Keep by Rachel Van Dyken

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My name is shouted on rooftops.
It’s written on bras, on the inside of bathroom stalls, hell my name is everywhere.
To say my name is to experience an orgasm without ever leaving your damn house.
My name is Zane “Saint” Andrews.

I’m sex.
I’m a rock god.

I’m also…a virgin.

What they don’t know won’t kill them right? Give the people what they want. And what they want is the idea of me; the pleasure they gain at listening to my song and knowing without a doubt I’m talking about them and only them.
It worked for a while.
Until a nerdy girl with glasses falls at my feet, literally, and suddenly I don’t want to be Saint anymore, what I want? What I really need?
Is to be kept.
By her.

Please forgive me if this review has typos. My keyboard is soaked in my tears from this story. I am NOT exaggerating here either. There is only one other book that has made me cry this hard. My tears do not mean this book is sad at all; its beautiful. It touches on the frailty that is life, and all of the beauty that exists in our small worlds.

This book is just…gut-wrenchingly beautiful. This story touches so many places, and so many emotions, and yet still manages to stay as a romantic comedy.

Fallon and Zane meet when she loses her glasses and Zane helps her find them. I enjoyed their banter back and forth. I know we always hear about people who just naturally mesh well together and Rachel captured that so well with Zane and Fallon.

There are people who first meet and they just click. Its that instant bond. Fallon and Zane have that but it evolves to romance and love. I especially admired how Zane was fairly quirky and it would throw Fallon off, but she just rolled with it. You could easily see Zane as the star and Fallon as the nerd, but I respected how Rachel wrote both of them. Yes, maybe you could call each by a respective label, but there was so much underneath.

One obstacle that Zane has is his anxiety. Its interesting how well he hides it. Even Fallon doesn’t realize it for a portion of the story. That is how well he manages to keep it under wraps. I truly am thankful that Rachel gave a character such as Zane anxiety. I have anxiety myself and it can be so crippling at times. It can hit out of nowhere and I know that its not easy for someone who doesn’t experience it to understand. So for Rachel to give someone that the world, in this story, loves and idolizes that anxiety was an interesting spin, but also one that I think is very much appreciated by readers. It actually made me feel less alone with my own anxiety issues.

I think every person needs a Fallon in their life, so we can all have a truly good person like her in our lives. I absolutely loved/adored/admired/liked/praised that Fallon just let Zane be himself. Even as we progress through the story, she never is trying to fix him. She just accepts him. Yes, when he keeps staying naked, she says something because it bothers her but she never talks down to him over it. Or his marshmallow addiction. Fallon just is. I think that is what makes her all the more lovable. She’s intelligent, but funny and just exists as she is. I loved her for that.

Obviously, I loved this book and Zallon’s love story (I couldn’t resist giving them a celebrity nickname). I’ll post the links below and then get over and one-click!

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2a6qTNk
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/29GBKj3
Amazon CA: http://amzn.to/29zgwzN
Amazon AU: http://amzn.to/29zfunu
B&N: http://bit.ly/29ASaI5
iBooks: http://apple.co/1OiSEBM
Kobo: http://bit.ly/1R5Vaw6

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Journey to the Centre of Myself by Andie M. Long

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Two women. Two different paths in life.

Amber’s husband is pressuring her to have a baby. Amber wants to have fun. She gives in to her husband, only to find that all is not as it seems.

Karen’s marriage is at its end, rocked by grief and lies. Newly redundant, she leaves on a flight to Berlin, to spend time alone and consider her future.

Amber is the temp who took over Karen’s job. But that’s not all the two women have in common. One woman’s drunken kiss in a nightclub will lead to their paths crossing once again.

Life is about to reveal new journeys for them both.

This book was…refreshing. I mean that as a compliment, by the way. When I started reading this book, I was not sure what to expect. This book starts out in Manchester, England. I didn’t know that based on the synopsis, so I’ll tell you the entire story is set primarily in Manchester, and then we do get to follow Karen’s travels to Berlin, Paris; among other places.

I thought this book was truly written so well, and it was intriguing to me to see how the author wove the characters together. When you are first reading the story and meeting everyone, you do not realize how some already are connected, and also how some will become connected to each other later in the story as everything comes full circle. (I know that sounds somewhat evasive but I don’t want to give the story away).

Another aspect of this story that I thoroughly appreciated is that while there is drama, its not dragged out. The characters are all trying to change in some way. Karen is trying to relax and somewhat find herself amidst all of the crisis’ that life has handed her. Amber is trying to stop being impulsive. But its funny because the things they are trying to change aren’t really as bad as they seem.

When you start to hear more about Karen and her history with her daughter and husband, I could totally understand why she would feel sort of crazy and not herself.

And with Amber, being somewhat the same age as she is, I could definitely understand how she felt with Will, and him pressuring her for a baby.

In this story, we also meet Mirelle, Shaun, and Steve as supporting characters. Mirelle is Amber’s co-worker and friend, and Steve is Karen’s sister. I was ecstatic that even though they are not main characters, they also follow the general theme of the story, and that is one of growth and evolving so you can find your happiness. I so appreciated that this happened.

It was shocking to me the parallel of this story to real life. We have feelings and emotions and crazy things happen and we might think we are crazy for how we react, but in reality, its really not that unusual at all. This story is also a really good reminder that you can’t help how you feel about something, especially deep down. I, myself, have always been a believer that people are who they are, and that we can change, but it has to be a natural change that we want to have happen to ourselves. If you just change for someone else, be it a friend, spouse, job, etc, you won’t be happy because its not who you are naturally. This story really seemed to bring that concept to life.

The author does weave in some humor and a slight bit of catfight into the story, but she did it so well that it never takes away from the overall story about, ultimately, Karen and Amber discovering who they are and what they really want.

There is so much more I liked about this story. I could probably write and write and then write some more. It is fantastically written, and I am honored that I was given an ARC for review. I can truly say this book touched me on a personal level and I would absolutely recommend that anyone take the time for this journey.

Buy Links: Journey to the Centre of Myself

Always My Girl by Samantha Chase

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Falling in love with your best friend? Easy.
Telling them how you really feel? Impossible.

Quinn Shaughnessy believes there’s a lot more to life than romance, and he always thought his best friend Anna agreed. But now she’s coming out of her shell and dating…and Quinn starts seeing her in a very different light.

Anna can tell Quinn anything, except the big secret she’s been hiding for years-that she’s fallen in love with him. Now Anna is deter mined to make a life for herself that doesn’t include hopeless pining. But just as she’s ready to move on, Quinn seems determined not to let go-and the way he’s looking at her might be enough to finally change them from best friends to best everything.

Okay, fan girl moment here. I freaking LOVE Samantha Chase. I really don’t know what it is exactly, but I just think she is awesome and I have loved every book of hers that I have gotten to read. I think it might be because I always feel like she focuses on the actual love story and I really admire that.

This book is the latest in Shaughnessy Brothers series. This time around, we get to spend more time with Anna and Quinn. As a side note, I really enjoy series that follow a particular family. So I really admire what Samantha has done with this series, in regards to following each family member (so far). Its nice to not lose past characters that you’ve fallen in love with.

Anna and Quinn have been best friends since they were little. From day one, its been Quinn and Anna as buddies and nothing more. As time went on, however, Anna developed feelings for Quinn but she never acted on them. The only person who was unaware of Anna’s feelings are Quinn. Everyone else can see it very clearly.

Quinn is, to me, sort of a quintessential guy who doesn’t know much about women. He normally “dates” women who look like playboy playmates, but its never anything serious. So when he sees Anna in a bikini at his brother’s wedding, he initially doesn’t even realize that its Anna (she is wearing a hat at the time). In those moments, he starts to see Anna as a woman and not just his tomboy best friend.

One thing that I really liked about this book, and I am not sure if this was intentional or just my feelings as the story progressed, but I found Quinn to be fairly unlikable in the beginning of this story. I didn’t hate him, but I found him somewhat insufferable. He was just acting like such a brat sometimes. And for a grown man, that seemed just foolish.

As the story continues, we get to see Quinn growing and maturing. This was actually my favorite component of this book. Yes, we do see Anna and Quinn’s love story, but really, we are watching Quinn’s growth. Anna is changing too, but she isn’t going through some of the changes and enlightenment that Quinn is.

I absolutely loved this book and I cannot wait for the next book in the Shaughnessy family series!

Buy it here: Samantha Chase “Always My Girl”

Tuscan Heat by Anise Storm

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Having known each other since birth, Mario De Palma and Melania Barone fought worse than siblings. That all changed one evening when dueling tempers exploded into a night of passion and desire under the Tuscan Heat.

Three years later, Melania finally has all she’d ever dreamed of… a successful Italian restaurant… a group of close knit friends who were more like sisters… and a single lifestyle on the shores of South Beach. Occasionally she wanted more, but two out of three wasn’t bad.

After enjoying world-wide culinary success, Mario returned to South Beach intending to open a restaurant of his own. That isn’t the only reason he returned to Florida, though. He moved home to claim the one woman who hadn’t left his mind since their night together in Italy.

More than tempers explode when they reunite, especially once she believes that he’s out to sabotage her restaurant. Will Mario be able to convince Melania of the truth before a force of nature threatens to end that dream forever?

“Tuscan Heat” is a new book from Anise Storm, and it follows Melania and Mario from childhood to adulthood.

Melania is basically a high-functioning brat. She is just such a high-tempered, over the top personality. The thing is, she is only that when she is interacting with Mario and her family. With her friends and employees, it was like an entirely different person. It was somewhat off-putting to me because she is living in a luxury condo, with everyone driving a luxury car, and then she’s sort of treating her core family group like garbage.

Mario, on the other hand, actually comes off fairly endearing throughout this book. Basically, he’s been in love with Melania for years, and is now trying to actually act on it. However, I didn’t think he went about it in the best way. He went from being very endearing to sex obsessed and then semi-dominant at the end. This book went from focused on love to focused on sex and kept swinging.

I know people, and ultimately characters, can be multi-faceted but these characters gave me a bit of whiplash.

One thing I did really like about this book is that we do see Melania’s friends throughout the book and the great relationship she had with them. However, what confused me on that was why it was mentioned so much in the book. Partway through, I was not entirely sure if the book was focusing on the love story of Melania and Mario, or the friendship with her friends.

I think this book has great promise and I can say that I read the book fairly quickly as its 156 pages in length. This is just my personal opinion, but I feel like if the author chose a focus and stuck with it, this book would be even better. She has a great story going and it definitely kept my attention. It was just that several times I found myself sort of feeling like the characters behavior seemed off-kilter or the book went in a direction that not aligning with the story well.

I liked the overall premise of this story, but one thing that sort of left me feeling conflicted was that this seemed to be a lot of stories in one. We go from this friends to enemies to lovers story, great friendship story, sort of luxury Miami living and back and forth. Then at the end, there is a slight touch of BDSM. Because things kept moving, it made it hard for me to really cement in my feelings on the characters or the love story itself. This may not bother the average reader and I don’t really deduct “stars” based on my feelings for this.

I would definitely love to read more from this author and I would be excited to see what she comes up with in the future.