Nicole Reads A Lot

so many books, so little time

The Tycoon’s Socialite Bride by Tracey Livesay

Title:
The Tycoon's Socialite Bride
Author:Tracey Livesay
PublisherEntangled Publishing, LLC
Publication Date:February 10, 2014
Publisher's DescriptionTo avenge his mother's mistreatment at the hands of her upper-crust employer, self-made real estate tycoon Marcus Pearson needs entree into their exclusive world. When D.C. socialite Pamela Harrington comes to him for help, Marcus realizes the golden admission ticket he's been seeking has suddenly fallen into his lap.

Pamela will do anything to save her favorite cause, even agree to a marriage of convenience. The altruistic "it-girl" isn't worried about the pretend passion with Marcus turning real; she's sworn off powerful, driven men who use her for her family's connections.

So she'll deny the way her pulse races with one look from his crystalline blue eyes. And he'll ignore the way his body throbs with each kiss from her full lips. Because there's no way he'll lose his blue-collar heart to the blue-blooded beauty.
My rating:****

tsb

I really enjoyed this book. This is a side of the self-made bajillionaire genre that I feel often gets glossed over: having money isn’t always enough. Marcus learns the hard way that, no matter how many zeroes come before the period in his net worth, they’re not going to be enough to help him break into the upper strata of Washington DC society. Without those contacts, he’s never going to be able to buy the one piece of property that he needs to gain closure from his childhood. The person who can help him get his foot in the door is Pamela Harrington, a blue blood whose relationship with her powerful father is perfectly encapsulated by the fact he makes her address him as “[the] Senator.” Brrrr.

This is my favorite type of interracial romance because people of different races fall in love, but their races themselves are no. big. deal. This part, too, felt correct, because at this level of society, lineage trumps wealth. In fact, it is Pamela, the racial minority in the relationship, who has the contacts and social clout that Marcus’s money cannot buy. I enjoyed being able to read this book without feeling like I’d wandered into a fetish novel.

As with the best marriage of convenience books, both Marcus and Pamela have clear motives for going into this relationship. It was a pleasure to watch them grow closer to one another and to integrate this new relationship into their existing motives. Marcus in particular is flawed but is a compelling character to read about. Pamela is a multidimensional character whose advantages in life haven’t insulated her from everything, and who wields her privilege to help those who are less fortunate. It takes Marcus longer to turn his gaze outward, but the rewards are immense. This is how to do a revenge plot without being completely annoying. I highly recommend this book!

I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Undone by Shannon Richard

Title:
Tell Me When
Author:Shannon Richard
PublisherForever Yours
Publication Date:July 2, 2013
Publisher's DescriptionThings Paige Morrison will never understand about Mirabelle, Florida:

Why wearing red shoes makes a girl a harlot
Why a shop would ever sell something called "buck urine"
Why everywhere she goes, she runs into sexy-and infuriating-Brendan King

After losing her job, her apartment, and her boyfriend, Paige has no choice but to leave Philadelphia and move in with her retired parents. For an artsy outsider like Paige, finding her place in the tightly knit town isn't easy-until she meets Brendan, the hot mechanic who's interested in much more than Paige's car. In no time at all, Brendan helps Paige find a new job, new friends, and a happiness she wasn't sure she'd ever feel again. With Brendan by her side, Paige finally feels like she can call Mirabelle home. But when a new bombshell drops, will the couple survive, or will their love come undone?
My rating:***.5

undone

This is a great book for anybody who is a fan of fish out of water stories.

Paige is a sympathetic protagonist who learns that first impressions in a small town can pay dividends for a very long time. I’m not a big fan of small town romances that feature humble, salt of the earth people who are direct foils to the evil, selfish, shallow city idiots who sling around their big city rudeness before being driving back to their dens of iniquity. I like small towns. I like cities. I don’t like any book that relies only on stereotypes to depict the citizens of either type of area.

While some of the supporting cast in this book were more caricatures than characters, I still enjoyed this story. It was interesting to watch Paige feel her way around life in Florida, and overcome the lingering wounds left by her last relationship.  Brendan was a great guy, and even though he was interested in her all along, the way that he took care of Paige wasn’t a ploy to get in her pants. I appreciated how much effort he put into helping her build a life.

Ms. Richard did an excellent job of building emotion. Her funny scenes were really funny, and the sad ones hit me right in the feels. This book was a great start to the series, and I look forward to reading the next one.

I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Tell Me When by Stina Lindenblatt

Title:
Tell Me When
Author:Stina Lindenblatt
PublisherCarina Press
Publication Date:January 20, 2013
Publisher's DescriptionAmber Scott should be enjoying life as a college freshman. She should be pursuing her dream of becoming a veterinarian. She should be working hard to make sense of her precalculus math class.

She shouldn’t be waking up her college roommate with screaming nightmares. She shouldn’t be flashing back, reliving the three weeks of hell she barely survived last year. And she definitely shouldn’t be spending time with sexy player Marcus Reid.

But engineering student Marcus is the only one keeping Amber from failing her math course, so she grudgingly lets him into her life. She never expects the king of hookups will share his painful past. Or that she’ll tell him her secrets in return, opening up and trusting him in a way she thought she’d never be able to again.

When their fragile future together is threatened by a stalker Amber thought was locked away for good, Marcus is determined to protect her. And Amber is determined to protect Marcus…even if that means pushing him away.
My rating:***.5

tmw

I really enjoyed this book. Amber and Marcus come with the traumatic back stories that are almost de rigeur in this genre, but they were both more than the things they’d suffered. Ms. Lindenblatt did a great job creating convincing characters who were more than the sum of their tragedies. The way that they interacted made me believe that each was integral to the other’s healing process, and even Marcus’ wounded manwhore thing worked for me.

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Lie Lay Lain by Bryn Greenwood

Title:
Lie Lay Lain
Author:Bryn Greenwood
PublisherStairway Press
Publication Date:April 3, 2014
Publisher's DescriptionJennifer has a great job and a go-getter fiancé. She’s on track for success, until she witnesses a fatal hit-and-run. Mistaking Jennifer for someone else, the dying victim extracts an impossible promise. Jennifer’s fiancé wants her to forget the whole incident, but when she closes her eyes, she can still see the bloody face of the woman who asked for her help.

Olivia is in a rut. Burdened with caring for her brain-damaged brother and already feeling like a spinster at 27, she’s desperate to escape. In a moment of weakness, she tells a lie that draws an unsuspecting paramedic into her life. As she struggles to expiate the lie, a horrible act of violence will test her resolve to be honest.

Where Jennifer’s promise and Olivia’s lie intersect, their lives begin to unravel.
My rating:****

LieLayLain_Cover.fh11

Lie Lay Lain is the story of Jennifer and Olivia, and of the  people in their separate and shared orbits. The two know each other at the outset of the book, as they attend the same church, but their lives are completely different. Jennifer is engaged, part of an extended social circle, and has a good job. Olivia is single and lives at home with her parent and older brother, who suffered a brain injury in a motorcycle accident and cannot live independently. She works in the church that her family has always attended and has no life outside of home and church.

I think that people generally expect to be prepared in life for the big decisions that change everything (choosing a career path, who to date, where to live, etc), but neither Jennifer nor Olivia could have imagined the changes that they would experience as a result of the lies that they tell. In doing a kindness for a dying woman, Jennifer feels a sense of responsibility to see that promise through, although only Olivia seems to understand why Jennifer wants to check up on Shani, daughter of the dead woman. Jennifer becomes invested in Shani’s welfare, at times paying less attention to her job and her relationship with her fiancé. Olivia’s sense of guilt over lying makes her turn a small untruth, that she is dating a paramedic, into reality. Asking Rindell out on a date is her first step toward becoming an Olivia she never suspects could even exist. Her new romantic relationship confuses and excites her, but helps her find the courage to be less passive with others in her life.

This book is engaging and gripping, and I skipped working on an this awesome hat that I’m knitting to keep reading it. Respect. Even if the story had been only so-so, I would say that this book is worth reading just for the perspective on truth, lies, and honesty. Who could fault Jennifer for helping to ease a dying woman’s mind, or Olivia for trying to keep people out of her business? While there are some pretty blatant bad lies in this book, most instances of dishonesty are less clear-cut in their right or wrongness. Amazingly, as if encouraging heavy rumination on the nature of truth isn’t enough of an accomplishment, Ms. Greenwood also manages to squeeze in a nuanced perspective on race and identity in the midst of all of the other things happening in this book. Although this book is relegated on Netgalley to the Women’s Fiction ghetto, I would recommend this book to any lover of well-written fiction.

 

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Nothing Left to Lose by Kirsty Moseley

Title:
Nothing Left to Lose
Author:Kirsty Moseley
PublisherSelf-published
Publication Date:November 5, 2013
Publisher's DescriptionAnnabelle Spencer’s life is every girl’s dream. She has wonderful parents, great friends, and of course the perfect boyfriend, Jack Roberts. That all changes on her sixteenth birthday when her life comes crashing down around her. Her dream night turns into a nightmare when Jack is murdered right in front of her, and she’s kidnapped by his murderer, Carter Thomas, a big time drug and arms dealer.

After five months of being with Carter, she’s found, but the experience has totally changed her. She’s no longer the happy-go-lucky girl that everyone used to know and love; she’s now cold, hard and suffers from night terrors. It appears that Carter broke not only her body, but her spirit too. A shadow of her former self, her slogan for life is now: ‘If you don’t care about anything, then you have nothing to lose’.

Carter is currently serving time for the murder of Jack, a conviction that Anna helped secure. But his retrial is coming up because some key evidence appears to have been tampered with. Unbeknown to Anna, death threats are being received by her father, the Senator. It appears that Carter is still interested in Anna and will stop at nothing to get her back.

Ashton Taylor is brought in to protect her. He’s a newly qualified SWAT agent, a bright spark, the agency’s new golden boy. He is assigned undercover, posing as her boyfriend. His job is to help her through college and keep her safe until the end of the trial in eight months’ time.

For three years she has been the broken, damaged girl, refusing to feel emotion or pain, but can Ashton help her rebuild her life and finally deal with the grief of losing her childhood sweetheart? Will he be the one to make her see that life is, in fact, worth living and that not all men will hurt her?

All the while, the shadow of the trial looms over the both of them, taunting them, reminding them that it isn’t over yet. After all, Carter Thomas will stop at nothing to be reunited with his ‘Princess’.

Due to heavy subject matter and sexual content, this book is recommended for ages 17+
My rating:***

nltl

This is one for the feelings, not so much for the head. There were a lot of thing in this book that didn’t make sense logistically, but I did enjoy the story itself. Annabelle was a sympathetic protagonist, and although her transformation seemed a little too much like magic, it was nice to see such a damaged character allow herself to heal. Ashton really tugged at my heartstrings with his earnest attempts to understand Mia, and his patience with her. Annabelle’s parents annoyed me quite a bit and I wanted to shake them, but I don’t have much patience for overbearing people, even when their intentions are good.

I wasn’t expecting a detailed description of what close protection is like or anything, but let’s be realistic: the child of a front-running presidential candidate has NO privacy. The entire world would have known what had happened to Annabelle, or at least that she had somehow disappeared for a while immediately following the murder of her boyfriend. She would have been watched like a hawk in the months leading up to her father’s election, and even if she wasn’t on the campaign trail with him, she would not have been able to live anonymously.

A large percentage of the dialog sounded British, which makes sense, given that the author is British. Why must all new adult books be set in the United States? Why couldn’t Annabelle’s story have taken place somewhere else? So much dialog/setting weirdness distracted me from the story.

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