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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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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Blue’s Beauty by Bailey West

Title:Blue's Beauty (Bluette Men Series Book 1)
Author:Bailey West
PublisherSelf-published
Publication Date:December 2016
Publisher's DescriptionRoman 'Blue' Bluette falls in love with a woman. He plans on spending the rest of his life with this woman but circumstances prevent that from happening. He settles on being alone for the rest of his life and focuses his energy on other things until he meets her.
She is an unconventional woman in the sense that she loves girly things like pretty clothes and manicures but she is also just a comfortable hanging out with the guys, arguing about sports and riding motorcycles. She believes in love but her encounters with it so far have left much to be desired. She wants someone to love her and to take care of her. She almost considers settling for one or the other until she meets him.
Can they love each other through their brokenness to find true happiness?
**This book is part of a series but it is a standalone novel. No cliffhangers.***
My rating:****

bluesbeautyIn terms of the storyline, this book was a 4 star read. It wasn’t without flaws, but the author wrote a compelling religious romance that I didn’t hate (and I generally can’t stand religious romances). Zenetta was a great character, and I really loved Blue’s evolution. Blue’s Beauty was surprisingly funny and possessed an underlying sweetness that touched me and made me feel more invested in what was happening than I normally do when reading romance novels. While I am not usually a fan of closed door romances, the steamy scenes in this book almost seemed de trop; the novel seemed so full to me that the scenes that raised the sensuality level didn’t actually feel necessary.

The book’s editing was frankly awful, and I was kind of shocked at how many errors abounded in this book. While I would 100% read the next book in this series, I really hope that Ms. West has a lot of success and can get her books edited professionally – I am confident that better formatting, grammar, and attention to detail could only enhance the experience of reading her work.

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Sweetness (The Sweetest Thing, Book 1) by Sierra Hill

Title:Sweetness (The Sweetest Thing, Book 1)
Author:Sierra Hill
PublisherCreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Publication Date:July 2016
Publisher's DescriptionI’m the girl from the school of hard knocks.
 
Nothing has ever come easy for me. So forgive me if I’m a bit reluctant about Kincaid Griffin – born-with-a-silver-spoon in his mouth, conceited college hoops player. A guy who could get any girl he wants, and yet, is suddenly everywhere I am trying to woo me. The more I protest, the more persistent he becomes.
 
I’m a lucky bastard.
 
Let’s face it. As a college athlete, I don’t chase girls – they come to me. I’m as arrogant and cocky as they come, getting nearly everything I want, whenever I want. But there is nothing sweeter than a girl who plays hard to get. And Ainsley Locker is so full of confidence that she knocks me off my feet from the moment I meet her. She’s a challenge. And I like challenges. So I go full-court press to win her over. But when a stupid mistake turns viral, slam dunking all over my life in a media frenzy, my spot on the team may be in jeopardy, along with my shot at winning the girl.
My rating:**

sweetness

Checking out this book’s sample didn’t make me feel the need to read it immediately, so I left it on my Kindle for a bit. I’ve been on a fantasy kick lately, so I thought that maybe I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind to read this. When I came back to it a month or so later, I found myself more interested in the character and so decided to buy the book. Unfortunately, this author’s writing just didn’t work for me. She was all over the place in terms of tenses, but I could have looked past that if I’d found anything in this story to hold my interest. Cade was a one-dimensional d-bag, and aside from being a big, cute jock, nothing about him seemed particularly special. Poor Ainsley had had a rough life, and seemed way too busy to put up with his self-involved, rich jock nonsense. I just couldn’t bring myself to stick around long enough to witness the lowering of her standards that would make Cade seem like her dream man.

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Color Me Crazy by Carol Pavliska

Title:Color Me Crazy
Author:Carol Pavliska
PublisherEntangled Publishing
Publication Date:May 2015
Publisher's DescriptionNever fall for a rockstar...

Julian Wheaton views the world through a kaleidoscope of synesthesia, seeing the colors of every sound he hears. His life as an iconic rock guitarist was a stressful psychedelic trip that nearly destroyed him. Now he’s abandoned the rock ’n’ roll lifestyle for the peaceful sanctity of his recording studio, but when fiery Cleo Compton comes to work for him, she brings chaos with her.

Cleo Compton has had her flings with rockstars—and it’s left her wary and bruised. Julian may have those sexy bedroom eyes and drool-worthy tattoos, but Cleo is determined to keep things strictly professional—until Julian turns out to be every dream she’s ever chased. When he risks it all to hit the road with a band again, Cleo fears he’ll return as the one thing she can no longer abide—a rockstar.
My rating:****

cmc

This book had a lot happening in it and I appreciated how Ms. Pavliska brought it all together in a meaningful way. In some stories, the synesthesia itself would have been the entire focus, but I like how she showed what having that condition could mean to a musical prodigy with nearly crippling performance anxiety. Julian and Cleo were a good match, and I appreciate the time that both of them put into thinking about things before jumping into a relationship together. Cleo in particular was interesting to me, and I liked watching her consider the implications of dating Julian, based on her own past history. I found the inclusion of the characters’ families helpful to understanding why they were the way they were. I didn’t know what to expect when I requested this book from Netgalley, but this is a very solid story, and I’m glad that I read it.

I wasn’t actually a fan of the cover, and it might have turned me off if I hadn’t read the description before seeing it.

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