Seeing Red: A Sapphic Fairy Tale by Cara Malone

Seeing Red is Cara Malone’s best work to date. She takes an old fairy tale and remakes it into something modern and fresh.

Kiera Murphy turns tail and runs for solace at Nana’s house. Everyone thinks of her as the benevolent granddaughter that moves in with her elderly grandmother to offer care and assistance as Alzheimer’s has wreaked havoc upon Nana’s memory. Nope, Kiera is happy to help and she adores her grandmother, she really has run away from life at the sorority house because she dropped her guard and in a drunken moment kissed her best friend.

Hunter Ross is up to her neck in debt, not her own but the debt-saddled upon her by her sister, Piper. Piper a single mother of two young boys has had a run of bad luck. Her husband, a small-time crook and con-man has landed himself a long-term stint in prison leaving Piper with more bills than income and her dead-end job at a local coffee shop isn’t going to get any better income-wise. Hunter has stepped up for her big sister dropping out of nursing school and working nights and every shift she can get at a nursing home. All her other free time is spent caring for her nephews. No matter how hard Piper and Hunter work there is never enough money to get ahead.

Kiera and Piper have a chance meeting at the coffeehouse and Piper sells her sister’s caregiver skills to the college senior. Kiera needs help with Nana while she is in class and Hunter needs the extra income. Of course, you know what comes next, heck yeah, Kiera and Hunter have that spark. They gravitate towards each other and the pull is too strong to resist. This is a sweet and sexy romance that I just adored.

3.75 out of 5 stars

  • Link: http://a.co/aBJjb9P

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Rocks and Stars by Sam Ledel

Kyle Lindsay is heading off to college in central Texas to begin her first days of college as a D-1 soccer player. Kyle has been out to her bestie for a bit now but as she heads to college she wants to experience dating and as well as thriving in the classroom and on the pitch.

Kyle meets two ladies that have a major impact in her first year in school. One is another freshman, Joey Carver, a goalkeeper that lives on the same floor. Joey is fun, easy going and immediately befriends Kyle. There is some heat there too. These two fit together easily, one big problem though, Kyle doesn’t know what she is ready for it and a relationship with Joey would be big.

The other character that has a big influence on our leading lady is Jax. Jax is a junior on the team and an enigma to many. No one knows much about her family or her past, she doesn’t talk too much but she makes enough overtures to Kyle to let her know she has eyes for the newbie. Kyle has an overcoming sexual attraction to Jax even though she knows virtually nothing about her off the field.

Is this a romance, I have to lean towards no. There are romantic elements but this is more a coming of age story of Kyle finding her footing while navigating school as a college athlete. She struggles with sex, love, family, alcohol, grades, and athletics. I think Sam Ledel told a great story. I adored Kyle even though a few times I wanted to shake her and say enough girlfriend. I wish the ending was a bit longer, but that’s the romance addict in me. I look forward to Ledel’s next book.

3.25 stars out of 5

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The Scholarship by Jaime Maddox

This book is an excellent whodunit story wrapped into a delightful romance. Maddox does an excellent job of keeping you intrigued in the slow burn romance all the while knowing there is a cold case being unearthed simultaneously. While the love is brewing between our two mains there is a killer getting more skittish by the day.

Ella Townes spent weeks every summer in the Poconos at Lake Winola, as a young girl visiting her grandparents and making friends with the neighborhood kids at the lake they lived on. For Ella, this idyllic time in her life has a strong hold on her heart and at forty she jumps at the chance to move back to this beautiful lakeside town. Taking a new position as the VP of development at Poconos Mountain University, Ella accepts that her life will probably now include a special lady, she believes wholeheartedly that work will be enough to keep her satisfied.

Reese Ryan is a local ER doctor who has spent almost her entire life in her sleepy hometown. She loves her town, her friends, and her family. She is undeniably connected to this community. She has always been single, never thinking much about it. All of her relationships have been casual, except one, her childhood sweetheart, who was mysteriously murdered right before their high school graduation. When Ella Townes, moves in next door to Reese’s parents, all bets are off, this is one woman Reese cannot look over.

What’s great about this book is it has a well thought out plot, involving a murder mystery cold case wrapped around a delightful love story. Each part is done so well and balances each other beautifully. Ella and Reece’s romance is a slow burn filled with attraction and friendship. They circle around each other in the great push-pull that holds your attention and keeps you flipping the page into the night. All the while Maddox is slowly unraveling the mystery of Stephanie Gates death. A great romance with a smart mystery, this is one book of 2017 that you do not want to pass up. So good!

5 out of 5 stars

The Scholarship

The Rules of Love by Cara Malone

Cara Malone reached out to me and offered me the opportunity to read her latest book The Rules of Love. Right off the bat, just reading the story’s description I was intrigued. Which for some of us that read 100+ books a year, intrigued by something new is a whole lot of awesomeness. So, what struck me most about Cara’s story, her main character, Max.

Maxine “Max” Saddler is just beginning her first year of grad school working on dual masters in library science and user experience. What makes Max’s character so interesting in terms of a romance novel is that she has a mild form of Asperger’s syndrome. Max tends to put people on the defensive, she’s blunt and lacks the social etiquette that people expect when meeting someone new. You can see how Max struggles in the friendship department, even though she is a thoughtful and lovely person. You just have to get past the lack of social skills and have patience combined with an understanding of her nature. This is especially difficult because Max is very protective of letting anyone know about her Asperger’s. She wants to be seen for herself and not as someone with a disability.

Ruby Satterwhite grabs Max’s attention like no one ever has. Ruby is gorgeous, fun, super smart and a true social butterfly. She’s the girl that walks into a room and is friends with everyone by the time she leaves. Ruby is one of those magnetic personalities who people just automatically gravitate too. Ruby is immediately struck by Max, right off the bat she is attracted to the beautiful loner. Making a point to introduce herself to Max, Ruby is thrown off by Max’s abruptness and the borderline antagonistic qualities their initial meeting has. Fortunately for Max, Ruby can’t just write her off, they are forced to work together on a group project.

At the thirty percent mark, I was 100% percent invested in the book and completely unsure how Cara Malone was going to get these two ladies to the happily ever after moment. Max continued to rub Ruby the wrong way, and add into the mix that Ruby is still nursing a major heartache after her first love of six years dumped her out of the blue right after undergrad graduation. All I could think is damn we have major mountains to climb to get to true love. Never fear, our author gets us where we need to be in the most unexpected but adorable way. In regards to Ruby and Max, I would love to see more of how their relationship fares as time goes on, but I thoroughly enjoyed the ride in bringing them together. The Rules of Love is a delightful read, you can’t go wrong picking this one up.

4 out of 5 stars

The Rules of Love: A Lesbian Romance
by Cara Malone
Link: http://a.co/bVypAUC

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Training Ground (Girls of Summer #1) by Kate Christie

Soccer is a passion of mine. I have played most of my life, starting when I was just in the 1st grade. Combine that love with a Kate Christie book. Okay yeah, you have me interested. Even if soccer isn’t your passion ,you should give this book a chance for one reason, the author.

Jamie Maxwell is a young high school aged soccer player. She has that single-minded focus of an elite athlete. Soccer, she lives for it, she will sacrifice everything else for the game. How many teenagers are that focused, not many? Combine that with a natural athletic prowess and you have that special combo that just might take you to the top of the game.

Emma Blakeley is exactly like Jamie in the sense that the game defines her. Emma is finishing up her senior year and has already committed to the storied women’s soccer program UNC. Emma sees a kinship in Jamie, where the sport they love supersedes everything else. What she also sees, when they randomly bump into each post-tournament is that Jamie radiates sadness. They bond almost instantly seeing a kinship of a fellow athlete but also drawing strength from one another. This instant connection will define the rest their year.

In the beginning, they are strictly friends, sharing their love of the beautiful game, waking up before the sun is up to catch a Premier League match, sharing stories of their day on the pitch. Soccer is the catalyst for more. They become to depend on each other. They become each other’s anchors as they deal with some pretty heavy stuff.

This story is jam-packed with drama. You have multiple life defining moments and the reactions and emotions of two young women. My heart ached for both Jamie and Emma, at times individually and simultaneously. To say these two are put through the gamut is an understatement. 2003-2004 will be a time that will forever define the course of these two lives.

Pretty heavy right! If this book was a stand alone, I would be wary to recommend this one. Not because of any flaw in the writing, because it is really good, but it also kind of hurts. While I read romance novels for so many reasons, let’s all face the cold hard truth, we want that happy ending. Good news is this is not a stand alone, but one of three books following the lives of soccer’s toughest duo. Training Ground is the backstory, vital to understanding how it all began. So you have to read it, and you’ll want to, but buy the second part with the first, and go right into it.

Soccer is a passion of mine. I have played most of my life, starting when I was just in the 1st grade. Combine that love with a Kate Christie book. Okay yeah, you have me interested. Even if soccer isn’t your passion ,you should give this book a chance for one reason, the author.

Jamie Maxwell is a young high school aged soccer player. She has that single-minded focus of an elite athlete. Soccer, she lives for it, she will sacrifice everything else for the game. How many teenagers are that focused, not many? Combine that with a natural athletic prowess and you have that special combo that just might take you to the top of the game.

Emma Blakeley is exactly like Jamie in the sense that the game defines her. Emma is finishing up her senior year and has already committed to the storied women’s soccer program UNC. Emma sees a kinship in Jamie, where the sport they love supersedes everything else. What she also sees, when they randomly bump into each post-tournament is that Jamie radiates sadness. They bond almost instantly seeing a kinship of a fellow athlete but also drawing strength from one another. This instant connection will define the rest their year.

In the beginning, they are strictly friends, sharing their love of the beautiful game, waking up before the sun is up to catch a Premier League match, sharing stories of their day on the pitch. Soccer is the catalyst for more. They become to depend on each other. They become each other’s anchors as they deal with some pretty heavy stuff.

This story is jam-packed with drama. You have multiple life defining moments and the reactions and emotions of two young women. My heart ached for both Jamie and Emma, at times individually and simultaneously. To say these two are put through the gamut is an understatement. 2003-2004 will be a time that will forever define the course of these two lives.

Pretty heavy right! If this book was a stand alone, I would be wary to recommend this one. Not because of any flaw in the writing, because it is really good, but it also kind of hurts. While I read romance novels for so many reasons, let’s all face the cold hard truth, we want that happy ending. Good news is this is not a stand alone, but one of three books following the lives of soccer’s toughest duo. Training Ground is the backstory, vital to understanding how it all began. So you have to read it, and you’ll want to, but buy the second part with the first, and go right into it.

3.75 stars out of 5

  • Publisher: Second Growth Books

Training Ground: Book One of Girls of Summer
by Kate Christie
Link: http://a.co/31dHycU

Training Ground by Kate Christie

 

Class Act by T.L. Hayes

The cover of a book is often its first chance at selling itself. Now, I’ll be the first to tell you there are some awful book covers out there that have amazing stories within their lackluster cover. The opposite is true as well of course. The book cover for Class Act is quite well done.

Rory Morgan is not the girl on the cover of this book. When I look at the cover the cover I see a preppy, put-together young woman who probably buys a lot of her clothes at J Crew. That girl is not Rory Morgan, I for the life of me cannot figure out why this cover would be used for this book. Rory a self-proclaimed butch, whose daily uniform, consists of a men’s v-neck white tee, faded bootcut jeans and engineer boots with wild unruly curly red hair.  Within the first twenty minutes of reading this book I was actually over Rory, and quite frankly almost ready to DNF the whole book. The entire first two chapters are chock-full of so many stereotypes it was irritating. Her character comes across as kind of an ass, unrealistic ass at that too. She in no way sounds or acts like a twenty five year old, seriously how may college students sit around and listen to Simon and Garfunkel. (I am sure there are a few, but I am making a point here). Then, factor in that Rory consistently discredits all other female students, as giggling girls who only talk of whom they wanted to sleep with or they are all hipster lesbians with expensive coffee addictions who are offended by everything.  Seriously, come on! She doesn’t want to date a kid. Excuse me but when did college students, grad students specifically become children, especially to a twenty five year old. Rory does not embody a mature student. No she embodies a much, much older woman with a giant chip on her shoulder.

Dr. Margaret Parks is the other main character in this story. She also happens to be Rory’s Topics in Theater professor.  I don’t even know that to write about her to be honest. She’s meek at times when her character is supposed to have a hard no-nonsense approach to life. She’s indecisive and quite flat as a character goes.

I cannot recommend this one. Literally, the best thing about this book is the cover and it is not a reflection of either character. Blatant stereotypes annoy me. For the record, no, I am not a hipster with an expensive coffee addiction. I can drink Maxwell House quite fine, thank you very much.

1.5 out of 5 stars

I was given this book by Netgalley & Bold Strokes Books in return for an honest review.

A Class Act
by T. L. Hayes
Link: https://amzn.com/1626397015

A Class Act

 

Trial by Fury by KG MacGregor

I picked up this book a few weeks ago, not really reading the description but going off the fact that KG MacGregor always puts out quality material and it usually covers interesting or thought provoking subjects. This book could have easily been picked off of the last few weeks headlines about the travesty and cover-up at Baylor University. Sadly, the book was written before that whole nightmare was brought to the public’s attention. This book tackles the horrible problem and aftermaths of rape and sexual assaults on our college campuses. Trial by Fury is a lot of legal and a smidgen of romance. It is very good, very informative and very heavy.

For me this book was good and disappointing all wrapped together. Honestly I don’t think this book is really a romance at all. While two characters, Theo and Celia, do become a couple and fall madly in love, the book isn’t really about that. It is more the legal working of Theo and her staff figuring out a way to make the rapists and the college pay for the crimes and then the mishandling of the victims’ rights..  While the subject is so important and swift action needs to be taken by colleges across America, you do feel like characters weren’t ever really developed, and most definitely the romance was very flat. This book felt very educational, and I could have been reading an in-depth expose. Don’t go into this one expecting to be overjoyed by the love, you will come out smarter than before though.

3.75 stars

Trial by Fury
by KG MacGregor
Link: https://amzn.com/1594934924

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