Saturday, August 19, 2017

Stacking the Shelves (#243)


Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews, in which bloggers share the books and swag they've received in the past week!


So, what did I get in the week of Sunday, August 13th to Saturday, August 19th?


(all links to Goodreads are provided!)


In the mail:



Two trades, one from Madalyn (STD) and one from Shannon (TBQ)! I've read and loved Strange the Dreamer, and The Bone Queen is for my sister. She loves the series!



Well hello there... I did not expect this in my mailbox! Check out my collection of Maiden Lane books! Now I've got one more. I'm excited to read this new one!



I won Penguin Teen's Twitter giveaway! Most of you know that I am a huge Cashore fan... oddly enough, I never owned paperback copies of the Graceling Realm books. Now I do!


Legacy of Kings notebook
Caraval card

A trade with Shannon (a different Shannon)! Thank you, lady! I just love that notebook. 


From Edelweiss:

    

Thank you so much, S&S! I'm so excited about all of these! Especially The Becoming of Noah Shaw.


Reviews from this week:

  
(Click on the covers to go to my reviews!)


Giveaways from this week:

  
(Click on the covers to go to my posts!)


Favorite Instagram post from this week:

I am a huge fan of Renée Ahdieh and her books. I got to meet her at the NoVa Teen Book Festival this past March, which was a dream come true. I've been collecting editions and swag of her books. One of the my best finds was a paperback of Fanfare, which is Renée's lesser-known adult debut novel from 2011. The book is available on B&N Nook but it hasn't been in print for years. This is a wonderful addition to my Renée Ahdieh collection! It's a cute romance too. 😍 Have you heard of this book? Smoke in the Sun, book two of the Flame in the Mist duology, will be published on May 1, 2018! NEED! Follow Renée Ahdieh and Penguin Teen for updates - including the upcoming cover reveal! #RenéeAhdieh #Fanfare #FlameInTheMist #TheWrathAndTheDawn #TheRoseAndTheDagger ##SmokeInTheSun #YA #Fantasy #Romance #Retelling #YABooks #AmReading #Favorites #BookCollection #PenguinTeen #GPPutnamsSons #HodderBooks #BookBlogger #Bookstagram
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This week was not bad at all! I had a productive week at work and on the blog, behind the scenes. I'm really excited about the eclipse on Monday - I even bought the solar sunglasses! Hopefully nothing adverse happens though. Baltimore is only experiencing the partial, but that's okay. It'll still be neat. I hope everyone has a lovely weekend!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Review: Compromised in Paradise by Samanthe Beck


Compromised in Paradise by Samanthe Beck
Book Three of the Compromise Me series
Publisher: Entangled Brazen
Publication Date: August 28, 2017
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley

Summary (from Goodreads):

Stressed out hotel heiress Arden St. Sebastian is in Maui for one thing and one thing only. Work. But when the hottie at the bar buys her a drink to end all frilly umbrella-and-glow stick drinks, she can’t help but accept his unspoken invitation. When they get back to her villa, however, and the sexy moment of truth arrives, she can’t…quite…get there. Again.

ER resident Nick Bancroft can handle a night of fun, anonymous sex, but he draws the line at a fake orgasm. He makes his mystery woman a deal. He’ll take care of her little stress-induced orgasm problem if she’ll spend the next six days exploring the island with him, no questions asked. 

A week of island relaxation on the arm of the sexiest man she’s ever met? Arden’s game. As long as she keeps her identity secret, she’s got nothing to lose…except her heart.

What I Liked:

This book was sexy, humorous, and so fun! Out of all of Beck's books - most of which are sexy, humorous, and fun - this is probably the most fun story she has written. I'm very happy with the love story she gave Arden, who is an amazing young woman. I adored Nick Bancroft, more than I did in the previous books. Together, they made an excellent pair.

Arden St. Sebastian is looking for a little relief. She has been stressed about so many things, including her father nagging her and taking over her personal life after her last relationship went south. Arden works hard and loves her job, but sometimes she is so overwhelmed. A week in Maui at one of her father's hotel properties should do the trick... especially when she meets a sexy stranger who is definitely her type. Nick Bancroft is good at his job, and very good at sex. It's lust at first sight when he sees this mystery woman at a bar one evening, and one thing leads to another. They only have a few days together, but they are going to make it count. But what happens when it stops being just sex, and becomes more? What happens when they find out the truth about each other?

From the start, this book was flirty and fun and sexy. The pair meet at a bar, but they don't give each other their names. They don't know who each other is. What's wild is that Arden has a date in six days with the nephew of the former owners of the property - and Nick has a date in six days with the daughter of the new owner. Wild, right? But Arden and Nick have no idea about each other, because throughout all of their interactions in this book, they don't give each other their names. It's part of the fun, making up a ridiculous identity and having fun with it.

Arden is a hard worker, and constantly stressed. So the arrangement works for her. She's usually a fun person, when she isn't stressed and nagged. She loves the purely physical relationship she has with Nick (she knows him as Rider). 

Nick works hard at the hospital - he is a senior ER resident and he is looking to climb up the ranks. He doesn't do commitments, so meeting Arden is destiny. Nick is a good guy with a big heart. He is also charming, intense, and very sexy. He and Arden are great for each other, and they have a lot of fun together. 

This book is all kinds of hot! Seriously, this has to be one of Beck's hottest books. There are a few kinky scenes, but I liked them just fine. I don't read a ton of erotica (just sexy romance) but I don't think this book crosses into the erotica territory, though it toes the line. Nick and Arden have great chemistry and that leads to some very passionate, sexy scenes. Their dynamic works well, with Arden liking to be handled, and Nick being an alpha male who likes to please.

I liked how involved Beck gets when it comes to writing about the protagonists' jobs. We know the ins and outs of Arden's job, and Nick's job. Their jobs are important to them, and Beck makes it appear so to the readers. Beck doesn't just make Nick an ER resident because hot doctors make great male protagonists - no, she does her research and makes sure that we know he is an ER resident and his job isn't a prop or a simple role. Same with Arden and her job.

The climax isn't as drama-filled as some romance novels, though there is some miscommunication and a tiny bit of drama. But it really isn't bad. The book ends very well for the pair! It's a HEA and the epilogue is so cute. I'm not sure if this is the end of the series, but it fills like it. I would be okay with that! The ending is lovely, for all three couples. 

What I Did Not Like:

I can't think of anything specific! For once, I think this romance novel had the perfect amount of sexy times (usually that is my complaint with romance novels - they don't have enough). 

Would I Recommend It:

I highly recommend this book - or any of Beck's books - if you're looking for steamy contemporary romance that is also a little on the fun and humorous side! Nothing dark and heavy in her books, no angst and minimal drama. Beck is so creative with the characters, their jobs, their lives, their problems. She is also suuuuuper creative with the sexy times. The books are very, very hot, you are warned!

Rating:

4 stars. I can't wait to read a new Entangled Brazen book by this author - hopefully she has more coming! I've enjoyed her old Entangled Brazen books and her new ones, and I'll definitely be looking out for future ones. She is an auto-read author for me!


Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Swoon Thursday (#238): All the Stars Left Behind by Ashley Graham


- From the book you’re currently reading, or one you just finished, tell us what made you SWOON. What got your heart pounding, your skin tingling, and your stomach fluttering

- Try to make the swoon excerpt 140 characters (or less), if you are going to tweet about it. Use the hashtag #YABOUND when tweeting


This week, my swoon is from All the Stars Left Behind by Ashley Graham!


He froze completely, his mouth a stone wall against hers. She licked his lips with the tip of her tongue, waiting for him to respond. He didn't even seem to be breathing. A second later though, he began to kiss her back. Hips lips parted and she shared his sigh, savored the feel and taste of him. Leda slid her arms up, fingers seeking his shoulders. Heat poured off him and scalded her fingertips. Her body softened as he brought his hands to her face, pulling her even closer. A strong swell of desire rose up in her, jumbling her thoughts. She couldn't touch enough of him, needed more.

- Finished copy, page 110



I picked up this book on a whim! It's okay so far - on the super plus side, there have been a lot of swoons. I had my choice of them!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Blog Tour and Giveaway: The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell


Welcome to the blog tour for The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell! This is book one of a new fantasy duology. Isn't the cover gorgeous? I've got an excerpt below if you need a little extra convincing. And there are TWO giveaways!


About the Book:


The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell
Book One of The Last Magician series
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: July 18, 2017

Summary (from Goodreads):

Stop the Magician.
Steal the book.
Save the future.

In modern day New York, magic is all but extinct. The remaining few who have an affinity for magic—the Mageus—live in the shadows, hiding who they are. Any Mageus who enters Manhattan becomes trapped by the Brink, a dark energy barrier that confines them to the island. Crossing it means losing their power—and often their lives.

Esta is a talented thief, and she's been raised to steal magical artifacts from the sinister Order that created the Brink. With her innate ability to manipulate time, Esta can pilfer from the past, collecting these artifacts before the Order even realizes she’s there. And all of Esta's training has been for one final job: traveling back to 1901 to steal an ancient book containing the secrets of the Order—and the Brink—before the Magician can destroy it and doom the Mageus to a hopeless future.

But Old New York is a dangerous world ruled by ruthless gangs and secret societies, a world where the very air crackles with magic. Nothing is as it seems, including the Magician himself. And for Esta to save her future, she may have to betray everyone in the past.



About the Author:


Lisa Maxwell is the author of The Last Magician, Unhooked, Sweet Unrest, and The Gathering Deep. She grew up in Akron, Ohio, and has a PhD in English. She’s worked as a teacher, scholar, editor, writer, and bookseller (at Little Professor Book Center in Alabama). When she’s not writing books, she’s a professor at a local college. She now lives near Washington, DC, with her husband and two sons. You can follow her on Twitter @LisaMaxwellYA or learn more about her upcoming books at Lisa-Maxwell.com.



The Excerpt:


Dolph Saunders was born for the night. The quiet hours when the city went dark and the streets emptied of the daylight rabble were his favorite time. Though they might have been criminals or cutthroats, those out after the lamps were lit were his people—the dispossessed and disavowed who lived in the shadows, carving out their meager lives at the edge of society.  Those who understood that the only rule that counted was to not get caught.

That night, though, the shadows weren’t a comfort to him. Tucked out of sight, across the street from J.P. Morgan’s mansion, he cursed himself for not being able to do more. His crew was late, and there was an uneasiness in the air—it felt too much like the night was waiting for something to happen. Dolph didn’t like it one bit. Not after so many had already disappeared, and especially not when Leena’s life was at stake.


It wasn’t unusual for people to go missing in his part of the city. Cross the wrong street and you could cross the wrong gang. Cross the wrong boss, and you might never be heard from again. But those with the old magic, especially those under Dolph’s protection, usually knew how to avoid most trouble. A handful of his own people disappearing in the span of a month? It couldn’t be an accident. 


Dolph didn’t doubt the Order was to blame, but they’d been quiet recently. There hadn’t been a raid in the Bowery for weeks, which was unusual on its own.  But even with their Conclave coming up at the end of the year, his people hadn’t heard even a whisper to hint at the Order’s plans. Dolph didn’t trust the quiet, and he wasn’t the type to let those loyal to him go without answers. So Leena, Dolph’s partner in absolutely everything, had gotten herself hired as a maid in Morgan’s house. Morgan was one of the Orders highest officials, and they’d hoped someone in the household would let something slip.


 For the past couple of weeks, she’d polished and scrubbed…and hadn’t found out anything about the missing Mageus. Then, two nights ago, she didn’t come home. 

He should have gone himself. They were his people, his responsibility. If anything happened to her…

He forced himself to put that thought aside. She would be fine. Leena was smart, strong, and more stubbornly determined than anyone he knew. She could handle herself in any situation. But her magic only worked on the affinities of other Mageus. It would be useless against the Order. 


As though in answer to his dark thoughts, a hired carriage pulled up to the side of the house. They hadn’t been expecting a delivery that night, and the arrival only heightened Dolph’s apprehension. With the carriage obscuring his view, he wouldn’t be able to see if there was trouble. 


Before he could move into a different position, angry male voices spilled out into the night. A moment later, the door of the carriage slammed shut and the driver cracked his whip to send the horses galloping off.


Dolph watched it disappear, his senses prickling in foreboding as the sound of fast footsteps approached. He gripped his cane, ready for whatever came. 


Giveaway #1:

Waiting on Wednesday (#242): Pacifica by Kristen Simmons


"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.


This week, I'm featuring:


Pacifica by Kristen Simmons
Publisher: Tor Teen
Publication Date: March 6, 2018

Summary (from Goodreads):

Pacifica, an all-new stand-alone, near-future adventure from the critically acclaimed author of Article 5 and Metaltown.

Marin is cosario royalty, a pirate like her father and his father before him. Sailing the ocean to chase adventure is in her blood. But these days no one cares that the island town her people call home is named after her grandfather. They have a new leader, one who promises an end to their hunger – and one who thinks that girls are meant for the kitchen or the brothel. Marin knows she's meant for more than that, and with the sudden influx of weapons on the island, and rumors of a pending deal with the enemy oil nation in her wake, she knows a big score to gain the council's favor is the only way to save her people, and herself.

Ross lives a life of privilege. As the president's son he wants for nothing, but he longs for a life of adventure. On a dare, he convinces his best friend Adam to sneak out to the Docks, the site of local race riots between the poor Shorlings and the upper class. But when Adam is arrested along with the other Shorlings, and not even the president is willing to find him, Ross finds himself taking matters into his own hands. He journeys back into the Docks, ready to make deals with anyone, even a beautiful pirate, if it means Adam's safe return.

When Marin and Ross meet in dangerous Shoreling territory he sees a way to get his friend back and she sees her ticket home. The ransom a president’s son would command could feed her people for years and restore her family’s legacy. But somewhere in the middle of the ocean, Marin must decide if her heart can handle handing over the only person who has ever seen her as more than a pirate. 



Ahhhh, I need this book! All of Simmons' previous books have been great for me, especially The Glass Arrow (my personal favorite of hers). This new book sounds amazing! But let's be real, Simmons is an auto-read author for me. =)

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Interview with Caragh O'Brien, Author of The Keep of Ages (and GIVEAWAY!)

Happy Tuesday, bibliovores! Today I have an interview with Caragh O'Brien, author of The Keep of Ages. This is the final novel in the Vault of Dreamers trilogy. Stick around for the giveaway at the bottom of this post, in which you can win a copy of The Keep of Ages!


Meet Caragh O'Brien!


Alyssa: Hi Caragh! Welcome to The Eater of Books! I’m so happy to have you here today. I’ve been waiting for The Keep of Ages and I’m glad it’s finally here! How does it feel to complete another series? 

Caragh: Thanks, Alyssa! I’m happy to here on The Eater of Books!
Finishing this series has been amazing for me. Rosie’s story was a huge undertaking that preoccupied me for four years, and I’m really happy with how it has turned out. When I held a finished copy in my hand for the first time this weekend, I was awed.

Alyssa: Which of the three books of this series was the most difficult to write?

Caragh: The second novel, The Rule of Mirrors, had special challenges because Rosie’s consciousness split in two, and I was dealing with two perspectives in two characters that grew apart and intertwined intricately. It was a fascinating puzzle to work on, and it took me a long time to figure out. The third book, The Keep of Ages, had special challenges, too, but they had more to do with psychological issues than the structure of novel. The book’s a bit of a mind-bender.

Alyssa: Do you have a favorite deleted/cut scene from The Keep of Ages (or any of the books in the series) that you can share or describe to us?

Caragh: A chapter in The Keep of Ages was originally written from the perspective of Thea, a key character in the second book, and it ended up being cut. I reworked the substance of the chapter into other parts of the novel to cover the plot turns, but I lost a scene of conversation that I liked. Writing the chapter helped me understand the characters better and identify other changes that needed to happen, but I believe the book is stronger without the little section. It interrupted the momentum of the main story line.

Alyssa: Did the end of this series change, from what you originally outlined to what is now set to publish?

Caragh: Yes. I had only a sketchy idea of how the series would evolve when I started it, so the entire last novel feels new to me. I originally began with characters I cared deeply about, and a creepy, intriguing situation (the dream mining), and I had to trust that the story would evolve from those elements. It did, I’m happy to report.

Alyssa: Who was your favorite character to write?

Caragh: Rosie has been my favorite all along. She’s so smart, but she also has a certain blindness about herself and others. For instance, at the start, she wants to be a film director and she’s very comfortable behind the camera, yet she doesn’t realize that she uses her filming of others to keep herself at a distance. Later, she grapples with truly trusting herself and loving someone. She grows enormously across the three books.

Alyssa: Do you have new books that you’re working on that you can tell us a little about?

Caragh: I’ve started a new project, another young adult novel, which I’m very excited about. I’ve always been interested in time and the way we create patterns and routines, so I’m playing around with that concept. I’m in a very early stage, but it’s already quite surprising and intriguing to me.

Thank you for all your support of my novels, Alyssa, and for having me by! This has been a treat! 

Alyssa: Thank YOU so much for joining me today, Caragh! Best of luck with future projects. =)


About the Author:

Caragh M. O’Brien is the author of the BIRTHMARKED trilogy and THE VAULT OF DREAMERS series, both from Macmillan/Roaring Brook Press. Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, Ms. O’Brien was educated at Williams College and earned her MA in the Writing Seminars from Johns Hopkins University. Her young adult science fiction has been honored by the YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults, the Amelia Bloomer Award, the Junior Library Guild, and numerous state reading lists. A former high school English teacher, she now writes young adult novels full time from her home in rural Connecticut.



Praise for Caragh M. O’Brien:

“Psychologically and philosophically rich.”
Kirkus, The Keep of Ages

“Like O'Brien’s Birthmarked trilogy, this dystopian, sci-fi, psychological-thriller hybrid raises ethical and moral questions about science. This might have been a difficult story to pull off, given the environment, but with a likable narrator who is thoroughly unimpressed with herself, it works . . . this should have wide appeal.” 
Booklist, The Vault of Dreamers

“A fast, satisfying psychological thriller.” 
Kirkus, The Vault of Dreamers

“Magnificent. The Vault of Dreamers left me breathless.” 
       — Mary Pearson, author of the New York Times bestselling series The Remnant Chronicles

“O’Brien (the Birthmarked trilogy) mixes the appeal of a classic boarding school novel with modern concerns about surveillance and reality as performance art, while questioning how human perception creates that reality in the first place. “
Publishers Weekly, The Vault of Dreamers

"[T]here's plenty of intrigue and---as the whole dream operation is explored---a solid sense of building tension." 
Kirkus, The Rule of Mirrors

“An exciting, almost breakneck adventure… Readers who enjoy adventures with a strong heroine standing up to authority against the odds will enjoy this compelling tale.”
School Library Journal, Birthmarked

“Reminiscent of both 1984 and a Brave New World, this gripping page-turner is a perfect intro to futuristic, dystopian fiction . . . Readers accompany the novel's inspiring heroine on an undertaking brimming with danger, intrigue, and romance.” 
Education.com, Birthmarked

“O'Brien's . . . impulsive and spirited heroine . . . is the kind readers adore.” 
Booklist, Birthmarked

“Well-written and fast-paced.” 
VOYA, Birthmarked


About The Keep of Ages:


The Keep of Ages by Caragh O'Brien
Book Three of The Vault of Dreamers series
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Publication Date: August 29, 2017

Summary (from Goodreads):

In the fast-paced, high-stakes conclusion to Caragh M. O'Brien's Vault of Dreamers trilogy, Rosie travels to a derelict theme park to shut down dream mining once and for all.

Driven by fear when Dean Berg kidnaps her family, Rosie Sinclair strikes out across the country to rescue them. When an elusive trail leads her to Grisly Valley, the contaminated ruin of a horror theme park, Rosie has to consider that Berg may once again be manipulating her every move to make her fearful, priming her for a final, lethal dream mining procedure. As Rosie struggles to outmaneuver Berg, she unearths the ultimate vault of dreamers and the hint of a consciousness more powerful and dangerous than any she's imagined before. Faced with unspeakable suffering and otherworldly beauty, Rosie must discover how to trust her mind, her friends, and reality itself.

Propulsive and deeply speculative, The Keep of Ages concludes the Vault of Dreamers trilogy with stirring possibilities for what it means to be alive.



Check out the series:

  

(Click on the covers for more information!)


My Reviews:



The Giveaway:

Win a copy of The Keep of Ages! Courtesy of Media Masters Publicity. Open to USA residents only. Ends 08/18, 11:59 PM EST. You can see complete giveaway rules in the Rafflecopter or on my Giveaways page. Good luck!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Review: Disorderly Conduct by Tessa Bailey


Disorderly Conduct by Tessa Bailey
Book One of The Academy series
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: August 29, 2017
Rating: 3 stars
Source: eARC from Edelweiss

Summary (from Goodreads):

You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone…

Police academy cadet Charlie Burns can’t believe his luck when the gorgeous blonde he meets in a bar murmurs those magic words: “Nothing serious, ’kay?” Mind-blowing, no-strings sex with Ever Carmichael—it’s the holy grail of hookups for a guy who’s too busy following in his law enforcement family’s footsteps to think about getting serious. Charlie’s all about casual…that is, until Ever calls it quits and his world tilts on its axis.

Ever knows that when you control the relationship game, you can’t get played. But for the first time, she wants more than short-term satisfaction. Step one: end her fling with commitment-phobic Charlie. Step two: sacrifice herself to the ruthless NYC dating scene. Yet everywhere she turns, there’s Charlie, being his ridiculously charming self. No online match or blind date compares to the criminally hot cop-in-training, but they’re over. Aren’t they?

If love is a four-letter-word, why does the idea of Ever seeing someone else tie Charlie up in knots?  Now he’s desperate to win her back…and a little date sabotage never hurt anyone, right?

What I Liked:

I love Tessa Bailey and her books - very few have been misses, and I've read nearly all of her books. I've been very excited about this new series, not only because the publisher is one of my favorite adult romance publishers, but because it sounds like a great series. I love men in uniform, and as romance heroes, they are totally my type. Most are alpha types who love to give orders. Charlie Burns is no exception, and I loved that part of his personality. This type of romance isn't my usual, but I didn't dislike it (like I thought I would). I had some issues with Charlie's behavior to get Ever to be with him, and I'll talk about those issues and how they caused the drop in rating. But overall, I liked this book a lot more than I thought I would, which is a win!

Charlie Burns and Ever Carmichael met in a bar one evening, and it was lust at first sight. Ever is only looking to hook up temporarily (for one month maximum), and only with "unavailable" guys. Guys like Charlie, who are single but completely married to their job. Charlie Burns doesn't do relationships, not while he is in the police academy, training to become lieutenant and sergeant and follow in his brother's, father's, grandfather's, and great-grandfather's footsteps. So when he and Ever meet, it is perfect. They see each other every day, sometimes more than once, to have sweaty, hot, fantastic sex. But one month ends, and so does their fling, when Ever tells Charlie that she can't do it anymore. Ever wants to date for real, and she doesn't think Charlie wants real. But when they part, Charlie begins to realize that he wants Ever, all of Ever, and he wants real with her. What follows is the story of a man who is desperate to make a woman realize that he is good for her, and she is good for him.

Like I said, this isn't my usual kind of romance. I don't mind the whole lovers-to-more kind of thing, in which they go from casual hook-up to relationship status. But this romance isn't like that - it goes from lovers to nothing to friends to lovers to relationship status. Which, realistically, is not my thing. I always hate the types of romance that involve "getting someone back" for the majority of the book. At the climax/towards the end of the book? I don't mind. But for the entire book (like second-chance romances)? No thanks. This romance wasn't a second-chance romance, but it wasn't a lovers-to-more type of romance. Still, I was surprised when I found that I actually really liked this kind of nonlinear romance. I liked seeing Charlie get a kick in the pants when Ever gives him the book (see what I did there?). I liked seeing Ever feel so guilty and upset about giving him the boot, because she loved him but didn't think he wanted "more" from her. I liked that both of them suffered during their "break-up", and not just Charlie. Although, it was Charlie who was trying to win over Ever, and not the other way around.

The other thing about the romance that I thought would have pissed me off was the fact that Ever was trying to go on dates and put herself out there, even when she knew she was in love with Charlie. This would usually make me irritated and hate the book. BUT. I actually didn't mind this plot very much, mostly because Ever never goes on real dates (they are all interrupted or terrible), and she never even tries to form a connection with her "dates", because she is always thinking of Charlie. Seriously, none of them even kissed her or touched her. So it wasn't so bad for me! Things definitely could have been worse.

I wasn't sure if I liked Ever, at first. Her whole "mistress rules" thing is the stupidest garbage I've seen in a long time. Basically, she hooks up with a guy for a month, and then moves on to the next. Always the "mistress", being with an unavailable/forbidden guy. In her case, guys who are more preoccupied with the job. In her mother's case, married men. Ever has lived by the mistress rules her entire life, because her mom drilled it into her head that men are unreliable and should never be trusted. (Yeah. Okay.)

But as the story went on, I definitely understood Ever better, and I liked her. I still hated the mistress rules thing, but I felt like I knew where Ever was coming from. She is lonely and miserable without Charlie, and she doesn't enjoy any of her dates. She wants more, but doesn't know how to form those emotional connections. And as Charlie makes more of an effort to be her friend and get to know her, she realizes that she has loved him all along, and she wants him. Ever's character development was very well-written; she goes from someone who likes what she has but wants to change, to someone that changes and knows what she wants better than she has for her entire life.

Charlie, oh Charlie. I loved him overall, though there were times when I couldn't believe what he was doing. He is confident, a little arrogant, oh-so charming, noble, and selfless when it comes to Ever. He is also selfish when it comes to her. He has a good heart and a lot of patience. I have to hand it to him, he never stops trying to win Ever's affections, even when she shoots him down time after time.

Both characters think the other isn't looking for anything serious (which was their plan, upfront), so when both of them start to have thoughts to want something more permanent, they are sure that the other wouldn't want that. Which is sometimes frustrating, but very understandable. It was nice to see Ever and Charlie make the effort to try to be friends, even when they crossed the friends line several times. It made it obvious that they never tried to get to know each other during their month-long hookup, which they both ended up regretting.

So I ended up liking the romance a lot. I was cheering for Charlie but I was also pulling for Ever, for her to wake up and realize that she didn't need the mistress rules, and that she was pushing away Charlie for all of the wrong reasons. 

Worth mentioning is how hot this book is. Tessa Bailey's books usually are, but phew! Alpha male + girl who likes it a little rough = super sexy romance. Especially since this book starts with Ever and Charlie meeting and doing their sex-only hookups. 

Props to Bailey for including so many great friendships in this book. Ever and her best friend Nina are such great friends, so supportive of each other. Charlie has two great friends who are also his roommates - Jack and Danika. Jack and Danika are like brother and sister, and all three of them are good buddies at the academy. It's good to see so many friendships, on both sides (Charlie and Ever).

This book ends in a lovely HEA, which made me so happy. Things work out for both Charlie and Ever, and not just in terms of them. I like how both Charlie and Ever think more on what they want in life, and not just romantically. The ending is so sweet and hopeful. I loved it!

What I Did Not Like:

What made me drop my rating from four (or five) stars to three stars was some of Charlie's behaviors and actions, when he was trying to win her over. She had dates lined up, and he would literally sabotage her dates. He pulled the fir alarm in a fancy restaurant where Ever and her date were having dinner. He paid his fellow academy friends to crash the speed-dating event that Ever was attending, so that she would get frustrated with their weirdness and leave. Charlie did a lot of things that seemed sketchy and borderline stalker-y. Yes, we as readers are rooting for him and hoping things work in his favor. On the one hand, all of his crazies might seem sweet (he's trying to win over his lady!). But on the other hand, it's a little creepy and overbearing. Ever had every right to go on dates, regardless of how she felt about Charlie, and regardless of how Charlie felt about her. While I do think that Charlie and Ever are a wonderful pair, I don't condone some of his behaviors. 

Would I Recommend It:

I do recommend this book because it is a great romance, but I also hesitate to recommend it because of Charlie's stalker-y actions to interrupt Ever's dates. I think readers could definitely look past his actions since (1) this is fiction and (2) we know what Charlie is thinking (i.e. he isn't a criminal or a perv or a "bad guy"). Charlie is the type of guy that you instinctively root for, and I definitely was. I liked him a lot, but would have loved him (and the book) more if he hadn't been so active in trying to ruin Ever's dates. I mean, come on. That's weird. And not really okay.

Also, even though Ever and Charlie are 23 years old, this is definitely an adult novel. I mean, I suppose that age would be adult no matter what. But just to be clear, this isn't a New Adult novel. Not to say that New Adult readers wouldn't enjoy this book! But it's 100% adult, rated R, etc.

Rating:

3 stars. Without the weird stalker-y stuff, this probably would have been a five-star novel for me. I liked it a lot more than I thought I would. But I have hopes for the rest of the series! I have Indecent Exposure (Jack's book) queued up and I can't wait to start it. Greer's will be fun too, I'm sure!


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