ARC review: Eye Candy by Jessica Lemmon

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Jackie and Vince are co-VP’s of marketing at their firm and best friends outside of work.  Both are divorced, both have more or less given up on dating, and both have truckloads of emotional baggage.

When Jackie notices an incredibly attractive man running shirtless outside of her office, Vince offers to coach her in how to get back out there and approach him.  Before she knows it, she’s on a date with JT and things are going great… except for her developing feelings for Vince. Meanwhile, Vince is feeling more than friendly toward Jackie, so things are bound to get a little awkward.

First things first: This book was good!  I don’t want any of the comments I’m about to make to overshadow the fact that this book was really enjoyable and entertaining.  It’s not my first Jessica Lemmon book, and I doubt it will be my last.  It was well-written with great characters and a new twist on the friends-to-lovers trope (which is, by the way, my favorite trope of all time).

What happens is that Jackie dates JT while Vince coaches her on how to date in the modern world – which basically consists of him taking her out quite a bit.  Vince has feelings for her, she has feelings for him, but Jackie is dating JT for real and neither Jackie nor Vince wants to discuss their feelings with each other.  Also, JT doesn’t know about Vince.  He just thinks that Vince is just Jackie’s best friend.

So, basically, we’ve got a mess.  Some more things happen, most of which are pretty hypocritical, but I’m not going to get into specifics for fear of delving into spoilers.

As I was reading this book, I found myself wondering, “Wow, is THIS what modern dating is like?!”  I’m not particularly old, but I’ve been in a relationship for more than eight years.  This whole book just illustrates my fears if I would ever have to get back out there.  The dating landscape has changed so much that I’m not sure I could handle it anymore!

Overall, I enjoyed this book, but it wasn’t my favorite.  I think with a bit less purposeful miscommunication and unnecessary angst, I would have enjoyed this book a lot more.  I do have to mention how I loved all of the side characters, though.  I sincerely hope that Davis (in all his broody glory) has his own book. I would read the heck out of it.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC!

Final rating: ★★★☆☆

Top Ten Tuesday: Popular authors I’ve never read

Welcome back to Top Ten Tuesday!  This week, I’m going back in time to discuss ten popular authors that I’ve never read.  While I do read a lot of books, it’s actually pretty rare for me to read books by ubiquitous authors like those below.  I think my brain rebels when it hears that millions of people have enjoyed a book because I’m almost certain to hate it.

All of these authors have more than two million reviews on Goodreads, but for various reasons, I’ve never read any of their books. (And I even own books by Sarah J. Maas and Brandon Sanderson!)  Whose books do you think I should get started on first?

  • Diana Gabaldon, author of Outlander
  • John Grisham, author of A Time To Kill
  • Stephen King, author of The Shining
  • Dean Koontz, author of the Odd Thomas series
  • Sarah J. Maas, author of the Throne of Glass series
  • James Patterson, author of Along Came a Spider
  • Jodi Picoult, author of My Sister’s Keeper
  • Rick Riordan, author of the Percy Jackson series
  • Nora Roberts, author of Playing the Odds
  • Brandon Sanderson, author of the Mistborn series

Which popular authors have you never read?

Book review: Second Chance SEAL by B.B. Hamel

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Piper and Gates met at a mutual friend’s destination wedding.  What was supposed to be a one night stand might have developed into more if Gates hadn’t been deployed to Syria the next day.  Two years later, newly retired Navy SEAL Gates is back in town, and while he’s not so thrilled that Piper has a boyfriend, he won’t interfere. Until Piper calls him for help after witnessing her boyfriend’s involvement in a terrible crime.  Now, all bets are off.

Okay, so my last few books by BB Hamel have been duds.  I was starting to find her books pretty formulaic and disappointing, but I had already purchased Second Chance SEAL and decided to give it a shot. I’m so glad I did, because this kind of heart-pounding adventure is what drew me to her books in the first place.

Gates was the kind of hero that I love to read about in BB’s books.  He’s intense, he’s tough, he’s cocky, and he cares so much for Piper.  Although he’s retired from the SEALs, he instantly flips back into problem-solving protection mode as soon as Piper needs him.

And can we talk about Piper for a second?  When Piper witnesses that crime, she doesn’t hang around for an explanation. She immediately runs and calls the most intimidating man she can think of to protect her. When her ex tries to reach out and explain himself, she’s like, “NOPE!” and stays far away from him. When things get tough, she does too.  This is not a heroine who’s going to sit in the corner, whimpering and crying, while the hero takes care of business.  Thank you, BB, for writing such a smart, levelheaded heroine.

Now, this book isn’t without its faults but I still really enjoyed it and it totally redeemed BB’s books in my mind.  I’ll have to see what else of hers is hanging out on my Kindle.

Final rating: ★★★☆☆

ARC review: The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash by Candance Ganger

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Birdie and Bash meet at a party on a night that will change both of their lives – not because of their meeting, but because of the tragedy that befalls them later that night.  Although both are dealing with their own separate problems, fate seems to be throwing them together.  With everything stacking up against them, can they overcome all the obstacles they face and be happy together?

So, first off, we all know that we’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover.  I judged this book by its cover (sorry) and was really shocked at what I found inside.  The cover, with its cartoon drawing of roller skates, with its bright colors and retro style, made me think that this would be a cute, lighthearted romance, more middle grade than anything.  It is not.

This book is sad and dark and very much not MG.  Even for YA, it’s on the darker side.  This is the story of a teenage boy who wants to do the right thing but is torn by his loyalty to his best friend.  This is the story of a teenage girl whose baby brother is currently comatose in the PICU because of something that may or may not be her fault.  This is a very sad, very emotional book.  It’s so sad and emotional that, at times, it can be very difficult to read.  You would not get that from the cover.

This book explores some pretty dark themes.  The blurb doesn’t make this clear, either.  I have no issue with the part of the blurb about Birdie, or the part about the relationship between Birdie and Bash.  The bit about Bash, though, makes this book sound very different than it is:

Sebastian Alvaréz is just trying to hold the pieces together: to not flunk out, to keep his sort-of-best friend Wild Kyle from doing something really bad, and to see his beloved Ma through chemo.

Bash is, deep down, a good guy who’s been dealt a bad hand.  You wouldn’t know it from the blurb, but he lives by himself in a rundown trailer without electricity.  There are holes in the walls.  He can feel the wind on his face when he sleeps.  He expresses concern about literally freezing to death.  It’s no wonder that he’s nearly flunking out when he’s barely surviving.

Bash might not particularly like “Wild Kyle,” but the lazy, entitled, incredibly rich boy is his best friend.  And, yes, Bash tries to keep Kyle on the straight and narrow, but what the blurb doesn’t tell you is that he attempts to keep his friend from driving drunk.  That’s the “something really bad.”  And Bash doesn’t succeed.  Kyle drives drunk, and it sets up the whole rest of the book.

“See his beloved Ma through chemo” really trivializes what’s going on as well.  Bash’s mother is dying. She lives in a nursing home and has begun hospice care.  She is not going to get better.  Bash knows this.

Why do the cover and the blurb work so hard to make this book seem like something it’s not? It seems like a good setup for failure, if you ask me.  For me personally, I want to know what I’m getting into.  If I’m expecting a lighthearted romance and I get death and destruction, it’s going to affect my rating.

I think what I’m getting at was that I was a little unsettled by the plot.  And not because I thought it was shocking – in fact, Huntley Fitzpatrick’s My Life Next Door explores a very similar situation – but because it wasn’t the kind of story I was expecting.

And maybe it’s because I read (and loved) MLND, but I don’t understand the hate toward Bash in the reviews.  He wasn’t driving.  He tried to stop Kyle and he wanted to come forward.  Kyle is just a kid, yes, but he’s rich and powerful and, above all, Bash’s only friend.  I get it.  And more than anything, I just wanted to save Bash from his horrible life and protect him at all costs.

This book may not have been what I expected, but it’s a good story about family, about tragedy, and about the consequences of your actions.

Final rating: ★★★☆☆

I received a free ARC of The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash from St. Martin’s Griffin via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.