Kim’s Review of True (True #1) by Erin McCarthy

temWell folks, I’m a New Adult goner.  Seriously. I see books being published under the genre of New Adult and I MUST have them.  While perusing the Netgalley site I came across Erin McCarthy’s True.  Billed as a “captivating new adult novel,” I was instantly sold.

From Goodreads:

When Rory Macintosh’s roommates find out that their studious and shy friend has never been with a guy, they decide that, as an act of kindness they’ll help her lose her virginity by hiring confident, tattooed bad boy Tyler Mann to do the job…unbeknownst to Rory.

Tyler knows he’s not good enough for Rory. She’s smart, doctor smart, while he’s barely scraping by at his EMT program, hoping to pull his younger brothers out of the hell their druggy mother has left them in. But he can’t resist taking up her roommates on an opportunity to get to know her better. There’s something about her honesty that keeps him coming back when he knows he shouldn’t…

Torn between common sense and desire, the two find themselves caught up in a passionate relationship. But when Tyler’s broken family threatens to destroy his future, and hers, Rory will need to decide whether to cut her ties to his risky world or follow her heart, no matter what the cost…

I’ll admit that I went into reading True with high expectations.  I’d been coming off of a new adult high thanks to Easy, Losing It, The Secret of Ella and Michaand The Forever of Ella and Micha and I wanted to love this as much as I love those four.  Sadly, this book fell way below my expectations for a few reasons.

Reason number one was probably my issues with all of the supporting characters.  Rory’s a girl that’s obviously shy and has self-confidence issues.  In the first scene we see a timid girl who just goes with the flow socially and is almost raped as a result of getting mixed up in a bad situation.  After Tyler steps in and saves her from impending doom, we the see her roommates give her about 2 minutes of their time before they fall asleep/walk away to leave her to be driven home by Tyler.  Did either of them think she wouldn’t want to be alone with a guy at that moment in time? OR that their own sex lives should be placed on hold while they helped their so-called best friend?  It makes me angry that they were so callous and selfish.

THEN upon finding out that Rory is a virgin they decide to PAY Tyler to sleep with her?  First off, how awkward is that?  Also, one of her roommates was Tyler’s “friend-with-benefits” at one point in time.  I give Tyler a lot of credit for not taking the money.  It showed that he had a respect for Rory and for her decision to choose when/how/where she would lose her virginity.  I was happy that Rory confronted him about the plan once she found out about it, and that Tyler lets us in his head to see the misgivings that the plan had caused him.  BUT (and here is another huge issue I had with the book) Rory’s roommates are NEVER confronted or held accountable for it.  They just make these comments along the way telling her not to hang out with Tyler too much.  UGH. The entire situation aggravated me.

Don’t even get me started on the guy that almost raped Rory.  Apparently it’s cool to almost rape a girl and then come back to hang out at the house when she’s there.  NO COMMENT.

The only thing that saved this book for me (and kept its rating above 2 stars) was the writing.  The writing is really descriptive and is big on showing and not telling.  Rory and Tyler’s relationship develops through feelings that are apparent and vivid to the reader.  Tyler’s backstory is super depressing, but it’s an incredible one.  He’s definitely my favorite character in the book due to his intense characterization.  While the ending is a bit abrupt, I understand there are more books planned for the series.  I can only hope that the supporting characters are held accountable for their actions and that the story develops deeper.

3 out of 5 Stars

True by Erin McCarthy
Penguin Group (2013)
eBook: 240 pages
ISBN: 9781101623152

Special thanks to Penguin Group for my review copy via Netgalley!

Kim’s Review of The Forever of Ella and Micha (The Secret #2) by Jessica Sorensen

tfoeamjsDark and angst-filled characters struggling to face their demons are like my kryptonite (well, that and rakish men).  Something about the act of redemption and making it against all odds just gives me the warm and fuzzies.  With that being said it’s not a surprise that Jessica Sorensen is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors.  I loved loved loved loved loved her book The Secret of Ella and Micha when I read it last month, and couldn’t wait to jump into book two in the series, The Forever of Ella and Micha.

Now that they have survived the events of the first book in the series, both Ella and Micha have settled into a long distance relationship.  Ella has gone back to college, and is attempting to get away from her family problems, as her father is battling with alcohol addiction and has been in and out of rehab for the past few months.  Micha, on the other hand, is traveling across the country performing with his band.  He is finding it much more difficult than he originally thought to be away from Ella, and Ella is missing the safety and security that she feels with Micha.  Nonetheless, she knows that Micha is perusing his dreams, and she refuses to stand in the way of his accomplishments, no matter how much she misses him.  Fortunately they do get to spend brief interludes together, but these moments only serve to highlight how hard it is to let each other go.  Will they be able to keep up their relationship with the distance mounting between them?

Gahhhhh I am in so love with this book and with Sorensen’s writing and with this series in general.  After all the hell that Ella and Micha went through in the last book you’d expect a bit of a reprieve, right? Wrong!  I’m actually glad that Sorensen didn’t just take the easy way out and write them a completely normal happy ever after.  It’s unrealistic to imagine that suddenly all the problems they have with themselves, their families, and each other would magically disappear the minute they admitted to loving each other.  That sugar-coating you find in a lot of romance novels doesn’t exist here.  Ella and Micha are raw, emotional, passionate people.  In other words, they’re real.  At one point in the book Micha tells Ella that since they know all of each other’s flaws, their relationship is stronger than most.

“It will, and you want to know why?” I ask and she nods. “Because most people go into this blind.  They don’t know the bad side of the person they’re with.  But we know each other’s flaws and cracks- we know what we’re getting into and that makes us stronger.”

SO TRUE.  How many people dream of a fantastical relationship where everything is gumdrops and roses? A perfect partner who knows your every thought, dream, wish, etc.  A person who will never disagree with you and will never have any problems dealing with anything life throws at them.  Unfortunately, life doesn’t happen that way.  Nervous breakdowns happen. People lose their jobs, money, homes, family members, etc.  Grief happens. So does depression.  All of these problems can change a person.  Going in to a relationship with your eyes open, knowing the emotional susceptibility your partner could have because of any of these things is the best possible “relationship strengthener” there is.  There will be times when you need to be the strong one while your partner is weak.  This is exactly what happens in The Forever of Ella and Micha, and it’s because of this that I love this book so much.  It’s an incredibly realistic love story that has tons of parallels to real life.  It doesn’t make any false promises, but at the same time is spontaneous and fun.  In short, it is as varied and unpredictable as life is, and because of that it makes a great read.

5 out of 5 Stars

The Forever of Ella and Micha by Jessica Sorensen
Grand Central Publishing (2013)
eBook: 336 pages
ISBN: 9781455574872

Special thanks to Grand Central Publishing for my review copy via Netgalley!

Kim’s Review of The Secret of Ella and Micha (The Secret #1) by Jessica Sorensen

tsoeamjsAs most of you know, I’m the newest convert to the world of “new adult”.  I can’t get enough of it.  Couple this new genre with a good dose of angst in a novel and you know that you have a perfect storm that is sure to please my bookish needs.  So, when I found out that the first book in Jessica Sorensen’s The Secret series, The Secret of Ella and Micha, fulfilled both of these needs, I had to read it.

Best friends since childhood, Ella and Micha know everything there is to know about one another.  They coexist in a comfort that comes from years of friendship, yet this protection is shattered one night in a way which changes everything.  Ella leaves for college, and changes completely.  Once a fearless and bold girl, she became straight-laced and conforms to the rules completely.  Now that she is back for the summer, Ella fears that all her work to hide her old self will be undone when she sees Micha again.  Micha on the other hand is desperate to bring back the old Ella, and uses every trick he can think of to coax her out of her self-imposed exile to return to her former personality.  Ella knows that Micha has a special ability to get in her head like no one else, but will she let him get close enough to her, the girl whom he loves and would do anything for?

I absolutely love books that take characters with dark pasts and who are severely scarred emotionally and help them break through their “darkness.”  Redemption (self or other) is in my opinion a difficult path for an author to walk when developing characters.  I’ve read a lot of books where authors try to redeem their characters, and the plots end up being so simple and unrealistic.  Sorensen has instead given a true depiction of what darkness can do to a person: dangerous behavior, drinking, and drugs.  It’s all there.  Even at the end of this book the characters aren’t perfect.  Their problems haven’t gone away, and rainbows and unicorns haven’t fallen from the skies.  There are still things that have to be worked on and sifted through, and the only thing that will ever truly heal them is time and acceptance.  Sorensen has definitely found a fan in me for life.  Ella and Micha are just so real and raw that they’re unlike anything else I’ve read recently.  If I had to describe this book using pop culture references, I’d definitely say that it’s like a dark version of Fast and the Furious.  The Secret of Ella and Micha will definitely take you on one hell of a ride that will make you feel like you’ve been simultaneously sucker punched in the gut, and engulfed in the biggest, warmest hug of your life.  I’m pumped that book two, The Forever of Ella and Micha, is slated for release next week.  I’ve already read it and can happily say that it was awesome!  Definitely add this to your to-read piles now!

5 out of 5 Stars

The Secret of Ella and Micha by Jessica Sorensen
Grand Central Publishing (2013)
eBook: 368 pages
ISBN: 9781455574865

Kim’s Review of Eyes Wide Open (The Blackstone Affair #3) by Raine Miller

ewormAfter reading the first two books in The Blackstone Affair trilogy, Naked and All In, I was anxious to begin reading book three, Eyes Wide Open, to see where Ethan and Brynne’s story would go.  Raine Miller had me hooked and intrigued, wondering how their epic, tumultuous, and whirlwind romance would conclude! (It’s been announced that a fourth book is in the works – YAY!)

I’ll let Goodreads do the talking with regards to the plot:

Big surprises are on the horizon for Ethan and Brynne as they struggle to adjust to what life has thrown at them. Demons from the past are threatening to destroy the passionate bond they’ve forged despite their vow that nothing will ever keep them apart. A truly devastating loss coupled with the promise of a new hope opens their eyes to what is most important, but is it possible for the lovers to move on from the painful histories that continue to haunt them? A stalker is still lurking in the shadows, plotting evil amidst the distraction of the 2012 Olympic games in London. Brynne and Ethan are on the cusp of losing everything as the stakes rise. Will they yield to circumstances beyond their control or will they give every ounce of fight they have left to save each other and win the ultimate prize of a life together?

Eyes Wide Open is a passion-wrought story that shows us what pure love can achieve when tested and what the heart can accomplish despite danger and adversity.

My biggest complaint about the first two books in this series was that I didn’t think the characters loved each other.  I felt like they lusted after each other and mistook that for love.  I’m happy to say that Eyes Wide Open delved deeper into Brynne and Ethan’s relationship and helped me understand them a lot better.  In order to understand them as a couple we needed to understand them as individuals.  Eyes Wide Open did open my eyes to who they were, but most specifically, who Ethan is.  The amount of darkness he has had to deal with on a personal level makes his (at times) overbearing personality understandable.  His need to be in control makes total sense in the grand scheme of his life.  The fact that Brynne understands the reason behind his control issues and accepts them proves what a perfect partner she is for Ethan.  Her ability to look over all his “quirks” and push back at the appropriate times shows that. she isn’t a woman to mess with.  Sure, she bows to Ethan’s wishes at times, but not without making her feelings on the subject known and working on a compromise with him.

One other added plus to this series?  Miller’s approach to nude art.  The human body truly is a beautiful thing that can definitely become a work of art, as the cover of Naked clearly demonstrates.  To have Brynne be a model for these types of portraits and then explain the importance of being said model makes a bold statement about nude art that any art lover can appreciate.

I’m truly excited that Miller has planned more books for not only these characters, but some of the supporting characters in the series as well.  Ethan is a hot sexy specimen of a man and one I’m just not ready to let go of yet.  I’m hooked on the lives of these characters, and that’s the greatest compliment I can give Miller.  They’ve moved beyond the realm of stories and characters and feel now like old, well-known friends.

4 out of 5 Stars

Eyes Wide Open by Raine Miller
Atria Books (2013)
eBook: 272 pages
ISBN: 9781476735610

Special thanks to Atria Books for my review copy via Netgalley!

Kim’s Review of Easy by Tammara Webber

etwI mentioned in my review of Cora Carmack’s Losing It that I’ve become obsessed recently with the new adult genre.  After being blown away with how awesome that book was, I dove into Easy by Tammara Webber.  This book makes strong and amazing stances on the issues of rape culture and sexual assault and was a perfect choice to continue my tour of the new adult genre.

From Goodreads:

Rescued by a stranger.
Haunted by a secret
Sometimes, love isn’t easy…

He watched her, but never knew her. Until thanks to a chance encounter, he became her savior…

The attraction between them was undeniable. Yet the past he’d worked so hard to overcome, and the future she’d put so much faith in, threatened to tear them apart.

Only together could they fight the pain and guilt, face the truth—and find the unexpected power of love.

A groundbreaking novel in the New Adult genre, Easy faces one girl’s struggle to regain the trust she’s lost, find the inner strength to fight back against an attacker, and accept the peace she finds in the arms of a secretive boy.

NO MEANS NO.  It’s a statement that should need no explanation when put in a sexual context.  Unfortunately, all too often people are taken advantage of, left helpless, and not taken seriously when attempting to report a rape. Webber’s Easy blew me away with the stances it took on this hot button topic.  “Rape culture” is a phrase that we’re hearing all too often these days, mostly in reference to the serious lack of knowledge about the topic of rape in younger generations.  The Steubenville rape case is a prime example of this.  Misconceived notions about virginity, consent, and a “slutty persona” fuel the dismissal of legitimate sexual assault cases.  So much of Easy pushes the notion of self-empowerment and the belief in helping others to stop the cycle.  Learning how to defend yourself (both physically and mentally), holding others accountable for their actions and words, and maybe most importantly, how to listen to others and knowing how to set boundaries are all important lessons learned in this book.  I think it should be a required read for those younger generations who are beginning to experiment with one another, going to parties and attempting to fit in.  In the midst of all the signals they receive, from the media, social networks, gossip in school, and their parents, they need to realize that there are boundaries that they cannot cross.  Easy teaches this lesson, and it is presented in a way that is easy to understand and relate to.  I am so glad that Webber is making a strong and unyielding stance on this issue, and sets the record straight on a lot of the various false ideas that are common in “rape culture.”  I applaud her a hundred times over for getting this message out.  Once this information spreads, we can hopefully eliminate rape culture once and for all.

I cannot speak highly enough about this book.  Lucas is seriously the most amazing male character I’ve ever read.  He is a freaking superhero of awesomeness and is the epitome of what men should strive to be.  He takes the shit life threw at him and somehow learns from it, turning his life into a constant state of pay-it-forward.  Jacqueline is also a woman to learn from.  She learns from her mistakes and with Lucas’ help transforms herself into a strong, independent woman who is no longer afraid of what the future can hold.  So, hopefully with the help of a book like Easy and positive role models that deliver the right message to younger girls, they too can become strong women that know that saying no really means no.

5 out of 5 Stars

Easy by Tammara Webber
Penguin Group (2012)
eBook: 336 pages
ISBN: 9781101618011

Kim’s Review of Glamorous Illusions (Grand Tour Series #1) and Grave Consequences (Grand Tour Series #2) by Lisa Tawn Bergren

giltbIt’s not a secret that I love historical fiction novels.  If you were to take a look at the book genres I read in a pie graph form, I’m 99% positive that more than 65% of that graph would be dedicated to historical fiction novels.  As I was scouring Netgalley one evening I came across a novel entitled Glamorous Illusions by Lisa T. Bergren.  It was all about a woman finding herself (WIN!) while on a Grand Tour in the early 1900’s! For those unfamiliar with that term, back in the day the wealthy would go on tours around Europe to see the sights, meet people, etc.  For more info, click here.  Excited to see what Bergren had in store for me, I jumped right into Glamorous Illusions.

Cora Diehl’s family has fallen on hard times.  As farmers in a small town in Montana in 1913, her family can barely keep it together as their crops fail and Cora’s father’s health declines after multiple strokes.  Her life takes a dramatic turn, however, when she learns that she is the illegitimate daughter of an incredibly wealthy man, Wallace Kensington, The Copper King.  Through a massive fortune made in the copper business, Cora’s new family has more money than she could ever imagine.  They take her along as they tour through England and France, and Cora begins to experience sights that she only dreamed of before.  Her journey will be filled with danger, discovery, and adventure as she travels across Europe on a journey of self discovery and self acceptance.

Wow. Wow. Wow.  This book, in a word, wowed me.  From the glamorous locations to the high fashions in early 1900’s, this book hooked me.  Cora is a character going through deep transformations: spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally.  She’s got a lot on her plate, and what better way to figure out what she’s made of than a trip around the world.  Bergren gives Cora and Will great narrative voices for the reader to engage and connect with.  Their emotions are so clearly and eloquently written for the reader.  Their anger, their guilt, happiness, and sadness are all there to make the reader connect with these characters.

I’m not the most religious of people, but I can say that I did find the spiritual elements of the book to be moving.  God is a major part of Cora’s life, and as much as her journey is about finding herself, it’s also about finding her place in His master plan.  I was also incredibly surprised at how action-packed the end of the novel was.  It changed the whole feel of the novel (in a good way) and made me that much more anxious to begin Grave Consequences (book two).  In short, Glamorous Illusions is a solid start to the Grand Tour series, and historical fiction fans should definitely add this mainstay on to their reading lists.

4 out of 5 Stars

Glamorous Illusions by Lisa T. Bergren
David C. Cook (2012)
eBook: 416 pages
ISBN: 9781434705334

gcltbI immediately dove into book two in the Grand Tour series, Grave Consequences.  Taking place immediately following the first novel, it promised to be an exciting continuation to the action-packed ending of Glamorous Illusions.  With that in mind (and the book loaded up on my Nook), I started right in.

Grave Consequences begins with Cora and her family continuing their tour, making stops in Austria, France, and Italy.  All seems well, until Cora realizes that she is being followed.  What’s more, she must not only protect her physical safety, but her emotional safety as well, as a mysterious Frenchman makes a bold move to claim Cora’s heart.  Will she be able to escape her past and move forward as a new woman?  What will she make of all the claims laid on her heart?

I LOVE books with angst.  I can’t get enough of it!  I love when I stress out about a book, because it makes me realize how utterly connected I’ve become with the book and the characters.  When you can’t breathe because you’re so worried about what will happen to the characters, then you know you’re really in the thick of the story.  And that is exactly what happened with me and this book.  I felt like I was right there with Cora, Pierre, and Will as their love triangle exploded.  The whole kidnapping plot line afforded the novel an opportunity to become a rapid page turner.  What started out as a small ending plot to Glamorous Illusions turns into a full-blown mystery in Grave Consequences.  The kidnapping helped move the growing relationships between characters in a unique and creative way.  I really like how Bergren writes from both Will and Cora’s points of view.  The duality of the narrative flows surprisingly well as you get multiple perspectives on what’s truly happening.  With all of this being said, it’s no surprise that I’m eagerly awaiting book three in the series, Glittering Promises, due out October 1st.

4 out of 5 Stars

This is my fifteenth completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge

Grave Consequences by Lisa T. Bergren
David C. Cook (2013)
eBook: 448 pages
ISBN: 9780781408783

Special thanks to David C. Cook for my review copies through Netgalley!

Kim’s Review of Losing It (Losing It #1) by Cora Carmack

li1ccBack in December 2012 the New York Times published an article about the advent of a new genre in publishing, new adult.  In simplistic terms they say new adult novels are young adult novels with sex.  My own personal feelings, however, run a bit deeper.  First let me say that this new genre is being marketed to 18-25 year-olds.  Nobody doubts that being a teenager is hard, but so is coming into your own and becoming an adult.  Those in the 18-25 age bracket are usually entering college/graduating college, thinking about sex, their future, taking care of themselves financially, mature relationships, and beginning life on their own two feet.  As someone who can seriously relate to all of these thoughts, having gone through them myself fairly recently (I’m 26),  I’ve been happy about the explosion of this genre.  Books written with honesty and depth about the problems this age bracket faces are a welcome addition to the book world in my humble opinion.

With that as my introduction I’ll move on to tell you about the new adult binge I’ve been on for a good portion of April.  Losing It by Cora Carmack was my first foray into the genre and WHAT a good choice! Plot from Goodreads:

Virginity.

Bliss Edwards is about to graduate from college and still has hers. Sick of being the only virgin among her friends, she decides the best way to deal with the problem is to lose it as quickly and simply as possible– a one-night stand. But her plan turns out to be anything but simple when she freaks out and leaves a gorgeous guy alone and naked in her bed with an excuse that no one with half-a-brain would ever believe. And as if that weren’t embarrassing enough, when she arrives for her first class of her last college semester, she recognizes her new theater professor. She’d left him naked in her bed about 8 hours earlier.

Right off the bat I was in love with this book. No, seriously right from the start.  This line sold me “Somewhere between Saved by the Bell and Gossip Girl, it became unheard of for a girl to graduate college with her V-Card still in hand.” Sadly, it’s so true.  Being a girl and completing high school as a virgin is an extremely difficult task.  Imagine doing it all over again through college.  Bliss is one of these girls.  She feels an immense amount of pressure to lose her virginity, so much so that she’s willing to just find some random guy at a bar.  I commend Carmack for choosing to write about this subject and the inane amount of pressure there is on girls about sex in general.  My respect for her grew leaps and bounds when she had Bliss choose to NOT lose her virginity in a random one night stand.  Bliss is actually a pretty awesome role model.  As pressured as she feels by her friends to do what’s “cool” she knows what her own limitations are and ultimately makes decisions based on them.

Enter Garrick.  I’ve decided he’s my new book boyfriend (well actually him and Jamie Fraser).  Garrick is a suave, put-together guy who rocks confidence and sex appeal like no other.  He’s a refreshing male hero in my eyes because he’s not obsessed with doing EVERYTHING for Bliss.  He doesn’t want to feed her or pick out her clothes, etc.  He wants her to be herself with no limitations.  Even when he’s teaching her class, he wants her to reach her acting potential with her own inner confidence.  He doesn’t tell her she’s good because they’re sleeping together, he tells her she’s good because she is.  He recognizes her intelligence, her confidence, and her independence and respects her for it.

I mentioned earlier about the pressures this age group feels about sex, but for the upper bracket of the group, Carmack accurately depicts the anxieties that graduating college can cause.  The fear of “what am I going to do now?” is definitely something a good chunk of post-college grads can relate to.  I’m glad she highlighted these topics, as they give depth to the work as a whole.  With her witty prose and excellent subject matter, Cora Carmack has sealed her fate as one of my top authors in the new adult genre.  Losing It has earned its spot on my list of top ten reads this year as well as my favorite reads shelf.  Make sure you read this book before book two in the series, Faking It, comes out June 4th.

5 out of 5 Stars

Losing It by Cora Carmack
Harper Collins Publishing (2012)
eBook: 228 pages
ISBN: 9780062273253

Kim’s Review of Naked (The Blackstone Affair #1) and All In (The Blackstone Affair #2) by Raine Miller

I’m a sucker for books set in London. I’m also a sucker for romance novels. Oh and hot men. Throw all three together and you’ll understand why I jumped at the chance to read Naked and All In, the first two books in Raine Miller’s The Blackstone Affair series.  Also, did I mention that part of it takes place at the Olympics!?  Was this book made for me or what?

nakedBook one in the series is called Naked.  The summary from Goodreads:

Brynne Bennett is living the good life. An American art student at the University of London and part-time photographic model, she’s putting her life back on track with school and lots of hard work. When ultra successful London businessman, Ethan Blackstone, buys her nude portrait, he isn’t taking ‘no’ for an answer. He wants Brynne in his bed and makes plans to keep her there no matter what. His dominant nature captivates and ensnares despite the demons she carries inside her. But there are secrets in this relationship. Huge ones. Can Ethan free Brynne from the past that has marked her? Will Brynne let him or will the specters tormenting her resurface to destroy them both…

all inBook two in the series is called All In.  The summary from Goodreads:

Ethan Blackstone has a problem on his hands. He’s broken Brynne’s trust and she’s left him. He’s unwilling to live without her and isn’t giving up—he’s dead-set on getting his beautiful American girl back. The passion between them was explosive, but the secrets they hid from each other are dark and chilling and are powerful enough to destroy their shot at a life together. With political threats now directed at Brynne, Ethan is running out of time and he’ll need to gather all his strength and agility to protect her from the dangers that could take her away from him forever. Will Ethan be able to save Brynne from a past that keeps her locked in fear? Will he ever feel the warmth of her touch, the solidity of her trust again? This is a love-struck man who is willing to do whatever it takes to possess the heart of the woman he loves. He’ll go to any lengths to protect her. He’ll go all in. Here is the fiery story of what happens when two people surrender to a love so great it can heal the scars of the past and give way to a life of pure, rapturous ecstasy.

So when I started reading Naked my feelings were all over the damn place.  I was first drawn to the premise of the novel, a man falling in love with a nude model simply because of the beauty of one of her portraits.  Simple, yet intriguing.  As I read more into Naked I began getting interested in the darkness that both Ethan and Brynne so obviously tried to hide from their pasts (I have a thing for characters with messed up pasts).  There was definite pain and suffering for both, and the fact that Miller gets you invested in them prior to revealing the darkness of their past deserves kudos.  You are introduced to these characters and asked to care about them without much more than surface knowledge.  You wind up getting pulled deeper and deeper into the web of their secrets and become genuinely invested in the hope of a positive future for them.  As I finished Naked and delved into All In, I became more and more interested in Ethan’s character and his feelings towards his relationship with Brynne.  It’s rare (in my opinion) to find romance novels where a man of Ethan’s looks and wealth has to work as hard as he does to convince Brynne of his worthiness/love.

There were times, however, where I got lost in the depths of Ethan’s feelings.  I don’t think the writing makes a clear distinction between love and lust, so at times Ethan “loving” Brynne felt more like an unquenchable lust.  That I think was my biggest problem with the series.  As much as I enjoyed the characters and their back stories, I didn’t feel their love, just their lust.  I will admit that towards the end of All In I did finally begin to feel the change, and that’s the reason I’ll continue the series.  Another interesting note about this series: the writing is HOT.  Like  constantly-fan-yourself hot.  I’m interested in seeing where else Miller will take Brynne and Ethan and what new secrets will be revealed.  I’ll definitely be checking out book three Eyes Wide Open when it’s released in May.

3 out 5 Stars

Naked by Raine Miller
Atria Books (2012)
eBook: 192 pages
ISBN: 9781476735252

All In by Raine Miller
Atria Books (2012)
eBook: 256 pages
ISBN: 9781476735283

Special thanks to Atria Books for my review copies via Netgalley!

Kim’s Review of Jane by April Lindner

9780316084208_p0_v1_s600I have a confession to make.  I may be the worst reader ever.  I was 25 years old when I read Jane Eyre for the first time.  I know, I know. Who am I?  Jean Valjean! …..wait, that’s Les Miserables.  I’d always been a Jane Austen fan and it honestly never occurred to me that there could be a book that could come close to the love I felt for Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion.  Little did I know that Jane Eyre would eventually become my third favorite book of all time.  I remember that while reading Jane Eyre, my friend was reading a modern adaptation of it by April Lindner entitled Jane.  At that point I decided to mark it on my to-read list.  Now over a year later, and needing a Jane Eyre fix after reading The Tutor’s Daughter by Julie Klassen, I decided to read Jane.

Jane begins with the sad and sudden death of Jane Moore’s parents, an event which causes a cataclysmic shift in her life that forces her to quit going to college and sign up to be a nanny to make ends meet.  The nanny job is offered at Thornfield Park, the large estate of Nico Rathburn, a once world-renowned rock star who is close to making a huge comeback in his career.  Even though she does not want the job, Jane reluctantly begins working for Nico, and against all odds she becomes attracted to him.  She cannot resist his enticing qualities, and she is soon swept up in a romance with Nico that she had neither planned nor expected.  This comes at a price, however, as she discovers a dark secret that threatens their new-found relationship.  Jane finds that she must decide whether her attachment to Nico is worth having to live with the dark secret he carries with him.  What is she willing to do for love?

My feelings are all over the place on this book.  I think the only way for me to review this is to just list everything out, good and bad.  First the strong stuff. I think it’s an excellently written modern adaptation of Jane Eyre.  Jane Eyre is one of the harder classic literature books to modernize (IMO) because of one thing: the age difference.  In our modern society a relationship between a 19-year-old girl and a 30+year-old guy is definitely going to turn some heads.  I thought it was slightly bizarre that the age difference is never brought up as an issue.  Nico’s friends just accept that Jane is his girlfriend and fiancée all in the same breath.  Not once does anyone ever question it.  I’m sorry, but in 2013 someone is definitely going to have some questions.

Take away the age difference issue and I think Jane is extremely creative! Mr. Rochester, a rock star? Excellent!  His dark and moody personality translated wonderfully into the world of brooding musicians and paparazzi.  While Nico isn’t as dark as Rochester is, he still has that mysterious air about him that defines so much of his character.  Lindner’s Jane is an almost perfect replica of the Jane that Brontë herself created.  She’s just as self-sufficient, independent, honest, true, moral, and strong as expected.  One of my favorite things about Jane is that no matter how horrible her life seems, she never feels sorry for herself.  Even when her engagement falls to pieces, she picks herself up, remains true to herself, and moves on.  I think Jane is an awesome role model and the fact that this book is geared towards the Young Adult/New Adult demographic, means that another generation of readers might be inspired to read Jane Eyre. 

In the end, are there parts of this book that are a bit far-fetched for the modern world?  Yes.  However, much should be said about Lindner’s ability to capture her audience and keep them enthralled as she slowly develops the deep love that Jane and Nico eventually realize exists between them.  Jane is definitely a worthwhile read for not only Jane Eyre fans, but fans of dark, brooding, and mysterious love stories, as well as those who love a good tale of self-discovery.  You won’t be disappointed!

4 out of 5 Stars

Jane by April Lindner
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (2010)
eBook 277 pages
ISBN: 9780316122344