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Uncategorized, Young Adult / November 16, 2016
The Deviants by C.J. SkuseThe Deviants
Author: c. j. skuse
Publisher: MIRA Ink
Date: 22/09/2016
Source: ARC from publisher
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
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When you set out for revenge, dig two graves

Growing up in the sleepy English seaside town of Brynston, the fearless five – Ella, Max, Corey, Fallon and Zane – were always inseparable. Living up to their nickname, they were the adventurous, rowdy kids who lived for ghost stories and exploring the nearby islands off the coast. But when Max’s beloved older sister Jessica is killed, the friendship seems to die with her.

Now years later, only Max and Ella are in touch; still best friends and a couple since they were thirteen. Their lives are so intertwined Max’s dad even sponsors Ella’s training for the Commonwealth Games. But Ella is hiding things. Like why she hates going to Max’s house for Sunday dinner, and flinches whenever his family are near. Or the real reason she’s afraid to take their relationship to the next level.

When underdog Corey is bullied, the fearless five are brought back together again, teaming up to wreak havoc and revenge on those who have wronged them. But when the secrets they are keeping can no longer be kept quiet, will their fearlessness be enough to save them from themselves?

Big thank you to Mira Ink for sending me this for review! This in no way affects my review.

This year I have been reading a lot of books from the fantasy genre, so when offered the opportunity to read The Deviants, I thought I’d take a break from my comfort genre and go and explore a contemporary read. This was no fluffy contemporary book though. Instead it was a fast paced, dark story that I really enjoyed that I actually read within a day. Having never read anything by C. J. Skuse before, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect but I am glad I took the chance to give this a go.

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By: Vicky
Adult, Review / August 16, 2016
His Royal Secret Duology by Lilah PaceHis Royal Secret
Date: July 19th, 2016
185 pages
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
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James, the handsome, cosmopolitan Prince of Wales, is used to being in the public eye. But he's keeping a king-sized secret...James, next in line for the throne, is gay.

He’s been able to hide his sexual orientation with the help of his best friend and beard, Lady Cassandra. Sometimes he feels like a coward for not coming out, but he daren’t risk losing the crown. If he did, the succession would fall on his deeply troubled younger sister, Princess Amelia. To protect her, James is willing to live a lie.

While on holiday, he meets Benjamin Dahan—a rugged international reporter with a globe-trotting, unattached life—who catches far more than James's eye. And when Ben is transferred to London, it seems fate may finally be smiling on James.

But what began as a torrid fling grows into something far more intimate and powerful. Soon James will have decide who he is, what he wants from life and love, and what he’s willing to sacrifice for the truth...

This is quite the fairy tale m/m romance! I first read His Royal Secret back in July but waited to review it and His Royal Favorite together as it really is one story. The main focus is on James, Prince of Wales, who is unhappily in the closet due to his concerns regarding how much of a tailspin his sexuality would throw both the monarchy and his family in were it to be known. He has a number of decent reasons for this, ranging from a mentally ill younger sibling who does not want to inherit, a scheming uncle who does, and worries over what kind of stance The Church of England will take and how that will affect public support. Beyond all that, James as lived a very privileged but undeniably controlled and limited life in preparation for becoming king, loss of the crown would make the loss of a normal youth feel a waste in so many ways and he is a both tender and steely young man who takes the duty he was raised for seriously. On a trip to Kenya is encounters globe-trotting reporter Benjamin Dahan and their clandestine affair is the center of the first book. Since their coming together was with the original understanding that no one was to ever know, and that it would have an end date, the relationship in the first book is more physical than emotional. Especially on the part of Ben, as he typically avoids relationships after having a very negative, but impactful, one in his youth. Everything changes when James makes the decision to come out publicly and Ben has to either accept that the affair is over or face the limelight. The only real drawback I felt the first book had was that it did feel almost entirely sexual at times, but that was also a reflection of the fact that, at that point, out of necessity on the part of James (who knew he wished he could have a real relationship) and unwillingness for more from Ben, it was all they agreed to.

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By: Diane
Adult, Review / August 9, 2016
It Ends With Us by Colleen HooverIt Ends With Us
Publisher: Atria Books
Date: August 2, 2016
384 pages
Genres: Contemporary
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Lily hasn’t always had it easy, but that’s never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She’s come a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up—she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. So when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily’s life suddenly seems almost too good to be true.

Ryle is assertive, stubborn, maybe even a little arrogant. He’s also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily. And the way he looks in scrubs certainly doesn’t hurt. Lily can’t get him out of her head. But Ryle’s complete aversion to relationships is disturbing. Even as Lily finds herself becoming the exception to his “no dating” rule, she can’t help but wonder what made him that way in the first place.

As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan—her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened.

I’ve read quite a few of Colleen Hoover’s stories, some have been hits for me and others misses. I didn’t go into this with a lot of expectations and now that I’ve read it I’m not certain how detailed I should be. This book is an experience, a very painful one. It succeeds at bringing you inside a situation most only observe from the outside. Once there you may not understand why this is happening any better than the characters do, but you will have trouble not feeling their confusion, betrayal, and how miserable a decision can be to make even when it is clearly the only sane one. No one is black and white here, it would be easier to judge and write them off if they were. Instead I was left with compassion, deep sorrow, and satisfaction at seeing the main character, Lily, make a choice that serves as an example of strength, love, and good judgement.

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By: Diane
Adult, Review / July 5, 2016
Bittersweet by Sarina BowenBittersweet
Author: Sarina Bowen
Series: True North #1
Publisher: Rennie Road Books
Date: June 2016
384 pages
Source: Purchased
Genres: Contemporary
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The last person Griffin Shipley expects to find stuck in a ditch on his Vermont country road is his ex-hookup. Five years ago they’d shared a couple of steamy nights together. But that was a lifetime ago.

At twenty-seven, Griff is now the accidental patriarch of his family farm. Even his enormous shoulders feel the strain of supporting his mother, three siblings and a dotty grandfather. He doesn’t have time for the sorority girl who’s shown up expecting to buy his harvest at half price.

Vermont was never in Audrey Kidder’s travel plans. Neither was Griff Shipley. But she needs a second chance with the restaurant conglomerate employing her. Okay—a fifth chance. And no self-righteous lumbersexual farmer will stand in her way.

They’re adversaries. They want entirely different things from life. Too bad their sexual chemistry is as hot as Audrey’s top secret enchilada sauce, and then some.

Bittersweet is the first Sarina Bowen novel I’ve read and I loved it. In a genre full of MMA fighters, biker gangs, billionaire bachelors, and man-whores, it was refreshing to have a male lead who is an organic farmer in Vermont. Griffin tends fruit trees, milks cows, and makes artisan cider. He has a good relationship with his mother, three younger siblings, and grandfather, all whom his endless work helps support. You get an appreciation for the struggles farmers go through -the need to diversify your product in case one has a bad season and not enough product is there to sell, keeping an eye on where things are headed and which products will provide best over the long term, and just how much work it all is. The idea of right livelihood is something that means a lot to me and that plays a role in the story. At the end of the day, Griffin, his family, and the community of small passionate farmers that neighbor them, make their living offering something of health and value to others and do it in a manner that respects the land and animals that provide it for them. The balance between struggle and reward is something that is really noticeable from Griffins POV. He is young and misses his deceased father everyday and worries about his ability to make the right decisions for the business and his family. I found this all so much more interesting and easy to care about than other themes that often surround contemporary heroes.

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By: Diane
Adult, Review / June 28, 2016
After I Do by Taylor Jenkins ReidAfter I Do
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Publisher: Atria Books
Date: July 2014
352 pages
Source: Purchased
Genres: Contemporary
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From the author of Forever, Interrupted—hailed by Sarah Jio as "moving, gorgeous, and at times heart-wrenching"—comes a breathtaking new novel about modern marriage, the depth of family ties, and the year that one remarkable heroine spends exploring both.

When Lauren and Ryan’s marriage reaches the breaking point, they come up with an unconventional plan. They decide to take a year off in the hopes of finding a way to fall in love again. One year apart, and only one rule: they cannot contact each other. Aside from that, anything goes.

Lauren embarks on a journey of self-discovery, quickly finding that her friends and family have their own ideas about the meaning of marriage. These influences, as well as her own healing process and the challenges of living apart from Ryan, begin to change Lauren’s ideas about monogamy and marriage. She starts to question: When you can have romance without loyalty and commitment without marriage, when love and lust are no longer tied together, what do you value? What are you willing to fight for?

This is a love story about what happens when the love fades. It’s about staying in love, seizing love, forsaking love, and committing to love with everything you’ve got. And above all, After I Do is the story of a couple caught up in an old game—and searching for a new road to happily ever after.

“Lauren, I love you more than I’ve loved anything in my life. You are the reason I was put on this earth. You make me happier than anything I’ve ever known. I cannot live without you.” He was smiling, and yet the edges of his mouth were starting to pull in and quiver. His voice started to lose its confidence. It became shaky. I noticed a group ahead of us had turned around. The pack of kids a few stairs behind Ryan had stopped and were waiting.

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By: Diane