Nicole Reads A Lot

so many books, so little time

White Hot: A Hidden Legacy Novel by Ilona Andrews

Title:White Hot (Hidden Legacy #2)
Author:Ilona Andrews
PublisherHarperCollins Publishers
Publication Date:May 30, 2017
Publisher's DescriptionThe Hidden Legacy series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews continues as Nevada and Rogan navigate a world where magic is the norm…and their relationship burns hot

Nevada Baylor has a unique and secret skill—she knows when people are lying—and she's used that magic (along with plain, hard work) to keep her colorful and close-knit family's detective agency afloat. But her new case pits her against the shadowy forces that almost destroyed the city of Houston once before, bringing Nevada back into contact with Connor "Mad" Rogan.

Rogan is a billionaire Prime—the highest rank of magic user—and as unreadable as ever, despite Nevada’s “talent.” But there’s no hiding the sparks between them. Now that the stakes are even higher, both professionally and personally, and their foes are unimaginably powerful, Rogan and Nevada will find that nothing burns like ice…
My rating:****.5

Book cover of White Hot by Ilona AndrewsI enjoyed reading Burn for Me when it was released in 2014, so I was very excited to see that the next two books in the series were going to be published in short succession in 2017. I’ve read way too many books in the interim, so I knew that I was going to have to reread the first book in order to prepare for White Hot. I’m so glad that I did. First, I got to enjoy the world building all over again. The setting of this series is top-notch! Next, I was reminded of how intense these books are. While they can be read in a single sitting, especially if you are as obsessive as I am about good books, they are not at all light books. Although there is a fair amount of humor, as with most of Ilona Andrews’ books, there’s some seriously dark shit in these novels, is what I’m saying. Reading the first and second books in this series back to back allowed me to see the characters grow and evolve from where they were at the beginning of the first novel. I loved the authors’* attention to detail; seemingly minor statements turned out to mean a great deal. As a person who loves words and communication, I appreciate it when everything that is said has meaning.

Nevada has progressed so much over the course of these two books, and I felt like a proud mama, watching her navigate through situations that very few people expected her to survive, let alone succeed in. Likewise, I’ve enjoyed watching Rogan open up about his experiences and attempt to rejoin a world that he had mostly left behind. The Baylor family is remarkable, and learning more about them has felt like a treat.

If you haven’t read the first book in this series, why not??? You definitely can’t read the second without the table-setting that was done in the first, but also, Burn for Me is just a really good book. If you’re the type of person who hates to read incomplete series, start reading the first two books in mid-July, so that you’ll be all caught up by July 25, when Wildfire, the final book in the series, is released. I hope to review that one as well, but I’m already pretty positive that I’m going to love it.

This book was provided to me through Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review.

* – Ilona Andrews is the pseudonym of a husband and wife team, so I’m not misusing the apostrophe here, promise!

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Manna Tree by Savannah J. Frierson

Title:Manna Tree
Author:Savannah J. Frierson
PublisherSJF Books LLC
Publication Date:November 15, 2016
Publisher's DescriptionA night of celebration ends in tragedy, shocking Cole Patterson to his core. Cole's brother breaks his promise not drink and drive and causes a fatal accident with three casualties. Guilt compels Cole to stay and greet the victims’ family, shouldering his brother’s guilt since his brother was no longer there to do it himself. Yet when he sees Margot Reed, something other than grief and guilt fills his soul.

If Margot never sees the inside of a hospital emergency room again, it will be too soon. She barely registers the haggard, yet expensively tailored man trying to give his condolences, her attention completely on the sole survivor of the wreck—her brother. The hospital machines are too loud in her ears, and she nearly collapses under the weight of her sorrow. But Cole is there to support her that night, and he doesn’t seem inclined to ever stop. Margot can’t bring herself to mind, either.

Can people brought together by mutual sadness find their way to happiness and joy, or will grief and guilt be too much for them to bear?
My rating:****.5

I enjoyed this book quite a lot. Ms. Frierson is a new author to me, but I saw the blurb on Amazon and was happy to find out that this book is available through Scribd. I read it in one night and was only sad that I finished it. I really liked seeing how the romance Margot and Cole’s romance unfolded. Sometimes, when authors have characters get together in the wake of traumatic events, I find the stories hard to connect to. That wasn’t the case here; I appreciated that Ms. Frierson never went for easy answers or cheap melodrama, and clearly gave careful consideration to her characters’ situations. It was refreshing to me, how much depth the characters had, even those who one might be predisposed to love or hate upon first mention or appearance.

Margot, being both black and several years older than him, didn’t initially believe that Cole could be interested in her. I loved how much Cole appreciated Margot’s differences and life experiences and made a place for himself in her life and heart. Aaaah!!! I’m swooning just thinking about it. This was one of the most satisfying interracial books that I’ve read. I didn’t come out of it feeling like either character was fetishized, and appreciated that they could have frank conversations about their differences without harping on them to an unbelievable degree.

I now want to read everything that Ms. Frierson has ever written! This is just the book to get me out of a rut caused by reading too many terminally silly books in too short a timespan.

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The Resistance by S.L. Scott

Title:The Resistance
Author:S. L. Scott
PublisherSelf-published
Publication Date:April 28, 2014
Publisher's DescriptionYou don't choose when.

You don't choose where.

And you don't get to choose who you fall in love with.

The minute he opened his sexy mouth, Holliday Hughes should have known Jack Dalton was trouble. His smooth pickup lines, broad shoulders, and ridiculously handsome face charmed her right out of her clothes. She gave into her desires, the instant attraction blinding her to the obvious.

One night. That was all it took for Holliday’s world to be flipped on its axis. Jack Dalton was cocky. Smug. Volatile. Demanding. He ignited something deep inside her like no other, but there was something more to this brooding bad boy. There was a dark side to him she couldn't help but be drawn to.

Torn between what she knew about him and a mysterious side he tried to hide, could she walk away or was he simply too hard to resist?
My rating:****.5

resistance

So what gives? Although this blog is entitled “Nicole Reads a Lot,” this is my first post in over a month. Why???

The short answer is: I haven’t read anything that excited me in that time period. I have read a few books that seemed pretty terrible, and many more that were just meh, but nothing that I felt like writing about. Until now! I just finished The Resistance by S.L. Scott, and I can’t remember the last time I got this excited over a book by a new (to me) author.

The premise of this book intrigued me: Holliday unknowingly hooks up with a rock star. Secret famous people stories are maybe my catnip. Novels that feature this type of storyline tend to take me to my happy place. Dalton, who is more commonly known by his stage name of Johnny Outlaw, is a world-famous rock star who takes a chance when he meets a woman who attracts him and, equally important, doesn’t initially know who he is. He just wants to be loved, dammit!

This book reads like Ms. Scott reached inside my brain, saw what I liked, and wrote a book combining all my favorite things. Holli is a smart, sex-positive, successful businesswoman who makes no apologies for her success. Her business exists because she came up with a good idea, but if she hadn’t been a great entrepreneur, it would never have gone anywhere. She doesn’t have as much of a social life as she’d like, but she makes time for her best friend. She isn’t awkward around men, and is pretty much my hero. Unlike in some books where I don’t get how the heroine (hate that word) appeals to the hero (ditto), it’s pretty easy to see why a rich, famous, world-weary rock star would fall for somebody like her.

The secondary characters in this book really add to its depth. We get a better understanding of Dalton and Holli through their connections to the people in their lives. Danny and Rochelle, in particular, are well-realized, and I’d be interested in seeing what happens in either or both of their lives (did I just come up with something?)…

The only things that I wished Ms. Scott would have included in this book are more information about JD’s relationship with his family, and really any information at all about Holliday’s. Otherwise, this book was pretty much perfect for me.

Judging by the number of her books that are on sale at Amazon, Ms. Scott isn’t a new author, but she’s new to me. I’m really happy that she’s on my radar, and I plan to enjoy going through her back catalog over the next several weeks.

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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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Put Me Back Together by Lola Rooney

Title:Put Me Back Together
Author:Lola Rooney
PublisherSelf-published
Publication Date:November 2013
Publisher's Descriptionou’d Better Watch Yourself, Katie Kat

Katie Archer knows how to lie. After six years, no one really knows what happened That Night. Not even her twin sister. Choosing a college 3,000 miles away from the truth, Katie throws herself into art classes and a love affair with ice cream. Katie’s biggest rule? No boys. Ever.

But there is the little problem of Lucas Matthews. Former basketball star and total campus hottie, Lucas is the stuff girls have naughty dreams about—and he has the reputation to prove it! But that doesn’t stop liquid heat from running through Katie’s veins every time she sees him…

You’ll Never Get Away With It

Letting Lucas in is the hardest thing Katie’s ever had to do. And telling him the truth? Impossible. Then Katie starts to get threatening texts and she realizes Lucas is the least of her problems. Her past has caught up with her and it wants to settle the score.

I’m Coming For You

Now Katie must decide whether she wants to fight for her life, or leave everything—including Lucas—behind her forever...
My rating:****.5

pmbt

This is how an author does New Adult well.

I read so many books, for professional and personal reasons, that when I come across generic books, they tend to run together in my mind. Thankfully, I didn’t have this type of experience at all with Put Me Back together. This book was entirely unlike anything that I’d read before, and I found the story totally engrossing. Katie is such an interesting character! I felt that Ms. Rooney doled out details about Katie’s pre-university life at a good pace. She teased that there was more to know, but delivered new bits of information at regular intervals. And Lucas. HOW MUCH DID I LOVE LUCAS? A metric tonne (can you tell that I was thrilled to read a book that takes place in Canada)!

The mystery of what happened back in Kingston and why Katie feels complicit, to the point of not taking steps to protect herself from a determined stalker, is handled well and just adds to the book’s overall awesomeness. Lucas’s backstory is also complicated and fascinating. A lot of authors seem to think that New Adult books just require random tragedy, but everything that happens in this book felt necessary to the story, and not gratuitous or as if added merely for shock value.

This book is a thing of beauty to read. The grammar is perfect, the dialog sounds like it was written by a person who actually has had conversations before, and the emotion of the story felt incredibly real to me. I came to Amazon to buy whatever else Ms. Rooney had written in the past and was dismayed/overjoyed to see that this is the first thing that she has published. I’m sad that I’ll have to wait, but I hope that this book marks the beginning of her long and fruitful publishing career.

I received this book free of charge through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review and my most worn out marbles.

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