Nicole Reads A Lot

so many books, so little time

Billionaire’s Perfect Bride by Ajei Novua and Jen A. Durand

Title:Billionaire's Perfect Bride (True Match Arrangements Book 1)
Author:Ajei Novua and Jen A. Durand
PublisherDurand Publishing
Publication Date:January 15, 2017
Publisher's DescriptionJay’s heart had been stomped on by the one he trusted the most. Love wasn’t reliable. It was an illusion. In that moment he decided he would rather have a partner who valued loyalty and didn’t subscribe to the pipe dream that is love.

Bianca was desperate. Debt was slowly swallowing her whole and her mother needed more medical care than she could afford. True Match was her long shot and she’d hit the target.

Jay didn’t want love and Bianca couldn’t help how her heart felt. Can their arrangement become a true match?
My rating:***.5

I enjoyed this book, but it read more like a second draft than a finished product. It’s a shorter novel, and while I felt that the story unfolded well, I wouldn’t have minded seeing more of the development of Jay and Bianca’s relationship. It was clear that they started out attracted to each other both physically and personality-wise, but I would have preferred to see this story start at some point prior to their wedding day. Overall, there was more telling than showing, in the form of overly expository dialogue and too-frequent flashbacks.

The book’s characters seemed more like archetypes than well-realized individuals (this is particularly true of Dalia and Imogene). Jay was the orphaned, wounded billionaire who’d been wronged by the woman he’d thought he would spend his life with. Bianca was the selfless, hardworking daughter who’d given up her own promising future to care for the single immigrant mother who’d raised her. But we never even learned where her mother was from or why Bianca’s father wasn’t in the picture. Also, how did Bianca learn of True Match Arrangements? In the midst of the mess that his personal life had devolved into the year before this novel took place, was there a single precipitating incident that made Jay decide to use the service? Fleshing out the reasons the behaved as they did would have made me feel more invested in both their separate lives and journey together.

This book would have benefitted from more careful editing. There were several instances of missing words and misspelled homophones, but there were also grammar and copyediting issues that a more careful eye might have uncovered. These mistakes didn’t ruin the experience of reading this book for me, but I certainly noticed them.

I enjoyed these authors’ work and I would certainly read the next book in this series.

I received this novel from one of the authors for free, in exchange for an honest review.

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Flying by Megan Hart

Author:Megan Hart
PublisherHarlequin MIRA
Publication Date:April 2014
Publisher's DescriptionEver hear of wanderlust? Every other weekend, Stella buys a ticket on the next flight out of town and leaves her life behind. Home is a place with too many memories, and departure is the sweetest possible distraction. As soon as she arrives at her destination, Stella visits the airport bar. She orders a drink and waits for the right guy to come along. A bored businessman, a backpacker, a baggage handler just off shift. If he's into a hot, no-strings hookup, he's perfect. Each time is a thrilling escape from reality that gives the term layover a whole new meaning. When Stella meets the enigmatic Matthew in Chicago one weekend, she hits some serious turbulence. Something about him tells her she's not the only one running from the past. The connection between them is explosive, and for the first time, one taste is not enough for Stella. But returning to find a gorgeous man waiting for her is the easy part& facing the reason she's there is a whole other matter.
My rating:***.5


I really liked some of Ms. Hart’s earlier books, but couldn’t connect with her more recent offerings. Flying returns to what I liked best about her earlier books: her richly drawn worlds and the sense that everything about her characters, including their sexuality, is about them trying to make sense of the world. I like you learn about what Stella does before you learn why she does the things that she does, because by the time you get to the explanation, you realize that you knew the essential truth about her long before the “what”. Likewise, you understand a lot about Matthew before he reveals the specific reasons and events that keep him tethered to his old life.

If you’re looking for a happily ever after type of book, this probably isn’t going to be for you; Matthew and Stella have a lot to work through, and their story is far from over at the end of the book. Still, I found the sense of hope that I felt at the end of this novel to be more honest and satisfying than a lot of happily ever afters I’ve read.

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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


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


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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Before You Break by Christina Lee

Title:Before You Break
Author:Christina Lee
Publication Date:February 18, 2014
Publisher's DescriptionA sexy, emotional New Adult romance about a bad boy on the edge and a good girl about to lose control…

The star catcher of the college baseball team isn't supposed to have skeletons in his closet. But Daniel Quinn is hiding a guilty past so dark he refuses to let anyone get close. Except there’s something about gorgeous, studious Ella Abrams that goes beyond the electric attraction between them—something that makes him want to open up.

Ella has suffered enough heartache and guilt to fill one of her psychology textbooks, but she keeps that part of herself hidden behind a bubbly exterior. Until she receives an anonymous call while working the suicide helpline and the voice on the other end touches something inside of her that she can’t ignore.

Soon Ella and Quinn’s physical connection heats up, even as their deep and revealing hotline talks intensify. But by the time Ella realizes that her seductive jock and her sensitive caller are the same guy, it might be too late to save him—or to stop herself from falling too far.

*A companion novel to ALL OF YOU
My rating:***.5


I liked the dynamic between Ella and Quinn. I felt really bad for Quinn with regard to his relationship with his family, and liked that Ella had a stable and loving family; sometimes it feels like a real drag to read a book where everybody’s home life is awful. While I did feel that Quinn’s self-loathing was at times really hard to read without rolling my eyes, I had to remember that 1) the character is pretty young and 2) without a good support network, it’s understandable that he could feel that he had to bear such a huge burden by himself.

I liked that Ella had such a good head on her shoulders. She wasn’t rash, and I applauded how fair she tried to be in every situation. I was worried that the identity thing was going to be a major to-do in this book, but I liked how Ms. Lee handled it. It didn’t feel that things were unnecessarily melodramatic in this book, and my eyes didn’t get the “that’s ridiculous” workout. This is definitely a cut above the $.99 new adult novels that populate online booksellers these days, and I recommend it to fans of the genre. I didn’t read the other book in this series prior to reading Before You Break, but I’m definitely going to buy it at some point in the future.

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