Song of the Fireflies by J. A. Redmerski

"Everyone deserves someone who loves and cares for them enough to see them through life's obstacles. Especially people like Bray."

Title - Song of the Fireflies
Author - J. A. Redmerski
Publication Date - February 4th 2014
Publisher - Forever (Grand Central Publishing)
Format - Kindle Edition
Pages - 432 

The blurb
(Amazon UK)

Brayelle Bates has always been a force of nature. Even as a child, Bray's wild and carefree spirit intimidated everyone around her, and the only person who has ever truly understood her is her best friend, Elias Kline. As they grew up together, their friendship turned into something more, but Bray was always desperate to hide the truth of her agonising past from Elias. She did everything she could to keep him at arm's length, including moving away. But unable to survive without him, she returned home to Elias, and things never felt more right - until one night changed everything. 

Elias vowed never to be separated for Bray again. So when she decides to flee in a desperate escape attempt to escape fate, Elias knows he must go with her. As the two try to make the most of their circumstances, Elias soon realises that there's a darkness driving Bray he can't ignore. Now, in order to save her, he'll have to convince Bray to accept the consequences of her past - even if it means losing her. 

Becca's thoughts

I received Song of the Fireflies via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. 

Wow. Just completely and utterly WOW. I cannot express the feelings and emotions that are running through me right now. I finished reading Song of the Fireflies about fifteen minutes ago and my mind is going crazy with my thoughts towards this story. It's one of those books that make you feel like you've been holding your breath all the way through. So I'm going to take a big gulp of air, breathe out and try to tell you how much I adored this book. 

As usual, let's just admire the cover for Song of the Fireflies. I love it, I actually love it. It's romantic and dark all at the same time which fits with the theme in the story perfectly.

Switching to the plot, alls I can say is - holy hell. I felt like I was holding onto my Kindle for dear life because of the drama and how fast paced this is. So much happens and I felt like I was losing my mind! It's SO exciting and it was hard for me to turn away from my Kindle for more than ten minutes. Straight up. The author had the whole "grabbing hold of the readers and dragging them in" thing down to a T. I was hooked. From beginning to end, crazy scenarios, dramatic conversations and even crazier ideas were flying at me from the pages and I just couldn't help but read and read and read. 

The characters in Song of the Fireflies were absolutely amazing. Brayelle Bates is a troubled girl with a dark past, endless hidden secrets and a fear of consequences. The only person that she actually trusts and can depend on is Elias, her childhood best friend and true love. I loved Bray. She had so much depth to her and she felt so real to me. The intensity of her feelings towards Elias become clear as the story develops, and damn, it hurt my heart to read certain parts.  It becomes clear that she is haunted by many, many things, and I fell in love with Elias as he tries to soothe and protect her with everything he's got. Elias knew he loved Bray from a very early age, and when Bray moves away from him, his heart breaks in two. But his love for Bray was amazingly strong and it's clear that no matter what the distance is between them, they always find each other again. It was just a big emotional lump in my throat and I had tears in my eyes at many parts. They go through so much together in this book, it's unreal.It's packed with so many bumps in the road and I never knew what was going to happen next. 

This is the kind of book that stays with you. The kind of book that you replay over and over in your mind. I don't think I'll ever forget how much this story affected me emotionally. 

I'm giving Song of the Fireflies a fantastic rating of 9/10. 
It's fast paced, action packed and full of tear-inducing moments that will have you pulling your own hair out. It's a journey alongside Bray and Elias that will stay with you for a very long time. I'd definitely re-read this one guys, and I'd recommend it to anyone who loves a hard-hitting romance full of twists and turns. There's also a hint of darkness hidden beneath the words that is extremely intense and soul-shaking. I absolutely LOVED it. 

Beautiful Addictions by Season Vining

"His face was perfection as far as she was concerned - hair that she loved to run her fingers through, eyes that always saw through her bullshit, and lips that spoke words of adoration."

Title - Beautiful Addictions
Author - Season Vining
Publication Date - January 28th 2014 (Kindle Edition) June 10th 2014 (Paperback)
Publisher - St. Martin's Griffin 
Format - Kindle Edition
Pages - 288

The blurb

Josie Banks is a girl without a past. After being found unconscious with no memory, she was shuffled in and out of foster homes and where she suffered years of abuse. An experience that left her broken, damaged, and clinging to drugs and meaningless hook-ups to numb her pain.

When Josie disappeared years ago, she took a piece of Tristan with her. She's the girl he thought he lost forever - the one he's never been able to forget. Now a twist of fate has brought them back together, and he never wants to let her out of his inked arms again. But Tristan is haunted by a dark past of his own. On the run from ruthless criminals that shattered Josie's world years ago, reentering her life puts them both in danger.

As Josie and Tristan's lives become tangled once again, they find themselves unwilling and unable to escape the relentless pull that draws them together. But will the past leave their love in ruins - or bind them together for a lifetime? 

Becca's thoughts

I received Beautiful Addictions via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

Firstly, let's just consider those sexy tattoos marking the guys arm on the gorgeous cover for Season Vining's Beautiful Addictions. Very, very sexy, don't you agree? I really like the cover for this book. It's simple yet screams a bold statement out at its readers - "I'm protecting my girl." I think I imagined the main character Josie a little differently in my head, but other than that, the cover gets top marks from me. I think it portrays Tristan perfectly, and how he feels towards Josie. It's just perfect. 

When I began reading, I really didn't know if this was going to be my type of book. Firstly, I don't usually go for books that include crime in them, it generally does nothing for me. Drugs and the like just don't excite me at all. Nor does having enemies, shooting guns and taking people hostage. But, that's usually. For Beautiful Addictions, I was able to put this disinterest to the side and I got completely dragged down into the story. It kept me interested, I was swiping my finger across my Kindle screen like nobody's business and I just couldn't get enough. 

The main character Josie intrigued me. For a little while, I didn't understand what was going on with her. I found her quite strange and a little unsettling. She is always on her own. She has no active social life, no family and she sleeps with countless guys to block out her demons. She spends most of her time using her artistic flair; sketching, tagging in the streets and defacing public property. Once the story began to reveal more of her past, I finally "got" her, and I just wanted to scoop her up into a big bear hug. She probably would have punched me in the face, but hey! Josie's background is a tragic one and I did swallow down a lump in my throat numerous times due to the things that she had been through. Whilst reading, I was constantly reminded of the fact that she was a very haunted person. When meeting guys, she'd want to get straight down to business and completely skip the talking part. Having no family and no friends, she is able to do whatever the hell she wants. She pops pills and eats very rarely. Basically, she is a recluse. There's no light in her life, no excitement, nothing to look forward to. The story felt miserable and depressing and it really affects you whilst reading. Season Vining really got the misery vibe down to a T. 

Tristan is another main character. He's the guy who knew Josie when she was a little girl and they had been best friends. He never thought he would see her again, but when he serves her one night at the bar that he works in, it finally dawns on him. The strange girl, with the sketchpad and the never-changing drink order of coke and rum is his long-lost best friend, and the first girl he ever loved. I loved Tristan - mainly because of his sexy tattoo, but because of how much he wants to protect Josie once he finds her. Tristan is also haunted by a few ghosts of his own. His father had big plans for him, but Tristan chose to go down a different path, and got tangled up with the wrong sort of people. Tristan is adorable and such a caring guy, hidden behind that tough, bad-boy exterior. 

I saw Josie and Tristan as the main characters in this story, but there are many, many others to consider too. There's Monica who is Josie's old social-worker. Even though Monica is no longer tied to Josie she still pops around to Josie's apartment to keep and eye on her, which I just found incredibly sweet. There's Alex, who considers himself as Josie's own personal body-guard. He's well-built and rather attractive. He takes food to Josie to ensure that she's eating properly and keeps an eye on her well-being. There's the bad guys too, which I got a little muddled up with. BUT, it's an amazingly written, well thought out story. What started off as something that could have been easily dismissed ended out being one hell of a ride, and I finished with a held breath. The characters were complex and intriguing, the plot was twisted and dramatic, and the emotion was overwhelmingly beautiful.

I'm giving Beautiful Addictions by Season Vining 8/10. 
Tristan and Josie's relationship was raw and real, I just couldn't get enough. 



Home by Morning by Alexis Harrington

"Life is far too short to live with regret, and sigh over what might have been. Believe me, I know what I'm talking about. Don't let that happen to you."

Title - Home by Morning
Publication Date - December 24th 2011
Publisher - Montlake Romance 
Format - Kindle Edition 
Pages - 329

The blurb

October 1918: En route from New York to Seattle, Jessica Layton stops for a visit in her hometown of Powell Springs, Oregon, and comes face-to-face with Cole Braddock, her first and only love from years ago. Now Jessica is a highly accomplished clinical physician preparing for an exciting new job in Washington, and Cole is a successful horse breeder who is courting her sister Amy. Both are convinced they have moved beyond their youthful passion and the heartbreak it produced; nonetheless, they are grateful that Jessica's brief visit will leave little opportunity to rehash old wounds. But before Dr.Layton can leave town, Powell Springs is hit hard by the influenza epidemic ravaging the country. With no other doctors available, Jessica must remain in Oregon and tend to her friends and former neighbours. Her work brings her in constant contact with Cole, and with each passing day he finds it harder to convince himself that mild-tempered Amy can fill his heart as Jessica once did. Set against a gritty backdrop of World War I and the epidemic of 1918, Home by Morning is a raw, compelling story of betrayal, heartbreak, and redemption. 

Becca's thoughts

I love historical romance, especially when it is this good. I love being taken back in time to a world that was pulsing and moving way before I was born. I love reading dialogue that's written in a certain way, to fit in with the setting and time. I love reading about epidemics and wars (as awful as that sounds, it just interests me so much!) I love reading about people falling in love even though they're not deemed suitable. The author, Alexis Harrington, has done such a superb job of catching that moment in time with Home by Morning, I feel like I've just been dropped back into the 21st century. There is actually a prequel to Home by Morning titled Home by Nightfall , and I didn't realise this until I was more than halfway through the story, which I kinda kicked myself about. I'm hoping to read that one as soon as possible though, because it's sure to be amazing! 

I don't know why I purchased Home by Morning from Amazon UK but I just did. It may have been the price, it may have been the cover, it may have been the blurb, but most likely, it was probably all of those things mixed together. It's been a while since I dipped into this genre and this was the perfect story to have my appetite satisfied. Everything about it was perfectly written; from the characters dialogue to the details of the influenza that take over the people of Powell Springs. I have never read anything by Alexis Harrington before, but now, I plan to read the majority of her books if this is anything to go by. 

The characters truly come to life in this story, and Alexis Harrington does a fantastic job of making them seem crazily real. Jessica Layton is the woman who once had Cole Braddock's heart, and still does might I add. When she returns to Powell Springs, Cole is clearly overwhelmed by all of the old, brushed-under-the-rug feelings that quickly begin to resurface. Jessica was a strong-willed character, and her determination and kindness really shines through when she's needed by her old town folk. The fact that the townspeople found it unbelievable that she was a female physician really made me giggle, and it dragged you right back to the time when this would have been the way people actually thought. Jessica was very intriguing  to read about. There was constantly a hint to something that had ruined the previous relationship that she and Cole once had, and I felt like ripping my own hair out, dying to know what this "something" had been. I loved her, she took control over crazy situations, never lost her head and was polite, in an old fashioned kinda' way. When she decides to stay on for a longer amount of time in Powell Springs, that's when you know she's not the kind of person to turn her back when people need her, and I admired her for this. 

Cole Braddock is a bit of a hottie if I do say so myself.He's moody, yet protective and hard-working. The way he reacts when he sees Jessica for the first time after so many years, you can totally tell that he has still got the hots for her. This guy was awesome. He had muscles, he worked with horses and he knew what he wanted. Quite clearly, that was Jessica. Somehow, he always managed to be there whenever Jessica found herself in some sort of trouble, and obviously acting like her hero, he made me swoon even more. With his dark hair and leather apron... I just... I just can't carry on. I'm sure you get what I'm trying to say. Anyhow, he was brilliant, added a total load of sexy, brooding male to the story, and made it just that little bit more enjoyable ;)

Next, I just want to say a little something about Jessica's sister, Amy. I didn't like her. Not one bit. Okay, that's a lie. I liked her a teeny, tiny bit when she was first introduced to the story. She was quite cute, a little annoying in that perfect, bouncy annoying female way. But that teeny, tiny bit of liking her quickly burned to a crisp when I realised that she was courting Cole. I mean really, your sister's ex?!? She tries to act all innocent and sweet and adorable, but she's totally not. There's a whole lot of story behind this girl, so keep your eyes peeled. I took an instant dislike to this girl. Not sure if that was the author's intention. If not, I apologise Alexis, but I was team Jess the whole way through ;)

The story itself is written in dual point of view, so I was able to read everything from Cole's perspective as well as Jessica's, which was fantastic! I LOVE dual point of view, it always allows you to feel as though you know absolutely everything that is going on, from both sides. The chemistry and attraction between these two characters was sizzling! I adored it. I love it even more when there has already been a history between two people, and then they're re-united and it is STILL there! It was exciting, it made my heart beat a little bit faster and I was gripped to this story! The detail that Alexis goes into whilst describing the symptoms and effects of the influenza is astonishing and I felt like I was in a history lesson. She brought everything to life for me; the bluish tinge to the lips, the delirium, the coughing and hacking. Just - incredible.

Not only was it the influenza that really intrigued me, but whilst the story in Powell Springs progresses, so does Riley's life (Cole's brother) whilst fighting in WWI. Every detail, including the muddy trenches and the awful conditions, was amazingly touched upon. I honestly couldn't believe how well put together her settings were. I could feel the rain, the mud squelching, the weight of a gun slung on my shoulder. Just omgomgomg!!!!!

Home by Morning is a beautifully written story, bringing together all of the horrific events that overtook the lives of regular people during that time. It has everything a historical romance reader could want - detailed settings, interesting characters and based upon real events. I absolutely ADORED this story, and I cannot wait to read the prequel. I'm giving Home by Morning a worthy rating of 10/10. I would not have changed a single thing about it, and I'd recommend it to EVERYONE. A huge congratulations to Alexis Harrington - it was an absolute pleasure to read and I am so thankful for the hard work that you must have put into this book. It is sensational, and I would gladly read this again and again, just to relive the romance that blossoms between Cole and Jessica. 

Find out more about Alexis Harrington

For Nick by Taylor Dean

"Work as if everything depends upon you, pray as if everything depends upon God."

Title - For Nick
Publication Date - June 28th 2013
Publisher - CreateSpace 
Format - Kindle Edition
Pages - 297

The blurb

Zachary Drake had love in his life - and tragically lost it. He knows it won't come his way again. Andie Parker would do anything for the love of her life. 

Even marry a total stranger. 

In spite of the unorthodox manner in Zach and Andie come together, there is no denying that things are unexpectedly good between them, taking them both by surprise. However, when secrets come between them - and trust does not - Andie soon finds herself vowing to never make the same mistake again. But, she'd do it again in a heartbeat and she knows it. She'd marry a hundred strangers if it helped Nick. 

She'd do anything for Nick... anything. 

Becca's thoughts

This story was probably the most emotional one that I have read in a while. I was blubbing in my bed at 2am. Everything about it was perfect, keeping me enthralled and intrigued and I couldn't bear to put it down. 

The characters in For Nick were okay. I think because the plot has such an amazing twist, the author may have chosen to let it slack with the characters a little. They were average, I was just about able to manage drawing up a faint image of the two main characters, Andie and Zach, in my head, but I felt like I didn't really know too much about the characters themselves - more about their circumstances and situations. Nevertheless, it didn't put me off the story too much and I still managed to enjoy it. Andie came across as a genuine, caring, kind hearted woman and hid a huge secret, throughout the entirety of the book. This drove me crazy and I couldn't WAIT to find out what this secret was. There's always hints being dropped right at the beginning of the story, but there's also the biggest hint of all, which is the title. The mysterious character of Nick is constantly referred too - "She was going to see Nick", "She loved Nick", and "She'd do anything for Nick." It constantly keeps you on your toes and my mind was going crazy trying to figure out who the hell this freaking Nick was! Trust me, it's not at all what it seems. 

I loved how the story played out. The way Andie and Zach met was rather unreal but I lapped it up completely. To be able to access his grandfather's company Zach has to stay married for one year. Little did he know that he'd end up falling in love along the way. Unfortunately, Andie's secret eventually wedges itself between them, and things start to gently fall apart. With Andie disappearing most days, Zach becomes curious about where she's going. Following her one day, he catches her with someone. As I said, this story is not at all what it seems. I was dying with anticipitation, just to see what was around the corner and what was going to happen. 

You get to experience For Nick from both Andie's and Zach's POV, which is always fun! A male and female's point of view tends to differ so it was rather funny in places.

I'm giving For Nick a brilliant rating of 9/10 - the markdown is for the fact that once you read this story once and the twist is revealed, the chances of you reading it again are very low. The entire book was a build up to an amazing end, so there'd be no chance of reading it and feeling the way you did the first time around. Overall, it was a great story. I also found it quite short and got through it really quickly. The story itself also progresses rather quickly which is always good as you don't have to sit around and wait for something drastic to happen. My emotions completely took over me with this book, tears were flying down my cheeks at a rapid speed, but I just couldn't help it. A beautiful, beautiful story, one that everybody should read at least once. 


The Story of Us by Ellen Faith

"You know how some people say they do all their thinking on the toilet - gross I know - but they do, well, I do my thinking in the shower and the longer I'm in there, the madder I get with Walker."

The blurb

Alexandra Jones has a pretty peachy life. A gorgeous, stinking rich fiancé, her sleazy boss is retiring which means an imminent promotion in a job she loves, and she gets her best friends Jimmy Choos when she dies, although she would prefer her best friend to stick around as long as possible. Obviously. 

But when a blast from the past turns up on her doorstep just as her world turns upside down, she decides to take her best friend, Rosie, up on her offer of a 10 day break in San Francisco. Whilst Rosie works on a fashion shoot and Alexandra becomes well acquainted with the photographer's brother, it becomes clear that this trip is one that will change their lives forever. 

Becca's thoughts

Expected publication - January 31st 2014

First of all, I just want to say a MAHOOSIVE thank you to the brilliant author, Ellen Faith, for providing me with an ARC of The Story of Us. This is the first book that I have genuinely, really, thoroughly enjoyed for a long time, and I honestly cannot recommend it enough.

Right now, Ellen's cover for The Story of Us is still being worked on so you won't be able to see it just yet. I will say I have been allowed a sneaky glimpse of it and it is to die for. Absolutely stunning, and if the blurb doesn't sell the story to you (I highly doubt that it won't), then the cover is going to bowl you over. IT-IS-GORGEOUS. I cannot wait to share it with you when Ellen's cover reveal takes place, so that's definitely something to look forward too!

So, the story begins with Alexandra (Lexi) and Walker, her fiancé.With their wedding on hold, work coming first and Lexi planning to finally get the promotion she's been waiting for, things aren't running too smoothly. Barely spending enough time together, Lexi feels their relationship is on rocky ground and cannot believe her eyes when she opens her front door to find Luke - her first love with the deepest blue eyes who moved away to France when they were only 17 - standing on her doorstep.

From there on, things begin to get worse for poor old Lexi. Her dream promotion is snatched away from her only to be given to someone else, after working with the company for six long years. She quits her job by punching one of her slimy, leering colleagues in the face and leaves. Soon after that, she comes face to face with how much an ass-hole her fiancé really is, and swiftly escapes from him too. With no where to go and no job, Lexi turns to her best-friend Rosie and stays at her place. When Rosie suggests that Lexi should join her on a ten-day trip to San Francisco for work purposes, Lexi throws caution to the wind and thinks, "What the hell?". The girls jet off to San Francisco and the story truly unfolds.

Whilst in San Francisco, Lexi comes to terms with all that has happened in such a short amount of time. She visits the famous landmarks, eats in diners and meets the gorgeous Ryan - brother of Rosie's photographer friend. As the world continues to spin and the days pass by, Lexi starts to forget what it is she actually ran from and feels her life beginning to make sense once again. With her best-friend by her side, Lexi embarks on an adventure into the big wide world on her own, and beautifully, she really begins to live.

When reading a book, I love it when I can perfectly picture the scenes and settings in my head. The Story of Us is mainly based in San Francisco and Ellen transports you to the world that Lexi and Rosie are about to explore. Including the famous landmarks like The Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz, the city is spread out before you and it's so exciting to read as Lexi takes in her new surroundings. Not only does Ellen vividly place her own image of San Francisco in your mind, she paints everything so clearly - this includes her characters homes, the cafes/diners and her characters themselves - it's hard not to fall completely head over heels in love with this story.

Lexi is a fantastic character and reminded me of myself on so many occasions. Her first person POV and dialogue is hilarious and given her circumstances, she still manages to draw a load of laughter from you. I loved her from the moment she was introduced and right the way through until the very end. I have to admit, when I saw the words The End staring at me from my Kindle, I died a tiny bit inside. I became so engrossed in Lexi's fictional problems it was kinda like I was right there with her. I cheered her on, felt sad for her and even wanted to bear-hug her when things began to look up. Her life is what makes this story. From the moment she punched her work colleague in the face, I was sold. She finds herself in so many stupid situations and I just had to sit back and laugh. The things she says, her sarcastic comments, everything about her is just awesome. I also admire a girl who slobs about, watches Bridget Jones and stuffs her face with junk food. This also reminds me of myself. She's a down-to-earth, completely genuine woman and I just adored her. From the way she handles herself to the invisible vulnerability that she hides. She cries over romantic movies and loves her kitty, Mr Beefy. Ellen sets up her main characters life to be one of a constant roller-coaster ride and I loved it!

As well as Lexi, you also get to meet her best-friend, Rosie. As youngsters, there were four of them in their tight-knit friendship group; Lexi, Rosie, Luke and Jason. They spent every day practically joined at the hip. This image is still true! As the story progresses, their friendship strengthens as Rosie helps Lexi through her toughest times. The girly banter that Ellen creates between these two is absolutely hilarious and you just know they're going to be friends forever. Rosie came across in my mind as a live-wire with a banging sense of humour and a loyalty to her girl that no man could ever match. Rosie knows everything about Lexi and vice versa, and it's endearing to watch as they take the leap to San Francisco, side by side. I really loved how close Ellen made the two women and I admit, I'd love a best friend like Rosie in my life! Rosie is also kinda' like Lexi's advice guru who has to talk sense into her from time to time and I just loved how the story constantly seemed upbeat and action-packed when Rosie was involved.

Ellen creates her male characters superbly. I have to say, I really, really took a dislike to Lexi's fiancé, Walker. Urgh, seriously, what a total a**hole. I couldn't of hated him any more if I tried. A cocky demeanour is usually something that I love in a fictional man, but Walker's was just a complete turn-off. His arrogance, his attitude towards Lexi and his loyalty towards his stuck-up mother pissed me right off. That's another thing. His mum. OH-MYGOD. I know she's fictional and it's not a real story etc but I could have happily slapped that woman upside the head in Lexi's defence. Some of the things she says to Lexi had me seething and I just couldn't understand how Walker could stand there and watch. Walker was just an absolute jerk. I hated him, and I'm glad Lexi felt the same way in the end. Ellen created him perfectly to fit his part. If her goal was to make me want to straight up punch him, then goal achieved.

Luke didn't really have any effect of me. The friendship between them was cute but I was all for Ryan. Lexi tells us that Luke was her first love and that she felt like the world was coming to an end when he hopped on the plane at 17 and left her. Frankly, best thing to happen to her because it means Ryan had some room to snuggle into the picture. I loved this guy. So, so much.Ryan is first described as looking uncomfortable and bored, with brown floppy hair. Ellen had me at brown floppy hair. The minute she introduced him I knew there'd be a spark between him and Lexi. I ADORED watching Lexi losing herself in the city and finding out what she really wanted.

The whole story was an absolute pleasure to read and I would gladly read this again and again. It's an escape into another world, and Lexi's world was perfect for me. From the settings to the characters, to the hilarious situations that Lexi finds herself in, I could not put this down. I even stayed up until 3 am to finish a chapter because I was that lost too it. It was relaxed, funny, highly entertaining and I'd recommend this to all of my girly friends because it is just the perfect chick-lit/romance read. It will have you laughing, sighing and then laughing all over again. Not only was it an adventure for Lexi, it was an adventure for me too. I felt like I was sightseeing in San Francisco right behind her, camera at the ready. I swear, Ellen has given me such a treat by letting me read her first novel, and I want to be first up on the list to read any more that she creates. This girls gonna be famous one day, and if she doesn't turn out to be famous, then she can come and live with me and knock out her fantastic stories for me on a daily basis. I'll provide the tea of course ;)

Ellen, thank you so, so much for the opportunity to read The Story of Us.
What an absolute DELIGHT.

Add The Story of Us on Goodreads

Accepted Fate #1 by Charisse Reid - BRAND NEW TEASER!

After meeting Charisse through the wonderful Victoria Ashley, I am now super lost to her upcoming release, Accepted Fate. After reading the blurbs and teasers that are available, it's fair to say I NEED THIS IN MY LIFE. Amazingly, Charisse has asked me to be part of sharing the news of the upcoming release, so today I'll be sharing a brand new teaser from Accepted Fate! Here it is guys! Eye candy right? ;)

The blurb 

What do you do when everything you had planned out for yourself gets changed in one Summer? Do you embrace the new or fight to keep things the same? 

For seventeen year old Kinzleigh everything was going just as she always planned. She had great friends, went to a school she loved, and always knew she was destined for greatness. One step already completed towards acquiring the job she has forever dreamed of, a pro football cheerleader. Nothing and no one was going to stand in her way, especially not love. What she doesn't expect is for her parents to suddenly change everything and send her spiralling into a life she didn't want for herself, especially after meeting one blue eyed boy she can't stop dreaming about. Her life is changing at every turn. She is learning that sometimes life has different plans than our own. When she finally accepts the hand fate has dealt, everything is ripped from her once again. 

Can she accept the ugly fate that was chose for her or will she fight to once again accept it. 

- - -

This is Charisse Reid's first novel and I CANNOT WAIT to see what she has in store for us. I always love meeting first time authors, the road ahead of them is so exciting and I just know great things will be coming Charisse's way after the release of Accepted Fate. 

This Regret by Victoria Ashley - BRAND NEW TEASER!

In case you didn't already know, my mind got blown not that long ago when I read Victoria Ashley's, Wake Up Call. I absolutely LOVED it! It was a powerful story that left me grinning from ear to ear. Now, it's not too long until Victoria Ashley's second novel is expected to be released, hopefully March 2014. I'm delighted to share with you all a brand spanking new teaser from the author herself for This Regret.

The blurb

Phoenix has been stumbling through life since her brother Adric's tragic death but after eight years, she is finally piecing what remains together. She has a nice apartment, a steady job and not to mention a fresh new 'relationship' with her childhood friend, Kade Haze. He's the sexy boy next door that she never even dreamed of falling for, but can't seem to stop the pull she feels toward him. 

Just when life began to make sense again and a feeling of normalcy was on the horizon, Phoenix's carefully constructed walls come crashing down. 

When walking into the tattoo shop one day, the last thing that she's expecting to see is Kellan Haze, Adric's best friend that no one has seen or heard from since the day that they found her brother's body. He's nothing as she remembers him as a child, with his wild messy hair, tattoos that cover most of his undeniably sexy body and eyes so intense that it makes her legs quiver with just one look. The one thing that even she can't deny is the instant rush that she feels just by being in his presence. 

But how can you choose between love and lust when one of these hold a dark secret, one that can crush your world to pieces and leave you gasping for air. Who can you trust when your mind is pulling you in two different directions and your heart has to choose for you? 

The Haze brothers are sexy, daring and possibly... dangerous. 

This Regret is a story of love, lust, betrayal and danger with an ending that no one saw coming. 

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You'll love Victoria's characters, you'll love the raw emotions that emanate from her writing and you'll love the hotness of her males, I promise. 

The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul by Deborah Rodriguez

One little cafe. 
Five extraordinary women. 

The blurb

In a little coffee shop in one of the most dangerous places on earth, five very different women come together. 

Sunny, the proud proprietor, who needs an ingenious plan - and fast - to keep her cafe and her customers safe. 

Yasmina, a young pregnant woman stolen from her remote village and now abandoned on Kabul's violent streets. 

Isabel, a determined journalist with a secret that might keep her from the biggest story of her life. 

Candace, a wealthy American who has finally left her husband for her Afghan lover, the enigmatic Wakil. 

And Halajan, the sixty-year-old den mother, whose long-hidden love affair breaks all the rules. 

As these five women discover there's more to one another than meets the eye, they form a unique bond that will for ever change their lives and the lives of many others. 

Becca's thoughts

I'll be honest with you, it got to a point with this book where I was going to mark my place in the story and pick it back up another day. It didn't keep me hooked the way I love a story to do so, there was no pull for me to keep on reading and I could easily put this down and not pick it up again for a while. 

I purchased this book from my local Waterstones store because I'd heard so many great things about it, and besides it not having any pulling power with me, I must admit, the settings in this story are absolutely beautiful. 

Set in Kabul, Afghanistan, we get to meet five women from completely different walks of life. Sunny is the owner of The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul. I adored Sunny. She was straight-talking, down to earth and so easy to love. Throughout the story, we're beside Sunny as she experiences her love for a man grow and blossom into something beautiful. Yasmina is the beautiful young woman who is taken from her Uncle's home as payment for a debt that he is unable to pay. Fortunately for Yasmina, she somehow manages to find Sunny and is taken to The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul, where she begins to work and live. Yasmina has a secret, and this secret cannot be hidden for much longer. With every passing day, you start to feel the panic rising, as does Yasmina, as she begins to realise that every secret becomes uncovered at some point, no matter how hard you attempt to hide it. Yasmina is a gorgeous young woman is unwillingly sent away from her family home, and my heart genuinely broke for her. She's full of emotion and I really enjoyed revelling in knowing her secret when other characters did not. Isabel is a journalist who comes to Kabul to gather information and stories regarding the treatment of women in the crumbling, increasingly dangerous area. Isabel comes to know the rest of the women of the coffee shop, and between them a wonderful, heart warming friendship grows. Candace is a beautiful, striking American woman who has finally left her husband and met Wakil. Wakil isn't everything that Candace believes him to be though. She's rather like a movie star, very glamorous, and kind of spoilt in her own way. But she's adorable, and I found it hard not to like her. My favourite character of all though, and the wisest, was Halajan. Halajan is known in the story as the den mother. She is full of wisdom and motherly advice and tends to take care of everyone who becomes a regular visitor to the coffee house. Just like the other women, Halajan has a few secrets of her own too. I LOVED this woman - she made me laugh so much, and she's just so full of surprises. Not at all like what you'd expect of her. 

As the characters come together in the story, you can't help but feel surrounded by a feeling of warmth and sincerity. The women bond and become close friends, and the story kind of unfolds around their friendship. They stick together through thick and thin, and keep each other safe. It's very endearing to read about. 

As I mentioned earlier, there is so much focus on the settings in this story, I could genuinely imagine the images that the author was describing perfectly in my mind. As the story really starts to get going, you realise that Kabul is actually in the middle of a war scene. Bombs going off almost every day, buildings being blow apart, ambulances zooming through the streets with the sirens blaring. It comes across as a complete scene of devastation. What was amazing was the contrast between the atmosphere in the coffee house to the scene outside of the coffee house walls. Outside is dangerous, thieves and rapists and drug lords lurking in the dark corners. Whereas in the coffee house, everything is lovely and warm and glowing. It's just so interesting to read about the differences. You come to realise that the coffee house actually provides a safe place for not only it's few occupants, but for the regular visitors too. It provides a friendly atmosphere compared to the crazy world outside. It is just superb. 

Although I found it hard to keep picking it up, once the story really got going I began enjoying it again, which I'm thankful for. Although I won't be rating The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul with the highest mark, I will say it's story rich in culture and vibrancy, bringing Kabul to life right there on the pages. There's plenty of focus directed onto the foods and the drinks, also the smells and the sights. It was a delight to my sense, if you know what I mean. 

I'd recommend this book to anybody who loves a story about females sticking together, friendship and love. There's lots of secrets, lots of "breaking the rules" and lots of smiles. It was generally a pleasant read. 

I'll be giving The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul a rating of 7/10 stars!
Although it was an enjoyable read, it's probably not one that I would read again. The settings were amazing though, and if you're a person who likes to read more about the settings and the imagery then this would be PERFECT for you. 

Wake Up Call by Victoria Ashley

"Starting fresh and working on being happy was the only thing left to do."

The blurb

My heart stopped and suddenly it was hard to breathe. His voice always had that effect on me. It was like poison slowly running through my veins, killing me bit by bit. Like a drug that I couldn't get enough of, even though I was almost down to my last breath. Jace took a step forward and grabbed my hand. He slowly trailed his fingers over my face and backed me into the wall. My heart stopped again, if that was even possible. "You can't leave," he whispered. "I need you." His warm breath kissed my lips as he bit his bottom lip and placed both of his hands around my face. They were warm and soft to the touch. Too big for my fragile face; although, I wanted to bury myself in them. "Breathe. There is no one here but the two of us. Breathe," he whispered. 

Avery Hale had spent her whole childhood abused by her drunken, drugged up parents. Broken from a lifetime of hatred and pain, she grew up realising that trust and love just didn't exist. Not in her world at least. After turning the age of eighteen, she packed up and moved far away, determined to escape her painful past and start a new life for herself. Once on her own, she comes to the conclusion that the emptiness still exists. In order to survive, she found herself mixed up in exotic dancing and meaningless sexual relationships, numb to any emotion, for anyone. She was sure that her life was worthless and there was nothing left for her, this was the best it would get.

After meeting a beautiful stranger, her life suddenly is turned upside down. Everything she believed suddenly gets questioned. She is left to figure out if there is really more to her than she could ever have imagined. 

Jace, having some secrets of his own, puts the pain of his own past behind to do what he can to help Avery. Can the love of another broken person be enough to help Avery, or is she already too far gone? 

Avery's life is pulled in many directions as she tries to find herself, and not everyone and thing is what they seem to be in this story of love, trust and opening up. Finding herself and learning to love herself might just be the hardest thing she's ever had to do. 

Becca's thoughts

Wake Up Call is the perfect title for this story. I was completely lost to the characters as their lives twisted and turned and I couldn't put it down. I really enjoyed watching Avery grow from a wilting flower, to a beautiful blossoming rose. Wake Up Call truly is about finding yourself and letting your heart be open to love. It was brilliant. 

I read Wake Up Call on my Kindle and it was purchased from Amazon UK! Not going to lie, the cover was a major selling point for me. Come on ladies, just look at that body. The description of the story was my second major selling point. I was intrigued as it's a lot longer than the usual "blurb", but it hooked me right away and I couldn't wait to begin it. This is Victoria Ashley's first novel and I'm very happy to share that this was one story I'm glad that I didn't overlook. Her second novel This Regret is due out in March, 2014 and I'm very excited to see who she'll be introducing to us next. 

 What shocked me most about Wake Up Call was the gritty, authentic feel to the writing. We're introduced to Avery waking up in her grimy apartment and rushing off to Taste of Poison, the club where she works as an exotic dancer. She hates it. Really, really hates it, but she's barely making enough money to stay off the streets as it is therefore, she feels she has no choice. Victoria Ashley drops you into this filthy atmosphere by putting the dirty images into your mind whilst reading.

The neon sign flashed above me. 'Exotic Dancers' it read in flamboyant pink text. It made my stomach churn and my eyes water.

"Come here", he slurred. "Damn you look so good."
His straggly, blonde hair fell over his hairy face as he rubbed a hand over his keg of a stomach. I took off in a sprint, but to my surprise, he was faster than I expected. He grabbed my arm and yanked me to a halt. I took a deep breath and closed my eyes, silently praying that I would be okay. 

I felt absolutely horrified for Avery. This happens not long after being introduced to her character for the first time, and at this point, I was genuinely panicking. I felt incredibly involved with the story and I honestly didn't want anything bad to happen to her. There's a constant theme of struggle and hurt, and I just couldn't cope with the dreariness and sadness that was constantly lurking within the atmosphere. 

There's a reason for all the gloominess though. Wake Up Call actually begins with a flashback of Avery's childhood. It's not pleasant. In fact, it's downright awful and I can only imagine how terrifying for someone it would be for someone so young to experience. At the beginning of certain chapters, a flashback is revealed to the reader and you're allowed a small peek into Avery's history. Once you're given a glimpse of her childhood , you begin to understand why she is the way she is. She doesn't trust, doesn't love. In fact, she believes that she is emotionless, that she's just hollow inside. Growing up with parents that showed her no love and no affection resulted in Avery having no idea of what it feels like, looks like or even how to feel it for another. It's so, so sad to read, because Avery is such a vulnerable young woman and I was desperately hoping for something good to enter her dismal life and set off the spark inside of her. Although she appeared to me as being quite vulnerable, she also gives off an 'independent woman' kinda' vibe. She really doesn't enjoy accepting help or sympathy from another, which just tugged at my emotions even more! I honestly wished I could slip into the pages, wrap an arm around her shoulder and make everything better.

Jace is probably one of the most caring, genuine males that I've met in terms of fictional characters. He's incredibly kind, completely unselfish and protects the people he loves with an unyielding force. He's also got a mint body, including the flexing muscles and the dark, smouldering look that usually turns a woman's insides to jelly. I adored him, completely and utterly. Jace first sets eyes on Avery whilst she's working in Taste of Poison, and there's an instant connection. From her position on stage, Avery sets eyes on him and he gazes right back at her. My stomach flipped at this.

I opened my eyes momentarily and caught the attention of a man standing by the bar, beer bottle in hand. A blot of electricity surged through my body as he stared at me with curious eyes. He was gorgeous. He lifted his tattooed arm, tilting back his head as he took a long sip of his beer. He had those bad boy good looks with his jet-black hair, leather boots and V-neck t-shirt.

 The intensity of their shared look sent shivers straight through me, and I knew, I just knew, that they'd be seeing each other again. Jace owns his own diner, The Indy Go, and eventually he gives Avery a job there to help her out. I'm not going to give any more of the story away because I really do not want to ruin it for any potential readers, but let me just say, Jace is the most kind-hearted fictional character I've come across, and if Avery didn't want him, I'd happily take him off of her hands. Not a problem.

The story itself is, like I said at the beginning of my review, gritty, real and I could even go as far as saying disturbing. It really, really puts things in perspective for you. I mean, I know it's fictional and everything's made up but damn, it hits hard. My emotions were a tangled mess and I found myself on the brink of tears during many chapters. It's incredibly raw and it doesn't just "hit" a nerve, it completely fucking destroys it. There's sad parts, there's happy parts, there's scary parts; basically, it's freaking fantastic. One minute you're smiling, the next you're biting your lip in anticipation and it drove me absolutely insane. But isn't that what a good story is intended to do? Yes, I thought so too. I'm genuinely so happy that I didn't one-click something else, because I feel this is worthy of a book-hangover. The characters are amazing. The story throws a bag over your head, kidnaps you and leaves you standing in the dirty street with Avery. Everything is absorbing and I couldn't take my eyes away from it for more than a few minutes. 

I'm definitely giving Victoria Ashley a shimmering rating of 9/10 for Wake Up Call. Truly exceptional story. You'll become so involved in the characters, you won't be able to define what's fictional and what's real any more. I absolutely LOVED it! Well done Victoria, what a rideeeee! 

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Open House by Jill Mansell

'Something terrible happened this morning,' he read. 'Had one of those dreams, a really strong one, that I'm going to end up marrying Marcus Kilberton. Yuk, definitely don't want this one to come true.'

The blurb

Nell O'Driscoll's known Marcus Kilberton for years - according to her diary, she even had a crush on him as a teenager. When he decides to open Kilburton Castle to the public, Nell takes a job as his assistant - and soon sparks are flying between them. But is Nell free to pursue Marcus, when part of her past refuses to let go?

The world fell apart for Nell's best friend, Hetty Brewster, when her husband Tony abandoned Hetty and their teenage daughter for a bitchy but successful writer. Now the press is full of stories about the frumpy, boring wife losing out to a younger, slimmer model. But Hetty's about to get her chance for sweet revenge - if she can stop being nice long enough to take it! 

Becca's thoughts

As usual, I finished reading Open House with a feeling of fluttery happiness, which tends to happen every time I finish one of Jill's lovely books. I received Open House from a family member as one of my Christmas presents. I asked for this one as I've read nearly all of her more recent novels, so I'm now slowly making my way through her older ones too. I adore Jill Mansell and her style of writing, every chapter is full of delight and upbeat characters, and they're always so easy to relate to. The dialogue is entertaining and down to earth giving the reader an incredibly enjoyable read. I've heard a lot of people say that they think Jill's books are more like holiday reads. For me personally, I can happily read one of her books any time of the year, whether I'm at home or on holiday. Either way, I always feel fulfilled when I turn the last page and close the book. 

The one thing I absolutely adore about her stories are the many wonderful, colourful characters that she creates. Using dual point of view, Jill allows us to see her story from many different aspects and it makes it so much more interesting! What's fantastic, and what also makes me enjoy these books so much, is how Jill manages to bring all of her characters together at some point in the book. They cross into each other's fictional lives now and again, and one character always knows another character somehow. 

In Open House, we're introduced to Nell and Marcus. These are the two main characters, and the story begins when they're both just young teenagers. It's charming to get an image of them being so young and then getting to meet them again when they're both grown adults. It's such a wonderful contrast and very heart-warming. The relationship between Nell and Marcus when they're young isn't a very pleasant one. Nell's background is rather different to Marcus. Coming from a large family and associated with the "lower-class-", Nell isn't looked upon by Marcus as being worthy of his attention. Marcus, on the other hand, lives in a castle with his wealthy and "upper-class" family. It's fair to say that the dialogue between Nell and Marcus as young kids was entertaining, and I couldn't help but laugh out loud at some of the remarks that they threw at each other. Let's just say, it's a love-hate relationship. After a rather disastrous meeting which takes place in the pouring down rain, things get a little heated between them and Nell ends up launching a rock at Marcus' car. Once they go their separate ways, you just know that they're going to meet again at a later time in their lives. 

As the story progresses, lots of different characters are introduced to you. From the lovely Hetty Brewster to the spoilt brat Jemima, to the glamorous Kiki, to the heart throb Derry. There's just so much life happening in the pages of this book, it's hard not to fall in love with each character. It's almost as if Jill ignites her characters with magic and they come to life right before your eyes. 

Another aspect of this story that I loved was Kilburton Castle; where Marcus resides and where Nell gets a job as his personal assistant. The castle is absolutely beautiful and it's description really allows you to get a perfect image in your mind of what it would look like. I think Kilburton Castle added a homely little feel to the story.

I think Open House deserves a fabulous rating of 9/10 from me!
I wouldn't say it was my favourite, but I really, really enjoyed it and I'd definitely re-read it at some point. The characters, the settings, the story. It's all beautifully put together, but then again I wouldn't expect anything less from the wonderful writer that is Jill Mansell. A very enjoyable story! I'd recommend this to anyone who likes a lively novel, full of interesting characters! There's also a whole load of humour in here too, and it had me giggling an awful lot. I LOVED IT! 

Buying links

Motorcycle Man by Kristen Ashley

"You don't know this, baby, but some men have dream women too."

The blurb

Tyra Masters has had enough drama to last a lifetime. Now, she's back on
track and looking forward to her new, quiet life. Until she meets the man 
of her dreams. The tattooed, muscled biker plies her with tequila- and the 
best sex of her life. She knows it isn't the tequila and hot sex talking. He's
the kind of man she's always wanted. Unfortunately, he's also her new boss...

 Kane "Tack" Allen has a rule. He doesn't employ someone he's slept with. 
So when he learns he spent last night in bed with his new office manager, 
he quickly fires Tyra. Yet when Tyra stands up to him and fights for her 
job, Tack is intrigued. He tells her she can keep her job on one condition:
no more sex. But as things heat up between them, Tacks finds that
he'll be the one breaking all the rules...

Becca's thoughts

Just one word. WOW. 
This is the second novel by Kristen Ashley that I've had the pleasure of reading and I hope these words that I am about to write let you know, really and truly, how much I adored it. 

Firstly, as always, I'm going to comment on the cover. Unfortunately, I read Motorcycle Man in the eBook format so I didn't get the pleasure of admiring a real-life copy. But if I had done... DAYUMM. Leaving that guy on the cover allowed me a perfect image of the main male character Tack, and that was quite alright with me. With that small smirk on Tack's lips, I think you know what kind of man you're about to meet. I was not disappointed. 

The best thing about Kristen Ashley's novels is her characters. They are sublime. Her male characters? They're like a girl's dream come true, and even though I have only met Tack (Motorcycle Man) and Deck (Kaleidoscope) I can tell you that you want to meet these men. Both are insatiable, insanely hot, bossy but loving men. Throw a Harley Davidson in the mix, with skinny tees, tight jeans and biker boots? Your girls gone to heaven and back. Oh! And let's not forget the tattoos and hard muscle. 

Let me tell you about Tack. Tack is a hard-ass. He's also involved with Chaos; a mean, bad-ass biker club. He is also owner of Ride; car and bike fix-up business. He doesn't take any shit from anybody and once he wants something, he will get it. No doubts. No questions asked. Intense doesn't even begin to cover this guy. When he's speaking, fucking, arguing, he's insane. He swears, but at the same time calls his girl baby, which makes me melt a little inside. He also has two children, Tabby and Rush, and a crazy, lost-her-mind ex-girlfriend. Tack is the ultimate bad boy and I want him for myself. I'm referring to Tack as a boy, but he's actually a man in his forties, but god he's hot. Let's just put it this way. You couldn't/wouldn't say "no" to anything Tack suggested. 

The main female character is Tyra and I adored that woman. When the story begins, Tyra is in a club and she has her eyes on Tack. Great thing is, Tack has his eyes on her too. From there, a heated bedroom session ensues, followed by Tyra telling the reader that she thinks she has found her dream man, which ends in Tack kicking her out of his bed. Asshole. But a hot one, so I can let him off the hook. After feeling like an absolute fool, which is completely understandable due to her not being the "hop into bed and leave" type of girl, Tyra turns up to start her new job the morning after. And guess who her new boss is? That's right ladies and gentleman, Mr Tack Allen himself. From there on, a heated, sizzling atmosphere springs lodges itself between them and it's this that probably makes the story even more entertaining. The thing I loved about Tyra is, she has a backbone. There are so many females in fictional romance stories today that just give in, but when Tyra sees Tack on that morning, she braces herself. Tack actually tells her to leave, that he can't work with someone that he's slept with. This pisses Tyra off and she refuses. 

"Now, you listen to me, scary biker dude," I snapped. "I
need this job. I haven't worked in two months and I need this job. I can't wait
two more months or longer to find another job. I need to work now."

His blue eyes burned into mine in a way that felt physical but I kept right on talking. 

"So you're going good-looking, have great tats and a cool goatee. So you 
caught my eye and I caught yours. We had sex. Lots of sex. It
was good. So what? That was then, this is now. We're not 
going to play, not again. We're done playing. I'm going to come in at eight,
leave at five, do my job, and you're going to be my scary biker dude boss, 
sign my paychecks, do my performance evaluation and maybe, if you're nice, I'll
make you coffee. Other than that, you don't exist for me and I don't exist for you. What we had, we had. It's over. I'm moving on and how I'm moving on is, I'm... working... this... job."

I loved her after her speech about working at Ride, and I loved her the rest of the way through the story. Again, like Tack, she's another character that doesn't take any shit from anybody. They are the perfect match and I loved watching the feelings intensify between them. 

I have to say, the sex scenes between Tack and Tyra are smoking. So if you enjoy a passionate love scene, there are plenty for you to read in Motorcycle Man. Tack is a superb lover as you'll find out when you read it. Honestly ladies, you need to read the Motorcycle Man. Tack is one man you won't be forgetting for a while. 

I'm giving Motorcycle Man a well-deserved rating of 10/10.
I absolutely LOVED it. Tack is another book boyfriend to add to your list. Like, right now. 

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