Category Archives: Best of 2018

Professor Hot Pants by Ember-Raine Winters Review.

newarcbannerblurbprofessorhotpantsRyan

My mom always told me that I was better than random hookups but she was a drug addict, what did she know. Sex fulfilled a need in me. I’m not your average college student, but like many students I have one professor I fantasize about. Professor Marks is a great big no-no in the hookup department, so why can’t I stay away?

Philip

I’m a professor of psychology at the University. Being in my position, it was necessary to keep him at a distance. But, he’s slowly becoming an obsession of mine, the sexual tension between us is stifling. Now, we are expected to work together when all I want to do is bend his ass over the table. How will I be able to keep my hands to myself?

Can an unexpected ally bring these two people together and teach them the meaning of family?

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authoremberraineEmber-Raine Winters lives in sunny California with her two beautiful kids and a wolf. Also known as Apache her pure white Siberian Husky. She loves writing romance and reading just about anything she can get her hands on. And, football! She loves watching football and going to games. It’s one of her favorite ways to unwind. She dislikes the super-hot temperatures in her city and exercise. She hates to exercise but somehow her sister still gets her to do it every day. She also thinks it’s completely awkward talking about herself in third person. Ember loves connecting with readers so don’t be afraid to stalk her and drop her a line on social media.

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I’m going to say this a lot in the next couple reviews I do, but I’ve been on a kick and it started with Professor Hot Pants. I don’t know if it’s because I’m a straight white 25 year old girl, who fell in love with 18 and gets to marry her best friend (hopefully soon but wedding planning sucks), but when I read romances I tend to read about couples (well, the female anyway- I’ve definitely read about those age gaps and loved it) who are in their twenties, and are straight and monogamous. I don’t know why, either. I had my obsession with manga (thank you, Ashley) which led to the yaoi genre (heeeey manga nerd over here- yaoi is M/M relationships) and an obsession with many mangas. One specifically I now want to re-read because one of the guys was such an alpha but they were both cute (Ash, I need names). Professor Hot Pants really made me remember my love for the genre.

Not only was this book taboo, hello teacher/student relationship, but it was about a gay couple. Both of whom had their issues, but god does Ryan have his issues. Now, to me, I really don’t care. I gravitate towards novels I feel like I’ll connect with on some level, and it’s easier for me to connect (or so I tell myself, and then a novel comes along that reminds me that’s not true) with straight cis characters (thanks tumblr!), but since I’m not gay, and I have worked hard over the years to not judge people, and I grew up in an accepting household and in a world with MySpace and Tumblr, it makes it easy for me to forget the challenges being “not normal” can face. So they were gay and breaking the rules, that’s enough for a novel, right?

WRONG. It was so much more than that. It touched on the topics of child molestation, of loving someone you know you shouldn’t, of drug addiction, of loving yourself so you can accept love, and opening yourself up to the possibilities. Ryan and Phillip had to make extremely difficult choices, ones no one should ever have to face, but they had to because of bigotry that we, as straight people, don’t have to deal with. Are these struggles things I’ve dealt with? No. Are they struggles others have had to deal with? Abo-freaking-loutely. But because they were gay, it made it that much harder for them.

AND LORD HAVE MERCY, do their trials and tribulations make you fall more and more in love with them. Phillip and Ryan are so absolutely amazing, I adored every ounce of them. One of the things I remembered I loved about M/M romances, manga or otherwise, was that you’re reminded that just because they’re gay, doesn’t mean their special just because of their orientation. They had messed up situations, definitely, but their strength was what made them special. The love they found in themselves and with each other made them special. Their sexual orientation didn’t define them, it was just a part of who they were. Just like mine is. Just like yours is. It doesn’t make you who you are, but it does help shape you and shape your decisions for life.

Have you figured out I’m obsessed yet? Ember made me remember why I love gay romance so much, and made me go on a kick of devouring more of them. Her characters were well rounded and continued to grow the more I read, the more I devoured. I read her book so fast, I found myself flipping the last page saying “I NEED MORE”. So Ember- I NEED MORE. Extended epilogues? Another book? Anything? Please? On that note- I’m shutting up but I will say GO GET THIS BOOK. Please! Not a fan of M/M? From the bottom of my heart, and the depths of my soul: Give this a chance. You won’t regret it.

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**All images are from freeimages.com and pexels.com and all fonts are from CreativeMarket.com. For more info on the fonts and images used, please email caitscreatures@gmail.com**

Give Me A Reason by Jennifer Miller Review

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blurb55d02-givemeareason_ecover252812529I always knew this day would come – that it would be my turn.
Images of my mother fighting the same disease are forever branded on my heart and soul. Regret and pain her unintentional parting gifts.
That will not be me.
I won’t allow it.
Instead, I will live my life to the fullest for the time I have left.
I accept my fate.
That’s my choice; my right.

Oliver Gentry, my childhood best friend, has other ideas. He wants to give me a reason to stay.

He wants to be the reason I fight.

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authorjennifermillerA bestselling and award winning author, Jennifer Miller was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, but now calls Arizona home. Jennifer’s love of reading began when she was a small child, and only continued to grow as she entered adulthood. Ever since winning a writing contest at the young age of nine, when she wrote a book about a girl with a pet unicorn, she’s dreamed of writing a book of her own. Quickly learning that dreams don’t just fall into your lap, she knew she had to chase them herself and not be afraid to dream a little bigger. Most importantly, she is a wife and mother, and is very lucky to have a family that loves and supports her in all things. She also has an unhealthy addiction to handbags and chocolate covered strawberries, neither of which she cares to change. For more information about Jennifer and her books please visit her website.

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I tend to say this a lot with books that I love, the ones that break my heart, but I try to be honest when I write a review. That means being 100% honest with how hard it is to write a review, or how much I laughed or cried, or whatever I was feeling (or not) with a book. It means that reading a  rom-com, a dark romance, a novella, a full-length, or a heart wrencher can potentially make me pause and sit at the computer, staring at the screen, waiting for words to come to me. Give Me A Reason did that to me. Even as I am typing now, I’m trying to figure out what to say and how to convey what I want, without giving away the plot.

As much as I’d like to spoil it and gush, I will refrain. (Sometimes I have impulse control! — I actually had to go and look at the other reviews written to make sure I didn’t spoil anything!)

Give Me A Reason will break you into tiny pieces, and just when you think you’ve been stitched back together, it will break you again. This masterpiece touches on themes of death and life, change and staying the same, ignorance is bliss and researching the hell out of something. It deals with topics that are hard to read, let alone write, and I don’t know how Jennifer did that. She literally blew my mind, and if I was allowed to eat ice cream again, I’d be shoveling pint-fulls into my mouth with a shovel.

My heart continues to break for Remy, and for Oliver. The love they shared was ignored for years, as they tried to not mess life up, not rock the boat, and keep each other in their lives in any capacity. But when Remy’s life is threatened, Oliver decides not to waste another minute of their lives. Instead, they try to embrace life for as long as they can. But Remy has a big choice to make and that choice can take her away from Oliver sooner than possible.

Aaaaaand now I’m crying again.

That choice between life and death is one many struggle with in their lives, in different capacities. Remy’s struggle with how to fight something, how to accept something, is something I’ve openly struggled with. Although Remy and I had different paths, and different decisions to make, but there was a conscious effort made, thought put into our decisions. Maybe that’s why this book hit me so hard. The way Jennifer crafted this story truly made you feel what Remy was feeling, every step of the way, every hurtle she faced the reader faced with her. For me, experiencing Remy’s pain felt ten-fold, since it brought me back to the struggle I had.

This was my first Jennifer Miller book, and if she breaks me like this again it’ll probably be my last. I wish I saved a Rom-Com to read, because I absolutely need something to bring me back up. If I could give this book more than five stars, I would. I’d give it ALL the stars. 10 out of 5, 100 out of 5, I don’t care. She deserves them all.

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**All images are from freeimages.com and pexels.com and all fonts are from CreativeMarket.com. For more info on the fonts and images used, please email caitscreatures@gmail.com**

Unexpected Love Story by Natasha Madison Review

newarcbannerblurbunexpectedlovestoryWhen one man’s death exposes a complex web of lies, three couples discover the true meaning of love, loss and redemption. 

Gabe 
I thought I had it all with the best medical practice in the state and the woman of my dreams.
I wore a smile on my face every single day.
I couldn’t wait to watch her walk down the aisle and start our forever, except she never did.
My runaway bride made me realize love isn’t worth it.

Crystal 
I was the strong one, they said, until two words brought me to my knees.
It was a secret I didn’t share with anyone.
A secret that made me promise I’d never fall in love.
I no longer wanted that white picket fence of every woman’s dreams.

Until the unthinkable happened. 

What happens when your dreams unexpectedly come true?
This is the story of unexpected love.

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When her nose isn’t buried in a book, or her fingers flying across a keyboard writing, she’s in the kitchen creating gourmet meals. You can find her, in four inch heels no less, in the car chauffeuring kids, or possibly with her husband scheduling his business trips. It’s a good thing her characters do what she says, because even her Labrador doesn’t listen to her…

 

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I finished this book in a couple hours, devouring every sentence, every page Natasha gifted the world with, until it was over and I was crying happy tears. The way she weaved this story, not only as a standalone, but also how she connected Perfect Love Story and Unexpected Love Story. Now, I know I’m a big cry baby; I get really emotionally attached to characters and books and movies, and basically everything. So, I prepared for this book. What did Natasha say? “It’s not that bad.” Actually it was in all caps, but you get the picture.

Well, it was that bad. I have four pieces of evidence that I showed her, and I would show you, but I don’t want to give the book away. There were parts I was bawling for, and parts I was laughing hysterically over. Gabe and Crystal’s relationship was the best game of cat and mouse I’ve ever read, and I never wanted it to end, ever. She had two people who swore they would never love again, find love unexpectedly (PUN INTENDED), and embrace it with everything inside of them. They had their own demons to fight, their own battles to face, but it made them individually stronger, and their bond grow.

One thing that Natasha did that I absolutely adored was that she took the thing I hate the most in romance, and made it something beautiful. I hate, hate, hate when a girl or a guy pushes away love because “they refuse to find love” or whatever. They come up with some ridiculous reasons why they don’t want love, and they end up just making me mad or I want to strangle them. Occasionally, I find a character that I just want to strangle, but know their reasoning so I get why they don’t want love and think they can just turn that part of their brain off. Natasha Madison made me fall in love with Crystal, despite her thinking she could get away with a fling with Gabe.

She has her reasons, reasons I won’t give away, because I’m not a spoiler in case you haven’t read Perfect yet, or any other reason. Just know: her reasons are totally valid. She is fun, not annoying. She’s strong, independent, determined to be happy for others. She gave up her dreams, but isn’t living in the dark and hating life. She’s trying to make the best of her life, and all the while, I wanted to hug her close and tell her it’d all be alright.

And Gabe, GABE, who I love, is so freaking sweet, sometimes he’s a grumpapotamus, and he’s sworn off love too. He’s got totally valid reasons for it, but meeting Crystal, getting to know her, changes that. And he weasels his way into her life, into her bed, and into her heart. He’s not afraid to tell Crystal exactly how he feels, and he’s not afraid to make sure she’s not going anywhere. His alpha-machoness made me want to jump into his arms and tell him to forget about Crystal, but also realize that they’re perfect together. I tend to claim a lot of book boyfriends that are twisted and dark, but I am CLAIMING GABE for everyone to see.

Before I write more gushing about the amazing story, it’s best you just go read Perfect Love Story and then read Unexpected when it comes out. See how these two tales come together, giving you a bigger picture of what was going on as a whole, while also giving you an amazing love story. Me? I’m going to be waiting for Broken Love Story to come out, and stalk up on ice cream until I can get my hands on it.

TL;DR: Gabe is mine, and you need this book.

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5star

By the Grace of You by Dominique Laura Review

newarcbannerblurbbythegraceofyouFaith.
Hope.
Love.
Strength.
Everything came from my trust in Him.
Until I felt like I was starting to lose it all.
My faith was fractured.
I needed to find my way back…
Before I lost my trust in Him completely.

 

 

 

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Dominique Laura started off writing under the pen name Rosie C. but grew brave enough to transition to her real name (well, close enough to it). She loves to read and write whenever possible. She’s an advocate for love and happily ever afters, and she’s snarky and sarcastic. She lives in sunny Southern California with her dog, who she’s slightly obsessed with.

 

 

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By the Grace of You is a short novella about losing faith in God and His word. And Lord let me tell you how much this novel broke me and how much it meant to me. If you believe in God, in any God, there may have been a time n your life that you lost your way. Lilli loses her way for a big reason, but as did I, but sometimes it’s something little in your life that can cause you to question your beliefs and your faith.

Sometimes you need someone to help you guide your way back.

Noah is that person to Lilli. Does he make her believe in God again? No. Does he help guide her back? Yes. He helps give Lilli the strength to find her way again, though he’s not the reason. Lilli has Faith already, was brought up in the church, believed in Christ with her whole heart, but lost that belief and questioned everything for a time. Which she had to learn was normal, for anyone, not just for someone who lost someone in the way she did.

Beware: This novella made me cry several times. In the beginning, I was crying big, fat, ugly, sad tears. Towards the end, I was crying again because I was happy. In such a short novella, my emotions were all over the place, empathizing with Lilli, hurting for her. Dominique, in a few words and chapters, evokes emotions you sometimes wish you weren’t feeling because your hurting so much,  but also makes you so happy that you’re smiling from ear to ear.

If you have the chance, if you believe in anything at all, read this novel. Rediscover your own faith.

Dominique: CAN YOU WRITE A ROM-COM SO I CAN STOP CRYING? THANK YOU. (I’m kidding, keep writing ANYTHING, I will always read it.)

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Piece of Work by Staci Hart Review

newarcbannerblurbpieceofworkMarble isn’t the only thing that’s hard at this museum.

His body is as chiseled as Adonis. His lips are as sculpted as David. And his ego is the size of the Guggenheim.

You know the type—wolfish smile and the gravity of a black hole. The kind of man who sucks all the air from the room the second he enters it. My cocky boss thinks this internship was wasted on me, and he doesn’t hesitate to let me know.

But he’s wrong, and I’m going to prove it to him. If I can stay away from his devil lips, that is. Lips that cut me down and kiss me in the same breath, leaving me certain he’s on a mission to ruin my life.

And maybe my heart.

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authorstacihartStaci has been a lot of things up to this point in her life: a graphic designer, an entrepreneur, a seamstress, a clothing and handbag designer, a waitress. Can’t forget that. She’s also been a mom to three little girls who are sure to grow up to break a number of hearts. She’s been a wife, even though she’s certainly not the cleanest, or the best cook. She’s also super, duper fun at a party, especially if she’s been drinking whiskey, and her favorite word starts with f, ends with k.

From roots in Houston, to a seven year stint in Southern California, Staci and her family ended up settling somewhere in between and equally north in Denver, until they grew a wild hair and moved to Holland. It’s the perfect place to overdose on cheese and ride bicycles, especially along the canals, and especially in summertime. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, gaming, or designing graphics.

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Piece of Work was a novel full of laughter, finding your own person, as well as diversity. It was full of love and pain, mixed in with sass and attitude, and finding the way to become the person you want to be while staying true to who you are. It was a novel that had so much in it besides just finding love, that my head is full of both Renaissance work and also life lessons. I highlighted so many quotes in this book, not only the sweet ones filled with love, but also the ones that broke my heart. I highlighted the ones I wanted to remember forever.

In romance, it’s often hard to find books that don’t feature the typical white female and white male. I’ve found I mostly read white girls meeting white boys. Nothing wrong with that, it’s just true. To read this novel, and see a six foot Asian girl, who’s smart as hell, and her roommates that are everything in between, and it was awesome! Rin lives with her three roommates, who are all varying degrees of shy and anti-social, but so incredible in their own ways.

Rin is almost done with her PhD when we meet her, and she got an internship at the Met to complete it. We see her in the beginning as an insecure girl, trying to hide herself in clothes that don’t fit. Throughout the novel we see her bloom into a woman confident in her height and her intelligence, with new clothes and a new attitude about how to handle life. Not for Court Lyons, no for herself which makes gives the confidence in her clothes and her abilities as a future curator, that much more strength.

When we meet Court Lyons, he is closed off to relationships, both for friendships and for love. He is focused on her career, and definitely not looking for a woman to match him in both wits and art history. Throughout the novel, we see him make his own self discoveries, including that he is turning out to be the person he most despises: his father. We watch him find a woman that arouses him physically and mentally. He falls for Rin’s brain before her body, and the confidence she finds to not only stand up for herself, but put herself first. This pushes Court to reevaluate his life, to become the best person he can be.

This is going to go down as one of my favorites for 2018! As my first of Staci’s work, I am in absolute love!

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Between the Raindrops by Sydney Logan Review

newarcbannerblurbcovercomingsoon**Official cover reveal is May 12th**

Seventeen-year-old Scout Ramsey’s life is a mess. With a dead father and a junkie mom, she can’t imagine things can get worse.

Then her mother tries to sell her for a bag of meth.

After her mom’s arrest, Scout’s forced to switch schools in the middle of senior year. Scared and alone, she pours her heart into her journal and dreams of the day she turns eighteen.

For Wyatt Campbell, senior year is predictable purgatory. Then the new girl steals his seat in history class, and suddenly, school’s not so bad. They bond through their love of music, and Wyatt finds himself falling hard for the journal-loving girl with the sad blue eyes.

Wyatt’s heard the rumors. He knows Scout’s had it rough.

He’s determined to be the one thing in her life that’s easy.

In this captivating teen novel, Sydney Logan weaves a touching story that tackles the heartbreak of addiction, the power of forgiveness, and the wonders of first love.

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authorsydneyloganSydney Logan writes heartfelt romances that feature strong women and the men who love them. In addition to her novels, she has penned several short stories and is a contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul. She is a Netflix junkie, music lover, and a Vol for Life. Sydney and her husband make their home in beautiful East Tennessee.

To learn more about Sydney and her books, visit her online,

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I’ve always stayed away from YA. I’ve always found the characters hormonal and annoying. Even when I was in high school, reading the intense emotions, the life or death feelings, for something so small was always annoying. So, I skipped over the majority of young adult romances and fiction. However, I read the blurb for this book and knew I wanted to read it, despite the characters being in high school. I haven’t read Sydney Logan before, so this sure was one hell of an introduction to her writing.

Scout is so amazingly strong. When her world falls apart, and literally too- not just the “I’m going to die, my life is ruined” feeling you have when you’re 17- she does her best to pick herself up off the floor. When her life seems to get worse instead of better, she tries to look for the future instead. She counts down the days until she’s eighteen, instead of focusing on the storm brewing around her.

Wyatt is such a good guy. The teenager in me is totally in love with him. Once he’s of age, that boy is mine. He finds himself curious about Scout, while also wanting to protect her. Since they have almost every class together, it works out well when they’re in school, and when they’re at work (since they work together too). The only time he can’t protect her is when she’s at her uncle’s house, though he does everything he can to try to get her at his house…

And Wyatt’s family, though worried about how obsessive and possessive he is of Scout, open her with arms wide open. They don’t judge her for her mother’s past, or for the situation she found herself in. Wyatt’s parents and sister become her family, and it is so beautiful. You find yourself rooting for Wyatt and Scout as much as you do for Scout and her second family, the one she chose. And when she has to chose between a rock and a hard place, she makes the decision you hate she has to make, but know she has to do it.

But I kept wanting to cry out for Scout. HOW MUCH CAN ONE GIRL GO THROUGH?! God, every time I turned the page I kept hoping for everything to be ok, even though I knew her problems couldn’t magically disappear. Scout, though, I think is much stronger than me. Every time, every single time, she is knocked down in her life, she gets back up and is stronger than before. Any way I could petition for this to be a series? Following these two to college? Or how about an extended epilogue- one where they’re happily married? *Enter crying gif here*

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Cue the ugly cry.

newarcbannerblurbserenityI’d lived a privileged life, in the lap of luxury and surrounded by family. It had felt like I was on top of the world…until tragedy struck.

My sense of loss felt bottomless, and I struggled with it every single day. Finding my path back into the light seemed impossible.

But then I met Faith—she was smart, sexy, and out of my league even though she didn’t have a penny to her name. We grew up in different worlds, but somehow we fit perfectly together.

Except neither of us had counted on learning that our connection was more profound than we knew.

Serenity completes Dillon & Faith’s story, which began in Fortuity.

GoodreadsAmazonFortuity (Amazon)Fortuity (GR)

authorrochellepaige

Rochelle Paige is the Amazon bestselling author of more than twenty books. She absolutely adores reading and her friends growing up used to tease her when she trailed after them, trying to read and walk at the same time. She loves stories with alpha males, sassy heroines, hot sex and happily ever afters. She is a bit of a genre hopper in both her reading and her writing. So far she’s written books in several romance sub-genres including new adult, contemporary, paranormal and romantic suspense.

She is the mother of two wonderful sons who inspired her to chase her dream of being an author. She wants them to learn from her that you can live your dream as long as you are willing to work for it.

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I wanted this book so much. When Fortuity ended, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I wanted to read Serenity IMMEDIATELY. I knew it was going to be epic, and it was. It was so epic I’m seriously struggling on what to write for this review. Rochelle Paige wrote ALL THE WORDS and I don’t know if I have any left to explain how amazing this book was.

Fortuity was told mostly from the point of view of Faith, and if you found yourself wanting more time in Dillon’s head, well you’re sure going to love Serenity. You get a better look at Dillon, and it is epic. I mean, their relationship was fairly easy when they got together and the cliffhanger at the end of Fortuity left me going no no no no no. Of course they were going to have issues. How could they not?

BUT MAN, do those issues snowball. No matter what, though, these two come together. They face the world together. There’s drama, BOY is there drama. Drama that sends Dillon and Faith spiraling for a hot minute. They’re left to question everything they thought they knew, everything they thought they were so sure of.

I loved the second in this duet because often when we’re reading romances, we read them falling in love, and that love is tested, but we don’t see them working through that test. It’s fixed and then BAM epilogue. Reading these two hold onto their love, and reading them actively work on themselves as individuals and a couple, but also read them support each other and their struggles, was amazing and different and stunning and totally run-on-sentence worthy.

Like I said, I knew Serenity was going to be epic, but I didn’t expect this total masterpiece. When I’m ready to bawl my eyes out (again-I’m a crier. I cry for everything) I’m going to do a re-read. They’re totally worth it. I bow to Rochelle Paige and her awesomeness. Totally epic. I’m running out of words to explain how much I loved this book, this duet, and I can’t talk about it too much without adding spoilers, so I’m going to shut my mouth and say you NEED to read this duet.

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