was an interesting character – he would do anything for his parents and sister and loved them fiercely. He had issues with wis brother Julian and wife Amber but had all the time in the world for their daughter Clementine. When it came to Maddie, he liked her, but not enough to keep her. He kept pushing her away and reeling her back in again. Honestly, Chase was hard to like, as he appeared to make poor decisions to protect his heart and to freeze out his feelings.

Some of this read confused me and I couldn’t understand why Maddie would agree to Chase so easily. I could see they had chemistry, but Chase had commitment issues. She would try and move on only for Chase to real her back in. I felt he was a little selfish at times as he wouldn’t commit but wouldn’t let her go.

Unfortunately, this read was not one that blew me away. Some of Shen’s books have been amazing, but this one was a bit of a letdown. I hope that the next book redeems itself and allows me to be swept away in L.J. Shen’s writing once again.
I liked how direct Maddie was with Chase her, finally holding her own!

“I just want you to know I’ll be there for you and your family, no matter what. As a friend.”
“I don’t want to be your friend.” Chase held my eyes, sobering up for a fraction of a second. “I want to be your everything. Even that’s not enough. So thanks, but no thanks.”

Kindle Page 300

L.J. ShenL.J. Shen is an International #1 best-selling author of Contemporary Romance and New Adult novels. She lives in Northern California with her husband, young son and chubby cat.

Before she’d settled down, L.J. (who thinks referring to herself in the third person is really silly, by the way) traveled the world, and collected friends from all across the globe. Friends who’d be happy to report that she is a rubbish companion, always forgets peoples’ birthdays and 
never sends Christmas cards.

She enjoys the simple things in life, like spending time with her family and friends, reading, HBO, Netflix and internet-stalking Stephen James. She reads between three to five books a week and firmly believes Crocs shoes and mullets should be outlawed.

Other reviews featuring L.J. Shen
Boston Belles series
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The Wicked Prince by Claire Contreras ~ Review & Teaser (@ClariCon)

I've read a few of Claire Contreras' books over the years and I was excited to get back into her Naughty Royals series! I liked that Aramis and Joslyn knew one another and that there was chemistry between them. It was one amusing ride!
The Wicked Prince: A Fake Relationship Romance (The Naughty Royals, #2)
Title: The Wicked Prince
Author: Claire Contreras
Series: Naughty Royals #2
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published: March 11th 2021

Buy Now - Amazon USAmazon Aus

My job was to clean up his reputation and find him a wife.

It was supposed to be easy, but nothing about Prince Aramis was ever easy.

I was about to throw in the towel when he came up with a solution: I'd be his pretend girlfriend. Forget the fact that I was sort of seeing someone, or that I had no interest in joining the royal family. Once Aramis sets his eyes on something, there's no use in fighting him on it, besides, in a way it would make my job a little easier.

I accept the offer but set boundaries. Boundaries that Aramis is intent on testing. Before either of us know what's happening, the lines start to blur and I can no longer tell the difference between pretend and reality.

My job on the line is one thing, but losing my heart to Aramis was never in the cards.

It’s been a while since I read The Sinful King, and I was excited to be back in this world again. The Wicked Prince was an entertaining read, where Joss and Aramis didn’t always get along.

Joss was a secretary to the royal family and was currently Aramis’ guardian, making sure that he was on the right track and improving his reputation in the royal family. Aramis was known as the bad boy of the family but had settled as of late due to an accident that happened prior to this book.

I liked that both Aramis and Joslyn had some history between them before their feelings for one another began to grow. I enjoyed their banter, and the little fake relationship they had was amusing as well. They both had genuine feelings for one another but were unsure if they were reciprocated. There was a twist thrown in, which made it interesting, but they both worked hard to find their happiness.

I enjoyed meeting others in the family, and how their lives were heading. I am curious about Pilar and Benjamin’s story, so I may have to pick that one up to see how these two got together. I really enjoy Contreras work, and can’t believe that it has taken me so long to get back into this world!
These two were amusing together. I liked how cheeky Aramis was to Joss!

“I think this is the first civil conversation we’ve ever had.”
“We have civil conversations all the time.”
“Do we? I feel like we’re always arguing.”
“You call that arguing?” He smiled. “I call it foreplay.”
My heart skipped. “I prefer my foreplay to be a little more physical.”
“I can arrange that.”

Kindle Page 18

Claire Contreras is a New York Times Best Selling Author. Her books range from romantic suspense to contemporary romance and are currently translated in over fifteen languages.

She’s a breast cancer survivor, a mother, a wife, and a Florida girl that currently resides in Charlotte, NC. When she’s not writing, she’s usually lost in a book.

Claire Contreras

Other reviews featuring  Claire Contreras
Naughty Royals series
The Consequence of Falling

The Player
Hearts series
Kaleidoscope Hearts #1 
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All In by Emma Scott ~ Review & Teaser (@EmmaS_writes)

I jumped right into All In after reading the first book in this duet. Full Tilt shattered my heart so I had to know what would happen next. This book is NOT a standalone, and you really need to read the first book before grabbing this one, but I can tell you it was a fantastic conclusion to Kacey's story.
All In (Full Tilt, #2)
Title: All In
Author: Emma Scott
Series: Full Tilt #2
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published: October 11th 2016

Buy Now - Amazon USAmazon Aus

PLEASE NOTE, this novel is NOT a standalone. It is highly recommended one read Full Tilt first to get the entire arc of the story and to avoid spoilers.

Reeling from her loss, Kacey Dawson is grieving and heartbroken, her addictive demons hauling her back into the alcohol-soaked abyss she worked so hard to crawl out of. Kacey teeters on the edge of oblivion, and must fight her way through the pain, to build a new life for herself with her music, and somehow fulfill the promise she made to Jonah…one she feels is impossible to keep.

Theo Fletcher has a secret burning in his heart, one that he holds close, while he struggles to keep strong for his family that is falling apart. His mother’s health is fragile and his father’s disapproval is breaking him down. Theo is afraid if he follows his heart, he’ll fail, and not just himself, but his brother who believed in him when no one else did.

Drawn together by their pain, Theo and Kacey slowly build a friendship, re-forge old ties, help each other to heal, and give one another the courage to reach for their dreams. Together, from the depths of grief and guilt, they learn to laugh again, to trust again, and quite possibly find something beautiful and lasting amid the shattered pieces of their broken hearts.

This book contains content that may be triggering to some who have experienced miscarriage. Please proceed with caution.

After reading the first book in the Full Tilt series and being blown away, All In had to be an amazing sequel, and I cannot imagine a more fitting read! I was left shattered at the end on the first book, and I had hope that Kasey would be able to find her way. It wasn’t easy, and there were many struggles for her, but in the end, she was determined which I was proud of!

It certainly wasn’t an easy ride for Kasey, especially since she had moved away from those she had come to love. She was struggling with her old addiction and was pouring all her emotions into her singing. She was no longer the happy carefree girl I had come to love, but I hoped that she would find her path once again.

I liked that Kasey was able to get strength from Jacob’s brother Theo and that she was able to rely on him to set her back on the right track. It was sweet to watch their friendship strengthen, and that Theo would support Kasey with everything that she did.

It was great to see Theo doing all he could to get the best for himself – studying and making plans for the future. It was sad that he didn’t get the support from his father, but he was willing to push himself to show him no matter what his father thought. Kasey had similar parental issues, which was another way that drew them together, as they both tried to work through them.

This was a fabulous ending to this duo, and I honestly didn’t think my heart would cope with it all! I was so excited to see it all unfold. I loved Emma Scott’s world building and the way she bought all the characters together. This series will stick with me for a long time to come!

This was a sweet moment between the characters... over the phone!

“I’m going to kiss you goodnight now.”
“On the lips?”
A pause. “Yeah.”
I gripped the phone tighter. “Okay.”
“Goodnight, Kacey,” he said softly.
I ran my tongue over my bottom lip, but in the dark—with Theo’s deep voice like a purr in my ear—it was his mouth I felt and his lips that brushed mine softly.
A sigh eased out of me, leaving me heavy and content.
“Did you feel it?” he asked.
I nodded against the phone, snuggling into couch cushions. “I felt it. So nice. Made me sleepy.”
“It did?”
“Mmhm. I feel warm all over. And safe. How did you do that from so far away?”
“I don’t know,” he whispered. “Get some sleep now.”

Kindle Page 163

Emma Scott is a USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of emotional, character-driven romances in which art and love intertwine to heal, and in which love always wins. If you enjoy thoughtful, realistic stories with diverse characters and kind-hearted heroes, you will enjoy her novels.
Emma   Scott

Other reviews featuring Emma Scott
Full Tilt Duet
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