Tag Archives: New Adult romance

Us by Elle Kennedy and Sarina Bowen

A follow-up to the

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new adult romance Him, Us follows up five months later with Ryan “Wes” Wesley and Jamie Canning. Living together in Toronto as Wes skates through a stellar NHL rookie season (doomed to failure and disappointment as the Leafs haven’t won the Stanley Cup since the year I was born) and Jamie is establishing his career as a coach. They don’t get to spend enough time together and when they do, they are constrained by the need to mask their relationship. Wes just wants to get through his first season without becoming known as the first out gay man in professional hockey. The burden of Wes’s travel, hiding their relationship, and lack of time together is wearing on the couple.

Many adults try to figure out how to manage new careers and a serious relationship, but Wes and Jamie’s efforts are further complicated by the arrival of the world’s largest plot moppet in the form of Wes’s teammate, Blake. He moves in upstairs and takes to dropping by at inopportune times to interrupt sex and ratchet up “we can’t tell anyone I’m gay and you’re bisexual and we can’t even be ourselves in our own home” tension before proving he has a heart of gold when everything hits the fan.

The guys are still likable and sympathetic, if not especially well fleshed out characters, and their intimate scenes are still hot, but Us, while it does provide some realistic feeling situations, wasn’t really anything surprising. It’s an enjoyable, but not particularly memorable, trip down a familiar road with some nice guys doing the best they can. Honestly, the most notable thing about the story is the unbelievable suggestion that Toronto Maple Leafs ticket holders would give up their seats, even if only for one game:

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Those tickets are worth their weight in gold!

Note: I have re-read this book a couple of times since posting my review and I feel that I didn’t give it enough credit. It’s a good one and I recommend it if that wasn’t clear. Read its predecessor first.

I highly recommend Sarina Bowen’s new adult romance The Ivy Years Series and suggest you buy the box set, including the classic novella Blonde Date, but skip The Fifteenth Minute entirely. She is an author to watch.

Elle Kennedy’s new adult romance Off Campus series consists of The Deal  (great, recommended), The Mistake (good),  The Score (no), and The Goal (fine).

New Adult romance recommendations can be found here.

LGBT romance recommendations can be found here.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

Knitting in the City Series: Ninja at First Sight and Happily Ever Ninja by Penny Reid

My reaction to Happily Ever Ninja is why Penny Reid continues to be on double-secret probation with me, a situation that started with The Hooker and the Hermit, deepened with Elements of Chemistry and was cemented by Truth or Beard. I wasn’t going to buy Happily Ever Ninja. I WASN’T. No matter what joo-joo a couple of earlier books in the Knitting in the City series possessed or how much I liked Beauty and the Mustache. Penny Reid’s status as an autobuy was over. Then I read Ninja at First Sight and it intrigued me. I followed with a sample of Happily Ever Ninja and enjoyed the set up. Giving in, I bought the full length novel. Boy, was I disappointed. The strong beginning devolved into a Truly Silly and Pseudo Serious Adventure acting as a metaphor for marriage. Thinking again, I’m placing Reid on triple secret probation. I don’t really know what that means, but I won’t be paying for any more of her books.

Happily Ever Ninja

From Amazon: There are three things you need to know about Fiona Archer… I would tell you what they are, but then I’d have to kill you.  But I can tell you that Fiona’s husband—the always irrepressible and often cantankerous Greg Archer—is desperately in love with his wife. He aches for her when they are apart, and is insatiable when they are together. Yet as the years pass, Greg has begun to suspect that Fiona is a ninja. A ninja mom. A ninja wife. A ninja friend. After fourteen years of marriage, Greg is trying not to panic. Because Fiona’s talent for blending in is starting to resemble fading away.  However, when unexpected events mean Fiona must take center stage to keep her family safe, her response stuns everyone—Greg most of all. It seems like Greg’s wish has come true.

Greg and Fiona have spent the entirety of their marriage, and most of their relationship before that, living far apart. Years of long distance life have taken their toll and on Greg’s latest, brief visit home he realises Fiona is slipping away from him. When his professional life takes a Very Dramatic turn, she works to set everything to rights.

Fiona was consistently, wonderfully competent which was her blessing and curse. While a riot, Greg was dismissively autocratic when dealing with her. Not in a rude or high-handed way, he was just won’t listen to her. She is more capable than him, he really should clue in and when he continues not to it is very frustrating. I know that was the point, but it was overplayed. The two end up on a whirlwind adventure and how Fiona makes it through without slapping him is beyond me, even if I understood why there were together.

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Ninja at First Sight

I liked this prequel to Greg and Fiona’s novel and wish it had been longer, although some gaps from it were filled in during the full length book. Having recently read a bunch of new adult romances, this story of two university students filled that bill nicely. Fiona has chosen to go to college far away from her parents. It’s her only hope for independence from their pressure and ongoing concern as a result of a serious health crisis she suffered as  a teenager. Incredibly shy and a bit awkward, she is dragged around her residence by a well-intentioned roomie and meets Greg. He’s older, British, and attached. He also knows a good thing when he sees it and is gone on Fiona from day one. Their courtship was sweet and involving. I blame it for getting me to overlook my Penny Reid book-buying embargo and buy Fiona and Greg’s full length story.

Penny Reid’s Catalogue gives an overview of her published works , some of which I recommend and some of which I dislike intensely.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

Christina Lauren’s Catalogue

Themes: In Christina’s Lauren’s world, the person who lets you be your true self and calls you on your bullshit is your best match.

The Wild Seasons Series:
Sweet Filthy Boy – liked it
Dirty Rowdy Thing – really liked it, the sex was distracting
Dark Wild Night – good
Wicked Sexy Liarfantastic, my favourite of the group and their books
A Not-Joe Not-So-Short Short – for completists only

The Beautiful Series:
Beautiful Bastard – lots of ihateyou sex
Beautiful Bitch – more ihateyou sex
Beautiful Stranger – surprisingly romantic exhibitionists
Beautiful Bombshell – ihateyou sex bachelor and bachelorette parties
Beautiful Player – A Rake Is Reformed by a Girl with No Filter – GUILTY PLEASURE
Beautiful Beginning -ihate you sex, we’re getting married
Beautiful Beloved – exhibitionists getting back on track after having a baby
Beautiful Secret – quiet guys need love, too
Beautiful Boss – Meh.
Beautiful – only makes sense if read as a series finale

Dating You/Hating You – very good
Roomies – It’s $8 and the story doesn’t appeal to me.
Autoboyography – two dudes, will likely buy it

The Wild Seasons Series: Wicked Sexy Liar and A Not-Joe Not-So-Short Short by Christina Lauren

Finally, a Christina Lauren couple that doesn’t scream the house down in the throes of passion. Quiet people need love, too.

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In the first three books of the new adult romance Wild Seasons series, each of a trio of close friends made impulsive marriages on a graduation trip to Las Vegas. The aftermath of each of these choices was the basis for Mia, Harlow, and Lola’s novels. Book four brings Lola’s surfer roommate, London, to the fore and pairs her with Mia’s ex-boyfriend, Luke. I have enjoyed the Wild Seasons series and I think Wicked Sexy Liar may be my favourite. It struck the right balance of romance, sex – which is important given that Christina Lauren writes novels billed erotic – and character development.

Luke Sutter is a protector-type in rake’s clothing. He has been playing the field, sowing his oats, and tapping everything in sight for the past few years. A legal intern about to undertake law school, he’s 23 years old and out for fun. In Mia’s book, Sweet Filthy Boy, he was portrayed as a total player who had broken her heart. Of course, his heart was broken, too, and while he has created the impression that he handled it well by seeing a succession of women, he hasn’t been in a relationship since the “Great Breakup of 2010”. As the one with Mia lasted about 7 years, the reader quickly realises he has good boyfriend potential once he decides to grow up.

London has completed university with a degree in graphic design. Rather than toil for peanuts and build a clientele, she is taking some time to figure out what she wants to do as she surfs by day and tends bar by night. When Luke approaches her and they have a one night stand, he is smitten, but she is wary of the delicious man in front of her.

I have railed against the plot I call “The Pig Becomes a Person“, but that is not the case here. Instead of being some louche douchecanoe waiting for a magical transformative female to attach himself to, Luke has proven that he is capable of a steady and healthy relationship, he just needs to climb out of the hole he has dug himself into. Often, those heroes who have been chasing any and all willing females, but have never met The One and don’t change until they do. Luke had and lost his One and Lauren does a really good job of his slow recognition that he has turned into a skeevy guy who needs to do some rearranging with his life. Convincing London of this takes a while. She sees him as a potential boff buddy, but nothing more and, after a distasteful public encounter, not even that. She also struggles with her obligation to her circle of friends. It felt realistic within the heightened reality of a new adult romance. Liking both of them, and the sister who gives Luke endless sh*t about his life, Wicked Sexy Liar made for a relaxing, romantic read.

A Not-Joe Not-So-Short Short after the jump

Continue reading

Throttle Me by Chelle Bliss

It was free.

It was sexist.

The title is an actual request from the heroine.

If a man I was involved with told me not to “worry my pretty little head”, odds are very strong that I would worry his eye with my pretty little finger.

From Amazon: Suzy’s a control freak and has her life mapped out – work hard, find a man with a stable job, and live happily ever after. She’s content with the status quo, but her plan comes to a screeching halt when he enters her life and turns it upside down. City gave up on love when his heart was crushed in college, preferring to be the typical bachelor. He spends his nights hopping from one bed to another and his days working at his family tattoo shop, Inked. A chance encounter on a dark road makes him question what he had sworn off forever – a relationship.

Honestly, I think Chelle Bliss lost me at a hero who goes by the nickname “City” though his real name is Joey (not even Joe). He’s designed for the tattooed-pierced-biker-aggressive-tough guy-rough guy-secret pussycat-who-would-kill-for-me loving crowd and I am not among them. The story is very much a Good Girl falls in with a Bad Boy she thinks is dangerous and unstable, but turns out to be everything she needed. It’s not a trope I mind, though the hero was so over-the-top I found him ridiculous, but what really put me off was the love scenes. I don’t know where this moves from simply personal predilections versus squick, but this is the first time I’ve read a romance in which the hero says things like, “I can’t decide which part of your body to assault first” and thinks similar sentiments. There was a line being crossed into rough that distressed me because, while I appreciate that some books cater to a desire for such moments, it makes me uncomfortable that the hero liked the idea of assaulting or abusing the heroine. Moreover, the title, Throttle Me, is an actual request made by Suzy of City. They do not portray the act, but keep it to a phone interaction, but I was SUPER CREEPED OUT by City getting off on the idea of Suzy being unable to breathe and scrabbling her hands against his chest while he “assaults”, “pounds”, and chokes her. ABORT! ABORT! ABORT!

It turns out he’s rich, of course, because apparently middle class biker guy fantasies can only take you so far.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

The Game On Series: The Game Plan by Kristen Callihan

The Game Plan is the third novel in the Game On series about football players and the women that climb them. I loved this new adult romance. I LOVED IT even after getting annoyed with the author, Kristen Callihan, about her The Pig Becomes a Person plot in The Friend Zone.  I loved it so much that it started as a loan from a good friend and I went ahead and bought myself a copy that I have since re-read.

Fiona Mackenzie’s father and sister are sports agents. She has grown up around professional athletes, most particularly football players, and she wants nothing to do with them. Avoidance is a challenge as her sister is married to one and run-ins are inevitable.  Visiting said sister, Ivy, brother-in-law, Gray, and her new nephew, Fi finds another house-guest keeping company with her family. A close friend of Gray’s, Ethan Dexter is large, stoic, sweet, bearded, tall, artistic, gentle, lumbersexual… I need a moment…

 

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Good golly! Smokin’ hot hero alert!

…so Ethan is a close friend of the family and fellow football player with Fi’s brother-in-law. He adores Fi. He’s besotted and has been for a couple of years. (I never get tired of the “I have loved you from afar” trope.) He’s large, she’s tiny. He’s quiet, she’s “noise, noise, noise”. Taking a chance to get her attention, Ethan gains her interest, but their lives in different cities create obstacles, but that’s not the true challenge they face.Things go truly awry when a bounty is placed on Ethan’s virginity and Fi is caught in the resulting circus. This crisis allows The Game Plan to take on issues of sexual experience and consent in a way that will have you cheering in between bouts of fanning yourself over Ethan’s manifest hotness.

A truly enjoyable romance, The Game Plan is the best book by Callihan I have read so far and I expect I will read more; moreover, she should get a special award for how well she writes couple’s arguments. She’s very good with the smolder, too, but her fights are wonderfully realistic and intense.

More New Adult romance recommendations can be found here.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

The Ivy Years Series: The Fifteenth Minute by Sarina Bowen

The final book in Sarina Bowen’s Ivy Series is a bit of a head scratcher and one in which the author’s intent seemed clear, but I don’t think she managed the very delicate balancing act she had decided to undertake, but first let me praise the other five books in the Ivy Years series and emphatically recommend buying all of them immediately:

  1. The Year We Fell Down – BAM! This book got me right in the feels.
  2. The Year We Hid Away – That’s a lot for two such young people to have going on.
  3. Blonde Date novella – Perfect novella: Short, sweet, adorable, and added to my classics list.
  4. The Understatement of the Year – Surrender. Lying to yourself is exhausting.
  5. The Shameless Hour – “You don’t get to tell me who I am.”

As to The Fifteenth Minute, let me sum up my response with a picture of a word and its synonyms:

ambivalent

Lianne Challice is a child star whose fame comes from an ongoing series of movies about a character called Princess Vindi. Striking out on her own and trying to grow up by attending an Ivy League school, she first appeared in The Shameless Hour and I was happy to learn she was getting her own book. Happier still was I when I started reading and it was mentioned that Lianne, who is no bigger than a minute, would have logically proportioned beloved in DJ Trevi, who I took to be of average male height. Great start. Lianne wants her independence and to grow as an adult in her career, DJ just wants that false date rape accusation to go away.

Were you able to spot where the ambivalence came in? Are you, like me, AMAZED at the ovaries on Sarina Bowen for taking up a false rape accusation plot after dealing so beautifully with slut-shaming in the previous novels? I mean DJ’s not guilty, right? Sometimes, the guys aren’t guilty, right? WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON? I don’t care if he’s not guilty, or that he’s a nice guy. I don’t care because I spent the ENTIRE book wondering what on earth Bowen’s intention was. Was it to spotlight the relentlessly inept way that accusations of sexual assault are handled on university and college campuses? Was it? Because, to me, it was all about how much some people claim that women make false sexual assault accusations, although the statistics on reported rapes tell a very different story, and this was an entire subplot about that very thing.

I didn’t even mind DJ. He had wrestled with the accusation and was keeping himself sane by clinging to what he knew to be true.  It was the center of his existence and he was persevering until he got his day in college court. Lianne continued to delight. They had great chemistry and made sense as a couple. Too bad I couldn’t pay attention to that part because having a story line in which a young, vulnerable woman makes false accusations to preserve her reputation is EXACTLY THE THING WOMEN ARE OFTEN ACCUSED OF and we don’t really need a book reinforcing that notion, least of all in a genre written almost exclusively by and for women. All those poor helpless guys who just thought they were getting their rocks off and then some witch turned around and accused him of a horrible crime because she was embarrassed. Why, Sarina Bowen, why?

Sarina Bowen’s catalogue can be found here. Bowen has also co-written two very enjoyable and steamy M/M romances with Elle Kennedy called Him and Us. Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

Dog Tags by Darryl Banner & Two Week Seduction by Kathy Lyons

Dog Tags and Two Week Seduction each have the word Brazen in their publishing series name, so the reader should know what is about to happen. These romances feature young couples who knew each other as schoolchildren finding out there is more to their relationship when one of them returns home on leave from the military. The forced brevity of their time together, four and two weeks respectively, means they get busy quickly and commitment soon follows.

Dog Tags by Darryl Banner

Jesse is a music major plodding through his summer vacation when his neighbour Brandon arrives home for a month’s leave. Always leery of the taciturn and intense boy-next-door, Jesse is nonetheless immediately drawn to Brandon’s beautiful physique. When trading help with yard work for piano lessons, the men hook up and then spend their four weeks together getting it on and getting to know each other. The novella portrays mostly the former and essentially skips the latter.

Dog Tags is the first romance with two men I have read that was actually written by a man which was something I was looking for specifically. I have an impression that a lot of the M/M romances are written by and for women just as the M/F ones are. The writing here was nothing especially bad or good, it got the job done and had some nice moments, though there was very little by way of conversation between the leads. Brandon’s main purpose seemed to be to grunt and be intense while Jesse enjoyed it. Their four weeks end with Brandon returning to his work while the two of them await his next leave.

Two Week Seduction by Kathy Lyons

John O’Donnell has come home to his family for two weeks of reminders of why he left. He needs to help out his mother with her finances and living situation, and maybe have a little fun. When his well-to-do best friend’s little sister shows up looking even more tantalizing than ever, they hook up and things proceed from there. As with Dog Tags, they get busy early and often, building their desire for something more.

Two Week Seduction did its job adequately. John and Alea fall madly in love and rearrange their lives to be together. Alea comes from wealth and is wrestling with her family’s goals for her. John has no plans to leave the military, but reconsiders for her. The sexy elements felt a little forced and I never really cared about the characters as the plot and its elements felt clichéd in their execution.

New Adult romance recommendations can be found here.

LGBT romance recommendations can be found here.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

The Alphabet Game by Andie M. Long

If it hadn’t been free, I would be so annoyed right now.

For the long plot summary of The Alphabet Game go to Amazon. Take your time, it’s a lot.

I will do my best to provide a short summary:

a. The love story is of the erotic romance ilk meaning that first comes sex then comes emotion. The protagonists decide to play a game (more on why below) in which they participate in some kind of congress based on proceeding through the alphabet, i.e. A is for Arousal, N is for Nookie, etc. When you read part b. of this section the answer to “Why did I finish this book?” is that I had to know what each of the letters stood for. I *may* have skipped ahead through the letters in my quest for all 26.

b. Stella and Gabe are also together because they are trying to take down her evil stepfather and his father who have business ties to sex clubs and pornography. Ostensibly, the alphabet game is to prepare Stella to infiltrate the clubs. When it looks like her father might not be quite the villain she supposed, Stella brings in a P.I. as well. From there, it descends into blackmail and psychopathology.

Seriously, that was the short version.

Here is a genuinely short version of my opinion: This book was really bad and the juxtaposition between the melodrama, the sexual adventures, and the nature of the villain was ridiculous.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

Him by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy

Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy who have each published good new adult romances, collaborated on a new one called Him that manages to be enjoyable, well-written, and

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To be honest the

may have overshadowed the story a bit, but I can’t decide how much I mind.

Jamie Canning and Ryan (Wes) Wesley were best friends from the age of thirteen to eighteen after meeting at an elite hockey camp in Lake Placid. One night that last year, things got a little out of hand after a night of drinking and their friendship imploded. Canning never understood what had gone wrong to make Wes cut him out of his life. Four years later, after they meet again at a college hockey tournament, Wes tries to rekindle the lost friendship and ignore the fact that he has always loved Jamie, but good luck with that, Wes. For his part, Jamie has some unexpected feelings for Wes that he decides he needs to explore. They take summer jobs coaching at the hockey camp where they first met.

Jamie and Wes are both amiable, engaging characters, but they could have been more fleshed out.  Wes in particular is presented as a fun, insouciant guy, but this characterization is not followed up on. Jamie is simply a nice, grounded person from a good family. He’s really likeable, but it doesn’t make for much excitement,  but there was some compensating excitement for the reader. Having read a few romances featuring two men, I was really happy that neither of heroes was struggling with his sexuality. Often, like, almost always, there’s a moment of, “I’M GAY and I WANT to WHAT my FRIEND?!” and Him nicely sidesteps it and throws in a couple more clever little twists on standard tropes as well. Ultimately, the challenges Jamie and Wes face are of location and striking the right balance between with their new professional and personal post-college lives.

There is a second book with Wes and Jamie called Us.

Sarina Bowen’s The Ivy Years Series – HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, buy the box set

Elle Kennedy:
The Deal – great
The Mistake – pretty good
The Score – no

New Adult romance recommendations can be found here.

LGBT romance recommendations can be found here.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

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