“The Riding Master” by Alexandrea Weis – My Review

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Title: “The Riding Master”

Author: Alexandrea Weis

Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance

Release Date: 26th April, 2014

Synopsis

A woman finding her way.
After a devastating divorce, an emotionally skittish Rayne Masterson swears off men and vows to devote her life to her passion, horses.

A man with insatiable desires.
Trent Newbury is an expert rider who is arrogant, brash, and has a ruthless reputation for getting any woman he desires.

As the new riding master at Southland Stables, Trent is eager to make sure all of his riders are the best they can be. But when he meets Rayne, he takes a special interest in taming the beautiful woman’s stubborn nature. Slowly and deliberately, he weakens her defenses with his charm and beguiling good looks. And just when he thinks he has won Rayne’s trust, his philandering past threatens to pull them apart.

She thought no man could ever touch her heart, until she met…The Riding Master.

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My Review

Complimentary copy given by the author in exchange for an honest review

I have only read one other book by Alexandrea Weis, (“Cover To Covers”) but she has very quickly become a favourite author of mine. Her characters always feel so lifelike, with real, honest issues, and the settings of her books are described in such a manner that you truly feel as if you are a part of her stories.

I have to start this review by telling you that even if you are not a horse lover like myself, I strongly urge you to read “The Riding Master”. It has everything that I could wish for in a romance novel: some drama, some pain, and, ultimately, simply a beautiful story about a woman scarred by her past and the man who is more than willing to make her believe that he is her perfect match.

As usual, I want to focus mostly on the characters, Rayne and Trent, instead of going into too many details about the actual story line because if you, like me, really do not care for spoilers, I want to avoid making them, thus ruining the story for you.

So let me begin by introducing you to our heroine, Rayne. Just in her early thirties, she has a failed marriage to a much older man, Foster, behind her. The only thing she wanted out of her divorce was being able to keep her horse, Bob (and I love that name, by the way), and, fortunately, her ex did not refuse her. It has been a year since her divorce, but Rayne has not exactly moved on from it. Emotionally closed off, she goes to work, rides her horse in the afternoons, and she is also a riding instructor for juniors at the stables where she keeps Bob – she may not feel happiness as such, but she is content. But her quiet life is soon rocked by the new riding master, Trent Newbury.

Trent takes one look at Rayne and sets about to woo her. Undeterred by Rayne’s aloofness, even her rudeness, Trent is determined to show Rayne that he is honorable and a completely different man from her ex-husband…But will Rayne be able to find it in her heart to let another man in? That is the real question here and you will just have to read the book in order to find out.

“I only want a woman who intrigues me, excites me, and makes me want her. And that woman, is you…only you, Rayne.” (Trent)

I completely fell for Rayne: at first, she seems rather insecure, but definitely not weak as some may first think when they read the book. In my opinion, she is simply shy when it comes to the opposite sex, embarrassed by her failed marriage, and seeing as that has been her only real relationship, she does not know that things can be so much better. Furthermore, her very strained relationship with her mother does not exactly help matters, and I completely understand her being afraid of forming any kind of genuine attachments.

“For Rayne, looking ahead in some ways was just as painful as looking back. Sometimes she did not know what was worse: the regret over past mistakes, or the worry over mistakes yet to come.” (Rayne)

Not many women, however young/old they might be, just jump into a relationship after having found their husband in bed with another woman. At least, I do not know of many. So I really think that her apprehension about Trent seems genuine and realistic. You know how important it is for me to truly connect with the characters in the books I read, and part of me falling for Rayne was seeing her opening up to Trent: it does not happen over-night, far from it, so experiencing her blossom under Trent’s behavior towards her made my romantic heart sigh happily.

And Trent: what an amazing character he is! Here is a man unafraid of giving over his heart to the woman he wants; he is a man with no hidden agendas, no real skeletons in the closet – at least none that are too important. He is exactly who he says he is, and I find it very refreshing to see this in a book hero. As with Rayne, he just feels so real, and the fact that he knows how to treat a woman with respect earns him major points in my world. I also have to mention that his playful, naughty, and, I might add, dominant character traits most definitely made this bookaholic swoon more than once while reading the book.

“I’m not looking for a woman to make me look good. I’m looking for someone I can build a life with.” (Trent)

The banter between Rayne and Trent is so fantastic that I, on occasion, found myself reading certain scenes more than twice, actually, because I was either grinning like a goof or simply laughing so hard that tears sprung to my eyes. Aside from the fact that Miss Weis has a gift of creating a h/H that both seem realistic, she also shows real talent when giving us some wonderful secondary characters. There is Rayne’s boss at the stables, Rebecca, who, despite showing a hard, cynical mask to the outside world, is a real romantic at heart; then there is Lindsey, Rayne’s coworker, who, although having been happily married for several years, is addicted to romance novels and she loves to give Rayne advice on how to catch the eye of the opposite sex. (Honestly, some of the things she says…Well, they made my ears turn red!) Last, but definitely not least, let me not forget to mention Frank, Rayne’s great mutt of a dog: he is adorable!

Now, to me, this truly is a story that focus on one woman’s journey to finding happiness, and realising her own self-worth. But it is also a story about learning to let the past go…to stop looking behind you and start looking forward instead. It is a story about how taking risks is sometimes necessary, especially concerning matters of the heart. Because once you learn to trust in others, and to put faith in yourself?  That is when you reap the greatest of rewards: love. In my opinion, love is the most important thing in the world, even though it is also the scariest.

“What would it be like to be held in the arms of a man who was passionate, experienced, and interested in only pleasing her?” (Rayne)

I could keep going on and on about how much I adore Rayne and Trent’s love story, but I will refrain from repeating myself, and finish my review by telling you that Miss Weis captured my heart and mind once again, and I am looking forward to spending many more hours of my life inside the pages of her novels in the years to come.

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PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon US

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alexandrea Weis is an advanced practice registered nurse who was born and raised in New Orleans. Her first novel, To My Senses, introduced readers to the world of Nicci Beauvoir and garnered numerous awards and rave reviews. Her popular second Nicci Beauvoir novel, Recovery, won the Gold Medal for best romantic suspense from The Reader’s Favorite Book Awards 2011, and was named best Romantic Suspense novel by the Spring 2011 NABE Pinnacle Book Awards. Her fourth novel, Broken Wings, won best Contemporary Romance by the NABE Pinnacle Book Awards in 2012, was a Silver Medal winner in the ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards for Romance, as well as a finalist in the Reader’s Favorite Book Awards for Contemporary Romance for 2012. Her last novel, Acadian Waltz received honorable mention at the Readers’ Favorite Book Awards for Best Contemporary Romance and  a Gold Medal at the Feather Quill Book Awards Program for Romance. A permitted wildlife rehabber with the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries, Weis rescues orphaned and injured wildlife. She lives with her husband and pets in New Orleans

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Blog Tour: “Destroyed” by Pepper Winters – My Review, Author Interview & Giveaway

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Hello, my lovelies!

It is no real secret that I adore Pepper Winters and her books and that she has become one of my all-time favourite authors. I will read anuthing this woman writes!

Today, you will find my review of her latest book, “Destroyed”, and an awesome interview I was fortunate enough to do with her. Also, there is a great giveaway for you all to enter.

Enjoy!

 

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Title: “Destroyed”

Author: Pepper Winters

Genre: Dark (Lighter) / Romance (Grey Romance)

Release Date: 7th March, 2014

Tour Organized by: As the Pages Turn

 FOLLOW THE TOUR!

Synopsis 

She has a secret.

I’m complicated. Not broken or ruined or running from a past I can’t face. Just complicated.

I thought my life couldn’t get any more tangled in deceit and confusion. But I hadn’t met him. I hadn’t realized how far I could fall or what I’d do to get free.

He has a secret.

I’ve never pretended to be good or deserving. I chase who I want, do what I want, act how I want.

I didn’t have time to lust after a woman I had no right to lust after. I told myself to shut up and stay hidden. But then she tried to run. I’d tasted what she could offer me and damned if I would let her go.

One secret destroys them.

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My Review

Complimentary copy given by the author in exchange for an honest review

As always, I find myself almost entirely speechless after having read a book by Pepper Winters. Somehow, she manages to take some of the most unconventional characters and make them come alive and feel human. Do I also find myself a bit disturbed by some of the scenes in her books? Yes, absolutely. Her subject matters are always difficult, her characters very flawed, with questionable characteristics, BUT as you read, you catch yourself gravitating towards the hero/heroine, finding yourself able to connect with them fully. At least, that is how I usually feel, and it is no different with “Destroyed”.

But what can I tell you about Roan and Hazel without spoiling it for you? I will do my best to not ruin the reading experience for you, and please allow me to be rather vague in this review. I am well aware of the fact that the synopsis is also rather mysterious, but you really have to take a leap of faith, take a chance, and read this beautiful book.

Both Hazel and Roan are two very damaged people but in completely different ways. Roan has, quite literally, been destroyed by his past and is longing to find the person who can heal him. The smallest thing will make him see red, though, causing him to seek blood – quite literally, I might add – and he leads a lonely life where pain sometimes is the only way to relieve him of his fears.

“I was told to kill. But my ruthless conditioning, the coldness that imprisoned my life, had cracked and splinted and begun to thaw. And it was all because of one person.” (Roan)

Hazel, on the other hand, fears the future more than the past…she believes that she will be destroyed by it. She, too, has experienced pain, but she has found her way into the light, until she is told the most devastating news and her reason to live diminishes.

“Up until recently, I’d had two personas. I’d spun tales and weaved stories as effortlessly as if it were the truth. I wrote my own story with a magical pen called lies. And it worked. I survived.” (Hazel)

And so these two people meet, and both feel the strangest connection upon laying their eyes upon each other. Please do not think that that means everything just falls into place. Miss Winters is not known for making it easy for her characters – quite the opposite, in fact – and even though this book is not as dark as her Monsters In The Dark Series, it is just as twisted, raw and filled to the brink with all manner of emotions. These
characters both need to learn to let go of their mistrust, embracing the fact that they must acknowledge their fears, thus realizing that they are perfect in their own way.

“You asked me who I am. My name is Roan Averin. Forget you ever knew a man named Fox. He wasn’t a man. He was the product of a past he hated. I never thought I’d be able to use my full name again, but I want to. I want a new beginning. With you.” (Roan)

To say that I did not cringe sometimes while reading this book would be a lie. Nevertheless, it also made my heart soar, and I found the journey of Roan and Zel to be very moving. The story gripped me immediately, and Miss Winters ensnared me with her magical words once again. Yes, this is a long book (over 400 pages), which makes this bookaholic extremely happy, actually, but to the readers who may feel a bit reluctant to start it: please do not let the length sway you! In all honesty, I believe that each word written is necessary in order for you to truly delve into the hearts and minds of these incredibly complicated characters and come back (almost) unscathed.

I do not think that I can write that much more without inadvertently giving too much away, so I will stop here and simply conclude my review by saying this: if you want something light and fluffy, do not read this book. But if you, like me, have come to love the darker kinds of romance novels, I can almost guarantee that you will not be disappointed when you read “Destroyed”. In some ways, you may feel as if your soul is getting destroyed while reading this book, but it will be worth it in the end.

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PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon CA

Amazon AU

Barnes & Noble

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Pepper Winters wears many roles. Some of them include writer, reader, sometimes wife. She loves dark, taboo stories that twist with your head. The more tortured the hero the better and she constantly thinks up ways to break and fix her characters. Oh, and sex… her books have sex.

She loves to travel and has an amazing, fabulous hubby (who speaks French—hot!) who puts up with her love affair with her book boyfriends. She loves to hear from her readers so hit her up at pepperwinters@gmail.com

SOCIAL LINKS

Pinterest

Facebook

Twitter

Blog

Goodreads Author Profile

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AUTHOR INTERVIEW

Thank you so much for doing this interview, Pepper! ❤

Thank you so much for having me!!! I’m so excited to be here and hope I don’t sound too bleh when I answer your awesome questions!

1)    Who is Pepper Winters?

Um, Pepper is a workaholic. I tend to sit on my laptop for around 14 hours a day. If I’m not writing, I’m marketing. If I’m not marketing, I’m responding to emails and messages. I love everything about my writing career, but it isn’t the most easiest of jobs. My poor hubby gets frustrated. Outside of writing I love to travel, eat Asian food, and just generally blob out with a good book.

2)    Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Yes, always. Right from a little girl I was more comfortable in a book, than any social situation. I lived mainly in my imagination.

3)    When you’re not writing, what do you enjoy doing the most?

Hanging with hubby. I love going for lunch with him in the sun, and packing for a nice trip away. We remember to have fun in our marriage and he’s my best friend (gagging yet?) LOL

4)    Let’s move on to “Destroyed” – as a devout fan of yours, I have followed all your updates about this book on Facebook, but can you tell my readers what made you set out to do such a scary project?

Yes, Destroyed has officially destroyed me. My brain is mush and the moment I press publish I’m going to have a stiff drink and collapse. The characters turned out to be very complex and layers upon layers kept coming to me. It isn’t a secret that I’ve rewritten this book 3x and deleted over 80,000 words. It’s been a long couple of months and as much as I love the story and the characters, I wouldn’t do it again. Lol.

5)    Roan & Hazel, your hero and heroine of “Destroyed”: when did they first begin to make an appearance? I mean, when did the idea of their story come to you?

They started talking to me a week or so after I finished Quintessentially Q. Roan Fox is very different to Q. He’s alpha, but damaged. Dangerous, but sweet. He has a lot more issues than Q ever did and a completely different back story. I hope people love him the same as me.

6)    Did they surprise you a lot, almost taking over the story?

Yes. They took control and made me rethink the entire concept which gave me multiple headaches. Both Fox and Hazel had a lot to say and the book is the largest I’ve written yet.

7)    Who connected you with the most, Roan or Hazel?

Roan, funny enough. I just love his brittle brokenness but ultimate strength too. Hazel has her own secrets and issues, but she’s a lot stronger than Roan. My heart goes out to that guy LOL.

8)    Did it surprise you that the story ended up being much darker than you initially planned for it to be?

Until two days ago I didn’t know completely how the ending would come about. It kept changing. I have more notes on this story in my notebook than I do for any other story. It kept evolving and changing but I think now I have the perfect ending to their story.

9)    Are you completely done with Roan & Hazel or do you think we will see them again in the future?

I think after the ending I’ll be done. I’ve loved being in their head spaces, but they’ve said what they needed to and I have many other characters calling me.

10) Do you find it difficult letting go of your characters once you’ve finished writing about them?

Yes, they’ll always be a part of me. Tess and Q sit over my shoulder every day that I’m writing about another world and not theirs. It’s going to be rather crowded after the end of this year and all my releases coming up.

11) What do you plan to write next? Please say “Twisted Together”!

Yes Twisted Together is getting written the moment Destroyed is out. I also have a super secret thing coming that will be announced very soon. But as of early March I will belong to Q once again and I can’t WAIT.

12) What’s next for Pepper Winters?

Well this year, I’ll be signing at the Gold Coast with a bunch of amazing Aussie authors and then heading over to Edinburgh in July before finishing the year off in Sydney. In 2015 I’m planning a tour to try and get to see as many wonderful readers as possible. I’m VERY excited for the next couple of years and delivering a stack more books.

Once again, thank you for doing this interview with me, Pepper! ❤️

Thank you!!!!! They were awesome questions!

 

Giveaway Time!

Pepper is offering up the following goodies below. Giveaway is international and ends at 11:59 PM CST 03/24/2014.

1 x signed copy of Destroyed

2 x signed Destroyed swag packs

5 x eBook copies of Destroyed

2 x eBook copies of Tears of Tess

2 x eBook copies Quintessentially Q

1 x signed swag pack of Monsters in the Dark
a Rafflecopter giveaway

GOOD LUCK!

“Enjoy Your Stay” (Sugartown #2) by Carmen Jenner – My Review

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Title: “Enjoy Your Stay” (The Sugartown Series #2)

Author: Carmen Jenner

Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance

Release Date: 3rd March 2014

Synopsis

*Book two in the Sugartown Series!*

The last thing Holly Harris expected was to wind up nineteen, knocked-up, and all alone. When Coop left to pursue his dreams of becoming a rock god, he left a tiny piece of him behind.

Holly wishes he hadn’t.

Jackson wishes he hadn’t.

Jackson Rowe tried filling the void his family left by drinking, screwing around, and leaving a string of heartbroken women in his wake. Moving back to Sugartown should have been easy, but he hadn’t counted on the fact his sometimes attraction to Holly would still be alive and kicking—and he sure as hell hadn’t counted on her being pregnant with another man’s baby.

They drive one another crazy, and yet they can’t stay away.

When old flames resurface, and even older wounds are torn open, can two people so similar make it work? Or will their stubbornness only drive them further apart?

*Content Warning. Intended for a mature 18+ audience. Contains angst, a crap-tonne of profanity, short-tempered Australian wildlife, and some very pregnant sex.*

ADD TO GOODREADS

My Review

ARC received by the author in exchange for an honest review

Carmen Jenner has done it again: she has made me laugh hysterically, bawl my eyes out, clutch my stomach and (almost) made me throw my Kindle down in frustration. Nevertheless, she has also made me sigh happily and swoon over certain parts in this second instalment in her Sugartown series.

Since reading “Welcome To Sugartown”, I have been anticipating getting inside the head of “the crazy ranga midget” – a.k.a. Holly Harris, best friend to Ana Belle. I have always wanted to see beneath her tough exterior and I must say that Miss Jenner has succeeded in showing the reader who the real Holly is.

And what a mess Holly is…Barely twenty years old, pregnant, hormonal and, first and foremost, scared out of her mind. Her parents threw her out when she told them about her pregnancy, and she now lives with Ana, Elijah, and her arch nemesis, Jackson Rowe. These two share some history – which will be fully revealed as you read the book – and they are completely crazy characters. They fight all the time, but they cannot deny the extreme sexual attraction they share, even though they both fight tooth and nail to ignore it.

“Every moment with Jack can be boiled down to games, and taunts, and who is coming while coming out on top. For the first time since we met, I don’t want to play anymore. ‘You win.’” (Holly)

Like I mentioned before, Holly is terrified of becoming a single mother – after all, the father of the baby, Cooper, left her to follow his dreams in Sydney – but she is determined to become the best mother possible. You have to admire her for not putting her child up for adoption, for wanting to take responsibility, and I could definitely understand her reactions and actions, even though some readers will probably frown upon them. But that is the best thing about books: what we think of the same story is entirely subjective. This does not, however, mean that I did not want to shake some sense into Holly sometimes…Oh, how I did!

And do not get me started on what a douche Jackson tends to be! Yes, he is charming. Yes, he is gorgeous. Yes, he can be vulnerable. But is he also a typical guy? YES! Conclusion: I wanted to throttle him for some of the things he said and did – but, as with Holly, I could also connect with him entirely throughout the book, and his feelings of doubt and hurt about Holly’s pregnancy seem to be pretty valid and…well, normal, I suppose, for many men in the real world.

In case you are wondering: yes, both Holly and Jackson show some redeeming qualities, and they can be incredibly sweet towards one another when they are not fighting. But both of them will have to learn acceptance, forgiveness, and how to allow themselves happiness instead of doing what they think is the right choice. In short: they have to learn that it is okay to follow your heart in everything instead of listening to what your mind is telling you to do.

“She laughs and fuck me it sounds like birds and springtime and all that other fucking bullshit Disney feeds us.” (Jackson)

Carmen Jenner excels at telling her readers a story filled with lots of drama, sadness, heartache, steamy sex scenes, and, ultimately, an unconventional happy-ever-after. Her characters are perfectly imperfect people, and the town of Sugartown and all its inhabitants seem so real that you almost wonder if this place does exist. (Sadly, it does not…I have checked.) I love how we see flawed and stubborn characters because these are traits that we all – to some extent – possess, even if we refuse to acknowledge them. We get to see Bob, Ana’s father, and Sammy, her little brother, again – and poor Bob and Sammy…my heart broke on more than one occasion for these two…and that is all I will say about it – you will have to read the book to find out what I mean *wink*.

I would also like to add that it was wonderful to see a seemingly happier Ana Belle & Elijah Cade, but they do not take the focus away from Holly & Jackson’s story – so yes, I loved when they made an appearance, but I was completely focused on our crazy redhead and stubborn mule, and my adrenaline really picked it up a notch or two in the last 20% of the book.

So to conclude my review, I would like to say that if you are wondering if “Enjoy Your Stay” is just as good as the first book in the Sugartown series, I will have to say: yes, it is. It is different, as all sequels should be, and Holly and Jackson are completely different characters from Ana and Elijah, but that is also at it should be. You will find yourself going from crying your heart out on one page to laughing hysterically on the next. And I really think that you will find yourself empathizing with all the characters, even Chelcie and Cooper, at some point while you are reading this book. And that, my friends, is why I love this author to bits: she makes you fall for all her characters even though you know it, on some levels, is wrong. Miss Jenner: I still wish we could all move to Sugartown and I cannot wait to see how you will torture us in your next books in the series!

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PURCHASE LINKS

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Carmen Jenner is a thirty-something author, doctor, pilot and CIA agent.
She’s also a compulsive, flagrant prevaricator who gets to make things up for a living.

While Sugartown may not technically exist, Carmen grew up in a small Australian town just like it, and just like her characters, she always longed for something more.They didn’t have an Elijah Cade, though. If they did, you can be sure she would have never left.

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Blog Tour: “Love, Lies & The D. A.” by Rebecca Rohman – My Review, Author Guest Post, Excerpt, Book Trailer & Giveaway

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Hello, everyone!

I am participating in the blog tour of this amazing book written by Rebecca Rohman – if you are looking for your next romantic suspense novel, I highly recommend that you choose “Love, Lies & The D. A.”

Besides my review, you will find an excerpt from the book, guest post from the author + the book trailer.

Enjoy!

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Title: “Love, Lies & The D. A.”

Author: Rebecca Rohman

Genre: Contemporary Romantic Suspense

Release Date: 18th February, 2014

Synopsis

Jada McLean is about to get married in nine days, when she walks in on her fiancé in a little more than a compromising position. Days later, she’s on a trip that she intends to be relaxing and a prelude to her fresh start, when she runs into the rude, obnoxious, but gorgeous Jonathan Kole.

Jonathan Kole is San Francisco’s newest District Attorney. When he finds himself deeply attracted to a stunning beauty, he has no idea that she’s about to get into BIG trouble with the law—and he’ll be the one presiding over her trial. To make matters worse, his father is the lawyer representing her in the high-profile case.

When a series of events force them together over New Year’s weekend, Jonathan’s feelings and ethics will come into question, while Jada comes to terms with the fact that she is falling for the man that will be responsible for attempting to put her behind bars… Little do they know, they’re both about to fall into a whirlwind so deep, it will send both their lives spiraling out of control.

ADD TO GOODREADS

My Review

ARC received by the author in exchange for an honest review

As you know, I am not a writer myself, but I wholeheartedly believe that one of the most difficult genres to write must be romantic suspense. You have to do a whole lot of research, keep your reader interested in solving the mystery and, at the same time, make sure that the reader also feels invested in the romance between the main characters. I am very happy to say that this book must be one of the best I have ever read in this genre.

Meet Jada McLean: a smart businesswoman, resilient, strong, yet with plenty of soft spots as well. After walking in on the worst situation imaginable – catching her fiancée, Richard, having sex with her best friend, Koto – she deals with her grief the only way she knows how, which is by leaving her business in very capable hands and licking her wounds at a beautiful location – Lake Tahoe – and doing this alone. She runs into Jonathan Kole one of her first days there, and let me just say that their encounter is less than friendly – but it still made me smile a bit.

Soon after, Jada learns about the fact that her very ex-fiancée is very much dead, and, naturally, it comes as a big shock: who would kill Richard? And to make matters worse, she then becomes the prime murder subject!

Thus follows a story ripe with suspicions, harassment, violence, and kidnapping. But let me not forget to add romance as well…

I am being very vague about the storyline here, I know, and it is quite on purpose. You cannot really expect me to give away too much, because 1) it defies the purpose of a review, and 2) I would hate to accidentally give you any clues about the plot, hence ruining it for you.

One of the things I love about this story is the fact that it is set over a rather long timespan, and Miss Rohman really makes you get to know both Jada and Jonathan. I enjoyed how the story was told from both of their point of views, and what I particularly love is that we are shown the different range of emotions that Jada goes through: grief, anger, betrayal, vulnerability, depression, insecurity – both in terms of her being a murder suspect, of course, but also when dealing with her feelings towards Jonathan. I found her to be a most appealing and believable character – especially when I learned about her photography: she is not a complete workaholic – and it was easy to connect with her. I would also like to stress that the fact that Jada holds herself back from exploring her feelings towards Jonathan is more than acceptable: remember, she has just suffered from experiencing the worst possible betrayal, only to find herself being framed for murder, so it is only natural that she does not believe in her instincts anymore.

And Jonathan? From the very beginning, he sees something in Jada that he wants to explore further and he is rather protective of her early on. He can have quite a volatile temper – believe me, I wanted to throttle him more than once – but at the same time he is caring, sweet and, in many aspects, just as vulnerable as Jada. He falls hard for Jada, but her being unsure about herself in turn makes him feel insecure.

Being the D. A. does present a whole set of problems for Jonathan and Jada ever becoming a couple, and I must say that I found their situation to be very realistic – and yes, even Jada’s mistrust in Jonathan in the beginning is more than founded. Had these characters simply thrown caution to the wind immediately upon meeting, I would not have believed in them, and I would not rate the book as high as I have.

At no point in time did I have the faintest idea about who the murderer was, or even why Richard was killed, and I must say that I applaud the author for having thought of every single detail, however small it may seem, and keeping me invested in the story from beginning to end. Miss Rohman gives the reader one small tidbit of information at a time, but the story never seems unnecessarily drawn out – every detail counts in order to make the pieces fit into the puzzle. At least that is how I feel.

I want to conclude my review by saying, again, that this really is one of the best books I have ever read. Both Jada and Jonathan are likeable, honest, real people, and I love the fact that we get to experience the sweet, loving moments between them despite the severity of Jada’s situation; the pacing of the story is perfect to me, and I love this author’s writing style. There is also a whole set of secondary characters which all play a part in the story without switching the focus away from Jada and what she is facing. And yes, to the readers who want to know: the sex scenes are very steamy and they will make you tingle in all the right places *wink*. I was feeling all kinds of emotions while reading this book, and my adrenaline really picked up quite a bit in the last 25-30% or so – Miss Rohmann had me extremely worried once or twice, which I liked, and I will most definitely be reading more of her work now.

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Guest Post by Rebecca Rohman

Love, Lies & The D.A.

I worked on this book for the last year and the whole time, I could hear my mentor’s voice in my head.

“Telling not showing,” she’d say, or “I’m not convinced… not feeling it here.”

With this book I pushed myself, and tried to blow everything I knew I was guilty of with my first book (at least during the writing phase), out the park. My aim was to make the reader and my mentor laugh and cry. I want readers to feel happy and sad, and at times I want them to feel angry – I want them to experience what the characters feel.

I’ve always had the most difficult time being funny in my writing and it was something I really strived to do in certain parts of this book. I think I’ve succeeded – it’s up to bookworms out there to decide :-). I’m silly, I laught at my own jokes and depending on my husband to tell me if something was funny or not in a romance novel, was a complete waste of time.

He always gave the same blah response, “It’s cute.”

Not necessarily what you want to hear when attempting to write a funny scene.

The scenes where I wanted to evoke tears were the most difficult however. I had to get myself in “the zone”. That meant privacy, quiet, soft or no music, then I’d put myself in my characters shoes and I’d imagine how they’d feel.

In some instances, it was as simple as going back to a sad time in my life, but in others, I used my own fears— how I thought I would react in a given situation to write those scenes. I thought if I felt what the characters did; it would translate to the readers too. When I found myself bawling while my fingertips scrambled across the keyboard, I truly believed I would succeed in roping the reader in.

My aim was to keep readers engaged from page one all the way to the very end. Love, Lies & The D.A. will take people through a myriad of emotions—from lighthearted moments, to intense situations, from close encounters to steamy love scenes. Readers will laugh, and they will cry. I hope they thoroughly enjoy the heartwarming and sometimes heart-wrenching journey that Jada and Jonathan go through as they turn through the pages of my book.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Rebecca Rohman is a wife and designer currently living in the Northeastern United States. She was a Sales Manager for a tourist magazine, and for many years prior, she was involved in marketing for a jewelry company, and later for a fine wine distributor.

About fifteen years ago, she started writing her first romance novel, Uncorked, just to purely entertain herself. It was not until early in 2012 when she decided to complete it and share it with the world. The story was published in February of 2013. Love, Lies & The D.A. is her second novel.

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Enjoy the excerpt, everyone!

Their First Meeting

The pretty, young host escorts me to a table for two near a window with panoramic water vistas. Within minutes, a server takes my order. As my café latté arrives, I can’t help but overhear a rude exchange between a man and his leggy blonde with the host that escorted me to my seat.

“Look, I reserved that exact seat yesterday,” he says.

“I apologize sir, but that seat is not available,” the host replies.

“Well, if you were doing your job in the first place, it would be available to me, wouldn’t it?”

“Sir, I’m sorry for the error, but it wasn’t written here. If you like, you can wait at the bar where I’ll be happy to serve you a complimentary beverage of your choice while you wait, or I can accommodate you at an available table now.”

I can’t help but look to see who this asshole is.

Everything about him smells of money. From the designer jeans that hug his ass, all the way to the Jaeger Reverso watch that graces his wrist. He’s hot—probably in his mid to late thirties, tall, broad shoulders, piercing grey eyes, and a head of black hair like I’ve never seen.

Ordinarily, I might have found him attractive, if only he would just shut up.

Everything he says to that poor young girl, who has tried so hard to rectify someone else’s mistake, pisses me off. He’s been nothing but rude and condescending. As I look up, my eyes land straight on his. Then I realize they’re all looking my way. I turn around to look behind me, but there is no one. Then it dawns on me that he’s arguing with the host about my seat.

My meal arrives. I mind my business, and I proceed to enjoy it. Before I know it, I see him approaching my table. I pretend not to notice and focus all my attention on my lemon ricotta pancakes before me, but within seconds, he stands beside me.

“Excuse me, my name is Jonathan Kole. Would you mind terribly if you were seated elsewhere?”

My eyes travel across my pancakes to his broad thighs, to his crotch, and to what I suspect is an extremely trimmed stomach beyond his black ribbed sweater. Then I stare into his grey eyes in silence.

“You see, my girlfriend and I met right here at this table a year ago, and I wanted to propose to her.

Here. Today.”

“Actually, Jonathan, I do mind. Seeing that I’m enjoying my meal, surely you wouldn’t mind waiting until I’m done. Or perhaps you can let that polite host, who has done everything possible to accommodate you, have you seated elsewhere.”

“Do you have any idea who I am?” he asks.

Asshole! Your name might sound familiar but who cares…

“No. You could be the king of England and I wouldn’t give a damn.”

“Who the hell do you think you are?”

“You really want to know?” I ask quietly.

He lowers his head slightly, as if he’s seriously interested.

“I am a woman who walked in on her fiancé screwing her best friend one week before her wedding, so forgive me if I’m not in a sentimental mood.”

His mouth drops open at my response.

“Now, if you’ll excuse me, Mr. Kole, I’d really like to enjoy my brunch.”

His piercing grey eyes are glaring into mine. I know he’s angry. His temple pulsates as he stares at me. He walks away completely flushed.

I don’t care. Perhaps if he had been nicer to that host I would have considered his request. However, because he comes from money doesn’t give him the right to speak to people any which way he wishes.

I continue to enjoy my meal and notice him walking hand in hand to the bar with Malibu Barbie. Half an hour later, I ask for the check then purposely make him wait an additional five minutes before I leave.

On the way out, the host looks at me bright-eyed. “No one ever speaks to Mr. Kole that way, Miss McLean.”

“Well, it’s time someone taught him some manners,” I reply. I hand her a healthy tip, and I’m on my way.

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Book Blitz: “Lost In Us” by Layla Hagen – My Review, Excerpt & Giveaway

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Hello, my lovelies!

Happy Monday! *wink* I hope you have all had a great weekend.

Today, I am so honoured to be a part of the book blitz of this amazing debut novel of Layla Hagen – besides my review, you will find an excerpt of the book, a few fun facts about the author and a giveaway.

Enjoy!

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Title: “Lost In Us”

Author: Layla Hagen

Genre: Contemporary/New Adult Romance

Release Date: 15th February 2014

Synopsis

Serena has learned to live with her past, locking her secrets and nightmares deep inside her. But when her boyfriend of six years abruptly leaves her, she’s catapulted back into pain, nursing a broken heart. When indulging in mountains of chocolate doesn’t work, Serena decides the best way to deal with her shattered heart is to indulge in something else. A rebound . . .
The night she swaps her usual Sprite for tequila, she meets James. The encounter is breathtaking. Electrifying. And best not repeated.
James is a successful entrepreneur in Silicon Valley. A man who has amassed a fortune by taking risks. A man who has shunned commitment completely, and still does. He’s the exact opposite of Serena. But sometimes opposites attract. Sometimes they give in to burning passion. Sometimes opposites are perfect for each other.
James is everything her damaged soul could want. His kisses are intoxicating, his touch out of this world. He makes her forget. He grants her peace from her pain. But as they grow closer, Serena discovers she isn’t the only one with a past. James carries the scars of a past much darker than hers. One that has left him damaged, hurt, and wary of love. A past that gives him the power to shatter her.
Now James and Serena must find a way to mend one another. Or risk losing each other forever.
 

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My Review

ARC received by the author in exchange for an honest review 

Although this most definitely is a love story, it is also a story about loss, pain, and fear. And let me not forget to add guilt and overcoming it. It is a story about two very different people meeting each other who have the same kind of shadows in their souls, and both are afraid of letting themselves find hope and happiness in life.

The story is told solely from the viewpoint of Serena: she is English, but due to a family tragedy years ago, she lives in America and is close to finishing her degree in economics and computer science at Stanford. She is extremely focused towards reaching her goal, but it is not passion that drives her: it is determination to make sure that her parents will never want for anything. Serena is most certainly not a woman who likes to take any kind of risk in life – the most important thing for her is to be sensible, not reckless. She knows, or think she knows, that being reckless in life can ‘ only bring heartbreak and pain and she refuses to find herself in any kind of situation in life that will bring her to her knees.

Imagine Serena’s surprise when she meets James at a bar the first night she is out clubbing after being dumped by her boyfriend of six years: just by looking at him, she almost immediately learns that James is her exact opposite. He has a certain air about him that draws her to him, and even though she tells herself to stay away from him, she accepts to go out with him the next night.

Thus begins Serena’s affair – if you can even call it that – with James. It would be very unfair of me to go further into the exact storyline because I feel it will ruin the experience for you if I do. But let me say this: Serena and James’ first date? Well, it will definitely impress you. *wink*

But what can I tell you about James? Well, he is such a complex character. Hot one moment, cold the next. Attentive, then distant. Extremely charming when he has to be, yet with a most volatile temper. You would think that these characteristics would make you see him as a bit of a mad-man, but please do not think that is so. His demons – because he certainly has them – play a huge part of who he is and how he leads his life. Did I want to throttle James on occasion? Oh yes, indeed I did! Having said that, though, I completely understand his actions and how he handles certain situations, however wrong he may be. Bit by bit, we learn about James’ past and his guilt and how he refuses to absolve himself of this guilt. I can almost promise you that your heart will ache as you get to know him and his story.

“‘Doesn’t matter when it happened,’, he says softly. ‘The pain never really goes away. You just learn to survive it.’ ” (James)

As for Serena…She is a very driven young woman, and although determined to stay on her fixed path, she really longs to take the plunge: being with James makes her want to try being reckless once in a while. As I already said in my review, she is still suffering from losing her sister, Kate, years before, and I really wanted to give her a hug when I learned how much pain she is in, and how she, like James, cannot seem to let go of her guilt. Or her fears of losing her heart to James.

“It’s here again. The illusion. It takes over my mind, my heart, my everything.” (Serena)

 Another thing I really love about the story is the fact that these characters do not simply change their ways immediately upon meeting each other; had that happened, I would not find it realistic because I honestly believe that changing your life does not simply happen overnight. And both Serena and James will have to do some soul searching and learn that letting go of the past and really start living is more than acceptable.

I really want to stress that this is a very emotionally charged book, and that the author manages to have you sitting on the edge of your seat until you reach the very last page, because you really have no idea how the story will end. And I love that! I find it to be quite astonishing that this is a debut novel because Miss Hagen shows true talent with this story: there is depth, heartfelt emotions, believable characters and let us not forget the funny moments as well.

I absolutely love Jess, Serena’s roommate and friend of many years, and Parker, James’ cousin and business partner. These two seem to be getting on each other’s nerves quite a bit and I really hope that the author will give us their story in the near future.

If you are in doubt, I fell in love with Serena and James. They are both real, believable characters, and that is so important to me. And I truly believe that if you love your romance novels to be filled with angst, heartache, laughter and (of course) with a happy ending, I believe you will love this book as well.

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PURCHASE LINKS

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Random facts about me and Lost in Us:

  • James was initially called Liam. . .because I had a crush on Liam Hemsworth. I got over it in the meantime (am now crushing on his brother Chris) 😀

  • I love chocolate as much as Serena does. Unfortunately I can’t get away with eating as much of it as she does.

  • I wrote a *certain* steamy scene on a piece of paper—on the back of which I then printed an official letter. Which I sent. Oh, the joy of being a writer J

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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My name is Layla Hagen and I am a New Adult Contemporary Romance author.

I fell in love with books when I was nine years old, and my love affair with stories continues even now, many years later.

I write romantic stories and can’t wait to share them with the world.

And I drink coffee. Lots of it, in case the photo didn’t make it obvious enough

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Here’s the excerpt, everyone!

“Red suits you,” a voice calls behind me. I’m suddenly very grateful for being squeezed in, because my knees seem to have turned to rubber.  But my relief only lasts for a few seconds, because the music starts and everyone around me disperses, moving to the dance floor.

I don’t fall. I can’t move, either.

When he finally comes into view, my breath is cut short. There is something about seeing his beautiful blue eyes behind a mask that makes every inch of my skin burn.

So it wasn’t the tequila last night.

“Dance?” He extends his hand.

“I can’t dance.” Out of the corner of my eye I see Sophie watching us, crestfallen.

“That makes two of us,” he says, though unlike me, he doesn’t sound panicked in the slightest. I really can’t dance. Especially not waltz. But he doesn’t lower his hand, and instead of protesting further, I raise my hand and place it in his. As if in slow motion I see him putting his

other arm around my waist, and pulling me so close to him that I feel his every breath against my skin. This doesn’t help the burning sensation. At all.

“You came,” he says and his lips curve into last night’s same conceited smile.

“I make a habit of honoring my invitations,” I say, surprised by how aggressive I sound. I bite my lip and look away, fixing my gaze on the highest point of the glass arch.

“Did you and your friend arrive home safely last night?”

Small talk. Fantastic.

“If safely includes Jess throwing up twice on the way home, then yes.”

“Quite a party girl, your friend,” he says appreciatively.

“What makes you think I’m not one?” I regret the question instantly. Thinking that a former math whiz kid isn’t the most hardcore party girl at Stanford is not an absurd conclusion to draw. But his answer takes me by complete surprise.

“Having a steady boyfriend usually means you spend your free evenings and weekends … otherwise.”

“You asked Dani to spy on me?”

“Of course not,” he says with fake affronting. “I just know how to get the info I need from her.”

“What happened to old-fashioned questioning?”

“It’s old-fashioned,” he answers with a smirk. “I like to consider myself modern.”

“Make that lazy and sneaky.” I finally unhitch my gaze from the ceiling and look him in the eyes again. They are so much darker than a few minutes ago.

He tightens his grip on my waist. “Fine. Tell me three things about you.”

I try to put on my most serious look. “I grew up in London and San Francisco, used to play volleyball in a minor league, and want to work in investment banking.” Did he really think I’ll make it easy for him?

“Let me rephrase,” he smirks. “Tell me three things about you I won’t find in your CV. Three dreams.”

The next sentence rolls out of my mouth despite my firm resolution to torment him by not really telling him anything about me. Especially not the weird things.

“I want to taste every single recipe in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, get myself kidnapped by elves and locked up in Rivendell, and attend the midnight release of the next book about the wizarding world that I know Rowling will write. If that last thing fails, I want to learn how to fly on a broom, at the very least.”

He bursts into a cascade of laughter. But it’s not in the slightest mocking or mean. It’s warm and heartfelt.

And loud.

“Your turn,” I say, in an attempt to stop him, because we are attracting less-than-friendly stares from the couples around us. “Stop laughing like a maniac and tell me three things about yourself. Three fears.”

He laughs for a few more seconds before assuming a solemn face.

“I hate snakes and always keep a light on when I sleep. And I suffer from chronic commitment phobia.”

His words hit me like a whiplash. Amazing how lighthearted and playful he throws them at me.

“So I’ve heard,” I say, trying—and failing—to keep my voice steady.

“I wanted to make sure you know it from me,” he says in a soft voice. Yet for all the softness, it still feels like whiplash.

“That’s very considerate of you.”

Why do his words have this impact on me? Why do they have any impact at all? I guessed a while ago how things are. I wish we weren’t dancing so I could run away. Put as much distance as possible between him and me. My wish is not far from being granted. Though I haven’t listened to many waltzes in my life, I’m sure the orchestra is playing the ending tones right now. I try to distance myself from his intoxicating presence, but his grip on me is firmer than ever.

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Blog Tour: “Falling” (The Fading Series #2) – My Review, Book Trailer & Giveaway

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Hello, my lovelies!

I absolutely ADORE E. K. Blair and I am beyond thrilled to be a part of this blog tour – “Falling” is. without a doubt, one of my absolute faourite books already, and I hope you will enjoy reading my review. You will also be able to view the book trailer + there is a great giveaway for you all to enter.

Enjoy!

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Blurb

Sometimes it takes someone else to show us what we are truly capable of becoming.

Suffering from years of violent abuse, Ryan Campbell has learned how to keep people from getting too close. But when you shut yourself off, people get hurt along the way. Never caring much about others, Ryan creates a world in which he doesn’t have to feel. 

When Ryan meets Candace Parker, all of his walls slowly begin to crumble. Not sure of the truth of who she is, he feels his mind is playing tricks on him. Unable to force out the thoughts that consume him, Ryan is haunted by visions that torment him every time he looks at her. He finds himself swallowed by guilt and blame, but he’s unwilling to turn his back on the one person that could possibly save him.

You’ve heard Candace’s story in Fading, now hear Ryan’s.

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My Review

ARC received by the author in exchange for an honest review

The sign of a great story, in my opinion, is one that gives you chills several times while you are reading it. And reading the final instalment in this series, “Falling, did just that. In a way, I am sad to see it end, but at the same time, I feel so happy because the way it ends is just…perfect!

You may already know, but for those of you are not aware of it, “Falling” is the story of Ryan, Candace’s saviour and, ultimately, her heart. And I suppose you can read this book without having read “Fading”, but I would not recommend it – mainly because I adore these books so much that I do not want you to miss out on getting the whole story. But that is just me.

We first meet Ryan a few weeks prior to Candace’s attack. He is the ultimate player at this point in time: he hooks up with random women, is very clear that he does not do relationships, and the fact of the matter is that he is scared…scared of forming attachments because of his past. And maybe I should warn you now: the prologue of this book is very violent, so brace yourself if you are easily scared – BUT please do not let that deter you! I promise you that you will get your HEA, but you really have to go through both the bad and the good in order to understand the kind of man Ryan is.

Ryan’s past is filled with violence, drugs and women. He feels guilty for not protecting his mother against his father, and even though it is misplaced, he cannot let his sense of failure go. He is also so afraid of becoming like his father, and he hates knowing that he comes from such a despicable man.

“The drinking, the drugs, the rage that fired through me last night – I’m him. He’s a part of me. He runs through my blood. I hate him. I don’t want to be him, but I am.”

The day after his father died, he decided to put the drugs behind him and turn his life around. The women, however, remain. We get to see how he treats a specific woman, Gina, and I have to confess that I did not exactly enjoy reading this part of the book. He does, though, remind her that he was upfront with her from the beginning, and I respect him for that.

Then comes the night of Candace’s attack: he hears commotion outside his bar but writes it off at first, because he is kind of used to drunks getting rowdy when leaving. When he hears a woman screaming, he immediately takes off, and although he beats up the culprit, he cannot hold onto him. Obviously, Ryan is shaken, and he feels real anguish when he sees how badly beaten she is.

In the days after, Ryan reevaluates his life once again, and the guilt of not reaching the woman in time never ceases to torment him. He knows that he has always been honest with the women he hooks up with, but he now feels so much self-loathing about the way he treated them and he does not want to lead that kind of life anymore.

One day, he walks into a coffee shop and he meets Candace: he is shocked because she almost immediately reminds him of the woman who was raped because she is just as small and delicate-looking as she was. But he tells himself that it cannot possibly be her and he tries, once again, to let go of that horrendous night.

The next time Ryan meets Candace, it is at the The xx Concert where she comes in with Jase and Mark. Once again, Ryan feels drawn to her, but her behavior confounds him. Having never thought so much about another woman before, he is confused and curious as to why that is, and he decides that he needs to get to know her better.

Now, if you have read “Fading”, you will know what happens next, but I have to tell you that getting to experience Ryan’s side of story definitely does not feel as if you are getting a repeat of the same book. Because it is not, in a way.

Seeing how Ryan changes from a player to a completely committed man and to experience how he falls for Candace was such a joy to me. His feelings progresses slowly, but surely, and you never feel that they are forced.

“I’m scared of falling anymore than what I already have for Candace, but I want to. God, I want to so bad. I want to connect. I want everything I’ve been too afraid of.”

Getting to know Ryan made me cry, laugh and swoon so many times that I have lost count. As I already stated in the beginning of my review, I got goose-bumps so often while reading, and I am beyond thrilled that the author decided to show us Ryan and Candace’s life as they get back together. I now wish that I could give this book more than 5 stars, because it is so brilliant, so raw, so captivating. I could go on and on with praising this book  and I really wish that you will read it. As with Miss Blair’s previous books, the story and the characters feel REAL, and that is so important to me.

So, to sum up: if you are looking for a story to get under your skin, one that will make you FEEL everything, and one that you will think about for days after finishing it: “Falling” is that book! Honestly, you will not regret it. And if this final quote will not make you swoon over Ryan, well…nothing ever will:

“I took it all, and no amount of pain could make me believe that it wasn’t worth the fall because falling in love with her was the best thing I ever did.”

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

EKBlair

USA Today bestselling author and International Amazon bestselling author, E.K. Blair takes her readers on an emotional roller coaster with her FADING series. A former first grade teacher with an imagination that runs wild. Daydreaming and zoning out is how she was often found in high school. Blair tends to drift towards everything dark and moody. Give her a character and she will take pleasure in breaking them down, digging into their core to find what lies underneath.

Aside from writing, E.K. Blair finds pleasure in music, drinking her Starbucks in peace, and spending time with her friends. She’s a thinker, an artist, a wife, a mom, and everything in between.

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Here is the amazing book trailer, ladies!

Falling by E.K. Blair book trailer from Novel Idea Inc. on Vimeo.

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And do not forget to enter the giveaway!

Falling Giveaway

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GOOD LUCK!

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