The One That Got Away by Karina Halle ~ Review & Teaser (@MetalBlonde)

Karina Halle is one of those authors that I love to read! I've read a range of her books and I can't think of one that I haven't enjoyed.
The One That Got Away
Title: The One That Got Away
Author: Karina Halle
Genre: Contemporary Romance / Sports Romance
Published: September 20th 2020

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*A standalone second-chance romance*

Ruby Turner was never meant to be mine.

When I first met her, she was a fresh, young, American sports journalist trying to find her footing in a new life abroad. She was the one interviewing me for an article, yet I wanted to know more about her. She captivated me.
But she went home with Marco that night.
My agent.
My brother.
And I did what I could to pretend I was fine with it.
After all, I’m Luciano Ribeiro. As the captain of Real Madrid, and Portugal’s National Team, it’s my job to be cool, calm, and collected, not easily rattled.
Only what I felt for Ruby over time, shook me to my very core.
It made me do things I never imagined I would do.
It started with a stolen kiss in the middle of the night.
It led to a passionate tryst.
It created a burden of guilt that I had to carry, as Ruby came in and out of my life until she left for good, leaving her mark on me.
Now, seven years later, she’s back.
She was the one that got away.
I don’t think I’ll let her go this time.
But I might not have a choice.
Because my heart still belongs to her.
And her heart might belong to my brother.

The One That Got Away was a sweet and intense romance as I watched two characters that had an attraction, find it difficult to be with one another. Throughout most of the story you can see that they have chemistry, but it was never the right moment or there were circumstances that kept them apart.

I really felt for Ruby, right from the opening chapter and seeing her lose so much of herself in one moment. She was determined to find herself once again, trying to be involved in a sport that she loved so much. I could see the initial connection between her and Luciano, however they both found it hard to trust people and their paths went in different directions. Ruby was quite the carefree kind of character and wasn't willing to be tied down.

Luciano had parental issues and that's why he found it hard to trust people, especially as he was becoming so successful. Ruby could relate to him in that regard and I think it was one of the ways they bonded. Luciano had dreams of success, not only in his home team, but to also further his career in the big leagues.

Luciano and Ruby's story wasn't easy, especially as it took place over a number of years. I could definitely see the connection and the passion between them as they fell for one another. Family issues kept arising, making it difficult for them. I did like that this read had a small crossover from another Halle book, and those characters had an influence on Luciano and Ruby's relationship.

I love moments where the truth is revealed and it changes everything for the characters! 

“You could have contacted me first.”
“Well I knew you hated me!”
“How can I not?” he yells, arms going out. “You broke my fucking heart, Ruby! I fell in love with you. I was in love with you and you tore it all to pieces!”
My hands go to my chest, as if to keep in my own heart.
I didn’t know.
How could I have known?
“Luciano,” I whisper, my words broken and bare. I try to reach for him, but he shrugs out of my grasp.
“This was a mistake,” he says, hands going into his hair. “Meeting with you was a mistake. I knew it. I knew I was setting myself up for a big dose of mindfuckery, or however you say it.”

Kindle Page 304

“You’re a fucking angel,” he says to me, meeting my eyes with a carnal gaze. The raw lust in his voice makes me so wet that I’m clenching. “But I’m going to fuck you like the devil.”

Kindle Page 150

Karina Halle is a former travel writer & music journalist and The New York Times, Wall Street Journal & USA Today Bestselling author of The Swedish Prince, The Pact, Love, in English, The Artists Trilogy, Bad at Love & over 45 other wild and romantic reads. She lives on an island off the coast of British Columbia with her husband and her adopted pup Bruce, where she drinks a lot of wine, hikes a lot of trails and devours a lot of books.

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Happily Letter After by Vi Keeland & Penelope Ward ~ Review & Teaser (@ViKeeland, @PenelopeAuthor)

When this duo writes a novel, there's a very big chance I am going to snap it up! Add in a single dad, and you know my ovaries are fluttering!
Happily Letter After
Title: Happily Letter After
Author: Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published: October 20th 2020

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From New York Times bestselling authors Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward comes a love story about taking chances, and the surprises that come with them.

My love story all started with a letter.

Only it wasn’t from the man I’d eventually fall in love with. It was from his daughter. A sweet little girl named Birdie Maxwell who’d written to the magazine that I worked for.

You see, once a year, my employer fulfilled a few wishes for readers. Only that column didn’t start up again for months.

So I fulfilled some of her wishes myself. It was harmless…so I thought. Until one day I took things too far.

While anonymously granting yet another of Birdie’s wishes, I got a look at her father. Her devastatingly handsome, single dad father.

I should have stopped playing fairy godmother then. I should have left well enough alone. But I just couldn’t help myself. I had a connection to this girl. One that had me acting irrationally.

Like showing up on their doorstep.

When Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward put out a book, I know I am in for one incredible journey! Happily Letter After was one of those reads that gets you thinking... do things happen by chance, or is there really a greater power out there??

The way that Sadie injected herself into this family was amusing to watch. After reading Birdie's letters she felt that she had to put some happiness back into the little girls life. Who would've though that each time it would bring her closer to them, and I could just see it all blowing up in her face!! It was sweet that both Birdie and Sadie had something in common, as it helped them bond

Sebastian was doing the best he could at being a single father, and I could see that Sadie bought a bit of chaos and spark back into his life. He had had a hard time most recently juggling his restaurant and making sure Birdie had a stable home life. I liked seeing him grow and to fall for someone who got along with his daughter like she did.

As I expected, there were some twists thrown in along the way that threw a spanner in the works. One you could see it coming, but the build towards the second one made my heart ache. This writing duo wove this tale perfectly, building strong characters with sizzling chemistry, a cheeky dog, and that ending really made my heart break and my soul so happy.

Such a tender moment between these two đź’“

I reached over and gently pried his fist open, then put my hand inside his and held on.
Sebastian stared down at our joined hands for a long time. “I want you to be mine, Sadie.”
My heart thumped in my chest. “I’m pretty sure I have been from the start.”

Kindle Page 193

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.             

Other reviews featuring Vi Keeland & Penelope Ward
Drunk Dial
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Trillion by Winter Renshaw ~ Review & Teaser (#WinterRenshaw)

I do enjoy a fake relationship romance, and I was surprised as to how much I enjoyed this one. Despite Sophie and Trey being from completely different worlds, they certainly were amazing together!
Title: Trillion
Author: Winter Renshaw
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published: August 3rd 2020

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Trey Westcott—devastatingly gorgeous. Intimidatingly brilliant. Powerful beyond belief.

A man with all the money in the world—literally.

As the first trillionaire in existence, my boss lives a life most people can only dream of. Anything he wants—anything at all—is a snap-of-the-fingers away.

But when the coldhearted magnate snaps his fingers and requests me for a stint on his arm playing the role of his devoted fiancĂ©e and then some, he makes an offer I can’t refuse.

And so I don’t.

But I make it clear that he’ll have my time, my body, my attention, my discreet professionalism—everything except my heart.

It’s not for sale.

Because all the money in the world can’t change the secret I’ve kept the last eight years. A secret that complicates the very business deal I’m to help him secure. A secret that makes the undeniable tension between us all the more forbidden.

Trey Westcott can have anything he wants ... but he can never have me.

Even if he’s all I’ve ever wanted.

I've read a few of Winter Renshaw's books, and so far Trillion is my favourite. I enjoyed the love/hate relationship they had in the beginning, and that the harder Trey pushed Sophie, the more determined he became.

This read began by alternating between Sophie's past and present, and I quickly understood why Sophie was such a hard and determined person. The story from her past actually broke my heart a little and I could see where it was going before we got there. I did like the way the relationship between Sophie and Trey took a turn, and despite them both not wanting a relationship, that they found themselves in it anyway.

Trey was quite the successful businessman and was not used to people saying no to him, let alone having to chase something he wanted. When it came to feelings, he locked them away but I could see Sophie getting under his skin, and that he never wanted to let her go.

Winter Renshaw pieced this story together perfectly, giving me a good insight into Sophie's past, and creating chemistry between characters that deserved to be happy. I liked Trey's ruthlessness, both in and out of his business dealings and the passion he had for Sophie. It was quite the memorable read and I enjoyed this world, the chemistry and the intensity so much!

Trey trying to win Sophie over was sweet. He was trying not to push her too hard...

“... You can come home now. You should come home.”
“Please don’t tell me what to do,” she says. “If another man tries to control my future …”
I frown. “You’re not hearing me. I’m not trying to control your future, Sophie. I want to be your future.”
She avoids my stare, chewing the inner corner of her lower lip, the one I’d give anything to taste again.
I tense my jaw, impatient, our entire life dangling on the tip of her tongue.
I’ve been called the most powerful man in the world—but suddenly, she’s the most powerful soul in mine.
If I’m the sun, she’s the whole fucking universe.

Kindle Page 276

Winter  RenshawWall Street Journal and #1 Amazon bestselling author Winter Renshaw is a bona fide daydream believer. She lives somewhere in the middle of the USA and can rarely be seen without her trusty Mead notebook and ultra portable laptop. When she’s not writing, she’s living the American dream with her husband, three kids, and the laziest puggle this side of the Mississippi.

Other reviews featuring Winter Renshaw 
P.S. series
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Midnight Blue by L.J. Shen ~ Review & Teaser (@lj_shen)

L.J. Shen sure knows how to weave tales that hook me until that final page. Midnight Blue was the page turner I expected it to be and I enjoyed getting to see Indie and Alex's relationship grow.
Midnight Blue
Title: Midnight Blue
Author: L.J. Shen
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published: January 16th 2018 by L.J. Shen (first published February 25th 2016)

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From bestselling author L.J. Shen, comes a new, standalone, contemporary romance.

It should have been easy.
I needed the money. He needed a babysitter to keep him from snorting himself to death.
I was cherry-picked especially for him. Responsible. Optimistic. Warm. Innocent.
The worst part is that I should have known better.
Alex Winslow. British rock star. Serial heartbreaker. Casanova with whiskey eyes.
“Don’t get near the devil in a leather jacket. He’ll chew you up and spit you out.”
Guess what? I didn’t listen.
I signed the contract.
World tour. Three months. Four Continents. One hundred shows.
My name is Indigo Bellamy, and I sold my soul to a tattooed god.
Problem was, my soul wasn’t enough for Alex Winslow. He ended up taking my body, too.
Then he took my heart.
Then he took my all.

L.J. Shen is a master at creating characters that are flawed and complex, and a difficult storyline that you want to know more about. Midnight Blue wasn't an easy read as we get to know Alex, and his complex life that involved addiction, and what needed to be done to keep him on the straight and narrow.

Alex was by far, not a saint! He had issues in his past and did not want some girl babysitting him. He did everything he could to make Indie uncomfortable, hoping that she would quit, but no matter what he did, she would not go away. I liked that after a while, he used their connection as inspiration and he realised there was more to Indie and he didn't want to let her go.

Indie was doing all she could to stay afloat after losing so much. This job was helping her brother and his family, and he had done so much for her after what they both had lost. It wasn’t easy working for Alex, and I loved how determined she was and to see their relationship grow into something deeper.

L.J. Shen wove this tale with twists I did not see coming. The relationship between the characters was complex and they had demons they both needed to deal with. Some elements were a bit far-fetched, and the characters harboured a lot of guilt and blame for things out of their control, but overall I really did enjoy this read.

I really loved this first quote from Alex! He put it all out there! And the second, he made sure that Indie knew what he wanted!

“... Know what the difference is between you and me, Stardust? You watch me, but I see you. And what I see is your truth. You wear your heart on your sleeve, and it bleeds into the real world, which means you’re a remarkably terrible liar. You look at Waitrose fondly. Like you would at a stranger’s baby down the street. You look at me with dynamite in your eyes, waiting for me to light up the match and finally set you on fire.”
Everything stopped.
The air.
The world.
My heart.

Kindle Page 99

“I apologize in advance.” He cocked his head to the side.
“Ruining you for any other man on this planet. I’m going to fuck you, Indie. So hard you’ll think about me years from now, when you lie under your boring, missionary-loving husband. I will own every orgasm, every shiver, every wave of pleasure inside you. From here on out, it will be me. Just me. And for that, I truly am sorry.”

Kindle Page 143

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
Playing with Fire
Boston Belles series
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Not My Romeo by Ilsa Madden-Mills ~ Review & Teaser (@ilsamaddenmills)

I always enjoy a read that Ilsa Madden-Mills puts out, and Not My Romeo was another pleasant read, for the first book in her new series The Game Changers.
Not My Romeo (The Game Changers, #1)
Title: Not My Romeo
Author: Ilsa Madden-Mills
Series: The Game Changers #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance / Sports Romance
Published: August 18th 2020

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Wall Street Journal bestselling author Ilsa Madden-Mills delivers a smart and sexy contemporary romance about a smoking-hot professional football player and the small-town girl he can’t resist.

We start off with a lie on Valentine’s Day.

My blind date isn’t the studious guy I expected: he’s a drop-dead gorgeous player with sinful amber eyes. Somehow we end up at his penthouse. I blame the gin and tonic.

The next day I learn he’s Jack Hawke—bad-boy professional quarterback with a murky past. The NDA he has me sign should be a warning that he isn’t a regular person. Please. I sign it Juliet Capulet, so goodbye, famous football player with abs of steel, and good luck tracking down this small-town librarian.

But Jack keeps showing up in places I least expect him. Just when I’m sure he’s gone, he waltzes into my community theater and wins the part of Romeo to my Juliet. How’s a plain, mostly innocent girl like me supposed to resist a man like him?

Is Jack my real Romeo… or will this gorgeous football player only break my heart?

Not My Romeo was another entertaining read by Ilsa Madden-Mills, where she introduced us to Elena and Jack. How they first met was quite amusing as Elena thought Jack was her blind date for the night, and Jack failed to correct her. Despite the poor date, it soon became apparent that they had a bit of chemistry, and were quite saucy together!

Jack was a complicated kind of guy, and found it hard to trust people because they tend to use him for their own gain. He was a private person and even though he was quite famous he tend to keep to himself. After meeting Elena, he became quite infatuated with her, and showed a softer side which made he all the more perfect.

Elena was a kind and beautiful soul, who did a lot for those she cared about. She helped out in her home town, and despite being let down by those who were close to her, managed to hold her head high. She found it a bit hard to trust Jack, but I could see her quickly falling for him.

It was cute seeing the changes in both these characters, the more time they spent together. I liked the way the world was built, and not only how the main characters interacted through this read, but the effect the secondary characters had on Jack and Elena too. Ilsa Madden-Mills did a fantastic job with the first book in this series, and I cannot wait to see more of the football side characters in future reads in this series!

I just loved reading about Jack, he sure knows how to get a girl worked up!! 

“Elena,” he says softly, as if tasting my name on his lips, dragging out the three syllables. His voice is low and husky, like an exotic silk, deep and rich with colors of gold and navy, gliding through my hands. “Let’s just say I know how to satisfy a woman, to have her crave me every moment we’re apart.”
I volunteer as tribute.
I suck in a deep breath.

Kindle Page 22

I inhale a deep breath, my fists curling at my sides. “Weatherman, where are my panties?”

Kindle Page 86

Ilsa Madden-MillsWall Street Journal, New York Times, and USA Today best-selling author Ilsa Madden-Mills writes about strong heroines and sexy alpha males that sometimes you just want to slap. She's best known for her angsty, yet funny, New Adult college romances. 

A former high school English teacher, she adores all things Pride and Prejudice; Mr. Darcy is her ultimate hero.

She's also addicted to frothy coffee beverages, Vampire Dairies, and any kind of book featuring unicorns and sword-wielding females. 

Other reviews featuring Ilsa Madden-Mills
Hawthorne University series
The Hook Up series
English series
Briarcrest Academy series
Very Wicked Things #2 
Other reviews featuring Ilsa Madden-Mills & Tia Louise

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IOU by Kristy Marie ~ Review & Teaser (@authorkristym)

I was looking a for a romantic comedy that would sweep me away and that's exactly what happened when I picked up this read! 
Title: IOU
Author: Kristy Marie
Genre: Contemporary Romance Comedy
Published: April 29th 2020

Buy Now - Amazon USAmazon Aus

It’s official.
I, Ainsley James, am crazy.
Desperate and crazy.
It’s the only explanation as to why I’m nauseous, standing outside Maverick Lexington’s door.
I mean, it’s possible the stories about his deck of playing cards—with the words IOU scrawled across the back—are just rumors of the ruthless quid pro quo deals he barters.
But the flutters in my stomach know better.
Maverick is as cold as they come.
But, I need one of those cards.
I NEED to owe Maverick Lexington a favor…
Whatever the terms, I’m willing to pay.
Because, at this point, I have nothing left to lose.

I was looking for a read that would pick me up, and IOU by Kristy Marie was just what I needed! It was a fun romantic comedy, and I was quickly lost in the world and the writing.

I liked watching both Ainsley and Mav together. Ainsley was determined to get back on her feet with Mavericks help. Neither one of them expected that anything would come of this unusual arrangement, but it soon became apparent that he was becoming a bit possessive of her and he didn't want to let her go.

For my first read by Kristy Marie, I was quite pleasently surprised! I enjoyed the chemistry and the banter between the characters and liked watching the change in Mav throughout the story, I know for sure that I will be picking up more of her work in the future! 

I have a few teasers today, brcause I really enjoyed this read! The banter, the chemistry, all of it!

“Tell me something, Maverick.”
I hum out a nonanswer, trying to keep my eyes from drifting lower.
“Look closely. Do you see two shits or a fuck anywhere in my eyes?”
I rear back at her words. Did she—
“I don’t give a shit that I’m drawing a crowd,” she lashes out, shoving me away. “This is my apartment”—she eyes the vacant spot next to my car— “and my complex. I am not moving just because your little friends can’t focus on their game of Go Fish.”

Kindle 44%

“...I think we need to call for help, Mav.”
“Don’t call me that,” he barks between short pants.
I scrunch my nose. “Why?”
He manages, “Only my friends call me Mav.”
I almost smile. We are friends. He can fight it all he wants, but friends don’t let friends lose a game of Millionaire. “Okay. I’ll rephrase. I think we need to call for help, Dummy.”

Kindle 58%

“...I’m just saying you’re not such a bad guy after all, Maverick Lexington.”
I stand on my toes and kiss his cheek. “And I’m going to miss you when I move out.”
Those stormy eyes flash with an intensity I’ve never seen from Maverick. At least when he’s not been pissed.
His hands graze up my waist and over my shoulders until they rest at my cheeks.
His jaw ticks as he watches me watching him.
Gah, he really is stunning.
And then he growls out, “Fuck it,” before smashing his lips to mine.

Kindle 69%

A self-proclaimed reader enthusiast, Kristy started her writing journey back in 2009, reading and writing when her daughter was napping. Establishing her place in Corporate America (because something had to pay the bills), writing became her dirty, late-night secret.

After eight long years, she released her debut novel, Commander in Briefs. It was a long road, but she can honestly say, the road less traveled had the most beautiful sights.

The only thing Kristy Marie loves as much as reading and writing is sports! Especially those that require muscles and a nice ass. Her favorite is, and always will be, baseball. She's such a fan, that she even married her small town's high school's centerfielder where they still live with their three badass kids.

Commander in Briefs is her first series but definitely not her last.

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