Happy Top Ten Tuesday! And, more importantly, Happy Halloween! Today’s theme is a Halloween freebie, so I’ve decided to go with ten spooky books to get you into the Halloween spirit. I haven’t read some of these, so I’ll need to add them to next year’s Halloween TBR.
Twenty-seven-year-old Farrow Keene lives by his actions, and his actions say he’s the best at whatever he does. As a 24/7 bodyguard and the new boyfriend to Maximoff Hale, protecting the headstrong, alpha billionaire has never been more complicated. And one rule can’t be bent:
Keep your relationship secret from the public.
Farrow is confident he’s the best man for the job. But a twist in Maximoff’s fast-paced life sticks them with the rest of Security Force Omega and their clients.
On the road.
In a sleeper tour bus.
For four rocky months.
Sexual frustrations, check. Road trip drama, check. Awkward bonding, check.
But Farrow couldn’t have accounted for a high-risk threat (identity: unknown) that targets Maximoff before the ignition even turns. And it hits Farrow — someone has it out for the guy he loves.
Every day, Maximoff & Farrow’s feelings grow stronger, and together, they’ll either sink or swim.
Damaged Like Us (Like Us #1) by Krista & Becca Ritchie
Publication Date: June 27, 2017 Genres: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Don’t date your bodyguard.
It was the one rule he had to break.
Maximoff Hale is a force of nature. A ship unwilling to be steered. Headstrong, resilient, and wholly responsible — the twenty-two-year-old alpha billionaire can handle his unconventional life. By noon, lunch can turn into a mob of screaming fans. By two, his face is all over the internet.
Born into one of the most famous families in the country, his celebrity status began at birth.
He is certified American royalty.
When he’s assigned a new 24/7 bodyguard, he comes face-to-face with the worst case scenario: being attached to the tattooed, MMA-trained, Yale graduate who’s known for “going rogue” in the security team — and who fills 1/3 of Maximoff’s sexual fantasies.
Twenty-seven-year-old Farrow Keene has one job: protect Maximoff Hale. Flirting, dating, and hot sex falls far, far out of the boundary of his bodyguard duties and into “termination” territory. But when feelings surface, protecting the sexy-as-sin, stubborn celebrity becomes increasingly complicated.
Together, boundaries blur, and being exposed could mean catastrophic consequences for both.
About Krista & Becca Ritchie
Krista & Becca Ritchie are New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors and identical twins—one a science nerd, the other a comic book geek—but with their shared passion for writing, they combined their mental powers as kids and have never stopped telling stories. Now in their early twenties, they write about other twenty-somethings navigating through life, college, and romance. They love superheroes, flawed characters, and soul mate love.
They are the New Adult authors of the Addicted series and Calloway Sisters spin-off series, and you can find them on almost every social media, frolicking around like wannabe unicorns.
As Chief of Staff to Canada’s newest Prime Minister, Stew is always on call. What started out as a whirlwind election season turned into a whirlwind first term, and now Stew is always at work. Despite rarely seeing his wife, Stew is still madly in love with Adrienne and knows that he needs to do something to keep the romance alive.
So, this was a cute romance about a married couple trying to put the spark back in their relationship. It’s a prequel to Prime Minister, which I also own and haven’t yet read. I actually didn’t realize that it was a BDSM romance when I picked it up, and I’m always kind of iffy on those, but I’m willing to give it a try. (Especially since I’m on a bit of an Ainsley Booth kick right now.)
Anyway, as I was saying, cute romance. At just 90 pages, it’s a quick, easy-to-devour novella that’s perfect for unwinding after a long day. I appreciated that it featured unconventional characters – after all, how many romance novels are about the parents of actual teenagers?
The thing about it, though, is that I wanted to like it a lot more than I did. I wanted to think, hey, that’s great, look at this sexy book about two grown adults doing sexy things. But that’s not what I was thinking as I read. What I was thinking was more along the lines of, oh, that’s great, I’m already halfway done. While the writing was good and, objectively, the sex scenes were pretty sexy, the book as a whole just didn’t do it for me.
I think the (only) problem I had with this book was that I just didn’t connect with these characters. There’s nothing wrong with them. Stew seems like a workaholic with a heart of gold and Adrienne is probably a saint, but I’m just an unmarried twenty-something with no kids. Maybe if I were married with kids, the story would have resonated with me a little more.
Still, it’s a highly worthwhile read and I will happily continue on with the series.
College freshman Kinsley Bryant is the soccer star to watch. Newly recruited to join the ULA soccer team (and considered a shoo-in for the Olympics), Kinsley’s excited to learn as much as she can from her world-class coach. She didn’t expect that Liam Wilder, the world-famous soccer player, the Olympic medal winner, the tabloids’ favorite bad boy, would sign on for a season of volunteer coaching.
Every woman in America is crushing on Liam, Kinsley included. Every time it starts looking like Liam might reciprocate Kinsley’s interest, he cools off. Is it due to the team’s strict policy against fraternization or is he just not interested?
So, I’m making some progress on my goal to read R.S. Grey’s entire backlist (this book was #5 of the year). There have been some huge hits (Anything You Can Do, The Foxe and the Hound, and The Allure of Julian Lefray wowed me) and a near-miss (The Allure of Dean Harper left something to be desired), but Grey is one of my favorite NA authors right now. Scoring Wilder falls somewhere in between “love” and “meh” on my rating scale, probably because I’ve come to expect such great things from this author. I liked it more than Dean Harper but less than Julian Lefray. (In case you haven’t memorized my previous ratings, that means that Wilder rounds out at about four stars.)
Let me expand.
As a love interest, Liam Wilder can definitely hold his own. He’s broody, he’s moody, he’s aggressive when he needs to be and a he’s total teddy bear the rest of the time. He has a great relationship with his mom and stands up against bullying and loves his friends but also calls them out when they do something stupid. I don’t even know who I was picturing when I read about him, but it was a good picture.
Kinsley can be great. It’s just that she sometimes isn’t. I suppose that she’s a pretty realistic nineteen-year-old in that respect, but I just wish that certain aspects of her personality could have been done differently. I was fine with her jokes. The fact that her thoughts veered into sex more often than not didn’t bother me, either. But the slut-shaming. Oh my god, the slut-shaming. Can we not?
Because every girl that Kinsley doesn’t like is a slut, a whore, a tramp, or a bimbo. Every girl that does something that upsets her gets slapped with one of these labels. There’s some really over-the-top drama with one of her teammates that results in a great deal of insult-slinging, and what’s the point? That whole thing was so tangential to the actual plot that it felt out of place and forced.
One of the things I’ve appreciated about Grey’s books in the past is that they don’t devolve into this Girl vs. Girl mindset. I could definitely tell that this was some vintage R.S. Grey because of it and I definitely commend her for not including this sort of nonsense in her newer books.
That said, there are also some strong female relationships in this book. I loved Becca and I wish that we could’ve spent some more time with her. (Any chance of a Becca book? Maybe? No?) Emily also seemed like a great friend and I wish she would have had more of a presence in the book. It’s not often that a character really reminds me of myself, but I definitely connected with Emily.
I think, in the end, that three things saved this book for me:
I’m still excited to continue down my path of reading every R.S. Grey book ever. Next up is Settling the Score.
Best friends Josh and Eden talk about everything, sex and relationships included. Still, Eden is taken aback when Josh asks her to help him find someone to lose his virginity with – not because of the request itself, but because it makes her see him in a different light. Suddenly, she’s thinking of Josh in a distinctly more-than-friends way. But Josh obviously doesn’t think of her that way, or he wouldn’t have asked for her help… or would he?
So, I couldn’t sleep last night and ended up marathoning this whole book in one sitting. Honestly, given the subject matter, I was worried that it would have some problematic aspects. Much to my surprise, everything was handled respectfully and fairly and largely without judgment. The book is super cute and the writing is great. Everything flows really naturally and the dialogue never sounds forced or fake.
I love these books where best friends suddenly realize that they’re in love. I could’ve done with a touch less angst, but as someone who actually did fall in love with their best friend, I can 100% confirm that a lot of drama and misunderstandings occur as you convert your relationship from “just friends” to “more than friends” to “are we dating now?” – and I think Murphy captured that really well here. So, yes, while the angst level was a little higher than I might have liked, it was most definitely realistic.
All in all, I was really pleasantly surprised by Saving It and would highly recommend it to YA romance fans.
Final rating: ★★★★☆
I received a free ARC of Saving It from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
She needs a face fiancé. He’s secretly falling in love. Cara Russo needs to get married. Or at least, make it look like she got married. Toby Hunt can’t let his best friend’s little sister rush into anything foolish. So when she needs to hire an escort, he says he’ll take care of it. Now he’s waiting for her at St. George Station. This billionaire rom-com modern fairy tale was originally published in the Love in Transit anthology. It has been expanded for single title publication.
“I can’t stop thinking about our kiss,” Cara whispers into her phone. “How if things were different, it might have been the start of something.”
I fold myself into the armchair in the corner and lean back, closing my eyes as she talks. I picture the words sliding over her lips.
Don’t think about her mouth.
“Why did even we stop kissing? That was a mistake. You could have taken me back to your hotel that night, you know. We could have done so much more…”
I swallow hard. If I say something, if I push the conversation where I want it to go, she might stop me. If I say something, I might stop me. The spell might snap and I’d realize how stupid an idea this is.
You know how stupid—
I turn off my brain because thinking is definitely going to ruin this moment. “That’s exactly what would have happened, too. I’d have done everything to you that night. Kissed every last inch of your body and made you scream my name.”
If I thought that would shock her, I underestimated her. She makes a soft, sweet sound of acquiescence instead. “Yes…”
One word. All I needed to hear, and my blood is pounding. This isn’t how I was going to do this. Tomorrow, I’m going to show her everything in my heart that I’ve foolishly held back.
Tonight, though, I can share other secrets I’ve kept from her. Every dirty desire she’s enflamed, every secret fantasy I hope to play out together.
The Billionaire Secrets series: ➡ Personal Delivery – Jake and Jana
➡ Personal Escort – Toby and Cara
➡ Personal Disaster – Marcus and Poppy (currently available in the Rogue Desire anthology)
➡ Personal Interest – Ben and Skye, coming soon
About Ainsley Booth
Mom by day and filthy romance writer by night, Ainsley is super grateful for caffeine, banana and blueberry muffins, and yoga pants. She is the USAT bestselling author of Prime Minister and Hate F*@k and also writes sexy small town and military romance as Zoe York.
What do you do when you overhear people talking about books in public? Do you jump in or let them be? I always wish I could jump in, but I am awkward, introverted, and incredibly anxious, so it never happens. But it just so happened that I was on public transit (which is so gross here and I hate it but it’s the easiest way to get to Manhattan from New Jersey) and these two strangers behind me introduced themselves to each other and proceeded to talk about books right behind me for like an hour.
They were going back and forth for a little while and I felt like such a creeper, but I kept tuning them out and then back in as they discussed their reading habits and favorite books. When we started getting close to Newark, one of the women brought up Judy Blume’s In the Unlikely Event. I really wanted to jump in at that point because I loved that book. I love Judy Blume in general, actually, and this conversation was one I really wanted to participate in.
And then one of the women said, “Judy Blume? I love her! Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day was one of my favorites when I was little!” Um. Excuse me. That book is not by the great Judy Blume. That book is by Judith Viorst. Unfortunately, you can’t just jump into a conversation screaming about books. It doesn’t matter how much you want to correct someone.
They went on to talk more about Judy Blume’s books and how someone’s sister had really loved Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret but somehow, neither of them had read it. Maybe it’s because I’m an adult that still reads YA, but I cannot imagine going through life without reading Judy Blume’s classic young adult books. Even if you don’t love them, they’re like a rite of passage.
But let’s step away from Judy Blume. The real heresy is coming up next. One of these women was a librarian. I just about spun around in my chair at that moment because I love libraries and I wanted to be a librarian for years, but various high school and college advisors convinced me not to. But then she said that she doesn’t read.
A librarian that doesn’t read.
I get it. Not everybody has a schedule that permits as much reading as mine does. Not everybody prioritizes reading over a social life like I do. But for a librarian to flat-out admit that she doesn’t read? I was floored. How does she do her job?
But I didn’t say anything. I just sat there stewing in my train seat, hoping that one or both of these women would just get off the train already before I snapped and said something I’d regret.
So, questions, if you’d like to discuss:
Do you jump into conversations with strangers about books?
Have you ever met a librarian that doesn’t like to read?
Do you ever want to correct people who attribute books to the wrong author?