September 28, 2016

BLOG TOUR REVIEW, EXCERPT & GIVEAWAY: Bedmates (American Royalty #1)

BEDMATES was so incredible! I can't wait for everyone to read it. How about an excerpt to hold you over? Check out my review, an excerpt from Bedmates, and then enter the giveaway!

Bedmates (American Royalty #1), by Nichole Chase
Publish Date:
October 4, 2016
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Format: ARC, provided by the publisher and Inkslinger PR
Genre: new adult contemporary romance
To Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Rating: 5 STARS

(Synopsis) Everyone makes mistakes, especially in college. But when you’re the daughter of the President of the United States, any little slip up is a huge embarrassment. Maddie McGuire’s latest error in judgment lands her in police custody, giving the press a field day. Agreeing to do community service as penance and to restore her tattered reputation, Maddie never dreams incredibly good looking but extremely annoying vice president’s son, Jake Simmon, will be along for the ride.

Recently returning from Afghanistan with a life-altering injury, Jake is wrestling with his own demons. He doesn’t have the time or patience to deal with the likes of Maddie. They’re like oil and water and every time they’re together, it’s combustible. But there’s a thin line between love and hate, and it’s not long before their fiery arguments give way to infinitely sexier encounters.

When Jake receives devastating news about the last remaining member of his unit, the darkness he’s resisted for so long begins to overwhelm him. Scared to let anyone close, he pushes Maddie away. But she isn’t about to give up on Jake that easily. Maddie’s fallen for him, and she’ll do anything to keep him from the edge as they both discover that love is a battlefield and there are some fights you just can’t lose.

If you think royal lighting can't strike twice, Bedmates proves it can. The magic that Nichole Chase created with her Suddenly series is back, except this time, instead of princes and princesses falling in love in the made-up country of Lilaria, she's focusing on the closest thing Americans have to royalty - the first family.

Maddie is the first daughter, and she's being forced to pair up with the veep's son on a community service project in an effort to improve her image. She and Jake have never gotten along, but his time in Afghanistan seems to have changed him. Now, they get along REALLY well. But, Jake's not dealing so well with his time in combat, and Maddie doesn't know if she has what he needs to get through it.
But something had changed; and not just his extremities. There was a darkness behind his eyes that made my heart ache, despite his pompous attitude. I'd seen it on the news when he had first returned to the States and was sad to see it still lurking deep down.
Nichole's ability to write witty and funny dialog and strong female heroines shines in Bedmates. Maddie and Jake have this awesome comfortable relationship that is based on a mutual understanding and dislike of being in the political public eye. They snipe at each other and joke around and they are so frikkin' CUTE. I was cheering for them from the very beginning, especially since it seems like they are only every truly themselves when they're together.

Jake's symptoms of PTSD start to peek through here and there, and every time they did, it broke my heart a little bit more. I think my favorite part about Bedmates is the careful time and attention Nichole Chase brought to our men and women in the military and what they all go through both during and after their service to our country. She treated this delicately and with care and respect. Jake's situation is heartbreaking, and his time now at home is hard. His challenges aren't glazed over or given an easy out.

Maddie and Jake try to navigate the early stages of a relationship in a very unconventional situation. They're both very much in the public eye. Maddie is having to deal with Jake's horrible mother and Jake's trying to keep a lid on his PTSD. Yet, it's obvious they have amazing chemistry. It also helps that both of them are quite the dirty talkers. They are so, so good together and so obviously made for one another.
"You've ruined me, Maddie." His voice was ragged with emotion as he looked up at me. "No one will ever compare to how you make me feel. No one could compare to you."
I would be remiss if I didn't mention the appearance of our favorite Nichole Chase couple. Alex and Samantha don't just make a cameo appearance in Bedmates - we see them quite a bit, actually. And, it was so great to see them together and happy and in context with Jake and Maddie's story.

I'm already dying to know who the second book will be about in this series. Jake's sister Caro, perhaps? And, anyway, it doesn't really matter - I'll buy it in a heartbeat no matter what. 

“I’ll be done in a minute.” He looked down at me and smiled softly. “I’m glad you’re here.”

“Yeah? Why’s that?”

“You’re just so easy to be around.” He shrugged as if that summed up the whole world but I had no idea what it meant.

“And… . . . that’s a good thing?.” I frowned up at him. He gave me butterflies and I stumbled over everything I said but he thought I was easy to be around.

He stepped closer and I found myself nose to chest. His fingers tilted my chin up and his lips fluttered over mine. I let my palm rest on his skin where I could feel his heart beating rapidly. He didn’t touch me except for the fingers on my chin and his lips on mine.

When he stepped back, his brown eyes were dark. “It’s a good thing.”

Before I could think to ask anything else, he was gone, taking the stairs two at a time. My fingers drifted up to my lips and I stared at where he had just been, the remote in my other hand forgotten.

I’d never been kissed like that before; with so much tenderness and awe.

Nichole Chase is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Suddenly Royal, The Accidental Assassin, Flukes, The Dark Betrayal Trilogy, The American Royalty Series and several short stories.

Nichole lives in Georgia with her husband, energetic daughter, two rescue dogs, Sulcata tortoise, and two cats. When not writing, you may find her reading, painting, crafting, or chasing her daughter around the house while making monster noises.

Learn more about Nichole --> Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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Erika Kelly is one of my favorite romance authors - her stories have this perfect combination of steam and substance. MINE FOR NOW is definitely one you can't miss. Check out my review & an excerpt from the book.

Mine For Now (Wild Love #1), by Erika Kelly
Publish Date:
October 4, 2016
Publisher: EK Publishing
Format: ARC, provided by the author and Inkslinger PR
Genre: new adult contemporary romance
To Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Rating: 5 STARS

(Synopsis) She’s had enough drama in her life. 

Nicole O’Donnell is more than ready for the fresh start college offers. After a lifetime of trying to help her alcoholic mom and ex-boyfriend get sober, she’s finally learned her lesson: people don’t change. They certainly don’t change for her.

He can never leave his drama behind.

Thanks to his mom’s substance abuse issues, Dylan McCaffrey’s persona non grata in his hometown of Gun Powder, Colorado. So when he scores a free ride to the top university in the country, he’s determined to make something of this fresh start. But his mom has always relied on him, and she’s not handling his absence well at all. If he can just keep up his grades, pay her bills, and come home every break, he might be able to pull off this opportunity.

True love won’t be denied.

No matter how determined they are to steer clear of each other, their combustible connection explodes, especially when Nicole offers Dylan the one thing he can’t bear—hope. Once he has a taste of it—and the irresistible force of her—there’s no going back.

But when he falls too deeply, when he loses sight of his priorities, he might just lose it all.

Some of you may be familiar with Erika Kelly because of her Rock Star Romance series. It's how I discovered this author and fell in love with her writing and characters. Mine For Now was a little different from what I've come to expect from Erika. Make no mistake - the heat and the heart are most definitely still there. I was just unprepared for how many times my heart broke for both of the main characters - how many times I was brought to tears because of their situations. Turns out, Erika Kelly is a master at bringing out some serious feels. 

Nicole O'Donnell is an absolutely incredible heroine. She is unbelievably strong and determined and loyal. She went through some horrible times when living with her alcoholic mother and dating an alcoholic boyfriend. She's decided she's done with that and is ready to focus on herself and her future. Rock on, Nicole! She didn't want the distraction of a boyfriend, but seriously. How could she resist Dylan McCaffrey, the boy who lives across the hall? 

Dylan is also strong, determined and loyal, but unlike Nicole, he's being pulled in so many different directions because he hasn't yet reached the place where he makes himself his number one priority. He's a protector and a caretaker, so he feels the need to put his own desires to the side in order to make sure those he loves are well cared for. It's extra hard when his mother is a raging alcoholic and his ex is a manipulative witch. Nicole is everything he wants for his future, but his past keeps sucking him back, and Dylan has no idea how to break free of the cycle.

Nicole has the gift of experience. She already has broken the cycle, and as she gets to know Dylan she sees what his perceived obligation to his mother is doing to him. She knows what it's doing to her - it's preventing her from being with Dylan wholly and completely. And he is what she wants more than anything. So she tries and tries and tries to help him. But, the overarching theme of Mine For Now is that in order for help to come to you, you have to be ready to receive it freely. Dylan is poised in a place in his life to have everything he's ever wanted. But, he has to take it. 
"Every single one of us is in the exact same place - the starting point. And you get to build from here. You get to decide what and who you become. This is the one time in your life when you can finally break free of all the labels. Dylan, you can be whatever you want. Starting now."
Dylan broke my heart over and over again. This poor boy is on the cusp of everything. He's 18, a freshman in college on a full ride scholarship, free from his white trash neighborhood, and has met the girl of his dreams. I waffled back and forth constantly between wanting to shake some sense into him and wanting to tackle hug him. He has all these things going for him, and yet, he constantly allows his past and the toxic people in his life to get in the way. And in doing so, he hurts Nicole. Seriously, this book killed me in all the best ways. 

Even though this book is technically new adult, as our main characters are only 18, it is crazy hot. The sexual tension simmers for awhile between Dylan and Nicole, and when it finally explodes, it's so, so satisfying. 

Mine For Now was an incredible start to this new series, and I can't wait to read more. 

Every time he closed his eyes he saw her. He saw her in his bed, those long eyelashes fanning in perfect arcs on her creamy skin. Or on his lap, straddling him, her face taut with sexual tension. Or, worse, he imagined her on her back, hair spread all over the pillow, breasts bouncing as he slammed into her. Jesus, he ached just thinking about it.

He had to stop this. He had better control over his emotions than this—how else would he have survived this long?

What was happening to him? That first night, when he’d brought her into his bed—he’d felt it then. This connection, this bond. He hadn’t even known her—but he’d felt her. Inside, he’d felt her. When had she become essential to him?

Oh, shit. That was bad. Very bad. No one could ever be essential to him.

What she’d said tonight—about recreating Gun Powder. He had done that.

He’d hated his life back home. The town itself was beautiful, but it was filled with his big, extended family—family that wanted nothing to do with him. They’d given him a choice—him or his mom. Of course, he’d chosen his mom. But that had narrowed his social life to the guys who weren’t going anywhere.

Or maybe he’d chosen those guys because he thought they’d understand his life a little better.

And, yeah, he guessed he had done the same thing here.

But he couldn’t stop thinking about what James had said about what he wanted deep down. He’d never been allowed to think about what he wanted. For him, it was about survival. Nothing else.

And yet, he had worked his ass off to get into a top school. Why? Like James said, if he planned on going back to Gun Powder, why bother with the expense and hassle of Wilmington?

Hope rose in him, a force so strong he couldn’t ignore it. He came here because he wanted more. Nicole.

He did have something deep down. And that something was a someone.

Holy shit. Adrenaline crashed his system.

Nicole was his deep down. She was his home, his heart.

Award-winning author Erika Kelly has been spinning romantic tales all her life--she just didn't know it. Raised on the classics, she didn't discover romantic fiction until later in life. From that moment on, she's been devouring the genre and has found her true voice as an author. Over three decades she's written poems, screenplays, plays, short stories, and all kinds of women's fiction novels. Married to the love of her life and raising four children, she's lived in two countries and seven states, but give her pen and paper, a stack of good books, and a steaming mug of vanilla chai latte and she can make her home anywhere.

Website ** Facebook ** Twitter ** Newsletter Signup ** Erika Kelly Goodreads

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September 27, 2016

BLOG TOUR SPECIAL POST, REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Like a River Glorious (The Gold Seer Trilogy #2)

I am SO excited to help celebrate the release of Rae Carson's LIKE A RIVER GLORIOUS. And great news - it's out TODAY! This series has me so captivated. It's gorgeous and sweeping and so epic.

Speaking of epic, I was thinking about my own Oregon Trail team and who would be on it if I wanted our group to be epically successful on our cross-country trek. Here's what I came up with.

My Oregon Trail Team

1. Bear Grylls - Bear Grylls is an expert at surviving in the wilderness, and in the mid-1800s, that is exactly what much of North America is. I would definitely want someone who is an expert at hunting and gathering like he is on my team. But, I draw the line at drinking my own pee and eating bugs and animal dung. #idratherdie

2. Ree Drumond - You may know Ree Drumond by her blog and book name - The Pioneer Woman. And, ah - this choice makes sense now, doesn't it? Ree is a jill of all trades, and that would come in handy on our long journey. She lives on a ranch, so she knows about animals. She is the MacGyver of  the home, able to make beautiful and useful things out of seemingly nothing. And best of all - SHE COOKS. WELL.

3. Drew and Jonathan Scott - When we finally reach our destination, I want a sweet homestead in less than six weeks. (Camping in the woods is SO not my thing.) So, of course, I need The Property Brothers. Jonathan can build anything we need and Drew is an expert at dealing with difficult people, so he can smooth things over with any Native Americans we encounter.

4. Nick Bateman - Because, NICK BATEMAN. Also, he has mad ninja skills.

5. Rae Carson - After working all day, side-by-side with Nick Bateman and the Scott twins, I'm going to want some down time. I can't think of a better way to pass the time than to sit around a campfire and listen to stories. And no one tells amazing stories like Rae Carson.

Like a River Glorious (The Gold Seer Trilogy #2), by Rae Carson
Publish Date:
September 27, 2016
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Format: ARC, provided by the publisher
Genre: young adult historical fiction/fantasy
To Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Rating: 5 STARS

(Synopsis) After a harrowing journey across the country, Leah Westfall and her friends have finally arrived in California and are ready to make their fortunes in the Gold Rush. Lee has a special advantage over the other new arrivals in California—she has the ability to sense gold, a secret known only by her handsome best friend Jefferson and her murdering uncle Hiram.

Lee and her friends have the chance to be the most prosperous settlers in California, but Hiram hasn’t given up trying to control Lee and her power. Sabotage and kidnapping are the least of what he’ll do to make sure Lee is his own. His mine is the deepest and darkest in the territory, and there Lee learns the full extent of her magical gift, the worst of her uncle, and the true strength of her friendships. To save everyone, she vows to destroy her uncle and the empire he is building—even at the cost of her own freedom.

The second epic historical fantasy in the Gold Seer trilogy by Rae Carson, the acclaimed author of The Girl of Fire and Thorns.

I've heard big-time professional book reviewers use terms before like "sweeping" and "epic" and "sprawling," and I never really got it before I read Like a River Glorious. I thought those were fancy schmancy words they threw around to make them look extra special. But, seriously - Those terms describe The Gold Seer Trilogy by Rae Carson perfectly.

Leah, Jefferson and their friends have made it to California, and now it's time to get to work. But, Leah is constantly looking over her shoulder waiting for that other shoe to drop. A shoe by the name of Hiram Westfall, her positively evil uncle. He's been waiting for her to get comfortable before coming for her. And he has too much to lose - he WILL come for her.

Once again, Rae Carson brings California in the 1840s to life in vivid detail. Not only is the landscape and situation described beautifully, but the people really take on lives of their own. We meet more Americans, both good and bad, Chinese immigrants, and of course, Indians. The situations in which the Indians find themselves will horrify you, and what's even worse is I'm sure some of this really happened.

For those that bemoaned the lack of Lee using her gold seeking ability in Walk on Earth a Stranger, fear not. She more than makes up for it in Like a River Glorious. Lee herself is still discovering the depth of her abilities, and it's awesome to be along for the ride. Lee and Jeff also make up for the lack of romance in the previous book. My swoon meter was pegged a few times.

Like a River Glorious was an incredible book. It was exciting and heartbreaking and infuriating and romantic. And yes - sweeping, epic and sprawling. I can't wait to see what the final book brings.

Be sure to check out the rest of the stops on this tour, organized by Irish Banana Tours:

Week 1:
9/19: Two Chicks on Books - Photo Tour
9/20: Ex Libris - Review
9/21: The Irish Banana Review - My Oregon Trail Team
9/22: Good Books and Good Wine - Review
9/23: Across the Words - Dream Cast

Week 2:
9/26: Alexa Loves Books - Review
9/27: Krista's Dust Jacket - My Oregon Trail Team
9/28: Awkwordly Emma - Review
9/29: A Backwards Story - A Modern Day Oregon Trail
9/30: YA Bibliophile - Review

ABOUT RAE CARSON:  I write books about teens who must do brave things. I'm originally from California, but I now live in Arizona with my husband, who is the smartest and therefore sexiest man I know. My books tend to contain lots of adventure, a little magic and romance, and smart girls who make (mostly) smart choices. I especially love to write about questions I don't know the answers to.

LINKS: Website | Twitter | Facebook

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