review: Slip of the Tongue by Jessica Hawkins

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Thank you to Jessica Hawkins and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review. I appreciate it!~

Was this book good?

Well, what does it tell you that right after reading it, I bought everything else Jessica Hawkins has ever read and devoured her words like a starving animal? Maybe that last sentence was unnecessarily creepy, but you get the idea.

Just…

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So, this was not at all what I expected. Given the summary, I fully believed I’d be rooting for one particular couple, and the opposite happened. Don’t you love that? I love, love, love when authors surprise me – especially New Adult authors. It’s a genre that often relies on routine plots, and Jessica Hawkins is anything but routine in her writing and imagining.

Slip of the Tongue is about Sadie Hunt. She’s your typical New York girl – living in Manhattan with her husband Nate, working for a PR firm and struggling with the idea of growing up and moving on. Worse, her husband – once loving, sexual and sweet – has turned into a ghost overnight. Cold, mono-syllabic and withdrawn, Nate has taken his love away from Sadie – something she can’t understand and can’t bear. He won’t discuss it with her, leaving her to draw her own conclusions.

Enter a new neighbor, stage left.

Finn Cohen is the opposite of Nate. He wants Sadie. Badly. He seems to be willing to do anything to be with her – and in her current mindset, it’s very, very tough for Sadie to resist.

Does she?

You’ll have to read to find out, but it’s obvious from most of Hawkins’ writing that she is fascinated by cheating, and it’s no different here. I love that she focuses on this particular part of relationships – monogamy, finding the ‘one’, marriage, affairs, etc – because so many authors really shy away from it. On GoodReads, most novels that deal with cheating have terrible reviews. It’s not something many readers can stomach. I’m normally one of them actually. For instance, Thoughtless by S.C. Stephens is super popular and the entire thing infuriated me. Mainly because of the main character.

Sadie was different. I really felt for her. She seemed like a genuinely good person who just can’t help herself / nor figure out what the hell happened to her life. She struggles with her decisions, knowing that what she’s doing is wrong – but in the end, she tries to do the right thing. She tries to give everyone what they want.

Naturally, she can’t. But she still tries, and that means something to me. Her marriage with Nate felt very real to me – as were the reasons behind his sudden change of heart. How the little things DO add up. How it can be the smallest thing, but in a marriage – it can mean disaster.

Regardless of small quibbles (the ending wraps up too quickly for me), I just loved, loved, love this. I’ve read it twice. Go and give Jessica Hawkins the fame she deserves! Go, go, go!

review: Alex (Cold Fury #1) by Sawyer Bennett

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{Source: GoodReads.com}

Official Synopsis
Hockey star Alexander Crossman has a reputation as a cold-hearted player on and off the rink. Pushed into the sport by an alcoholic father, Alex isn’t afraid to give fans the proverbial middle finger, relishing his role as the MVP they love to hate. Management, however, isn’t so amused. Now Alex has a choice: fix his public image through community service or ride the bench. But Alex refuses to be molded into the Carolina Cold Fury poster boy . . . not even by a tempting redhead with killer curves.

As a social worker, Sutton Price is accustomed to difficult people–like Alex, who’s been assigned to help her create a drug-abuse awareness program for at-risk youth as part of the team’s effort to clean up his image. What she doesn’t expect is the arrogant smirk from his perfect lips to stir her most heated fantasies. But Sutton isn’t one to cross professional boundaries–and besides, Alex doesn’t do relationships . . . or does he? The more she sees behind Alex’s bad-boy facade, the more Sutton craves the man she uncovers.”

Review
Oh Good God.

I’ll just be over here, not sure what to say. Sawyer Bennett is shockingly adept at writing New Adult romance and hot-as-fuck heroes to the point where it’s difficult to review, because my only thought after putting this down was can I have him now please?

Alex Crossman. Um, where to begin?

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The guy is sex on skates, lemme tell you. Sure, he’s somewhat of an asshole, but don’t let that stop you from reading. The guy may have been voted “Most Valuable Prick” but that could be taken two ways is all I’m gonna say.

When he meets Sutton Price, a fiery, compassionate and beautiful (natch) drug crisis counselor, Alex is startled to discover he actually has… what are those now… oh right, feelings. He takes this about as well as most commitment phobic jerks do, and goes through the usual crisis where he just doesn’t know how to examine these ghastly emotions without completely breaking down into little man pieces of worry and regret and avoidance.

And I didn’t even hate him for it.

Mostly because their first sex scene is one of the most scorching things I’ve ever read. I won’t pick out the specific moment that surprised even me – a seasoned romance reader. I can’t say anything else without making this X-Rated. Dammit.

Suffice to say, my reaction to Alex in this scene – and every scene?

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What else is there.

Good job, Sawyer Bennett. I am Rachel on Friends, proudly proclaiming to the world:

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review: Down London Road by Samantha Young

downlondonroad {Source: GoodReads.com}

So.

Down London Road is a puzzler. In terms of On Dublin Street (which I gave 4 stars), I liked the heroine much better, I thought the characters were a bit tighter and at least things actually happened to the heroine in this one – compared to Joss whining because she has to fuck a hot, rich guy all the time.

But I gave this one 3 stars, and I need to untangle why here. I’m not even sure myself.

The Good

1. Jo. Weirdly, I liked her a lot. Her one main flaw was her refusal to accept help from friends, while banging rich guys for money/dresses AND THEN getting offended when anyone dared point out it might be better if she just … ya know, let her loved ones help her out? Every.single.time Braden said, “I can get you a job in my office” and she was all self-righteous and refused, and then ran off to hang onto her boyfriend Malcolm’s arm at a party and simper at him, well, my blood boiled. I’m all for female agency, but I think she just FELT like being contrary.

All the players from On Dublin Street are back and Jo is suddenly best buddies with all of them and invited to Sunday lunch at Elodie’s. I have decided Elodie is my favourite. The way Young describes her as tipsily asking everyone if they’d like a refill and then spilling the wine while drunkenly saying, “Oopsie” makes me want to be friends with her immediately.

Anyway, back to Jo. I liked her. She worked hard, she tried her best and her circumstances were horrible. Her Mum especially – whoa. I couldn’t imagine living with that.

2. The sex was decent. I was comparing it to Joss and Braden, and I think the sexual tension itself just didn’t measure up. But it was still pretty hot. I do wish everyone would step out of the box a bit. It’s a little vanilla, and while I don’t mean I want them to get all Christian Grey/Bella Swan or whatever her name was, I just think maybe… well, you probably know what I mean.

3. Cole. He was a darling and Young has a talent for writing teenaged boys. I fully believed everything he said, including all the shrugging.

4. Malcolm. He was a nice guy, he was attractive and he won the Euro Millions!! I’LL MARRY YOU!!

The Not-So-Good

1. Cameron. I wasn’t a fan. It wasn’t simply that he didn’t measure up to Braden (he didn’t, by a long shot), or that I kept picturing him as Adam Levine (who I don’t find attractive), it was his disgusting attitude toward Jo in the beginning. I couldn’t, for the life of me figure out how he got into her pants after the things he said to her. He was beyond a dick – and it was all based on ridiculous assumptions that barely meant anything (his Uncle married a gold digger? Cool story, bro. Nobody cares.) And his treatment of her after she spends the night at Malcolm’s and he has to help Cole out? OMG I felt RAGE. RAGE.

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2. It took them forever to have sex. And then all they did was have sex, argue about nothing and NOT TALK ABOUT ANYTHING. All their worries could have been cleared up in a 2 second conversation.

3. They made a serious relationship decision about 3 seconds after they started dating, which I won’t spoil here.

4. Cam’s moronic reaction to seeing his ex-girlfriend. I didn’t buy FOR A SECOND his reasons for acting weird. Not for a second. Sorry, guys don’t work like that.

5. The set-up to Young’s next book. I guess I just feel like not everyone is going to get along all the bloody time. If Elodie invites any more people over for Sunday lunch, there won’t be enough room for her.

Sigh. Still anxiously waiting Jamaica Lane or whatever the next one is called though. Young had me at describing Olivia as “slightly overweight”… can’t hate that. Not even a little bit. No matter how much I complain, I can’t seem to NOT read Samantha Young’s books.

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review: Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

firsts {Source: GoodReads.com}

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Okay. So. Here’s the thing.

1) There is a character in this book who should just go die in a fire.
2) The honest depictions of sexuality in teenagerdom were refreshing and honest.
3) The slut shaming that goes on is really, really tough to read.
4) Zach is the cutiest cutie pie that was ever adorable.

Okay, so that’s four things.

Firsts was good, but not *great*. I could feel while reading that with careful editing, the book would have risen to another level, so I do think some pruning would be advisable. The book is about three chapters too long.

Firsts is about Mercedes, a girl with a rather odd hobby. Mercedes de-virginizes guys so that their girlfriends will have good first times. You see, Mercedes had a terrible experience when she first had sex, so she’s trying to make sure that doesn’t happen to other girls… yeah, it’s as bizarre as it sounds. She’s also having no-obligation Wednesday sex with her lab partner, hiding her secret life from her psychotically religious best friend (who made me roll my eyes on more than one occasion) and flirting with her new buddy Faye, who rolls into town with all the finesse of a Mack Truck.

As you can imagine, none of this ends well, and Mercedes is pressured into having sex on more than occasion, which I found very upsetting. Not to mention there are implicit threats of rape from one character. There really isn’t much exploration of the illegality of this and I think it’s a missed opportunity. He’s quite possibly one of the biggest douchebags in all of YA history, and I dearly wish the book had ended with a better comeuppance.

Regardless, I enjoyed this one. It’s wonderful to have a YA novel that doesn’t sugarcoat sex, or assume teenagers aren’t having it / obsessed with it. Likable writing – and like I said before, I do think that the book would bump up another star with editing – it’s way too long.

A note as well: I’ve heard Mercedes called a lot of things by reviewers (nice slut shaming, btw) but in my opinion, she’s a lot like a regular teenager. Fairly self-centered, confused, lots of feelings down below, not a lot of smarts. I know I was a total headcase at that age. Mercedes is typical, and that’s why she’s largely unlikeable – because teenagers are assholes, in case you’ve forgotten.

review: Lord and Master by Kait Jagger

lordandmaster {Source: GoodReads.com}

This is such a lovely book – smart, sexy, atmospheric, detailed and with a heroine who actually has *bottle*, imagine that. When he tells her what to do, she throws it right back at him. Without simpering or tripping over her own feet or lamenting at having a rich, sexy-as-fuck guy after her. All the tired tropes of these kinds of books are beneath Kait Jagger, and for that I’m thrilled.

I especially love Jagger’s sense of place, which is especially evident when the main characters spend a short sojourn in Florida. Everything from the mangrove trees, to the swampy water, the crystalline sand, cheap n’ tacky restaurants and the club scene – it’s so accurate. She’s as much at home there as she is in the chilly remains of the British upperclass. It’s a specific talent, and she uses it so well – I felt like I was present with Luna at every twist of the tale.

Everything was well developed, from the anterior characters to the slow burning love story between Luna and Stefan. Highly recommended, and I can’t wait for the sequel.

review: On Dublin Street by Samantha Young

ondublinstreet {Source: GoodReads.com}

So here’s the thing.

This is the thing.

On Dublin Street gets four stars because the sex was crazy hot. The hero was also crazy hot.

BUT.

Let’s do a list, shall we?

The Good

1. The sex. Again, it was just molten. I don’t normally get at all excited by sex scenes in books because well, I spent my teen years reading Harlequins and after one penis-in-vagina moment, they’re all pretty much the same. But I could spend a few days reading about Braden dirty talking and not get bored. My only quibble was Joss’ ability to orgasm purely from penetration, which I think is a myth perpetuated by New Adult books and I just hope young girls don’t feel odd when they need a little hand or oral action during sex. It’s NOT ODD, ladies. It’s NORMAL. Yes, some lucky souls can come purely from intercourse, but they’re honestly not the norm and we can only envy them and move on.

2. Braden, in a way. He was slightly alpha (and the scene in the break room was right up my alley, rawr…) and I also enjoyed how he pretty much made fun of Joss constantly. I understood his initial interest in her, because she was a challenge, but after that… not so much. The guy is hot, rich, smart and owns half of Edinburgh. Not to mention he was actually pretty… nice? In other words, he’s a catch. He’s not going to put up with constant mind games, drama and (excuse this phrase, but it’s apt when it comes to Joss) cock teasing, without peacing out. He just isn’t.

The Not-so-good

1. Braden’s girlfriends. It’s always interesting to me in books when we’re supposed to still like a hero even though he dates vapid Barbies who are cruel to his sister and friends. What does it say about Braden that he dates these girls for months? What do they talk about? It’s just the kind of plot black hole that I loathe.

2. Joss. Straight-up, she’s pretty much a foul bitch to everyone she meets (including Ellie – and although Ellie is a Mary-Sue at heart, I still thought she seemed like a nice person and she had ACTUAL problems going on right that second, and yet Joss STILL couldn’t be there for her) and yet we’re expected to believe she has tons of friends and people love her and Braden just can’t stay away from her? It doesn’t compute.

I GET that Joss has issues – who wouldn’t with what happened to her. BUT it just doesn’t give her a free pass to be heinous to everyone.

Not to mention, she’s got piles of money but she pretends she doesn’t spend it (oh please, are you enjoying your $5,000 a month apartment and your designer dresses?), she works at a bar because she ‘wants to’ (suuuure, everyone loves menial service jobs), she can’t “love” Braden because… oh no, wait, she didn’t really have a reason beyond manufactured drama… ehhh, she’s just a pill. When she FINALLY gets a little self-awareness toward the end, it’s nice, but too little too late. She even manages to make Ellie’s crisis about her… how did she do that?

The only thing I really liked was how Samantha Young had Joss at the gym pretty much every day, because if there’s anything I hate more than slut-shaming in books, it’s a girl who eats like a truck driver but tee hee doesn’t work out. It’s unrealistic, it’s insulting, it makes girls feel like shit, and it’s beneath female authors to write about. Joss having to work for her body was refreshing.

3. Again, Joss and Braden’s relationship. The sex – yes. The relationship. I just don’t know. I didn’t believe he would stick around long enough to actually fall in love with her. She was way too hot and cold, way too mind gamey and way too bitchy. I feel like anyone would get tired of that eventually – girl or guy. And when she basically abandons her supposed best friend – his sister – when she’s found out life altering news? Yeah. Goooooodbye.

It sounds like all I did was complain about this book and yet I gave it four stars. It’s interesting – I really couldn’t put it down, and Braden was exactly the kind of hero I like… kept picturing Logan from Gilmore Girls for some reason…

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No idea why since he’s blond… I guess it’s that smirky rich boy thing.

Anyway, I’m not knocking On Dublin Street – it’s sexy hot, Braden’s smokin’ and it’s immensely readable. I guess it says it all that I ran to buy Down London Road doesn’t it?

review: Swimming Sweet Arrow by Maureen Gibbon

swimmingsweetarrow{source: GoodReads.com}

God, I loved this book when I first read it. Still do, as a matter of fact.

Yeah, yeah to the pearl-clutchers who call it “vile” and “pornographic” (you must be SO much fun to hang out with!) just because the main character is a girl who actually enjoys sex! GASP HORROR SHOCK.

The tale of Vangie growing up and eventually, growing apart from those she once held dear, really hit my heart. It’s one of the more realistic depictions of sex – in all its messiness – that I’ve ever read, and the dirty fun of the characters, and their intimate, raw lives, just never gets boring.

It strikes close to the bone with so much of the story – the friends who realize they really don’t know each other anymore, the many many variations of sex, the rape, the pain, the awful squalid chicken farm, and the reality that becoming an adult sometimes means letting go of childish things.

Highly recommended – mainly, for its perfect characterization of Vangie, and for an author who isn’t afraid to make her main character sexual. Love.

{buy Swimming Sweet Arrow on amazon.ca . amazon.com . amazon.co.uk}