Review Tour ~ The Gravity of Us by Brittainy C. Cherry ~ Sarah A’s Review

Graham Russell and I weren’t made for one another.

I was driven by emotion; he was apathetic. I dreamed while he lived in nightmares. I cried when he had no tears to shed.

Despite his frozen heart and my readiness to run, we sometimes shared seconds. Seconds when our eyes locked and we saw each other’s secrets. Seconds when his lips tasted my fears, and I breathed in his pains. Seconds when we both imagined what it would be like to love one another.

Those seconds left us floating, but when reality knocked us sideways, gravity forced us to descend.

Graham Russell wasn’t a man who knew how to love, and I wasn’t a woman who knew how to either. Yet if I had the chance to fall again, I’d fall with him forever.

Even if we were destined to crash against solid ground.

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I am DEVASTATED this series (of completely independent stand-alones) is over.  Devastated.  Each book is so unique, each couple so wonderful, I fell deeply in love with each word and each story affected me deeply.  I am sure that these books are ones I will revisit when I need something that speaks to me on a soul level.

Graham and Lucy’s story was devastating and perfect in a way I didn’t even see coming.  They had both lost so much and continued to lose more than they deserved, but they let those losses mold them in completely different ways.  Their differences were the most beautiful part of their story.  Lucy was perhaps one of the most beautiful souls to have ever existed and she used the spirit that was inherently her to show Graham there was so much more to life than anyone had ever shown him.   Being on the journey with him as he learned how to trust, to open himself up, to truly love was a wonderful thing.

Just as important as Graham learning how to live and love was both Graham and Lucy learning that your family is so much more than the people with whom you share DNA.  I had no idea that the idea of family and the importance of that support system would play such an important role in this book, I am glad it did though.  The healing, the hope, the love Lucy and Graham needed to know could only be complete from people important to them in other roles of their lives.

After reading romance for years I found The Gravity of us to be wildly refreshing.  It didn’t rely on any of the tropes we’re so used to seeing, none of the devices to push a couple together that are used so often.  Yes, there was a little friction as Lucy and Graham figured out how to operate in the other’s comfort zone, but that is true for any couple that’s ever existed.  I appreciate how Brittainy C. Cherry slowly wove their souls and hearts together without ever taking the road that would have been arguably easier and more expected.

I’m in love with Brittainy C. Cherry’s writing.  I have read several of her books and each of them has imprinted itself on me in wonderful ways.  Her storytelling has a way of making me see things in a different light, of making me understand things in a way I would have never considered, it makes me feel like a more empathetic person.  With each word I read in her books I can feel the love she has for her craft and how she strives to make that art her own.  I can’t say enough about how deeply her writing makes me feel, but I will say that not taking the time to experience her work is doing a disservice to yourself.

 

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Lucy

We didn’t know how to act with one another after our first kiss. Our situation wasn’t the norm when it came to building a relationship. We did everything backward. I fell in love with a boy before our first kiss, and he fell for a girl who he wasn’t allowed to have. Our connection, our heartbeats, matched one another in our fairytale world, but in reality, society deemed us as an awful accident.

Maybe we were an accident—a mistake.

Maybe we were never supposed to cross each other’s paths.

Maybe he was only meant to be a lesson in life and not a permanent mark.

But still, the way he kissed me…

Our kiss was as if heaven and hell collided together, and each choice was right and wrong at the same exact time. We kissed as if we were making a mistake and the best decision all at once. His lips made me float higher, yet somehow descend. His breaths somehow made my heart beat faster as it came to a complete halt.

Our love was everything good and bad wrapped in one kiss.

A part of me knew I should’ve regretted it, but the way his lips warmed up the cold shadows of my soul…the way he left his mark on me…

I’d never regret finding him, holding him, even if we only had those few seconds as one.

He’d always be worth those tiny seconds we shared.

He’d always be worth that soul-connecting feeling we created when our lips touched.

He’d always be the one I spent my nights dreaming of being near.

He’d always be worth it to me.

Sometimes when your heart wanted a full-length novel, the world only gave you a novella, and sometimes when you wanted forever you only had those few seconds of now.

And all I could do, all anyone could ever do, was make each moment count.

After we went home that night, we didn’t talk about it at all. Not the following week, either. I focused on Talon. Graham worked on his novel. I believed both of us were waiting for the right time to come up for us to speak about it, but that was the tricky thing about timing: it was never right.

Sometimes you just had to leap and hope you didn’t fall.

Hi! I’m Brittainy! Join me as we travel through my mind as a Romance Author. This includes such things as my random thoughts, tricks, tips, things I’m learning, things I’m re-learning, things I’m forgetting, and my weird ways of crafting stories.

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Review Blitz ~ Mr. Moneybags by Vi Keeland & Penelope Ward ~ Sarah A’s Review

From New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestselling Authors
Vi Keeland & Penelope Ward

 I met Bianca in an elevator.

She was on her way to interview me when we got stuck.

The beautiful, raven-haired reporter assumed I was a delivery guy because of the way I was dressed.

She had no clue I was really Dex Truitt, the wealthy, successful businessman she’d dubbed “Mister Moneybags”—her afternoon appointment.

Bianca told me how much she hated Dex’s type—snobby, over-educated, silver- spooned men who didn’t appreciate the simple things in life.

So, after the elevator finally started moving again, I cancelled the interview and let her believe I was someone I wasn’t—a bike messenger named Jay. I loved the way she looked at the fake me and didn’t want it to end.

I began dating her as “Jay”—all the while letting her interview the real me over email.

I didn’t expect that our chemistry online would be just as hot.

I didn’t expect the mess I’d gotten myself into.

I didn’t expect that Jay and Dex would fall in love with her.

And she was falling for two men.

Only, both men were me.

And when she found out, we were both going to lose her.

Nothing could have prepared me for that day. And I certainly wasn’t prepared for what came after.

All good things must come to an end, right?
Except our ending was one I didn’t see coming.

Read the First Chapter here

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I’m not sure what I was expecting from Mister Moneybags but it wasn’t what I read, for sure.  Even as I write this I’m not sure if I understand why the book took the turns it did.  It felt… strange, off, forced.  Parts of it just didn’t work for me.  Perhaps because if an author is going to toe the line Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward did in this book, I prefer the book to go all the way there.  Also, because that little bit of tension that was thrown in at the end seems like it should have been enough to carry an entire book and I really would have enjoyed that.

Mister Moneybags, despite its tiny foray into the taboo, was a light fun read.  It was an interesting take on the rich man/average girl trope.  It was interesting to see Bianca have all of the power in the relationship despite the fact could have easily been overbearing and controlling given his position in the business and social hierarchy.  It was also very refreshing to see a person who’d been raised without wanting for anything be so down to earth and have the self-awareness to see when his privilege was coloring his perception of things.  I quite enjoyed the juxtaposition of what was expected from the characters with the reality of how they actually behaved.

I did have a hard time with some of Dex’s internal dialogue.  It seemed strange and stilted, and, to me, it took away from the experience of the book.  I am a firm believer in show, don’t tell when I read and this affected that for me.  While I know not everyone reads in the same way or even have similar thought processes, I would have liked to have seen these little asides dealt with differently.  I also felt like the first two-thirds, or so, of the book and the last third, though loosely linked by the common theme of deception, were almost two different stories.  I knew that it was meant to be the conflict leading to the ultimate climax of the book, but it just felt incongruous to how the story started.

Overall, Mister Moneybags was enjoyable and would be a great read for someone who wants to try something a little new, a little different, someone who wants to read a book that flirts with the idea of things not discussed in polite society.  I’d really love to see what Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward would if they threw caution to the wind and completely blurred the line between what is acceptable and what isn’t.

Vi Keeland

Vi Keeland is a #1 New York Times and Wall Street Journal Bestselling author. With more than a million books sold, her titles have appeared in over fifty Bestseller lists and are currently translated in fourteen languages. She lives in New York with her husband and their three children where she is living out her own happily ever after with the boy she met at age six.

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Penelope Ward

Penelope Ward is a New York Times, USA Today, and #1 Wall Street Journal Bestselling author of thirteen novels. With over a million books sold, her titles have placed on the New York Times Bestseller list fifteen times. She is the proud mother of a beautiful 12-year-old girl with autism (the inspiration for the character Callie in Gemini) and a 10-year-old boy. Penelope, her husband, and kids reside in Rhode Island.

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Blog Tour ~ Only series by Cristin Harber ~ Sarah A’s Review

Grayson Ford and Emma Kingsley–close since they were kids, opposites in every way. He’s the stuff high school crushes are made of, Mister Popular, and captain of every team. She’s artsy, cute, and not in his league, though fully aware of Summerland’s “I Dream of Dating Grayson Ford” support group.

I can’t say no. The girl’s had my heart since before I knew it went missing.

He hides a life of hell. His father hates him, his mother’s gone. Emma is his only savior, yet she doesn’t know her power over him. She’s the only girl he wants, the only one he could ever tell–though he won’t.

I’m stronger, bigger, more of a man than he’ll ever be, but because I ruined his life, I’ve taken his crap, his attacks, the vulgar nature of his existence.

Until she discovers Gray’s embarrassment, his humiliation. Emma fights for him and for a chance. Theirs is a Cinderella story that she believes impossible. But as the layers peel back, it’s just a guy who needs a girl in order to keep breathing.

My mind is already doodling Mrs. Grayson Ford in imaginary notebooks. He has no clue where my head is at… But, given that I didn’t see what just happened coming, maybe I have no clue where his head is at either.

Only for Him. Only series, Volume One.

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The second installment in the Only series. Must read book one first!!

First loves never die but Grayson Ford comes close. Bleeding out in a war zone, he barters with God. Bring him back alive, and he’ll make it right with his girl.

All I want is Emma. I need her, and I fight for her memory. A story. A smile. Anything. But it’s all blank.

Emma is not his girl anymore. Time has skipped by and life’s been hard. She strips to pay the bills, waitresses to fill the hours between classes and her third job. All while working to be the best mama she can be to the little girl who will never know her daddy. Even though Grayson abandoned her, she mourned his death. Until he calls, and everything she knew was wrong.

It’s him. The him that ruined my life. That made my life. That confused my mind to the point that I can’t figure out if I’ve been destroyed or set free. The him that… is… dead.

He’s back with one objective–Emma Kingsley–and she never sees it coming.

Only for Her. Only series, Volume Two.

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The third installment of the Only series. Must be read in order.

Grayson and Emma. First love. True love. And… they have a daughter. Abandonment is his curse. He left his woman, survived his team, and missed the moment most precious to a father. Until now.

I didn’t know you were killing yourself with work. I didn’t know you’re raising our daughter. So help me God, had I known, there is no military force on earth that would’ve kept me from you.

Love needs to heal all, or they won’t survive the collision of their separate lives. Emma must reach deep into her heart that is barely hanging on and find forgiveness. Grayson, wrecked with PTSD-filled nightmares, must prove that he’s here to stay and able to rebuild his family against all odds.

I need to say I love you. But what I mean is I love you–in a way that defies definition and exists only in a world that you and I are in.

Only for Us.  Only series, volume three.

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The fourth and final installment of the Only series. Must be read in order.

There comes a time when Emma must face the secret she kept from Grayson. But she never thought it would be while she stood on stage at Emerald’s. The seconds she has to convey that her life is in danger are lost in the devastation that she sees rip through him.

She pinches her eyes closed. “Don’t leave me. No matter how mad you are, please, please don’t leave me here alone.”

But there’s more on the line than just Emma’s safety. There’s the danger that brought Titan’s Delta team in to the strip club in the first place. A threat that’s too close to home, too close to the family, the daughter and woman Grayson plans to claim.

I push away the sudden spring of fear. Life’s too unknown, with hidden enemies and unseen terrors. The idea that I could lose her again… it’s unbearable.

A love story like Grayson and Emma needs a forever love, and somehow they’ll find their way to her fairytale.

Only Forever. Only series, volume four.

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Only for Him

Holy Cliffhanger!  I am beyond grateful I have Only for Her to jump straight into.  I’m not sure my heart could handle leaving Grayson and Emma in the place we did for long.

Though this book was very, very short – by my standards – it was jam-packed with hard-hitting issues and emotions.  The book moves quickly and I found the beginning to be a little jarring, as the scenes and timelines switch so frequently.  It was immediately obvious the reasoning behind the swift timeline, I only wish I’d had a little more time to settle into the roller coaster that was the beginning of Emma and Grayson’s story.

I loved the dynamic between Emma and Grayson.  The balance they brought to one another, particularly the peace Emma gave Grayson when he so desperately needed it, was lovely.  The juxtaposition of nearly every aspect of their live gave an interesting dynamic to their coupling.  I particularly enjoyed the softness Emma was able to see and bring out in Grayson’s normally hard persona.

Cristin Harber wrote a hard-hitting beginning to her Only series in Only for Him.  When I first started the book, I was unsure of the writing but I because to engrossed with Emma and Grayson’s story I was no longer concerned with it.  I believe with a little time and devotion Ms. Harber won’t leave me even a brief moment to question her writing and it will quickly be on par with the stories she tells.

Only for Her

A little bit too sweet, a smidge too cliché, a lot sad, and altogether wonderful.  I freaking loved Only for Her.

The pacing of this series, thus far, had been great.  Its break-neck speed keeps me wholly engrossed in Emma and Grayson’s story.  It is so nice to not have chapters full of back and forth, will they or won’t they, everything is laid out quickly and plainly.  This writing style is perfection for a novella series.  I feel completely satisfied with the story given while desperately needing the next installment so I can continue finding out what will happen with Grayson and Emma.

I’m really happy Cristin Harber gave us the insight to what each of their liveswase like without the other.  I don’t think their reunion would have been so poignant without that.  There were moments, both before and during their reunion that made me heart hurt for them.  They had been through so much, I needed them to start to find healing in each other.  I can’t wait to see haw they deal with the fallout of finding their way back into each other’s lives.

Cristin Harber seems to have hit her stride in Only for Her.  It had none of the awkwardness of the first book and completely drew me in.  By the time I got to Grayson and Emma reconnecting, I was so engrossed in the story the rest of the book flew by without me even realizing I was nearing the end.

Only for Us

While I did enjoy Only for Us, it has been my least favorite book in the series.  There were a few moments that were great, but a lot that felt like filler.  It was fairly obvious, to me, this novella was primarily to set up whatever huge events will be happening in the final book.  Had this novella series been a single novel, I would describe Only for Us as the calm before the storm.

Only for Us may have been lacking in the intensity of the first two books, but there were several wonderful moments in it.  The best being those moments when Grayson is able to meet and interact with the daughter he never knew existed.  Those moments were among the best in the entire series.

Some of the scenes in Only for Us were likely the most important of the series.  One, in particular, was life-changing for Grayson, but I wish it was given more time and attention.  Maybe it was as brief as it was to show how little sway that part of the past held for Grayson, but I hoped for more.

Only Forever

I have mixed feelings about how this series ended.  I loved how Grayson and Emma’s story wrapped up, but I have SO many questions about Titan and Delta team and everything that went down with Emerald.  So. Many. Questions.  I think perhaps it was meant to be that way, as I’ll certainly be adding those series to my reading list.

The first third or so of Only Forever was rife with action.  So much so, I found myself having to go back and reread sections because I’d been so engrossed in the broad strokes of what was going on I missed the important details that were happening around the periphery.  It felt much like I’d imagine a situation like that being.  So much tension, preparation, and anticipation culminating in an intense burst of activity that is hard to take in all at once.  The way it was written perfectly captured the frantic pace of a high-risk operation.

The hope and healing that took place in the bulk of the end of the book was heart-melting.  The beauty of the moments in which Grayson realized Emma, Cally, Ryan, and the rest of the Kingsleys were always his family were incredibly touching.  Seeing him finally find the love and acceptance he always deserved was sublime.

Cristin Harber is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling romance author. She writes sexy, steamy romantic suspense and military romance. Readers voted her onto Amazon’s Top Picks for Debut Romance Authors in 2013, and her debut Titan series was both a #1 romantic suspense and #1 military romance bestseller.

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Review Blitz ~ Say I’m Yours by Corinne Michaels ~ Sarah A’s Review

From New York Times Bestseller, Corinne Michaels, comes a new second chance standalone romance.

I spent twenty years waiting for Trent Hennington to open his eyes and see me. But it was all for nothing. He chose to keep himself guarded and let me walk away, proving that my time and efforts were wasted.

I’m done being invisible.
It’s time to move on.

A single dance sets my new reality into motion, and I welcome it. After all, Cooper Townsend is perfect. He’s kind, sexy, and attentive–everything a girl could want.

I thought I got it right this time.
That my heart could mend, and I would be happy.
Apparently, some things really are just too hard to walk away from.

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I was equal parts excited and sad that I was finally getting the final Hennington brother’s book.  They were all so wonderful and unique, it was hard to know this was the last of their stories.  Bell Buckle was a fun and wonderful place to get to visit in the pages of these books and I can only hope that we will be able to check in with all the folks we met there in future works by Corinne.

Going in to Say I’m Yours I wasn’t sure who I was rooting for in terms of Grace finding a forever love.  I knew I wanted Trent, Cooper, and Grace to be happy, I just wasn’t sure who would make each of them most content.  I was worried there was too much water under the Trent and Grace bridge, that the feelings between Cooper and Grace were too platonic for anything serious. I almost wanted there to be a whole new set of love interests so I wouldn’t have to see one of the people I’d grown to love over the course of the other books get hurt.  Corinne, of course, knew exactly what she was doing and crafted this story in a way where each person came out whole and having learned more about themselves and what they needed to be happy.

While I loved Grace and the strength she seemed to have gained between the beginning of Say You’ll Stay and the end of Say I’m Yours and I appreciated how amazing a man Cooper was throughout this book (despite my less than kind feelings toward him in Say You’ll Stay), it was Trent who completely won me over in this book.  Watching him grapple with his own fears and insecurities, seeing him learn what he needed and figure out how to hold on to the people he loved most in the world was at times heartbreaking, but ultimately wholly satisfying.

Once again Corinne Michaels delivers a book that is intense, surprising, and gratifying.  When I read my first Corinne Michaels book I knew I’d found someone whose books were exactly the kind of stories I love.  She has yet to disappoint me, if anything her books have become more meaningful and in line with my reading tastes.  Each book tells a beautiful love story and touches on topics that are dark, life-changing and intense.  Ms. Michaels always stays true to her characters and the reactions they have to those life-changing events feels completely authentic.  If she hadn’t already won me over with her Salvation series, I would have declared my allegiance to her books after reading the Hennington brother’s books.

LINK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zxUHk9DaA6M

Corinne Michaels is the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestselling author of The Salvation Series (Beloved, Beholden, Consolation, Conviction & Defenseless), Say You’ll Stay, Say You Want Me, and Say I’m Yours. She’s an emotional, witty, sarcastic, and fun loving mom of two beautiful children. Corinne is happily married to the man of her dreams and is a former Navy wife. After spending months away from her husband while he was deployed, reading and writing was her escape from the loneliness.

Both her maternal and paternal grandmothers were librarians, which only intensified her love of reading. After years of writing short stories, she couldn’t ignore the call to finish her debut novel, Beloved. Her alpha heroes are broken, beautiful, and will steal your heart.

 

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Review Tour ~ Figure Eight by Calia Read ~ Sarah A’s Review

figure-eightDear Selah,

Do you remember me?

Of course you don’t. So I’m going to give you a refresher course.

I’ve known you for years and years. We used to have beautiful conversations. There was no one that knew you better than me. We were handmade for each other.

Lately, it’s become achingly obvious you’re miserable. You’ve moved back home to take care of your ailing mother. You’ve been looking for a new job, but that’s not going well. Admit it: it’s all too much.

Everyone around you sees your suffering, but they’re not willing to help you.

Everyone but Jackson.

He comes into your life at the perfect moment and offers you everything you could want: a shoulder to lean on, love, and most importantly, hope.

But there’s no one that can compare to me. You seem to forget that I’m your figure 8. Your infinity. You try to run, but I will always find you.

Yours Truly,
Figure 8

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I’m reeling from this book.  Just circling back and back and back trying to figure out when was the first time I had an inkling of what was going on and I find myself feeling a lot like Selah; I think I knew the whole time but I didn’t want to acknowledge it.  There were times I wasn’t sure if the book was full of tiny, almost imperceptible, errors or if I was crazy or if it was intentional and made to make me feel crazy.  Honestly, I’m still not sure; though, I suspect the latter.

This is a book that has so many layers, so many facets and secrets, telling any one of them would destroy the experience that is Figure Eight.  There are so many beautiful things that happen in this book, so many things I desire to dissect and tell you about in great detail, but to do so would ruin the sublime magic that Calia Read wove with this story.  More so than almost any other book I’ve read, Figure Eight must be read with no foresight as to what is going to happen; the experience of being Selah, of living what she lived in these pages is important and intense.

Calia Read constantly amazes me with her words, the way she constructs each sentence to draw you in and then makes you question every second of the words you’ve read is unique and wildly impressive.  I am in love with her writing and the important stories she tells.  Her stories are consistently among the most wonderfully written and compelling books I’ve read.  I always find myself wanting more story, while simultaneously being totally satisfied that the story is complete and left exactly where it should be.  It’s not an easy balance to strike, but Ms. Read is near perfection in finding that balance in all of her books.

I have discovered that from a distance it is incredibly easy to read people. In the shadows, people don’t notice you. They let their guard down. Let you into their life without even knowing it. After a while their movements become predictable and you start to feel more intimate with them. You know when they’re irritable or sad. Happy or anxious. And while they keep desperately seeking a cure- all for their afflictions, you stand there in shadows, knowing what they need. My last gift was what you needed. But you barely noticed. You were too busy with your despair.

Ah, despair, despair, despair. Too many people get caught in that bitch’s web. And the sad truth is that they never find their way out. They never find their figure eight.

They never find me.

Yet the truth of the matter is that you didn’t find me. You got lucky and had the tables turned.

You may not see me yet. But you will.

Something as big as me takes time to acclimate to. Until then I’m going to give you another present. This one you’re going to take notice of. It is truly something.

I’m actually quite proud of myself with this one. It’s so good that I’m going to let you think that fate, kismet or whatever bull shit you call it, was responsible for it. Besides, I have a million more gifts just waiting for you, that I can take credit for.

Each one is bigger and better than the last.

You’ll see.

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13319891_838523882920080_9005192063279712585_nCalia Read is the author of Unhinge, Unravel, Breaking the Wrong, Ruin You Completely, and Every Which Way. She lives in Texas with her husband and their five children.

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GIVEAWAY & Review Tour ~ Saying Goodbye pts 1&2 by Abigail Drake

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sg1Synopsis part 1:
Samantha Barnes always dreamed of seeing the world and only has a few months left before she starts a semester abroad in Japan. Enough time to say goodbye to her friends, polish up her language skills, and maybe even squeeze in a quick fling with handsome fraternity boy Dylan Hunter.

All she wants from Dylan is something casual, and perhaps some mind-blowing sex, but things don’t work out as planned. Dylan wants a lot more from her than a hook-up. Before Sam realizes what’s happening, their relationship has become serious, something she never intended. And then she discovers Dylan is hiding a dark secret that makes breaking up with him nearly impossible.

Sam is running out of time. She has to leave soon. She has no choice. But leaving Dylan could mean more than just the end of their relationship. It could also mean destroying him completely.

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sg2Synopsis part 2:
What if you meet the right person…at absolutely the wrong time?

When Samantha Barnes starts her semester abroad in Japan, she brings along a heavy load of emotional baggage. With her ex-boyfriend in the midst of a mental health crisis back home, she’d been forced to make some difficult choices, choices that now fill her with guilt and remorse. She also made promises to him she isn’t sure she can keep, especially when she meets Thomas MacGregor, an irresistibly charming Scottish rugby player. Thomas is studying at the same university as Samantha, and, although she tries to fight it, she begins to fall for him. Hard.

Life in Kyoto is everything Samantha could imagine, but, when tragedy strikes, it sends her on a downward spiral into darkness. Will she be able to come to terms with what happened, and have a future with Thomas, or will she forever be plagued by regret?

Forgiveness is a tricky thing, especially when the person you need to forgive most is yourself.

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Saying Goodbye was my first Abigail Drake book and I was pleasantly surprised by her unique writing style and fresh story lines.  In a genre where books often have very similar structure and themes, this book stood out as something uncommon.

Saying Goodbye, particularly part one, was full of very heavy subject matter.  The book was rife with taboo subjects and how people react to those situations with which they aren’t comfortable.  I was quite impressed by how tastefully it was done.  Each scene and every moment was carefully constructed to demonstrate how every single thing that happens affects a person.  They also served to show how a person’s temperament can make those experiences have completely different outcomes.

Abigail Drake incorporated several cultures and languages into Saying Goodbye in a way that felt very natural.  I am in no way educated in any of the cultured or languages she used, but it seemed very true to what they were.  I loved that each part was set in a different place, it made it much easier to keep the storylines separate while I was reading.  I fell in love with the glimpses into worlds I’ll likely never experience, that she included in the story.  The way she used the cultural references to help the characters grow and used languages to bring them closer together were so fresh and unique, it was something I relished experiencing.

3.5 Feathers
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abigailAbigail Drake has spent her life traveling the world and collecting stories wherever she visited. She majored in Japanese and International Economics in college and worked in import/export and as an ESL teacher before she committed herself full time to writing. She writes in several romance genres, and her books are quirky, light, fun, and sexy. Abigail is a trekkie, a book hoarder, the master of the Nespresso machine, a red wine addict, and the mother of three boys (probably the main reason for her red wine addiction). A puppy named Capone is the most recent addition to her family, and she blogs about him as a way of maintaining what little sanity she has left.

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GIVEAWAY & Review Tour ~ The Tattered Gloves by JL Berg

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ttg-amazonHead down.
Don’t look up.
Never make eye contact.

Those were the words I lived by growing up, the words that protected me in an unsafe home. But words are only letters and eventually even they couldn’t keep his hands off me.

Hoping to leave behind the shattered life of my past, I find myself in a boring, small town, with an aunt I’ve never met and at a school I loathe.

But soon I learn, not everything in this world is as black and white as I’ve determined. Sometimes those we are so quick to judge often need a second, third or even fourth time to make a first impression.

And often, there are friendships and even love waiting just around the corner, if we are brave enough to take the first step.

Am I brave? Or will I hide behind these tattered gloves of mine forever?

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The Tattered Gloves had the potential to be a truly powerful and moving piece about the horrors that can befall a child in a home where there is little care for their well-being.  It could have been an inspiring message of hope and healing but it fell short of that, for me.

I am a big fan of the journey characters take within a book and if their growth and story arc is healing, the ending doesn’t necessarily have to be happily ever after, it just needs to be the thing that is best for the characters.  I didn’t quite get that from this book.  Everything ended up tied up in a nice little bow and I just didn’t quite feel like it was a realistic ending for the characters involved.  At about 2/3 of the way through the book, I had an inclination this was going to be the case, as there just wasn’t enough book left to properly resolve all of the things that were going on with the characters.  There was also a point where it where the aunt alluded to going through something similar to what Willow had and that ball was totally dropped in favor of a much less horrific back story.

It is because of the expectations I formed while reading this book that I was left wanting.  There was just so much potential to tell such an important story, a story bigger than a girl falling in love with a boy, and I wanted THAT story.  The story The Tattered Gloved ended up being was a lovely story, it held an important message and told of the dangers of judging people without getting to know them first.  It demonstrated, wonderfully, the differences of living in a home filled with love and acceptance to one filled with indifference and distrust.  While I had thought, this was going to be a gritty story about the worst things that can happen to a person with a dash of love and romance thrown in, it was actually more about the different types of love a person can experience and how important each of them are, with a dash of how the residual effects of past trauma color those relationships.

Letting The Tattered Gloves stand on its own, leaving all of my expectations and hopes for the story aside, it was a very touching story.  The relationships between each of the characters was wholly unique and beautiful.  I came to love each of them, for different reasons, and the all brought their own messages about love and life to the book.  It was well-written and help my attention, the words made me care deeply for the characters and their futures, the plot, while not as fleshed-out as I’d have preferred, was riveting.  For a person looking to dip their toe into deeper subject matter without going headlong into the darkest reaches of those subjects, this is an amazing place to start.

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J.L. Berg is the USA Today bestselling author of the Ready Series, The Walls Duet, and the Lost & Found Duet. She is a California native living in the beautiful state of historic Virginia. Married to her high school sweetheart, they have two beautiful girls that drive them batty on a daily basis. When she’s not writing, you will find her with her nose stuck in a romance novel, in a yoga studio or devouring anything chocolate. J.L. Berg is represented by Jill Marsal of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency, LLC.

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Review Blitz ~ Egomaniac by Vi Keeland

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00072]The night I met Drew Jagger, he’d just broken into my new Park Avenue office.

I dialed 9-1-1 before proceeding to attack him with my fancy new Krav Maga skills.

He quickly restrained me, then chuckled, finding my attempted assault amusing.

 

Of course, my intruder had to be arrogant.

Only, turned out, he wasn’t an intruder at all.

 

Drew was the rightful occupant of my new office.  He’d been on vacation while his posh space was renovated.

Which was how a scammer got away with leasing me office space that wasn’t really available for rent.

I was swindled out of ten grand.

 

The next day, after hours at the police station, Drew took pity on me and made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.  In exchange for answering his phones while his secretary was out, he’d let me stay until I found a new place.

I probably should have acted grateful and kept my mouth shut when I overheard the advice he was spewing to his clients.  But I couldn’t help giving him a piece of my mind.

I never expected my body to react every time we argued.  Especially when that was all we seemed to be able to do.

 

The two of us were complete opposites. Drew was a bitter, angry, gorgeous-as-all-hell, destroyer of relationships.  And my job was to help people save their marriages.

The only thing the two of us had in common was the space we were sharing.

And an attraction that was getting harder to deny by the day.

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I would like to start this review by expressing my regret for having never picked up a VI Keeland book before.  I now realize my mistake and plan to rectify it as soon as humanly possible.  Egomaniac was on the fringes of the books that I usually read, so I almost passed up my chance to read it.  I can not tell you how glad I am that I didn’t pass, it was such a great book.

I was very pleasantly surprised by how emotionally connected I felt to this book.  Egomaniac is on the light side, for me, but it was rich and varied in the emotions in evoked.  I had picked it up for a bit of light reading after reading a heavier book but it wasn’t nearly as light as I had been expecting.  It was actually the perfect balance of light and heavy.  I appreciated the short moments of comedic interlude and fell in love the heavy themes that were the backbone of Emerie and Drew’s story.

Vi Keeland did an excellent job with her character development and growth in this book.  I slowly fell in love with both Emerie and Drew.  Emerie was sweet and naïve but grew into a strong, fierce woman who fought for what she knew she needed.  Drew, on the other hand, was jaded and cold, forged by deceptions from his past, his growth into a person who loved and trusted with abandon was quite lovely to behold.

Egomaniac was quite well-written and kept me wholly invested in what was going to happen next.  I was impressed with Ms. Keeland’s ability to lead me to believe that the story was going in one direction then completely surprise me with a turn I didn’t quite see coming in the way I anticipated.  The situations that Drew and Emerie faced in this book and the way they dealt with the hardships they faced kept me fully invested in them finding their happy endings.

Vi Keeland will be going on my list of go-to authors when I need something a little different from my usual reads.  Her writing is engrossing and he obviously cares greatly for her craft.  I am highly impressed with her ability to draw me in to a story and care deeply for the characters she has created.

4.5Feathers2

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author-photoVi Keeland is a #1 New York Times Bestselling author. With more than a million books sold, her titles have appeared in over fifty Bestseller lists and are currently translated in twelve languages.  She resides in New York with her husband and their three children where she is living out her own happily ever after with the boy she met at age six.

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GIVEAWAY, Review, & Excerpt Tour ~ HONOR by Jay Crownover ~ Sarah A’s Review

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honorpbNew York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Jay Crownover returns with her most complicated hero yet, in the first book in the romantic suspense series The Breaking Point. 

Don’t be fooled.

Don’t make excuses for me.

I am not a good man.

I’ve seen things no one should, done things no one should talk about. Honor and conscience have no place in my life. But I’ve fought and I’ve survived. I’ve had to.

The first time I saw her dancing on that seedy stage in that second rate club, I felt my heart pulse for the first time. Keelyn Foster was too young, too vibrant for this place, and I knew in an instant that I would make her mine. But first I had to climb my way to the top. I had to have something more to offer her.

I’m here now, money is no object and I have no equal. Except for her. She’s disappeared. But don’t worry, I will find her and claim her. She will be mine.

Like I said, don’t be fooled. I am not the devil in disguise… I’m the one standing front and center.

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If you preorder HONOR you will receive a super sweet bonus scene that features both Rule and Bax…as well as their leading ladies. The scene will NOT be shared anywhere else. It will be exclusive to those who preorder HONOR and fill out this form: https://a.pgtb.me/tD739Q 

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ALP SarahAReview OwlIt’s no secret that Jay Crownover is one of my favorite romance authors.  Maybe because she is semi-local to me.  Maybe because she’s so true to herself.  Maybe because her writing is so relatable.  Definitely because her heroes and heroines are always perfectly balanced counterpoints to one another.  All so tragically flawed you have no choice to root for them regardless of how bad they are.

When I first heard Nassir was getting his own story I wasn’t completely sold.  He had started to have some appeal to me by the end of Better When He’s Brave, I was unsure if there was anything Jay could make such an unrepentant man win me over.  As I saw more teasers and comments, my curiosity was piqued.  By the time I had the chance to review it, I couldn’t wait to walk through the fires of hell to get inside the Devil’s head.  I was not disappointed.

Honestly, by the time  I made it through the prologue every transgression Nassir had made was completely forgiven by me.  I didn’t even care if he ever sought redemption, his story was so heartbreaking it earned him a complete pardon from me.  I’m disappointed in myself that I didn’t have full faith in Jay, from the get-go, to deliver me a broken bad boy who would win me over heart and soul.

Jay kept me completely invested in every page of HONOR.  Even in the moments where Keelyn was desperately trying to fight her connection to Nassir, there was enough action and tension to keep me satisfied with the forward progress they were making.  The action, the drama was en pointe for the duration of the book, there were periods of respite that allowed me to settle into the intensity of Nassir and Key while having enough action interspersed to leave me anticipating when te next shoe was going to drop.

The only thing I wish there would have been more of was Keelyn’s backstory.  There were little tidbits here and there, enough information to know her life wasn’t all sunshine and roses, but I would have liked to know more about her.  When I was finished with the book, I felt completely satisfied with who she in the here and now, but I would have loved to have the same pieces of her past as we had of Nassir’s.

4 Feathers

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KEELYN

                “What are you doing here, Nassir?”

Nassir Gates, half man and half monster. He was lethal and toxic, keeping all that sinister beauty covered up in a ridiculously expensive suit that made him look elegant and falsely civilized. To the untrained eye, Nassir was an outrageously handsome man that looked like he was on his way to a business meeting, but if you had spent any time on the streets, were familiar with life in the gutter, there was no missing who he really was, what he was. The top of the food chain. If you knew about what it took to make it where I came from, you could look at Nassir and see that he not only thrived in chaos but was comfortable there. He even managed to make it look good.

I left all of that behind. I liked Denver. I liked the laid-back vibe. I liked the monotony. I liked the predictability. I liked that I could walk to my car after my shift at the diner and not have to worry about taking a knife in the ribs or getting a revolver shoved in my back. I liked that I didn’t have to shake my ass or get naked to pay my bills. I liked that here, soccer dads were just that, and weren’t secretly banging hookers in the back room or gambling the family’s grocery money away at an illegal poker game. Most importantly I liked that I didn’t have to look my biggest addiction, my worst temptation, in the eye every single day and pretend like I didn’t want him. Here I didn’t have to deny that I had been infatuated with him for years. I was foolishly obsessed with this particular devil in a designer suit and I knew he was absolutely detrimental not only to my safety but to the thing I valued above all else…my independence.

After a childhood spent evading the hands of my mother’s overzealous and unhinged boyfriends and barely escaping the clutches of a sick and twisted stepfather, and too many years working my ass off—literally—to make a life for myself, I could never risk letting myself care for Nassir the way I wanted to because I knew that if I did, I would become nothing more than his, and I refused to be any man’s possession or accessory.

When the opportunity arose to take off without an explanation or without looking like I was running from him and the promise and future I saw so clearly in his eyes, I grabbed it. Ran away with both my heart and my tail tucked between my legs. But now he was here in this fragile and predictable paradise and I wanted to stab him with the broken pen and jump in his lap and put my mouth on his smirking lips all at the same time.

You’re here, Key. Where else would I be?”

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headshot-3Jay Crownover is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men, The Point, and the Saints of Denver series. Like her characters, she is a big fan of tattoos. She loves music and wishes she could be a rock star, but since she has no aptitude for singing or instrument playing, she’ll settle for writing stories with interesting characters that make the reader feel something. She lives in Colorado with her three dogs.

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