{Review} TWO OF HEARTS by Christina Lee

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Title: Two Of Hearts
Author: Christina Lee
Published: 5th May 2015
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Source: eARC provided via Netgalley for fair & honest review
Rating: 4.5/5

BLURB:
From the author of the Between Breaths novels comes a gripping romance about finding yourself while taking a second chance at your first love…

Dakota Nakos was always the resilient, strong-willed achiever. But when her father dies and she’s entrusted with the family’s casino, she feels vulnerable, scared, and more than a little emotional —not exactly the best time to see an old lover she’s never really gotten over.

Dakota once meant the world to Shane Garrity. Then suddenly he left town to train as a U.S. Marshal, and their love for each other crashed into a memory. Now he’s come home for her father’s funeral, and one look at the girl he left behind stirs up both memories and regrets, and reignites a fire he feared he’d lost forever.

Dakota may be the same driven girl she always was, but she’s also changed in ways neither could have anticipated. She’s not just a young woman searching for own identity in the Native American community in which she was raised, but one questioning her new life outside her father’s shadow. Above all she wonders if Shane can push past her weakened defenses to rekindle what they once had, or whether the intense blaze between them will ultimately reduce her heart to ashes.

 A culturally diverse & passionate romance mixed with plenty of suspense and intrigue! 

REVIEW:
The story:
After just loosing her father, the last thing Dakota and her family need is pressure from their Native American community to sell their family casino. Dakota belives she can do her father proud and carry on his work at the casino and within the community, but as the pressure mounts, threats against her and their family highlight just how dangerous the situation is getting.

But Dakota has an unexpected person in her corner. Ex boyfriend and US Marshal, Shane, is back in town will stop at nothing to protect Dakota. But as he starts to investigate her father's death, he starts to realise just how much he cares for her and questions what he wants for the future. The question is can they overcome their past difference and the escalating danger to make their relationship work?

The characters:
Dakota is a very serious character. She wants to continue the success and their family casino and is dedicated to being the best she can. She very proud of her Native American heritage, which was fantastic to see. And I loved seeing her vibrant personality come to life around her friends & in particular with Shane.

I loved Shane so much. He's such a strong alpha male type guy on the surface, but he was never dominating with Dakata. While he wants to protect her, he always sees her as an equal - something I love to see!! He's also very respective of the Dakotas heritage and has he's own place in their community - which added a really interesting element to the story.

Also so exciting to see lots of Dakota's brother & best friend, Kai & Rachel (from Christina's previous book Whisper To Me)!! Kai & Rachel actually have their own mini side story that was extremely emotionally and had a real effect on me.

The romance:
I love second chance romances, and it was so obvious to everyone around them that these two were made for each other. The chemistry was perfect and they just seemed so natural together. Lots of misunderstandings and confusions between them make for a complicated reunion - they needed to learn how to talk to each other! But it all felt worth it in the end!

The writing:
I love that Christina knows how to balance a romantic storyline between sexy and sweet. This is an adult novel (not New Adult) and as a result the characters are a little more mature and this is evident in the dialogue between all characters. It was also exciting to see the Native American elements throughout the story. I found the cultural storyline fascinating and it's just so refreshing to see some diversity!

FINAL WORD:
A culturally diverse & passionate romance mixed with plenty of suspense and intrigue!

CONTENT:
Sexuality: medium / several sex scenes
Violence: medium / minor assault
Language: medium / several f words
Drugs & alcohol: mild

{Tour Review + GIVEAWAY} ALL PLAYED OUT by Cora Carmack

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Title: All Played Out
Series: Rusk University #3
Author: Cora Carmack
Published: 12th May 2015
Age Group: New Adult
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: eARC provided by publisher for fair & honest review
Rating: 5/5

BLURB:
First person in her family to go to college? CHECK.
Straight A’s? CHECK.
On track to graduate early? CHECK.
Social life? …..yeah, about that….

With just a few weeks until she graduates, Antonella DeLuca’s beginning to worry that maybe she hasn’t had the full college experience. (Okay... Scratch that. She knows she hasn't had the full college experience). 

So Nell does what a smart, dedicated girl like herself does best. She makes a "to do" list of normal college activities.

Item #1? Hook up with a jock.

Rusk University wide receiver Mateo Torres practically wrote the playbook for normal college living. When he’s not on the field, he excels at partying, girls, and more partying. As long as he keeps things light and easy, it's impossible to get hurt... again. But something about the quiet, shy, sexy-as-hell Nell gets under his skin, and when he learns about her list, he makes it his mission to help her complete it.

Torres is the definition of confident (And sexy. And wild), and he opens up a side of Nell that she's never known. But as they begin to check off each crazy, exciting, normal item, Nell finds that her frivolous list leads to something more serious than she bargained for. And while Torres is used to taking risks on the field, he has to decide if he's willing to take the chance when it's more than just a game. 

Together they will have to decide if what they have is just part of the experiment or a chance at something real.


REVIEW:
Opposites attract in ALL PLAYED OUT, with plenty of humour, romance and of cause her trademark awkward heroine moments!

The story:
Nell has always been very studious, working hard to complete her college degree earlier than most. But as her graduation looms, she starts to realise that maybe she's missed out on some of those college experience that everyone has. So what does a smart girl do? She makes a list of course! Nell's list of college things, including skinny dipping, college parties & hooking up with a jock. And it just so happens that Mateo Torres is on board for helping her tick some items off that list. 

Teo is all about having wild crazy fun, and he wants to show Nell how much fun he can be. At first their adventures are all innocent fun, but it's not long before they both start to realise that there may be something more between them, than just a hookup. As their relationship intensifies, Teo's past comes back to haunt him. The question is, can their new found romance over it?

The characters:
Wow, I felt such a kinship to Nell, always making lists and choosing the 'safe' option. She's very innocent to the wild side of college life, but you can she that she's desperate to experience it all. It was so refreshing to see her challenge herself to do different things, rather than other characters pushing her out of her comfort zone. The list was her choose, her decision - it was Nell who wanted to make the change in her life, and I just love how empowering that was for her! She's a really kindhearted character and it was great to see that her personality need changed, she's still the same sweet Nell, but isn't afraid to live her life more now.

Mateo, Mateo, Mateo, what do say about you. I always thought he was a little to obnoxious for my liking, partying and not able to take anything seriously. But oh how wrong was I. Yes he's loud and shameless, but there are so many other layers to him. He's had his heart broken before and is just trying to forget by having carefree fun. But Nell changes all that and makes him face the feelings he's tried to ignore. Teo does a lot of growing up in this book, but he's still the shameless confident guy we all love.

The romance:
Loud/quite, outgoing/studious, sporty/academic - Nell & Teo really are the Yin & yang of romance. They are complete opposites in so many ways, and they challenged each other to see things from different perspectives. While things start out as just a bit of fun, soon they begin to develop deeper feeling for each other, and thing start to heat up! There was a lovely balance of genuine chemistry & steamy scenes, which is exactly what I look for in any contemporary romance!

The writing:
Every time I read one of Cora's books, I worry that this might be the one that disappoints me and makes me realise she's not a superhuman robot author unable to write anything but pure awesome…but no, I loved this book just like all her others!!! Her writing is as vibrant and humorous as ever, and of course her trademark awkward heroine moments. I've come to the conclusion that Cora is actually a superhuman robot author and I will love her books forever.

FINAL WORD:
I am absolutely loving this series!! Opposites attract in ALL PLAYED OUT, with plenty of humour, romance and of course her trademark awkward heroine moments!

CONTENT:
Sexuality: medium / some sex scenes
Violence: mild / sports related injuries
Language: medium / some f words
Drugs & alcohol: medium / main characters get drunk



GIVEAWAY:

{ARC Review} MAGONIA by Maria Dahvana Headley

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Title: Magonia
Author: Maria Dahvana Headley
Published: 28th April 2015
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Paperback ARC provided by Harper Collins for fair & honest review
Rating: 4/5

BLURB:
Maria Dahvana Headley's soaring YA debut is a fiercely intelligent, multilayered fantasy where Neil Gaiman's Stardust meets John Green's The Fault in Our Stars in a story about a girl caught between two worlds . . . two races . . . and two destinies.

Aza Ray Boyle is drowning in thin air. Since she was a baby, Aza has suffered from a mysterious lung disease that makes it ever harder for her to breathe, to speak--to live. So when Aza catches a glimpse of a ship in the sky, her family chalks it up to a cruel side effect of her medication. But Aza doesn't think this is a hallucination. She can hear someone on the ship calling her name.

Only her best friend, Jason, listens. Jason, who's always been there. Jason, for whom she might have more-than-friendly feelings. But before Aza can consider that thrilling idea, something goes terribly wrong. Aza is lost to our world--and found, by another. Magonia.

Above the clouds, in a land of trading ships, Aza is not the weak and dying thing she was. In Magonia, she can breathe for the first time. Better, she has immense power--but as she navigates her new life, she discovers that war between Magonia and Earth is coming. In Aza's hands lies fate of the whole of humanity--including the boy who loves her. Where do her loyalties lie?

There are birds, pirates, flying ships, magic, singing and so much more that make this the most unique story I've read.

REVIEW:
The story:
Wow, I don't even know where to begin with this review. I was so different to anything I've ever read, and certainly not what I expected from the blurb. The entire world and concept of Magonia is so incredibly unique in every way possible. The book is told from two POVs, however Aza has the majority of chapters with Jason only having a few throughout the book. Aza has suffered from a rare and unknown illness all her life. Everyday she struggles to breath and doctors have no idea how to cure her. It's very difficult to say much about the story without giving away any spoilers, as the majority of this book is something that needs to be experienced as you read it first hand. 

Aza find's herself thrown into the unknown world of Magoina. A land of floating/flying ships in the sky, where she meets her 'mother' Caption Zal and is told she has a destiny to fulfil to save the Magonians from starvation. She's introduced to her Magonian 'partner', Dai, and together they have the power to change not only future of Magonia but the human world bellow. But helping Captain Zal with her plans, might just mean betraying the world bellow and people she loves.

The characters:
Aza is one of the of most sarcastic narrators I've ever read, and I absolutely loved it! Every word out of this girls mouth is coated in her dry sense of humour. Naturally her new world scares her and she has trouble adapting to her supposed 'destiny'. She a loyal character, but her loyalties are tested when her density will mean betraying the life and the boy she's always loved.

Jason and Aza are very similar characters. They are both smart and witty and aren't afraid to bend the rules. When reading Jason's POV it's clear that he's quite an eccentric person, spending days without sleep and counting the number of PI to keep calm. He's also extremely devoted to his friendship Aza, which I just loved him for.

Dai is Aza's Magonian 'partner'. He was a difficult character to read, and I still don't really know what to make of him. He's devoted to Captain Zal's quest, and although he seemed nice enough, I'm not sure if he can be trusted.

The romance:
The romance between Aza & Jason is slow building for the majority of the book. They have been best friends since childhood, and have been there for each other no matter what. Slowly we see that there may be something more between them, but the romance is never really the centre of the story, just quieting building in the background. If there is a sequel, their commitment to each other will be tested even further. I sincerely hope that a love triangle doesn't develop with Dai, but if it does, I'm most certainly Team Jason.

The writing:
While this book does follow the typical YA trope: girl turns 16 and discovers she's from another world, and has destiny to complete, I felt Headley's unique world building and intelligent character voice's ensured this book was like nothing else out there.

FINAL WORD:
This book pushes the limits of fantasy and many times I found myself saying "this is such a strange story". There are birds, pirates, flying ships, magic, singing and so much more that make this the most unique story I've read.

CONTENT:
Sexuality: mild / some mild kissing
Violence: medium / some mention of fighting and 'gore'
Language: mild / occasional f word
Drugs & alcohol: mild

{ARC Review} CHANGING HIS GAME by Megan Erickson

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Title: Changing His Game
Series: Gamers #1
Author: Megan Erickson
Published: 28th April 2015
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: eARC provided from publisher for fair & honest review
Rating: 5/5

BLURB:
He controls the game, but she’s rewriting all the rules…

Marley Lake is no stranger to awkwardness, but getting caught watching a dirty GIF by the company’s hot new IT guy exceeds even her standards. That is, until she realizes he's as turned on by it as she is. But with a big promotion on the line, she refuses to let her current dry spell be her downfall. Maybe.

Austin Rivers has no business lusting after the irresistible editor of Gamers Magazine. He's a secret partner in the business—and technically Marley’s boss. One look at that GIF, though, and he’s ready to install a whole lot more than just software…as long as she never finds out who he really is.

But reality’s not as virtual as it seems, and when Austin’s identity jeopardizes Marley’s promotion, he has to change his game or risk losing the only woman with the cheat code to his heart. 

A dirty talking nerd, strong intelligent heroine, and steamy geek lovin'!! 

REVIEW:
The story:
Marley, an editor for a video game magazine, is hard at work when her computer freezes. When IT guy, Austin Rivers comes to help her out, possibly the most embarrassing thing happens, he sees the erotic GIF on her computer that she'd been looking at earlier. But instead of laughing or shaming her for it, it turns out Austin is just as turned on by it as she is.

Marley doesn't want to risk her job, or her chances of a new promotion, but the attraction between her and Austin is like nothing she's ever felt before. Austin dirty talks his way into Marley's life and before she knows it, she's starting to fall for him. But Austin is hiding a secret, one that could risk everything Marley has worked so hard for. Can these two sexy nerds overcome his secrets?

The characters:
Marley is a strong, intelligent women. She's driven and determined to be successful in her job, which she loves. She's also a nerd, one who loves gaming and cosplay. Yes Marley may be the most awesome heroine ever! But behind closed doors she likes a man who can take charge, and it's not until she meets Austin that she'd trusted a man with her fantasies.

I'm going to admit it right here right now…nerds are my absolute weakness and Austin Rivers is oh so nerdalicous. He might be a socially awkward nerd, but that doesn't mean he's not sexy…oh no, Austin is one of the sexiest dirty talkers ever. Some of things he said made me spontaneously combust on the spot! Austin is a nerd who likes to take control…he's an Alpha Nerd!!

The romance:
While Marley & Austin both have a lot in common, like their love of video games, I loved that they were still very different characters. She's a lot more outgoing, while Austin is quite reserved and shy. Marley brought out he's fun side, making him smile and laugh, both things he hasn't done in a while. These two also heat things up in the bedroom…or cinema lobby, or supply room…oh yeah, these two have some very sexy little adventures! The best part about their romance is that fact that it's not all sexy, the actually chemistry between them is perfect and makes it all so much hotter!

The writing:
I am a huge Megan fangirl and when I discovered she was writing a Brazen novel I couldn't have been more excited! This book has all the charm and wit as her previous novels, but with that wicked dirtiness we all love from a Brazen book! I love how Megan incorporated both character's nerdiness into their love scenes, like the one while playing a video game, phew that was hot! Oh and a cosplay love scene may be one of the most amazing things to happen in the history of ever!!!!

FINAL WORD:
A dirty talking nerd, strong intelligent heroine, and steamy geek lovin'…CHANGING HIS GAME is the perfect, intelligent, steamy romance novel!!

CONTENT:
Sexuality: medium-strong / several sex scenes
Violence: mild
Language: medium
Drugs & alcohol: mild