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Backwoods by Jill Sorenson – Review

backwoods-jillsorensonReviewed by Cara M.

Rating: ★★★★★

Backwoods by Jill Sorenson is a thrilling dash against time while dealing with crazy  family problems, even crazier mad men, and the backwoods terrain!

For those following Jill Sorenson’s Aftershock series, Backwoods is book 4! You might also recall that in the shortest of the stories, Island Peril, Abby Hammond was the heroine’s sister and Brooke was her niece. In this installment Abby’s daughter Brooke is set to have a family vacation with her father…only past experience makes Abby leery of letting her go along in case her ex decides to cancel at the last minute. Instincts are on point as Brooke’s father does just that leaving Abby, her stepbrother, and his current wife’s ex, the ever sexy ex-ball player Nathan Strom alone for the weeklong trek into the backwoods. Nathan and Abby find themselves dealing with two headstrong teens who are determined to make the best out of the situation and hike regardless of the adults. So the adventure begins and the four set off on a long hike only to encounter a scary situation where Brooke finds herself kidnapped by a killer and his son.  Only Abby refuses to leave her daughter and the trail left for them to follow. It’s do or die and time is of the essence.

I loved this book. I find myself drawn to the series/interlocking books. I’m eager to see how the characters find their mates. Jill Sorenson is a master at intertwining a good story with an exciting situation. You often wonder while reading if she enjoys torturing her characters! I have not been disappointed. Well, mostly not. I loved Abby’s strong character. Her need to protect her child while still giving her a small amount of independence. And Nathan, hmmm…sexy, strong, a recovering alcoholic. He had to lose everything to come out of the bad situation he put himself in. And in doing so he found a stronger woman to spend his life with. One that he would give his life to protect. All I can really say about him is…Yummy! The one down side to this story was the teens. They’re steps and have a strong relationship. Only they have feelings for each other that are anything but sibling like. And when they act on them, they become idiots. I’m just really not sure about them being together. I’m also not sure about Brooke’s thought process near the end and how she deals with one of the situations surrounding her kidnappers. But, overall, the story was about Abby and Nathan and I adored them and see them making a go out of their life together.

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About the book…

The more you trust, the more you risk…

When plans for a wilderness retreat with her teenage daughter Brooke go awry, Abby Hammond reluctantly pairs up with Brooke’s stepbrother and his dad, Nathan Strom, for the weeklong trek. The only thing Abby has in common with the bad-boy former pro athlete is that their exes cheated with each other. That…and a visceral attraction that’s growing more complicated with every step through the picturesque woods.

Nathan’s wild-card reputation lost him his career and his family. After years of regret, he’s ready to fight for what truly matters—and that includes Abby’s hard-won trust. When Brooke goes missing, Nathan knows he’s her best and only hope of rescue. But the deeper into the rugged mountains they go, the more dangerous the territory will prove—for their safety and for their hearts.

Before We Kiss by Susan Mallery – Review

Review by Cara M.

Rating: ★★★★☆

A sweet, fun adventure, Before We Kiss is the second book in Ms. Mallery’s 2014 Summer Fool’s Gold Trilogy. While all her books can be read stand-alone, once you start the series you’ll be eager to read the next installment and that was the case for me with former pro-football Sam Ridge and event planner Dellina Hopkins’ story. Set in Fool’s Gold, their journey into love is one of hilarious misunderstandings and sweet attraction. Ms. Mallery outdid herself with this one as it’s filled to the brim with the characters we love, the festivals, the friends and the situations that force the residents to look for love even when they may not be ready for it.

Dellina Hopkins is the responsible older sister, she’s raised her sisters and is now ready to start living her life more for her. But who would have guessed storing some bridal gowns for a friend would cause her ‘fling’ to race out the door? And why would he? Because said ‘fling’ has had extremely bad luck with females. From cheaters to those who seek the spotlight, Sam has seen it all. And he’s more than gun shy because of it. In the end, love will prevail and two uncertain hearts will find their way!

If you’ve read any of my other Mallery reviews, you’ll know I’m a fan. I find her writing to be fresh even when you often recognize that you’re reading the same situation over and over. It’s her characters and their development, the interactions of the friends and support of the community. Her knack for pulling out the stops to get two unlikely pairings together and the twists and turns getting there that make reading each of her novels a must for me. And finding a bit skeptical, a bit leery Sam Ridge falling for the normally responsible and cautious Dellina Hopkins was a joy. I can’t wait to read the next book in this series!

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Best Kind of Broken by Chelsea Fine – Review

“Heart-warming, heart-wrenching and so sweetly romantic, I didn’t want this one to end!”

Reviewed by Casey B.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Heart-warming, heart-wrenching and so sweetly romantic, I didn’t want this one to end! While the first part of the story had me wondering what the world was going on because the two main characters bickered like they were five, after we got past a few boundaries we found the why behind the sarcasm and petty pranks. It made sense. It felt right. And it made my heart break at the tragedy these two suffered.

Pixie Marshall didn’t have the best childhood but she found solace in her best friend’s family, a kind of acceptance, until tragedy struck and she was left alone once again. Until fate (or her aunt) brought her and Levi Andrews, her best friend’s brother, back together. The two have enormous emotional issues to sort through and a history to overcome, but eventually the two find some middle ground and a bit of healing.

I don’t want to give too much of the storyline away. It was more emotional learning about the why in pieces, but if you enjoy having your heart twisted in your chest and then sweetly put back together, this is a story you’ll enjoy. It’s a wonderful New Adult Romance. Though I would have liked to have seen a little more growth in both characters, apart from their falling for each other again, but I keep thinking they’ve still got three or so years of college to mature. I can’t wait to see what else Ms. Fine has in store for us.

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Before You Break by Christina Lee – Review

“…a poignant…tale filled with raw emotion and real, heart-breaking issues.”

Reviewed by Alex C.

Rating: ★★★★★

Christina Lee’s Before You Break is a poignant ‘finding yourself in the after-math of tragedy’ tale filled with raw emotion and real, heart-breaking issues. From relationship issues to suicide, this is one story that leaves you wrung out—in a good way—from page one!

Ella Abrams seems like a girl who’s got her act together. She’s smart, on her way to becoming a psychologist, and has a steady boyfriend (even if he is a jerk). But appearances can be deceiving…at least sometimes.

Because you see, Ella is still dealing with the grief of her brother’s tragic ending, the knowledge that the boyfriend she’s clinging to isn’t good for her, and a caller to the suicide hotline that she can’t get out of her mind because she sees similarities to her brother. Throw a sexy star baseball catcher—(and frat brother to said jerk of a boyfriend) who has dark issues he’s dealing with but hiding—into her path and you have a recipe for an epic love story where two people help each other heal and find peace with their future.

Ms. Lee has an uncanny way of making this college campus and the people who abide there come to life. The hero (Daniel Quinn) is just that a fabulous hero—though definitely tragic in his own right. And the heroine (Ella Abrams) is a wonderfully strong, solid young woman who is still evolving and making the most of her life despite the guilt she has at not being there for her brother in his darkest time. The secondary characters are well-written and realistic. They make the story pop rather than distract from the main couple. Despite the rather heart-breaking, tragic backstory, this book is definitely a keeper. And I only just found out this is a follow up novel, so I’ll certainly be finding the first book, All of You.

Believe by Erin McCarthy – Review

“I can’t say enough about this ‘new adult’ book or the series. A must read for sure!”

Larissa M.

Rating: ★★★★★

Erin McCarthy’s Believe, book three in her True Believer’s series, continues with the story of four college friends who are coming of age and discovering themselves…and love…along the way.

Believe is the story of Robin. Party girl and artist, she has always been up for a good time until the night she got black out drunk and woke up in bed with her best friend’s boyfriend. Faced with the shame of her betrayal, she retreats from her friends and spends the summer sober and searching for herself. Then she meets Phoenix—just days after he was released from jail—and the two find something in each other that they need and that helps them heal. But before they can truly move on, they both have to face their pasts to get on with their future.

Like with the previous books, I found Believe to be both realistic and fascinating. McCarthy has a strong vision of college life and coming of age in today’s society, which comes through loud and clear in each of her stories. Written in first person, you get inside the characters’ head in a way you don’t when reading third person. But unlike the others, she’s given us a peak at Phoenix’s thoughts as well. I felt it certainly made this book more enjoyable having that peek at his thoughts.

While I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about reading Robin’s story—when in Sweet it is mentioned she’d gone home with Nathan, I knew from Tyler’s reaction that he knew Nathan and Robin had done something—but after realizing Robin had woke after blacking out from drinking to find she’d slept with Nathan, I knew it was Nathan who was the slimy jerk. He’d obviously taken advantage of her. While she shouldn’t have been drinking (underage, mind you), she had counted on him being a friend and not taking advantage. Unfortunately, she was wrong. Her character was strong, held fast to the not being a horrible friend and re-hooking up with him. And Phoenix, he was just fabulous all the way around. Despite his explosive temper tendencies, he was the type of guy you could count on. He was sweet, in-tune with his feelings and owned them. The two strong characters were ideal for each other.

Overall, I can’t say enough about this ‘new adult’ book or the series. A must read for sure! Amazingly well written by a star writer! I’m certainly eager to read the next book, and I hope Ms. McCarthy will continue to write more in this line!

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Born Wild by Julie Ann Walker – Review

“…a fast-paced thriller which leaves you constantly guessing who is out to get the beautiful heroine and how they’ll attempt to do it next!”

Cara M.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Julie Ann Walker’s latest Black Knights Inc. installment, Born Wild, is a fast-paced thriller which leaves you constantly guessing who is out to get the beautiful heroine and how they’ll attempt to do it next! From page one you’ll be drawn into the world of Eve Eden as she’s about to have her third ‘mishap’ and takes you through to a shocking conclusion!

Though I enjoyed all the characters and the byplay of the secondary characters, I found myself wishing to be a little more ‘out of their head’ and into their actions to help the story move along. Both Eve and her hero, William “Wild Bill” Reichert, spend a lot of time lamenting the past and trying to work their way around to the fact that Eve really messed up at the tender age of 18 when she agreed to go on a date with another man after having made vows to Billy while he was in SEAL training. Understanding their was a lot of wheedling and maneuvering by her father and her now ex-husband—and that Eve has tremendous guilt and remorse for her past actions—you’re able to forgive her pretty easy while still being heartbroken that such a fine specimen of a man (who had adored Eve from their first meeting) was hurt so deeply and still bore scars that has turned him a little hard hearted.

I’d also like to note that I’m not sure who wrote the book description that goes along with this book, but unfortunately, I feel they haven’t read the book well. The three rules listed aren’t necessarily accurate. In the first, while trust no one is right, her being ‘abandon’ doesn’t make sense. In the second, it states Bill abandon her years ago, but he didn’t. They made vows to each other and he went off to SEAL training. How is that abandonment? And in the third and last rule, I’m not sure it’s Eve that has to worry about her heart…Bill’s was the one stomped on in the past.

Overall, though, I enjoyed this book. I plan to read the previous books and try to catch up with who’s who. Interesting premise for a series and individual stories makes me believe each book is worth a read.

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