Saturday Series: The Year We Hid Away (The Ivy Years #2) by Sarina Bowen

She’s hiding something big. He’s hiding someone small.

Scarlet Crowley’s life was torn apart the day father was arrested for unspeakable crimes. Now the shock has worn off, but not the horror.

It’s a safe bet that Scarlet is the only first year at Harkness College who had to sneak past TV news trucks parked on her front lawn just to leave town. But college will be Scarlet’s fresh start. Clutching a shiny new student ID — with a newly minted name on it — she leaves it all behind. Even if it means lying to the boy she’s falling for.

Bridger McCaulley is a varsity hockey star known for being a player both on and off the ice. But a sobering family crisis takes that all away. Protecting his sister means a precarious living arrangement and constant deception. The only bright spot in his week is the few stolen hours he spends with Scarlet.

The two form a tentative relationship based on the understanding that some things must always be held back. But when grim developments threaten them both, going it alone just won’t work anymore. And if they can’t learn to trust one another now, the families who let them down will take everything they’ve struggled to keep.

The Bridger we met in The Year We Fell Down is not the same guy we get to know here. No more partying or hooking up with every girl he meets, but studying, working and babysitting are his life now. He even had to give up hockey due to the lack of time. His friends are worried, but there's not much they can do as Bridger keeps them all at a distance. As a reader it becomes clear pretty quickly what is going on with him, and you admire him for what he's trying to and at the same time you can not help but feel for him.

Scarlet's situation is completely different, but they each have a burden to bare. Her dad, former NHL player, now famous coach, has been accused of some horrible things. The past years has been a nightmare for her. Everyone turned against her, so college is to be a fresh start. She changed her name and background story, still she's wary of people. When she meets Bridger she slowly lets him in, though never revealing her secrets.

When their lives intertwine further, it becomes harder and harder to hide the truth. Their situations become even more complicated due time and they will need to learn to rely on each other. They are not in this thing alone. Secrets always have a way of coming out. 

This story is quite different from the previous. Here we have two people who are trying to hide from the world, it just doesn't work that way. While they might not have handled it the best way, Bridger and Scarlet handled it in the only way they knew how. They kind of went on survival mode. I don't want to diminish what they went through, but by going through it alone I feel they only made it worse for themselves. They needed to learn that there are still people who they can count on, are there for them no matter what.

The Year We Hid Away was an amazing story. I love how realistic these characters feel. Their situations are kind of out of the box, but I still feel this could actually happen to someone. The connection between Scarlet and Bridger was almost tangible, I could really feel what was going on between them. Despite the heavy topics sometimes, there was still an overall sweetness and sexyness to the story. 

3.5 stars

The Ivy Years - Reading order and purchase links



The Author
Sarina Bowen writes steamy, angsty Contemporary Romance and New Adult fiction from the wilds of Vermont.

She is the author of The Ivy Years, an award-winning series set amid the hockey team at an elite Connecticut college.

Also, the Gravity series.

Sarina enjoys skiing, espresso drinks and the occasional margarita. She lives with her family, eight chickens and more ski gear and hockey equipment than seems necessary.

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Review: A Stone in the Sea (Bleeding Stars #1) by A.L. Jackson

He wanted nothing at all…

Until he found she had everything to give…

Sunder lead singer and guitarist Sebastian Stone has everything—fans, fame, and fortune. He also has a heart full of bitterness and a reputation for a short-fused temper. But an outward reputation rarely reveals the true man inside. Facing assault charges after trying to protect his younger brother, Sebastian is sent to Savannah, Georgia to lie low until the dust settles in L.A.

Shea Bentley is beautiful, kind, and hiding from the very lifestyle Sebastian has always embraced.

When the mysterious, tattooed stranger begins hanging out at the bar where she works, Shea is quick to recognize he is nothing but trouble, but she's helpless to the way her body lights up every time his intense gray eyes tangle with hers.

They both soon find themselves drowning in a sea of desire and passion that won't let them up for air.

Sebastian knows firsthand secrets never die, and he’s not the only one who’s hiding them.

Loving someone always comes with a price. But will it be Shea’s past that costs them everything?

On its own, I liked the premise of this story. The bad boy rocker falling for the sweet and innocent girl. But the reality was a bit different than expected. I believe it was mostly the writing style that made this one a difficult read for me. There is a lot of description of situations and feelings, without really mentioning what has happened or what those feelings are. Therefor this made a slow read for me, and it was difficult to really get into the story. If it's unclear to what is going on, that makes it harder for me to connect with the characters.

Also it felt that the way this was written, was done on purpose to create more mystery and drama. Seems though I like my drama a bit more upfront. How everything here was shrouded in mystery, also didn't feel necessary to me. If they would just say there thoughts out loud, a lot of misery could have been spared.

So while the story wasn't bad, the way it was executed just wasn't for me. I had trouble really getting into the story, some parts were really long-winded or there was a lot of, for me, unnecessary repetition. The fact that the book ends with a cliffhanger was a bit overkill for me. I just wanted their story to be done, so reading the second book isn't going to happen.

2.5 stars

The Author
A.L. Jackson is the New York Times bestselling author of Take This Regret and Lost to You, as well as other contemporary romance titles, including Pulled, When We Collide, If Forever Comes, Come to Me Quietly, and Come to Me Softly.

She first found a love for writing during her days as a young mother and college student. She filled the journals she carried with short stories and poems used as an emotional outlet for the difficulties and joys she found in day-to-day life.

Years later, she shared a short story she’d been working on with her two closest friends and, with their encouragement, this story became her first full length novel. A.L. now spends her days writing in Southern Arizona where she lives with her husband and three children.

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Review: Kick (Savage Saints MC #1) by Carmen Jenner

When I was ten, my father indoctrinated me into the family.

A brotherhood who would fight, protect, and give their lives for one another. A club whose ties ran thicker than blood, murkier than the dirt and grime that tainted my soul. Stronger than the bonds that connected me to my own family.

A band of brothers, where loyalty was kept and paid in a currency of blood.

When I was twenty-seven, I betrayed that brotherhood.

I’ve spent every day since running, avoiding paying back that debt.

My name is Daniel Johnson. I have betrayed everyone I ever loved.

And I’ll betray her too.

This is my story—if you’re screwed up enough to want to read it.

This is one of those books, where I have no clue if I actually liked it or not. I didn't find it spectacular, but I didn't hate it either. The story and characters are complex, to put it mildly. A lot of really bad stuff happens, the violence is off the charts, the abuse is explicit, and the emotional drama might drive you insane.

It's an insanely heavy read. Kick is not a redeemable character, the rest of the MC might be worse, but that doesn't mean that there is any good in him. There is a fine line at the tipping point of cruelty, and he drunkenly criss-crosses it. He has done horrible things, some you may be able to justify somewhat, and the thing is that Kick's a guy that will never change. He was shaped by his father, his MC and all that entails. You might have read MC books, where you had the feeling of an undertone of goodness, that's absolutely not the case here. They are vile, cruel and explosive people.

There is a warning at the beginning of the book, and it's there for a reason. Though for me it's written in a way that I can handle it. There are certain subjects, like abuse, which I have trouble reading about. Still in the way it is portrayed in this story, is sick yes, but there is a certain casualness around it that helps you through it. Casualness might not be the right word, but seeing it in the context and with all that you have read before, it's not a surprise and it's such a part of the characters' daily life that's just sad.

Kick is supposed to be read as a standalone. Now I read the first Sugartown when it came out, but never read the sequels. It's in one of the sequels that some of Kick's backstory happens, and while we get the flashbacks, I still felt that need to read the other book first. I feel like it would still have explained things better for me, and helped me understand Kick's history better.

As for the love story (and I use that term very lightly) part of this book, like everything else concerning Kick, it isn't pretty. I mean she is gorgeous, but her story will leave you at a loss of words. He's her non-traditional savior, though I would never call him a hero. The aftermath of it all is just another clusterfuck.

Couple of words to describe this story and Kick; raw, brutal, dark, emotional, abusive, asshole, graphic, jerk, profane... I feel like I need to point out again that Kick has no good side to him, he has never and will never say the words "I love you" or even "I like you". Carmen Jenner has managed to reach what she set out to do (I'm referring to the author's not at the beginning of the book). I did enjoy the story, though I feel enjoy isn't the right word to use. More like I was able to make it through, but not unscratched. If you want to read this book, and I can recommend it, take heed of the warning, so you can prepare yourself for what's coming.

The Author
Carmen Jenner is a thirty-something USA Today best selling author, doctor, pilot and CIA agent.

She's also a compulsive, flagrant prevaricator who gets to make things up for a living.

While Sugartown may not technically exist, Carmen grew up in a small Australian town just like it, and just like her characters, she always longed for something more.They didn't have an Elijah Cade, though. If they did, you can be sure she would have never left.

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Review: The Deal (Off-Campus #1) by Elle Kennedy

She’s about to make a deal with the college bad boy...

Hannah Wells has finally found someone who turns her on. But while she might be confident in every other area of her life, she’s carting around a full set of baggage when it comes to sex and seduction. If she wants to get her crush’s attention, she’ll have to step out of her comfort zone and make him take notice…even if it means tutoring the annoying, childish, cocky captain of the hockey team in exchange for a pretend date.

...and it’s going to be oh so good.

All Garrett Graham has ever wanted is to play professional hockey after graduation, but his plummeting GPA is threatening everything he’s worked so hard for. If helping a sarcastic brunette make another guy jealous will help him secure his position on the team, he’s all for it. But when one unexpected kiss leads to the wildest sex of both their lives, it doesn't take long for Garrett to realize that pretend isn't going to cut it. Now he just has to convince Hannah that the man she wants looks a lot like him.

This is one of those books where I almost don't want to explain why you should read it. Meaning, you should just trust me, read it and I know you'll love it too.

The Deal was my first book by Elle Kennedy and it certainly won't be my last. I already want more of these hockey players and all the other fantastic characters.

While the premise is pretty cliché, the non-popular girl and the star player, Elle Kennedy still manages to make it original. I love it when stories like these can take me by surprise. By now you'd think I have almost read of all it, all the variations. The ending on its own is of course no big surprise, I mean we're all rooting for a happily ever after. But the characters and the journey they undertake is what kept me turning the pages.

Sometimes New Adult can be a bit too angsty for me and characters are so wrapped up in their own head, that they miss what is out there or right in front of their face. This was not the case here. Both Garrett and Hannah have some demons from their past, but they are not crippled by it. They've already dealt with those issues a lot, and they won't let what happened dictate their lives. Quite the opposite, they are both fighters and not afraid to live their lives the way they want it. 

I admire Hannah so much. What she has gone through is every girl's nightmare, but throughout the years she has managed to give it a place in her life and not let fear rule it. She's strong, confident, and witty. Except crushing on some guy, who doesn't even notice her, her life is going great. When Garrett first offered to help her out, in exchange for some tutoring, she wasn't very excited about it. Honestly at first Hannah doesn't want to have anything to do with the hockey player. It was actually surprising how she wasn't afraid to tell Garrett off, when she could barely utter two words to her crush. In the end though she relents, and that was only the beginning when it came to Garrett.

Garrett has his own issues, in a way they are more hidden, and he's so focused on other things that those issues are a thing from the past. Hockey is his life, and girls are the entertainment. But when failing an exam jeopardizes his future, he's not one to give up and having Hannah tutor him is the only solution. I liked that Garrett admitted that before needing her, he had no clue who she was, but now he's actually very upfront about what he thinks of her. 

The dynamic between these two was so much fun to read about. They are constantly on each other's case, Garrett is all about the sexual innuendos, and Hannah can be so sarcastic. Seriously these two are a hoot. There is certainly a physical attraction in the beginning. Hannah is no fool, and does realizes how hot Garrett is. While Garrett loves the ladies, and since Hannah is a lady, he likes her. From a reluctant partnership, it grows into a friendship and then so much more. 

Even when there is big drama, it's still so reasonable. Hannah and Garrett felt so real to me. Two people who I wouldn't mind hanging out with, it would be so much fun. Garrett's teammates are a blast and Hannah's friends are hilarious. Therefore I can not wait to read more about them. I'm really hoping that Logan, Garrett's best friend, gets his own story. That guy deserves his own girl.

All in all I loved The Deal. Characters were amazing, the humor was on point, not too much heavy drama, and the sexy times were off the charts. This to me makes a pretty perfect new adult romance novel.  


The Author
A RITA-award nominated author, Elle Kennedy grew up in the suburbs of Toronto, Ontario, and holds a B.A. in English from York University. From an early age, she knew she wanted to be a writer, and actively began pursuing that dream when she was a teenager.

Elle currently publishes with Harlequin Romantic Suspense, Harlequin Blaze, Samhain Publishing, and NAL. She loves strong heroines and sexy alpha heroes, and just enough heat and danger to keep things interesting!

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Review & Giveaway: When Joss Met Matt by Ellie Cahill

Ellie Cahill is poised to coin the term “sorbet sex” with her charming twist on the age-old ‘friends-with-benefits’ story.

Dating can be fun, but it can leave a nasty taste in your mouth. For Joss, ever since her longtime boyfriend cheated on her, she doesn’t want her last memory of a guy to be that jerk. Enter her college friend, Matt. They come up with a theory: after a bad break-up, a person needs to cleanse the palate with a little sorbet sex. Lovers for a night, but always back to being friends in the morning. The two can handle it because they have a contract: rules they wrote, rules they follow and rules they can sometimes bend. The arrangement works: everyone needs a little sorbet now and again … until it starts to be the only thing you want. And then Joss breaks the one rule they never wrote down: don’t fall in love.

*I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review*

When Joss Met Matt was surprisingly a very sweet story, despite the main subject being sex. Through a series of flashbacks and a couple of current chapters, we get to see how this arrangement started between them and how it evolved throughout the years. 

At first it's clearly strictly friendly between them. The sex is good, but it's always just one night to clear their pallet from the bad aftertaste of a broken relationship. I do really like how the main focus wasn't necessarily on what went on in the bedroom, but also on that connection between Joss and Matt. They are foremost friends, and you see that very clearly. Since this all started in college, you can kind of expect them to do this crazy "sorbet sex" thing, but when it continues after graduating, that's when you start seeing the real changes.

The story is told from Joss' point of view, so we never get inside Matt's head, but to me he was pretty easy to read. While we have those alternating flashbacks, to me that wasn't really necessary. The story could have easily been told chronologically and still have the same effect. I'm not quite sure why the author did it that way. 

I do have to say that it wasn't easy to see where friendship turned into love. Both are pretty casual with their arrangement, and have plenty of relationships over the years and there is never any clear jealousy of them being with someone else. So maybe that have could played out a little more to me. Still overall I very much enjoyed When Joss Met Matt. With it being a New Adult book, it's actually pretty clean story. Both main characters are pretty nice, and feel very realistic (no over the top hotness, but real people). There was plenty of humor, which is always a bonus for me, and just a sweet and cute read.

The Author
Liz Czukas is the author of fun YA romances like ASK AGAIN LATER (HarperTeen '14) and TOP TEN CLUES YOU'RE CLUELESS (HarperTeen '14). She also writes fun New Adult romances like WHEN JOSS MET MATT under the name Ellie Cahill.

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Review: Devil You Know (Butcher Boys #1) by Max Henry


How do you define it? I guess it’s up to the individual. Love can be a sweet gesture of flowers on your anniversary. Love can be a meal waiting at home after a long day at work. Love can be a gentle caress. Or the unspoken words in your lover’s eyes.

Love isn’t a backhand, given because of a warm beer. Love isn’t wearing long-sleeves to hide bruises from the ladies at the supermarket.

I thought I’d never experience love. Such emotion didn’t seem to fit with what I had—who I was.
But he stepped in, and showed me his.

He pulled me from the dark abyss I had lost myself to, and showed me the simple things which could bring such joy. Sun on my face. The smell of fresh coffee. Colours in the autumn leaves. All the little things.

He shows me these things, but he doesn’t share in them. He knows happiness, but he doesn’t feel it. He will give love, but never accept it.

He saved me. Now it’s my turn to return the favour …

For me personally the worst thing that can happen with a story, is that I can not connect with the characters. Unfortunately that's exactly what happened here, and if I can't connect with a character, then I don't care what happens to them. Which makes it very difficult as Jane is being abused by her husband, and I do feel terrible about that, but somehow the way it was written I didn't care about it.

I was very happy for her when her neighbour came to the rescue. Malice, her prince charming, though he's neither charming or a prince at all. He takes her away from a bad situation, and I admire him for doing that. Having that courage to step up to this bully, and being able convince Jane that she shouldn't take it anymore.

So far so good. Malice takes her somewhere where they can stay low, until all the paperwork is in order and Jane can get herself back on her feet. That's when it went downhill for me. I can understand there is a certain attraction between Jane and Malice, but with his temper and her very recent past it didn't make much sense to me. Maybe mostly it was because Jane didn't behave the way I expected an abused woman to behave, at least not in such a short period of time.

Also there is this push and pull going on between them, that was tiresome and most of all repetitive. I felt like I read the same discussion/argument over five times. There is this mysterious side to Malice, that was always hinted at, but never fully explained to almost at the end. Even when it was from his point of view, he talked more about the horrors in his mind and how he shouldn't be feeling this way towards Jane. But you know, there was just something about her.

What could have been a deep, dark and emotional story, in the end just fell flat to me. The way it was written I couldn't connect with the characters, the dialogues were tiresome and mostly repetitive, and with his big secret I really don't understand how these two people could ever make it work. I know authors can take some unusual situations, and I just go with it, but with Jane and Malice I just didn't see it.

The Author
I rediscovered my love of reading last year after never really having the time with two small children, and in doing so, realised I didn't just want to read the books - I wanted to write them.
So I put fingers to keyboard and wrote. Then wrote some more. And before you know it, here I am now.

I decided that at thirty it was high time to stop living a 'what if' life and give my dreams a chance. Lost deep in thought one day as I walked the kids in their buggy, I realised that I didn't want to be an old lady who sat and reflected on her life thinking 'what if I had tried?' I wanted to be an old lady who reflected on her life and thought 'At least I didn't leave a stone unturned.'

I am me. Life is not to be lived in the shadow of others, doing what you think your peers expect you to. Life is to be lived to the fullest, explored and challenged.

Next time you sit and think 'what if', sit and think 'what if I die tomorrow?' There is no time like the present.

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Saturday Series: The Year We Fell Down (The Ivy Years #1) by Sarina Bowen

The sport she loves is out of reach. The boy she loves has someone else.

What now?

She expected to start Harkness College as a varsity ice hockey player. But a serious accident means that Corey Callahan will start school in a wheelchair instead.

Across the hall, in the other handicapped-accessible dorm room, lives the too-delicious-to-be real Adam Hartley, another would-be hockey star with his leg broken in two places. He’s way out of Corey’s league.

Also, he’s taken.

Nevertheless, an unlikely alliance blooms between Corey and Hartley in the “gimp ghetto” of McHerrin Hall. Over tequila, perilously balanced dining hall trays, and video games, the two cope with disappointments that nobody else understands.
They’re just friends, of course, until one night when things fall apart. Or fall together. All Corey knows is that she’s falling. Hard.

But will Hartley set aside his trophy girl to love someone as broken as Corey? If he won’t, she will need to find the courage to make a life for herself at Harkness — one which does not revolve around the sport she can no longer play, or the brown-eyed boy who’s afraid to love her back.

What an awesome no bullshit story. I've been a bit in a book slump with my Saturday Series (two DNF in a row), and this was just the one to take me out of it. The story almost starts off like fate. Corey lost her ability to walk in a hockey accident, but when starting college her neighbour is the hot star player. Though he also currently has a walking problem due to a drunk accident. They are by the way perfect for each other. Both love hockey, there is this obvious connection between them, they're joking all the time, it's all so very relaxed. The only problem is that Hartley has a girlfriend, but let's call that a minor glitch.

Corey never thought that after the accident life could be so normal and fun again. With the help of Hartley and her roommate, she gets the full college experience. She's still adjusting somewhat, and is slowly learning that her disability doesn't mean she can't live a full life.

I loved to see Corey's journey through her first year of college. Besides the thing with Hartley, it's very much focused on her self discovery. How she slowly gets to enjoy life and love again. It was done in such a realistic, matter of fact way that I just love.

Both main characters were very loveable and easy to relate to. Even though Hartley has a girlfriend he never comes off as a jerk or a player. He's a solid guy, who just needs some time to figure certain things out.

Corey and Hartley are hockey players, but it's not really present in the story as they currently can not play. For Corey it's more about the miss of not being able to play and Hartley just needs to heal. Though I liked the way the author handled the subject of Corey no longer being able to play, how she copes with it and kind of moves on from it in another direction.

Overall a great first book. I'm already fan of this series after finishing this one and I can not wait to read more.

The Ivy Years - Reading order and purchase links



The Author
Sarina Bowen writes steamy, angsty Contemporary Romance and New Adult fiction from the wilds of Vermont.

She is the author of The Ivy Years, an award-winning series set amid the hockey team at an elite Connecticut college.

Also, the Gravity series.

Sarina enjoys skiing, espresso drinks and the occasional margarita. She lives with her family, eight chickens and more ski gear and hockey equipment than seems necessary.

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Excerpt & Giveaway: Suspicious Minds (Fate #3) by Elizabeth Reyes

It's been a long wait, but finally Lorenzo's story is here!!! I'm so happy for this one. I freaking love this series. The first two books were solid 5 star reads, though they can all be read as a standalone. Fate, the first book, is currently still free, though it won't be long 'till that changes, so grab your copy now. Or you can enter the giveaway, and win a complete signed set of the series :D

Good girls cheat too.

It's a bitter reality Lorenzo Moreno knows all too well.

After his "good girl" fiancée blind sides him by cheating on him with her ex Lorenzo swears off relationships for a while, if not forever.

Until Fate steps in.

Unable to fight the incredible pull he feels to Olivia, a girl who was supposed to be just a meaningless one night stand, Lorenzo gives into his heart. But only after making one thing utterly clear. He will not deal with any exe's or other men in her life. Period.

She's not that person anymore.

For too long Olivia Romero shamefully put up with an manipulative and overly controlling boyfriend. So when fate pairs her up with the gorgeous but intense Air Force pilot she's ready to stand her ground. Cutting all ties with her ex is no sacrifice for Olivia. It's why she willingly complies with Lorenzo's uncompromising stipulation.

As their relationship intensifies so do Lorenzo's suspicions about any man in her life. Determined to not be that weak girl anymore, Olivia demands to be trusted. Despite how vehement her new boyfriend can be, her diligence seems to be working.

But when an unforeseen crisis arises Olivia is forced to make a decision. A decision she knows in Lorenzo's jaded and suspicious mind could be unforgivable.

"Did you sleep with him?" Lorenzo asked his heart spiking despite the fact that he already knew the answer to that.


"Don't call me that!" he said loudly. "Just answer the fucking question! Did you sleep with him?"

"It's complicated."

"No it's not!" He backed away from her bed feeling the enormous ache in his heart mixed with the anger and disgust inundate him. "It's simple enough. Either you did or you didn't.

Which is it?"

Fate - Reading order and purchase links
*All books can be read as a standalone*


Fate: Amazon - Kobo - Smashwords (FREE)

The Author
USA Today Bestselling Author, Elizabeth Reyes continues to answer to her calling on a daily basis. Since releasing her debut novel Forever Mine (Moreno Brothers #1) in 2010 she has now published 9 full length novels total and fast at work on the next. The excitement her Moreno Brothers, 5th Street, and Fate series have garnered has far exceeded her wildest dreams. It is with as much excitement that she'll continue to put out books related to these series as well as introduce brand new ones very soon. In 2014 she will take her next step in the exciting world of writing and publish her first traditionally published book with Simon & Schuster/Atria. But she will continue putting out self published books as well.

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