ARC review: Lured In by Laura Drewry

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This is my fifth book by Laura Drewry, and honestly, they just keep getting better.  I read Off the Hook, the first book in this series, earlier this year and fell in love with The Buoys, the O’Donnells, and Jessie Todd.  Reading Lured In just solidified Drewry’s place on my list of favorite authors.  I will read anything that she writes, and I can guarantee that I’ll love it.

In Off the Hook, we saw Liam O’Donnell and Kate Hadley revamp The Buoys, Liam’s family’s old fishing resort, into something more.  Now, in Lured In, they’ve gotten big enough to warrant a visit from a popular fishing tv show.  Everybody’s thrilled, except for Jessie, who used to date the host and is less than thrilled at the prospect of rekindling that romance.

Jessie’s relationship with Sam ended for a reason.  More than one, actually, if she’s honest.  While Sam might be the cutest and sweetest guy she’s ever met, and while Kate and Liam might be all for their reunion (and the publicity it would bring), Jessie was never actually that attracted to Sam.  They had next to nothing in common, and the fact that he lives his life touring around on boats didn’t quite mesh with her paralyzing fear of water.

Quite possibly the only good thing about that relationship is that it made Jessie see that she has to get over her fear.  So she asks her closest friend and the most patient person she knows, Finn O’Donnell, to help her out.  Jessie is so comfortable with Finn that just being near him calms her down, so it’s no surprise that, slowly but surely, she’s able to dip her toes in the water again.

While helping Jessie overcome her fear and get past the events that led to it, Finn also gets to talk out some of the traumatic events in his own past.  Watching these two finally trust someone enough to open up about their deepest fears made me so happy.  They have been carrying around some demons for decades, and I loved that they were able to start moving on.

This was such a nice friends-to-lovers story.  I liked that their relationship progressed naturally.  It’s not like a lightning bolt strikes Finn and suddenly he realizes that Jessie is gorgeous.  No, these two have always felt something for each other, even if they didn’t want to admit it.  When Finn’s father was alive, he would have forbidden any kind of romance between them.  Even now that he’s gone, Finn’s brothers would give him hell for going there.  Finn’s always been a bit of a player, and his family wouldn’t want Jessie to be next in the long line of broken hearts.

But the great thing is that Jessie doesn’t really care.  She knows about Finn’s history, and she thinks he’s worth it.  She knows why he acts the way he does, and she understands that commitment might be difficult for him.  But she’s willing to risk it, because Finn is her best friend, and he’s a great person, and their connection is electric.

Jessie and Finn are some of my favorite characters in recent memory.  I always say that Drewry’s characters feel like they could be real people, but it’s even more true for these two.  They’re not pawns being moved around for the author’s amusement.  They act like real people.  Their thoughts, actions, and reactions are real.

I loved these characters, I love this setting, and I love this author.  Every book I read from her is better than the last.  I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.

Final rating: ★★★★★

For my 2016 reading challenge, I’m crossing off #40: a book that’s guaranteed to bring you joy.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the free ARC!

Book review: Frosh: First Blush by Monica B. Wagner

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A few months ago, I saw Frosh: Second Chances show up on Netgalley, and I was immediately intrigued. Of course, being that it’s the second book in a series I hadn’t started, I wasn’t going to request it. Shortly after, I got a Bookbub alert that Frosh: First Blush was free for the day, so I immediately clicked that bright orange “BUY NOW FOR FREE” button that’s become something of my nemesis.

(Seriously, I have way too many books on my TBR to be tempted by Kindle freebies.)

But anyway, I read it. And… it was okay. Just okay.

The book centers around four characters: Ellie, Grant, Charlie, and Devon.

Ellie is really the main character, an aspiring journalist who’s competing for an exclusive editorial assistant position at the student newspaper. Her RA, Tanner, also turns out to be the newspaper’s managing editor, and he seems to be helping her get an edge on the competition. Ellie’s first assignment in the competition is a profile of the star quarterback, Grant.

Grant isn’t your stereotypical quarterback. He’s smart and kind and caring, and Ellie feels really bad that she’ll need to find something scandalous about him so that she can get the editorial assistant position. Of course, being the good reporter that she is, it’s not long before Ellie finds something that could destroy not only Grant’s football career, but possibly his life as well.

Devon is described in the blurb as a “high society legacy student,” and that’s pretty accurate. Her family’s reputation has fallen because of her older brother’s antics, and Devon is determined to get it back on track. The best way would obviously be by getting involved with the wholesome, perfect quarterback. But her heart has other ideas after a one night stand with a nerdy med student.

Charlie is the only main character who isn’t a freshman. He’s a junior, he’s pre-med, and he’s absolutely adorable. He falls head over heels for Devon, who wants nothing to do with him. When a mysterious rich kid comes by offering to change his life, he can’t help but accept. Soon, Charlie is sauntering around campus in fancy clothes, oozing confidence and attracting the ladies everywhere he goes. But he still only has eyes for Devon.

So, the first thing to say about this book is that it’s actually really well-written. I thought that the writing style was engaging, it flowed well, and it kept me interested. I liked all of the characters, but Charlie was by far my favorite. He reminded me of many guys I’ve met over the years and felt the most to me like a real college student.

The thing that put me off was how predictable everything was. There wasn’t a single plot twist that I didn’t see coming. I’m not sure if that speaks more to the foreshadowing or the sheer amount of New Adult that I read, but nothing was a surprise to me. Even the huge twist at the end seemed obvious.

But still, it really took me back to the ups and downs you experience in your first semester of college. My Badgers were even mentioned! (Although, as I sit here in my Badgers t-shirt with a Badgers hoodie over top, planning my trip back to Madison next weekend, I have to say that Hillson U’s silly little football team would most definitely have lost that game.)

Overall, I did enjoy this book, but a little less predictability would have made me enjoy it even more.

Final rating: ★★★☆☆

ARC review: The Last Thing by Briana Gaitan

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Quinn is a small town girl who moves to the big city to escape her dramatic past. She crashes with her cousin Ginger, a semi-famous soap star who introduces her to a different lifestyle than the one she had growing up. Quinn meets Chase, one of Ginger’s co-stars, at a party one night. Sparks fly immediately, but neither Quinn or Chase are looking for anything serious. Too bad fate has other plans for them.

Or, at least, that’s what we’re supposed to think. I think fate treated them just they way they should have expected.

Click here to read my full review!

Final rating: ★★☆☆☆

Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC!

Book review: Dirty Work by Sophie Brooks

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Jake and Fiona had a fairly typical relationship up until a few months ago.  They loved each other, that’s for sure.  But they also fought a lot.  Mostly about things like money and chores and who should be responsible for what.  Jake never listened.  But during a heated moment, when Fiona screamed at him to just get out, he did.  He packed up his things and left.  And Fiona’s been regretting it ever since.

But the thing is, they’re still friends.  He’s still the one she calls when something needs fixing, so he’s around quite a bit.  Maybe more than he really needs to be, if they’re honest.  Fiona is both excited and terrified when Jake devises a barter system that could fix both her crumbling house and their ruined relationship.

I was really surprised at how sweet this romance was.  There were no tragic backstories.  There was very little angst.  It was really just a cute story about exes reconnecting and rekindling their romance.

It’s very short (only 72 pages) and I read it in about an hour.  I’d highly recommend it to anybody looking for a quick HEA.

Final rating: ★★★★☆

ARC review: Wicked Bet by Sophie Brooks

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Alyssa and Ian have been married for a year and a half and still haven’t had time to go on their honeymoon. She’s an attorney and he’s a marketing executive, and their combined work schedules mean that a good day is one where they’re home and awake at the same time. The spark is completely gone from their relationship. Alyssa fears that their marriage will start crumbling if she doesn’t do something soon.

This is a short, fun read about a couple’s quest to save their marriage. I thought it started out really strongly with some company-sponsored laser tag, but I quickly found myself getting bored with the lack of interaction between the characters. Most of the book seems to be spent inside Alyssa’s head, which I guess is sort of the point. She doesn’t see much of Ian, and neither do we. Still, the pages that they do spend together are fun and I really appreciated that the author deviated from the norm by having her characters be married.

Thanks to the author for the ARC!

Final rating: ★★★☆☆