February 28, 2014

REVIEW: Marine for Hire by Tawna Fenske

Marine for Hire by Tawna Fenske (Front and Center #1)
Publisher: Entangled Brazen
Publication Date: February 3, 2014
Source: eARC via publisher*
Rating: 5/5 stars
Get it: Amazon | B&N
She thought she’d sworn off military men for good…

Sam Kercher is every inch a wickedly hot Marine. Tall. Sexy. Lethal. When his best friends call in a favor, Sam is forced to face an entirely new line of duty—playing nanny for their newly divorced sister and her squirming seven-month-old twin boys. If Sam can dissemble an M16 in his sleep, diaper duty should be a cakewalk…right?

Unfortunately, Operation Nanny isn’t quite that simple. Sheridan has sworn off overbearing military men, so Sam must protect her from her dirtbag ex without revealing just how much he has in common with her brothers. Or that he’s been ordered not to touch her. Ever. Problem is, Sheri’s one hell of a gorgeous woman, capable of making this hard-bodied marine even harder. And Sam wants her bad.
Protect the girl. Care for the babies. Hide his identity. And keep his hands off. But even the most disciplined Marine has weaknesses...and Sheridan is one Sam might not be able to resist.

My thoughts, feelings, and reactions
Marine for Hire by Tawna Fenske was steamy, funny, sexy and oh so fabulous! 

What really stood out for me the most was Sheri. She was such strong female main character. She had her doubts here and there about being a “normal mom” but I thought the way she took care of her boys, protecting them and doing everything for them was what defined to be what a good mom was supposed to be. I really loved that Sheri didn’t need a man in her life. She could handle whatever came her way and she just kept showing me that throughout the book by handling her brother, Sam, and her ex-husband. But also by standing on her own two feet and learning to ask for help when she truly needed it. 

Sam was great. I really have nothing bad to say about him except maybe for his initial lies. Even so, his heart and his intentions was in the right place. He was adorable because he didn’t really know how to cook or even how to change diapers, but the fact that he tried was pretty awesome. Sam was just as strong as Sheri, honorable, and a decent guy through and through. He totally stole my heart the second he realized how beautiful, how amazing Sheri was as a person, as a woman and as a mother. He appreciated her, helped her, and he just cherished her the way she should have been cherished in the first place. 

Fenske wrote a fun novel that had a splash of suspense and humor with tons of sizzling moments. The connection between Sheri and Sam was palpable and their relationship as whole seemed effortless and completely natural. The story just flowed nicely and it really allowed me to soak in the Hawaii background, the romance that built between the two main characters and just the easy pace of the book in its entirety. I really had no complaints about this one. It just had everything I could want in a Brazen. 

*Thanks to Entangled for providing a copy for review purposes.
I was not compensated for my opinion.

Favorite Quotes

"He looks like the sort of guy who'd be very attentive to your orgasm."
"You can't tell that sort of thing at a glance,"
"Sure I can. I had one just looking at him."

"Are you trying to drive me insane, or do you genuinely want me to throw you across this table and fuck you 'til neither of us can stand?"

"You just happened to trip over your shoelaces and fall with your dick in another woman?"

"It won't be hard. Speaking of hard things--"
"We were not speaking of hard things."

"I take it from the glow on your faces things went went?"
"You can take it from the glow on our faces that we just had sex in the car."
"I didn't need to know that."

I have more, but I realized there's a pattern that's not entirely appropriate (;

February 27, 2014

REVIEW: ROME by Jay Crownover

ROME by Jay Crownover (Marked Men #3)
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Publication Date: January 7, 2014
Rating: 5/5 stars
Get it: Amazon | B&N
Sometimes the wrong choice can be just right . . .

Fun and fearless, Cora Lewis knows how to keep her tattooed "bad boy" friends at the Marked in line. But beneath all that flash and sass is a broken heart. Cora won't let herself get burned again. She's waiting to fall in love with the perfect man—a baggage-free, drama-free guy ready for commitment. Then she meets Rome Archer.

Rome Archer is as far from perfect as a man can be. He's stubborn, rigid, and bossy. And he's returned from his final tour of duty more than a little broken. Rome's used to filling many roles: big brother, doting son, supersoldier—but none of those fit anymore. Now he's just a man trying to figure out what to do with the rest of his life while keeping the dark demons of war and loss at bay. He would have been glad to suffer through it alone, until Cora comes sweeping into his life and becomes a blinding flash of color in a sea of gray.Perfect may not be in the cards, but perfectly imperfect could just last forever . . .

My Review
Oh my freaking god, Jay Crownover just knows how to write a romance and one that completely rocks you to the very core. ROME was the best out of the Marked Men series thus far. It totally skyrocketed my love for this series and Crownover’s writing 10 fold. 

I have to start with Cora because that girl was so kick ass. I always wanted to know her story since she was first mentioned and now I really got to know the loud mouth fireball of a girl who took care of all her boys. And I must say that I loved her to death. She was just so fierce and loyal, I really admired her for never backing down without a fight. I understood her fear of giving her heart to another after being burned and her quest to find Mr. Perfect, I was glad she finally opened up herself to someone. She did her best to be there for Rome, to keep his demons at bay by helping him make things easier. She meddled and got her nose into everything but she surprised me by being straightforward and pushing through. She was match for match when it came to Rome. 

When I thought I couldn’t have loved Rome more.. boy was I wrong. While Rome wasn’t the warm, fun, carefree older Archer he was before, he was not with his loving, protective nature and sexy as hell self. He was really lost and frustrated and all his hardships and brokeness really made me feel for him. Rome definitely struggled with the aftermath of Remy’s lies, how he felt like no one really needed him anymore and mostly the survival’s guilt that continued to haunt him. Despite all these setbacks, Rome was an honorable, dependable, and completely selfish when it came to those he loved. He tried his hardest to be the best he could be for Cora. He loved her as she was and took her as she was. She was the balm that soothed Rome’s wounds. And no matter what, I thought Rome was an amazing guy who needed to realize that he didn’t have to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders and had to accept the help and love from others just as he gave them.

Out of all the books in this series, I thought that ROME just had more depth, seriousness, and maturity in the relationships and in the issues the characters faced whether it dealt with family, friends or love. I really liked seeing both Rome and Cora go through ups and downs together and individually. Cora worked on loving Rome, while Rome worked on trying to keep his nightmares in check. I also thought that this book was exceptionally emotional and intense, especially with certain parts that nearly had me in tears. I can definitely say that Crownover really moved me with Rome and Cora’s story. I also appreciated how ROME skipped all the small bullshit fights that I tend to roll my eyes at in other novels. The characters in this book made mistakes, but they own up to them rather than make halfhearted excuses. I also have to mention Crownover’s ability to write descriptive yet sensual sex scenes that leave much to the imagination. She always gives the perfect amount of tension, seduction, and heat that I’m always looking for. 

Crownover didn’t just give me an impeccable and exquisite story that deals with grief, guilt, loss, and love. She gave me a book that had meaning, that reminded me that perfection can be found in most imperfect people and that there are always people there to love, help and support you. And fans of RULE and JET will also appreciate the appearance of many beloved characters that stole our hearts from the very beginning. The whole gang was this in one and we get a glimpse of what they are doing now, what their future may entail and Crownover leaves a shocking revelation that will certainly have you (especially me) squirming for NASH’s book.

*Thanks to William Morrow for sending a copy for review purposes
I was not compensated for my opinion. 

Read my review for JET (Marked Med #2)
Read my review for RULE (Marked Men #1)

Favorite Quotes

"I bet if he ever bothered to smile, panties across the nation would melt."

"Captain No-Fun better get with the program real fast or it was going to get ugly."

"Love isn't perfect. It's hard work and sometimes it's more effort to be in love than it is to just run away. If you keep looking for perfect, the real thing is going to pass right by you."

"I don't know, Half-Pint, something tells me reining you in is probably a pretty good time."

"My perfect guy has got to come already together and be good enough no assembly required by me."

"You suck."
"Only when asked nicely."

"That's okay, little brother has enough down there for you and everybody else in the room."

"I've been there and done that and seriously I wish I could give the T-shirt back."

"Oh, old friend, how I missed you."
"You talking to me or my dick?"

"Thanks, Half-Pint."
"Anytime, Captain No-Fun."

February 25, 2014

Book Spotlight: Model Position by Kitsy Clare

Model Position by Kitsy Clare
Publication Date: February 20, 2014
Publisher: Inkspell Publishing
Age Group: New Adult 
Genre: Contemporary Romance (novella)

BUY LINKS: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

Book Description:
In Manhattan’s glitzy gallery scene love and art are perilous games. 
Will Sienna dare to play?

 All too soon, artist Sienna Karr will graduate art school and be flung out into Manhattan’s glamorous but cutthroat gallery scene. Luckily, she’s just met Dave Hightower, heir to the hippest gallery ever. He’s asked her on a date, and offered to introduce her to the gallery owner, his intimidating Aunt Lydia. Sienna’s excited! Now she’ll be able to climb the ranks and make those all-important art connections.

Trouble is, she’s falling hard for the sexy live drawing model, Erik, whose sizzling green eyes seem to pierce right into her soul. Dare she risk losing those potential art contacts for love? Erik insists that Sienna is a real talent and her painting stands out above all the others. But she worries that he whispers this come-on line to every pretty art student who flocks around him during breaks. And her friends worry, is Erik up to her pay grade? What kind of guy chooses modeling for a living? Who is he, really? Her choice may be her ruin… or not, but she must decide fast. Everything in Sienna’s super-organized life is turning to terrifying yet sweet chaos.

Dave Hightower catches me admiring him and grins. “Ready for our date later?”

I just met him two weeks ago, and he asked me out during our last class. I’m looking forward to it and to getting to know him—and his family’s gallery—better.

“Sure, where are we going?”

“I’ll take you over to Studio Hightower, my aunt’s gallery,” Dave suggests offhandedly, as if I am not already completely aware and awed. It’s been all Merry, Harper, and I have talked about since we found out Dave was in this class. My two best friends here share charcoal sticks, drawing paper, and essential buzz. “There’s a show at Hightower you’ll like,” adds Dave, “of wildly painted neon environ-scapes.”

I nod. Sounds off-putting. I prefer the order of photorealism and crisp digital art, but I keep my mouth shut. After all, it’s Dave Hightower.
Anyone who has talent and ambition would kill for a solo show in Studio Hightower. It’s on West Twenty-Second Street in the heart of Chelsea, the hottest gallery district in Manhattan.

“Hey, always up for new art,” I say. “I like wild art done by a loose hand.”

“Manually manipulated is the way to go,” Dave says suggestively as he waggles his eyebrows and puts his fingers into plastic gloves.

Plastic gloves for painting? Germaphobe. I’m a clean freak, and even I don’t do that. I quickly ease my judgmental cringe into a fetching grin as I search for a funny comeback. “I wonder who our next model will be. Do you think Mr. Court Jester will make a repeat appearance?”

“I’m betting on Nightgown Lady.” Dave squeezes out his last color with an oozy splot.

The teacher, a soft-spoken man in faded corduroys and wire glasses, announces that the model will be out momentarily. From across the room, I exchange anticipatory glances with my friends, Harper and Merry, and pantomime a fake drum roll. They snicker and do drum rolls back. The class turns its attention to the small stage in front of our easels. It’s been set up with risers and a red velvet curtain, as if it’s a Broadway production.

Then the model emerges, and I almost spill my cappuccino on Dave’s shoes.

The sexiest male muse I’ve ever laid eyes on pads out, all oiled coordination and sleek muscles. He’s at least six-four, and every chest muscle ripples and cuts in the right place. His hair’s sandy and shaggy, and his jaw is square and resolute with a gold-dusted five-o’clock shadow. But it’s his eyes that strike me most; they’re emerald green with a slight upward slant toward each cheekbone, as if he hiked all the way here from a northern land of sun and wind.

He arranges himself on a leopard-skin rug, wearing only a suede thong, and glances around at us artists. As I adjust my canvas and flip my hair back, his smoking green eyes settle on me. I could swear they’re looking right into me and seeing my fascination. I’m melting and hyperventilating all at once.

In the corner of my vision, I see Dave Hightower lean toward me for my reaction, but I can’t look away from the model—I don’t want to. I’m imagining myself on that leopard-skin rug, doing some private poses with him, and the fantasy has me blushing as permanent rose as the paint on my palette.


About the Author

When Kitsy Clare isn’t crafting novels, she teaches writing workshops. She also loves to draw, travel, read spicy romance, sci-fi and thrillers. She divides her time between NYC and her Catskills studio, where she enjoys the sounds of birds, bullfrogs and coyotes.

Kitsy also writes YA as Catherine Stine. Her YA futuristic thriller, Fireseed One won finalist spots in both YA and Science Fiction in the 2013 USA Book News International Book Awards, and was an Indie Reader Approved notable book. Her YA Refugees, earned a New York Public Library Best Book. Ruby's Fire, the companion novel to Fireseed One, is receiving high praise from reviewers. She’s a member of RWA, SCBWI, Untethered Realms and SFWA.

Blurbs for Model Position

"Kitsy Clare paints a provocative picture with words - a sexy montage of art, beauty, lust and love as colorful as any artist’s canvas."  -Share my Destiny, romance book blogger

"A captivating and sensual work of art!" -Jaycee DeLorenzo, author of The Truths About Dating and Mating

“Model Position is sexy, suspenseful and oh, so hard to put down. Kitsy Clare mixes a skillful, fast-moving story as Sienna, a talented but uptight art student takes on the trendy New York art scene.  She’s caught between the pull of ambition and the possibility of steamy, but true-blue love in the form of Erik, a delicious male model with no connections.  Or is he true?  And is Erik really all he seems to be?”
-Helen Mallon, author of Indecent Exposure & other short stories;
Book Reviewer, Philadelphia Inquirer

February 24, 2014

REVIEW: Dirty Trick by Christine Bell

Dirty Trick by Christine Bell (Perfectly Matched #1)
Publisher: Entangled Brazen
Publication Date: September 23, 2013
Rating: 5/5 stars
Get it: Amazon | B&N
This matchmaker’s about to meet her match…

Grace Love is lousy with men. She can spot a match for someone else a mile away, and her balls-on instincts are why her matchmaking business is thriving, but finding her own Prince Charming? The only guy who makes her sixth sense tingle is her playboy best friend, Trick, and no way is she risking their friendship, no matter how hot she knows the sex will be.

SWAT officer Trick Matthews is a patient guy, but Grace’s inability to see what’s right in front of her is grinding on his last nerve. Yeah, he blew his shot at breaking out of the friend zone when he tamped down the urge to lick her from head to toe the day they met, but he’s got a plan that’ll change her mind. Incognito at Salem’s hottest Halloween party, he’ll show her exactly how good they could be…and that he’s the man for her.

My thoughts, feelings, and reactions
Christine Bell really stepped up her game with her new Brazen book, Dirty Trick. Not even a page in and I was completely hooked! By the end, I was half blown away and half upset that I had finished it. I thought Dirty Trick was damn near perfect from the wittiness, the sexiness, and my god, don’t even get me started on Trick. It had absolutely everything I loved and it reminded me just how much I adore Bell’s writing style. 

Lets start with independent, super cool, extremely funny Grace Love. I absolutely adored and cherished her the moment she showed up on page. I loved that she had both fragility and strength within her and how she was smart but shy and guarded too. Sometimes she didn’t know what she was doing, but I found her to be very endearing and sweet. I loved her devotion and passion for her job and how much she cared for those she held dear to her. 

Trick was absolutely amazing. Sure, his approach was wrong, but I would be lying if I said it wasn’t hot and sexy. He had good intentions for Grace and I loved that he finally stepped up to win her heart once and for all. I had no doubts when it came to his love for Grace; it was true all the way. I appreciated the way he helped Grace gain more confidence and finally put her past demons behind her. He was the sweetest, kindest, most loving person ever, he was nothing short of perfect. 

I’m a sucker for a friends-to-lovers trope, but even more so now that I have lived, breathed, and loved Trick and Grace. I think these two completely moved all the other friends to lovers couples I have loved in the past and became number one. Their chemistry was explosive and their scenes together were dynamite but tender and gentle too. Whether they were friends or lovers, they just belonged.

I was utterly impressed and floored by this book. I was thoroughly entertained and riveted by every aspect and I probably swooned more than a few times. I enjoyed the match making service Grace ran with her best friend and the “tingles” she felt. I thought it was a great addition to the novel that kept the ball rolling for Grace professionally, but also helped her romantically without her realizing it to begin with. 

Dirty Trick was very well written and had the perfect amount of wit and romance matched with the realistic and authentic scenes between Trick and Grace. Bell definitely made me laugh, made my heart beat faster and she sure as hell made me smile all throughout the book. 

February 20, 2014

REVIEW: Perfect Lies by Kiersten White

Perfect Lies by Kiersten White (Mind Games #2)
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: February 18, 2014
Source: Edelweiss via publisher*
Rating: 5/5 stars
Get it: Amazon | B&N

Annie and Fia are ready to fight back.

The sisters have been manipulated and controlled by the Keane Foundation for years, trapped in a never ending battle for survival. Now they have found allies who can help them truly escape. After faking her own death, Annie has joined a group that is plotting to destroy the Foundation. And Fia is working with James Keane to bring his father down from the inside.

But Annie's visions of the future can't show her who to trust in the present. And though James is Fia's first love, Fia knows he's hiding something. The sisters can rely only on each other - but that may not be enough to save them.

My Review
I’ve been super excited for Perfect Lies the second I finished Mind Games. I thought Mind Games was amazing, but Perfect Lies was just explosive. Kiersten White ups the ante with more suspense, action and edge than ever before. 

Fia has always been my favorite of the sisters. I adored her snarky, crazy, erratic thoughts. Fia was always a loose cannon and this time, she was quickly unraveling and losing control. All the spilled blood and sacrifices she had made and done to protect Annie was catching up to her. I didn’t know if she was going to tip over the edge and meet her downfall due to her unhinged state of mind. I just wanted to protect Fia because she was in deep, so in over her head, so fragile and broken. With her trying to destroy Keane from the inside, it seemed like she was destroying herself because it was harder and harder for her trust people and to figure out what was truly right and wrong. 

Annie really turned around in this book. I always thought she was more quiet, reserved, and a little helpless because she just allowed everyone else to take care of her. That Annie was no where to be found in Perfect Lies. Being away from Fia allowed her to stand on her own, to make her own decisions, and to just push herself to not be helpless little Annie anymore. She worked hard to decipher her visions, did what she could to help Fia, and just made herself be stronger mentally and even physically.

As I said, there was more suspense and edge. It was very fast paced to the point where one chapter was just not enough. I never really knew what was going to happen, what Fia was going to do next or what Annie was going to see. Old characters came back and new characters emerged. Some characters I disliked or didn’t care for became instant favorites and some characters I actually liked and adored slowly became characters I ended up having a heavy heart for. 

Like its predecessor, Perfect Lies was split between Fia and Annie’s perspectives with different timelines. I suggest not to think so much about these alternating timelines the way I did because you can get easily confused and possibly over think the events altogether. Trust me when I say everything comes together in the end. The events of what was happening to Annie get explained when it was Fia’s turn. The more you read, the clearer things get. Kiersten White really weaves and intertwines these timelines together. She really gives both Fia and Anne two distinct and easily identifiable voices. The best part is that though these two sisters are separated nearly the entirety of this book, the love they have for each other was stronger than anything. They were always thinking about protecting each other even when so much was already happening around them.

To make this book even more marvelous, we see unlikely friendships form and a romance that was dark and manipulating while the one was sweet and genuine. There was a lot of intensity, sad and even witty moments happening and I liked that each chapter was always another piece of the puzzle of Annie and Fia’s story falling in to place.

Overall, Perfect Lies was a brilliant follow up and end to the Mind Games duology. It was thrilling, exciting, and even a little disturbing. It was the best paranormal-suspense-mind twisting book I’ve read to date!

*Thanks to HarperTeen for sending a copy for review purposes
I was not compensated for my opinion. 

February 19, 2014

REVIEW: Temporarily Yours by Diane Alberts

Temporarily Yours by Diane Alberts (Shillings Agency #1)
Publisher: Entangled Brazen
Publication Date: February 3, 2014
Source: eARC via publisher
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Get it: Amazon | B&N
This marine's the perfect hoax…if she doesn’t fall for him first.

Stats whiz Kayla Moriarity knows her way around numbers and algorithms. Men, on the other hand, are unsolvable equations. Now Kayla’s en route to her sister’s wedding—alone and without the fictional boyfriend she invented for her family. Fortunately, her plane comes complete with complimentary cocktails and a ridiculously hot ex-marine in the seat beside her. And that’s all it takes for Kayla’s inhibitions to go sailing out the airlock...

Cooper Shillings has soft spot for people in trouble, but he certainly wasn’t expecting to land in it himself—and definitely not while getting naughty mid-air with a sexy southern belle. When he hears Kayla’s predicament, however, he offers his services as a stand-in boyfriend. After all, he’s heading overseas soon...and how could he refuse a little no-strings wickedness?

It’s the perfect plan. And all Kayla has to do is ensure her family falls for the ultimate bluff, without falling for it—and Cooper—in the process...

My thoughts, feelings, and reactions
I’m a big fan of faking it until it’s real love relationship-y books and Temporarily Yours was no exception. In fact, I thought it was a super cute, super heart warming, super hot hot hot one at that. 

Kayla and Cooper were the best match! I absolutely loved them together from the time they met, to their first kiss and fight, until the very end. Kayla was smart, a loving daughter, and quirky. She was different with her fear of flying, her babbling, and how she spurted out statistics. Cooper was honorable, helpful, and such a sweetheart. I loved how right off the bat he had some vulnerability and endearing qualities. Both of them were flirty and sexy and had the best chemistry. I also thought that these two really worked because both had personal issues to deal with and together they brought that forward and made each other stronger. 

What I really loved about Temporarily Yours was being able to watch these two fall for each other and seeing the exact moment when they realized it. They opened up to each other and let all the feelings out there, even though they tried to deny to themselves. This really got to me in such a mushy gushy way and I loved it. Though these two did go a little quick when you think about it, for me it didn’t feel that way at all. Kayla and Cooper just clicked, they knew each other nearly in and out. They just had the perfect balance of heat, sweet, and swoon when they were together and I seriously could not get enough.

Overall, I adored Temporarily Yours. Diane Alberts wrote this novel with a lot of passion, sizzle and bang. Best of all, it had the funny and tender moments that were completely unforgettable.

*Thanks to Entangled Brazen for sending a copy for review purposes
I was not compensated for my opinion

February 18, 2014

Book Spotlight: Awakening Foster Kelly by Cara Rosalie Olsen

Awakening Foster Kelly by Cara Rosalie Olsen
Release day: June 2013

Buy Links: Paperback | Kindle | Nook

Book Description
If only a pile of wayward curls and the inability to stay on her feet were seventeen year-old Foster Kelly’s most pressing concerns. Unfortunately, stubborn hair and clumsiness are just the tip of it. At the age of five when Foster is told, “You don’t belong here,” it was only a mistake, but the result is one broken heart. These four carelessly spoken words have shaped and shadowed Foster, and now—a senior at Shorecliffs High-school—she seeks the wallflower’s existence, denying herself the most casual of friendships, much too afraid that someone will see what she believes is certain: she does not belong anywhere—or with anyone.

This reality would continue to suit her just fine; however . . . Love has a long-standing history of undoing broken hearts.

Like a comet, an unexpected arrival knocks Foster out of the crowded, starry sky, sending her directly into the limelight. Exposed and afraid, she will attempt to regain anonymity; but it isn’t so easy now that someone is watching. He pursues this shy enigma, confronting Foster’s deepest fears head-on, and in the process falls wholly and completely in love with her. But there is something he is not saying . . . a secret capable of certain ruin. Either he will break her heart once and for all, or he will heal it.

In the end, though, it is Foster who must decide if she is worth mending.

About the Author
CARA ROSALIE OLSEN resides in sunny Southern California, where she lives with her very patient husband, Michael, and their spoiled pooch, Annabella. A product of a relatively normal childhood - whatever that means - Olsen recalls "Life had this relentlessly boorish way of reminding me I was wonky and unapproved. Regardless of status or gene pool, there is nothing simple or easy about growing up. Life doesn't play favorites or carry biases; it's the pits for everyone. But rather than constantly falling into the pit, often I chose to climb down willingly, lining the bottom with a soft place to land. That place is where I became a reader, and today, a writer." 

Throughout high school Olsen struggled with subjects Math and Science, but excelled at the arts, written and performed, often finding a kindred spirit in those teaching Creative Writing and English Literature. What began with an ardency for language soon developed into a burgeoning desire to create. This yearning took shape in the form of poetry and short story fiction, both of which have been featured in print and online publications. Olsen's debut novel, Awakening Foster Kelly is the result of a four-year project born on a whim and sustained by its characters' tenacity and their refusal to give the author a minute to herself. "In the beginning, getting them to talk was like trying to light a wet match. So, we had several long, sometimes combative conversations. I told them that unless they started holding up their end of the deal, I would have no choice but to fill in the blanks with whatever scraps came to mind. It wasn't very long before I started showing up to find that everyone was already seated and waiting for me. We talked. I drank coffee. It was bliss." 

These days Olsen considers herself incredibly blessed to be able to do what she loves most. However...if she wasn’t a full-time writer, she would have liked to join the cast of Saturday Night Live, or, taken over as CEO of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. 

For more information, please visit CaraRosalieOlsen.com & AwakeningFosterKelly.com

Amazon / FacebookGoodreadsTwitterInstagram

February 17, 2014

REVIEW: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: January 28, 2014
Source: Edelweiss via publisher*
Rating: 4/5 stars
Get it: Amazon | B&N

Graceling meets Beauty and the Beast in this sweeping fantasy about one girl's journey to fulfill her destiny and the monster who gets in her way-by stealing her heart.

Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.

Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she's ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her.

As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex's secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.

My thoughts, feelings, and reactions
Hits and Misses

MISS: The beginning. I got a bunch of info dump. Basically the set up of who Nyx was, the purpose of her marriage, the backstory of Arcadia and the Gentle Lord (Ignifex) and how Hermectic magic and the Resurgandi emerged not even 10% in. It was overwhelming, frustrating and hard to follow because it came out all at once. Especially with the main character’s resentment bleeding into it. This is probably where I struggled the most because I had to push pass the confusion and my initial dislike for Nyx.

HIT: Ignifex. I’m going to say right out that he was my favorite everything and anything in this entire book. He was just those type of characters that even though you know he’s bad and evil and has done horrible things, you can’t help but love him. That’s how it was for me. Ignifex was just wickedly charming, fascinating, and mischievous. He was sweet in a weird, annoying yet endearing way. And I loved how gentle he could be around Nyx and how he was concerned for.

HIT: Main character, Nyx. I debated whether or not if she was a hit for me because she was a very hard character to like. She just had so much resentment and hate in her heart (some justified, some not). However, her stubborn, hard-headedness, and snappy come backs sold me in the end. She never failed to amuse or entertain Ignifex and she struggled with duty, love, betrayal and loyalty that made way for some interesting decisions and moments.

MISS: The framework of the world building failed for me. I had trouble envisioning what it was suppose to look like (Arcadia and the castle). I couldn’t really picture it. It was just so hard because I couldn’t immediately process the descriptions and the information given to me about it. Eventually (about 50% in) I finally knew how things operated and what certain things were. It just took me awhile and I wished the initial way things were explained were clearer so I didn’t have to fight so hard.

HIT: The odd but gripping romance between Nyx and Ignifex. These two kind of tumbled into love. They didn’t want to and never felt it, but they loved each other, faults, evil, poison and all. They had tender moments one second then witty banter the next. I just loved them most because there was trust, betrayal, forgiveness and understanding in their relationship. I was just really taken by the whole falling in love with your enemy type of thing.

HIT: The overall storyline. The different elements in this book from the magic, the demons, and even the splash of Greek mythology here and there was really wonderful addition. There were old stories, rhymes, myths and legends that intertwined with the plot line that made me wonder whether or not they were true (as did Nyx). The whole book had historical-fantasy-paranormal feel to it and I really liked that. The twists of the who, what, when, and how Ignifex came to be was remarkable. I really loved that aspect and how everything tied together in the end.

All in all, Cruel Beauty was amazing and bewildering all at once. For me, it was a battle to read but it the end I did fall in love with the story. It was a struggle, but well worth the experience to get to the surprising end. Rosamund Hodge gave me a gem of a read, one that I will never regret. 

*Thanks to Harper/Balzer + Bray for sending a copy for review
I was not compensated for my opinion

Favorite Quotes

"You don't do anything by halves, do you?"
"I didn't even get halfway with killing you, but give me the knife and I'll fix that."

"I'm the evil demon lord, I know it's not a compliment, but I do like a wife with a little malice in her heart."

"If you start wondering how this house works, you'll likely go mad. That could be amusing, I suppose. Especially if it's the kind of madness that causes you to run naked through the hallways. Do feel free to indulge in that anytime."

"If there's one thing I've learn as the Lord of Bargains, it's that knowing the truth is not always a kindness."

"But you know who you are, and what you deserve. You lie to me but not to yourself. That's why I love you."

I think I'm wicked enough to love a demon. 

He knew me. He loved me. And he had never asked me for anything.

There's no wisdom in the world that will stop humans from trying to snatch what they want.

"I love you more than any other creature because you are cruel, and kind, and alive...."